Saturday, September 22, 2007

Who Reigns?

The LORD reigns
in awesome power
our strong tower
His voice is heard
through His Word
He saves his people
from their sins
and He sanctifies
the ones trusting Him
kings tremble before
His awesome reign
He orders history
as He pleases
who reigns?
the LORD reigns.


Friday, September 21, 2007

A Libertarian View of Property Rights

"The officials of government, wishing to increase their power, and finding an increase of wealth an effective way to bring this about, seize some or all of what a person has earned--and since government has a monopoly of physical force within the geographical area of the nation, it has the power (but not the right) to do so. When this happens, of course, every citizen of that country is insecure: he knows that no matter how hard he works the government can swoop down on him at any time and confiscate his earnings and possessions. A person sees his life savings wiped out in a moment when the tax-collectors descend to deprive him of the fruits of his work; or, an industry which has been fifty years in the making and cost millions of dollars and millions of hours of time and planning, is nationalized overnight. Or the government, via inflation, cheapens the currency, so that hard-won dollars aren't worth anything any more. The effect of such actions, of course is that people lose hope and incentive: if no matter how hard they work the government agents can take it all away, why bother to work at all, for more than today's needs? Depriving people of property is depriving them of the means by which they live--the freedom of the individual to do what he wishes with his own life and to plan for the future. Indeed, only if property rights are respected is there any point to planning for the future and working to achieve one's goals." - John Hospers in "Libertarianism".

This quote does a pretty good job of showing one facet of the libertarian view of property rights. I think it makes a lot of sense. Property rights are an extremely basic foundational liberty. In a free society, the right to property even proceeds the right to free speech in importance. Without a proper emphasis on property rights, a society looses its vitality and ability to survive.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

September 19th

It is September 19th -- time to celebrate the famed international "Interesting Quotes day".

"The government's War on Poverty has transformed poverty from a short-term misfortune into a career choice." - Harry Browne

"..if [God's existence] turns out to be a 0, then we really are the slaves of our selfish genes, and there's no basis for morality other than various forms of tribalism." - Larry Wall

"No, I don't understand my husband's theory of relativity, but I know my husband and I know he can be trusted." - Elsa Einstein

"People think that computer science is the art of geniuses but the actual reality is the opposite, just many people doing things that build on each other, like a wall of mini stones." - Donald Knuth

"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!" - Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove

"..a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppresive. It is better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end"- C.S. Lewis

"This country can claim to have no distinctive criminal class except, of course, Congress." - Mark Twain

"Our universities are so determined to impose tolerance that they'll expel you for saying what you think and never notice the irony" - John Perry Barlow

"Given their [Microsoft's] record in the security area, I don't know why anybody would buy from them." - Richard Clarke, former White House cyber-security and counter-terrorism adviser

"The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin" - Mark Twain


Monday, September 17, 2007

Fast Food and Big Brother

In a "letter to the editor" Don Watkins of The Ayn Rand Institute wrote about a proposed two-year moratorium in South L.A. that would restrict fast-food eateries with a form of "health zoning". Don speaks critically of this sort of proposed legislation, stating that "government has no business dictating where and what people eat, or what their waistlines should be. Those are decisions that properly belong to individuals. The L.A. City Council should reject this disgraceful ban."

I think that Don is right on. Conscientious limitations on the role of government seems to be a lost art these days. To some people it seems entirely obvious that government intervention should be the solution to health issues pertaining fast food. Well, for the record, I don't see it that way. I just don't envision government as the paternal or maternal force who is so wrapped up in the life of its citizenry that it needs to cut in and say: "no you can't have any cookies until you've finished your meal". As they try to legislate a good diet not only will they NOT succeed in protecting the health of people in L.A., but they will do that large pile of nothing for a rather hefty fee.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Right Behind Your Ear, Brother"

This video would be more effective than the "this is your brain.." anti-drug commercials.

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Another 7 Interesting People (of all sorts..)

This is a continuation of the theme of the previous post.

David Weinberger (1950-Present) is a technologist, speaker, and author best known for his books: Cluetrain Manifesto and Everything is Miscellaneous. David holds a Ph.D from University of Toronto and serves as a fellow of Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. He's written comedy for Woody Allen, taught philosophy in New Jersey, been a humor columnist, a dot-com entrepreneur, and a marketing consultant.

Iain H. Murray (1931-Present) has been a pastor and co-founder of a publishing company named Banner of Truth Trust. Murray is noted for having served as an assistant to the well-known Martyn-Lloyd Jones. He has five children and ten grandchildren and has written many books, including biographical works onCharles Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Jonathan Edwards, A.W. Pink, and John Murray.

