That Perennial Western Malady, the Revolt of the Individual Against the Species

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Sunday, January 30, 2005

I Was Mugged Today

I was mugged today.

Infraction: Endangering Self
This is the $65 fine I was ticketed today for boating without a life jacket. I received warnings for carrying an expired fire extinguisher and a dirty mirror and not carrying a whistle or a "boating license." As a minor, I am required to carry proof that I have passed a "boating safety course," which entails filling out a short form and mailing it to Tallahassee with $20.

I was "let off easy," the officer said, as if he had the right to dictate how I conduct myself with my own personal property, to the possible detriment of no one but myself, and as if his actions weren't morally reprehensible. No, I was robbed, stolen from. The next 14 hours of my labor belong to the state.

More Guns, Less Crime

Everyone can learn something from the Swiss.

from Girl Beats Guys: A Swiss Teen Rifle Festival
by Stephen Halbrook

The greatest shooting festival in the world for youngsters takes place every year in Zurich, Switzerland. Imagine thousands of boys and girls shooting military service rifle over three days amid an enormous fair with ferris wheels and wild rides of all kinds. You’re at the Knabenschiessen (boys’ shooting contest).

Held since the year 1657, the competition traditionally has been both a sport and a way of encouraging marksmanship in a country where every male serves in the militia army. Today, girls compete along side the boys. In fact, girls are now winning the competition.

It’s September 13, 2004. In the U.S. on this date, the Clinton fake “assault weapon” ban sunsets. In Zurich, some 5,631 teens – 4,046 boys and 1,585 girls, aged 13-17 – have finished firing the Swiss service rifle, and it’s time for the shootoff.

Geschossen wird mit dem Armee-Sturmgewehr

A Swiss teenager competing with her fully automatic assault rifle.That rifle is the SIG Strumgeweher (assault rifle) model 1990 (Stgw 90), a selective fire, 5.6 mm rifle with folding skeleton stock, bayonet lug, bipod, and grenade launcher. The Stgw 90 is a real assault rifle in that it is fully automatic, although that feature is disabled during the competition. Every Swiss man, on reaching age 20, is issued one to keep at home. Imagine all those teenagers firing this real assault rifle while their moms and dads look on with approval, anxiously awaiting the scores.

...In Swiss shooting culture, a few accurate hits are superior to lots of “spray and pray” shots. Before World War I, a German general observing Swiss military maneuvers asked a Swiss militiaman what would the Swiss do if a German army, twice the size of the Swiss militia, invaded. The militiaman responded, “Shoot twice and go home.”

Props: Marginal Revolution, Deleted By Tomorrow

Saturday, January 29, 2005


NEWSFLASH: bin'Laden is Dead or Alive

Props: The Decadent West, BigBrainBoy

Friday, January 28, 2005

Evidence of Common Sense?

Evidence that there is at least some common sense in Washington? Pushing it, I know, but...

Kennedy Calls on US to Begin Troop Pullout
from The Boston Globe

...The Massachusetts Democrat said it has become clear that increasing troop levels in Iraq will not bring peace to the region because the troops are often targets of attacks, and he said the United Nations must fill the nation- building role that America is playing largely by itself. Thirteen months after Saddam Hussein was captured, the presence of 157,000 US troops in Iraq is contributing to a perception of a "military occupation" in the country -- a situation that helps recruit terrorists and is a recipe for endless cycles of violence, he said...

Twenty-four Democratic House members filed a bill this week calling for an immediate pullout from Iraq, and Representative Martin T. Meehan of Lowell -- a Democratic member of the House Armed Services Committee -- outlined a proposal for a phased withdrawal...

Three cheers.

Props: The Modern American

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A Bit on Anarchism

I posted this on a forum, and thought it could go here also. I haven't read much Murray Rothbard, so I would really appreciate it if people who have would comment and point out any obvious flaws I've made.

Anarchism certainly can work, and it would not be a system of chaos or havoc, either. Robert Nozick wrote about the voluntary, noncoercive "protection agencies" that would arise naturally in a state of nature. They would function similar to insurance agencies, charging individuals a fee to resolve their conflicts with other individuals. Resolution in cases where both concerned parties are members of the same agency would come very easily. In cases where there is a dispute between two individuals who are each a member of a different agency, the two agencies would choose a third, neutral agency to serve as an arbitrator because violence in any case is nonconducive to profit.

