Sunday, May 30, 2004

Could it be true? - National News: Libertarian Party picks presidential nominee

I was all set to write a another scathing critique of the Libertarian Presidential hopeful Aaron Russo, when it looked like going into the convention that he was going to win. My critique, well there's not point in getting into it now, but feel free to read my last one. Effectively I had decided that his policies were ill informed, that he could not be taken seriously because he was not taking the possibility of winning seriously (he had no real plans for implementing his plans if elected), and that I didn't consider him libertarian at all because some of the positions he advocated violated the noncoercion principle. Thus if nominated I was going to launch a write-in NOTA campaign. A small one of course from my blog with no money or anything like that. But all that has changed apparently due to the debates at the lp national convention. Gary Nolan, and Aaron Russo were believed to be the frontrunners going into the convention, with Russo in the lead. Gary Nolan if you recall was who BilLee was supporting for president. I was in favor of Michael Badnarik, an Austin native who I liked because he seemed to be the best informed, least politician-esque, most thorough in his explanations of issues and ideas, and most honest of any of the candidates. He however was not the favorite, due in no small part to his lacking "media exposure" and media experience that the other two contenders had. Plus he wasn't quite as polished with his speeches. I have enjoyed reading the newsletters about his campaign and was hoping he would somehow, someway pull out ahead of the other candidates. According to the polls that never happened, but apparently he won the debate at the national convention, and according to the Associated Press pulled out an upset victory for the LP nomination. Woo HOO!!!!

I get to vote libertarian for president this year!!! I was actually considering writing in Badnarik if he didn't win, but decided instead to write in none of the above. Now it looks like I'll actually be able to vote for a candidate I can actually support. I didn't vote for Harry Browne, I thought he was a horrible campaigner (20 dollar yard signs... hello?!), unethical (he said he wasn't going to run again... he lied), and shouldn't have run at all in 2000.

Could it be that we have a candidate for president who is honest, intelligent, a good public speaker, knows the issues well, and is not a politician at all. Hell yeah!!! I might have to join the party now. I must be dreaming, perhaps A.P. has the story wrong. Perhaps they'll be an update tomorrow that says, "I'm sorry we were wrong." I can't seem to find the story anywhere else. I guess I'll find out soon enough. Badnarik 2004!!!! Woo Hoo!!!!

Wait... I found another one, it must be true. From the

Associated Press

ATLANTA – Michael Badnarik, a 49-year-old computer programmer from Austin, won the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination Sunday.

He defeated former Hollywood movie producer Aaron Russo on the convention's third ballot, after former radio talk-show host Gary Nolan, eliminated on the second ballot, endorsed the Texan.

"If I can win the nomination, there's no reason I can't win this election," Mr. Badnarik told a cheering convention that drew more than 800 delegates.

Mr. Badnarik, whose name is pronounced "bad-NAHR-ick," quickly challenged President Bush and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry to work to ensure that he is included in the presidential debates.

"If they believe in the Constitution, if they believe in freedom of speech, and if they truly believe that the Libertarian Party is not a threat, then having me on the dais with them behind a podium to present our message shouldn't be a problem," he said.

It's true. Yes!!! From Aaron Russo's website:

On Sunday May 30th, 2004, the Libertarian Party in its National Convention nominated Michael Badnarik as its candidate for US President. Aaron Russo concedes that Michael Badnarik has won the nomination.

Aaron thanks all of his supporters and volunteers and urges all Libertarians to come together to support Michael Badnarik as the LP nominee.

The web site of the Badnarik campaign is

Friday, May 28, 2004

College Graduation Ceremonies

So Jon Stewart gave a Commencement Address at William & Mary. LSU had the President of these United States give the commencement address. Although I disagree with him politically, he would still have at least been interesting.

A couple of weeks back, I graduated from the University of Georgia. Guess who my commencement speaker was. No, don't read ahead. Try and guess. No, it wasn't a famous politician. No, it wasn't a television or movie personality. No, you're still wrong. Do you want to keep guessing or do you want me to tell you? Okay, I'll tell you, but you are going to be disappointed. I had the President of....

AFLAC!!! What's that duck from that commercial doing here? Oh yeah, I got a stuffed duck as congratulatory gift from my commencement speaker. If you squeeze it, it says 'aflac'. Every third time it speaks, it screams 'aflac'. You know like in the commercial. Suffice it to say that I was disappointed. {UGA's boring graduation ceremony and thus this blog posting brought to you by AFLAC.}

Getting Out of Iraq

In Iraq – the way out, Gary Nolan presents a clear plan regarding getting the US out of Iraq.

There is a way to bring our troops home much sooner, without plunging Iraq into chaos. We can look at what is happening in the Shia province of Dhi Qar, just a few miles southeast of Baghdad. 16 of the largest 20 cities and many smaller towns will have elected councils by June. These were the first free elections in Dhi Qar's history and in almost every case, secular independents and representatives of nonreligious parties did better than the Islamists.

