Monday, January 31, 2005

WILL IRAQ BE A NEW MULLAH COUNTRY?

Go to Watch for plenty of photos from the national election in Iraq.

In the news:

Go to my old post, FIGHT BETWEEN RELIGIOUS GROUPS IN IRAQ, for a link to the report, Islamist Politics in Iraq after Saddam Hussein.

The Iraq Election

Friday, January 28, 2005

THE MULLAH COSA NOSTRA

Here is an excerpt from Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi's article, Tehran’s Killing Fields.

The best parallel one can use to describe the Iranian power structure is the Mafia. The "Genovese," "Gambino," "Bonano," "Colombo" and "Lucchese" type families have their equivalent in the ayatollahs Rafsanjani, Jannati, and Khamenei, Messbaheh-Yazdi, Vaa’ezeh-Tabasi and man, many more, each one with a private militia at their disposal. Just like the Mafia families divvied territory and areas of influence, the Ayatollahs divvy interests and "monopolize" particular businesses. For example, Rafsanjani started his personal fortune by supervising all oil deals, while Tabassi "looks after" the major charity organization, the Shrine of Imam Reza, which is a huge source of liquid cash. Rafsanjani later diversified his business, and was the mullah who most profited when ex-President Clinton allowed the import of pistachios and carpets from Iran. (FrontPageMag.com, 01/27/05.)


I have heard from a source that one mullah owns a big Asian electronics company. If you have any information on this, please send me an email or comment on this post.

PHILIP JOHNSON

In the news:

Philip Johnson, the architect who died on Tuesday aged 98, created some of the most familiar buildings in the cities of America. ...

On returning to the United States, Johnson set up a short-lived political party based on Hitler's National Socialists. A year later Johnson switched his loyalties to the Union Party, an aggregation of populists and fascists, contributing $5,000 to the campaign of its presidential candidate in 1936. (Telegraph.co.uk, 01/28/05.)


Which character in The Fountainhead could be Philip Johnson's "spitting image"? Read Tres Parson's post, Philip Johnson is Dead, for clues...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

STRATEGIC SUPPORT BRANCH AND WINE AT PENTAGON

The secret is out: Secret Pentagon spies confirmed. [Editor's comment: I wonder if Donald Rumsfeld & Co. at the Strategic Support Branch are drinking wine? Read my post, WINE-PENTAGON.COM, for the whole story... ;)]

AYN RAND 02/02/1905

How will you celebrate Ayn Rand's birthday? A good preparation is to read Michael Berliner's article, Ayn Rand: A Legacy of Reason and Freedom.

Born 100 years ago in Holy Mother Russia and educated under the Soviets, Ayn Rand became the quintessential American writer and philosopher, upholding the supreme value of the individual’s life on earth. She herself led a "rags to riches" life, wrote best-selling novels that championed individualism, and developed a philosophy of reason that validates the American spirit of achievement and independence. (MensNewsDaily.com, 01/25/05.)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

THE RUSSIAN ECONOMY: BOOM OR BUST? PART II

Next week's edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists [Editor's note: By the way: It looks like the co-founder of CotC, Jay Solo, has some problems with his domain name / blog at the moment. I hope his site will be back soon. UPDATE 01/25/05: Read Jay's post, We're Back! In More Ways Than One.] will be hosted by Dane Carlson of Business Opportunities Weblog. It gave me an opportunity to look back on my entry, THE RUSSIAN ECONOMY: BOOM OR BUST?

Putin must have been listening to his economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov. Here is a comment by Andrei Illarionov on the fact that "Russia's banks are running out of credit":

"Hiding our heads in the sand and saying there is no crisis would be totally incorrect," Interfax news agency reported him as saying. "The solution of a prob lem can only begin when the problem is identified correctly." (Carolynne Wheeler, The Guardian, 07/12/04.)