Gram Parsons (1946-1973): Gram was a musician known for his solo work and also his time with the Flying Burrito Brothers, The International Submarine Band, and the Byrds. In his early years he studied theology for a semester at Harvard. Despite being originally from the south, he did not become passionate about country music until he listened to Merle Haggard in Boston. Gram then quickly became a prominent pioneering musician in the genres that would be later known as "country rock" and "alt country". Parsons died at the young age of 26 from a morphine overdose. There is currently a petition to have him inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. One wonders what he may have been able to accomplish had he lived longer and had a stable life comparable to his contemporary Chris Hillman. The turbulent nature of Parson's existence did not stop at death, as his body was snatched by some friends in order to be cremated. Speculation and controversy have risen from the unusual events that occurred after his death.

Tim O'Reilly (1954-Present) is an Irish-born Harvard-graduate entrepreneur who is best known for founding the technical publishing company "O'Reilly Media". Tim has a close relationship with the free software and open source communities and is commonly credited as having coined the term "web 2.0". O'Reilly is also on the board of CollabNet and MySQL AB.

R.J. Rushdoony (1916-2001) was a Reformed philosopher, theologian and historian. He is best known for his role in solidifying the ideas behind the controversial topics of Christian Reconstructionism and theonomy. Born to parents that were fleeing the Armenian Genocide of 1915, R.J. grew up mainly in California with a short stay in Detroit. He received a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Education from U.C. Berkley, and he was ordained by the PC-USA in 1944. In 1958, he left the PC-USA for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He spent over eight years serving as a missionary to the Shoshone and Paiute Indians on a reserve in Nevada, and then became a pastor in Santa Cruz. In the early 1960's, he published "By What Standard?" and was also called upon as an expert witness in defense of the rights of home schoolers. In 1965, he founded the Chalcedon Foundation. Rushdoony wrote many books on topics such as philosophy, education, history, law, politics, and theology.

Lawrence Lessig (1961-Present) is a professor of law at Stanford and founder of Center for Internet and Society. He's specialized in copyright-related matters and laws in cyberspace, but now his emphasis is turning to matters related to political corruption. He has a B.S. in Economics & Management, a M.A. in philosophy from Cambridge, and a Juris Doctor from Yale. Lessig had strong conservative/libertarian views until his philosophy training in Cambridge, where he espoused views which aligned him closer with a modern liberal view, though he still considers himself a constitutionalist. Lessig has been legal counsel against the U.S. Attorney General (ie. John Ashcroft) on cases pertaining to copyright law and public domain.

Milton Friedman (1912-2006) was an American economist and advocate of a minimized government and a free market. His 1962 work "Capitalism and Freedom" was a major landmark in intellectual basis for his ideas and sold half a million copies. As for his political party affiliation, Friedman considered himself a libertarian philosophically, but a member of the U.S. Republican Party for the sake of expediency not principle. Though originally a supporter of the New Deal, as his career developed he became a strong critic of it. He provided a strong intellectual framework for what libertarians and conservatives believe in regard to economics. Friedman served as Barry Goldwater's economic advisor during the presidential campaign of 1964 and later became one of Nixon's advisors and a member of one of his Advisory Commisions, an opportunity that Friedman used to speak against the non-voluntary military draft. His main work, though, was in the areas of economics. He contributed to the monetarist school of economic though. Beyond his influence in the USA, Friedman's work made an impact on the politics of countries such as Iceland, Estonia, and Chile. The consistency of his dealings with Chile is a somewhat controversial topic, specifically on the topic as to whether his support of the dictatorship there was consistent with his libertarian ideals.

Friday, September 14, 2007

7 Interesting People (of all sorts..)

Harry Browne (1933-2006): Harry was a investment analyst and libertarian politician. He was the U.S. presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 1996 and 2000. He received 0.5% of the popular vote in his first candidacy and 0.4% in the second. He was noted as being one of the very few presidential candidates to, as a matter of principle, reject matching funds that he qualified for during an election. He was a fairly successful author, writing a number of books on finances and libertarianism. One of his more well-known books was a book on personal liberty titled How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. Harry was confied to a wheelchair by Lou Gehrig's disease in 2005 and died in 2006.

Wilkie Collins (1824-1889): This British man wrote 27 novels, 50 short stories, over 100 pieces of non-fiction work, and at least 15 plays. He was the son of a painter and was never married, although he lived with a widow and fathered three children.

John Stott (1921-Present) is an Anglican Christian leader and one of the principal authors of the 1974 Lausanne Covenant. In the 1960's, Stott and Martyn Lloyd-Jones argued over whether evangelicals should leave the Church of England, with Lloyd-Jones making the case for a separatist position. Controversy has also arisen over John's adherence to Annihilationism. John has remained celibate for his entire life and has devoted much time to writing around 50 books. He's also written a book on birdwatching and is a skillful photographer. He retired in 2007 at the age of 86. He's received the CBE and was appointed chaplain to Elizabeth II. A New York times columnist is quoted as once having said that if evangelicals could elect a pope, it would be John Stott.