But anarchism in practice contradicts its own purpose. The moral argument for anarchy is that the natural rights of each individual cannot be infringed upon in any circumstance. Coercion (the infringement of natural rights) is intolerable, and by definition, a state is a coercive organization. But in the above scenario (a state of "market-anarchism"), a few individuals who for whatever reasons could not become members of a protection agency would be left without any means of securing their own rights and have no redress when they are violated. A system based upon the absolute sovereignty of the individual's natural rights cannot stand when some in that society have no redress to the violation of their rights. The argument for anarchism is contradictory to its end result and so fails.

I consider myself a "natural rights utilitarian" or "minarchist," a political philosophy shared by Thomas Jefferson and many of the Founding Fathers (although it was known simply as "liberalism" then). That is, anything that increases the net protection of individual natural rights is good. From this comes the state. Its purpose is the protection of individuals' rights, although in order to exist it must violate some. Taxation is a coercive power but is necessary for the existance of a police force, criminal investigators, and court system. The creation of these systems, although it requires that some individual rights be infringed, brings about a net increase in the protection of the natural rights of all individuals in a society. Any operation of the government whose direct goal is not the net increase of the protection of natural rights is morally illegitmate. "Wealth redistribution," a coercive practice, is only moral when its purpose is the protection of individual rights. Anarchy is immoral because some members of society are left without the means to protect any of their natural rights.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Gay Marriage Will Destroy Society!

If homosexuals are allowed to marry, everything our society is built upon will crumble. We as a moral and God-fearing culture cannot allow this to happen!

12 Reasons Gay Marriage Will Ruin Society, by the University of Florida Gator Gay-Straight Alliance.


A post about me. Written for acceptance into the Telluride Association Summer Program. Comments always welcome.


I awoke to a beautiful morning. The September air was warm and pleasing, the songbirds were congregating just outside my window, and the rising sun was busy painting the cloudless sky in pastels. The earth was gently wrapped in a smooth, pure sheet of gray and pink and baby blue, a magnificent gradient, and even the birds were hesitant to enter it.

My father had agreed to drive me to the county health department today. Over the past month, I had lost excessive amounts of weight, become increasingly lethargic, and developed a constant and unquenchable thirst. Two years prior, my best friend had been diagnosed Type I Diabetic, and in an effort to better understand his condition, I spent a number of days researching his disease. Now I was showing all the classic symptoms.

It was Monday, and I had been expressing my health concerns to my parents throughout the past week. I welcomed the checkup, but they seemed to dread it. In my mind, there was little doubt that I did indeed have the disease. My mother made passing references to hypochondria on at least one occasion, but I knew she could see the symptoms nearly as clearly as I could. It was as if they believed that in delaying the date of diagnosis, they could delay the onset of the disease. I suppose it could seem less illogical if never said explicitly.

We arrived at the health department, and my body was soon put out on display. I was prodded and examined. I extended fingers for blood drawing, answered their intrusive inquiries, and urinated in their small containers. Soon the doctor confirmed what I had already told him – that I was insulin dependent, Type I Diabetic. He put my father and me in a white, windowless room with three chairs and one empty can of Dollar Store brand orange juice, where we waited for two hours. One could call it a bonding experience.

It was decided that I should be referred immediately to the Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville. Our bonding activities moved to the car, where they continued intermittently for the next two hours. Upon arriving at the hospital, an obese, homosexual man drew blood from my arm, and I was force-fed Gatorade until I vomited multiple times into a white sink. The vomit was the same shade of lime green as the sports drink and left faint stains on the clean white in spite of the running water. I was attached to an IV drip and made to lie down for the night, sharing a room with a black boy who had overdosed and was having the contents of his stomach vacuumed out. The nurses had instructions to draw blood samples from me every two hours, and judging by my roommate’s incessant moaning, neither of us slept very soundly.

In the morning, history was being written and skyscrapers were crashing down. On the morning of September 11, 2001, my seventh grade classmates were sitting at their desks. I had a bed, albeit a rather uncomfortable one. I was one of the oldest patients on my hall of the hospital, and a handful of the nurses were in my room when the World Trade Center towers collapsed like vomit into that pile of so much valueless rubble and destruction. The curtain divider beside my bed had been slid back, and I shared the television also with the black boy and his parents. His father was a large man who stood and walked with his chin raised and his head level. His mother I never glanced at without having a smile returned. My only regret of the day was my failure to learn their names.

