Sunday, November 29, 2009

Climate Science, Irony, and the Root of All Evil

If you are not up to date on the row over unethical tactics and dishonest reporting of facts amongst the world's leading climate scientists, then you really won't get the context of this post. At Free Advice, Bob Murphy has done a splendid job of distilling the issue, so I suggest going there and checking out the "Climategate" posts of the last few weeks. You should, in fact, check Free Advice on a daily basis.

These climate scientists who blackmail editors, blacklist rivals, and fudge data must know now how the geocentrists felt in Galileo's wake.

The state was able to exert political pressure and force Galileo to retract his findings, for Galileo--by affirming Copernicus's proof of heliocentrism--had contradicted scientific and religious orthodoxy.

In exchange for his life, Galileo simply denied his "heretical" assertions--as if getting Galileo to take it back was the same as proving him wrong.

If the geocentrists had been so right in their view, shouldn't they have been able simply to contradict Galileo?

Of course they couldn't contradict him with anything resembling evidence, so they threatened him.

So the story goes. Now its the scientists who have the state's ear, and they're behaving as the Church did half a millenium ago.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

By the way, Christopher Hitchens asserts that "Religion poisons everything." I've been picking my way through his book God Is Not Great, and--while I'm not yet ready to make anything resembling a critique--I can say that Hitchens's examples prove not that religion poisons everything, but that the coercive powers of a supposedly legitimate state poison everything. Religion is often used as an excuse--or as a cover, as Hitchens describes Milsovic's grab for territory in the 1990's--but that doesn't mean that religion is the issue.

The same is true in Ireland, Lebanon, Israel, etc. It's the existence and involvement of the state that corrupts and leads to widespread suffering.

It's actually quite obvious, when you look at it. It links all forms of tyranny: from your run-of-the-mill theocratic dictatorship (e.g. the Taliban) to an atheistic dictatorship (e.g. Communism).

Remove their ability to inflict violence, and the Taliban becomes an oddity not unlike the Amish. Take away a communist's access to coercive powers, and he becomes a disgruntled academic or something slightly worse.

The state is the most violent organization on the planet. Only it enables men to be cruel and tyrannical on a noteworthy scale.

Back to Galileo. If the Church hadn't had the state to act as its goon, then the worst that it could have done was excommunicate Galileo. While this might have emotionally devastated Galileo, it would not have harmed him physically.

But now it's the climate scientists who have the state's ear, and what they're trying to do in Copenhagen and elsewhere should alarm you. Once the Church of Climate Change has real political power behind it, you'll see what I mean.

Then again, you can just read some history. It's all happened before.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Rated "M"

Mark (age 6) has a theory about game ratings. My new game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, is rated "M" for "Mature."

Mark thinks that it must also mean rated "M" for "Man" because "There's lots of killing, and you've got to be a man to enjoy that kind of stuff."

Hmm. I'm thinking that I won't share this with his mother.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Let's cut to the meat of it. The Pilgrims did not host the first Thanksgiving in order to thank Squanto and his Wampanoag crew for helping them get through a hard season. The Pilgrims gave thanks to no one but God. They would not have given credit to a bunch of godless heathens. Even Squanto they called merely an instrument of God's will.

I would be remiss if I did not note that the two most important men in establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday are Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.

Politically, Lincoln needed people to think past the cold-blooded killing of anyone who would not submit to Federal power.

Similarly, Roosevelt needed people--in the midst of the Great Depression--to dwell on and be thankful for what little they had. However, he in no way at all intended them to consider what they were losing as his New Deal went into effect.

In this day and age, I am led to believe that I should be thankful for having anything at all, for the federal government stands poised to usurp all that it does not abolish.

Question: Was Brutas more Washington or Oswald?

I think that you know that answer to that, so what are the implications?


The day after Thanksgiving is the day when millions flock to the stores in order to buy what they don't have because they aren't thankful enough for what they already do have.

