Monday, December 20, 2004

A ribbon for us reality dwellers

Here is a link to a Boston Phoenix article revealing an antidote to the legion of yellow ribbons being displayed on SUVs and pick-up trucks from coast to coast.

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I doubt these new magnetic decals will smack very many people out of their uninformed groupthink slumber, but these annoying yellow ribbons need to be exposed as the empty, falsely patriotic symbols that they are. I'm pretty sure that everyone, save a few hate filled radical leftie anarcho-frauds, supports the troops. However, supporting the troops does not mean blindly supporting corrupt politicians and their wars, and it does not require waving the flag and slapping a yellow ribbon decal on your car. Considering the fact that our troops shouldn't even be in the Middle East and that their lives are constantly at risk over there, wouldn't true compassionate support involve demanding for their safe and immediate return home?

Since when does TIME Magazine deserve any credibility?

Answer: I'd say that TIME lost it's credibility, at least in terms of character judgement, way back in the year 1938.

For those who don't know, TIME has named George W. Bush their "Person of the Year for 2004. This puts Bush in the same company as the likes of Adolf Hitler (1938), Joseph Stalin (1939 & 1942), and Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini (1979).

Such a distinction should not be taken as a sign of praise when you consider certain previous winners.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Quote & Music of the day -- 12/18/04

"In one of Washington's great ironies, President Bush
has passed the intelligence bill. It is kind of like
Bill Clinton passing a celibacy bill." -- Jay Leno

Ear Candy:
Steely Dan - Aja
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This is the album that introduced me to the '70s rock/jazz/pop fusion outfit known as Steely Dan. While I'd say that Can't Buy A Thrill is my favorite Dan album, this album gets just as much playtime in my stereo.

What made me decide to throw this disc in earlier today is the opening number, "Black Cow", with it's prominent bass groove and delightfully laid back vibe. I guess some rappers sampled the music of this song a few years ago, which is cool, but I couldn't tell you who exactly since I'm not into mainstream rap. "Black Cow" would be my favorite song on this album if it wasn't for the title track. "Aja", with it's soft jazz to power fusion alternation, is a force to be reckoned with. The drumming of Steve Gadd is marvellous, especially in the later fusion-esque portions of the song, while contributions by Victor Feldman on the marimba and jazz great Wayne Shorter on sax are also quite enjoyable.

Those two songs alone make this album, in my opinion, although the other songs are good too.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

News from the University of Michigan library

I currently work at the University of Michigan's Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library. While leaving work tonight, I quickly glanced at a wall display showing cover jackets of new books in the library collection. There are currently two cover jackets being displayed, and they are displayed side by side. Here they are:

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Being the anti-statist who rejects both major parties and their candidates, I appreciated the message this display relayed to me, intentional or not.

And now for some real U-M library news:
U-M libraries get Googled
Talk about a great idea! As the first two paragraphs of the Detroit News article linked to state:
By the end of the decade, anyone around the world will have instant access to 7 million volumes of information at the University of Michigan's libraries without ever setting foot in Ann Arbor, foraging through a maze of dimly lit shelves or opening a single book.

Google, the popular Internet search engine co-founded by U-M alumnus Larry Page, today plans to announce a deal making virtually everything in the university's extensive collections searchable online.

Despite the fears of some who think such technology may threaten the existance of libraries, I firmly disagree since there will always be a need for libraries and there will always be people who need to go to a library to do their research. Some people will prefer to have the actual book they're looking for in their hand, especially if they're not fond of reading off of computer screens. Others may need help with their research, providing a reason to go to a library and seek out a librarian. And then there are things that I'm assuming will not be part of this project. People hoping to view an 1894 edition of the Detroit News will need to go the library and pay a visit to the microfilm machines.

San Francisco supervisors want city to become the D.C of the west

Well... not quite, but sort of.

SF supervisors have proposed a new gun ban that would take make it illegal for everyone in the city to own them, except for law enforcement, security, and military officers. In other words, the only people in the city who would have guns under such a ban are thugs of both the uniformed and non-uniformed variety.

Guess which American city is the only one currently enforcing such a ban -- Washington D.C.

As Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA's public affairs director, put it: "If gun control worked, Washington, D.C. would be the beacon. However, it's the murder capital of the United States."

