Thursday, November 26, 2009

Don't say Grace...

...say Justice.

I am busy and have nothing to say that Craig Biddle hasn't already said pretty damn well.

The religious tradition of saying grace before meals becomes especially popular around the holidays, when we all are reminded of how fortunate we are to have an abundance of life-sustaining goods and services at our disposal. But there is a grave injustice involved in this tradition. It is the injustice of thanking an alleged God for the productive accomplishments of actual men.

Go read the rest.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Sunday, November 15, 2009


I'd like to issue a retraction.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Freddie Mac (still) Hemorrhaging Money

Freddie Mac lost $6.8 billion in the third quarter of this fiscal year. They consider themselves in decent shape because, for the second straight quarter, they've lost billions of dollars but not so many billions of dollars that they needed a "federal cash infusion" (read: stolen tax dollars). They've already received $51 billion since September 2008. Fannie Mae asked for another $15 billion a couple of days ago. Both of these entities own or guarantee half of the mortgages in this country.

Sometimes I feel like Francis Dolarhyde: "Do you see? DO YOU SEE?!" Are people really that blind to the crucial intersection of morality and economics? Tragically (though not surprisingly), all evidence points to "yes".

Brace yourselves, kids. It is still early. And it will get uglier.


Monday, October 19, 2009

This battle has just begun

I spend a lot of time on the internet. I get almost all of my news there (aside from the occasional edition of the Wall Street Journal purchased outside my favorite diner and the occasional bored venture onto primetime news networks), my blog rounds include upwards of 150 blogs ranging from current events to politics to economics to news analysis to philosophy to sports. I have to know what's going on in the world and in my fields (philosophy and history), so I try to keep up. But sometimes some of the sites usually on my regular rounds fall by the wayside (this happens to The New Clarion all the time--I don't know why I keep spacing them out). One of those that has fallen out of my regular rotation lately is Brian Leiter's blog. It happens.

For those of you who don't know, Leiter's blog is predominantly reporting news about the academic profession of philosophy: who left where to teach where, who died, etc., with a bit of reporting on the intellectual culture in general thrown in. Leiter is a philosopher and legal scholar at the University of Chicago and also is the editor of The Philosophical Gourmet Report, a ranking (often controversial) of philosophy graduate schools in the English-speaking world. 

Well, I stopped by Leitner's place again today and saw this. If you don't know who Donald Hubin is, don't worry. His contribution to philosophy is 30-odd years of poorly reasoned and wholly uninfluential articles on justice, paternity, rights, values and sundry other topics in ethics. 

These are the people young Objectivists (especially philosophy majors) will encounter in universities. Someone who thinks of his job not as teaching young people how to think rationally about philosophical issues, but as disabusing the poor little lemmings of their nonsense dogmas. And that's if you're lucky. Many of them are openly hostile. Trust me, I've seen them all.

And to include Rothbard in the same category as Rand, or even someone like Nozick, is just insulting. I'm sorry, but libertarians are going to have realize that Rothbard was a piss-poor thinker. 

Look, I've dealt with these cats for five years. I'm in it for the long haul: PhD. Don't let them break you down. And they will try to break you down like you're an alcoholic at an intervention. Stand your ground, be respectful (as long as they deserve it) and, above all, know your material. Know it backwards and forwards. Not only Objectivism but whoever you are studying. If you have to know Schopenhauer's opinion of Kant's transcendental aesthetic, know it thoroughly. If you have to know Schumpeter's criticism of Keynes' "general theory", know it thoroughly. If you have to know the influence of classical teachings on the Founding Fathers, know it thoroughly. 

If you know your material, know how to rationally integrate that knowledge and can articulate it eloquently, they have nothing on you.


Saturday, October 17, 2009


It's looking more and more like I may owe Josh McDaniels an apology.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Don't act surprised.

Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

This was going to happen at some point during his presidency. Might as well get it out of the way now, when he is merely promising universal prosperity and world peace, then when his nonsense collapses all around him.

I'll say nothing else except to point you to the list of recipients of this Oslo trinket and ask whether you think it should really be such an honor to be in that company.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

An Astonishing Panorama of the Endtimes

Do I really need to say anything else?


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Les Paul, 1915-2009

I've been a day or so behind for the last week, so I just learned, after stopping by Myrhaf's, that the great Les Paul has passed away. A brilliant musician and innovator, there is no rock and roll without this man. He developed one of the first (and eventually most ubiquitous) solid body electric guitars as well as developing overdubbing, multitracking, delay and phasing effects, as well as innovative playing styles. 