That policy of ad hoc, incremental, rolling devolution needs to be accelerated. Towns and provinces should be given as much sovereignty as possible, as rapidly as possible, on the obvious principle that the constituent parts of ramshackle federations rarely progress at the same pace.

This sounds good to me and I bet it would sound good to the average Iraqi as well.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Fantasia Wins!!!


Go Fantasia!!! This is the first time ever my favorite contestant has won. That's right last year I was rooting for Clay Aiken, and before that it was Justin Guarini. Last year when they kept changing the amount apart the two contestants were from 113,000 to 13,000, and finally to 1,300 I was convinced not that the show was rigged but that Clay and Reuben had actually tied. I did the math. A 1300 vote difference out of 24 million votes is something like 5 thousandths of a percent difference well below any margin of error. My theory was that the separate phone lines they had for Clay and Reuben could only take approximately 12 million phone calls in the 3 hours they gave us. Effectively the lines hit their limit. Sure we're accustomed to close races in this country but a nationwide vote that included 24 million calls coming within 5 thousandths of a percent of one another seems incredibly unlikely to me. Of course that doesn't mean that they necessarily tied, rather it meant that the real winner was unknown. Suppose for example that had the phones had a capacity of 20 million calls each within 3 hours and reuben had gotten 18 million and clay got 15 million. If the lines can only take 12 million we would never see that distinction. But of course people can vote as many times as they wish, so who knows how it would have turned out anyhow. In any case whether it was 113,000, 13,000, or 1300 all of these were well below the margin of error, and chances are given the chaotic nature of the voting system we are using (telephones and mulitple votes) the margin of error is probably something like 4 or 5 percent. That means that either they tied or we don't know given the information who the winner is. But honestly who wants a recount?!? Another Florida?!?

I noticed this year that they didn't give precise statistics on how close the vote was. I have no doubt that that is because of people like me, and people who know what is and isn't statistically significant. In the end American Idol really can't have a recount. They had to go with who ever edged out the other even if it was by sheer chance. Clay isn't exactly doing bad for himself, in fact he's doing much better than Reuben is. So I can't hold any grudges, though I was pretty upset last year. But back to Fantasia. I have mentioned over at Catallarchy that I was not a big fan of Fantasia until country week. That was the top 10 I believe. Since then she has blown me away nearly every week and I've enjoyed every one of her performances. I think I enjoyed 2 or 3 of Latoya's from the whole season. Yes she was a strong singer, but she emoted horribly. She was a bad actress, and part of performing is acting, though there are certainly times when "acting" isn't necessary. Such as Fantasia's performance tonight. I think that Fantasia was the best performer, best voice, and had the most original and interesting style of any of the contestants this year. It was great to see her win. Also I've decide I'm going to try and do show recaps on my blog if I have time when the show comes around next year. I've found myself constantly giving recaps to all my friends and family who missed episodes due to work or other obligations.

In any case this year the best man, or rather woman won and it was a very moving and exciting thing to witness. I guess I'll have to put off my "never again watch fox campaign" on the back burner for a few more years. I'm still angry that they canceled Firefly after only half a season, not to mention John Doe, but that's another story. Finally I believe... Go Fantasia!!!

A Libertarian fantasy some true?

Bush's Third Party Threat|

“The Libertarians will impact Republicans more than Nader will impact Democrats,” said Lawrence Jacobs, the director of the 2004 Elections Project for the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota and possibly the nation’s preeminent expert on third-party politics.

As much as I'd like to fantasize that the libertarians will really cut a swath out of Bush's expected votes, I really don't expect that that will be the case. We may finally garner a vote or two, and we may even manage to have a little more sway than Nader does this time around, but that's a far cry from costing an incumbent president the election. But it is a nice thought though isn't it? Republicans voting their conscience instead of voting their party and a few million of them voting libertarian and costing Bush a close election. But wait just a second. There's that "they own our votes" sentiment again. The very idea that a third party candidate could "cost" another candidate an election is utter bullshit. If republican and conservative voters decide that they can't vote for bush in good conscience, and opt for libertarians instead wouldn't that be Bush's fault and not the fault of libertarians for being on the ballot. Would libertarians really be "taking votes from bush" or in fact earning votes that President Bush failed to earn, or lost due to the policies and practices of his own administration. I still think this election is Bush's to lose, no matter how well the media thinks Kerry is doing. Besides wouldn't it make a little more sense to speculate that the votes "cost" by Nader on the left could balance out the votes "cost" by the Libertarians on the right. But then who will they blame for the outcome of the election? This way they have two scapegoats already waiting in the wings. One for a Bush victory, and one for a Kerry victory. Damn election spoilers! Always messing up the 2-party machine! You know we wouldn't blame you for our messes if you didn't exist, so go not exist somewhere and stop hounding the media to join our debates! Shew! Shew! That campaign-finance reform law was supposed to take care of that problem! Damn pesky third party spoilers...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Back in the Day 3...