Quote & Music of the day -- 12/16/04

"Remember, it was amateurs who built the Ark, and professionals who built the Titanic." -- Steven LaTulippe

Scott Amendola Band - Cry

A refreshingly original bit of modern jazz that showcases a number of quality musicians, most notably drummer Scott Amendola. Alongside Amendola on this album is Nels Cline on guitar, Jenny Scheinmann on violin, Todd Sickafoose on bass and Eric Crystal on saxaphones.

There are a number of beautiful pieces on this album, and some of the titles reflect the spiritual feel that one will notice if they give this album a listen. Such emotions are most evident in some of my favorite compositions on this album, including "Cry for John Brown", "My Son the Wanderer" and "Rosa".

My favorite song on this album though is definitely their take on Bob Dylan's classic anti-war anthem "Masters of War". Their rendition is a slowly building bit of quiet darkness, with anger that eventually boils over in the form of a blistering sax solo by Eric Crystal. Carla Bozulich is the guest vocalist for this song, which seems appropriate for me since her singing style is often abrasive and just oh so right for this type of song. This is definitely the best Dylan cover I've ever heard, not to mention perhaps the best anti-war song I've ever heard. Most '60s anti-war songs sound so polite and non-threatening (likely because most were folk songs), and that just doesn't seem appropriate to me. Songs that condemn the ugliest of uglies pertaining to mankind should be more edgy and confrontational, placing the anger of those who are against war into a musical context. Lovey-dovey campire acousticism just ain't gonna cut it.


Fans of college football have spent the past couple of years complaining about the current bowl and championship setup, known as the BCS. The main complaint is that the system doesn't work since undefeated teams that are ranked lower than 2nd in the BCS rankings are shut out from national title contention even though they may be just as deserving of a shot as teams ranked 1st and 2nd. There are plenty of other complaints that people have about the system, but I'm not interested in getting into all of that at this time.

While something certainly needs to be done to change things, such as implementing some form of playoff, I don't necessarily agree that the system doesn't work. It all depends on what the system was intended to do in the eyes of it's creators.

I liken the BCS to our nation's incessantly problematic publik school system. If you think that publik schools are supposed to produce highly motivated students who enjoy learning and can engage in free and critical thought, then you would rightly feel that the system doesn't work. However, if you come to realize how publik schools are really designed and recognize how they're supposed to function, you may then conclude that the system does seem to work after all.

If you think that the BCS is supposed to be a system that is intended to eliminate controversy and crown a true champion of college football each and every year, then you would rightly feel that the system doesn't work. However, if you think about what the intended purpose of the BCS may really be, you may conclude that the system does seem to work after all.

I don't claim to know what the true intention of the BCS is, although I have heard of a theory that seems to make enough sense for me to consider as a possibility. The theory is that the BCS is intended to create controversy, thus increasing the amount of discussion and general attention dealing with the BCS and college football. Such a result would seem to be tailor-made for many parties to benefit, including the NCAA, the media, and corporate sponsors. If such reasoning actually did influence the dawning of the BCS era, then one could state that the system does indeed work.

*Recommended Reading: For those wondering what I was talking about concerning publik education, I suggest doing some reading on the subject. The works of John Taylor Gatto are a good place to start off, such as his essay titled "Against School".

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Quote & Music of the day -- 12/11/04

"In a genuine free-market economy, no one may exploit anyone else in order to acquire an ironclad guarantee against loss." -- Murray Rothbard

The Word

If you're a fan of bluesy rock music, get this album. If you're a fan of gospel music, get this album. If you're a fan of the pedal steel guitar, you probably already have this album, and those who don't would be wise to change that.

The Word is a collaboration consisting of John Medeski (of Medeski, Martin & Wood) on organ, Robert Randolph on pedal steel guitar, and three members of The North Mississippi Allstars (Chris Chew - bass, Luther Dickinson - guitar, Cody Dickinson - drums & electric washboard).

Even if you don't fit into any of the above categories, I think you'd be hard pressed to listen to this album and not enjoy at least some of it. Every song in this collection provides the type of upbeat, toe tapping sound that'll put smiles on peoples' faces. The opening number, one of my favorites, sets the tone and is appropriately titled "Joyful Sounds", and joyful sounds continue throughout this album. Those who are familiar with the stellar soundtrack to the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" will recognize one of the later songs ("I'll Fly Away"), although the version of the song found here is much livelier.

