Archive for May, 2009



Originally created 5/15/2007

It has become increasing clear that the sports world is in reality, and despite the fawning platitudes of sports writers or misty eyes of longtime fans, just entertainment, no different from movie stars or rock gods of rock.  And when sports figures do stupid things, especially recorded for posterity on video or digital pictures or voicemail, it seems always a surprise.  Perhaps the public is putting their entertainers too high on a pedestal, especially given that these people would in an age less dedicated to leisure time be either jestering the court for scraps (and likely executed if they failed to please) or swinging an axe on the battlefield or a pick in the mines.

So when the horribly out of context pictures of Brady Quinn surfaced, it is not all that surprising that it happened (and just because it was Brady Quinn in question); although one cannot sure what context those would make sense other than: “Getting ourselves worked up for the gay sex at the country club.”   This is not to mention Tom Brady spreading his seed like he was coming to America; the much publicized exploits of Stephen Jackson and Pacman Jones; and Craig Bellamy’s golf club incident.  So what is the reality of entertainers?  They are not only like everyone else, they are like everyone else if everyone else was given a backhoe full of cash, a myriad of sexual partners and all of the narcotics known to mankind.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely—absolute fame and wealth turns many a player, whether court, screen or stage, into a conduit of the basest animalistic impulse.  But give anyone that kind of hock, especially if they’re under thirty, and there is a statistically significant chance that they’re going to wind up knee deep in a cocaine drift surrounded by underage vagina.

That being said, I have always been a sports fan and am particularly fascinated by how certain series and teams can become so compelling (despite the fact the sports are still more or less unproductive entertainment).  The recent run of the Golden State Warriors is indicative, although it appears, at least, to be ending in the land of the many wives.  The Warriors don’t have any big name stars and even the Goliath Dallas Maverick players don’t have tremendous name recognition other than maybe Dirk Nowitzski.  The intoxication of this series, as most such series, is the combination of the Warriors’ balls to the wall style of play, combined with the underdog story, the enmity between Don Nelson and Mark Cuban and finally, the electric atmosphere of the Oakland fans, reminiscent of college games rather than the artificially orchestrated fandom of most NBA arenas.  Sports seems to be cultivating itself in the Season of the Dog, whether because of the advent of salary caps or the dilution of leagues through expansion or just plain expansion of the talent pool.  The underdog rags to riches trend seemed to have begun with the St. Louis Rams, arguably the worst football team of the 1990s, promptly winning the Super Bowl in 2000.  Then there was the New England Patriots upsetting the Rams not two years later.  The Boston Red Sox somehow defeated the New York Yankees down 3-0 in a series where they were destroyed in game three.  The Chicago White Sox won the first series since their players threw the championship back before people knew what plastic was.  Peyton Manning exercised his demons by not only beating the Patriots but winning the Super Bowl.  George Mason went to a Final Four.  Even the left for dead Edmonton Oilers made the Stanley Cup.

The Warriors series did show how a city deprived of the playoffs for more than a decade can decidedly go beserk upon achieving that goal (especially with the Raiders in full rebuilding mode and perpetrating one of the more awful seasons ever in 2006).  However, even more nauseating than their inability to put games away on the Utah Jazz, was this email recorded on Bill Simmons website from a disgruntled Warriors fan about the disappointing Game 4: “I have been a Warriors fan since age 3 and attended every home playoff game this year at different locations — Warrior fans in the first round were worthy of the praise bestowed upon them by the media (you included). Last night, I was disgusted to be at the Oracle. The Dallas series was packed with REAL fans, a raucous arena full of people who had really been waiting 15 years. Once we upset the Mavericks though, we became obscenely trendy. Now, rich suburban families who couldn’t name half our roster decided it would be fun to take the family to a game, and prices went up to $250 a seat for the lower bowl. Goodbye real fans, hello normal NBA crowd. The arena was subpar in the Game 3 win, but was absolutely SILENT in Game 4. I got in fights with fans around me after screaming at them to make noise. It’s a sad day for Bay Area basketball. The fans get credit for the wins, we deserve the blame for this loss.”

This discussion about “real fans” vs “rich surbanbanites” leaves a bit to be desired.  The sentiment is nothing new: the real fans getting priced out of the arena to those who view sports games as merely a social event.  However, sports are merely such an event.  It’s more that some people treat the event as a passing fancy to socialize around while others socialize by vicariously living through the event.  However, it seems natural that whoever puts that kind of money on the line gets to decide how they act.  Certain other us undoubtedly have the right to lament the loss of “real” fans, and possibly lay some of the team’s loss at the doorstep of the yuppies (he was right, even on TV, the crowd was noticeably more subdued)—but they coughed up the chunk of change for it.