It looks like Mr. Illarionov has an aspiration to scrap much of the tax code, reduce the tax pressure, and start to compete, in an economical sense, with the rich United States of America. How successful has he been in the improvement of the economy? Here is an excerpt from article in BusinessWeek:

And Putin appears to be listening. Shortly after he appointed Illarionov--a fellow native of Saint Petersburg--in April, 2000, Putin decided to support the economist's proposal for a 13% flat income tax. That rate, introduced in January, 2001, represented a major cut from the previous sliding scale of 12% to 35%. Russia's income taxes are now Europe's lowest and the country's once-meager tax collection has vastly improved. Putin also backs Illarionov's ideas for slashing bureaucracy and creating competition for the monopolies. (BusinessWeek, 06/17/02.)

Here is another example, this time from Ivan Osorio's article, A Russian Revolution:

Reforms advocated by Illarionov and enacted by Putin's government have already yielded impressive results, giving Russia GDP growth of 9 percent in 2000, 5 percent in 2001, and 4 percent in 2002. Last month, the Russian government revised its GDP growth estimate for 2003 to 6.6 percent (Tech Central Station, 01/12/04.) (EGO, 07/25/04.)


I looks like Putin has become deaf...

From Peter Lavelle's article, Andrei Illarionov's madness?

Andrei Illarionov, longtime economic adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, appears to be on a mission. After strongly criticizing Kremlin economic and foreign polices in public, Illarionov has been removed from one key post of influence and, it would appear, joined the opposition. ...

There is probably a method to Illarionov's madness: It's called looking to the future.

Illarionov's influence over economics has waned recently, particularly since Putin's re-election last May. Since then, Putin has installed in own team. ...

Is Illarionov eyeing Russia's presidency, which should technically be up for grabs in 2008, or another high political position? These possibilities should not be discounted. He has government experience, is a liberal economist, and has shown himself willing and able to speak out on foreign policy issues. Illarionov may have the appeal that can help unite Russia's small liberal parties behind one candidate. He also knows how to speak to the West. (United Press International, 01/04/05.)


Here is an excerpt from the article, Putin’s Aide Andrei Illarionov Demoted After Blasting Yugansk Sale.

Illarionov has become a lone dissenter in the Kremlin, which is increasingly dominated by Putin's fellow KGB veterans. They are widely seen as a driving force behind the probe against the embattled Yukos oil giant, which has been all but crushed by a legal onslaught of back taxes and criminal charges against its owners.

Illarionov called last month's Kremlin-orchestrated auction of Yuganskneftegaz — Yukos' main production unit — the "swindle of the year" and said the government's actions "have inflicted a colossal damage to the country." (MosNews.com, 01/04/05.)


Saturday, January 22, 2005

MUSLIMS CELEBRATE FEAST OF SACRIFICE

The title, Muslims celebrate Feast of Sacrifice, tells you the whole story.

Thousands of white-robed pilgrims threw pebbles at pillars Thursday, symbolically stoning the devil in an act of purification.

The stoning, which lasts several days, is one of the main rituals in the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Across the Muslim world, the faithful marked the first day of the Feast of Sacrifice, or Eid al-Adha, the most important holiday in the Islamic calendar.

Many Arabs marked the feast — a commemoration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son for God — with family lunches and visits to relatives' graves. (HoustonChronicle.com, 01/20/05.)


From the Jihad and Terrorism Studies Project (Iran's Political and Military Leadership Call for Martyrdom (Shahada)).

In a recent statement to the 8th Congress on Martyred Students, Iran's Leader Ali Khamenei praised the culture of shahada (committing martyrdom operations), and called upon students to follow the path of martyrs.

Speaking at a memorial service at the University of Qom, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards general, Shabani, called for the training and education of students as martyrs. In his address, which dealt with means of resisting the enemy, Shabani also said that Iran is the third largest power in the region in ballistic missile production. (Memri.org, 01/20/05.)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

FATWA AGAINST SALMAN RUSHDIE (AGAIN)

Here is an excerpt from Daveed Gartenstein-Ross's post, Whither Reformism in Iran? [Hat tip to Gus Van Horn.]

Today Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reaffirmed the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Speaking to Muslim pilgrims making hajj, Khamenei described Rushdie as as a "mahdour al-damm mortad," meaning that he is an apostate whose blood may be shed with impunity. (The Counterterrorism Blog, 01/19/05.)


