Author Archives: Eric

Why We Don’t Want Cooler Heads to Prevail

There appears to be a consensus building among the mainstream in the US and Western Europe that “cooler heads” need to prevail and the confrontation between Muslim extremists and the West over the cartoons published by the Jyllands-Posten needs to be brought under control. If the folks who think cooler heads need to prevail mean cooler, calmer, more rational folks in the Middle East, and other Muslim communities, then I’m in agreement.

We are told, over and over again, that al-Qaeda, Hamas, al-Zarqawi, Islamic Jihad, the Ba’athists of Iraq and Syria, the religious government of Iran and on and on don’t represent the majority of Muslims. That may be so, but we have no indication that is true. If it is true, why aren’t those other Muslims, the ones who respect life, property, other religions, free speech, etc. not standing up and demanding accountability? Those are the cooler heads that need to prevail. Folks like the people who wrote this apology need to begin to assert themselves. The writers of the apology are not happy that the media only sees the extremists. But, the reality is that it is only the extremists voicing their opinion. We’ve seen what happens when the people of a Muslim country take matters into their own hands, such as happened in Lebanon last year. Why aren’t we seeing that now?

I will suggest that these “cooler heads” are not going to be allowed to prevail. They know they aren’t, that in fact they will be beaten, stoned, shot or blown-up by those who control their culture right now. This is how the imams, mullahs and government officials of the Middle East maintain their power. These protests are orchestrated by them, passions are inflamed by a small elite that is bent on keeping, and expanding, their power. This small group, the one that doesn’t represent the majority of Muslims, is convinced that all they have to do is cow their own populace and threaten the decadent (in their eyes) West with violence to continue to win. Why are they convinced of this? Because we taught them, that’s why.

Imagine, if you will, that you live in the same house as someone who holds an opposing religious view from you. At some point, you say something that they find offensive. Instead of asking you politely to not express yourself that way, they burn a picture of you on the patio, chanting “Death to my roomie” and then pick up a baseball bat and threaten to hit you with it if you don’t apologize. Well, to you getting that upset over this incident just doesn’t make sense, so you apologize. It’s just a little thing, from your perspective, you’re not all that religious anyhow. So, you go ahead and apologize. Now, ask yourself what is likely to happen the next time you say something your housemate doesn’t like? Do you suppose your housemate, who clearly takes his religion a lot more seriously than you do, might come to you one day with the picture of you burning and his baseball bat and tell you that you have to convert to his religion now, or face the consequences? What happens when he gets upset because you are bringing home your girlfriend and sleeping together, and he considers that a sin in his religion?

This is what has been going on with Muslim extremists and the West for years. It’s a bit simplified, but essentially we bend over backwards to not upset them, for a wide variety of reasons. We’ve reached the point where we think no one should be offended, and if they are offended, we tend to think that the guy who said something is the one in the wrong, not the one offended by free speech. We have gone so far as to state things like “free speech doesn’t give you the right to insult someone else”, but that is just the point of free speech. Speech is not free if you are constrained to say only that which is acceptable to other people. The Vatican’s position on this, while admirably consistent, is not supportive of free speech. Nor is the position being taken by most of the Western governments.

We are, in fact, confirming what Osama bin Laden believes is true. All he has to do is continue to confront the West with violence and eventually we will surrender. Not because he is stronger physically, but because we are decadent and don’t have the will to fight for what we believe in. He believes, as do the other extremists confronting us, that they just have to keep pushing hard enough and we will roll over and show our belly to them.

If we treasure our liberties, our diverse cultures, our literary and historical traditions, we must stand fast in the face of the bullies who are threatening us with a baseball bat for offending them. If need be, we must defend ourselves against their threat of violence. We must, above all, recognize backing down in the face of this “outrage” in the Middle East is just a continuation of the appeasement we have practiced for two decades now and will just further embolden them.

Remember, if you begin censoring speech and writing and other forms of expression, at some point it will be your turn to be censored. Right now, you probably don’t care because you could care less about those cartoons. What happens when it’s your speech about something you do care about? Only then it’s too late, of course, you’ve already surrendered your liberty.

So, the bottom line is this. I do not wish to go out of my way to make things worse, but I refuse to cool off, or back down from the confrontation. I will stand firm. I will continue to talk about this. I will continue to post these cartoons they are so frightened of.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Anarchist’s Unite!

Once upon a time, when I was in the midst of creating the Life, Liberty and Property community, I considered calling it Anarchists Unite! as a joke. Other folks convinced me that I would turn people off with that name for the community, people who wouldn’t get the joke, so I didn’t use that name. But, I’ve always wanted to use it, somehow, within the community.

Without further ado, then, Jon Henke of QandO is trying to get a group of technically skilled volunteers together to build a web portal and forum to bring libertarian minded folk together. If you’re interested, drop by QandO and let Jon know how you can help.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Round-up of Cartoon Craziness

Hold The Mayo makes some good points in Cartoon Critics about the reality of what we will find in Middle Eastern cultures. What we definitely won’t find is a secular, liberal society that tolerates those who are different and encourages diversity. Instead, we find the medieval society that the West left behind during The Enlightenment.