Tangential case in point: during the St. Louis Cardinals improbable run to the World Series in 2006, nobody was getting into Game 5 against the Tigers unless they knew someone or were willing to throw down around $1000 for a ticket.  I myself didn’t have the funds to do so, but I went to Hrabosky’s Bar (that’s right, it was named after a guy with the sobriquet “The Mad Hungarian”), which is maybe a half mile from the stadium.  They had tents set up outside with heaters and TVs.  I went there for free.  The crowd was packed in, drunk, my age group (mostly in their 20s) and raucous the entire time.  Arguably many of these people weren’t “true” fans who could name the full starting lineup.  But they were also the ones who got priced out of stadium.  Would the stadium have been more raucous it our demograph had supplied the fans?  Yes.  But they didn’t have the money.  We wound up storming the stadium anyway (they were letting people in) after the game and were able to participate in some small way in the win.


Will Hutton’s recent article on the role of Mao Zedong in the rise of China begins with the assertion: “Nobody wants to be an apologist for Mao. Even the Communist party, five years after his death, delivered the verdict that his crimes during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution meant that he had been 30% wrong. Mao was undoubtedly responsible for monstrous crimes, but if today’s China ever completes the transition to a more plural economy and society it will be more obvious than ever that he was the man who partially laid the platform for today’s China. And from this may one day emerge a country with the liberties of the rest of Asia and the west.”  Obviously, we would never hear these things about Hitler and the rise of the German economy—he built the autobahn!—even though Mao slaughtered, either by intent or policy, 50 million people, more than Hitler could have hoped for in wildest martial dreams (note that the book referred to in the link is specifically mentioned by Hutton).  But possibly the most grating comment is this:

“Few western critics today appreciate the scale of the task confronting any moderniser of China in 1949. Western economies created the surpluses to finance industrialisation through incredible exploitation – of their own working class, and in the US via slavery. It was never likely that China could achieve self-sustaining economic growth without great collective pain to achieve its own surpluses, or that this could be done without the involvement of the state. Spontaneous market-led industrialisation is a myth.”

Most of the inventions that transformed industry were privately invented and put to use by private capital, whereas the government, in the service of old guard merchants, occasionally tried to prevent such people to putting them to use (not the mention the Luddites).

Slavery the United States, far from providing a “surplus” was antithetically opposed to industrialization.  Large slave plantations were flatly uneconomical in a free-market—they necessitated the ultimate government cruelty of forced labor.  One might counter with the claim that the industrialized North was able to build its capital on the back of slave labor, but that notion is at odds with the economic conditions surrounding the States War.  The northern factory owners, in particular the textile industry, worked to enact tariffs preventing foreign goods from competing with their own.  This not only caused the agricultural South to in general pay higher prices for such goods but also restricted their own exporting opportunities, where the large cotton plantations in particular built their wealth by selling to England.  The Northern industrial interests generally sided with the politicians (like Abraham Lincoln) who favored a strong central government and a more centralized economy—where tariffs could be enacted to detriment of some men for the benefit of a wealthy class.  The difference in these interests led to the bloodiest war in American history.

Any argument about exploitation is bound to revolve around whether or not the rise in living conditions through the 19th century in industrialized nations was worth the supposed oppression of the work force.  Whether the work force was really “exploited”, particularly in the true sense of exploitation of either slavery or indentured servitude, is a matter of debate.  But to conclude that spontaneous market-led industrialization is a myth, is not only flat wrong, but potentially dangerous manner of thinking that would lead to the conclusion that the state is well justified in confiscating property, using force and restricting liberty and rights to sacrifice on the alter of industrial progress—just as Mao, in the extreme, or the myriad of African dictators, or Josef Stalin did.  There are examples of capital being generated in the absence of government impetus—and even in the face of it.  To claim that individuals with rights and property protected will not industrialize through voluntary exchange and saving is to effectively imply that these people are either too stupid or too lazy to enhance their own well-being or that of their children.