This album also serves as a showcase for Robert Randolph, THE rising star associated with the pedal steel guitar. Randolph mastered his craft through years of performing at his church, and is now sharing his gift with everyone else. The Word certainly qualifies as a good outlet for Randolph to strut his stuff for a wider audience.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Quote & Music of the day -- 12/8/04

"The word "freedom," of course, is also a grabber, and so another way to gain adherents in an age that exalts rhetoric over substance is simply to call yourself or your proposal "free market" or "free trade." Labels are often enough to nab the suckers." -- Murray Rothbard

Ensemble Ambrosius -- The Zappa Album

Not all Zappa fans may agree with me here, but I find this album to be a treat to listen to. It is a marvel in and of itself to hear a collection of Zappa tunes transcribed to fit the instrumental palette that these young musicians employ. Ensemble Ambrosius is a Helsinki based group that specializes in performing modern music with Baroque instruments. These guys don't disappoint, and they do no disservice to the legendary work of Frank Zappa.

Favorite pieces of mine include the short but sweet "Sofa", the rambunctious rendition of "RDNZL" containing some cool phrasing via the glockenspiel, a violin infused take on "Echidna's Arf (of You)", and a version of "Inca Roads" that features the chamber organ in place of George Duke's keyboard work that graces the original. Aside from the instruments already mentioned, I also highly appreciated the use of instruments such as the harpsichord and the lute, the latter of which fondly reminds me of a Middle Eastern instrument called an oud.

While I don't exactly care for every song in this collection, especially the version of "The Idiot Bastard Son", I'd declare that this album is still worth checking out if you're a music fan who not only admires Zappa's music but also is open minded enough to give such an unusual tribute to his work a chance. As I said at the top, I consider this album to be a treat.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Cats, Cat Farmer, and Nutrition

While I certainly love all critters, I am especially fond of cats. Karen De Coster devoted a post on her blog recently to her hateful disposition toward cats, and I feel a need to come to the defense of my feline friends, despite the fact that cats are too strong minded to ever ask for such help.

One of her early claims was that cats have no personality or usefulness, which is obviously a subjective statement that holds no weight when applied to some cats. It's not fair to confuse the independant nature of most cats with a perceived lack of personality, lest of course that a similar claim is to be applied to independant humans who may not wish or need to be bogged down in any pack setting, or statist environment (yes, I've heard of similar complaints made of libertarians). As with dogs, different breeds of cats also have different temperaments. While many breeds of cats may be socially aloof, that's not the case with all breeds, such as with the breed of my cat. My cat, a Maine Coon, happens to be extremely friendly and sociable, although somewhat skittish due to the abusive environment that I had to rescue him from. Families who are interested in getting a cat are often encouraged to look into getting a Maine Coon because of their family-friendly temperament, not to mention their natural beauty (they are large, long-haired, and simply gorgeous).

Although I love dogs, when comparing them to cats I'm always reminded of Robert DiNiro's character from the movie Meet the Parents. When DiNiro realizes that his daughter's boyfriend is a dog person, he responds by saying “You need that assurance do you? You prefer a shallow animal?”. He then explains how dogs are slavish pack animals while cats have an independence of spirit that naturally allows them to spurn living a servile existance, finishing off with an apt remark (“Cats don't sell out like dogs do.”).

You would think that individualistic people with a penchant for libertarian ideals would appreciate this personality trait of cats far more than the temperament of dogs, a temperament that is reminiscient of hopelessly statist minds who are loyal to their leader. I suppose that some dog owners (not all, of course) not only need the assurance that dogs provide, but also relish in the opportunity to be a benevolent ruler or dictator, at least to one living being as opposed to, say, an entire nation. Finishing off on the comparisons between dogs and cats, it could be said that dogs could be used as a mascot among hyper-nationalistic sorts and state worshippers in general, while cats could be, and have been, used to represent free-thinking individuals who wish to defy the state.

