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The Kerfuffle in Libya

The U.S. attacks on Libya have all the factions twisted around. I’ve heard the same arguments and justifications and condemnations for both ends of my radio dial. And across the intertracks.

I applaud those lefties who hold some integrity to the anti-war stance. We’re halfway through Bush’s third term. But it was a lefty who teased out the line from Obama’s speech about Libyan agents having killed Americans (a quarter-century ago) as evidence that Obama is defending U.S. interests and American lives.

Many righties and libertarian types are having difficulty with the newly-minted Obama doctrine, which seems to be call for U.S. military action when human rights are grossly violated. So, why aren’t we bombing Iran, Saudia Arabia, and Myanmar (or Barney Frank’s apartment)?


Prometheus Responds to Lucifer Jones

My response to Cobb:

Those men in those edifices were wiser than I thought. I wanted to be Prometheus. But common men are fools, and fire is too much power for them.

By luck, guile, or self-delusion, I survived. I now understand that knowledge is amoral. And as men we are called to be moral. To choose is to be human.

The atheists, too, want to be Prometheus. But they have little guidance for the choices of a real life. It works in only abstract. Murder, for example, is wrong even to the godless. That conclusion requires no genius and comes with little risk.

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Imagine There’s No Airports

You’re on your first trans-Pacific flight as Captain of a jetliner. You’ve made it almost all the way to Japan. And then there’s an earthquake:

It wasn't long, maybe ten minutes, before the first pilots started requesting diversions to other airports. Air Canada, American, United, etc. all reporting minimal fuel situations. I still had enough fuel for 1.5 to 2.0 hours of holding. Needless to say, the diverts started complicating the situation.

Japan air traffic control then announced Narita was closed indefinitely due to damage. Planes immediately started requesting arrivals into Haneada, near Tokyo, a half dozen JAL and western planes got clearance in that direction but then ATC announced Haenada had just closed. Uh oh! Now instead of just holding, we all had to start looking at more distant alternatives like Osaka, or Nagoya.

Nazi Technology

German engineering is not always brilliant. I can imagine this “Rail Zeppelin” was a work of machining art. But a giant propeller whirring right beside passenger platforms did present a safety challenge.

Propeller-driven railcar beside passenger platform

The Wired Magazine article on this one-off wonder makes an interesting point:

The concept and execution of Schienenzeppelin (“Rail Zeppelin”) predated the Nazis by years. Like quantum physics, Bauhaus architecture and Marlene Dietrich, it was a product of the Weimar Republic. All the Nazis contributed was the loco’s eventual dismantling to turn its aluminum into Messerschmitts.

Nazis get more credit than they deserve for technological advancements. They were the first to field jet fighters and guided missiles. They produced motor fuels (gasoline and diesel) from coal. The Allied powers were concerned about their potential development of nuclear weapons. But all those were applications of ideas already exisiting when the Nazis gained control.

What Do You Call a Racist Muslim?

Congressional hearings on the threat of radical Muslims have renewed accusations of racism and Islamophobia. A doubt about Muslims anywhere is an attack on Islam everywhere. At least in the eyes of our xenophile Progressives and Democrats.

One thing I find interesting about the multiculturalists is that the liberals and leftists who are most likely to be grounded in the actual realities of countries like Egypt and Turkey are those who are giving advice about them to travelers. They cannot adopt the “West bad, everyone else good” attitude that most leftists seem to have, because it can be dangerous. They need to give advice that is based on the realities of the country they are giving advice about.


Nuclear Disaster in Marhsall Terrace

A couple of years ago, the Riverside Power Plant in the 55418 was converted from coal fuel to natural gas. It had burned coal and coated the Marshall Terrace neighborhood with ash and dust for the previous eight decades.

It never made headlines as a radiation hazard. But it was:

In a 1978 paper for Science, J. P. McBride at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and his colleagues looked at the uranium and thorium content of fly ash from coal-fired power plants in Tennessee and Alabama. To answer the question of just how harmful leaching could be, the scientists estimated radiation exposure around the coal plants and compared it with exposure levels around boiling-water reactor and pressurized-water nuclear power plants.