The recent Fort Dix attack plot featured another bizarre “terror” plan in which several extremists would assault a heavily armed military base in order to kill “as many as 100 soldiers” with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s.  Unless they were unbelievably lucky, one has to guess that these clowns could have killed maybe 5 people, including themselves in such a suicidal offense.  One really can’t call it a “terrorist” plot, inasmuch as it didn’t seem to target civilians but the military and seemed to focus on annihilating the enemy combatants rather than inflict terror upon the populace in order to extract concessions.  Whatever the motivations, it is interesting to note that two of the central players in the conspiracy, Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka, could be associated with the Kosovo Liberation Army.  The KLA of course were the United States during the bombing of Serbia during Bill Clinton’s administration.  And the KLA just may be connected to Osama bin Laden.

This song is getting old.


In what is quickly becoming the forgotten war, the US Army formally apologized for a number of soldiers slaughtering civilians after a suicide attack: “An Army commander apologized and paid compensation on Tuesday to families of Afghan civilians killed by marines after a suicide attack in March, marking the first formal acknowledgment by American authorities that the killings were unjustified.  Col. John Nicholson, an Army brigade commander in eastern Afghanistan, met on Tuesday with the families of the 19 Afghans killed and 50 wounded when a Marines special operations unit opened fire along a crowded stretch of road near Jalalabad after a suicide bomber in a vehicle rammed their convoy.  ‘I stand before you today, deeply, deeply ashamed and terribly sorry that Americans have killed and wounded innocent Afghan people,’ Colonel Nicholson said, recounting to reporters the words he used in the meetings. Speaking in a videoconference to reporters at the Pentagon, he added: ‘We made official apologies on the part of the U.S. government’ and paid $2,000 for each death.  The incident is already the subject of a criminal investigation by the Pentagon. But the decision to issue a public apology now reflects the military’s growing concern that a spate of recent civilian casualties have led to widespread ill will among Afghans and could jeopardize military operations.”   If nothing else, this sad event is evidence that no matter what precautions a military might take, it cannot change the fact that all wars are crimes.  (And this includes American actions in World War II).


It is somewhat satisfying to know that such a different culture as India has its own version of the Kennedys in, of course, the Gandhis.  The world awaits for Rahul Gandhi to fist some nubile young girl in public and incur the wrath of the morality police, like Richard Gere.  I think the Indians had ample reason to get indignant about Gere slobbering all over the only hot woman on the subcontinent.  Either that or it was because Gere and hamster played their own version of the Fantastic Voyage.



Originally created 6/3/2007

It has become increasing clear that my own days as a rantist are long behind me, and for good reason.  I was never all that good or entertaining, and one can look back on those literary products of halcyon college years as a mix of sleeplessness, melancholy, sports-obsession, and, in the later years, alcohol and dodgeball.  Whatever their merit, I note the inadequacies of the Rant because so many others do it better and more consistently.  Case in point: AJ Daulerio over at deadspin: funny, some insightful and regular.  Kind of like a good shit.

“It’s an odd phenomenon, this fascination that men, when they first get the splotches of gray hair and other attributes of grown-up maleness, suddenly find teenage girls more appealing. Obviously, the physical attractiveness — the seemingly pristine physical attractiveness, I should say — is a major factor, but it’s also this Wonder Years-y nostalgia for that time when those girls were actually available and not these seedy objects of desire:

“DANIEL STERN V.O.: It was a time of fantastic mystery, the great unknown. We were all captains aboard this ship called Puberty, navigating its uncharted waters. Most of the time, that water was girls. I remember the first time I pawed at Becky Slater’s fancy new bra like a deranged yeti, sporting an erection that could knock down low-flying aircraft, but those days are long gone…

“You get the idea.

“On to the issue at hand: One Miss Allison Stokke, whose pole vault-body has become furious debate fodder for those for and against posting pictures of young girls showing off their athletic prowess. The ‘For’ say she’s relevant because of said prowess (and her looks) and ‘Against’ say ‘let the young, tan girl thrust herself in the air with a giant stick in a revealing outfit but DO NOT acknowledge her muscular thighs and thickset brick twister.’ (Or something to that effect.) God, it sucks to be pretty and athletic. It’s almost like having AIDS.”

The realization that there are those out there like Daulerio, in my mind, should not stop me from continuing these rants, although without quite the same juvenile vehemence that those of earlier days undertook.