Wow, Somewhere over the Rainbough is now 3 months old. 3 months, and I feel like I've been doing this forever. It's been a busy and hectic month with BilLee graduating college, and the two of us moving to Texas so unfortunately we haven't been able to put up as many posts as we have in the past. Nevertheless it's been a good month if an eventful one.

I started off discussing John Kerry's newest attempt to garner military and conservative votes. I followed that by reminiscing on my experiences listening and participating in debates at the Demosthenian Literary Society. Next I ranted about an encounter I had at the Athens Human Rights Festival with a pseudo-communist, I put up my fascinating awe-inspiring election year T-shirt idea, ripped to shreds the academic legitimacy of feminism, and then I talked about moving here, and here, and then arriving here.

Since then I have talked about the mysterious phenomenon of being mistaken for another gender through your writing style in "Writing like a man," have posted a mini-bio from my blogger profile, and finally I have discussed the concept of collateral damage and how the term is being misused to justify an excessive use of force by the U.S. Military in Iraq.

BilLee made some interesting points about dictionaries, discussed population density and open borders, the advantages of ADD, talked about a particular libertarian view on abortion, discussed libertarian electoral guilt, and contemplated the idea of politicians paying or rather not paying taxes.

He put up quotes from Mahatma Gandhi, and Robert A. Heinlein.

And we both made contributions to the big May Day blog over at Catallarchy.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Collateral Damage and the Slippery Slope of War

Recently I was watching the local evening news. It started off with another typical Iraq story. This time 40 civilians were killed when the U.S. dropped bombs on a wedding party in western Iraq. The survivors of the party claimed that this had happened because they had been celebrating the marriage by shooting guns off into the air. They believe that the U.S. military mistook the gunfire as hostile and retaliated. The military had a different story. They said that they had been trailing several fugitives, enemy fighters, who had crossed the border into Iraq and took refuge within the wedding party. Effectively they were saying that their strike on the wedding party was justified because the civilians were hiding fugitive enemy combatants. I do not know whose claims are true if any, but for the sake of argument I am going to presume that the U.S. military's claims are true. This leaves the question, if the wedding party is hiding enemy combatants is the military justified in attacking and killing civilians in their attempt to take out the enemy fighters. There was a time when I thought that any collateral damage was unjust, that there could be no justification for the slaughter of innocents, and civilians during a time of war. I have since changed my mind, and it was not an easy position to arrive at because I am opposed to coercion of any kind. What I came to realize was that war is a dynamic. It's analogous to one's house being on fire. The fire is not simply a state it's a dynamic, and it's a dynamic that can spread to other houses, and other things. Outside of the immediate goal of protecting one's own life, our top priority when faced with a burning house must be to extinguish the flame. Likewise when faced with the dynamic of war our first priority after getting out of the line of fire must be to end the war. Like a fire it will consume property and lives as quickly and efficiently as it can until it is extinguished.

The classic example is of the terrorist holding a child hostage, if the only way to keep the terrorist from killing hundreds of people is to kill him, and the only way to kill him would likewise kill the child, then you take the terrorist out and hope that by some miracle the child survives. In a war the equivalent is taking out a military target in a way that will effectively end the war. If the only way to do that will cause the deaths of civilians also but will prevent a prolonged war that would cost millions more lives, then they are justified in doing it, and in fact should do it provided that there is no other means to achieve that end. The key point here is that there are no alternatives, that the war will spread and cost thousands of lives, and that there is no way to protect the civilians in the line of fire while still effectively ending the war. Not to say that the single action must lead to an immediate end to the war, but it must end either a localized hostile situation or be one of a sequence of actions that are necessary to end the war.

In the situation above with the wedding party the civilians could be considered collateral damage if it was known without a doubt that there were enemy combatants among them, the enemy combatants were a direct and immediate threat to the U.S. military and/or the civilians living and working in Iraq, and there was no way to capture, or stop these combatants from attacking without harming civilians in the process. For example suppose one of those combatants had access to a missile that he was going to launch against the U.S., also suppose that killing or capturing him would prevent the launching of that missile. Then the U.S. military could legitimately (presuming the U.S. wasn't the initial aggressors, that throws the whole issue of "legitimate action" out the window) go in after him if they possessed the above information even if that meant injuring civilians in the process if that could not be avoided. None of these things were actually the case. Even if there were enemy fighters amongst the wedding party they were not a direct and immediate threat to the United States. They were certainly a threat, but not a threat that justified immediate action in which civilian casualties could not be avoided. And this is where we find ourselves on the slippery slope of war. Some civilians are killed by accident when a missile misses its target, the military has a "target of opportunity" and drops a bunker-buster bomb on a civilian restaurant that they believe Saddam Hussein is in. What about the civilians? Is it their fault that Saddam is believed to be eating at their restaurant, is it known that they are collaborators working with Hussein's regime? After a while slightly more inappropriate and drastic measures begin to be taken. We see some enemy fighters cross the border and think they have taken refuge amongst a wedding party. We take out most of the party. Would the U.S. military have done the same if a criminal or "enemy combatant" had been hiding amongst an American wedding party? We know they would not on American soil, the public wouldn't stand for that back home.