From my post, END THE APPEASEMENT NOW!

Maybe you are wondering why the fatwa against Salman Rushdie is on the list. Mohammad Ali Samadi of the "Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign" gives the answer: Salman Rushdie is the only non-military target for us, because we believe his attack against Islam was much worse that a military assault. (Parinoosh Arami, Reuters, 06/05/04.) (EGO, 06/07/04.)


It looks that I am on the minority side: "Survey: Americans oppose Iran invasion."

And the Iranian "President" Mohammad Khatami doesn't seem to be afraid:

I do not think that America is in a position to resort to the madness of attacking Iran," President Khatami said in an interview with Iranian radio during a visit to Uganda. "We believe that the probability of America's attack on Iran is very negligible. America faces major problems in Iraq and elsewhere." (BBC, US attack 'madness', says Khatami, 01/20/05.)

KIDNAPPERS IN GOTHENBURG

What's going on in my hometown, Gothenburg?

Police in Sweden launched a nationwide search yesterday for a prominent business executive and heir to a £170 million fortune who is believed to have been kidnapped. Fabian Bengtsson, 32, managing director of Siba, an electrical retailer, was last seen on Monday as he left home for work at 7.45am. He failed to arrive at work, just a ten-minute drive away, and his car, a grey BMW, was found abandoned in the centre of Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city. (TimesOnline.co.uk, 01/20/05.)





UPDATE 02/05/05: Kidnapped Swedish businessman found alive.

YARON BROOK ON FOX NEWS DAYSIDE

Linda Vester must have read the ARI op-ed, America's compassion in Iraq is self-destructive, by Elan Journo and Yaron Brook.

The Bush Administration's war in Iraq embraces compassion instead of the rational goal of victory. Such an immoral approach to war wantonly sacrifices the lives of soldiers and emboldens our enemies throughout the Middle East to mount further attacks against us. (EnterStageRight.com, 01/17/05.)


From Betsy Speicher's CyberNet:
Yaron Brook is scheduled to appear on Dayside with Linda Vester this Friday, January 21st at 1PM ET (10AM PT), on the Fox News Channel (FNC). (CyberNet, 01/20/05.)

TERRORISTS IN BOSTON

What's going on in Boston?

In the news: Salvadoran gang becomes major U.S. crime scourge.

The latest issue of the Concord Crier has several of links under the section threats:



For more information, go to The Command Post (Terror Threat Probe in Boston) and Winds of Change (Boston Dirty Bomb Briefings).

Monday, January 17, 2005

SMALL BUSINESS TRENDS AND CAPITALISM

This week's edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists is hosted by Small Business Trends. Anita Campbell has compiled about 45 free-market posts. After you have visited the virtual map of my former home state, Ohio, take a tour through the red and blue states and pay a visit to North Carolina and the home of Andy Clarkson, a.k.a Charlotte Capitalist and this week's edition of the Reason Roundup.

Welcome to the Reason Roundup. Apparently living like a caveman is chic. Someone is watching closely over theocracy risks. Plus spyware, James Bond, and beautiful women. Wow. (www.CharlotteCapitalist.com, 01/16/05.)

MIND YOUR LANGUAGE

After I read this story (Metro boss resigns after racist "joke"), I had to reflect on how the use of the "n-word" has changed. In my childhood, you could buy a pastry called "negerboll" in Swedish. They have now changed the name to "chocolate ball". For more details, read the article, Sweet leaves sour taste with the PC. Here is an excerpt from Greg Gatlin's article, Metro execs’ racist smears: Ugly secret behind Hub’s free paper.

In his Mediachannel.org story, Rory O'Connor also wrote that employees had complained that Metro was sexist, with a male-dominated culture. One woman said an advertisement was turned down by Philadelphia Metro because the paper wanted its readers to appear young and upwardly mobile and "did not want it to look like its readers needed food stamps." (BostonHerald.com, 01/11/05.)