Lisa, at Liberal Common Sense, highlights some of the violent reactions and the Vatican’s reaction. The Vatican is, essentially, saying a pox on both your houses. The middle road doesn’t work between Liberal and Medieval society. It’s time to choose which you believe in.

Catallarchy’s Patri Friedman points out the hypocrisy of protecting one set of sensibilities and not another. He’s right, of course. But which issue and behavior is more dangerous to liberty?

Stuart Richards, from Hammer of Truth, gives the Muslim rioters the same answer I did: “Get over it”. He also wonders if we live in Iran now. I’m wondering myself.

Instapundit, who actually doesn’t need my links to bring him readers, has lots of coverage of the whole affair. This entry is good, and there’s lots of good links.

The Voice of Treason has a good editorial on the topic. Treason says, “And while we all sit here and fiddle with words, embassies in Damascus are burning.”

And, if you’re interested, the international version of the Jyllands-Posten, the paper that ignited the whole controversy, can be found here.

Last, but certainly not least, Mark Steyn writes a piece that makes some excellent points. A lot of folks are quoting this piece, but I think they are focusing on the wrong set of points in it. Here’s the important bit:

Very few societies are genuinely multicultural. Most are bicultural: On the one hand, there are folks who are black, white, gay, straight, pre-op transsexual, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, worshippers of global-warming doom-mongers, and they rub along as best they can. And on the other hand are folks who do not accept the give-and-take, the rough-and-tumble of a “diverse” “tolerant” society, and, when one gently raises the matter of their intolerance, they threaten to kill you, which makes the question somewhat moot.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Over the Top

No, not the WWI command given to soldiers when they left the trenches to charge into the machine guns. I’m talking about the reaction of Muslims to the cartoons published by a Danish newspaper last September. As I’ve discussed earlier, the reactions of violence and anger have proved the point of the cartoons that portray Islam as a violent religion. The violence has escalated from protests and individual gunmen, or small groups, seeking out Danes and Norwegians to kidnap, to rioters burning the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria. On a side note, I would suggest that anyone who thinks those riots were not allowed, even encouraged, by the Syrian government hasn’t paid much attention to reality in the Middle East.

First, a piece of advice to Muslims. Stop worrying so much about what someone who doesn’t believe in your religion does. After all, if your religion is true, those cartoonists have committed blasphemy and will pay the price for their sin. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt you at all. They have not caused you to violate your religion, nor even urged you to. So, chill out. Or, as another religion’s teachings say, worry about the stick in your eye before worrying about the sliver in mine. Because, if your religion is actually one of peace, you are violating it with the riots, attacks, and destruction of property that you are committing.

In the meantime, we in the West need to stand firm. Messages like the Washington Post is reporting need to stop:

“The right to freedom of thought and expression . . . cannot entail the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers,” the Vatican said in a statement.

That’s complete bull. If you can’t offend the sacred cows and the naked emperor then you don’t have freedom of expression. Of course, I’m sure that the Vatican would like to have the ability to control thought and speech as they did in the past.

In the United States, major newspapers, including The Washington Post, chose not to reprint the images on grounds they would give offense.

So, you have de facto surrendered your freedom of expression. Of course, this is just a more public variant of something that has been going on for a while now. According to reports I’ve read in the past, the movie studio that produced “The Sum of All Fears” changed the plot from Palestinian terrorsts getting a nuclear weapon to white supremacists because of pressure brought to bear by Muslim groups. So much for artistic freedom.

Freedom of speech means that I can say whatever I please, publicly, no matter whether it is offensive, racist, inflammatory, or anything else that people don’t like. To suggest that there should be limits on what I say or write in order to avoid offense to another is to suggest that I should not be free to speak. The choice, and the responsibility, must be mine, else the freedom does not exist.

To the couple of commenters on this entry who suggested that the cartoons are racist, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Racism is the belief that race or ethnicity accounts for differences in the character of people or their ability to do something. It is about discriminating based on someone’s ethnic group. These cartoons may be anti-religion, but they do nothing to single out someone for their race, or suggest that any ethnic group is inferior to another. Of course, your charges of racism are a convenient strawman to attack this, and is an attempt to deny the truth that the reactions of Muslims supports the satire of the cartoons in the first place. It is also an ad hominem attack, an attempt to discredit the message by attacking the messenger. If you can make the cartoonists out to be racists you will, you hope, avoid dealing with the message. It’s a trap that ultimately discredits you. Deal with the message.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

U.S. Government Surrenders

Well, the country that supposedly champions life, liberty and property has surrendered. Or, at least, our government has tucked its tail and run. They remind me of Sir Robin-the-not-quite-so-brave-as-Sir-Launcelot in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “…when danger reared its ugly head he bravely turned his tail and fled…”

From this Reuters story we find out that a U.S. State Department had this to say (emphasis added in bold):

These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims,” State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said in answer to a question. “We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable.”

