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Archive for May, 2008

Believe it or not, a guy was told he could not get on to the plane wearing his gun toting T-shirt. A picture of the offending T-shirt is below:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the terrorists’ greatest victory wasn’t bringing WTC down or carrying out those London bombings. It was changing liberal Western society into an irrational one obsessed with fear and political correctness. We live today in a world where actions anathemic to liberty get support in the name of security and where the political climate is vitiated by a virus that makes people unable to tell what’s important and what’s more important.

(Link via Boing Boing)

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Yep, its for real!

French explorer and adventurer Xavier Rosset is about to embark on a 300 day trip to live alone on a remote tropical island in the South Pacific. His adventures will be filmed and used for a 52 minute documentary.

Xavier’s only luggage will be a Swiss army knife, machete, video camera, and a solar panel for charging the camera. He will spend 10 months alone on an island to develop another way of life through an exciting adventure, a return to the elemental sources.

He will find timber to build a shelter, feed on the rudimentary fishing, plants and the harvesting of rainwater to survive.

Exciting, ain’t it? I wonder if I should consider something similar when life gets dull and theorems appear unprovable…

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My interview with the Pakistani Spectator.

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I discovered this blog the other day. It has very few posts currently, but I really like all of them. The blog is called “Hard Cases: A Critique of Pure Libertarianism” and serves as a preview of an identically-titled book the author is writing.

My favourite post is probably this one, where the author describes his personal journey as a libertarian. I have very similar sentiments. In fact his third sentence below could exactly describe my reaction on first reading The Fountainhead: no major change or even influence, but pleasure and thrill at seeing things I had always believed written down so powerfully.

I suspect I have always been a libertarian.  My early exposure to this political philosophy was in no way akin to a conversion experience.  It was more like the discovery that there actually were others who thought the same way that I did and were smart enough to have thought it through and written it down.  In those early days I was quite the missionary for my new philosophy.  I would share it with anyone, gleefully outraging them with some of the more extreme ideas that seemed to follow from it.  There was a youthful naivete to it all, the belief that all I had to do was show people how perfectly logical and rational my ideas were and they would embrace them as I had.  Like most youthful delusions, this one was wrong.

I have taken a long and confusing path since those early days.  So have my ideas.  Surprisingly enough, most of those ideas have ultimately come full circle.  My political philosophy today is probably closer to what it was when I was 16 than it has ever been.

Also, this post, on the Libertarian party, is worth reading.

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After landing in Columbus, the [Hillary Clinton] campaign entourage headed by motorcade to Zanesville, a town of about twenty-five thousand, sixty miles away, for what was billed as an economic “summit.” When one speaker offered encomiums to Clinton rather than economic prescriptions, she gently reprimanded her, saying, “We’re going to put a moratorium on compliments.” Then, with the bonhomie of a high-school health teacher, she turned the conversation back toward government programs to help people “quit smoking, to get more exercise, to eat right, to take their vitamins.”

– New Yorker, March 17, 2008

 

Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.

Michelle Obama speech in UCLA, February 3, 2008.

 

[John McCain] recently proposed legislation requiring every registered sex offender in the country to report all their active email accounts to law enforcement or face prison. He wants to federalize the oversight of professional boxing. He wants yet more vigor in fighting the War on Meth. He has lauded Teddy Roosevelt’s fight against the “unrestricted individualism” of the businessman who “injures the future of all of us for his own temporary and immediate profit.”
[John McCain] has long agitated for mandatory national service.
McCain’s attitude toward individuals who choose paths he deems inappropriate is somewhere between inflexible and hostile. “In the Roosevelt code, the authentic meaning of freedom gave equal respect to serf-interest and common purpose, to rights and duties,” McCain writes. “And it absolutely required that every loyal citizen take risks for the country’s sake…. “

– Reason, April 2007.

 

H/T to Radley Balko at Reason for the first two excerpts. His response to them mirrors my sentiments:

But what if I don’t want to give a crap?

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The Indian government wants to be able to read all emails and messages sent by citizens. (Privacy, you say? Don’t be silly. We live in an age of terrorism. Hehe, those naive libertarian notions.)

However it discovers it is unable to decrypt the ones sent by Blackberry devices.

Pissed, it asks the parent company, RIM, to help it snoop. Hard luck, says RIM, even we don’t have a master key to decrypt the messages.

The Indian government moves towards a complete ban on usage of Blackberry devices in India.

(Just curious, does the government realise that one can always send encrypted messages over the internet? How will it stop that?)

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I think this is a great idea.

If I hadn’t just escaped that dreadful accident, where would I be now? Would I rather be dead than depend on others to keep me alive?

A new card seeks to address that very question. Available in pubs, banks, libraries, GP surgeries, even some churches, the Advanced Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT) card sits snugly in a wallet or purse and instructs a doctor to withhold treatment should the carrier lose the capacity to make decisions, because of an accident or illness.