I wonder what the people at MediaChannel.org will think about the following:

Reason vs Racism.
IS ATRIOS COLOR BLIND?
NEO-NATIONAL SOCIALISTS AND MILITANT ISLAMISTS.
WORLD CHURCH OF COLLECTIVISM.




Do you think that Györi Keksz could sell the "chimney sweeper" candy (kéménycukorka) in other countries than Hungary?

IS THE WAR COMING TO IRAN?

From Seymour M. Hersh's article, THE COMING WARS.

The immediate goals of the attacks would be to destroy, or at least temporarily derail, Iran’s ability to go nuclear. But there are other, equally purposeful, motives at work. The government consultant told me that the hawks in the Pentagon, in private discussions, have been urging a limited attack on Iran because they believe it could lead to a toppling of the religious leadership. “Within the soul of Iran there is a struggle between secular nationalists and reformers, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the fundamentalist Islamic movement,” the consultant told me. “The minute the aura of invincibility which the mullahs enjoy is shattered, and with it the ability to hoodwink the West, the Iranian regime will collapse”—like the former Communist regimes in Romania, East Germany, and the Soviet Union. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz share that belief, he said. (The New Yorker, 01/17/05.)


From Norman Podhoretz's article, The War Against World War IV. [Via Gus Van Horn.]

If an uprising is not in the cards, we will be left with only one alternative to preemptive military action: standing by (while kidding ourselves with empty motions of diplomacy) and watching the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism acquire nuclear weapons that it could then pass on to its terrorist protégés for use against the "Great Satan." (www.CommentaryMagazine.com, February 2005.)

SELECTIVE MEMORY PHOTOBLOG

I got inspired to do some photoblogging at my other blog after checking out Mark Wicken's Selective Memory. His latest photo is titled, David and Construction Worker. I look forward to return to Lake Balaton at some other time. I am sure that Mark wants to go back to Italy...

DISCUSS THE ANTI-AMERICANISM IN THE SWEDISH MEDIA

Read my post, WHAT DO SWEDES REALLY THINK OF AMERICA?, on Lukeion blog. Register at The Local ("Sweden's News In English") and join the discussion!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

CAREER NETWORKING

I think it is time to do a short follow-up post regarding my NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION, and write about my career path plans. Wayne Hurlbert's post, Unemployed? Here is some help, got me thinking on how to prepare my international job search. I want to work for a special type of business organization. Where do I find the prime movers of today's business world? For your headhunters out there: I am available on the job market after I returned from my project in Hungary and finished my school report in May.

Here is an excerpt from Anita Campbell's PowerBlog Review of my EGO blog.

Martin unabashedly admires the United States as a place of freedom -- economic, political and personal. His views are a refreshing counterpoint to news reports of European anti-Americanism, such as the anti-Americanism exhibited during the recent Olympic games. He worked in the United States for a time and he tells me his goal is to return someday. (Small Business Trends, 08/29/04.)


Do you know about any career networks and blogs?

UPDATE 01/18/05:
I have joined LinkedIn career network. [Editor's note: M.K., Thanks for the invitation!] Here is an excerpt from the article, The Great Debate: Quality or Quantity?

Above all, respect that there is no one right approach, and that what works for you may not work well for someone else. Seek out venues where you will meet the kind of people who can support you -- and who you can support -- in achieving your professional goals, determine the strength of relationships you want with them, and gradually grow the number of people in your network at a pace that allows you to maintain the relationships you've already created.(FastCompany.com)


In the news:
  • OracleSoft, LinkedIn and your next job (The National Business Review, NZ).
  • Matchmaker Jobster seeks a better way (Seattle Post-Intelligencer).
  • Thursday, January 13, 2005

    ADAM VINATIERI

    I haven't followed the NFL and my favorite team, New England Patriots, lately. I know that NEP did a great start of the season.

    Here is an excerpt from David Pevear's article, Viva Vinatieri.

    Vinatieri's favorite book is "Atlas Shrugged" by the late novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand, whose epic belief in man as a heroic being obviously does not preclude 45 yards in a blizzard against the Raiders in the playoffs.