While the Iraq war may have started with the intention and goal of keeping civilian casualties to a bare minimum, and only when absolutely necessary. We have veered far off that path, and the U.S. has veered off that path at a time when it most needs to stay on it. How can they gain the respect and trust of Iraqi civilians if they are willing to drop bombs on them whenever an enemy combatant wanders into their midst. This is worse than guilt by association. It's punishment by proximity, and it's not the way to a free and safe Iraq. Without some precise and very narrow standard, collateral damage is a myth. A curtain made for the purpose of hiding the human cost of war, and for conferring guilt on an abstract concept rather than on the individuals dropping the bombs and making the orders. Justice cannot be established in a war-torn country, nor any country for that matter if we are not willing to make every effort to protect the innocent, while attempting to end war. Instead we will make new enemies, new combatants, new vengeance seekers, and angry survivors, and we will spread the fire of war instead of extinguishing it.

Robert A. Heinlein

Here are a few quotes to get a sense of the guy.
"An armed society is a polite society"
-- Robert A. Heinlein
'The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress'

"The whole principle is wrong; it's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't eat steak."
- author Robert A. Heinlein on censorship

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

Free will is a golden thread running through the frozen matrix of fixed events.
- Robert A. Heinlein The Rolling Stones

To be matter of fact about the world is to blunder into fantasy--and dull fantasy at that--as the real world is strange and wonderful.

"Never try and teach a pig to sing: it's a waste of time, and it annoys the pig."
Time Enough for Love

"I may be wrong, but I'm not uncertain."
"Glory Road"

>From the last page of "Methusulah's Children"


"There ought not to be anything in the whole universe that man can't
poke his nose into."

May you live as long as you love and love as long as you live.
Check Out:

Robert Heinlein - Wikiquote for a few more quotes from Heinlein.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Gremlins don't like the Trivium

I was going to put up a great post about a book I'm reading on the Trivium, but it basically got wiped out because of an online publishing snafu that I'm not going to go into because I'm a little grumbly about the loss of what I consider would have been a great post. So that tonight won't be a complete blogging waste, if anybody is interested I'm ENFP.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

From My Blogger Profile

View My Profile

Because I'm really tired tonight, and because BilLee's computer has come down with a virus and is currently in the shop, I've decided to share something I've already written. The super condensed story of my life from my Blogger profile:

Raised by my grandparents of the psychotic baptist tradition, now atheist. Once republican for a short while right after high school, now I consider myself libertarian though I have never been a member of any party and I have not decided if I want to join. I have volunteered and typically attend local libertarian meetings but I'm reticent to become a dues-paying, card-carrying member. I spent about 2 years in college at UGA when I decided it wasn't the place for me. I went from Physics and Astronomy, to Cognitive Science, to Economics, and finally decided I could learn more on my own and I wouldn't get a job with any of those degrees anyhow. Now I spend most of my time writing and hope to ultimately make a living writing novels, and short stories of the Sci-Fi Genre. I also want to have kids 4 or 5 if I can manage it. BilLee and myself are hoping to start a school in Texas modeled after the Sudbury Valley School. I'm not sure what that will take or if it's feasible. Right now I'm considering working on an associates degree in graphic arts, and/or public speaking.

My life could fill volumes I think, or maybe it just feels that way. Anyhow I may put up a little more detail in the future, but most of the pre-college stuff is depressing and traumatic; thus not great for blogging in my opinion. So there you have it, feel free to check out my profile if you want to see my close-to-resemblance-self-portrait, and find out about my fascinating taste in music. ;)

Monday, May 17, 2004

Writing like a man...

So I was talking to BilLee's older sister last night, and she was telling me how she was looking forward to reading my thoughts on today (yesterday) on the blog. She had visited SotR for the first time yesterday and found my thoughts on the move to Austin interesting. The problem is that I really don't want this to turn into one of those blogs where I give people the minute details of my day... Today I got up late and ate chocolate cake for breakfast again. Then I watched 3 hours of leave it to beaver reruns...

It's an opinion blog, thus I have to be opinionated. But while I was moving I didn't have time to write epic rants about the evils of feminism, or why the typical protests and rallies held by left-wing activists don't qualify as civil disobedience. Instead I put up a little more minutia than I typically share, nor that I intend to share in the future. Thus I must now return to my typical ranting and raving. ;)

I was telling BilLee's sister, Anne, last night about how often I get mistaken for a male online. The typical reason for this is that I "have a male-sounding writing style." Of course I don't always correct people who just refer to me as that "guy over at Somewhere over the Rainbough," or "that guy from athens", or something of that sort. But a few times I've had to when the speculation went a little further. Recently someone speculated that BilLee and myself were a gay couple (of the male variety), and another time a guy told me during a debate that he "didn't care how big my dick was". This discussion led Anne to ask something I hadn't considered: What exactly is a female supposed to sound like? Am I supposed to be sweet and delicate with my own opinions?