That said, I'm going for a new TV because I am positively not thankful for the one that I have. Is it better than nothing? Sure it is. Just like having a dollar is better than having no dollar; but what are you going to get for a dollar once the Burger King is closed?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Lost City: The Film and the Truth about Che

I recently watched The Lost City, an Andy Garcia film about family ties set against the backdrop of the communist revolution in Cuba.

There's plenty of nostalgia--even the title echoes Margaret Mitchell's portrayal of an idealized South being "Gone With the Wind"). However, as it tells its beautifully filmed story, The Lost City does not gloss over the abuses of Batista's government. It shows Batista's regime for what it was.

However, the film refuses to use Batista's tyranny as a justification for Castro's despotism. In many ways--and I am hardly the first to observe this--The Lost City is a breath of fresh air. Finally a film depicts Castro and his "revolutionaries" for what they were: goons.

Ernesto "Che" Guevera finally gets his. Under Garcia's direction, "Che" is portrayed as the arrogant, bloodthirsty, and overall loathsome piece of Marxist-Leninist filth that, for some odd reason, has resonated so romantically to college students (and professors) throughout the country.

In a nutshell, the dashing and daring "Che" can be summed up in his final moments: As Bolivian forces prepared to execute the captured agitator, he--he who had lined up so many to be shot--begged, "Don't shoot – I'm Che! I'm worth more to you alive than dead!"

Nathan Hale he wasn't.

I've never believe in the "Che" that Hollywood and Berkley have portrayed, mostly because I have good reason to doubt the source. However, I've read a few things. "Che" like all Marxist revolutionaries, was a thug. He wasn't even a successful thug as, say, Stalin. Che's success has come as a martyr for a cause that most of his fans only vaguely (if even that much) understand.

From viewers of The Lost City:

I was happy to finally see a movie about the Cuban revolution that highlighted another side of the story. The only reason I did not give this a 5 star rating is because I would have like to have seen the non-Castro revolutionary side featured more and of course given more substance than what was shown in the movie. I was happy to see that the Che was NOT idolized in this movie. It was about time he was shown for what he truly became years after the "idealistic" Che portrayed in Motorcycle Diaries. If you are of Cuban heritage, even if you are a first generation American (like me), you will feel this movie.

My family and I were still in Cuba when Castro rolled in to Havana and Batista fled the country. We were not part of the upper class, but we watched in dismay how the revolutionaries acted towards anyone who owned even a house. My brother was arrested for protesting the militia's tactics and was thrown in jail for 3 years without a trial; my father was threatened not to reopen his small store; my mother was kicked out of our home when the government found out my sister and I had left the country. Other members of our family suddenly found their home invaded by strangers moving in - simply because they had a 3-bedroom home and the revolution deemed it "too imperialistic" to have such vast space for one family only. Andy Garcia deserves more than an Oscar for directing such a powerful movie. Perhaps to those who did not go through the revolution, the movie may come across as too "sentimental". To those of us who lived it, it was a painful and sad reminder of a moment in time that changed our lives, and a country, forever.


Politically, its about time someone gave an accurate portrayal of what happened in Havana and Andy did just that. Yes, the movie received negative reviews from the media. Had the film glorified the revolution and idolized the Che, perhaps the reviews would have been positive. In any event, it was refreshing to see the truth. Many families were torn apart as in the movie. The scene where the revolutionary brother evicts the uncle is real. My own father went to his office one morning to find soldiers at the door telling him that the spring water company that he built and nurtured was no longer his. He was not allowed to even take his personal belongings. This happened to most of the Cuban middle class. Many scenes evoked childhood memories for me. I gave it a 5 not only for the beautiful rendition of the Havana I remember. It deserves it for telling a truth seldom heard of the Havana so many of us exiles love and cherish.

So go ahead and give The Lost City a shot. It's not the greatest film ever made, but it gives a good enough crash course in what happens when socialists control arsenals.

Oh, and screw Ernesto "Che" Guevera.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Get Your Hands Out of My Pockets

If you have the right to your property, then the government has no right to tax you.