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As for usefulness, it's all in the eye of the beholder. Cats were historically popular pets and companions due to their ability to catch and kill mice and keep other mischievous critters away. Even today, I often encounter cats while perusing certain used book stores or antique stores since the owners appreciate the fact that cats help to keep the store free of unwanted critters who may do damage to some of the merchandise. Aside from that, cats can also be warm and loving critters just like dogs despite their fiercely individualistic nature. I greatly value the love and companionship that my cat provides, and I would be a far less happy human being without him in my life. Just as independant people can be warm, friendly, and loving, so too can cats (and their owners, despite Karen's generalized claim to the contrary).

Most of Karen's other complaints about cats stem from the tendency of some cat owners to let their feline friends roam the outdoors freely. Not only are there many cat owners who do not let their cats do this (like myself), but there are also dog owners out there who are guilty of the same thing. Dogs can be just as capable, if not more capable, of getting into trouble, and are capable of some of the things that Karen attributes to cats, such as getting into peoples' garbage and tearing up garbage bags. Dogs that roam free may also engage in far worse behavior, such as attacking people. To this day, I am sometimes apprehensive around some dogs due to the many negative experiences I had with neighborhood roaming dogs in my childhood. I love dogs, but like with cats or any other living being, they are not perfect.

Now that I've spent some time defending cats, I'm gonna switch gears a bit and take a look at cat nutrition for a moment. Cat Farmer has a new column published at Endervidualism called Confessions of a Vegetable Addict. It's an interesting read that deals with issues ranging from vegetarianism to addiction, while also addressing the issue of cat diets and nutrition. While I agree that cat owners should not be encouraged to eliminate meat from their pet's diet and thus forcibly prevent a natually carnivorous critter from being carnivorous, it is important to keep nutritional issues to mind when deciding what to feed your cat.

Although I do give my cat a little can of Fancy Feast every day, he gets most of his sustenance from dry food. I used to feed him the typical brands of cat food, such as Whiskas and Iams, until I became concerned about his nutritional intake. I now give him a holistic natural formula that he absolutely loves. It is made by Bench and Field (click here for more info), and contains many wonderful ingredients that go beyond the typical stuff you'd expect, such as various greens, fruits, vegetables, flaxseed oil and other sources of essential fatty acids, and certified free-range chicken. I can tell that he loves it since he purrs while eating it in a way that he never used to while eating.

While pet nutrition is certainly important, it's also crucial for us human critters to eat a nutritious diet as well. Going back to Cat Farmer, she recently teamed up with Bob Wallace to come up with a humorous satire of the desire of certain busybodies to forcibly regulate our dietary decisions. It is called Home Cooking Outlawed for Child Safety and is available for all to read over at The Price of Liberty.

I also encourage you to read another new column at The Price of Liberty: Sunni Maravillosa's The FDA is Going to Kill Me. Being healthy and staying that way is not only promoted by a nutritious diet, but also by the choices we make in regards to supplements and medication, and Sunni's new article provides a quality critique of the government agency that does more to harm our health than protect it. Whether it's the long approval process for new pharmaceuticals, the hypocritical stances on certain vitamins and supplements, or the corrupted and coercive food regulatory guidelines, the FDA never manages to do anything right, and in fact makes things worse. Whenever I think of the FDA, I'm reminded of an improvisation performed by the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey a couple of years ago in Portland, OR that they called "The FDA Is Making Our Food Worse Than Drugs". Not only are they doing that, but they may also kill you.

Quote & Music of the day -- 12/7/04

*I have declared this week to be Murray Rothbard week for the Quote & Music segment, so sit back and enjoy some of his random brilliant remarks.

"The ideology common to the ruling elites of both parties is Welfarist, Corporatist Statism; whether it's called corporate "liberalism" or "conservatism" is largely a question of nuance and esthetics. Essentially, the corporate and media elites have long been engaging in a shell game in which the American public are the suckers. When the public is fed up with one party, the elites offer up an alleged alternative that only turns out to more of the same." -- Murray Rothbard

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey & The Slip -- Harpers Ferry - Boston, MA 4/29/03

Yet another bit torrent post, this one providing a rare joint performance by two of my favorite bands out there right now. Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is definitely my favorite group of any genre right now. Their lively and progressive approach to jazz has absolutely blazed a new pathway in my brain, obliterating my previous conceptions of what jazz or improvised music in general is all about. The brilliance is evident right from the beginning with a breathtaking rendition of their composition "Slow Breath, Silent Mind", and continues throughout the rest of the show. Having members of The Slip join in for a huge chunk of the festivites allows for some additional spice along with some extended improvisations that challenge yet ultimately reward the mind.