Translation: Say whatever you want as long as it is politically correct, inoffensive and bland. And remember that responsibility thing when you talk about the U.S. government. Oh yeah, don’t talk bad about Christians either. Or anyone else that might be upset by it.

The U.S. Government is empowered by the people of the United States to adhere to the U.S. Constitution, including this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Instead, we are surrendering in a most cowardly fashion to a bunch of whiny children throwing a tantrum.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Too Damn Bad

Now, I’m starting to get mad. I’m sick and tired of people telling me I have to keep my mouth shut and not say something because other people might be offended. From Reuters:

“Freedom of satire that offends the feelings of others becomes an abuse, and here we are talking about nothing less than the feelings of entire peoples who have seen their supreme symbols affected,” he told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

It’s not abuse. Being responsible about freedom of speech means accepting the consequences of saying something. It doesn’t mean keeping my mouth shut because I might hurt your feelings. Knowledge is power. Forcing people to keep their knowledge isolated by muzzling their speech takes their power away and collects it in the hands of the few. Whether that few is the Catholic church, Muslim priests or Presidents and Prime Ministers. I refuse to shut up. I will not take those cartoons down. If someone is offended, that is their issue. I accept the fact that they may be offended, I’m sorry that they are offended, but I will not stop because of that.

Aside from all of that, could someone explain to me, aside from being courteous and polite, why I have to follow the rules of a religion I am not an adherent of? If I were in an Islamic church, I would not do something that was against their religion. Same goes for a Catholic church. But, I’m neither Islamic, nor in their church. I am under no obligation to adhere to their religious law. Am I?

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

The Danish/Norwegian Cartoon Craziness

I had planned on writing a big post on this topic. But, I’m not quite motivated to write it yet. But I’m still thinking about it. And wondering how anyone can not see the violent and oppressive nature of the Middle Eastern culture. Sure, the cartoons weren’t all that nice and would make you upset, if they were about your religion. But, let’s be bluntly honest. I don’t recall a time during my life when Christians, Buddhists, Jews or Hindus reacted, in general, with the level of anger and violence that Muslims are reacting with in response to this editorial cartoon. In fact, their reactions merely proved the cartoonists to have valuable insight (they depicted Islam’s prophet, Mohammed, in ways that indicate he and his religion are violent ones).

The French press has shown that they don’t have the gumption to be a free and independent press, there have already been two editors fired over this. The Danish and Norwegian press are hanging tough, at least so far, which is great. The AP refused to print the cartoons because they deemed them to be offensive. Many Muslims are claiming that this is similar to the behavior of the German press in the 1930’s, when Jews were constantly depicted as evil because they were Jewish. The difference, of course, is that Jews weren’t beheading kidnapped hostages on camera, blowing up civilians in local marketplaces, flying planes into buildings, blowing up airplanes and so forth. If you don’t want to be perceived as violent, don’t act with violence.

There’s a lot more that I could write, so many things are brought to light by this incident. And I’ll try to get to it soon.

Update: Because the American press is unwilling to exercise their freedoms for fear they might offend someone (in other words, they have surrendered), I am publishing the cartoons here.

Offensive Islamic Cartoon #1

Offensive Islamic Cartoon #2

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

The President Shall ….

“[The President] shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” —Article II, Sec. 3, U.S. Constitution

Nice to see that the President has read that portion of the Constitution. Even if he fails to understand that the US Government doesn’t actually have the Constitutional authority to do many of the things he wants to do. Many folks in Life, Liberty and Property reviewed the State of the Union address. Here’s a round up of some of their thoughts.

Perry Eidelbus

Combs Spouts Off

Louisiana Libertarian

Two from Below the Beltway – The Real State of the Union and Just in Case You Missed It

Enjoy!

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Quotes

“When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.”
— P. J. O’Rourke

“The blame for [the national debt] lies with the Congress and the President, with Democrats and Republicans alike, most all of whom have been unwilling to make the hard choices or to explain to the American people that there is no such thing as a free lunch.”
— Warren Rudman
(1930- ) US Senator (R-NH)

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

What The Censors Want To Achieve

Re-posting from The Liberty Belles, we have these two Google searches. The first is a US Google search for “Tiananmen” and the second is a PRC Google search for “Tiananmen”.

US Google search

People’s Republic of China Google search

In the long run this is not going to work for the PRC and it’s going to be negative for Google. I wonder how Patri feels about this?

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Looking Around the Blogosphere

Brian Doss, at Catallarchy, has a great discussion on Treaties, Sovereignty and Binding Legal Authority. Apparently, there was an earlier discussion that brought up the idea that the US had ceded some of its sovereignty to the United Nations and could not declare war, in all cases, without UN authorization. Brian does an excellent job of explaining why this is not the case.

