Sunday, November 20, 2005

metapost--hibernation edition

Getting close to finals week. I might put up a two or three more posts, but nothing topical, just some photos I've taken and whatnot. Other than that, though, see you after Christmas?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A riddle

“What animal walks on four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three in the evening”

Think about it a little bit and then scroll down for the answer
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Answer: A mutating armadillo.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Weep for your country

Via Drudge


'Oil Company Execs Defend Profits to Senate'
Double-take.
'Oil Company Execs Defend Profits to Senate'
I don't really even know what I can say to that. Now you have to defend the fact that you make high profits? It boggles the mind.

What complete ignorance of market forces. This is intelligent design economics at its worst--the belief that the price of any good is dictated by the people selling the good, rather than supply and demand. The high profits of oil companies only means that oil production is capital intensive, and very risky.

The Senator's quotes from the article are saddening, and should make a libertarian out of anyone. These are the people were giving power to?
There is a "growing suspicion that oil companies are taking unfair advantage," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M. "The oil companies owe the American people an explanation."

I'd say it's Pete Domenici's former economic's teacher that owes the American people an explanation.

"Your sacrifice appears to be nothing," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told the executives, citing multimillion-dollar bonuses the officials are receiving amid soaring prices at gasoline pumps and predictions of more of the same for winter heating bills.
According to Open Secrets, Barbara Boxer raised $16,220,791 in fundraising from 2001-2006. I think that qualifies as multimillions. She spent $15,820,354 of it on her own campaign. What selfishness! How about a little sacrifice?

And we also get this:
A number of Democrats have called for windfall profits taxes on the industry. Other senators, including Majority Leader Bill Frist, R- Tenn., have said it may be time to enact a federal law on price gouging.

If Frist runs for president in 2008, I will do everything in my power to make sure this man is defeated. If he runs against Hillary, I will be seriously tempted to vote for her. This is such a grandstanding, self-righteous, populist move, it is sickening. It represents everything that is wrong with modern democracy.

What he so derisively calls "price gouging" is actually price-rationing of goods in a time of crisis. Oil prices rose tremendously after Hurricane Katrina in the areas hit, and this is a good thing. If that hadn't rose, gas would quickly run out, and the station wouldn't be able to purchase a new supply. But, since prices rose, only those people that really needed gas--that valued it enough to pay the high prices--would buy it. Other people would voluntarily stop using gas for frivolous purposes, and conserve.

This is how price-rationing works, and it is IMMENSELY preferable to government rationing. When the government enforces rationing by disregarding the price mechanism, people don't conserve as much, because prices are kept artificially low. Those people that need the gas the most (such as for their livelihood), and that would be willing to pay higher prices under market prices, have just as much ability to get gas under a rationing scheme as those people that just want to fill up their car so they can cruise main street.

Oh, by the way, here's Frists personal financial information. I think the Senate should look into this.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

2005

O'Brien, from George Orwell's 1984:
...We are not content with negative obedience, nor even with the most abject submission. When finally you surrender to us, it must be of your own free will. We do not destroy the heretic because he resists us: so long as he resists us we never destroy him. We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him. We burn all evil and all illusion out of him; we bring him over to our side, not in appearance, but genuinely, heart and soul. We make him one of ourselves before we kill him. It is inolerable to us that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world, however secret and powerless it may be. Even in the instant of death we cannot permit any deviation. In the old days the heretic walked to the stake still a heretic, proclaiming his heresy, exulting in it. Even the victim of the Russian purges could carry rebellion locked up in his skull as he walked down the passage waiting for the bullet. But we make the brain perfect before we blow it out. The command of the old despotisms was “Thou shalt not”. The command of the totalitarians was “Thou shalt”. Our command is “Thou art”.

This is the mission statement of diversiphiles. Is "Sensitivity Training" or "Multicultural Competency" or "Diversity Training" anything less than an attempt to invade the sanctuary of the mind? It is not enough for diversiphiles to just teach their anti-capitalist, identity-group, multiculturalist bilge in classes--no. If one merely mouths the platitudes of diversity that is not enough. One must believe them. One must hold them close to their heart.

From 1984 again:

‘You hate him. Good. Then the time has come for you to take the last step. You must love Big Brother. It is not enough to obey him: you must love him.’

He released Winston with a little push towards the guards.

‘Room 101,’ he said.

It is not enough only to tolerate difference, you must celebrate difference, you must embrace it. In fact, the true nature of diversity is not to be found through critical reason, which is, after all, an ethnocentric concept, only useful within the context of a culture, where what is "reasonable" can be defined relative to the traditions contained therein, not to some imaginary ideal of extra-cultural rationality. Indeed, supposed "universal rationality" is epiphenomenal to Western racism and colonialism. Diversity can only be truly accepted through the heart, a backdoor subterfuge to evade the mind, which is compromised by its total infestation with cultural memes. If our minds, indeed our every thought, are constituted by our culture, as diversiphiles maintain, then diversity by needs must be accepted through emotion. It is not enough to obey diversity--you must love diversity.