To prove this, consider that, if the government does indeed have the right to tax you, your property "rights" would consist merely of what property the state allows you to keep, calling it "yours" until it wants more of it, under which circumstances it is theirs.

Under the above scenario, all property essentially belongs to the state. If you are loyal and work hard enough for the state, it will reward you with the privilege of property consignment.

Clearly this is absurd. You have the right to the fruits of your labor just as assuredly as you have the liberty to labor as you see fit. The government indeed has the power to tax you, but that is not the same as saying that it has the right to do so.

If you do not consider your property to be merely held in trust for when the state wants it, then you must agree that the government has no right to tax you.

Might makes right in only the nastiest of societies.

Funny Video

Monday, November 23, 2009

Man Made Morals (and other exercises in alliteration)

If morals are man-made, then they are merely preferences, not morals at all. While this assertion excites some, the truth is that this distinction carries with it consequences.

We're not just talking about sexual morality. We're talking about everything from the nasty extremes (e.g. murder and rape) through the mild "no big deals" (e.g. white lies and line cutting).

You cannot reasonably expect my preferences to match yours, and if you try to impose them upon me, then you are a tyrant who must resort to violence in order to achieve your ends. Without morality in the traditionally accepted and defined sense, there is no such thing as right or wrong, good or evil.

If you won't have morality as objective and trans-ego, then you cannot have morality at all. As T.S. Eliot observed, "If you will not have God you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin."

Just a Few Thoughts on the Climate Row Before I'm Off to Work

Last week, I found this on Bob Murphy's site, Free Advice. It wasn't the only or even original source for this issue, but it was where I started.

Then this.

In a nutshell, we're starting to glipse how baldly (and badly) these people lie and cheat their way into politics via so-called objective science.

This article says that scientists have "debunked" the theory of climate data manipulation, but they haven't debunked anything. They've denied it, sure, but that's not the same as debunking.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can This Post Be More Rhetorical?

Why do so many people argue with nothing more than rhetorical questions? Can they not devise an actual argument themselves? Do they think that it's smug and clever sounding to phrase things interrogatively? Is it because they want take control of the debate by forcing you to answer (and often affirm) their questions?

On another note, there are those who simply deny or contradict everything that you posit, and they do so without offering adequate (if any) support/reason.

Heck, while you're at it, watch this one for fun.

Obama's Home Teleprompter Malfunctions During Family Dinner

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Opa Ist Gestorben

I thought that the old man would get a kick out of it if I wrote this post in German, so here's my best shot.

Verzeihen Sie mir, wenn meine Worte peinlich sind. Mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut.

Ich habe viel zu tun gehabt, aber ist nicht alles wie immer. Dieser Beitrag ist für Emil Sendek, meine Frau Großvater, der sich heute Morgen gestorben.

Wir sind sehr traurig, aber wir hoffe, dass er gut Tarife. Er war ein guter Mensch. Freundlich. Ein alter Herr, der Welt erster Ordnung.

In Wahrheit ist es genau so hart zu entblößen mein Herz in dieser fremden Sprache als in meiner eigenen Sprache. Das Herz hat Gefühle, die nicht ausgesprochen werden oder zum Ausdruck gebracht. Ich denke an meine eigene kürzlich verstorbenen Großeltern und kennen den Schmerz fühlte mich von meiner Frau, aber ich bin machtlos.

Und jetzt habe ich ganz sicher geschlachtet des Alten Sprache, obwohl er sicher wäre, zu lächeln und zu lachen mich jetzt.

Opa, grüßen Sie mein vater von mir--wenn man solche Dinge nicht im Himmel. Wir lieben dich, und wir sehen uns wieder: Gott lebt überm Sternenzelt. Wir werden für Sie hier nachschauen. Wir kümmern uns um Oma und Sasha. Mach dir keine Sorgen. Sie sind mit Gott, und keiner von uns werden Sie das Vergnügen gönnen.

Abschied, guter Mensch.

Bill of Rights