And thus there is the topic of Republican candidate for president and Congressman from Texas, Dr. Ron Paul.  I myself have no love for the republicans who have more or less completely backtracked on their promises from the 1990s, now amounting to so much rhetoric.  The government has never been bigger nor the military more bogged down in foreign entanglements.  Paul is in stark contrast to the neoconservative wing that has taken over much of the party with the battle cry, “9/11 changed everything”.  He was a former libertarian candidate for president in 1988 but returned to the Republican party.  He voted against the authorization of the use of force against Iraq.  He voted against the PATRIOT Act.  As came up in the debates, some in the party feel that he is not “one of them” and is trying to hijack the party.  He claims he is trying to bring it back to its roots, exemplified in Robert Taft and (perhaps again, only rhetorically) Ronald Reagan.    But perhaps an unusual moment, both in the context of the election itself and as a microcosm of the country in general, came in the second Republican debate when Dr. Paul had the temerity to point out that many of the United States’ actions in Arabia were partly responsible for the decision of jihadists to attack the United States–although that does not excuse those actions in the least.  Former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani spoke out of turn and dismissed such notions as ludicrous, demanding that Dr. Paul. Dr. Paul refused.

Paul’s parts in the second Republican debate.  Paul states his position on foreign policy at about 5:10 and Guiliani responds at about 6:10

Libertarian blogs, like, praised the moment as someone finally standing up for the truth on a national stage, characterizing Guiliani’s response as misinformed and malicious.  However most of the mainstream press took the Guiliani angle, noting that Paul seemed to suggest the United States “invited” the attacks (which is not correct; one of the moderators asked that in a question but Paul responded with the idea that the United States’ foreign policy helps provoke such attacks, and to ignore this “blowback” is to do so at one’s own risk).  In Time magazine, commentator Joe Klein took it as a win for the former Mayor, painting Paul to be somewhat of a kooky buffoon:

“And then there’s the libertarian Congressman Ron Paul who seems like your uncle the bartender who has a Big Theory about everything: some of his ideas are brilliant, others weird. He rates a mention because his singular moment of weirdness–proposing that al-Qaeda attacked on Sept. 11 because the U.S. had been messing around in the Middle East, bombing Iraq–offered Giuliani a historic slam dunk. ‘That’s an extraordinary statement,’ he jumped in when Paul finished, ‘… that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11.’  There was explosive applause from the audience. But Giuliani was having a good debate even before he reduced Paul to history.”

The 9/11 Commission’s own words on the subject:

Though novel for its open endorsement of indiscriminate killing, Bin Ladin’s 1998 declaration was only the latest in the long series of his public and private calls since 1992 that singled out the United States for attack.

In August 1996, Bin Ladin had issued his own self-styled fatwa calling on Muslims to drive American soldiers out of Saudi Arabia. The long, disjointed document condemned the Saudi monarchy for allowing the presence of an army of infidels in a land with the sites most sacred to Islam [emphasis added], and celebrated recent suicide bombings of American military facilities in the Kingdom. It praised the 1983 suicide bombing in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. Marines, the 1992 bombing in Aden, and especially the 1993 firefight in Somalia after which the United States “left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you.”3

Bin Ladin said in his ABC interview that he and his followers had been preparing in Somalia for another long struggle, like that against the Soviets in Afghanistan, but “the United States rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace.” Citing the Soviet army’s withdrawal from Afghanistan as proof that a ragged army of dedicated Muslims could overcome a superpower, he told the interviewer: “We are certain that we shall-with the grace of Allah-prevail over the Americans.” He went on to warn that “If the present injustice continues . . . , it will inevitably move the battle to American soil.”

Many Americans have wondered, “Why do ‘they’ hate us?” Some also ask, “What can we do to stop these attacks?”

Bin Ladin and al Qaeda have given answers to both these questions. To the first, they say that America had attacked Islam; America is responsible for all conflicts involving Muslims. Thus Americans are blamed when Israelis fight with Palestinians, when Russians fight with Chechens, when Indians fight with Kashmiri Muslims, and when the Philippine government fights ethnic Muslims in its southern islands. America is also held responsible for the governments of Muslim countries, derided by al Qaeda as “your agents.” Bin Ladin has stated flatly, “Our fight against these governments is not separate from our fight against you.”14 These charges found a ready audience among millions of Arabs and Muslims angry at the United States because of issues ranging from Iraq to Palestine to America’s support for their countries’ repressive rulers. [emphasis added]

Bin Ladin’s grievance with the United States may have started in reaction to specific U.S. policies but it quickly became far deeper. [emphasis added] To the second question, what America could do, al Qaeda’s answer was that America should abandon the Middle East, convert to Islam, and end the immorality and godlessness of its society and culture: “It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind.” If the United States did not comply, it would be at war with the Islamic nation, a nation that al Qaeda’s leaders said “desires death more than you desire life.”