Perhaps I'm supposed to be more diplomatic. I would certainly be more strategic with how I expressed my opinions given a social setting and certain company. I have yet to express my opinions on Gay marriage to BilLee's grandparents, nor to my grandparents for that matter. Mainly because it hasn't come up though not because I think it would offend them. I suspect it wouldn't.

I suspect that most of the time I get mistaken for male not because of my writing style but because the people making the mistake are male. They are projecting themselves onto my writing style when they read it. When I first got heavily into arguing over at The Ponderer's Guild I tended to think that everyone whose screen name didn't distinctly suggest a gender was female. It turned out that that was almost never the case. So I suspect the same phenomemnon is occurring when others read my writings. In any case my writing style is not a reflection of my gender, and I suspect that gender has little impact on the style and content of one's writing. If it does have an impact it's a far subtler one that most people think. My writing style is a reflection of my personality: INTJ (introverted intuitive thinking judging). Read a few blogs of opinionated INTJ's and you'll see what I mean.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Finally Here

Yeah, I know we said we'd be back on Friday or Saturday, but we were wrong. We got into Austin yesterday (saturday). To be specific we got into Cedar Park Texas a suburb of Austin. We are staying in a nice and fairly new house there. It's a little surreal, okay it's more than a little surreal. We live in suburbia, I mean the houses 20 feet apart, sidewalks through the front yard, 2 car garage, picket fence, suburbia. The house is great, and spacious compared to where we were previously living. It has 3 bedrooms 2 and 1/2 bathrooms, a huge living room, and a kitchen with one of those little island thingys in it. Unfortunately we don't have a fridge, phone service, cable service, gas, a sofa, or garbage service. So right now I am at BilLee's parent's house using their internet service to write this. Nothing is set up, nothing is unpacked, and I'm really nervous about where our income is going to come from. But that being said, after almost 20 hours of driving (whatever happened to the 16 it was supposed to take I don't know) and over 1000 miles, I am relieved to be here.

It is so much nicer than Athens. It's so flat and open, and there is just so much stuff here. So far I haven't noticed many major differences about Texas as compared to Georgia. Though there are a few things worth noting such as the fact that drivers in Metro Atlanta are insane!!! I have no doubt that they are the worst drivers in the country. In Texas they have these wide shoulders on the road and the drivers will pull onto the shoulders while they are driving if they think that you want to get by. Metro Atlantans on the other hand think it's their job to punish you for not having an intimate understanding of Atlanta roads.

For example once a few years back BilLee and myself were driving to Woodstock from Athens. We had to get onto 285 (the loop around Atlanta) and from there exit on to I-75. Well we saw a sign saying that the 75 exit was next, and about a half mile away so we got into the far right lane. Unfortunately for us we did not know that 2 more lanes were going to be added in that short stretch of road before the exit, and that they would be exit only lanes for I-75. We noticed very quickly when the lanes appeared, and BilLee realized he had to get over into those lanes maybe 2 seconds after we noticed they were there so he tried to get into that lane (which shouldn't have been difficult because it was right next to us). The problem was that the green SUV that had been behind us when there was no lane there was now beside us, I mean in 2 seconds or less that SUV managed to go from behind us to beside us and would not let us over. BilLee tried to speed up and get infront of them, and they sped up, he tried to get behind them and the car now behind them sped up, and it only took a few seconds more to miss the exit. That's metro Atlanta drivers in a nutshell. Their focus is to get where they are going as quickly as possible no matter what craziness might ensue due to their unnecessary rush, and they think it is incredibly important to never ever let someone merge in front of them at least if it is within a certain amount of space from their car. If you want to merge in front of them in anything less than about 5 car lengths they will treat you like you're cutting in line, when they've been waiting for hours (given Metro Atlanta traffic they probably have been). Anyhow I'm sure there are nutty drivers around Austin, I've seen them before but at least it's not Metro Atlanta. You can actually be a courteous and careful driver out here. If you are not aggressive with your driving on Atlanta roads, you'll likely get killed, and you'll never get where you're going.

There is one other interesting thing I noticed that I wanted to mention. In Georgia there are littering signs that say: "no throwing trash on highway, min fine $500." In Lousiana I saw signs that said: "no littering highway maximum fine $3000.00"
In Georgia it's like they are saying, "don't you dare..." whereas in Lousiana it's more of a "go ahead we could use the money." Okay that's all for now. I have an obligation to go out and eat Texmex food until I'm sick of it. Okay not an obligation, I just want to. ;)

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

A quick update

It looks like we'll be leaving tomorrow morning. Almost everything is packed, and the apartment is in that general state of chaos where all that is left is the few things you can't do without for a night, and the stuff that didn't quite find a place to go. There's the computer of course, and then there are random candles, penny jars, a stereo, an old purse and lots of other such junk floating about. There is very little furniture left and soon I'll be taking the few remaining pictures off the walls.