    "The book's about commitment," Vinatieri told NFL.com's Vic Carucci last season. "Whatever you do and whatever you're going to put your name on, whatever you're going to sign as your work, do it to be proud of what you're doing. Do it the best you can and you'll never be disappointed. You'll never have to say, 'What if I had tried a little harder?'"

    His teammates see Vinatieri putting this philosophy to practice every day and it provides them with a sense of comfort; just one less worry at this time of the season when kicking field goals seems to become a wild adventure for everyone but Vinatieri. (LowellSun.com, 01/12/05.)

    Tuesday, January 11, 2005

    MICHAEL MOORE AND MEL GIBSON

    Did you watch People's Choice Awards? Here is an excerpt from Joyce Wadler's article, Call Us Crazy, but We See a Buddy Movie Here.

    Mr. Moore and Mel Gibson, whose "Passion of the Christ" won for motion picture drama, are fans of each other's work. Asked if he had seen Mr. Gibson's film, Mr. Moore lighted up. (The New York Times, 01/11/05.)


    For more on Moore and Gibson, read my posts, B.F.S.W.M IS AT THE MOVIES IN SWEDEN and T.G.I.F.

    UPDATE 01/17/05:
    And the Winner is...

    CAPITALISM AND ODYSSEY OF THE MIND

    This week's edition of Carnival of the Capitalists is hosted by Travis McMenimon's Odyssey of the Mind. As always, don't forget to check out the Reason Roundup at the Charlotte Capitalist.

    Monday, January 10, 2005

    TWO NEW BOOKS ON AYN RAND

    Here is Tore Boeckmann's review of Robert Mayhew's book, Ayn Rand and Song of Russia: Communism and Anti-Communism in 1940s Hollywood. The book is published by Scarecrow Press, Inc.

    I warmly recommend Robert Mayhew's hot-off-the-presses book Ayn Rand and Song of Russia: Communism and Anti-Communism in 1940s Hollywood. The book's subject is Ayn Rand's 1947 testimony, before the House Un-American Activities Committee, on MGM's 1944 movie Song of Russia.

    Ayn Rand called this movie pro-Soviet propaganda, a deliberate whitewash of the terrible reality of life under communism. Mayhew discusses every point of her testimony in relation to the historical record of the Soviet Union, proving Ayn Rand right in every respect. His book is also an important work of original historical research. Dr. Mayhew interviewed the surviving co-writer of Song of Russia, ex-Communist Richard Collins, and dug deep in the historical archives. The result is a revealing picture of Communist influence in Hollywood--and Washington. One of many fascinating revelations is that the Roosevelt administration's Office of War Information--which claimed the right to "comment" on film scripts--had the Song-of-Russia script vetted by the Soviet Embassy!

    Being a philosopher, Dr. Mayhew goes beyond the presentation of historical facts. He discusses the political and ethical implications of the HUAC investigations for such issues as free speech, blacklists, "naming names," honesty in relation to wartime propaganda, etc. In so doing, he gives us both Ayn Rand's views, drawing in part on previously unpublished material, and his own illuminating analysis.

    In the tour-de-force chapter "Russian Smiles," Dr. Mayhew reveals the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the Communists in Hollywood and of their leftist successors, refuting their smears of Ayn Rand's testimony, which continue to this day. Thus--in addition to being a fresh, first-hand investigation of a still controversial period of American history, and of Ayn Rand's part in it--Robert Mayhew's book is a sorely needed act of justice.

    Thoroughly researched, richly textured with telling detail, clearly written and strongly argued, this new book should be of great interest to all HBL'ers. (HBL mailing list, 01/04/05.)


    Related: My post, HOLLYWOOD.

    Casey Fahy has informed me by an email message that James Valliant's book, The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics, is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

    Sunday, January 9, 2005

    RICE IS GETTING SOFT AGAINST IRAN

    I must admit that I had high hopes for a new and stronger foreign domestic policy with Condoleezza Rice at the helm, but this is not a good sign...

    John Bolton, one of the most powerful hawks in the Bush administration and a robust opponent of Britain's "softly-softly" approach to Iran over its nuclear programme, has lost his job at the State Department. ...