Peter Sellers (1925-1980): Sellers was a British comedian/actor who never won an Oscar but was nominated for two Academy Awards for "Best Actor". He rose to prominence starting with his role in The Goon Show. He then starred in a number of well-known movies, including his famous role as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther series. He also appeared on the Muppets Show. He consistently showed a versatility as an actor, he was able to skillfully imitate accents and playing sharply contrasting role with ease. Sellers had a casual friendship with Ringo Starr and George Harrison. Personal issues and his personality often made his relationship with various producers and actors difficult. Sellers had four marriages and struggled with drug abuse and also heart problems. He tended to defer his problems, both with mental heath and physical heath to astrologers and psychics, a fact which eventually lead to his death by heart attack. His reputation as a "man behind a mask" was furthered by public statements such as "If you ask me to play myself, I will not know what to do. I do not know who or what I am." and "There used to be a me behind the mask, but I had it surgically removed.".

I.F. Stone (1907-1989) was a radical journalist best know for his thorough investigative journalism. Stone had a self-published journal named "I.F. Stone's Weekly", which had a small circulation but was quite influential. His journalism was remarkable in that his material came largely from obscure public domain sources and official government reports. Stone actively criticized government policy on things such as the Vietnam War and racism. He was placed on the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee's list of the 82 most active and typical sponsors of Communist fronts in the USA. There is some debate over the exact nature of his dealings with the Soviet Union, but he clearly was considered a threat and was heavily monitored by the FBI, CIA, State Department, etc. After his retirement, Stone learned Ancient Greek and wrote a book on the
trial of Socrates.

Eric Raymond (1957-Present) is a programmer, author, and open source advocate. Eric is well known with the "hacker culture" mainly due to his publication of the "Jargon File" and also a pro-open source work entitled "The Cathedral and the Baazar". He was born in Boston and entered computing due to physical limitations imposed by his mild form of congenital cerebral palsy. He's contributed to a number of software and software documentation projects. Eric is also known for being: a black-belt, a practitioner of Moo Doo, a native of Pennsylvania, an agnostic, a sci fi fan, a musician, a libertarian, against Wikipedia, for the Iraq war, against gun control, and against the CDA.

Huddie Ledbetter (1888-1949) was an American blues musician known as "Leadbelly". Huddie could play the twelve-string guitar, harmonica, piano, mandolin, violin, and accordian. He was imprisoned several times, once for killing a relative in a fight and another time for attempted murder. Perhaps his best known and most covered song is "Midnight Special", which was based on his jail experiences. Huddie's music has been picked up by many popular artists including The Animals, Peter Seeger, Creedance Clearwater Revival, Nirvana, and Van Morrison.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

On Abortion

In an article entitled "Why I, as a feminist, abhor how the abortion law has been so abused", Amanda Platell observes how the supposed "checks and balances" designed to limit abortion to certain cases are, in practice, merely a formality in Britain. In 1969, when abortion was legalized in Britian, 55,000 abortions occurred. Now there is around 200,000 per year, the highest of any European country.

While I don't agree with everything she says (obviously), she makes astute observations when she says:

"In particular, I passionately believe the growing scientific evidence of a foetus's ability to sustain life at 20 weeks - and show signs of recognisably human behaviour as young as 13 weeks - must make us reduce the upper limit.

I also believe that we should be counselling women far more about the viability of keeping their child, and the real alternative of giving birth to your child then offering it up for adoption"


"Who could read those statistics about the sheer scale of abortion in Britain today and not question the morality behind it?

Well, a lot of people in government, it seems."

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Sunday, September 02, 2007


In "Operation Gravedigger", O.S. Guinness portrays top-secret letters of a deputy director instructing others in the plot to subvert and overthrow Christianity.

The deputy director, under the heading of "Pitfall two: ossification", wrote: "There is only one tactic which rivals that of turning the Adversary's absolutes into relatives--turning the Adversary's relatives into absolutes."


Saturday, September 01, 2007

If Libraries Were Invented Today..

This thoughtful post by Stephen J. Dubner at New York Times ponders the interesting idea of what would happen if libraries didn't already exist but were suddenly invented now.

The conclusion is basically this: Publishers and other groups would probably fight against this new invention, because economically it defintely "hurts" them. Think about it: 50 people can read a book with one purchase, instead of 50 reads with potentially up to 50 purchases. The concept of the library is the ultimate "try before you buy" sort of setup, and thankfully it became ingrained into our culture long before the current copyright/publisher-rights/licensing/etc. mania has reached its zenith.

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