Somehow no matter how much we do it doesn't seem like we're are any closer to being done. There are still half a dozen things in my mind that I have to do, not including the bit of cleaning that needs to be done so that I don't leave my brother with all the work. I think I may send BilLee to bed and stay up all night getting the work done, hopefully not though. Luckily we won't be pulling our stuff to austin with the honda civic. It turned out that the largest trailor BilLee's car could haul was 4' by 6' by 4', that's right 96 square feet. We decided to opt for a 1000 square foot moving truck instead. Also it's kind of up in the air what utilities we will have when we get to the house in austin. Cable? (I'll die if I miss the last episodes of American Idol and Enterprise... maybe not die but you get the point) Telephone? (...yeah it's hard to blog without an internet connection, but that should be simple to set up...) Electricity?(!!!) BilLee's family has the "don't worry we'll figure it out when you get out here" attitude going, that I have yet to master. But that's what we're doing so, whatever works.

My head has been flooded lately with lots of great stuff to blog on, now that I can barely find a minute to sit down, much less write compelling arguments. Hopefully I can open the floodgates this weekend when everything (oh please, please!!!) will be back to normal. Oh yeah and we just got the new issue of Reason magazine and it has a picture of our apartment complex on the front of it. It's really, really, cool and I have yet to even crack it open. Okay I guess that's it. Next time you here from me I'll be in Austin, Texas. Hasta la Vista...

Sunday, May 09, 2004

We're Moving!

No the site is staying put. But BilLee and myself are moving from Athens, GA to Austin, TX this week (OMG!!!). I'm going to start packing any minute now... Can't I just be there you know... beam me up scotty and I appear with all my stuff 4 states and 1000 miles away. Nope it doesn't work that way unfortunately. Hopefully I'll be able to get my animal rights essay up on Catallarchy... it's written, but I've got to rework it a bit and I don't know when I'll have time to do that. So we will try to keep stuff being posted this week but chances are it's going to be a bit sparse until we get settled in in Austin.

Just for fun I put my new and old addresses into mapquest. Here was the result:

Total Est. Time: 16 hours, 55 minutes Total Est. Distance: 1030.78 miles

It's so far! And pulling a trailor full of junk with a little honda civic over 1000 miles isn't my idea of fun.... whew...

Okay I've got to get to work now or I'll never actually get there. I hope to have some posts this week but if I don't get around to it amidst the mayhem of packing, moving and unpacking I suspect the dust will be settled by next weekend. So check back here next friday or Saturday when hopefully my regular blogging will resume. And if you're real adventurous check back during the week and you'll likely get updates on our moving progress. So see y'all later... I gotta get busy!

Friday, May 07, 2004

My Thoughts on Feminism

A friend of mine recently asked me via email what my thoughts were on feminism and whether or not I considered myself a feminist. Here's how I responded:

No I am absolutely not a feminist. I'll tell you why in a moment, first I would like to direct your attention to the one and only group of political feminists that I have any respect for: the individualist feminists. Unfortunately most feminists are socialists masquerading as individualists, though I'm not entirely sure how that came about. I do have a few friends that are feminists and they are always democrats, and typically sympathetic with communism (Probably because I've only known those that floated around college campuses).

Feminism is an outgrowth of the Women's Rights movement. They would have you believe that they are the Women's Rights movement but I think they have grown far apart from their roots. Women's Rights were once a very important issue in America, and it still is in countries where women do not enjoy the same rights as men. That is not the case anymore in the U.S. as a result feminism has had to change from being about women's rights to being about women's issues. (The problem is it is not really about women's issues... more on that later).

Feminism was born sometime between the Women's rights/suffrage movement of the early 20th century and the 1960's sexual revolution. When exactly it came about is disputed, but it was here in all it's glory in the 60's, and back then parts of feminism were a good thing. What I mean is there were things that were accomplished through the movement, and by those sympathetic to the movement that needed to be accomplished. Specifically in the area of reproductive rights. At one point contraceptives were banned in the U.S., and of course there's also the whole abortion thing, also back then it was a lot harder for women to get into the work force because of the social biases towards working women. So there were things that needed to be fought, rights that needed to be won, things that needed to be said, and progress that needed to be made. And it was. Which is why current American feminism is a bit of a derelict (it's effectively obsolete as far as obtaining rights owed to females in America goes).

Unfortunately feminism was never exclusively about the rights and issues of women, this would be okay if it were about "equal rights" instead of being exclusively about women, but that's not the case. It has also carried along with it a handful of left-wing politics and issues that really do not have anything to do with women. For example affirmative action, labor rights/living wage issues, disability rights, welfare, and as described on the National organization of women's website: fighting the right ("the right" meaning the republicans). That's why in my opinion feminism is nothing but a bunch of political activists masquerading a left-wing agenda as the "voice of women." Much of the whole "political correctness" crap came from them.

Nowadays almost every major university has women's studies departments that sit around changing things that say "the rights of man" to the "rights of persons," "history" to "herstory," anything that says "his" to "his or her," anything that says "mankind" to "humankind," and try to come up with feminist interpretations of everything from Shakespeare to the Bible.

