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Archive for October, 2008

Eugene Volokh has a thoughtful post about the matter. There’s not much I need to add. A sad day for freedom.

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Via a post by Althouse, I was alerted to this recent Richard Dawkins quote about children reading Harry Potter and other fantasy fiction:

I think it is is anti-scientific – whether that has a pernicious effect, I don’t know…

I think looking back to my own childhood, the fact that so many of the stories I read allowed the possibility of frogs turning into princes, whether that has a sort of insidious [e]ffect on rationality, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s something for research.

In fact, Dawkins goes further than simply advocating that children should not read Harry Potter. He thinks identifying children by their religion or even teaching them your religious views, is child abuse:

Do not ever call a child a Muslim child or a Christian child – that is a form of child abuse because a young child is too young to know what its views are about the cosmos or morality [...]

It’s a form of child abuse, even worse than physical child abuse. I wouldn’t want to teach a young child, a terrifyingly young child, about hell when he dies, as it’s as bad as many forms of physical abuse.

It is worth noting that Dawkins also once advocated that legal action be taken against astrologers under trade laws.

Now, I am an atheist. However, on the Harry Potter issue, I am more inclined to agree with the Althouse commenter who writes:

Does he have kids? Does he remember being a kid? Does he approve of the way our culture infantilizes children through and beyond the age of 18?

To which I could add some more — does he understand freedom? Imagination? The simple fact that indulgence in fantasy is a necessary component of growing up?

Also, I am disturbed by his tendency to impose rationalism via coercion. For a very personal take on coercion vs science, read this old entry of mine.

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I am not an American citizen and hence not eligible to vote. If I did though, I’d vote for Bob Barr.

Yes, that Bob Barr. The guy who authored the insidious “Defence of marriage Act”. A former drug warrior extraordinaire.  Socially conservative ex-Republican.

And the Libertarian candidate for President.

Suffice it to say that Barr is the real deal. There are many who have always stayed — by luck, circumstance or vision — on the correct side. This post is not meant to dishonour them but to praise Barr. For he is a man who actually saw the error of his ways. He didn’t start off libertarian but was won over by the power and reason within our ideas.

The Libertarians were responsible for Barr’s loss in 2002, when he was a Republican running for Congress. They opposed him because of his stand against medical marijuana (one of the many positions that he has reversed since). That loss and disillusionment with increasing government power under Bush caused Bob Barr to look hard at some of his basic political stances. Here is what Barr said during the Libertarian convention:

Well, let me tell you: I have made mistakes. But the only way you make mistakes, the only way you get things done, is by getting out there in the arena and making those mistakes, and then realizing, as things go on, the mistakes that you’ve made. And I apologize for that.

Cynics may say Barr is a hypocrite. I have watched countless interviews of his and here’s what I think. He is the real deal.

Reason Magazine has a wonderful feature on Bob Barr, read it if you wish to know more about the man.

If you care about individual liberty and are eligible to cast a ballot on November 4, please go out and do so for Barr. Why waste my vote, I hear some say. My answer is, you won’t. I fact, voting for the Barr is your best shot at not wasting your vote.

Yes, Barr is a third party candidate. He won’t win. But it is important to make a statement. The libertarians need more votes to make their voice heard. And here’s the deal, the outcome of the election is no longer in doubt. Barack Obama is going to be the next president however you vote. But — bigger shares by the third parties are essential to break the stranglehold of the big two. A substantial Libertarian total will perhaps make those guys take us more seriously, for purely selfish reasons of course. And libertarians who vote for Barr will be voting for the person closest to their beliefs. If you prefer Obama over McCain, like I do, and would like to ensure that the Republicans lose, consider this: Obama has a healthy 6 to 7 point cushion currently. He won’t lose even if all Obama supporting libertarians pull the plug for Barr. In particular, if you live in a non-swing state, there is absolutely no reason to add to Obama’s totals. So please consider voting for Barr.

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From the Fox report:

Lawyers for the pop princess asked that the temporary co-conservatorship (which was due to end on Dec. 31) be made permanent on Tuesday afternoon and Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Riva Goetz granted the request.

Britney’s father Jamie will now have long-term control over her assets, estate and business affairs and Spears’s mental health will be closely monitored by a team of experts. The order will remain in tact until the 26-year-old has made a full and stable recovery.

Well, she doesn’t seem to mind it very much. Recently, she credited her father with saving her life.

“I’ve met several times with (Britney) and she requested that I not object to the permanent conservatorship,” her court-appointed lawyer, Samuel Ingham, said in court.

It just strikes me that I would never accept such a situation, whatever my mental or physical state. If I am placed in a conservatorship against my will or involuntarily committed, I would fight to overturn it with everything I have. And…if I fail to do so, I would kill myself as well as the person primarily responsible for my incarceration (yes, I am serious).

But hey, that’s just me! Everyone’s different — so good for Britney.

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“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality”

- Dante Alighieri

[Edit: A reader points out that this quote is actually due to JFK, who (incorrectly) attributed it to Dante]

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Charles Krauthammer in October, 2006:

When just a week ago Barack Obama showed a bit of ankle and declared the mere possibility of his running for the presidency, the chattering classes swooned. Now that every columnist in the country has given him advice, here’s mine: He should run in ’08. He will lose in ’08.

And the loss will put him irrevocably on a path to the presidency. Obama’s political challenge is to turn his current fame and sizzle, which will undoubtedly dissipate, into something concrete. In physics, it’s the problem of converting kinetic energy into potential energy: Use the rocket fuel behind his current popularity to propel him to a higher national plane from which he would eventually move almost laterally to the presidency.

[...] In any circumstance, it is fairly audacious for any freshman senator to even think of the presidency. When freshman Sen. John F. Kennedy began his preparation for 1956, he was really seeking the vice presidency. And, unlike Obama, he had already served three terms in the House, which in turn had followed a celebrated military tour in the Pacific in World War II.

In 1956, Kennedy was preparing for a serious presidential run in 1960.

Obama should be thinking ahead as well — using ’08 to cure his problem of inexperience. Run for the Democratic nomination and lose. He only has to do reasonably well in the primaries to become such a compelling national figure as to be invited onto the ticket as vice presidential nominee.

[...] He’s a young man with a future. But the future recedes. He needs to run now. And lose. And win by losing.

Now that Krauthammer’s unlikeliest nightmare is about to come true, his columns contain less prediction and more valiant captainship.

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Three New York policemen gang-rape a man with a walkie-talkie antenna, for, you guessed it, smoking some pot.

(Hat Tip: The Agitator)

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