The commission is most certainly right that Bin Laden will not merely be swayed by an American withdrawal from the region, and would likewise claim it as a victory.  Obviously then, Bin Ladin himself, as well as his close followers, must be captured or destroyed, or at the very least neutralized outside American borders–something that is not being helped by the American incursion into Iraq.  However it is important to note the very real and probable possibility that bin Ladin was encouraged to become a violent radical by U.S. policies; his pathology became increasingly worse, not in reaction to continued policy, but to the United States in general.  Moreover, in the emphasized portion one can note that the 9/11 Commission noted that bin Ladin’s message, as virulent and deranged as it had become, found an audience because of U.S. policies concerning “Iraq to Palestine to America’s support for their countries’ repressive rulers”.  And yet Paul’s suggestion of this kind of idea during the debate was met by Guiliani’s bizarre assertion that he had never heard it previous to that occasion.

I have little hope that Paul will even be elected as the Republican candidate, and even less that he would be elected president (I myself don’t agree with him in terms of immigration).  But how can every other candidate, both Democrat and Republican, seem to ignore this reasoning or have the courage to at least suggest it in public, even though they could quote directly from the government’s own commission report?

Then there are other candidates who somehow believe (as noted in the Fox News Interviews below) that the First Gulf War did nothing but foster support in the Muslim world (Duncan Hunter says that in the clip below at about 1:45 mark), when bin Ladin himself has said otherwise.  Moreover, one could look at the United States’ interaction with bin Ladin’s own mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.  Should that not have do nothing but cultivate good will?  It is true that the United States did help save Kuwait from Saddam Hussein but few care to remember that the U.S. also supported Hussein in attacking another Muslim country, Iran, in a much longer (9 years) and bloodier war with an estimated 500,000 Iranian casualties and 375,000 Iraqi casualties.  It also included the use of chemical weapons against Iran.

So what does the United States get in a second tier candidate who has the rocks to stand up for the truth?  The U.S. gets to see the last sane man on the train get thrown off by the supposed conductors.  Not to detract anything from Dr. Paul himself, but one can only wonder if he had the charisma and debating skills of Bill Clinton.

Ron Paul is apparently Bill Maher’s new hero

Ron Paul at the first Republican debate

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Dr. Paul on The Daily Show

Donald Rumsfeld meeting Saddam Hussein on 19 December20 December 1983. Rumsfeld visited again on 24 March 1984; the same day the UN released a report that Iraq had used mustard gas and tabun nerve agent against Iranian troops. The NY Times reported from Baghdad on 29 March 1984, that “American diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with Iraq and the U.S., and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been established in all but name.”


Standing in line at the supermarket, People Magazine tells us that Jennifer Anniston has signed on to write a tell-all about her relationship with Missouri’s own Brad Pitt.  This includes, apparently, how Pitt told her of his affair with Angelina Jolie.  The best vote is for Pitt showing her a video of him reaming a shrieking Jolie as he goes “Now watch here as I go balls deep.”


The Bush Administration cannot properly fight wars, cannot protect the Bill of Rights and apparently is a shark for large meatpacking companies.  “The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease [mad cow], which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.   Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.  The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.”  A problem of who is in charge of the department?  Or a problem of why the department has the power to regulate the test in the first place?


New three-D movies sound absolutely terrifying.


The new Congress is struggling to hammer out a trade policy, a sort of contradiction in terms that mainly denotes policy that will “protect jobs” (while sacrificing possible new jobs associated with the greater trade) while obtaining some benefits for exporters.  The government attempting to regulate trade is problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it becomes a powerful tool for special interests, whether they be companies, unions or anti-globalization adherents.  Whether it is free trade or technology or innovation (as the mad cow example above demonstrates), certain parties will be injured in the trade.  But the only way to prevent this so-called “injury” is to prevent the voluntary transactions which supposedly bring it about; i.e., there is no aggression against the “injured” party, only a decision to no longer transact business with them.


Possibly the most unsettling proposition about the Iraq War is the alternate universe case: assume that the Iraq War had progressed much better for the United States.  Iraq becomes a functioning, if still dangerous place (no more dangerous than say, Israel).  It is largely peaceful, functioning society with some remnants of strife.  In this alternate universe case, however, the reasons, the means and lack Weapons of Mass Destruction are all still present.  In this alternate universe, were these lies and half-truths told before the war still reprehensible?  Would any politicians be criticizing the war (either Democrat or Republican)?  Is the fraud presented to the American public still fraud if the outcome of the fraudulent actions is drastically different?  As the Ron Paul-Rudy Guiliani standoff made clear, even in the present course of events of an Iraq devolved into civil war, many politicians are still reluctant (or outright refuse) to acknowledge the false pretenses for the war.  This is not to mention the motives of those that orchestrated and conducted the 9/11 attacks.  These events bear witness that the truth as it operates in the world, even if it is represented in something like the Rumsfield-Saddam film, is sadly a matter of perception.


Texas Style Justice And Toast

Originally created 6/15/2007

Whatever one’s political stripe, it is always unfortunate to see a parody of law enforcement carried out in the form of the Paris Hilton sentencing.  Stupidly enough, not only is this particular story not even a true trial, the crime is fairly common and the importance to an everyday individual is minimal, probably even on an entertainment level.  Hilton’s fame has always been somewhat of a mystery.  She is a socialite in the truest sense, living off nothing more than modest good looks (complete with droopy left eyelid – although I suppose she’s a model and someone finds her extraordinarily attractive), a famous last name and an ability to have sex with anything that moves and getting those coital acts on film.   She did not, according to Wikipedia, graduate from high school (instead earning a GED) and thus did not go to college (and thereby earning a prime role on Girls Gone Wild: I Like Having Sex with Paris Volumes 1-6).  So Hilton, as far as one can tell, is a pretty, not to intelligent girl who also has no acting skills, fewer singing skills, and little business sense.  More recently, she seemed to wile her way out of jail time for repeated driving offenses, namely:

“In September 2006, Hilton was arrested and charged with driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of 0.08%, the minimum at which it is illegal to drive in California. Hilton’s drivers license was subsequently suspended in November 2006, and in January 2007 she pled no contest to the alcohol-related reckless driving charge.[35] Her punishment was 36 months’ probation and fines of about $1,500.  On January 15, 2007, Hilton was pulled over for driving with a suspended license and signed a document acknowledging that she was not permitted to drive. On February 27, 2007 Hilton was caught driving 70 MPH in a 35 MPH zone, again with a suspended license. She also did not have her headlights on even though it was after dark. Prosecutors in the office of the Los Angeles City Attorney charged that those actions, along with the failure to enroll in a court-ordered alcohol education program constituted a violation of the terms of her probation.”

Rather than rehash all the drama that ensued, one can only wonder what exactly this girl, albeit with the intelligence of a distracted squirrel, was thinking when she decided to keep driving on a suspended license.  It seems unlikely that she consciously believed herself to be immune from prosecution or consequence.  Instead, as Lindsay Lohan is quickly proving, any young person given insane amounts of money, beauty and privilege will wind up screwing the pooch; and it is going to fall into the glaring media lights if they also famous.  By way of a point, historians have pointed out in books concerning World War II that the Allies only had pilots in their late teens and early twenties fly P-51 dive bombers – the main reason being that such pilots necessarily had to take insane risks on the low level straffing runs.  That age group was ideal because they just did not think about the consequences.  Thus, it is not so much that the young believe their own invincibility, but the idea of troubling fallout from their actions simply escapes their minds.

Returning to Hilton’s stature receiving benefits over and above the normal citizen, the free market economics’ greatest challenge has always been the efficient allocation of law and order.  In the present case, wealthy defendants are able to afford better lawyers and often get lesser sentences than they otherwise would have.  Some have suggested an elimination of criminal law entirely–i.e., with no crimes against “society” but only one individual (or group of individuals) against another individual (or group of individuals).  I still do not believe this fully addresses the problem of uneven enforcement of property rights.  And if such enforcement is uneven or inconsistent, the full benefits of the free market will no be realized.

Is a government necessary then to enforce law, whether criminal or civil?  I would remain in the pro-government camp with the reservation that the power of government is so easily abused.  The anarcho-capitalists appear to believe that man is self-harmonizing if left to his own devices.  I do not for a number of reasons: government presents an illusion of certainty with regard to the law (and that should be its only purview; as the illusion can have catastrophic consequences when applied to disaster relief and breaks down – as in regard to Katrina).  The concept that law is not as government makes it but is pre-existing suffers from the fact that it is far from certain among economic agents.  Since the law is not known, government can reflect the illusion, beneficial or not, that it is.  Humans experience with government derives from the family – if one is too remove the government entirely, one must break down the family (a wholly involuntary enterprise from the child’s standpoint).  There is also the so-called “cowpox” theory: better to have some say in a tyrannical government than risk being taken over by a true tyrant.  There is also the specialization problem, a corollary of the cowpox theory.  As an economy becomes more diverse, individuals begin to specialize into narrower fields.  Thus, most individuals would specialize away from personal and group defense skills while a relatively very few would become proficient in police and armed force tactics.  Thus, this very few, though perhaps beginning as private forces, could easily become tyrants fairly easily by exploiting the mass of defensively unskilled individuals prime weakness to create a tyranical government.  Thus it would be better for the mass of individuals to rely on the democratic vote to maintain their say rather than their own personal force.

The Hilton saga is a prime example of the illusion being broken – the law is not applied equally through all economic agents.  The wealthier receive preferential treatment.  The question remains: putting aside the cowpox theory and the family issue, is it beneficial to promulgate this illusion?  Some might say that the free market courts and defense companies could also fail and thus fall prey to the same problem.  However, that is not the case for the simple reason that any free market company should be recognized as susceptible to failure – thus there is no illusion of certainty.  Though the government must be maintained in some sense, however perhaps with the reduction of most crime to violation of property rights in the civil sphere.  Let the Paris Hiltons of the world get plowed under by private individuals (in this case, road owners in the road was privatized) just like she is with other private companies.


The Death of Western Civilization: Iraq’s throes of civil war has destroyed its rich history as well as its people:

“Hussaini confirmed a report two years ago by John Curtis, of the British Museum, on America’s conversion of Nebuchadnezzar’s great city of Babylon into the hanging gardens of Halliburton. This meant a 150-hectare camp for 2,000 troops. In the process the 2,500-year-old brick pavement to the Ishtar Gate was smashed by tanks and the gate itself damaged. The archaeology-rich subsoil was bulldozed to fill sandbags, and large areas covered in compacted gravel for helipads and car parks. Babylon is being rendered archaeologically barren.  Meanwhile the courtyard of the 10th-century caravanserai of Khan al-Raba was used by the Americans for exploding captured insurgent weapons. One blast demolished the ancient roofs and felled many of the walls. The place is now a ruin.Outside the capital some 10,000 sites of incomparable importance to the history of western civilisation, barely 20% yet excavated, are being looted as systematically as was the museum in 2003. When George tried to remove vulnerable carvings from the ancient city of Umma to Baghdad, he found gangs of looters already in place with bulldozers, dump trucks and AK47s.”


The tyranny of good intentions.  Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, tells German newspaper Der Spiegel that aid to Africa does more harm than good.

“Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

“When there’s a drought in a region of Kenya, our corrupt politicians reflexively cry out for more help. This call then reaches the United Nations World Food Program — which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated. It’s only natural that they willingly accept the plea for more help. And it’s not uncommon that they demand a little more money than the respective African government originally requested. They then forward that request to their headquarters, and before long, several thousands tons of corn are shipped to Africa …and at some point, this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombasa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unsrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN’s World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It’s a simple but fatal cycle.”

Government aid may well be a system that has no fix.


Ground control to Major Tom: Global Warble has hit Mars.  Apparently the Red Planet needs to wipe the sweat from melting polar caps from its brow:

“Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period.  Since there is no known life on Mars it suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena.  The mechanism at work on Mars appears, however, to be different from that on Earth. One of the researchers, Lori Fenton, believes variations in radiation and temperature across the surface of the Red Planet are generating strong winds.”


Note to self: don’t ever try to compliment English women I don’t know.  And not just because of their awful teeth.  However, with some of them (NSFW), I’m just going to start motorboating and damn the consequences.  Man the lifeboats, we’re going overboard!

“She is blonde, with the warmest brown eyes. Smiling my politest smile, I venture to approach her. “May I say, that you have the most beautiful eyes?”  Those warm eyes harden to cold flint in an instant. ‘Not good,’ she grimaces. ‘Talking to random women like that. Really. NOT. Good.’  This is very encouraging. This is progress. The beautiful woman hasn’t called the police yet, she can’t conceal her strong feelings about me, and she’s talking. The last blonde I complimented just waved me away in silent disgust and took her onward road, quickly.”