But here is what bugs me most about the feminists, while they were once in favor of equal rights for women, they are now very strongly opposed to any one, or any measure that might help to restore equal rights if it means taking away some special privilege or status from women. For example if you were to get married and then divorced you could be required to make alimony payments to your ex-wife. Alimony is effectively child-support for a grown woman. The practice came from a time when a woman could not have supported herself without a husband. Divorce at that time would have been effectively kicking out a dependent. Husbands were considered financially responsible for their wives even if they decided to divorce them, so after the divorce they had to continue to support them. There are other laws on the books originally made to protect women and families that now violate the rights of males.

Feminists claim they are about "equal rights" not "special rights," but if that's true why do they oppose getting rid of alimony? They also oppose getting rid of child support laws, and custody laws that treat males unequally. For example if a girl told you she was pregnant with your child, and decided to have the child, and you agreed to pay child support, you could not stop paying it later even if you gave up all custody, and discovered that the child was not yours. Furthermore custody laws favor the mothers over the fathers, and fathers often get no say in whether a child is put up for adoption by the mother (this would vary depending on the state though), and in many states mothers are not required to pay child support if the father get's custody whereas the father would be required to if the mother got custody.

Let me put it this way if a woman has a child and she doesn't want it she can give up the responsibility by putting it up for adoption. When she does this she releases legal custody of it, but also has no financial obligations to her future offspring. Now suppose a guy has a child and wants to release custody and his financial obligations to it, sorry no can do! It's up to the mother. If she decides she's keeping it then the father has to pay even if he get's no visitation at all, even if he has other kids, and even if he cannot afford it.

Now I wouldn't expect feminists to take up the issues of men. Their focus and calling is about women, but surely a movement born out of equal rights, and of attaining equal rights for an oppressed group (women) would not oppose other groups working to legitmately obtain equality before the law, would they? Of course they do, because they want women to enjoy their current special status in family law no matter what. Imagine what would happen if men didn't have to be responsible for the child they created, you know, like the way women don't have to be...

one other thing... the self-proclaimed "staunch feminists" I have known typically think feminism for women is about like "gay pride" for homosexuals. They think its about being proud to be a woman and working towards equal rights and equal protection under the law for women. For some of them perhaps that is the intent, but it is not the outcome of the policies supported by feminists. If I thought the feminists were capable of achieving greater equality before the law for everyone I would support them in spite of their crazy politics, but alas I do not.

Tiny Drops in an Enormous Electoral Bucket or Libertarian Guilt

Over at Catallarchy, Micha Ghertner put up a post called Tiny Drops in an Enormous Bucket.
It is true that the economic effect on sweatshop worker’s wages from one American consumer’s purchases are negligible. But, then, so are the tariffs the U.S. government places on one American consumer’s sugar purchases. Millions upon millions of negligible effects add up to quite a wallop, to the point where the additional cost American consumers must pay for sugar far outweighs any benefit enjoyed by the American sugar industry. So too, if, instead of avoiding products made in sweatshops out of some misguided sense of guilt, American consumers recognize that their individual, imperceptible, negligible consumption choices add up to a large benefit for poor workers in third world countries, large groups of people may choose to change their consumption choices in ways that are not negligible, but extraordinarily significant for sweatshop workers.

I agree that the guilt Micha is describing here is misguided, but libertarians have what I consider to be some misguided guilt in another area.

Libertarians often feel guilty about voting. I view this as legitimate in regards to only one group of libertarians, the voluntaryists. This group not only refuses to vote, but they also find ways not to pay taxes nor take part in anything supported nonvoluntarily.

"Voluntaryism does not require of people that they violently overthrow their government, or use the electoral process to change it; merely that they shall cease to support their government, whereupon it will fall of its own dead weight."

I will always hold their path in high esteem, but I see it as a tough path that few possess the skills to take at this stage in the game. I surely do not think that I do.

Where does that leave the rest of us libertarians who (for the most part) pay taxes? Well. Regardless of what we tell ourselves, we provide economic support to that which (in its current form) we oppose. Sure, we don't want to. Sure, we're victims in the current scenario, but we have tools at our disposal to stop. We have the choice of the ballot box or the ammo box and as long as we retain the basic right to speak freely about politics as I'm doing here, I must summarily oppose anyone resorting to that ammo box as a competing tyrant. This leaves the ballot box.

The old French word for the vote was le voix, the voice. Voting expresses one's political voice. One voice does not elect. Election comes from listening to the choir of voices. Back in 1992, twelve percent of that choir went to someone who wasn't elected, Perot. That twelve percent effected change. They got us a balanced budget. We may accomplish similar ends when expressing our political voice. So either join with the voluntaryists or join with me in voting. If you wish to actively express your libertarianism, these are the only options that you shouldn't ever feel guilty about.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

So Politicians Don't Pay Taxes

According to Magnifisyncopathological, Politicians Don't Pay Taxes: When bureaucrats claim they are making sacrifices by raising taxes, "they won't be sacrificing anything; they merely soak up less [of the] productive wealth from the rest of us."