Ellison’s on Their Side

Keith Ellison represents the 55418 in Congress. He’s the first Muslim to serve there. Ellison made some headlines recently for crying—really, he shed tears on camera—in a Congressional hearing over the perceived demonization of Muslims in the United States. He feels that Islam is mis-characterized and Muslims can be American heroes just like anyone else.

Ellison is outspoken about the rights of not only Muslims, but of women and many minority categories. Including homosexuals. He believes that gays deserve the whole raft of privileges granted to non-gay people. Like the right to marry.

Mr Ellison is a proud Progressive. But the Prog agenda is at odds with the Holy Koran. Under Islam, not even “radical” Islam, homosexuality is a crime against G-d. Gayness is punishable by death. So the matter of their right to marry is moot.

It is not possible to serve two masters. Is Ellison a Muslim? Or is he a Progressive?

It’s not just a matter of overlooking some aspects of politics in favor of a greater good. There is no compromise with death. And Ellison actively, aggressively (and tearfully) advocates for the rights of both factions.

The 55418 is lucky to have such a morally and philosophically flexible Representative.

How Many Chunks in a Gobble?

From a StarTribune report about a study on “who bears Minnesota’s biggest tax burden” and how that might inform State and local government budgets:

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman asked committee members to rethink the aid cuts.

The mayors said they'd need to look at reductions in every corner of their budgets, including public safety, which gobbles up a giant chunk of city revenue.

How does that qualify as reporting?

Did the Mayors use the language, “gobbles up a giant chunk”? It is not a direct quote, so we would assume the electeds used different words.

What we’re presented with is not fact or news, but a storyteller’s rhetoric. How many dollars are in a giant chunk? When a firefighter comes out to save a life, is he gobbling revenue?


Godzilla in Pinstripes

The headlines appear obsessed with panic about radiaton. That danger has largely passed. Although, there is no such thing as “safe”. There is always risk. And Big Media plays into ignorance and panic.

First, the good news.  The second plant, containing four reactors about a dozen or so kilometers from the one that has been the subject of all the reporting, has reached cold shutdown on all four reactors.  The destroyed pump motors (from the tsunami) were replaced and the plant is stable.  That part of the story, barring some sort of new issue, is over.  Note that a couple of days ago this plant was on the verge of a full-scale disaster.


We Gonna Do What They Say Can’t Be Done

The spirit of America was still alive in 1977.

It was O.K. to feel good and make a little mischief. And diesel fuel was 47.9¢ per gallon.

I want my country back.

H/T: A Facebook pally.


What Was Really Happening in Wisconsin

Turns out the blowhards on both ends of my radio dial never had a chance. Wisconsin Republicans were engaged in negotiations with the Fleebag Fourteen, but kept it quiet. The righties were willing to make compromises to get the fourteen back for a vote. And the lefties agreed. Several times. And several times, they betrayed their agreement:

The discussions on March 2, again in a McDonald’s, included the two moderate Democrats, the governor’s staff, and, importantly, Mark Miller, the Democratic leader. When the negotiations ended, Republicans once again believed their colleagues would be returning soon. Gilkes woke Walker up with a phone call at 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday to tell him that they had agreed on “the framework for a deal” that would be finalized in the coming days.


Seeing In Darkness

Traffic has been light here on NRR. As part of my personal experiments for the New Year, I decided to abstain from Big Media news. I still see most of the headlines, but I do not know the stories being told.

(Also, I have been blessed with a rush of real, billable work in the meat world, leaving little time for pithy observations and therapeutic snark.)

There have been big events which I would have been following closely. The political poker game in Wisconsin appears to confirm my view of an upcoming period of violent upheaval as those accustomed to political favors throw tantrums when confronted by economic reality.

The upheavals across the Arab world are exciting. The current President is showing incompetence in a new arena. Or, more generously, real politics are so much more complex than campaign politics.