I returned home later that day as a person very changed, although I did not realize it at the time. My disease demanded a rational mindset and a calm demeanor. I spent the following week at home before returning to school, learning the various new skills and techniques my survival would now require. During this time I experienced one of those rare “defining moments” that men are presented with every so often during their lives. I had just filled a syringe, first injecting the insulin bottle with air, then holding the bottle upside down and slowly drawing back the plunger as I had been taught, when I was struck so strongly with a single thought that it might as well have been a physical blow – I could either spend my remaining life as a handicapped person, struggling to crawl about from benefactor to benefactor, or I could plunge this needle into my body, inject its contents, and continue living, for the sake of life and accomplishment, in spite of my physical setbacks. I could laugh in the brutish face of Fate and gain whatever revenge I desired through success. This is what I have chosen to do.

I share a bond with the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks that few others not directly linked to them can claim to share. Just as the skyline of New York City was permanently altered that day, so was my life. Just as the survivors of the attacks now must bear a tremendous scar for the rest of their lives, so am I now faced with the burden of treating my disease and continually checking my lifestyle. We have been dealt similar hands, and we have faced the task of choosing how to play them. Just as I have made the decision to persevere, to triumph over whatever might be thrown at me in the future, so has the city of New York chosen to stand back up on its feet, tall and defiant and proud.

Life goes on.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Intellectual Property?

Stuart Richards posts at The New Libertarian on a topic I've been struggling with lately myself -- intellectual property.

And he doesn't reach any more of a conclusion than I do.

Are intellectual property rights inherent in the creation? Reflexively, it's easy to assert that they are, but it's harder to derive an argument supporting this. Where do intellectual rights come from? Are there "implied contracts" attached to things like music, movies, and art limiting how individuals may use them? If so, what kind of role does the government play in enforcing them? Should they be treated like any other form of contract?

While it's arguable that they were necessary up until just a few years ago to maintain the inventor's incentive motive, the recent explosion in the open source community shows IP rights are, at most, less than vital to continuing creativity. But I'm really not concerned with whether or not (or to what extent) upholding intellectual property rights is beneficial to the economy, but only with the moral arguments supporting or opposing them and the proper role of the state in enforcement.

I count myself in the pro-IP camp, but I'm far from able to make a convincing argument in defense. Perhaps this is why I don't feel at all guilty for sharing over ten gigabytes of music on a number of peer-to-peer networks. Also note the "Creative Commons" copyright notices on this page -- I've chosen to only reserve some rights.

This isn't a big issue today, but as the "file-sharing" generation grows up, it certainly will be soon.

Martin Luther King Day

Today is Martin Luther King Day.

Today we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., a prostitute pushing, anti-Patriotic, plagiarizing socialist and equal rights opponent.

Martin Luther King should be remembered as a fearless and powerful leader who ultimately changed America for the better, but he shouldn't be idolized. Most of the things the Right tends to say about him, that he fought against communism, against race-based privileges, for Christian values, generally for founding American principles, are false.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Bush Country

Bush Country
Counties Represented by Population

Maps and cartograms of the 2004 US presidential election results
created by Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

White Trash Pick Up Trash

Well this is interesting.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court let stand on Monday a ruling that the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group can take part in Missouri's "Adopt-A-Highway" program in which volunteers pick up trash along the road and the state puts up a sign thanking the group.

It's a perfect example of the conflict inherent in (or the inherent impossibility of) "public" or "communal" property owned by "everyone." Every Missouri citizen is financially responsible for the construction and upkeep of the highway and is therefore a part-owner and entitled to equal use. When a hate group such as the KKK contributes, some people are offended, violating their rights as part-owners and controllers of the property. But denying another group's use of the property violates that group's same right.

The individual KKK members are part-owners as well, and entitled to access as long as they are forced to subsidize the highway through taxation. It is a problem with no solution.

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Adam Smith Institute's Scorecard of Ideas

Sometimes it is good to take stock of the battle of ideas and see how the scorecard stands.

There is no overpopulation crises, the planet is not running out of scarce resources, the rich/poor gap is not increasing...

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


This pic shows a bit of the reality of what we've been hearing on the television.