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The Franklin Method of Self-Improvement

It’s been a long time since I read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. But I seem to have embraced some of his wisdom anyway. I have become an almost-compulsive tracker of my own activities. I log all my food and exercise, I keep a sort of time sheet to make sure I spend my hours in ways that keep me moving forward, I have a periodic journal of thoughts, and this blog is a record of my view of worldly events.

Franklin had perhaps even more interests than I do, but he kept his focus on essential virtues:

As such, he himself attempted to always live by this code and developed charts with which he charted his progress from day to day, to make sure that he was constantly improving towards this end.

He would start with one of the virtues and plot his progress on the chart until he mastered that virtue; then moving on to the next; and so on until he mastered them all. He ordered them specifically as shown below, as some of them naturally lend towards others. Thus by sticking to this order, he felt it made it easier to achieve the whole.

This code is as follows:

Hiding Behind the Rules

Craig Newmark has an excellent post about the inherent flaws in government regulation of commerce, and those who put their faith in regulators (re-quoting his quotes…go read the whole thing):

…it’s hard to think of a recent disaster in the business world that wasn’t abetted by inept regulation. Mining regulators allowed operators like Massey Energy to flout safety rules. Financial regulators let A.I.G. write more than half a trillion dollars of credit-default protection without making a noise. The S.E.C. failed to spot the frauds at Enron and WorldCom, gave Bernie Madoff a clean bill of health…

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Uncertainty Begets Uncertainty

Using last week’s weak employment data as a launching point, George Will lays out the case against big government: 

Today investors and employers are certain that uncertainties are multiplying.


On the Nature of Humanity

A thought that can stand without its context:

As Immanuel Kant famously remarked, “from the crooked timber of humanity no truly straight thing can be made.” But, in the words of philosopher, Denis Dutton, “It is not…that no beautiful carving or piece of furniture can be produced from twisted wood; it is rather that whatever is finally created will only endure if it takes into account the grain, texture, natural joints, knotholes, strengths and weaknesses of the original material.”

And another, offered as a comment on the first:

Utopian ideologies fail because they seek three impossible goals—


Big Bird Would Rather Take His Chances With More Drilling

Forgive me for being hung up on the bird body count. But as I was scanning some more context-free reporting, I thought, “Hey, what about those windmills that are supposed to be part of the Clean Energy Economy. Aren’t those just giant bird grinders? How many of our feathered friends are beaten to death by clean energy every day?

To the Google!

Turns out George Will made some remarks about this over a month ago, when the birdy count was in the single digits. I don’t care what Will said; I am claiming this as an independent thought. But his comment led to some handy research:

The American Bird Conservancy estimated in 2003 that between 10,000 and 40,000 birds were killed each year at wind farms across the country, about 80 percent of which were songbirds and 10 percent birds of prey.


AP Goes Tabloid

The Associated Press is running a story headlined “Gulf oil spill becomes wildlife apocalypse”. Nothing sensationalist, nothing alarmist about that, huh?

Well, maybe something truly, umm…apocalyptic, happened since yesterday.


After six weeks with one to four birds a day coming into Louisiana's rescue center for oiled birds at Fort Jackson, 53 arrived Thursday and another 13 Friday morning, with more on the way. Federal authorities say 792 dead birds, sea turtles, dolphins and other wildlife have been collected from the Gulf of Mexico and its coastline.


Pirates Fight Over PRK Ship Headed to Scrapyard

There seems to be more to this story that you probably didn’t hear:

During a serious shoot-out between two rival pirate groups surrounding the sea-jacked MV RIM, leaving 9 Somalis dead, the Syrian crew of the vessel managed to overpower six pirates on board and to sail free.


I Wanted to Like It, Too

Facebook posting with 666 likes

Also, respect to the men of Operation Overlord; and to the men at the Battle of Midway, who turned the tide against Imperial Japan a mere six months after Pearl Harbor. And don’t forget the last major battle of the Pacific in WWII, Okinawa.

Thanks to them, I am free to rock on 6/6 six decades later.

Somebody Got to Make Some Sacrifice

Lone man halts column of tanks -- Tiananmen Square 1989

Servitude is in the mind of death and life
Don't be confused with the terms of left and right
Statism is Statism by any name the same
Apathy is suicide and we won't bear the Blame.

Today is Tank Man’s anniversary. Stand up for yourself.

Quote from Tekno Jihad by Psykosonik.

Pelican Perspective

The Boston Globe has some excellent oily bird pictures that support the Hate BP narrative. And the Google suggests the birdy body count is well over 300:

So far 300 birds, the bulk of them identified as Brown Pelicans and northern gannets have been found along the US Gulf Coast during the first five weeks of the BP oil spill, and 31 have survived. They are currently being counted as casualties because of the proximity in time and location to the spill, but are being tested to confirm results. The mortality rate is expected to rise sharply since this is the middle of breeding season.

With a population of 650,000, this just isn’t that big of a deal. We’re talking about maybe five hundredths of a percent of the pelican stock.

Relatedly, the current President is having shrimp for dinner. Cobb did a little research, and we’re not running out of shrimp, either:


Boycott Babies

I am surprised that the BP Deepwater blowout has had so much staying power in the headlines, given the dearth of truly ugly images. It’s almost like it is more a fashion/fad to hate BP than to actually care about documented harm.

I see so much hatred, and it strikes me as evidence of the infantile mindset of the U.S. public. People seem to think that if they throw a big-enough tantrum, the oil well will be capped. There’s an underlying assumption that BP isn’t already trying all they can with the knowledge and resources available.


Political Taijitu

Taoist Yin-Yang SymbolWhat irony that Obama now represents more value to the Republicans than to the Democrats.

Quoted from: Commenter “Curtis” at Neo-neocon

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Can She Handle It?

It’s 1949, and what’s a well-dressed lady going to drive?

1949 Nash Airflyte Ad -- Long Hood

The daring ones drive a Nash Airflyte:

Its aerodynamic body shape was developed in a wind tunnel. Nils Wahlberg's theories on reducing an automobile body's drag coefficient resulted in a smooth shape and enclosed front fenders. The "cutting-edge aerodynamics" was the most "alarming" all-new postwar design in the industry.


New Dawn Coming to Iraq

Remember Iraq?

The current President has been quietly continuing the Bush Administration policy in Iraq. So quietly that it has dropped out of the headlines. No daily body count, no handwringing about unwinnable quagmires, no sensational exposés about the brutality of U.S. forces. It’s almost like a war was won and nobody noticed.

So, what’s really happening?

General Odierno, the top U.S. commander there, says (pdf):

he’s impressed with progress the Iraqi security forces have made, particularly since the new security agreement took effect in January. “Today, they are in charge everywhere in Iraq,” he said. “We no longer conduct large-scale operations in Iraq. They do. We support those operations.”


Ellison to Face Primary Challenge from White

Barb Davis White has filed as a DFL candidate in CD5:

Barb Davis White campaign photoBy filing as a Democrat just moments before the deadline, Davis White set in motion the requirement for a primary election to determine whether or not Ellison will have the opportunity to be on the ballot in the general election this November. The primary, to be held in early August, will give Minnesota’s 5th district a choice of which Democratic candidate will be listed on the ballot, and Davis White’s belief is that it will be hers.


Selecting Perception

From an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal comes a stark illustration of how Big Media works according to a narrative:

In news reporting, it's not unusual to encounter constructions such as this AP dispatch from the presidential campaign about Sarah Palin: "She has worshipped at a nondenominational Bible church since 2002, opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest and supports classroom discussions about creationism."

That's fair as far as it goes. Just once, however, wouldn't it be interesting to see a leading newspaper write something like, "Nancy Pelosi, who opposes any restrictions on abortion, even in cases where a pregnant minor is taken across state lines without a parent's permission or where the fetus is halfway out the mother"?


Minneapolis Ready to Launch Bike-Stealing Program

Minneapolis is ten days from launch its bike-sharing program, now branded Nice Ride. I called this to your attention about a year ago, noting that Paris was having some problems pedaling its way to utopia:

As it approaches its second anniversary, the Paris Vélib' bicycle-sharing program is proving as popular with thieves and vandals as it is with commuters.

Since the program started in July, 2007, 8,000 of the bicycles have been stolen, and nearly 1,400 people were arrested for Vélib' theft just last year.


It was a Military Mission

A commenter at TJIC reveals the scale of the foiled Hamas resupply flotilla:

The 15,000 tons of humanitarian goods that were (allegedly) aboard the convoy are not much more than the roughly 14,000 tons that crossed the Israel-Gaza border in a typical week in May:

In 2009, Israel sent nearly 740,000 tons into Gaza. Not counting the diesel fuel, the medical supplies and so forth.


The Omniscience Trap

From a long comment on Neo-neocon’s post about the terrorist resupply mission foiled by Israel:

I’ve reached the conclusion that Islamic radicalism is a symptom not a cause. Regrettably, I’ve been forced to conclude that the cause is Islam itself.

I base this assessment upon Islam’s holiest and most fundamental theological tenet, which when fully appreciated inexorably leads to the logical conclusion that it is Islam itself, which makes war upon Israel and the West.

Voting on What to Steal

A recurring thought which I hope to develop someday…

Americans are trained to worship democracy. But the brilliance behind the U.S. Consititution is not that some most people get a vote. The true political innovation was that the Founders put limits on what government could do. Those limits mean the people do not get to vote on everything.

We’ve all become accumstomed to having our opinions catered to. Although the elected politicians almost universally fail our expectations, they still invoke the rituals of democratic religion. Those who wish to sell us goods ask our opinion both as a method of improving their product and as a sales technique. Once we are engaged, we are open to persuasion.



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