Reactionary Radio

Perhaps it is an example of Yin and Yang chasing each other around the wheel of life. Those who successfully speak truth to power become power. What was once novel and avant-garde is accepted as status quo.

Cobb spews a bit about NPR’s evolution toward irrelevance:

By the time NPR fired Juan Williams, I was too through with them and really expected nothing more. But you can't stay mad forever. So I have found myself turning back, begrudgingly. It's rather a different beast. Now there are commercials all the time, and there are a bunch of names I don't recognize reporting, only showing how strange it is to realize that NPR is essentially about 30 people. And even what they do is getting, well. How can I say it? NPR just can't compete with some really good podcasts - they just don't geek out enough. NPR is about flavor and style. It's not cutting edge anything. It's just like HBO. I don't mean to say that it has the amoral in-your-face-ness that was HBO when I stopped watching several years ago, but that it has become something of a parody of itself having become predictable and no longer being the best at what they do.

Somewhere—probably via Robert Anton Wilson—I recall a theory that information is that which you cannot predict.


Robots Displacing Clerks

In economic theory, labor combines with capital to produce goods. In normal language, that means people work with machines to make stuff.

Labor and capital (people and machines) can be subsituted for each other. If the backhoe breaks, we can dig holes by hand. Or, if hiring workers becomes too costly, someone will develop machinery to do the job:

Automation — long a force in agriculture and manufacturing — is accelerating in the retail sector, a trend that could hamper efforts to bring down the nation's stubbornly high jobless rate.

Sign Me Up

As a member of The Bastiat Society:

The Bastiat Society promotes the fact that the world is getting better, and that it's the creation of wealth through business that is doing it.

The Society's argument can be simply stated:

* Trade is a fundamental and virtuous human activity.
* Peaceful and profitable trade creates wealth.
* Wealth makes the world better.
* Those who create wealth through trade are not villains, but are the true owners of the moral high ground and benefactors of the human race.

Instead of abandoning the moral high ground to glib academics, politicians, and other condescending moralists, the Bastiat Society reclaims the moral authority of peaceful and profitable business.

Well, since the annual dues are beyond my prudent reach ($200), I’ll have to remain a shadow member.

Newsprint Kills Newspapers

From a lengthy—but worthwhile—London Review of Books story about the newspaper business:

in the US, the newspaper business is a local one, with a strong tendency towards de facto monopoly. Most of America’s cities have (or had) a dominant newspaper, and that paper had a monopoly of classified advertising. During the long years of the 20th century’s newspaper boom, that monopoly was the proverbial licence to print money.

Economic theory holds that there are very, very few sustainable monopolies. Without government protection from competition through licensing and regulation, human nature will produce either competition for the monopolist’s profits, or technology which makes the monopolist‘s business model obsolete.

The internet is the package of technologies which killed print newspapers. Not the desire for news, but abilty to print money by publishing news:


Mental Insurrection in TJICistan

I’ve just spent a few minutes looking for an update on TJIC. It’s been six week since Congresscritter Giffords was shot—along with several respectable civilians. It has been a month since the Arlington, MA police decided Travis was an imminent threat to something and suspended his Second Amendment rights.

I found nothing on the current state of TJIC’s affairs. But the event did get reported beyond all the niche blogs (like this one) who consider Travis some sort of kindred spirit.

Hit & Run, the blog portion of Reason Magazine is probably the closest-to-mainstream of all libertarian outlets. They wrote up TJIC’s saga.


Unintended Confession

Only you can shut the fuck up.

Quoted from: A training session with Quorum Security.

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The Trinity of Evil

I’ve just previously quoted from Mencius Moldbug. His context was the rioting in Egypt. Moldbug’s whole post is worth reading. He winds up offering alternate responses to the official lines offered by Hillary and the current Administration.

Although not explicitly, Moldbug highlights that there are no solutions, only trade-offs. His lines fit well with both the anti-American-Imperialists in the lefty and Progressive factions, and with the isolationist libertarian factions.


The Legacy of Ozymandias

There is nothing, nothing, that politics cannot reduce to ash.

Quoted from: Mencius Moldbug

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