Brad Warbiany gives us his take on The Future of Liberty. He has an optimistic and upbeat view of the future, one that I personally share as well.

Perry Eidelbus takes a look at the birth rate and marriage rate in France and other Western countries and then discusses the problems that this brings to light for a social structure built on young workers paying for the retirement of the aged population in his article Hardly Something France Should be Proud of.

Resistance is Futile brings us Carnival of Cordite #45, which focuses on, appropriately enough, firearms involving the number 45.

An entry about the NSA and their wiretapping led to a discussion of the 4th Amendment at Hammer of Truth. Interesting discussion, and one that illustrates, to me, how important it is to determine the law through a textual reading, rather than an interpretive reading, of the law.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Upgrading to WordPress 2.0

Okey dokey folks, I’m upgrading The Liberty Papers to WordPress 2.0 this morning. At some point the site is going to go down. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that it comes back up. :-)

Update: All done. And amazingly easy. Here’s what I did:

  1. Backed up the database using PHPMyAdmin
  2. Backed up The Liberty Papers home directory using CPanel’s backup function
  3. Deactivated all plug-ins
  4. Ran the Fantastico upgrade script
  5. Reactivated all plug-ins

That’s it, all done.

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I Think They Skipped This Day In School

They being Congress Critters. Or, they just don’t read anymore. That might be the problem, since many of them are products of our wonderful public education system. Next time your Congress Critter votes for pork spending, send them this quote and ask them if the Constitution got amended.

“The true test is, whether the object be of a local character, and local use; or, whether it be of general benefit to the states. If it be purely local, congress cannot constitutionally appropriate money for the object. But, if the benefit be general, it matters not, whether in point of locality it be in one state, or several; whether it be of large, or of small extent.”

— Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)

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Think About It

Think about the quote below and be honest about it. We call it “social justice” to take money or property from one person and give it to another through the use of the state’s monopoloy on coercive force. But, it is only justice for the person who benefits, not for the person who has the property taken by force. If you were to take state power out of the equation, would it be acceptable to take my money by force and give it to another person so that they can spend it on themself?

Robin Hood was still just a damn thief, regardless of who he stole the money from, or gave it to.

“Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus the beneficiaries are spared the shame and danger that their acts would otherwise involve… But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to the other persons to whom it doesn’t belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. Then abolish that law without delay … No legal plunder; this is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony and logic.”

— Frederic Bastiat
(1801-1850) French economist, statesman, and author. He did most of his writing during the years just before — and immediately following — the French Revolution of February 1848.
June 1850
Source: The Law, by Frederic Bastiat, 1850

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Responding to a Reader

Stephen, of On Beyond left a comment for me on Elitists and a Society of Fear over on Eric’s Grumbles. In the comments on that post, Stephen holds forth with a few things that I don’t agree with, so I responded with my own comment. I decided that my comment really deserved to be a post of its own, given the length and set of thoughts. But, since I’m now transitioning this sort of writing pretty well entirely to The Liberty Papers, I posted it here. Enjoy. Discuss. Take issue. What have you.



Stephen, pointing out that there is a lack of evidence for someone’s pet theory is not political. It is, actually, an important component of the scientific method. It is perfectly valid to say that global warming is not established fact due to the inconclusive and contradictory evidence. Calling such a position political is an act of politics that plays right into the hands of those who wish to use “global warming” for their own purposes.

Your argument about why there should be intrusive government action taken is part and parcel of the precautionary principle. Check out the link in the main post. The primary problem with this principle is that it is logically inconsistent. The second problem with it is that it creates a stasis, a fear of change, because change might be bad. The worst thing about Kyoto is that it dooms billions of people to poverty and privation permanently. The reality of human society is that change is part and parcel of it. Humans are dynamic. If you try to lock them into an unchanging environment for “their own good” forces far beyond your control will undo your every effort.

I’m always amused when people deny that the media, including newspapers, television, magazines, Hollywood, musical artists, etc. don’t have power. Information is power. The ability to put information in front of people is power. The media, as a group, has an immense amount of power and money both. In fact, Sony, AOL, Comcast, Oprah, Susan Sarandon, NYT, People, and on and on, have at least as much liquid capital as companies like Chevron and GM. Potentially, since many Hollywood artists are worth tens of millions, or more, and under no obligation to share holders to turn a profit, they have more money. And, since they get invited into our living rooms, car stereos, etc. every single day, they wield immense influence. Couple that with lawyers who stand to make enormous amounts of money (and already have) through environmental legislation and litigation. How many lawyers make enormous amounts of money from environmental impact statements every single day? How many lawyers are involved in lobbying to increase environmental regulation and legislation? Why is that? Why is it that the advent of the media and politicians taking environmental issues really seriously coincides almost perfectly with the fall of the Berlin Wall?