1984:

Besides, the Party was in the right. It must be so: how could the immortal, collective brain be mistaken? By what external standard could you check its judgments? Sanity was statistical. It was merely a question of learning to think as they thought. Only---!

The pencil felt thick and awkward in his fingers. He began to write down the thoughts that came into his head. He wrote first in large clumsy capitals:

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.

Then almost without pause he wrote beneath it:

TWO AND TWO MAKE FIVE.


DIVERSITY IS UNITY

SUBJECTIVITY IS TRUTH

ALL DIFFERENCES ARE EQUAL

MERIT IS RACISM

GROUP IDENTITY IS INDIVIDUALITY

La merde frappe le ventilateur*

I don’t watch the news on TV anymore—Shephard Smith’s insufferable priggishness being one among many reasons—so I don’t know what kind of play the French Riots are getting. But this is a big, big story.

The scale of the riots is hard to overestimate—over a thousand vehicles have been torched, a disabled woman was “doused in petrol and set on fire,” a mini bomb-making factory was discovered, and the violence seems to be spreading.

Also, according to this article, only twenty people have been jailed since the start of the riots, which, given the widespread and anarchically destructive nature of the riots, seems like a rather small number. After ten days of rioting, that averages out to a dismal two per-day.

Here’s Amir Taheri with a recounting of what incited the riots:

How did it all start? The accepted account is that sometime last week, a group of young boys in Clichy engaged in one of their favorite sports: stealing parts of parked cars.

Normally, nothing dramatic would have happened, as the police have not been present in that suburb for years. The problem came when one of the inhabitants, a female busybody, telephoned the police and reported the thieving spree taking place just opposite her building. The police were thus obliged to do something — which meant entering a city that, as noted, had been a no-go area for them.

Once the police arrived on the scene, the youths — who had been reigning over Clichy pretty unmolested for years — got really angry. A brief chase took place in the street, and two of the youths, who were not actually chased by the police, sought refuge in a cordoned-off area housing a power pylon. Both were electrocuted.

But, of course, two deaths, however sad and unnecessary, don’t normally lead to this kind of destruction. They were just the spark that ignited the tinder keg of simmering immigrant resentment. There are so many cross-cutting pathologies here, that it’s hard to disentangle and isolate a causal factor—if indeed, there is a single one.

The Belmont Club writes:
The disturbances are no longer about two teenagers electrocuted while fleeing the police. They are now about French presidential politics, race, jobs, immigration, multiculturalism -- with perhaps a touch of Islamic ideology thrown in. As such the riots have become national, Europe-wide and maybe even global events.
I would also say, throw on top of all this the dismal failure of the European social welfare state. Unrest among the lower classes was exactly the type of thing French socialist policies were supposed to eliminate. The NY Sun dredged up this relevant piece of Franco-condescension:
Back in the 1990s, the French sneered at America for the Los Angeles riots. As the Chicago Sun-Times reported in 1992: "the consensus of French pundits is that something on the scale of the Los Angeles riots could not happen here, mainly because France is a more humane, less racist place with a much stronger commitment to social welfare programs." President Mitterrand, the Washington Post reported in 1992, blamed the riots on the "conservative society" that Presidents Reagan and Bush had created and said France is different because it "is the country where the level of social protection is the highest in the world."
Now we see how that worked out for them. The high jobless rate falls mostly on the less well-to-do immigrants. While the middle class enjoy law-mandated 35 hour work weeks with at least five weeks of vacation and high job security due to stringent laws on firing employees, the inevitable unemployment that these policies create fall predominantly on the newly immigrated, who live in the slum areas that ring the city of Paris. Sure, they are still catered on the dime of the welfare state, but this, perversely, actually has the effect of further alienating them from the middle class by reinforcing their inferiority and dependence.

Theodore Dalrymple wrote about this three years ago, in a startlingly prescient article now again making the rounds in the blog community:
But this [receiving welfare money] is not a cause of gratitude—on the contrary: they feel it as an insult or a wound, even as they take it for granted as their due. But like all human beings, they want the respect and approval of others, even—or rather especially—of the people who carelessly toss them the crumbs of Western prosperity. Emasculating dependence is never a happy state, and no dependence is more absolute, more total, than that of most of the inhabitants of the cités. They therefore come to believe in the malevolence of those who maintain them in their limbo: and they want to keep alive the belief in this perfect malevolence, for it gives meaning—the only possible meaning—to their stunted lives. It is better to be opposed by an enemy than to be adrift in meaninglessness, for the simulacrum of an enemy lends purpose to actions whose nihilism would otherwise be self-evident.
The “generosity” of the state (it's always easy to be generous with other people's money) has not had an endearing effect on the recipients of this generosity. They loathe the hand that feeds them—and to a certain degree, rightly so. It is the policies of the welfare state that have created sky-high unemployment and caused the disintegration of strong social networks.