Dubbed the “right-to-die card”, it’s being seen by some as a short-cut to euthanasia.

But its backers say it is a practical way of implementing the Mental Capacity Act, which came into force in 2007.

The act allows adults to draw up “advance directives” stating what sort of treatment they don’t want should they lose capacity. They build on the principle of “living wills” but, crucially, mean that doctors are legally bound to abide by a patient’s wish to refuse life-sustaining treatment.

Personally, I’d love to see similar “Do not stop me from committing suicide” and “Do not put me under any form of involuntary commitment or conservatorship unless I am an imminent danger to others” cards/living wills come up. However, as a practical legal matter, you would probably want to also appoint a surrogate (usually a spouse or loved one) who would know your wishes and be trusted to act exactly as you’d want in such a circumstance.

(Link via Reason Hit and Run)

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Bob Barr is the Libertarian party nominee for president. He defeated Mary Ruwart and others after days of political drama, debates and discussions at the Libertarian national convention at Denver, Colorado.

Dave Wiegel from Reason has a stellar coverage of the Libertarian convention here. Highly recommended.

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A nice article in the New York Times on Ron Paul and his passionate supporters.

Mr. Paul was supposed to be a memory by now. But in the Oregon primary last week, he won 15 percent of the vote, and the campaign appears to be growing into something beyond a conventional protest campaign. Some supporters have helped turn the outspoken congressman’s campaign into a colorful, loud sideshow with their guerrilla marketing tactics — self-penned Ron Paul anthems on YouTube, a Ron Paul blimp, T-shirts that portray Mr. Paul as a world-historical icon like Che Guevara.

Also read my old post on the Ron Paul campaign.

(Link via Andrew Sullivan)

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“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter–the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last–the city of final destination, the city that is a goal…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.”

– E.B. White 

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An excerpt from an interview of South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker by Reason Magazine.

Reason: Each of you at various points have called yourself libertarian. Is that an apt description?

Parker: People started throwing that word around to describe us right around the second or third season. They would sit us down and go, “So are you libertarian?” And I would always say, “I don’t know, am I? You’ve seen my stuff.”

I still don’t really know the answer to that question. I think I am, though.

Stone: I think it is an apt description for me personally, and that has probably seeped into the show. But we never set out to do a libertarian show.

Reason: When you say libertarian, what do you mean?

Stone: I had Birkenstocks in high school. I was that guy. And I was sure that those people on the other side of the political spectrum were trying to control my life. And then I went to Boulder and got rid of my Birkenstocks immediately, because everyone else had them and I realized that these people over here want to control my life too. I guess that defines my political philosophy. If anybody’s telling me what I should do, then you’ve got to really convince me that it’s worth doing.

Click here for the full interview. 

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Reason has hauled in 16 nominations for the annual Greater Southern California Press Club Awards. They dominated the magazine category, earning 10 of the 20 finalist spots. 

For those who are unaware, Reason is a monthly libertarian magazine, probably the best libertarian magazine that exists.

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What does Ethiopia, Senegal and Turkey have that the US doesn’t?

The right to engage in consensual sex for money.

For a list of the legal status of prostitution in different countries, check this nice fact sheet. The oldest profession in the world is legal in most of South America, and virtually all of Europe. Keeping the US company, on the other hand, are countries like China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Cuba, Uganda (and sadly, India).

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The Dutch got it once. So they legalized abortion, prostitution, soft drugs and euthanasia and guaranteed absolute free speech. But isn’t there an old proverb about not seeing the value of things you’ve had for a long while? It seems the famously easy-going Dutch are tired of their freedoms. What else to make of the ban on magic mushrooms, and now the arrest of a cartoonist?

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The current farm bill is a monstrosity. It is a grotesque example of ill-directed subsidy and government profligacy at a time when the US is deep in debt and prices are going up. Only one of the three presidential candidates has come out in opposition to the bill and that person is John McCain. Even Andrew Sullivan — possibly Obama’s greatest champion in the blogosphere —admits this.

Obama’s pandering on this is pathetic. McCain deserves real kudos. And this does matter: standing up to this kind of craven welfarism is important.

Over at Reason, Matt Welch says:

This gives me a rare opportunity to agree wholeheartedly with anti-libertarian New York Times columnist David Brooks: John Sidney McCain is a thousand times better on this than Barack Hussein Obama, and one of the principal virtues of the coming McCain presidency is the prospect of him just vetoing the crap out of lousy legislation produced by emboldened Democrats (who suffer from a singular lack of Jeff Flakes).

Matt, mind you, is no McCain fan. After all, he wrote an entire book and several articles (like this one) to remind us just how frighteningly authoritarian John McCain is. So, while a McCain presidency will be a better than an Obama one on spending, regulation and some other economic issues, it could be terrible for civil liberties. We live in a world of tough choices.

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