    Mr Bolton believed that Teheran should be isolated by United Nations sanctions and, if it would not back down, confronted with the threat of military action. He was also uncompromising about North Korea, describing life in the Stalinist dictatorship as a "hellish nightmare". Pyongyang responded by calling him "human scum". It was apparently Mr Bolton's abrasive approach as much as his unflinching politics that prompted Dr Rice to choose Robert Zoellick, the US trade representative, as her deputy instead. (Rice drops hardliner who scorned Britain's stance on Iran, Telegraph.co.uk, 01/09/05.)


    Glenn Reynolds wrote yesterday:

    ANOTHER IRANIAN CRACKDOWN ON THE INTERNET: I'm really starting to dislike the mullahs. (InstaPundit.com, 01/08/05.)


    Instead of taking NUTTY ADVICE: "HAVE A DIALOGUE WITH TEHRAN," Rice should listen to Struan Stevenson, European PM. [Via Blog-Iran.]

    Appeasement is not the way to contain or change this evil regime. Nor is it the path to avoid another war. A nuclear-armed fundamentalist regime will not spare the EU, either. Iran's missiles already can reach southern Europe. The mullahs are now rushing to develop a third-generation missile system able to reach Paris, London and Brussels. (Risks of appeasing Iran's mullahs, Washtimes.com, 01/05/05.)

    Saturday, January 8, 2005

    INDEX OF ECONOMIC FREEDOM

    According to The Heritage Foundation / Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom, Hong Kong is still the world's freest economy. Maybe it is the case that Hong Kong is the freest economy, but how do you take into account that the country is now "belonging" to a communist dictatorship? Arthur Chrenkoff is commenting on the index in his post, How free are we?

    How ironic, I replied to my friend, that the top four of the world's freest economies consists of an enclave within the last communist empire, a semi-authoritarian Asian city-state, a bank masquerading as a state one third the size of my home city, and a former Soviet republic. There are other ironies on that list: New Zealand, even after a few years of "Red" Helen Clark's rule is still doing slightly better than Australia, a legacy of the far-reaching reforms in the 1980s; and Chile is ahead of the United States, another achievement that no one will thank General Pinochet for. (chrenkoff.blogspot.com, 01/06/05.)


    Personally, I think that Estonia is really on the road to freedom. I had plans to start a company in Estonia with a childhood friend (who has relatives in Estonia). We were thinking of importing instant noodles from Asia (South Korea and Taiwan), but we quickly saw that Estonia has surpassed the stage of simple fast food to a wide range of different foods to choose from. If you are interested to learn more about Estonia, I recommend you to read about Andres Küng.

    I wonder how it could come that the United States of America is only one place higher than Sweden. It must be something wrong with the "list of 50 independent variables divided into 10 broad factors of economic freedom"...

    Thursday, January 6, 2005

    MANAGEMENT CRAFT AND CAPITALISM

    Go to Management Craft for this week's edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists. The Reason Roundup at the Charlotte Capitalist has plenty of new participants.

    DO YOU BELIEVE IN MOTHER GOOSE?

    Do you believe in Mother Goose? Clarence Darrow said:

    I do not believe in God because I do not believe in Mother Goose. (www.wisdomquotes.com)


    I learned about the above mentioned quote from Harry Binswanger's post, Wishful non-thinking (01/04/05).

    I recommend you to read Gus Van Horn's review of Sam Harris's book, The End of Faith.

    Talking about religious people, yesterday evening I met a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is bit more difficult to spot a Mormon in the street of Sopron, than an Amish man in Troy, Ohio. [Editor's comment: I saw plenty of Amish people during my time in Troy, Ohio. For a funny illustration, scroll down my post, INTERVIEW WITH JOHN COX & ALLEN FORKUM, and read Cox & Forkum's reply to my question, "Amish versus Technology."] The guy held a black book in his hand, but I didn't give him any chance to start quoting from it. I told him to read Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Whittaker Chambers of The National Review did a so-called review of Atlas Shrugged in 1957. Here is an excerpt from Robert Trancinski's post, NRO Revisits an Old Low.