This is one pathology. Another, is the enervating, destructive relativism of multiculturalism. Dalrymple writes, after noting the feeble attempts at assimilation such as the headscarf ban in French schools:

But at the same time, official France also pays a cowering lip service to multiculturalism—for example, to the “culture” of the cités. Thus, French rap music is the subject of admiring articles in Libération and Le Monde, as well as of pusillanimous expressions of approval from the last two ministers of culture.

One rap group, the Ministère amer (Bitter Ministry), won special official praise. Its best-known lyric: “Another woman takes her beating./ This time she’s called Brigitte./ She’s the wife of a cop./ The novices of vice piss on the police./ It’s not just a firework, scratch the clitoris./ Brigitte the cop’s wife likes niggers./ She’s hot, hot in her pants.” This vile rubbish receives accolades for its supposed authenticity: for in the multiculturalist’s mental world, in which the savages are forever noble, there is no criterion by which to distinguish high art from low trash. And if intellectuals, highly trained in the Western tradition, are prepared to praise such degraded and brutal pornography, it is hardly surprising that those who are not so trained come to the conclusion that there cannot be anything of value in that tradition. Cowardly multiculturalism thus makes itself the handmaiden of anti-Western extremism.

Violence is the natural end-state of multiculturalism. It is an axiom of multiculturalism that values are relative to each culture. Therefore, dialogue between cultures is impossible. There is no common ground upon which dialogue can be based between cultures; individuality, liberty, equality, human rights, not being beaten and raped by your husband—these are all ethnocentric concepts. If all knowledge is subjective (as multiculturalism holds), opinions cannot be critiqued—subjective knowledge is right and true, by definition, for the person that holds it. The philosopher Karl Popper wrote on this in his essay “On the Status of Science and Metaphysics:”
Subjective knowledge is not subject to criticism, although it can be changed by various means—for example, by the elimination (killing) of the carrier of the subjective knowledge or disposition in question. Thus knowledge in the subjective sense grows or achieves better adjustments by the Darwinian method of mutation and elimination of the organism. As opposed to this, objective knowledge can change and grow by the elimination (killing) of the linguistically formulated conjecture: the ‘carrier’ can survive—he can, if he is a self-critical person, even eliminate his own conjecture.
This explains the rapid accumulation of knowledge in societies that have allowed open discussion and have based this discussion on common liberal assumptions. He noted, along the same lines in “The Myth of Framework:”
If the method of rational critical discussion should establish itself, then this should make the use of violence obsolete. For critical reason is the only alternative to violence so far discovered. [italics in original]
Multiculturalism (and so also diversity, as a form thereof) derides reason itself as a “linear” Western way of thinking. Reason cannot be used as an intercultural mediator, because reason differs culture to culture—what is “reasonable” in one culture is superstition in another. Critical dialogue is therefore impossible between cultures. The sword, or the Molotov, is the only method of persuasion, the only way to enact change.

The WaPo, in an otherwise soft-headed multiculturalist piece, includes this incredibly revealing quote:

One of Rezzoug's "kids" -- the countless youths who use the sports facilities he oversees -- is a husky, French-born 18-year-old whose parents moved here from Ivory Coast. At 3 p.m. on Saturday, he'd just awakened and ventured back onto the streets after a night of setting cars ablaze.

"We want to change the government," he said, a black baseball cap pulled low over large, chocolate-brown eyes and an ebony face. "There's no way of getting their attention. The only way to communicate is by burning." [emphasis added]

The only way to communicate is by burning. That is multicultural dialogue—history has shown us this, and we ignore it at our peril.

*In the spirit of things, title looted from here.

Or, y'know, you could just go with a Unicorn on your ankle

From the WaPo:

Mike Ergo, 22, a former Marine, had specific instructions for his tattoo artist. The enemy's hair had to be curly and dark, the beard thick. This was part of a face etched into his memory, that of the first insurgent he killed during the battle of Fallujah last November.

Ergo wanted it to come out just right.

In the tattoo, inked onto the inside of his left forearm in April, the enemy fighter is being slain by Saint Michael, the archangel, who stands, sword drawn, with his foot on the back of the man's head. The image is a reminder, Ergo said, that he survived one of the deadliest, bloodiest battles of the war -- and the other guy didn't. [emphasis added]

View from the Left: But don’t you see that we, AmeriKKKa, created these terrorists? Our years of arrogant imperialism, colonialism and capitalism reduced these people to poverty, reduced their once proud cultures to a dirty hovel of McDonalds and Coca-Cola—they pick their way amid the detritus of globalization that has enriched racist Western “Civilization” All they really want is recognition! Their attacks are no more than the justice of roosting chickens! We, not they, are the real cowards! In fact, they are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win!

View from the Right: Heh—when you flex the terrorist makes a funny face! Heh, heh, Mr. Funny Face!




update: seriously though, sweet tattoo, no?