By the way, there’s some interesting science to suggest that global warming and increasing CO2 is good, not bad. Consider that the Earth was actually in a minor ice age until the early 19th century. Evidence, almost universally ignored by the mainstream, indicates that emerging from that minor ice age has led to increased agricultural productivity, among other things. Increases in CO2 improves plant growth. Further, the earth has been in a constant state of change since the very beginning of the planet. The reality is that the planet and the various ecologies found on it have changed dramatically over the past 20,000 years, some “natural” and some caused by humans. I’m not sure I understand how humans creating change is not “natural” but beavers causing change is, but that discussion could fill a whole bunch of posts all by itself.

As someone with a background in engineering, which includes substantial training in the scientific method, I have to seriously question investigation and research funded by organizations with serious investment in certain outcomes. I have to question whether evidence is being suppressed when major scientific journals receive funding, through advertising and donations, from those same organizations and when scientists and engineers report that papers casting doubt on the desired outcomes are suppressed. I would argue that your friend is not getting all of the data because the data is being suppressed.

Now, suppose you were Chevron, and your primary source of revenue was being attacked. Would you fund research to find out the validity of the arguments made against you? Yes, you would. Would that be suspect due to conflict of interest? Of course. So, why isn’t the research funded by environmental organizations suspect due to the conflict of interest? The majority of the research being published right now is funded by environmental organizations and the Federal government. Now, interestingly, environmental organizations have three primary sources of funding: Hollywood, the government, and the fossil fuel industry. One has to ask who has less conflict of interest. The oil industry, which is funding all sides of the research, or the environmental organizations, which are not? Just a question to ask yourself. Another question to ask yourself is why the “reputable trade publications” will publish research favorable to the theory of global warming, but not research unfavorable to it?

On your last point, the primary difference between what Crichton (and I) have to say on this topic and what the folks who believe vehemently in global warming has to say is that we are saying that global warming has too many contradictions to accept as proven. We aren’t saying it isn’t happening, or is happening. I would like to see a truly concerted effort made to understand this without the pre-determined outcomes. If you think that can happen with government funding, I would suggest looking at the history of government science, which is not good.

Finally, I don’t choose my science based on my preference for the implications and thus I have no need to be gentle in my judgement of the censorship and suppression of science by religion, whether historically, or occurring today. I don’t like the implications of research into solar and wind generated power (it can’t meet our needs and will be far more expensive than fossil fuel and nuclear power), but I don’t reject it because I don’t like it.

There is a huge difference between my position, which is that the evidence is inconclusive, contradictory and biased and the position you appear to be taking. I should also point out that one of the pluses to true scientific investigation is that any other person with reasonable intelligence, who is willing to invest the time and effort, can recreate the investigation done by someone else and draw conclusions based on that without having to take what someone tells them on faith. When you are being asked to take something on faith (which much of current global warming theory is asking you to do), then it isn’t science.

Finally, the issue of technology and your bank analogy. A bank will lend me a million dollars when I walk through the door if I have a track record that shows I can pay it back. So, is there a track record for science, technology and engineering? There absolutely is. Not only has it kept pace with the population growth of the planet, it has surged far ahead. All humans, in every quarter of the planet, are far better off, by any tangible standard, than they were in 1800. There is less disease, less starvation, fewer childhood diseases, more food, better housing, more leisure time. Every single disaster predicted by doomsayers over the past centuries has been negated by the advance of science and technology. That’s a pretty good track record. If you showed up in my bank with a record of paying off million dollar loans every time one was made, and doing it early, I’d be inclined to lend you a million dollars, knowing full well I was going to make a profit on you. When a claim is made that technology and science can solve these issues, based on the track record, I agree and I’m willing to make the loan.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Elitists and a Society of Fear

I just got done reading Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear“. I was very impressed by the depth of his research (most modern science fiction is long on fiction and short on science) as well as by the story. Like all of his books that I’ve read, the story gripped and entertained. Just as importantly, it is based on solid research and science. The underlying subject that is dealt with is global warming, climate change and the environmental movement. The actual plot line is a conspiracy by eco-terrorists and environmental groups to create a series of climate change disasters in a short period of time to convince people that rapid climate change due to global warming is actually happening.

The story, by itself, is entertaining, well written and enjoyable. Even without the science and research presented throughout the book, it would be a great read. But, using the mechanism of dialogues between the main characters and various folks who are either global warming “true believers” or skeptics, some excellent science is presented to the reader in a manner that doesn’t require a strong background in science to understand. Several key points are made throughout the book. Points that those who value liberty would do well to pay attention to.

  • The “science” that establishes global warming as something that “everyone knows is true” is very shaky. To the point of actually proving the opposite, in some cases.
  • Science has been politicized, primarily due to the presence of money and power
  • Global Climate Change is completely unfounded, there is no evidence whatsoever that weather patterns have gotten worse, or significantly different, in the past 50 years.
  • One of my favorites, proper application of the precautionary principle would actually preclude using the principle to make decisions. I live in a risk based world, and make decisions based on risk. The precautionary principle is the antithesis of risk based decision-making.
  • We live in a state of fear that is preyed upon, magnified and used to manipulate us by the Political-Legal-Media complex, or PLM. The ultimate goal of the PLM is to gain and hold power.

