Thursday, October 19, 2006

AROUND THE WEB ON 10-19-06

Cross-posted from Gus Van Horn

No Bulwark against Tyranny, Part I

No sooner do I complain about Al Gore seeing fertile ground for global warming hysteria among evangelical Christians than I learn (via Glenn Reynolds) that the World Council of Churches is in favor of having the United Nations regulate new technology! Blogger Christine cites a report on nanotechnology by the WCC:
Firstly, society must engage in a wide debate about nanotechnology and its multiple economic, health and environmental implications. Secondly, some civil society organizations have called for a moratorium on nanotech research and new commercial products until such time as laboratory protocols and regulatory regimes are in place to protect workers and consumers, and until these materials are shown to be safe. Given the regulatory vacuum and inertia by leading nano nations to act, the call for a moratorium is justified and deserves public debate... [bold added]
Christine correctly notes that this call for "democratic control" at the world level by Christians is very naive, but she is herself very unclear over whether any government control of new technology would be proper and, if so, why it would be or what it would properly entail.

When the defenders of freedom offer only murky objections to the most outrageous proposals, they fail to address the underlying incorrect argument and end up coming down for what amounts to the very same thing, only incrementally. To wit, this blogger ends with the following:
This is not to say that we might not need some kind of international organization someday to deal with, say, nanoweapons. I expect we will. But the ETC proposal is not the way to go. The WCC might want to start looking at this whole topic in a broader way, rather than relying on one external organization so heavily.
No. It isn't that the WCC is looking at only one organization. It is that they seek to trample the freedom of scientists to innovate rather than simply address legal questions -- within the framework of protecting individual rights -- brought up by the new technology. You don't want or need a world authority to do that at all. And as for a world body dealing with nanoweapons, if one of those is desirable at all, a better model than the UN is obviously needed.

No Bulwark against Tyranny, Part II

And if defenders of science from government control are rendered ineffective without proper principles, so are those who would keep the government from robbing the public in the name of promoting science.

Although Martin Fridson makes a number of good points in his TCS Daily article against our government funding a "Manhattan Project" in the name of breaking our "addiction to oil", he never really questions the propriety of the government interfering with the allocation of resources (and time) towards research that our private sector would be better off doing itself. Here is his conclusion:
If something beyond the ordinary profit motive is required to bring forth the means for greater energy independence, the government should follow two principles:
  • Encourage scientific exploration on multiple fronts, rather than put a thumb on the scale for any single technology.
  • Spend the taxpayers' money on outputs, rather than inputs.
On what basis is one to determine that "something beyond the ordinary profit motive" (i.e., government force) is needed for "greater energy independence"? And more importantly, why should this "something" be used at all to take money away from American citizens to do what Fridson suddenly seems not-so-confident that private enterprise can do -- rather than being used to part hostile regimes from oil wealth and secure our supplies of cheap energy?

UN "Oversight" of Art

Cox and Forkum once again hit the nail on the head with this cartoon on some attempted UN oversight of art done at the behest of religious authorities.


And be sure to read Allen Forkum's partial fisking of the Kofi Annan's remarks at the UN's asinine "Unlearning Intolerance" seminar.

Oh yeah. Their upcoming book is nearly out the door!

A Threat against Reliant Stadium?

This article in the Houston Chronicle is the first I've heard of the home stadium of the abysmal Houston Texans specifically appearing in the crosshairs of terrorists. With the Texans Foundering at 1-4, perhaps their management could claim to be doing its best to keep fans safely at home! They need to put a positive spin on something this season.

Wrong Actress, (and now,) Wrong Writer

On October 18, Michelle Malkin said, "I really can't believe this soft-headed starlet is going to play Dagny Taggart. Blecch."

And on that very day, Mike informed us that the people behind the (latest overhyped) effort to make Atlas Shrugged into a movie have switched writers. "[T]hey've changed the writer after ... pimping [James V.] Hart for the last year."

The new writer has Pearl Harbor among his "credits".

My eyepatch joke looks more and more like a prediction every day.

300 Million!

"Or 957 trillion, if you work for Lancet ...", as Tim Blair put it in this very nice photo-blog in commemoration of America's latest milestone.
Since so few US media outlets were inclined to celebrate this non-grim milestone, the job was outsourced to a little Australian blog. Following is a small sample of Americans, from which you may reasonably extrapolate a figure of 300 million.
Thank you, Mr. Blair! (HT: Isaac Schrodinger)

William "Effin'" Buckley Rides (in Plumber Pants) Again!

Diana Hsieh catches a longstanding enemy of Ayn Rand being openly dishonest again. Here's the quote:
It is widely noted that for all that [North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Il] thinks of himself as a leader with a divine afflatus to bring to his people and the world the fruits of Juche (the North Korean variant of Leninism, with a little Ayn Rand mixed in), he is himself a man of total self-indulgence, devoted to porn, Scotch, and Daffy Duck cartoons.
Often, at times like this, I get a kick out of an old fisking I wrote, of a hack job by one of Buckley's -- erm -- underlings, Andrew Stuttaford, to "commemorate" the 100th anniversay of Ayn Rand's birth. His whole brilliant conclusion was basically that Ayn Rand was "strange".
"Of course he does," is all Stuttaford can think to say about the fact that Rand got a lift from Cecil B. DeMille. This isn't a damned cliche! It really happened, and I think it's pretty neat that it did. Stuttaford is then confronted by the fact, obviously unpleasant to him, that a small group of people regularly met with Ayn Rand after she became famous, to discuss philosophy.

Frat boy makes the following scintillating observations: (1) Rand was (twitter) "the sage of selfishness." (2) Those people sure were creepy. Call me crazy, but here's what I find creepy: people who meet regularly "at the feet" of some cleric to take whatever he says on faith, and then practice ritual cannibalism. Oh! But I'm wrong because more people do the latter. [with minor editing]
Enjoy!

A Bleg

Daniel Rigby is curious about Typepad. Drop by and give him the straight dope if you are so inclined.

NOFORN

CONFIDENTIAL-ly, Bubblehead may think he has cornered the market on increased gummint blog traffic through his prostitution of such terms as "top secret" and "for official use only", but he forgot a few key words. I leave further such similar abuse to my more, um, enterprising compadres, but in the meantime, that smacking sound is me at the public trough!

-- CAV