Assuming that the recording offered on this torrent is the same one that I've had in my possession for the past year or so, then it must be noted that the sound quality is superb.

Since this torrent is being hosted on Easytree, you must register for free with them first before you can view and download the torrents hosted there. If you're too intimidated by this new fangled technology, you can also download a copy of this show by other means via by clicking here.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Quote & Music of the day -- 12/5/04

"Governments and the military purport to protect the public from enemies, and if there were no enemies they would have to invent some, for the simple purpose of rationalizing their existence ...." -- Laurance Labadie

Medeski, Martin & Wood & Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos -- Tributes to Burt Bacharach -- Merkin Concert Hall, NYC 9/14/97

Here's another interesting bit torrent, this one courtesy of etree. MMW is one of the premier jazz/funk/groove acts out there today and Los Cubanos Postizos is a quality jazz band with Latin influences, led by NYC guitarist Marc Ribot. These two groups provide some neat interpretations of Burt Bacharach tunes.

"Wrong-way Jock"

Morpheus, a representative of The Statrix, has posted the new cartoon by Russmo. The observation here about conservatives in relation to the elephant party is right on target.

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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Love and Libertarians

Sunni Maravillosa mentioned on her blog yesterday that Cat Farmer has a new column posted over at The Price of Liberty. The column, Love and Libertarians, is an enjoyable read that I encourage y'all to check out. Here is a brief excerpt:
Jesus modeled a libertarian, laissez faire style of brotherly love, a difficult kind of loving relationship for fallible humans to maintain toward each other. Idealized and politicized love takes dueling approaches that appear incompatible, but they're closely related - both mimic human nature. One assumes a fatherly role, and one assumes a motherly role, but they're both caricature actors in roles exaggerated for theatrical effect, to suggest through the peculiarities of the role a parental presence meant to encourage child-like tendencies in a population of individuals. Leave no adult behind?

Quote & Music of the day -- 12/4/04

"Intervention is a system of procedures which disturb and eventually destroy the market economy. It does not make people richer; it makes them poorer." -- Ludwig von Mises

Tito Puente's Golden Men of Latin Jazz -- Estival Jazz Lugano, Switzerland 7/3/93

Tito Puente is a legend in the world of Latin jazz, and here is a link to a bit torrent offering a fine performance of his over in Switzerland back in 1993. The bit torrent is being hosted on, a site that requires registration (free) to view and download the torrents offered there.

For info. on bit torrent, click here. The bit torrent software I happen to use is ABC, which happens to be easy to use and allows for multiple downloads in a single window. You can download ABC by clicking here.


Friday, December 03, 2004

Michael Savage, The Aptly Named Hatemonger

Strike the Root has provided a link to an entry in the online forums of Arianna Huffington's website that provides some recent quotes by Michael Savage, one of the leading promoters of hate and mass murder in the world of talk radio. The following quotes show just how appropriate it is for this guy to have the last name of Savage. This is the kind of savage hatred that one would expect from actual, honest to God Nazis, although people like Hitler were much more eloquent in their hate-filled diatribes. Here we go...
"I think there should be no mercy shown to these sub-humans. I believe that a thousand of them should be killed tomorrow. I think a thousand of them held in the Iraqi prison should be given 24 hour[s] -- a trial and executed. I think they need to be shown that we are not going to roll over to them ... Instead of putting joysticks, I would have liked to have seen dynamite put in their orifices and they should be dropped from airplanes ... They should put dynamite in their behinds and drop them from 35,000 feet, the whole pack of scum out of that jail."

Right now, even people sitting on the fence would like George Bush to drop a nuclear weapon on an Arab country. They don't even care which one it would be. I can guarantee you -- I don't need to go to Mr. Schmuck [pollster John] Zogby and ask him his opinion ... The most -- I tell you right now -- the largest percentage of Americans would like to see a nuclear weapon dropped on a major Arab capital. They don't even care which one...

"I think these people need to be forcibly converted to Christianity ... It's the only thing that can probably turn them into human beings.