He includes an excerpt from Murray Rothbard's Making Economic Sense, that I thought was a very good point. When politicians pay income tax, they are still net tax receivers because their income comes from taxation. Thus instead of getting an $80,000 income from taxation they will get a $60,000 income because they will "pay" $20,000 back to the U.S. Government. Thus they are not really paying taxes at all.

Ultimate Resource II

Ultimate Resource II is fully available on the internet. Before getting into any discussion about overpopulation one should read this book. It's chock full of data which the author Julian Simon excels at making easily understandable for those of us who don't think in statistics.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Mohandas Karamchand "Mahatma" Gandhi (1869 - 1948)

Here are a few quotes to get a sense of the guy.
No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive.

The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still voice within.

"I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers."

"If I seem to take part in politics, it is only because politics encircles us today like the coil of a snake from which one cannot get out, no matter how much one tries. I wish therefore to wrestle with the snake."

Where there is love there is life.

To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.

"What you do is of little signifigance. But it is very important that you do it."
Check out:
Mohandas Gandhi - Wikiquote for other quotes from Gandhi.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

T-shirt idea

Okay I came up with an idea for a T-shirt feel free to use it if you like.


Any body but Bush...


Mussolini/Tojo 2004

That's my little stab at the democrats, but honestly haven't they considered that the "anybody but bush" sentiment could go to far. That they could end up with someone worse. But then a democrat could never be worse than Bush right? Yeah right is more like it.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Socio-political ponderings

Jay at A Voyage to Arcturus has an interesting post about the red state/blue state dynamic:

How many more years before outmigration from the Northeast and upper Midwest renders those states politically irrelevant? How long before the West Coast implodes when its wealth-creating people depart?

What if the Red States are the future? What if the Blue States really don't have anything to offer -- not only for traditional families, but for their favored groups? What if gays and minorities and women are better off in the Red States, to say nothing of all the people who just want to be able to earn a living and actually keep most of it?

Strong economies pull new people from elsewhere. I originated in the Democrat state of Louisiana and, after college in Georgia, I'm going to the very Republican state of Texas because of the strong economy in Austin. My immediate family also moved there for that reason. So, I can really sea the dynamic described here transpiring.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

The State of Communism

BilLee and myself went to the Athens Human Rights Festival today and had a pretty good time. I wasn't too fond of going at first, but it turned out to be better than I expected. Mostly you end up hearing a lot of speakers complain about this or that issue, and I mean they really complain. They do not typically sound like they are trying to garner support for their cause, but like they are trying to air their political laundry to a sympathetic audience. Nevertheless it wasn't so bad this year. We went to help the athens area libertarian party run their booth.

Ironically we ended up setting up right next to a group of communists. They were calling themselves the "revolutionary workers" or something of that sort. So the guy that was running the booth sounded like he was from germany or spain (I'm not good with accents), and he was wearing a shirt that had pictures of mao, lenin, marx, and engels on the front.

Having recently familiarized myself with many of these particular historical figures I decided to say a few things about them as did BilLee. He seemed to think that Lenin was a great guy so we pointed out that Lenin murdered thousands of Kulaks (a group of wealthy russian peasants), and bilLee mentioned Stalin's use of food quotas to subdue the ukrainians through starvation. The communist guy claimed these were appropriate acts of self defense.

Eventually BilLee coaxed him into taking the world's smallest political quiz. That's what was so great. He came up 100 on social issues and 0 on economic issues. What does that mean? Well of course the economic freedom side was fairly predictable. Communists want to control everything economic and they think it's their right to do it. But his 100 on the social side meant that he opposed military drafts (that means no conscription armies), was in favor of ending the drug war, repealing regulations on sex between consenting adults, opposed to government control of the airwaves, and best of all was in favor of open immigration. I have never met a communist in favor of open borders. Which tells me how little the guy has in common with, and understands the political views which he espouses. Sure this was just one guy, but it's a pleasant thought that communism has turned into a political fashion statement that people change as soon as they realize how silly they look.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

May Day

Today is May Day and over at Catallarchy where both Rainbough and I are contributors this day is being celebrated as A Day of Remembrance with thirteen posts dedicated to this purpose.

"For over a hundred years, May Day has been celebrated as a holiday for workers to commemorate their struggle for a better life and honor their contributions to society....

To mark this day, we remember those who lost their lives and fell victim to the ideologies mistakenly espoused by those who claimed to elevate the workers of the world."

I put up a post on the nature of socialism. I focused on the philosophical underpinnings rather than economics.

Rainbough put up a post regarding the Solovetsky concentration camp and, by extension, the system of forced labor camps which were established in the first years of the Communist regime in the Soviet Union.

By the way for those of you celebrating Beltaine today, the Mayfest, or any of the other ancient European spring fertility festivals celebrated today, I hope you enjoy the the festivities of the day. Dance around a Maypole for me. I got finals next week so I won't have time to participate in any formal festivities this year.