    Yet it is precisely a religious philosophy that Chambers is trying to prop up by knocking down Ayn Rand. His deepest complaint: "Randian Man, like Marxian Man, is made the center of a godless world." Chambers, like today's religious conservatives, presumably preferred a "God-centered" society, which some of NRO's authors are all too glad to enforce at the point of a gun.

    This is a reminder that when it comes to a conflict between religion and the greatest philosophical (and literary) defender of liberty in the past century, the conservatives have chosen--and are continuing to choose--religion. It is reminder that conservative intellectuals like Whittaker Chambers--and those at today's NRO who agree with him--are ultimately the enemies of liberty. (tiadaily.blogspot.com, 01/05/05.)

    COMPASSIONATE ALTRUISM IS NOT THE RIGHT AID TO THE TSUNAMI VICTIMS

    I don't think that David Holcberg's article, U.S. Should Not Help Tsunami Victims, should be included in Arthur Chrenkoff's post, The 12 most stupid tsunami quotes. [Via InstaPundit.] I am happy to see what many of his readers are in agreement with my opinion. Talking about "opinion," I am thinking of getting rid of the link to The OpinionJournal (at the News category), after reading James Taranto's take on Mr. Holcberg's article. He has titled the link: "Idiotarian Tidal Wave." I wonder who really is the "idiotarian"... Maybe I should a link to The Financial / National Post instead? Read Terence Corcoran's article, The aid tsunami. Here is an excerpt.

    If there's an emerging lesson in the aftermath of the tsunami, it is this: Beware of aid efforts that must be trumpeted in press releases and hyped at news conferences. The bulk of world relief to tsunami victims, soaring to hundreds of millions of dollars, had been registered by private agencies collecting donations from individuals who sought no public recognition, issued no media release and made no effort to get their names into the papers. It was only after it became obvious thousands, if not millions, of individuals wanted to help that the world's governments -- in Ottawa and Washington and elsewhere -- suddenly saw an opportunity. Absurdly, Ottawa announced it would "match" the private donations of individual Canadians -- as if Ottawa got the money from some magic fountain behind Parliament Hill rather that from taxes on the same individuals who had already volunteered. (www.Canada.com, 01/04/05.)


    Do you want to own an artwork by Cox & Forkum? Check out their Tsunami-Relief Art Auction. The auction ends on January 7th at noon CST.


    UPDATE 01/08/05:
    Read The Ayn Rand Institute's Clarification of ARI's Position on Government Help to Tsunami Victims. [Hat tip to Allen Forkum.] See also Noumenalself's post, The Ronald McDonald House principle.

    Sunday, January 2, 2005

    FIVE TRENDS ACCORDING TO INC. MAGAZINE

    Anita Campbell has written several posts on 2005 trend predictions. I am interested in starting a discussion thread on John Ritter's article, Five Trends That Will Define 2005, in the Inc. Magazine. [Via Small Business Trends.] I am very interested in working for a "growing company" in the future. As a former purchaser and cost analyst, I had to comment on Anita Campbell's post. I will comment on four of the five trends by linking to some of my posts and other articles that could be of interest. Maybe the discussion will continue on some of the business blogs that Wayne Hurlbert (Blog Business World) is mentioning in his post, Business Blog Awards announced.

    • High prices on raw materials.
    During my 8+ years as a purchaser of raw materials, I had several price negotiations with suppliers. I have seen e.g., nickel and stainless steel prices going "thru the roof." The solution is to find alternative sources for the future and at the same time work in a long-range fashion with your current partners. It was important to point out to the suppliers that the business relationship was based on the "trader principle." For my take on the problems with steel tariffs, read my post, "ASSOCIATED STEEL" VERSUS "REARDEN STEEL"?

    • Logistical problems resulting in long lead times.
    I am a deputy board member for the Western region (i.e., the area around Gothenburg) of the Swedish National Association of Purchasing and Logistics. In the latest issue of the Purchasing & Logistics magazine you could read an interview with Masaaki Imai. I read Mr. Imai's book, Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success, several years ago. You could find a solution to the long lead times in the article, Your move.

