Tuesday, March 30, 2004
For a right-wing version of the blame game, read David Horowitz article, How the Left Undermined America's Security Before 9/11. For a leftist version, read Julia Turner's article, Could We Have Prevented 9/11?
UPDATE 04/02/04: In the news:
Date set for Rice 9/11 testimony.
The Speeches of September 10 and September 11.
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Saturday, March 27, 2004
I know a great place for further studies of the ideas of capitalism... A few days ago, I received an interesting news alert on how the University of South Carolina [Editor's note: Registration required. Hat tip to Betsy Speicher's CyberNet.] has received a donation of $1 million from the company BB&T to study the ethics and moral foundations of capitalism. Here is an excerpt from the article by Emma Ritch:
"USC will get the funds over the next couple years, said business school dean Joel Smith III, and will use the money to create a capitalism ethics class, a capitalism-focused professorship, a lecture series and a room in the business library dedicated to the works of authors that support free enterprise such as Ayn Rand." (Mercury News / AP, 03/24/04.)
As a radical capitalist and an American in spirit, I have a hard time to cope with the mixed economy in the socialist "paradise" of Sweden. Here are the rights of the workers controlled and micro-managed by strong unions. The ruling Social Democratic Party is giving moral support to the unions in exchange of an endorsement by the unions leaders and a huge share of votes by the working class in the next election. It's hard to find any form of "basic human decency" (using Mr. Willis' words) here in the welfare state. It's all about party politics, pressure groups, and an inefficient public sector.
I recommend Oliver Willis to read the following books, after he has finished Reefer Madness:
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand.
Andrew Bernstein's forthcoming book, The Capitalist Manifesto.
Friday, March 26, 2004
Go and read Commissar's (The Politburo Diktat) post, TrackBack Dialectics, for a "Marxist" take on this tool (of the working class;). Here is a message to my fellow bloggers: Please do me a favor and put a trackback link to this post, so I can see if it is working properly. Thanks for your help!
UPDATE 04/16/04: Commissar has a new lecture with the title, Trackbacks - The Peoples' Version.
UPDATE 07/18/04: Here is a message to Rick E. Bruner: I use HaloScan's trackback feature together with Blogger. If you want to "continue the discussion," click on the link to read Politburo Diktat's posts, TrackBack Dialectics and Trackbacks - The Peoples' Version.
The next 10 or 20 years?
My own book-writing projects are sweeping looks at some thread in the fabric of history. Likewise, some of my favorite nonfiction books for reading cover great periods of time. Leonard Peikoff's *Ominous Parallels* is an example. He traces the roots of National Socialism from Plato's philosophy, through Kant, and into the 20th Century.
From my reading of history, I have come to believe that a radically new philosophy -- whether good or bad -- can have its maximum effect on a culture only after at least three philosophical generations pass. That is how much time is needed, first, for the philosophy to pass from the originating philosopher to intellectuals who, second, apply that philosophy to each department of a culture, and then, third, for those effects to show up in daily life.
Lately, however, I have been thinking about shorter periods. Perhaps because I am about to become a grandfather, I have been wondering what the near-term future will bring for me, now at age 60, and for the individuals I value most.
My first thought was that 10 or 20 years would not make much difference in the society and culture in which I live. In reconsidering, I realized that for some individuals living at certain times and in certain places, 10 or 20 years could bring major changes in the conditions of life.
Here in the United States, there was a great difference politically and economically between life in 1922 (a few years after victory in Europe) and 1932 (in the depth of the Great Depression and at the conquest of Germany by Nazis). Ten years after that, in 1942, Western Civilization was fighting for survival -- as it has been ever since.
The initial assault came from post-modernists, the Latter Day Kantians. The follow-up attacks are coming from religious fundamentalists -- Islamic fundamentalists from without, and Christian, Jewish, Environmentalist, and Hindu fundamentalists from within nominally Western countries. Thus, fideism is filling the vacuum created by the philosophical skeptics.
While the Objectivist movement itself, led by The Ayn Rand Institute, continues to flourish, the surrounding culture is decaying at an accelerating rate.
For the short-term, however, one hope stands out clearly. A rational sub-culture -- of which this discussion forum is one element -- may offer a partial refuge. When, on the short-term, rational individuals devote their attention and their wealth to trading with other like-minded individuals, they not only benefit immediately, but they are building their long-term future as well.
The Aristotle Adventure - intellectual history for students and general readers.
Thursday, March 25, 2004
"I found a site which has Re-elect Gore T-shirts and bumper stickers, so I thought I'd share. This time, let the best candidate (actually) win!"
I don't get it. Al Gore didn't get elected in the first place, so how could he get re-elected? What am I missing here?! Feel free to join the discussion!
Related: My post, PRESIDENTS' DAY.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Atheist appeals against religion in American oath.
A Family and a Flag.
I am interested in getting more information on the author of The Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy.
As an American in spirit, I look forward to the day when I will be able to recite the original pledge...
Related: My post IN GOLD WE TRUST.
UPDATE 03/24/04: Read David Holcberg's post, The Pledge of Allegiance vs. Education.
UPDATE 03/25/04: Check out Howard J. Bashman's blog "How Appealing" for more on this case. [Via Rule of Reason.]
Monday, March 22, 2004
I wonder why we haven't seen this kind of petition in Europe?
BBC reports that the money from Microsoft "will go into the European Union's general budget." Half of the money will be spent on subsidies to farmers. Ironically, some of the stolen money will go back to Microsoft...
Read the press release by The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism.
Sunday, March 21, 2004
"If we are going to win the war on terror, the liberation of Iran is not an option. It is a prerequisite. The Bush administration should be saying so -- and living up to its words."
UPDATE 03/26/04: I have added some of my favorite books to the list. All Consuming has several neat features, such as book recommendations and matching people with the same taste in literature.
I like to blog about a specific topic of interest that I am passionate about - be it business, politics, technology, law, education, entertainment, or literature. I blog regularly and I welcome relevant discussions about my topic. I have a constant thirst for knowledge.
Friday, March 19, 2004
Click here for some examples from the website. You will find excerpts from The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, fatwas, and stories by suicide bombers. I wonder who the guy is on the right side of the Hamas leader Abd al-Aziz al-Rantissi.
The web host company has received about $2650 per month from a group of Palestinian students in Lebanon. Ousama Al-Mardini has most of his customers in the Middle East.
Here is a quote by Magnus Norell, an expert on terrorism at the Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI):
"In my opinion, the connection is very evident, not least the detailed information about operations that Hamas has conducted and how quickly they are published on the site. It tallies with what Hamas has done before. Everything indicates there is a total connection between Hamas and the web site." (Jerusalem Post, 03/18/04.)
Here are some more details about Hamas website and its move from Sweden to Russia:
"The website of the Islamic Resistance Organization HAMAS changed its location. The source was outlawed in Sweden for terrorism propaganda and anti-Semitism and is now located at Caravan ISP servers. ... According to "Novye Izvestiya", the main source is located at the server of the internet service provider Caravan, and its mirror at RusBusinessInform site. This source "entertains" visitors with stories about "heroic fight of Palestinian guerrillas against Jewish terrorists"." (Victor Sabadash, Computer Crime Research Center, 03/23/04.) [Via Internet Haganah.]
For more cartoons like this, check out John Cox & Allen Forkum's book, Black & White World.
Thursday, March 18, 2004
"Pakistani troops say they have surrounded a senior al-Qaeda leader close to the Afghan border and are preparing to move in within hours."
If Ayman al-Zawahri is the above mentioned leader, my wild guess is that Osama bin Laden is not far away...
The House of Representatives (search bill number h.r. 3782) has raised the reward for Osama bin Laden's capture to $50 million.
UPDATE 03/25/04: Ayman al-Zawahri has sent a tape to Al-Jazeera, including the following message:
"The crusade in Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya and Palestine is targeting Pakistan primarily, because America does not want Pakistan to be a special power in the center of Asia." (USA Today / AP, 03/25/04.)
Sunday, March 14, 2004
They have found a video tape message from the terrorists. Here is a quote from the tape: "You love life and we love death."
John Kay, The Sun's Chief reporter, states the following:
"Two al-Qaeda splinter groups claimed they committed the atrocity — Al Muwahidoun, also called the Lions of Al-Mufridoon, and the Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri." Read more about these groups at the World Tribune.com.
The terror threat is coming closer to home. Could Denmark be al-Qaeda's next target? From the Copenhagen Post:
"Danish-Moroccan Said Mansour, who has been linked to the Danish national currently facing a death sentence in Algeria for acts of terrorism, has been sentenced to three months in jail by Copenhagen District Court for unlawful possession of arms, document fraud and dealing in stolen property."
For more on Mansour, read Bjørn Stærk's post, Al-Qaeda is watching.
Related: My post, THE PHILOSOPHY OF DEATH.
Is the terrorist attack in Madrid a sign that al-Qaeda has "changed its face" or is it that the terrorist network is more of a deadly idea in action, working in autonomous cells without a strict organization? Or could it be the case that al-Qaeda and ETA are working together? Here is an excerpt from Amir Taheri's article, In Spain, ETA and Al Qaida remain objective political allies:
"An ETA delegation has visited Tehran since 1985 to participate in an annual gathering of "anti-imperialist" movements that was held between and February 1 and 11. In 1993 ETA, along with a dozen other western terrorist organisations, had observers in the largest ever gathering of Islamist groups held in Khartoum.
ETA's literature, as disseminated over the past three decades, is replete with expressions of sympathy for various Islamist causes including "wiping Israel off the map" and "driving the American imperialists out of the world."
In exchange, Al Qaida literature has paid tribute to ETA's "heroic struggle" for Basque independence. Ayman Al Zawahiri, the Al Qaida second-in-command, has spoken of his dream of "liberating Andalusia", the part of Spain once ruled by Muslims, presumably letting ETA rule its own neck of the woods in the Basque country."
Read James Woods' post, Al Qaeda's Electoral Message (So Anticipate Their October Surprise).
In the news:
Musharraf: Al-Qaeda targeted me.
US turns on Spanish 'appeasement'.
For more cartoons like this, check out John Cox & Allen Forkum's book, Black & White World.
Here is an excerpt from Jan Norman's article, Getting top billing: Keyword ads give companies edge in searches:
"Google wants to boost its revenue by partnering with Web sites that have content, too. So, it recently launched AdSense: A Web site with information can sign up to display Google's ads, whose relevance match the stories on a specific page."
It will be interesting to follow how Google's text robots crawl my blog in order to find matching ads. At the moment you could find ads for religious groups [Editor: I wonder if my readers will convert?], some kind of anti-terrorism organization, and a couple firms selling hot pepper sauces! I have picked the tower ad format (wide skyscraper, 160x600). It displays up to five ads on the blog. It will take some time before I could cash in something from the ads, but I am happy with the opportunity to have an extra monetary source as a way of keeping this blog going.
BusinessWeek's Alex Salkever is worried about Google's strong position in cyberspace. Read his article, Google's Ads -- and Minuses, and see if you could come to the conclusion if he is a supporter of capitalism or not. Google is not "muffling free speech" by rejecting a certain ad. I have the possibility to block certain ads (URLs) on my blog. These are examples of people that could be added to the filter list.
Advertising on weblogs is catching on. Read Jeff Jarvis' post, You know it's business when it's in the Wall St. Journal. Stephen Hall (Adrants) writes about his experience with Google's AdSense and he sends out a question to the "search engine marketing experts." I wonder how Google will tackle competitors, e.g. Kanoodle and Revenue Science, in the future.
Search on the name "Michael Anthony Bradley" (a.k.a. "CountScubula"?) and you will find a story about a guy who tried to parasite on Google's AdSense program. Here is an excerpt from Ryan Naraine's article, Feds Arrest Alleged Google Extortionist:
"The case centers around a program called "Google Clique," which was allegedly written by 32-year-old Michael Anthony Bradley to surf and click on Web ads displayed by the Google AdSense program.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Bradley met secretly with Google's engineers in early March and attempted to extort $100,000 by threatening to release the program for widespread use by spammers." (Internetnews.com, 03/22/04.)
Friday, March 12, 2004
On a related note, read Elizabeth Albrycht's post, Ridiculous Anti-Blogger Screed.
[Editor: I wonder if my readers will think that I have been "bought" by Blogger... ;)*grin*]
Do you think that Courtney Love will celebrate Ron Hubbard's birthday tomorrow?
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Monday, March 8, 2004
Sunday, March 7, 2004
Initiators and responders
Why do some intellectual movements succeed and others fail?
Recently I have been focusing on one particular aspect of this problem: the role of intellectual initiative in social situations. I see three kinds of individuals here: the initiators, the responders, and the inactivists.
Individuals who take initiative -- either by asking a debate-defining question or by making a debate-provoking comment -- are the front-line soldiers in the war to change a culture. For example, in a society that assumed chattel slavery is the norm, the man who publicly questioned the morality of slavery was provoking a revolution.
Those individuals who only respond to others' initiatives also have an effect. The responders may directly answer the question; or they may reply with a counter-question, such as, "What do you mean by 'morality'?" Either way, they at least clarify the issues, and, at best, they open a door to their own philosophy.
Those who neither initiate nor respond, nor aid those who do, have little power in deciding the course and outcome of a philosophical struggle in a particular culture.
From about 1996 to 2001, I enrolled in history and language courses in a local university. Class size ranged from about 100 for freshman lecture courses to 6 for graduate-level seminars.
The pattern of student participation in discussion and debate was consistent. Very few students -- averaging one or two, regardless of class size -- took initiative by asking their own questions for discussion or by making provocative statements that might channel debate in a particular direction. Perhaps three times as many (but still a small number) responded to the initiators. Most students were silent.
I saw the same distribution in study groups I organized at the university, at various business meetings in my 20 years of work in the electronics industry, and in a variety of political activities during the last 30 years. A similar distribution of participation appears in on-line study groups. How many take initiative in starting a thread? How many respond? How many are usually silent?
Why is this pattern so common? Why is there a hierarchy of participation in nearly all such social gatherings?
I have considered several possibilities, but I do not have an essentialized answer yet.
However, I note the same phenomenon in political culture, but on a much broader scale. The rapid growth of Moveon.org (trademark, "Democracy in Action") provides a striking example of the power of a few individuals taking initiative and others responding. See the article, Influence of MoveOn undeniable. (Boston Globe, 02/16/04.)
For Moveon.org itself. [Editor's note: Read my post, MOVEON.ORG: TIME TO MOVE ON...]
Two left-wing entrepreneurs took initiative and hundreds of thousands of people responded positively in one form or another. But there are millions more presumed sympathizers who didn't respond with action.
I see this social phenomenon -- this pyramid of participation -- as an opportunity for members of the Objectivist movement. A few individuals -- who know their philosophy well, who the have courage to speak in public, and who have learned the social and intellectual skills that come from practice in formal or informal debate -- can have a far greater influence than their meager numbers would suggest.
This is one more fact on the hope side of weighing the future.
 The one exception I can remember is observing a sales-training class. All the students were professional electronic equipment salesmen. Every student, except one, was active in the classroom discussion and debate on the day I observed the class. The one exception had the flu.
Thursday, March 4, 2004
Tuesday, March 2, 2004
Monday, March 1, 2004
I have illustrated this post with a cartoon from my interview with John Cox & Allen Forkum.
For more cartoons like this, check out John Cox & Allen Forkum's book, Black & White World.