I’ve known for a while, somewhat vaguely, that the science surrounding environmentalism, global warming and climate change is very poor, even distorted or outright lies in some cases. But this book presented evidence that is incontrovertible. And demonstrates clearly why the environmental movement resorts to ad hominem attacks against those who speak out against them. In fact, this is a favorite tactic of a group of people that I will discuss further along in this post. When someone tries to prove you wrong by attacking you, rather than your facts, logic and reasoning, they have implicitly admitted that your position is correct. The next time an environmentalist attacks someone that doesn’t agree with them as a fascist, or right winger, or tool of the corporations, ask yourself why they don’t just prove that the person’s position is wrong. Matter of fact, ask them why.

A few facts about global warming are in order, and very interesting. The first is that, if you use global temperature data from roughly 1930, to today, it indicates a warming trend worldwide, although the amount of the warming trend is hotly debated. Conservative estimates indicate that the line is very nearly flat, less than one degree Centigrade. But, even more interesting, if you start with data in the 1830’s, instead of the 1930’s, the global trend is either flat, or slightly cooling. In fact, based on that evidence, in the 1970’s the environmental movement was preaching about the coming ice age, NOT global warming. Other “evidence” for global warming that also turn out to have very little basis in fact include the supposed melting of glaciers around the world and rising sea levels. It turns out that Antarctica, which contains 90% of the world’s ice, is actually getting colder and the ice packs are actually thickening. Except for one peninsula, which is the most northern portion of the continent, but accounts for less than 1% of the total ice in Antarctica. The overall trend in Antarctica and Iceland (two areas studied extensively) is increased glaciation, not melting. The glaciers in Iceland are actually “surging”, growing at rates far above historical trends. Concurrently, satellite studies of mean ocean sea levels indicates extremely minor rises in sea level, or none. The celebrated case of a village in Vanuatu having to be abandoned due to rising sea levels is not supported by evidence. The South Pacific shows a minor increase in mean sea level, while the North Pacific shows a minor decrease. In other words, local changes are occurring, but not worldwide changes.

None of this is to say that the environment is not impacted by man. Of course it is. And it has been for as long as man has existed. Indians in California, ten thousand years ago, used to set forest fires purposefully, in order to destroy specific types of forestation that didn’t provide an ecology that was conducive to the sort of game they lived on. Which is how the Sequoia and Redwood forests came to exist. Twenty thousand years ago, California was barren and nearly treeless as it came out of the last ice age. Between 14 and 15 thousand years ago, according to archaeological evidence, hunter-gatherer tribes around the world hunted the mastodon to extinction. There are really two different issues here. One is measurable and quantifiable and the other is not. The first issue is the impact that man has locally. We can measure and quantify the impact of dumping industrial waste into a river, for example. The second issue is what impact man may have globally. This is something we have no idea about, although we have a lot of wildly varying suppositions. And, as long as politics is part and parcel of the science involved with climate and ecology, we will not have any idea. Like anything else, when politics, power and money comes into play, the science of the environment, ecology and climate becomes distorted and corrupted.

This is one of the hardest things for those who favor regulation, intervention and “management” to understand. When you regulate something, when you provide money to bureaucrats to manage the regulation, when you associate political power with the thing, you automatically introduce corruption. Corporations, unions and other non-goverment organizations that have a vested interest in either the the thing being regulated, or the regulation itself, bring money and influence to bear to ensure that it works out the way they want it to. I’ve written on the subject before, as have many others. In this entry, We Gave Up Our Market Power, I give some strong reasoning for the fallacy that regulation can solve problems without leading to its own problems of corruption. By introducing tax money and government regulations and involvement into environmental and ecological science, we have brought about a situation where we can’t get at the truth. For the environmental movement, this doesn’t pose a real problem so long as the folks doing the research and publishing the papers give them the results they desire.

What the environmental movement doesn’t seem to understand, or refuses to understand, which isn’t quite clear, is that they have played into the hands of the very folks that most of them detest. Politicians, the media and lawyers, Crichton’s PLM complex, have capitalized on this entire thing to perpetuate a “state of fear”. Not the police state that some claim. This isn’t about secret police and military power and totalitarianism. These folks just want to perpetuate their own power, continue as the ones on the inside of the oligarchy. As far back as the 1890’s (or further, depending), politicians and the media were discovering that there was power and personal profit involved in creating fear. And, unlike the past, with modern methods of disseminating information, they could induce a much larger portion of the population to buy into their fear-mongering. Then they would position themselves as the ones who could “do something about it”. Thus we had fear of the Wobblies and possible communist revolution in the USA that helped bring FDR to power, fear of Japanese-American saboteurs that gave FDR’s government unprecedented (and unconstitutional) power, the Red Scare of McCarthyism, fear of Hippies and anarchy in the 60’s, another Red Scare in the 70’s, a crime scare starting in the 80’s and so forth. Interestingly, the current preoccupation with, and fear of, environmental disaster dates to the fall of 1989.