A great man whose influence will live as long as rock and roll. Rest in peace, Les Paul. 

Thank you, Les.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hall of Fame

Well, Shannon Sharpe has been snubbed from the Hall of Fame. I shouldn't be surprised. The Denver Broncos just get routinely snubbed from Canton. Floyd Little, Haven Moses, Tom Jackson, Steve Atwater, Karl Mecklenburg. RANDY GRADISHAR. It's obscene really.

From what I understand, there is a lot of backroom politics bullshit that goes on with the pile of fools who are tapped to vote for the inductees. Just look who else isn't in Canton: Cris Carter, Steve Tasker, Alex Karras, Ken Stabler and Jerry Kramer. Kramer's snub is particularly shameful. I acknowledge some bias, being a former offensive lineman myself, but this man really was the greatest guard to ever play the game. And he kicked field goals!

Now, I have a whole season of being disappointed by the Frankenstein monster that Jeff McDaniels has turned my team into.



Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Really swingin', man...

I had always assumed that people swinging their arms when they walked was somehow a balance thing. I never gave it much thought though. Pendulums are often used to keep the balance of tall, skinny structures and that is what arms essentially are when you're walking: swinging pendulums.

Now, I read this article, which states that arm swinging is largely believed to be an evolutionary carry-over "from when we used to go about on all fours," but now a new paper reveals that the purpose of arm swinging may actually be balance and energy economy. Really? That former was the default theory? Huh.

"Rather than a facultative relic of the locomotion needs of our quadrupedal ancestors, arm swinging is an integral part of the energy economy of human gait."

Well, yeah. Didn't you ever try to walk with your arms straight your sides when you were a kid just to see what it felt like? I was under the impression that this was a near-universal childhood curiosity.

This is not the first time in recent memory that I've read about an allegedly interesting scientific paper making some common sense claim that was causing a stir. A few months ago I read an article about a computer science professor named James Crook who claimed to have an algorithm for solving sudoku puzzles.

His system requires players to mark up empty cells in a Sudoku grid with all possible remaining numbers and, by comparing number sets, to labour through a tree of options that eventually produces a solution.

That's pretty much the method I, and everyone else I know, use to solve sudoku puzzles. Am I missing something?


Friday, July 10, 2009

Ligatio in caritas

For those of you who can stomach it, the Pope's new encyclical, Caritas in veritate, is here.

It's quite long and I have not made my way through the entire thing yet, but it is disgusting. 

As Gus Van Horn points out, the new screed from Benedictus reminds one eerily of John Paul's Populorum Progressio, which Ayn Rand annihilated in "Requiem for Man" in Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal. Indeed, it is essentially Populorum Progressio updated for 2009. It even discusses Populorum Progressio in detail at many points. 

Of course, the call for what would essentially be a world government is the most jarring. 

Take a good hard look at everything, kids. And I mean everything. This is fast becoming the world many of you asked for. So, don't flinch. You are not spectators, you are part of the spectacle. And you will not be forgiven. 


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ahmadinejad warns Obama

Ahmadinejad tells Obama not to interfer in Iran

It doesn't matter who the president is, kids. As long as he is the American president, there will be trouble.

Obama could get down on his hand and knees and lick the feet of Ahmadinejad and all the Iranian mullahs and it would not make a damn bit of difference. Their problem is with the West in general and America in particular. To these medieval mystics, Obama is still the president of the Great Satan and anything he is says will only be interpreted as "Western filth" and aggressive American "imperialism" and "interference".

There is no coming to terms with a violent pile of religious crazies.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Reading list

I know it seems like I've abandoned this blog, but, I assure you, I haven't. It's been a hectic semester.

I will resume blogging with some regularity soon, but in the interim perhaps my reading list will be of interest to some. I noticed, near the end of the semester, that my usual pace in getting through books had slowed considerably. Now that my schedule has loosened up a bit, I'm trying to get back on my usually schedule.


Gottfried Leibniz, Philosophical Essays
I've never liked Leibniz, as you can imagine. 300 pages of blathering about "windowless monads" didn't change that.

Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins, What Nietzsche REALLY Said
An entertaining, though occasionally annoying in its sympathy, explanation of much of Nietzsche's more obtuse and oft-misunderstood nonsense. I have spent years away from Nietzsche and this book is one of the last in my attempt to reacquaint myself with his thought.

Nietzsche's books are what introduced me to philosophy when I was in high school. However, though I was initially impressed, the more I read the more I began to despise him. The final straw (well, straws) was his belligerent criticism of Darwin and defense of Lamarck--which, oddly enough, he made in a manner identical to the manner of defense he often criticized. And--in "Human, All Too Human", I believe--him saying that there are no absolute truths. One is tempted to ask, "What do you think you've just uttered, Fred?" The most frustrating aspect, of course, is that Nietzsche was fully aware that he was wallowing in contradictions. He didn't care.

Unfortunately, since my particular interest in philosophy is the philosophy of history, I will encounter a lot of Nietzsche.

Jacques Barzun, The House of Intellect
This book should have been much better than it was, especially given its topic, which is the intellectuals' betrayal of the intellect. After reading "From Dawn to Decadence", I expected more out of Barzun.

Hayden White, Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe
Again, the philosophy of history--and historiography. White is one of the five biggest names in the field in the past fifty years (despite not actually being a philosopher; he is more of a literary theorist masquerading as a historian). Of course, he concludes, after much seemingly endless rambling, that "tropes"--styles of discourse, such as synecdoche, irony, metaphor and allegory--are what determine the nature and content of histories (that is, historians' writings on history). I don't think I have to point out the postmodern relativistic historiography that this implies. And I don't think I have to point out that I find the whole pile of nonsense insufferable.

I did write a review of this... book. I may put it up here if I thinks its up to snuff after I give it a good once-over.

Martin Amis, Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million
As far as books on Soviet history go, as well as books about the horrors of Stalinism, you could do much better than this book. See Tucker's "Stalin in Power"; most of the work by Robert Conquest on Soviet Russia--especially "The Great Terror -- A Reassessment"; "The Black Book of Communism" by Courtois, et. al.; "Russia under the Bolshevik Regime" by Richard Pipes.

This book is a dreadful read. I don't know who taught Amis to write (hopefully, it wasn't his father, the novelist Kingsley Amis, who was not the greatest writer himself, but certainly better than the choppy, meandering prose of "Koba").

Ayn Rand, The Foutainhead and Atlas Shrugged
It's been two years since I last read "Atlas Shrugged" and four since I last read "The Fountainhead". I needed to read these, for spiritual fuel.


Robert Mayhew (ed.), Essays on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

This just came in the mail and I am enjoying the hell out of it so far.

Alva Noe, Out of Out Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness

I bought this after reading Harry Binswanger's review on HBL. I have to say, interesting so far. It's fun to watch one of the new breed of philosopher/neuroscientists calling everyone else in his milieu on their bullshit, and coming up with good arguments against them on top of it.

Keith Winschuttle, The Killing of History

Rereading this one. Some of Windschuttle's arguments could strike deeper, on a more fundamental philosophical level (given the errors in is his own philosophy, I didn't expect as much going in anyway). But this is still a striking polemic. And it's all kinds of fun reading his fisking of all the literary critics, social theorists and sundry postmodern and relativist entities that pass for intellectuals these days.


Laura J. Snyder, Reforming Philosophy: A Victorian Debate on Science and Society

Emanuel Derman, My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance

A.O. Lovejoy, Essays in the History of Ideas

Ludwig von Mises, Theory and History: An Interpretation of Social and Economic Revolutio

Victor Hanson, Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power

Ralph Lerner, The Thinking Revolutionary: Principle and Practice in the New Republic

David S. Wyman, A Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust

Jim Powell, Bully Boy: The Truth about Theodore Roosevelt's Legacy

John Clive, Not By Fact Alone

Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution

Isaiah Berlin, Three Critics of the Enlightenment: Vico, Hamann, Herder

I read three books a week on average, so I like to keep the list of "on deck" books at about 10-12.

I have plenty on my plate as it is, but any suggestions are welcome.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Faith and Force

As if history weren't replete enough with vivid examples:

Faith and force are corollaries, kids. When you abandon reason, you pick up a gun.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Told ya...

North Korea says it has restarted nuclear facilities.

Really, is anyone surprised by this?


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Just so you know...

To reiterate what I said elsewhere earlier today:

"Just so no other slobbering environmentalist or whiny mystic ever asks me again: NO, I do NOT feel any sort of reverence when staring blank-eyed at nature or "the heavens". You want to impress me? Level that patch of trees and put up a skyscraper and then pierce those heavens with a satellite and tell me the structure of galaxies."

So, stop asking. 


Thursday, April 2, 2009

As a Denver Broncos fan...

...I have been watching with stunned horror what has been happening to my team this off-season. Firing Mike Shanahan was almost unforgivable. But this McDaniels cat has pissed all over everything good Shanahan had built in the past few years. He alienated Jay Cutler (say what you will about him, he is a good QB) to pursue that flash-in-the-pan Matt Cassell, gutted the coaching staff, made questionable acquisitions, needlessly overhauled a solid offensive scheme and coutless other screw-ups. And Kyle Orton. Kyle-goddamn-Orton?! Does McDaniels intend to use this failure as a starter? Given his clear record of clinical insanity, I wouldn't be surprised.

I grimace at the fact of having to NOT want Denver to win the Super Bowl. Perhpas if they fail hard enough, Bowlen will snap out of whatever nonsense has overtaken his brain and fire that Belichick mini-me, McDaniels. And I just can't stand watching these...people win a championship with my team. It's like watching the marriage of someone you used to love to a guy you know is a bastard. 

I could go on about this forever, but I just needed to vent. Feel free to ignore this tangent.


UPDATE: Oh, look at this prattling fool. This franchise treated Cutler like crap. They gutted his coaching staff, tried to trade him behind his back, trashed the offensive scheme he was working in (which, by the way, had them at the #2 offense in the league last year). They all but called him a whiny asshole in the media. This whole series of events is unforgivable.

Look, I'm from Denver. We take football very seriously. I always loved the Broncos--we had the most loyal fan base and we had the best owner in the league. But it seems like Bowlen was complicit in all this madness. That man is dead to me. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Via The New Clarion, I have learned of this video:


I know nothing about this cat, but I will soon. Good on ya, ol' boy!


Friday, February 13, 2009

It started out well enough

My day, that is.

I spent the morning reading Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and smoking my hookah while Itzhak Perlman's renditions of Paganini's caprices played in the background.

I'm in a good mood. Hopefully, it stays that way.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nudge this...

I intended to mention this last month, when I first heard about it. However, I never got around to it and, frankly, I'm loathe to discuss this man--even if it is to denounce him.

If you haven't yet heard, the entity known as Cass Sunstein was named by Obama as the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)--another fairly useless pile of alphabet soup. What brought this issue up for me again is Paul Hsieh's excellent OpEd on Go check it out.

Sunstein and his libertarian-paternalist nonsense was also addressed in Tara Smith's article "The Menace of Pragmatism" and Eric Daniels review of Sunstein's book (coauthored with Richard A. Thaler) Nudge. Both appear in the Fall 2008 edition of The Objective Standard.

A few years ago, Sunstein wrote a horrid little piece of trash entitled The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever. In it, he advocates FDR's second bill of rights, among which are: a right to a home, a right to health care and education, a right to be "protected from monopolies" and other such nonsense.

His more recent work has him dipping his toe in the rancid waters of behavioral economics, from which arose his collaboration with such fools as Khaneman, Jolls and Thaler (this last of whom co-wrote Sunstein's recent best-seller Nudge).

Nudge advocates the government "nudging" citizens into making the right choices about major decisions in life by limiting options, or "presenting" options in certain ways so as to make the government sanctioned option more attractive, etc. This can only lead to one end, as Paul Hsieh notes: "Every child knows that if you let a schoolyard bully get away with one seemingly harmless “nudge,” he will then escalate into shoving, then punching, then regular beatings. At least the bully doesn’t pretend that the first nudge is for the victim’s own good."

Wait for it. It's coming and you can't say you weren't warned.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Damn shame

A Cardinals victory would have been nice. They handed Pittsburgh the game on that last drive. At least it was an exciting game. 


Monday, January 26, 2009

No apologies

Here's the story.

The girls' basketball team at The Covenant School, a private Christian academy in Dallas, wiped the floor with the girls from The Dallas Academy. Final score: 100-0. The girls were not taunting the losing team, or being malicious in any other way. They simply played well through the whole game.

However, being a pile of pride-squashing, knee-scraping Christians, the school's administration and headmaster profusely apologized for the victory, calling it "shameful and an embarrassment..."

The coach at The Covenant School, Micah Grimes, was not about not about hit his knees and beg forgiveness from the public or an imaginary friend. He sent out an e-mail stating in no uncertain terms that he would not apologize for the victory and that "my girls played with honor and integrity."

He was subsequently fired.

Here's hoping he lands a job coaching at a school that appreciates ability and achievement.

UPDATE: The same story, deftly handled by Doug Reich over at The Rational Capitalist. Go check it out.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's going to get really ugly really quick

Has anyone out there read this atrocity?

I'm too involved in a project to offer a detailed analysis of this pile of nonsense. I just want to direct anyone to Myrhaf's analysis over at The New Clarion. Go check it out.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Just awful

Those of you who have never had to deal with the mind-numbing, hair-pulling, eye-gouging hell that is Windows Vista will not appreciate how true this is.