I'm going to give you one further example from my background as an anthropologist just so that you -- I'm trying to put context on this because you can go crazy if you don't have the context on this, because I'm going to lead up to something of what we must do to these primitives. Because these primitives can only be treated in one way, and I don't think smallpox and a blanket is good enough incidentally ... Smallpox in a blanket, which the U.S. Army gave to the Cherokee Indians on their long march to the West, was nothing compared to what I'd like to see done to these people."

Notice how Savage refers to Arabs as "primitives", as opposed to "savages". The problem is, most of the people over in that part of the world are far more mature and civilized than Mr. Savage.

To read other ghastly quotes of his, along with the reactions of the Arianna forums crew, click here.

Quote & Music of the day -- 12/3/04

"Considering the state’s long bloody record, asking it to solve any problem is like asking the registered sex offender down the street to baby-sit." -- Sheldon Richman

The Guess Who -- The Best of the Guess Who

I'm sticking with my Canada theme for today with a greatest hits compilation by my favorite Canadian rockers. Even though this album doesn't contain "Clap for the Wolfman", a song of theirs I really like, all of the goodies of this group are included in this release that is stellar from start to finish. Of all the "greatest hits" albums that I have of various artists, this one might just be the best since there are no bad songs on it. It's also nice to hear the song "American Woman" the way it's supposed to sound instead of that dreadful cover of the song by Lenny Kravitz.

Some Respect for Canada

Despite the many faults of the Canadian government, I have much love for our neighbors to the north. (what's weird about that comment is that I grew up in a part of metro Detroit that was about 25 miles north of Windsor, Ontario, meaning that we had to drive south to get there!)

Jay Jardine, at his blog called The Freeway to Serfdom, provides one of the many reasons why I appreciate the maple leaf country by recently lamenting the continuing drought that hockey fans are enduring. Aside from college football, hockey is really the only sport that I get passionate about from a spectator standpoint, and I too can't wait to see this lockout BS come to an end. Jardine provides some good news though by providing a link from TSN about meetings either taking place or scheduled to take place next week. Let's keep our fingers crossed, eh?

Jardine has also provided us with a cool pic from a protest taking place up there recently. While he was referring to anti-war protests, this pic shows that some Canadians have other gripes on their mind...
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<br /> While speaking out against war is certainly important, we can't lose sight of other important issues in our lives, such as beer. I just hope that this guy isn't looking for the government to start a system of beer rationing modeled after their health care system.

In case some of you have yet to see any of the funny, but phony, CNN articles being posted online, here's your chance to see a new one. This recent parody of the mainstream disinformation outlet pokes fun at Bush's visit to Canada by providing a story that I wish were true. Click here to read the wonderful spoof story. Here are a couple of choice pics that they provide to go along with the story: Image Hosted by 
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Finally, the current front page column on the web zine Liberty For All provides some perspective from Canada on issues of liberty. While I think author Steve Kubby may be making Canada's political scene look better than it really is, he nonetheless provides some interesting tidbits and shows how Canada is more pro-liberty than the US on at least some things, like medical marijuana for example.

The Folly of Liberventionism

Micha Ghertner over at Catallarcy posted an interesting comment on liberventionist foreign policy that was inspired by a comment made by Jon Henke in which he wrote:
What Balko–and the Isolationist Libertarians–seem to forget is that inaction has consequences, too. What would have been the consequences of inaction with respect to the Iraq invasion of Kuwait? What would be the consequences of a world with no Superpower to enforce moderation? Actually, we don’t have to wonder - that was, essentially, the case in Europe for much of the past few centuries. And the past few centuries in European history were – perhaps not coincidentally – filled with quite a lot of war. Without a moderating Authority – read: Superpower – as enforcer of last resort, international relations can quickly become Lord of the Flies.
Here's the initial portion of Ghertner's response, showing how Henke's reasoning can be applied to forms of intervention that no libertarian would ever justify:
What would be the consequences of a United States with no strong federal government to regulate the market? Actually, we dont have to wonder - that was, essentially, the case in our country for much of the 19th century, until FDR did away with the largely unfettered free market. And the 19th century in American history was – perhaps not coincidentally – filled with quite a lot of market abuses. Without a moderating Authority – read: Superpower – as enforcer of last resort, economic relations can quickly become Lord of the Flies.

You can read the rest of the post by clicking here.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Fashion Police at the Workplace: How Legitimate are Their Dictates?

Over at the blog, there was a post yesterday by Steven Carson about how not to dress at work. He provides a link to an interesting article from USA Today on the subject. (who would ever have thought that I'd acknowledge an article from USA Today as being "interesting"?)

Dress codes are something that I've always had a serious problem with, although in the workplace they may have some utility to them. Many of the examples provided in that USA Today piece do strike me as being a bit outrageous, such as the scantily clad women and the woman who wore slippers to the office as if she rolled out of bed and went straight out the door. The utility comes from having to represent the company you work for and having to deal with customers who may not want to buy financial services for example from someone whose dress is perhaps better suited for providing escort services, or perhaps working at a store like Noir Leather.

I really don't have a problem with dress codes in the workplace as long as they allow employees to be reasonably comfortable, along with allowing an outlet for some personal expression without going overboard. Aside from strict notion of utility in regards to dress codes (which is a justifiable excuse for imposing dress codes), I do have a problem with the mentality that often coincides with dress codes. Jennifer Bosk, director of alumni relations at the joint campus of Indiana and Purdue Universities in Fort Wayne, IN, is quoted in the article as saying
"I wish there was a college course on how getting ahead doesn't depend just on how smart or good you are — it's partly playing the game and looking the part. But it doesn't seem to matter to this group."
Unless we're talking about euchre, Scrabble, basketball, or other games that people play for shits and giggles, I'm not game. "Playing the game" in this sense euphemistically sounds like conformity, which is something that a free-thinking person such as myself does not necessarily jive with. I view conformity as a mindset that comes from the same overall genus that harbors statist thought. A conformist is the one who is always bound to say that a particular societal problem is best dealt with through political means, usually by stating that "there ought to be a law...". The impulse to vote for the lesser of 2 evils also reeks of conformist-type thinking ("everyone else is doing it", or "maybe i'd vote 3rd party if enough people supported it", or "you have to support established parties if you want your voice to have weight and have any effect). I wonder how many young rebels start off a conformist adulthood by putting on a tie and sport coat every day, then eventually rise to the level of voting for the elephants or donkeys?

This is not to say that I want to be able to go to work wearing an old stinky t-shirt and ripped jeans, since I understand and appreciate the utility factor of dress codes. I also like to look good when out in public, but at the same time I would much rather express myself to a certain degree rather than look like I sprang forth from a cookie cutter mold. This is why I stated earlier that good dress codes are those that allow for some degree of expression, even if that degree is relatively small.

The other problem I have with this article is that there were a couple of occasions where critique of personal appearance went beyond the realm of clothing and accessories. I happen to have a shaved head and a goatee, and there were references to both of those things in the article, and the references weren't positive. I've gone through quite a few phases with my hair over the years, and it's now absolutely, concretely evident to me that I look my best with a shaved head -- period. I also happen to have a receding hairline and baldness is in my future, and I'll be damned if someone is gonna forbid me from shaving my head, forcing me to slowly take on the Homer Simpson or George Costanza look. I also happen to be a big fan of the natural occurance known as facial hair, and I see no problem with such a natural thing as long as it's neatly kept. Clothing and accessories are one thing, but attempting to intervene in our own personal tango with what "God" or "the force" gave us in terms of a body is another thing.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Texas's Finest...

... and no, I'm not referring to the Caesar in the White House. I happen to be referring to my favorite carbonated beverage -- Dr. Pepper.

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I'm not old enough to remember the days when soda pop was actually sweetened with good ol' cane sugar as opposed to the lousy high fructose corn syrup that is used nowadays, thanks to high sugar tariffs that also happen to be lousy. Fortunately, I've discovered a bottling company down in Dublin, Texas that still makes Dr. Pepper the way it should be -- with SUGAR!

The Dublin Dr. Pepper Bottling Company is the oldest Dr. Pepper bottler in the world, and is also the only one that uses pure cane sugar instead of corn syrup. What makes this bottler even cooler is the fact that you can order their tasty beverages online, along with other goodies such as Dublin Dr. Pepper syrup and cake mix! With the holiday season coming up, I think I'm going to order a case or 2 to make the season a little bit sweeter.