Which is when the Berlin Wall fell and we all realized the Cold War was over.

While I am not saying there is some huge, secret conspiracy (there isn’t), I am saying that the politico-legal-media grouping began engaging in groupthink, searching for other things they could use to continue to maintain power, prestige and money. And they found two things that would do the trick. One was crime. The other was the environment. Here’s what’s interesting about both of these topics. There is no objective evidence for the thing that we fear.Just the opposite, in fact. There is plenty of objective evidence that the things we fear are bugaboos. There is plenty of objective evidence that politicians have distorted these things to gain power, the media have distorted these things to maintain a very powerful position as purveyors of information and lawyers have distorted these things in order to increase litigation, which ……. gives them power and wealth.

In fact, since 1991 the crime index in the United States has steadily declines, every single year (source: The Disaster Center). When’s the last time you heard that on television or read it in a newspaper or magazine? Or heard a politician tell you that crime is getting better, not worse? During the years of steady increase in criminal behavior in this country, 1960 – 1991, crime was rarely the lead on the evening news or the front page. It was usually the Vietnam War, or the Cold War, or natural disaster or nuclear missiles, or what have you. Since 1991, violent crime has been a major facet of the media’s news, movies and entertainment, much larger than it was prior to then. The same goes for environmental issues. Starting in the late 1980’s, the media, followed by lawyers and politicians began to give environmentalists much more credence than previously. In the 1960’s and 1970’s the environmental movement was treated by the mainstream as a bunch of crackpots, which most of them are, to be honest. Suddenly, they got treated as serious people, talking about real issues, even when their data was completely suspect pseudoscience of the “everyone knows” variety. The exact same people. It’s not like these are different people, we are talking about folks on the extreme of environmental issues, Hollywood weirdos and such. Yes, these days there are a variety of scientists on board with the idea, but they didn’t get on board until their funding began to come from people who had a vested interest in an outcome that showed that global warming was happening. And now it’s on the evening news every night. With no real evidence to back it up.

If you doubt me, read Crichton’s book. He documents every single assertion and piece of data he presents in footnotes and a very extensive bibliography. It’s interesting that the author of “The Day After Tomorrow” didn’t bother with a single footnote or bibliography entry to back up their contentions. Nor was the movie’s science any better. In fact, at least the book tried to make a point of the fact that abrupt climate change happens (if it does, no one is really sure of any of this) regardless of what men do, or don’t do. The movie didn’t make any such attempt.

Now, here’s where things start getting interesting. Why is it that people use things like the precautionary principle, environmentalism to prevent technological advances, fear of crime? What has been the outcome of each of these things, as promoted by the establishment of politicians, lawyers and the media? The single biggest impact has been to add cost to technologies and activities that could dramatically lower cost and improve standards of living for the poor. Not for the wealthy, who, after all, already have sufficient surplus in their life. Better methods of farming, power production and industrialization have been prevented time after time in the name of saving the environment. The wealthy elites of the West have decided that they know best for those poor, ignorant folks in Africa and Asia and South America. Aside from it being about environmentalism these days, it is amazingly similar to the words that came out of the mouths of wealthy Europeans in the 19th century who were going on about the “White Man’s Burden”. That, in fact, was a progressive idea in its day. Now, I suspect that if Hollywood had to live in the same conditions as they are condemning people in Cambodia to live in, they might be a bit more eager to not prevent the use of technologies and products they don’t like. In fact, what’s even worse is the hypocrisy of all of this. Watch what kinds of cars the Hollywood and media elite drive. Are they driving a little hybrid that gets 50 or 60 miles to the gallon? Or a stretch Hummer? When’s the last time they flew anything less than first class? How about their homes? Ten and fifteen thousand square foot monstrosities in the Los Angeles basin that cost thousands of dollars a month to cool and light. When’s the last time Ted Kennedy or Susan Sarandon suggested putting a wind generator on their own property?

This is yet another case of elites who believe they know what is best for you and I. These folks are no different from the men who ran the Soviet Union. They have, in fact, through their arrogance and elitism, condemned hundreds of thousands, even millions, to death, starvation and privation. And they will keep on doing so until you and I wake up and demand some accountability. Until we demand proof for their wild claims that have no basis in real scientific data. Until we demand that the government get out of the business of pushing the agenda of environmental radicals in order to create more power for the politicians. Until we call them on their insane political correctness that doesn’t allow real scientists to point out that the emperor has no clothes for fear that they will lose their livelihoods.

Originally posted at Eric’s Grumbles

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Thinking About Teen Drinking

One of the sub-sets of the War On Drugs™ is the continuing, and pretty well fruitless, effort to prevent people under the age of 21 from drinking. Brad, the Unrepentant Individual, points out yet another episode in this continuing and puritanical folly in Alabama.

If the bill becomes law, people could drink draft beer only at a bar, restaurant, private club or other retail establishment licensed for beer sales by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, said Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, the bill’s sponsor.

There’s so many reasons that this is not just stupid, but morally repugnant, swirling through my head that I hardly know where to begin. I think I’ll just toss out a list of thoughts at this point and all and sundry are welcome to join in the conversation.

  • Obviously, all you have to do is drive across the state line to one of the states that borders Alabama, buy a keg and drive it back to Alabama. Since this is interstate commerce, I don’t think there is anything that Alabama can do to prevent this, provided that you meet all the legal requirements to buy alcohol in the other state and consume, or possess, alcohol in Alabama. Even if you don’t, let’s stop and think about how well Prohibition worked.
  • The intent, acccording to Singleton, is to cut down on teen drinking at parties. This won’t do a darn thing to prevent, or diminish, teen drinking. Nothing. What it does is to prevent me from perfectly legal and ethical activity on the off chance that I might do something wrong. That is hardly a presumption of innocence until I’m proved guilty, now is it? This is like the media companies (Sony, anyone?) who want to prevent legal copying of music because you might make an illegal copy.
  • I’ve lived, and travelled, in Europe. One of the immediate things you notice is that Europeans don’t have the same puritan attitudes towards kids drinking as many Americans do. In Germany, for example, kids can, and do, go buy beer for their parents at the local store. And, teenagers go into bars and have a beer. I haven’t studied this, or looked up any statistics, but my personal observation was that they handled it much better than American kids do. Probably because it’s not treated as taboo.
  • It’s a bit hypocritical to insist that a 16 year old can drive a car, an 18 year old can assume the responsibilities of adulthood, including writing contracts, joining the military and voting, but you aren’t responsible enough to drink alcohol until you’re 21.
  • My experience as a teenager says that making it forbidden just guarantees that the kids go off somewhere secluded and drink anyhow. This is usually the worse alternative because now you have a bunch of drunk teenagers driving from wherever the party was. That’s so much better. Great plan guys.

Mike, at No Angst Zone, has an excellent rant in response to this topic. Although I have to say that I think a bit of angst is showing through Mike. ;-)

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

The Reactions

Earlier this month, I talked about CATO Unbound and their topic for this month: Internet Liberation: Alive or Dead?. In fact, I posted an entry titled Thoughts on Technology and Liberty just a day before CATO announced their topic, which I discussed in This Should Be Fun. Now the discussion is in full swing over at CATO.

Jaron Lanier posted the first essay, The Gory Antigora: Illusions of Capitalism and Computers, which has been followed by two more. Eric Raymond has written his Reply to Lanier, which makes some excellent points about Gift Cultures, capitalism, open and closed systems and freedom in general. The most significant point he makes, in my opinion, is in his conclusion.

As I pointed out years ago in Homesteading the Noosphere (which I highly recommend reading!), gift cultures rely on a hefty wealth surplus to keep them afloat. While there are many ways to concentrate such a surplus (patronage by one tyrant or a group of aristocrats can do it) capitalism is the only way to do it that scales up well. Capitalism is every gift culture’s best hope for sustainability.

Glenn Reynolds, the InstaPundit, wrote his Reply to Lanier, as well. And, as I expected, makes some excellent points from the perspective of the technically oriented layperson. Again, it is the concluding paragraph where the point I consider most important is made. Of course, this is how the author’s intended it, but so often we, in reading their writing gain insights or see key points other than where the author intended the strength to be. In any case.

To me, this is another reason why we should favor space exploration and – more significantly, over the long run – space colonization. (As I wrote a while back, “Stephen Hawking says that humanity won’t survive the next thousand years unless we colonize space. I think that Hawking is an optimist.”) And, it happens, the empowerment of individuals and small groups that we’re seeing elsewhere is also going on here, with significant progress in space technology taking place now that it’s moving out of the hands of a government monopoly. Let’s hope it moves fast enough.

And finally, John Perry Barlow has written his Reply to Lanier and it’s posted today. I haven’t yet had an opportunity to read it, but I’m looking forward to what the author of “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” has to say, as well.

I think, between what I’ve written and what Reynolds and Raymond have written, we can show that technology, in general, and, more specifically, the Internet are strong tools for individual liberty and wealth generation. Just as importantly, folks who are thinking like Jaron can be seen to be ignoring the true reality of the interactions between capitalism and gift cultures. Stronger by far than any of the individuals who started us on this path could have ever imagined. I plan, after reading Barlow’s essay, to write my own set of thoughts on this specific topic, much like Kay when she wrote Internet Liberation and the Ingenue. Stay tuned.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball
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