    As global logistics advances from dock to boardroom, says Jennifer Monroe, it's becoming a key piece in the corporate strategy game.

    We used to know what we meant by logistics. It was moving goods from one place to another wasn't it? But globalization has changed that. Definitions of global logistics (or global supply chain management-see what I mean?) nowadays are as unique as the businesses using it. The physical movement of goods in a global context may still be at the heart of it, but there's a lot more involved. (www.themanufacturer.com, 12/31/04.)

    • Benefits driving up labor costs.
    Health care isn't the only benefit that companies have to watch out for. Employers will increasingly find themselves reworking benefits packages to cater to what demographers have dubbed the "sandwich" generation -- people who are responsible for both a child and an aging parent. These employees will demand a slew of new benefits such as flextime and child and elder care programs. (www.Inc.com, December 2004 issue.)


    Here is an excerpt from my post, CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS AND PC4MEDIA.

    My answer is that the government should exit the area of health care. I could give you plenty of examples from Sweden on why it is not working with a having a huge public sector and socialized medicine. Sweden would need an ad hoc organization like Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, but I don't hold my breath that this will happen in the near future... (EGO, 07/06/04.)

    • Struggling state economies.
    I hope that states like Florida and California don't think that the "Swedish model" is the secret recipe for balancing the budget. For more on economics, read my post, ECONOMY UP NORTH.

    I will let the venture capitalists out there to deal with the fifth point, The return of early-stage deals. I am interested to learn about different types of investment blogs.

    BOOK OF THE MONTH / YEAR / CENTURY

    I decided to pick Ayn Rand's bestseller, Atlas Shrugged, as the Book of the Month, after reading Pat Cummings's post, My Choice for Best Read of 2004. [Via American Digest.] Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957. You could now order the centennial edition of the book. Chris Davis has started a discussion on the New Ayn Rand Cover Art.

    The novel has made a huge impact on many individuals. Here is an excerpt from The Center for the Book at the Library of Congress:

    Books That Made a Difference in Readers' Lives

    Respondents to the Survey of Lifetime Reading Habits, conducted [fall 1991] for the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress' Center for the Book, cited the following when asked to name a book that had made a difference in their lives:

    1 - The Bible**
    2 - Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
    3 - The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck
    4 - To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    5 - The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
    6 - Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
    7 - How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
    8 - The Book of Mormon
    (www.loc.gov, 01/27/03.)

    Saturday, January 1, 2005

    THE CERTAINTY SITE BY JAMES SEDGWICK

    I received the following e-mail message from McGroarty (12/30/04):

    Hello. You have a link to James Sedgwick's Certainty Site at:

    http://www.egoist.blogspot.com/

    I was sad to hear that James Sedgwick passed away this past year, and with his passing his account at GTE.net was terminated. The old URL - http://home1.gte.net/cpq1szzy - no longer resolves.

    I have never met or spoken to Mr. Sedgwick, and know him only through his mailing list postings and The Certainty Site. However, it is clear to me that his ideas and writing should outlive him, so I've set up a replacement which will remain a mirror of his old site. Nothing has been added or changed from his old site. Please feel free to link to the new location:

    Certainty Site:
    http://www.certaintyplus.com/certain.htm

    Certainty Plus:
    http://www.certaintyplus.com

    Also, if you have or know of anyone with a saved copy of his online book, "Freedom in Mind," I would appreciate knowing. This is the one part of his site I have not been able to recover from Archive.org, Google caches, or browser caches.

    OBJECTIVE BLOGGERS

    Here is a quote by Glenn Reynolds on the topic of objectivity by bloggers versus mainstream journalists.

    Newspapers, etc., claim to be comprehensive and objective, and are not. Bloggers do not claim to be comprehensive or objective, and are not. Who's being hypocritical here, again? (www.InstaPundit.com, 12/31/04.)


    It looks like 2005 will be a good year for explaining the concept of objectivity. Have you read Leonard Peikoff's book, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand? See Chapter 4: Objectivity.

    In the news: