Nomadic thoughts of dubious importance.

Replies or Rebuttals?

E-mail me

Author photo

Two Four

Presence of Mind

Claire Wolfe

Karen De Coster

Colby Cosh

No Treason



Nolo Consentire

The Obscure Store

Fred Lapides

Survival Arts

A Small Victory

The Creative Foot Dragger

Belligerent Bunny


Wendy McElroy

The Technoptimist


James Lileks


The Corner

Arts & Letters Daily

Andrew Sullivan

Midwest Conservative Journal

Sgt Stryker

Saturn in Retrograde

The Light of Reason

Diana Mertz Hsieh

Tal G. in Jerusalem

Little Green Footballs


The Raving Atheist

Best of the Web

Meryl Yourish



Amish Tech Support

Ken Layne


Virginia Postrel

The Truth About Israel

Natalie Solent

Tim Blair

Trojan Horseshoes

USS Clueless


Armed and Dangerous

The Volokh Conspiracy

No Watermelons Allowed

One Hand Clapping


Jane Galt

Right Wing News

Cut on the Bias

Attack Cartoons

<< current

The author is an ex-submariner, questioner of authority, cigar smoking fly-fishing fanatic who wants to live to be 103.

Improved Clinch

Monday, September 30, 2002

Proposition N

San Francisco, and California in general, many times are referenced as leader states in legislation. If San Francisco or the state of California pass a law that is supposedly forward thinking, other states are sure to follow suit in the not to distant future. Unfortunately, many of the laws passed in California are Socialist leaning. Well Proposition N is not that kind of law. Proposition N takes the stand that more is not better. In a nutshell, Proposition N would reduce the amount paid via General Assistance checks from around $395.00 to $59.00 per month. I can hear the left screaming already. But this quote, from San Francisco supervisor Gavin Newsome, sums up rather nicely why Proposition N is a good thing,

"More is not always better," Newsom had told The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board earlier that day. More isn't better when recipients use cash benefits to fuel their own destruction.

Proposition N is definitely a forward thinking proposal that needs to be passed. If you're an Objectivist, Anarchist, Conservative or just sick of paying more taxes, this is a law you can support. If we're lucky, California will be a leader for the rest of the country to enact similar laws, but I wouldn't count on it.

John Venlet - 12:49:00 PM | Permalink

Too True

Todd Werkhoven, writing for Newsweek, has a few things to say about being a conservative and a Christian, but with liberal leanings. Here's a choice quote,

I quickly realized that “celebrate” and “embrace” were code words for “endorse” and “agree.” On my way to lunch, I’d occasionally stop outside the cafeteria to talk to the students who were signing kids up for campus activities. When the activity was something I had ideological differences with, like a pro-choice rally, and I expressed my point of view, the conversation would come to an abrupt end. Once, the angry young woman manning the table said it was people like me who were responsible for the Crusades and the Inquisition.
Another time, at the end of a class discussion in which I expressed my doubts about the value of hate-crime legislation, a classmate compared me to the reprehensible people who killed Mathew Shepard. Never mind that I find it inexcusably evil to harm any human being because of race, gender, religious belief or sexual preference; the mere fact that I disagreed with him made me fair game.

I agree with Todd, that just being labeled a conservative or a "Christian" negates your position in many people's minds. Read his whole piece here, unless you think he's just spouting off, after all, he is a conservative and a Christian.

John Venlet - 10:48:00 AM | Permalink

Friday, September 27, 2002

Samizdata's Slogan of the Day

Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual - Thomas Jefferson

John Venlet - 10:43:00 AM | Permalink

Additional Thoughts on Censorship

Arthur Silber, over at Light of Reason, expands on his thoughts of censorship, its dangers and where free society may or may not be headed.

John Venlet - 10:21:00 AM | Permalink

Laws Are Made for Stupid People

I'm not big on making laws. It seems that many of the laws that are drafted and signed nowadays serve only to save stupid people from themselves or as a deterrent to more rational people, meaning to keep rational people from killing stupid people. And I hate the phrase, "It's a law you can live with," that classic put on your seatbelt rallying cry or we're going to ticket your a$$. Here is the epitmoe of "laws are made for stupid people," a law recently passed in New York that protects peoples' right to wear American flag lapel pins to work or to fly an American flag at their desk. Why should we even need a law for this. Stupid. Thanks to Susanna Cornett for the link.

John Venlet - 9:55:00 AM | Permalink

Cop Out

Pejman has posted a letter from erstwhile Senator Feinstein where she addresses her recent comments about the embarrassment she felt while wearing her American flag lepal pin. As Pejman says "Well there it is. For What It's Worth."

John Venlet - 9:27:00 AM | Permalink

God and Objectivisim Cont

The Raving Atheist has posted Part III, in a continuing series, on the discussion of the consistency of belief in God and practicing the principles of Objectivisim. I have nothing to add to his post but I wonder what Arthur Silber will have to say.

John Venlet - 9:07:00 AM | Permalink

Damn Dog

I love my Aussie but I really don't want a translator for her barks, growls, whines or other various noises that escape from her muzzle, but the Japanese toy company Takara doesn't much care what I want or don't want and has invented a gadget that will do just that. Translate my dogs emotions into words. The article, from Japan Today, heralding this wonderful new contribution to western civilization is here, but Natalie Solent's practical application of the device is much more entertaining.

John Venlet - 8:50:00 AM | Permalink

The Atkins Diet on Booze

The Layne household is on the Atkins diet. Read the results so far as reported by Ken.

John Venlet - 8:36:00 AM | Permalink

Afraid of the Word Religion and Derivatives Thereof

Paul Marshall wonders why the media is afraid to use the word religion or religious when reporting on Muslims killing Christians, or Muslims killing Jews, or Muslims killing Hindus, etc, etc.

John Venlet - 8:23:00 AM | Permalink

Those Upper Darby Firemen

The Wall Street Journal, in its Tony and Tacky feature, under Tacky of course, is advocating the firing of the Upper Darby firemen who were photographed photographing a lithe lass who had attended a Rolling Stones concert in Philly, which I linked to yesterday, complete with photos of the firemen, and the lass too. The short blurb they write up advocating this position states,

PUT OUT THAT FIRE: When a group of Upper Darby, Pa., volunteer fireman got together to go to a Rolling Stones concert Sunday evening, they decided to commandeer one of the station's fire trucks. Not only that, they brought along a woman who put on a fireman's helmet, stripped off her cutoff shorts and bared her thong while posing "suggestively" for the men who, according to the Philadelphia Daily News, took photos. Upper Darby officials are not amused. "From what we know," the city's chief administrative officer told the paper, "it appears that these firefighters were not at this location on official township firefighter business."

This little call for action makes it sound as if the firemen physically "stripped off her cutoff shorts" and "bared her thong." Which, if you read the original article bringing this little dust up to light, linked above, makes no such allusion. I think the Journal would have been better served putting this on Taranto's Best of the Web page under "Much Ado About Nothing."

John Venlet - 7:53:00 AM | Permalink

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Way to Go MGM

All the whining about the new movie Barbershop by such erstwhile figures such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton is all for naught. MGM will not cut scenes that the two mouths of babble find objectionable. Though they were able to wrangle an apology from the producers. This is a victory for anti-PC supporters and freedom of speech.

John Venlet - 4:07:00 PM | Permalink

Censorship Rebuttal

Arthur Silber has penned an powerful rebuttal and literary lesson to Jonah Goldberg's recent Corner post on censorship and TownHall column "A Call for Censorship." Arthur is absolutely correct when he points out that both conservatives and liberals attempt to control us, the conservatives attempt to control our consciousness and the liberals our bodies. I'll simplify it even further. They are both denying us FREE WILL.

John Venlet - 1:15:00 PM | Permalink

Understand Rand

Billy Beck, over at No Treason understands capitalism and Ayn Rand and doesn't beat around the bush when saying so.

"It's all well and good to hear from USA Today that That Woman's book is in resurgence in the wake of this year's corporate scandals. The point cannot be made too soon or too often that capitalism is far, far more than an economic system. One insidious consequence of this rampant myopia is a superficially technical equivocation which leaves open a presumably valid choice for various collectivist political arrangements because, after all: they're only about money, and everyone knows that there is more to life than mere money. (What's curious, however, is how many of those who argue a variation on this theme are also the ones who clamor for greater government control over and dispensations of other peoples' money.) The presumption is false. Capitalism is a moral system, root and branch. And it makes no difference how many dopey commentators say otherwise. A thing is only what it is, and frauds are not capitalists, nor vice-versa.

That said, however, it naturally, to my mind, begs the question of what to do about the culture in which we live.

I suppose it's easy for me to say, because I've not built a billion-dollar business, but I cannot imagine a happier day in my life than I would live if even one of the people referred to in the USA Today article deliberately set fire to their plants, and explained exactly why they did it, before they mounted their Gulfstream and flew off to their own private paradise where leeches couldn't follow.

It's easy to talk the talk but don't expect anyone to walk the walk.

John Venlet - 10:36:00 AM | Permalink

Yeah, This Guy is Sick

Susanna Cornett has a link to the story of a Wall Street broker who is attempting to get out of jail time because he says he was tramatized by the events of September 11. Read Susanna's comments and the story she links and decide for yourself exactly how sick this guy is.

John Venlet - 9:19:00 AM | Permalink

Fire, Fire, Fire

Good ole Philly. It was a great town to be a teenager in during the 70's. Multiple concert venues, close to the Jersey shore and great hoagies. Well it seems that some of the randy firefighters of Upper Darby are causing, as Ken Layne says, the demise of the "media love fest." It appears that certain firemen still enjoy sexy ladies, much to the chagrin of the Upper Darby Fire Chief, as this quote attests,

"That's conduct unbecoming [a firefighter]," said a fuming Upper Darby Fire Chief Edward A. Cubler. "This is going to be a problem in our fire department."

Come on Chief, get a life.

John Venlet - 8:42:00 AM | Permalink

Hitchens Speaking Clearly

Here's the link to Christopher Hitchens' latest piece. It will give you an idea of why Alexander Cockburn, whose quote appears below, is so addled by Hitchens.

Thanks to InstaPundit for the link.

John Venlet - 8:21:00 AM | Permalink

Hitchens Invective

While it seems Katrina vanden Heuvel is sorry to see that Hitchens is leaving The Nation, Alexander Cockburn feels a bit differently, at least that's what this quote, from The Washington Post would suggest,

"I suppose Hitch's departure has been inevitable ever since the Weekly Standard said he was more important than George Orwell," said another once-close friend, Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn, who dubbed Hitchens "Hitch the Snitch" over the Blumenthal episode. "I think it was becoming increasingly bizarre for the Nation to publish his column. But people only very slowly take in these changes, much like Dorian Gray changes slowly in front of you. Hitch is no longer the beautiful slender young man of the Left. Now he's just another middle-aged porker of the Right."

Here's the whole article if you're interested.

Once again link courtesy of Matt Drudge.

John Venlet - 7:48:00 AM | Permalink

Scare Tactics

Don't ask me why the Guardian is publishing this story now, but here's the headline, Gov't Had Missile in Okla. Building. It relates the story of a TOW antitank missle discovered in the rubble after the Oklahoma City bombing. The second paragraph of the article says it all, as far as I'm concerned,

"The missile, about 3 feet long, actually had an inert warhead and only a small amount of rocket fuel, and the government says it did not contribute to the massive explosion that day. Instead, it tumbled into the rubble of the Alfred P. Murrah building."

I guess using the word inert in the headline would have caused people to ignore the article, and, since it was found intact, it didn't contribute to the explosion, though the Guardian for some reason has to relate this fact as "the government says it did not contribute to the massive explosion that day." Maybe they're just selling the sizzle.

Thanks to Drudge for the link.

John Venlet - 7:36:00 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Invective On

Billy Beck has posted an opening salvo into the discussion on the use of invective in writing, which has been discussed by Arthur Silber, Eugene Volokh and Jesse Walker. I'll say it again, you will not misunderstand what Billy Beck is saying.

John Venlet - 9:22:00 PM | Permalink

Invective Writing - Good for a Few Laughs

Jesse Walker has a few things to say on Eugene Volokh's argument on the futility of invective commentary which is related to my post below on Effective Argumentation. Thanks to Eugene for pointing this out.

John Venlet - 10:52:00 AM | Permalink

Looking for the Links

David Schipper, interviewed by Steve Rhodes of Chicago Magazie, believes there are links between the Oklahoma City bombing, Hamas, Iraqis and al Qaeda. Our intelligence agencies adamantly deny this, but is there a thread that should be followed? The interview, which can be read here does not provide the key to solve this possible puzzle, but does provide reasons why this thread should be picked up and followed. If it unravels, our intelligence community is correct. If it holds, we've been bamboozled by governmental denials once again. The interview, while lengthy, is a very interesting read. Thanks to Rand Simberg for the link.

John Venlet - 10:43:00 AM | Permalink

Effective Argumentation

Arthur Silber has posted two excellent pieces on effective argumentation, here and here. Here's a pertinent quote from Arthur,

I love passionate disagreement, and it's unavoidable in any case when people are discussing fundamental, important issues. But I think we all profit most when discussions are focused on the merits of our respective ideas, and not on the people who espouse those ideas. Besides, I don't care if a valuable idea comes from a five-year-old or from someone I might even personally despise: if the idea is right, that's all I care about in the deepest sense.

Arthur and I may have fundamental differences of opinion, I believe in God, Arthur is an Atheist, for starters, but these differences are mere specks that, in my opinion, only add to the vibrancy of what is being discussed.

John Venlet - 9:05:00 AM | Permalink

It's Obvious Who Is Oblivious

Over at Sand in the Gears Tony Woodlief is decrying oblivious menaces. You know, the type of people who drive 62 mph in the passing lane on a 70 mph freeway and have no clue that they are creating either huge traffic jams or death and mayhem as cars rapidly decelerate. Thanks to Susanna Cornett for the link.

John Venlet - 8:49:00 AM | Permalink

Reviewing Defense and Offense

Elaine Scarry reviews military defense and citizen offense as it relates to the events of September 11. While I do not necessarily agree with her conclusion, the facts she lays out in the heart of the essay ring very true indeed. Read her essay and ask yourself why the citizens of the United States were better able to evaluate the data of what happened on September 11 and act and compare it to our military preparedness. Thanks to Eric Raymond for the link.

John Venlet - 8:02:00 AM | Permalink

Analyzing War Talk

James Lileks looks at the current war versus non-war talk.

John Venlet - 7:45:00 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Atlas Shrugged

USA Today is writing up Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged as a remedial tool for business. If only business owners, heck everyone, could follow the tenets that Rand sets forth in this important book. It seems as if our recent spate of unethical business practices has caused a resurgence in interest in Ayn Rand's work. Let's hope it's not just a passing interest but an actual embracing of how business should be done.

Thanks to Arthur Silber for the link. He also has a few comments on this himself.

John Venlet - 3:44:00 PM | Permalink


Now that I've posted on naming conventions, twice, I click over to Eugene Volokh and find this post. Eugene apologizes if he sounds "schoolmarmish," but he gets it right in regards to verbal attacks on people we disagree with. Here's his ending question,

Let me conclude with one question: When you see ideological opponents stoop to a barrage of personal insults, do you think that they've scored a political point? Or do you smile and think "Go ahead, buddy, dig your own argument's grave -- no-one will take you seriously now"? And if it's the latter, why give the other side the satisfaction of saying the same about you?

Read the whole post, it's worth your time.

John Venlet - 1:03:00 PM | Permalink

Naming Conventions Update

Tim Blair offers a few suggestions in response to Christopher Johnson's call to action below.

John Venlet - 12:54:00 PM | Permalink

Black, White and Shades of Gray

Excellent post over at Jane Galt exploring ethics in America and the rest of the world. Here's a highpoint,

Really, a remarkable number of people don't cheat on their taxes, steal when they can, fiddle their expense reports, divide themselves into ethnic interest groups, or violate, in a hundred different ways, the trust our society places in them, which in other countries is available only to family members. It's an idea that's unique, I think, to Western Europe, and I think that the Puritannical values, for which we're everywhere derided, are it's purest form. And I think that that is what makes America so successful. This is what Ralph Peters meant when he said that the clan or extended family as the basic social/political unit is the kiss of death to becoming an economic superstar. A clear set of values, and the notion that those values apply to everyone, is a key part of the "Operating System" on which capitalism has to be installed.

Read it all.

John Venlet - 12:42:00 PM | Permalink

Searching for a Party

Stephen Green is searching for a party. Not the vodka swilling, tables laden with food kind of party, well probably that kind of party too, but he's actually looking for a return of the Federalist party.

Arthur Silber offers another suggestion that has a nice ominous sound to it. "radicals for capitalism." I'm in.

John Venlet - 8:40:00 AM | Permalink

Alfred E. Newman Was Right

New Israeli research seems to support Mr. Newman's mantra of "What - Me Worry?" Here's a key quote from a participating researcher,

"The findings of this study suggest that a repressive coping style may promote adjustment to traumatic stress, both in the short and longer term," Karni Ginzburg of the Bob Shapell School of Social Work at Tel Aviv University in Israel, who led the study, said in a statement.

Nothing in the study indicates adopting this mantra results in uncontrolled ear growth.

John Venlet - 8:26:00 AM | Permalink

Moxie is Wondering

Moxie slept late yesterday, must have been tiring attending the post Emmy parties, and is wondering about morning versus night people, vegatarians, non-smokers, tee-totalers, people who don't gamble and gold fish bowls. Read all about it here.

John Venlet - 8:13:00 AM | Permalink

What They Said

Natalie Solent dissects the comments of various "politicians, historians, activists and commentators" who are looking for some publicity after the "Countrywide March." She's allowing you to research what soft porn stars think of the march.

John Venlet - 7:55:00 AM | Permalink

Naming Conventions

Christopher Johnson, over at Midwest Conservative Journal, is expressing concern for the Germans, since they seem to have taken the place of the French in the "Least Respected European Country" department. He's offering up a few name suggestions since we can't call the Germans "cheese-eating surrender monkeys."

John Venlet - 7:46:00 AM | Permalink

Monday, September 23, 2002

Stephen Green Nominated for Prominent Position

The Raving Atheist has positioned the blogosphere's favorite Vodka guy for high esteem.

John Venlet - 8:32:00 AM | Permalink

Words from an Ex-Muslim

Joel Orr, who blogs away over at The Truth About Israel, has a few words from Anis Shorrosh, a Palestinian Arab, who converted to Christianity, tackling the issue of "American Muslim: An Oxymoron."

John Venlet - 8:21:00 AM | Permalink

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Almost Too Good To Be True

This story DOES make you want to cheer. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link.

John Venlet - 8:00:00 PM | Permalink

Why Do We Need Proof?

The Raving Atheist, drawn into the discussion about God and Objectivism by Arthur Silber, has posted a interesting response where he references not only Fermat's Last Theorom, but Diana Hsieh's Why Be An Atheist?, and Alvin Plantinga's "Concise introduction to the Modal Ontological Argument for the Existence of God." Plantinga's and Fermat's contributions are somewhat over my head but Hsieh's essay is easily understood and soundly argued (Raving Atheist has the links). There were two points Raving mentioned that I wanted to comment on.

First, while addressing this from an epistemology angle, Raving asks "Is belief in God consistent with reason? Raving then answers the question in a somewhat contradictory manner. At one point stating "It is no more reasonable to believe in those gods that (than) it is to believe that 1 + 1 = 3, or that square circles exist." Further into the post Raving then states "Now, of course, all this means is that reason doesn't exclude certain kinds of Gods." Which seems, at least to me, that Raving is allowing for the possibility of reason to establish God exists. Even though I believe in God, it is through faith, not reason, that I believe in God's existence. I don't believe logical reasoning allows for belief in God or any other gods period.

Secondly, Raving, towards the end of his post, states "So back to God. I think there are some proofs of God, for example, the ontological proof as developed by Alvin Plantinga, which are just simply too complex (or poorly written, perhaps) for most of us to have any opinion about." This comment just surprised me since Raving seems to be an atheist so this comment doesn't seem to jibe with his blog's name or position.

So back to my original question. Why do we need proof? Do we want proof God exists to prove one side or the other incorrect or simply because it's an age old question? Do we want proof God doesn't exist so we can silence the various religions espousing God? I'm not sure. Faith, the "firm belief in something for which there is no proof" does not require proof of God's existence and I accept my faith that God exists as not needing proof. This doesn't mean I wouldn't accept proof of God's existence or of his non-existence, it just means I have faith and do not require proof. Even if it means I'm living in a "deuces wild" universe.

John Venlet - 4:19:00 PM | Permalink

Prospective Juror Sentenced to Community Service for Telling the Truth

Here's a local story I've been following that relates the tale of a prospective juror who, when questioned if she could fairly consider police testimony in a trial, said no because of a recent incident she was witness to where the police would not file a report against a broom wielding assailant at a local laundromat. When she was called a second time, asked the same question, about her impartiality towards police testimony, and once again said she could not fairly consider police testimony, the judge sentenced her to 24 hours of community service. How is this fair?

As the story continued to develop, the judge involved, David Buter, the chief judge of Grand Rapids District Court, was warned by the State Supreme Court's regional administrator to cease and desist from this practice. So she, the prospective juror, has been excused from community service while Buter has told the regional administrator that he presented the option to the prospective juror as a "voluntary alternative," to serving as a juror, in order to cover his ass. You can read the continuation of this story here. I wonder what Glenn Reynolds or Eugene Volokh would have to say about this?

John Venlet - 1:43:00 PM | Permalink

Right of Free Speech versus Right to Be Heard

Arthur Silber posts an excellent analysis, on the above mentioned, in regards to Ann Coulter. Here's a salient quote,

"The right of free speech means that a man has the right to express his ideas without danger of suppression, interference or punitive action by the government. It does not mean that others must provide him with a lecture hall, a radio station or a printing press through which to express his ideas."

Correction: The above quote is from Ayn Rand not Arthur. Thanks for pointing that out Arthur.

John Venlet - 12:14:00 PM | Permalink

Those Darn Nigerians or Something for Nothing

Tim Blair and Meryl Yourish sit up and take notice. Your Nigerian friends have already found a clueless Michigander to assist them with the funds transfer they so urgently need. Unfortunately there were a few glitches in the transfer.

Thanks to No Treason for the link.

John Venlet - 10:09:00 AM | Permalink

More on The Three Stooges

Charles Johnson provides an explanation for how the three stooges ended up training in an al Qaeda camp. As Charles says, "It could happen to anyone."

John Venlet - 10:00:00 AM | Permalink

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Objectivsm and God Con't

While I know Objectivism does not support a belief in God, even if it is based on faith, as Arthur Silber has written, a person who does have faith in God, could practice the central tenets of Objectivism, although there could be other issues that need to be consider. As Arthur said, "It depends." One of the more critical aspects of this debate would then be altrusim, "the unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others." Altrusim has no place in Objectivist theory, but for many believers in God altruism would be something to aspire to, an emulation of Jesus Christ and therefore something that should be strived for.

When I initially read Rand this was something that stuck in my craw. I couldn't quite digest what she said with what, at that point, I believed a person who believed, or had faith, in God should practice. They seemed like oil and water. But I do not believe that altruism is the highest and greatest manifestation of belief in God. I agree with Emerson when he writes, "There is a class of persons to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought and sold; for them I will go to prison, if need be; but your miscellaneous popular charities; the education at college of fools; the building of meeting-houses to the vain end to which many now stand; alms to sots; and the thousandfold Relief Societies;--though I confess with shame I sometimes succumb and give the dollar; it is a wicked dollar which by and by I shall have the manhood to withhold." Reason tells me that what Emerson says here is correct but this does not address the issue that would then arise when I say I practice Objectivist goals while choosing at times to do an altruistic deed of my own choosing. Is there too much contradiction between the two? In my opinion this contradiction would only be true if one desires to call themselves only an Objectivist.

When I read Emerson's essay "Self Reliance," from which the above quote was taken, I was struck by how what he had written seemed, at least to me, so similar to what Rand and Objectivism put forth. I do not know how Rand felt about this essay by Emerson but I find that both what Rand says and what Emerson says can compliment each other. Not allowing for this, it seems, would be tunnel vision. In fact, if a person only wants to label themselves as one thing or another, they are trapping themselves in a corner. If you cannot allow competing theories to be entertained, you are limiting your potential for increased knowledge, whether it be knowledge gained through reason or by faith.

I myself do not want to be piegonholed into one camp or the other. I have faith in God but because I have been blessed with both free will and reason and I can practice both the ideals of my faith and the ideals of Objectivism as I see fit.

John Venlet - 5:22:00 PM | Permalink

Arafat's "Gun"

Meryl Yourish has been channeling her inner bitch, her words not mine, and she has this to say about a recent story on Arafat and his cronies being trapped in Arafat's quickly shrinking fiefdom. Caution, reading this may cause convulsive laughter.

John Venlet - 8:40:00 AM | Permalink

Friday, September 20, 2002

A Reservist Speaks of Devotion to Duty and Devotion to Family

Read this letter from a reservist from Michelle Malkin's column at I have nothing to add.

John Venlet - 2:18:00 PM | Permalink

Understanding Egypt

If you have twenty minutes or so read P.J. O'Rourke's hilarious attempt to unravel the mystery of Egypt. Thanks to Arts & Letters Daily for the link.

John Venlet - 1:06:00 PM | Permalink

State Department Screws Us Again

Our State Department seems at odds with public opinion and even the White House at times. Martin Kramer expands on this thought at his blog, specifically in relation to the State Department's website called "Muslim Life in America." In his post he quotes Robert Satloff, of The Washington Institute of Near East Policy. Here's the quote,

In its goodhearted but profoundly counterproductive effort to project American tolerance abroad, this website projects the image that virtually all American Muslim women (and the large majority of American Muslim girls) are veiled, hardly a message of support to the Afghan women now free to choose whether to wear the burqa; to Iranian women fighting to throw off the chador; or to Turkish women, whose contribution to building a democracy in an overwhelmingly Muslim state should be celebrated.

Counterproductive is kind of a weak word to use here. How about saying what this portrayal really is, it is just effing stupid. If you want to portray American Muslims to our "friends" in the Middle East, let's show them integrating into our society as successful business owners, students, families, you know as Americans.

Thanks to Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner for the link.

John Venlet - 10:53:00 AM | Permalink

Religion and Reason

J Bowen, over at No Watermelons Allowed provides a few interesting comments on "Anti Religious Nuts" and provides a link to a Claudia Winkler article on two professors who say that religion is evil, not any one in particular, but all of them. Here's a great quote from Bowen,

Inevitably these people talk about reason, as if this were somehow incompatible with religion. It would help if they could do a better job of reasoning themselves. Then they'd realize that reason cannot justify itself, without the use of circular reasoning.

John Venlet - 8:34:00 AM | Permalink

Dream, Dream, Dream

Meryl Yourish shares her REM induced fears and all I can think of is The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. I've never really experienced nightmares so I can't comment on Meryl's prediliction for having them, I can only wish her a pleasant night's sleep.

John Venlet - 8:29:00 AM | Permalink

Don't Go the Imperialism Route

John Hawkins, who blogs "Right Wing News" responds to Eric Raymond's post, advocating imperialism, which I linked below and which John provides a link to also. John argues, admirably, against imposing western values with a gun, but does not shy from our responsibility to defend our lives.

John Venlet - 8:12:00 AM | Permalink

Total Idiots

Here's a couple of idiots attacking Kansas City coach Tom Gamboa. Why didn't the Royals take their bats to them?

Thanks to Drudge for the link.

John Venlet - 7:35:00 AM | Permalink

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Straight Talk

Read what Brian Micklethwait has to say over at Samizdata. And don't kid yourself about whether or not he's talking straight.

Update: Dale Amon, also from Samizdata, adds a few thoughts of this own.

John Venlet - 9:20:00 PM | Permalink


Take a look at this photo and caption. It's powerful propaganda. A picture truly is worth a thousand words. This is the first photo I've seen of one our Islamic friends showing us how he feels right here in the U.S.A. It is his right. We've all seen how they feel in the Mid East, this will bring it home to alot of people.

Thanks to Matt Drudge for the link.

John Venlet - 8:48:00 PM | Permalink

Germans = French

Maybe the Germans and the French aren't that far apart, looking at this statement from Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, Schroeder's Justice Minister, commenting on Bush.

Update: Here's John Hawkins' comments on this.

John Venlet - 2:50:00 PM | Permalink

Beginnings of a Coffee Table Photo Album

Mike Silverman has a great start on a Saddam photo album for your coffee table. Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

John Venlet - 8:13:00 AM | Permalink


Eric Raymond, commenting on a Steven DenBeste essay, argues the case for imperialism and he may not be far off the mark. Here's a little quote to draw you in,

Still. Reality is what it is. If there's no way short of straight-up imperialism and nation-building all over the Islamic world to prevent a holocaust on American or European soil that would make 9/11 look like a garden party, then that's what we're going to have to do -- civilize the barbarians at the point of a gun.

John Venlet - 8:02:00 AM | Permalink

A Typical Inspection Scenario

James Lileks provides commentary on a typical Iragi WMD inspection under the auspices, of course, of the U.N. And Gnat has hives.

John Venlet - 7:45:00 AM | Permalink

Another Rand Contributor

Arthur Silber has been pointed to another blog (scroll down to his "Hooray" post), No Treason, where one Billy Beck has a few comments about Rand, among other things. Beck is a rational anarchist and I don't think you'll misunderstand what he's saying.

John Venlet - 7:37:00 AM | Permalink

Here We Go Again

So the Palestinians are back at it. This is the second murdercide in as many days. It seems as if certain Palestinians can't learn the lesson of the futility of this type of action. Or is this tied to the current uptick in international support for our moving against Iraq?

Update: Unfortunately my "Here We Go Again" title should have been "Palestinian Terror Attacks Aim at Greater Publicity." Meryl Yourish has the scoop.

Update: Here's Tal G in Jerusalem's comments on this.

John Venlet - 7:30:00 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Pot Smoker - Who Cares

Rod Dreher gets it about right in regards to whether we should care if someone smoked pot in the past. I'd add to that if someone currently smokes pot. What I want to know is what he means when he says he doesn't care "within reason."

John Venlet - 2:31:00 PM | Permalink

More Rand

Pejman Yousefzadeh reviews Ayn Rand's book "The Fountainhead" and has an objection to Objectivism that I posted on below (see "Do Objectivisim and Belief in God Mix?"). He also provides a link to Pascal's Wager which I haven't yet had time to digest. Arthur Silber at Light of Reason will be commenting on the objection mentioned by Pejman sometime later today. I hope.

Thanks to Samizdata for the link and comments.

John Venlet - 10:45:00 AM | Permalink

Paid to Lay

So Clinton, Lewinsky and Vernon Jordan all want money, which shouldn't surprise anyone, from the Justice Department, meaning OUR money. It isn't much, in the great scheme of things I guess, a paltry 7.8 million dollars, for the Clintons to payoff Lewinsky and Jordan but still, why does it have to be OUR money? Read this New York Post article and decide for yourself if you want your money going to any of these parties, let alone the Clintons.

John Venlet - 9:51:00 AM | Permalink


Yesterday was Citizenship Day, at least according to my flyfishing calendar. Donald Sensing, who blogs One Hand Clapping, seems to have noticed and has posted a few thoughts on the subject. Here's one,

I have no idea how many soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines are serving today who are not citizens of this nation. Most of us are born to the title, "American," and frankly, I think we wear it cheaply most of the time. But remember that tonight we will rest easy because a grown man or woman who cannot even vote for a county commissioner is patrolling the sea or skies or a hostile border, protecting us. Citizenship is for them a dream, a reward that they will earn. But for us here, it was just a gift.

John Venlet - 9:04:00 AM | Permalink

Discussing Art II

Take a look at this statue and accompanying article from The New York Post. It's supposed to represent a jumper from the WTC at the initial moment of impact, and be sure to notice where it is being displayed. Unbelieveable. I have nothing more to say. Thanks to Jane Galt for the link.

Update: Glenn Reynolds offers up another take that bears considering.

John Venlet - 8:51:00 AM | Permalink

The Interpretor

John Hawkins over at Right Wing News is interpreting pro-war and anti-war stances.

John Venlet - 8:38:00 AM | Permalink

No Habla Espanol

Here's an interesting article by Lawrence Henry from The American Prowler. Lawrence has a bet with a student, Raul, who he came to know when he hired him to babysit his kids. The $100.00 bet is that Lawrence will learn Spanish and speak it unaccented faster than Raul will learn unaccented English. But this bet is really an aside to the main argument that Mr. Henry is putting forth, which is,

The more of us learn and speak Spanish, I argued, the more of them will learn English faster and adapt quicker to American ways and English-speaking culture.

An argument I tend to believe would run true. I'm in favor of English being the language we speak here in the U.S. and I also believe that if English was required to be learned by immigrants coming to our country, their assimilation would be that much quicker, as Mr. Henry also argues. This article brought to mind a little incident that recently occurred where I rued the fact that I didn't know Spanish. There's a small mom and pop Mexican restaurant, or more accurately cinder block food stand, here in Grand Rapids called El Gigante Burrito. It's a family run operation with the best Mexican food I've eaten in some time. Anyway, when I stopped by El Gigante recently to order some tacos, the mother was working behind the counter and she didn't speak or understand English very well. I was able to communicate to her that I wanted 4 tacos and some beans but when it came time to pay she was somewhat embarrassed because we had a small communication problem. Fortunately, her daughter came to the business and was able to translate for both of us and the transaction was completed. As I turned to leave, the mother and daughter were speaking in rapid Spanish, and as I opened the door to step outside, the daughter called out to me and said, "My mother apologizes for not understanding you." I couldn't believe it. I wished I understood Spanish, but the mother was apologizing to me for not understanding or speaking English. I asked the daughter to tell her mother that no apology was required, which she did, and thanked them both for their hospitality. But if I had known Spanish, I could have made the mother feel that much more comfortable here in the U.S., there would have been no embarrassment on her part, and possibly, as Mr. Henry argues, provided some type of incentive to the mother to desire to learn English.

John Venlet - 7:59:00 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Do Objectivisim and Belief in God Mix?

Arthur Silber noticed a post where I replied to Jane Galt about a hypothetical situation that would definitely challenge Objectivist thought. The first words I wrote in reply to Jane mentioned that I wasn't a "practicing Objectivist." Arthur picked right up on this and emailed me wondering what my reservations were about Rand and Objectivism, and, if we could blog on this topic. Because the subject interests me I agreed.

Here's my initial reply to Arthur's email about my reservations.

The only reservation I ever had in regards to Objectivisim was associated with this statement;

"Man - every man - is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his own rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life."

Specifically, because I believe in God, I troubled, or had reservations, with these seven words in the above quote, "the highest moral purpose of his life." This reservation struck me immediately when I was reading Rand for the first time at the age of 16. It didn't jive with my religious upbringing of giving to others, but what I read struck a chord deep within me because what I was reading made so much logical sense. At least to me. Now I do not trouble over those words because I no longer confuse "moral purpose" with belief in God. They are distinctly separate. Be that as it may, how can I call myself an Objectivist when Objectivism rejects any belief in God, the supernatural or mysticism? Can a person who believes in God embrace the Objectivist message and practice it or would he be an apostate? Would a strict Objectivist deny that a person who believes in God can in any way be objectivist? These are questions I am interested in pursuing, no matter where it may take us.

I personally believe that people can be both believers in God and objectivist in practice. I know, I know, I'm contradicting myself but as Emerson said "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day."

John Venlet - 6:40:00 PM | Permalink

Discussing Art

I am not that familiar with art and/or artists, much to my chagrin, but Arthur Silber's blog Light of Reason is changing all that. Read this post by Arthur and follow the links to Michael Newberry's articles. You'll come away with a much better understanding of what art is or isn't. At least I did, thanks to Arthur and Michael.

John Venlet - 4:16:00 PM | Permalink

Damn - I've Got Problems

Based on the following quote, from New York Times columnist Keith Bradsher's new book "High and Mighty: SUVs, the World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way," I've got issues. Here's the quote directed at SUV owners/drivers,

"They tend to be people who are insecure and vain. They are frequently nervous about their marriages and uncomfortable about parenthood. They often lack confidence in their driving skills. Above all, they are apt to be self-centered and self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbors or communities."

I didn't realize I was in such horrid shape. I currently own two SUV's and I'm looking for a third. One, a 1982 Jeep, affectionately named Woodrow, with 145,000 miles on it, is my fishing vehicle. Number two is a 1994 Suburban, with 192,000 miles on it, in which I cart around my family, which consists of my wife, 3 teenagers, a dog and various sport's gear. The third will hopefully be another Jeep, but not as aged as Woodrow.

I hope you can all forgive my insecurity and vanity. Maybe I should get a PayPal button and solicit donations for intensive sensitivity training, marriage counseling, good parenting training, remedial driving lessons and asked to be sentenced to some type of community service as penance for my sins. Nah.

Read Tom Walsh's article about this newly minted book here. I'm going into hiding in case Gary Trudeau decides to come after me.

Thanks to the Drudge Report for the link.

Update: Here's a more nuanced review/commentary on "High and Mighty" by Dave Shiflett.

John Venlet - 3:26:00 PM | Permalink

Picture This

Samizdata offers a painted picture lesson for those who have a difficult time understanding the written word. Their post is courtesy of the Blue Skies of Freedom blog.

John Venlet - 12:51:00 PM | Permalink

Dig Deeper

Meryl Yourish is advocating expanding your blog universe and the blog dictionary.

John Venlet - 12:46:00 PM | Permalink

Casual Sex

Newsweek has published an article entitled "Dangerous Liaisons." The article discusses the phenomenon among young Japanese for "sekusutomo - literally "sex friends," as if this is something totally new under the sun. Well maybe it is for the Japanese but we always said these people were FTF - friends that f*#k.

John Venlet - 12:36:00 PM | Permalink

A Treatise on Niggardly

Many people I know, including myself, hate the PC movement. The "you hurt my feelings" crowd tend to grate on my nerves and I wonder if their mommies ever shared with them the old adage "Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me." I distinctly remember my mum sharing this little bit of wisdom with me when I was a kid when some other perceived bully, at least on my part, called me names. John Derbyshire has written an article on a recent incident where a teacher used the word niggardly and was reprimanded and sent to sensitivity training. What I don't understand is why this teacher needs to suffer PC training because of someone else's ignorance. Do you?

John Venlet - 11:05:00 AM | Permalink

Philosophy and Aesthetics

Norah Vincent has jumped back into the Rand discussion. She's posted a "few words," well actually 918, all worth reading.

John Venlet - 8:25:00 AM | Permalink

Swarming Over Blog Law

Arthur Silber, blogging away over at Light of Reason, responds to Stephen Green's question about blogger unity in the face of large, corporate lawyers.

John Venlet - 8:12:00 AM | Permalink

Those Wacky African Millions

Ken Layne responds to an email plea for banking assistance. Here's a sampling of his reply,

So the question is how to slide this cash over to the new joint, right? I mean, we need to move this mother, quicktime, okay?

The informations you request will be sent by a man named "Small Joe." He is a Belgium, very tall, blonde speckled hair plus a small hunchback. You will meet him at Hotel Intercontinental, by the whores. He will drink "Johnny Walker" plus he eats snacks, again and again.

Read the whole thing and compose your own reply, Ken even has the email address to send it to.

John Venlet - 7:59:00 AM | Permalink

Monday, September 16, 2002

Testing 1, 2, 3

The After Grog Blog was just launched in Australia so it doesn't have many posts, as of yet. But here's the words from his second post, they made me laugh out loud.

Well, that seemed to work. Top hole!

Looks like I've entered the Blogosphere. Hope there are no rips in my suit.

Hmmm, guess that’s it. Think I'll just take a look around.

Thanks to Tim Blair for the link and good luck to After Grog Blog.

John Venlet - 3:58:00 PM | Permalink

From Gangsta to Pimp

Here's a few comments posted at The Corner by Jim Robbins on Snoop Dogg's epiphany.

John Venlet - 1:38:00 PM | Permalink

Blog Libel

Stephen Green has picked up on the blog libel law debate that's been going on between Norah Vincent, here, and here, Jane Galt, here, and Walter Olsen, here, and offers up an end run suggestion for us cash strapped bloggers. Here's a pertinent snippet of Steve's thoughts,

We don’t have money. We don’t have lawyers on retainer. And in many cases, and for depressingly ideological reasons, we won’t have the ACLU.

But we do have numbers, and we are able to garner big media attention from time to time.

Is some blogger is getting legal notices to Shut Up Already? Is his Tiny Media ass getting hauled into a very scary court against some very pricey lawyers in very Italian suits?

Then re-post whatever it is he’s saying. Spread the word. Get others to shout it from their rooftops, too, even if they’re only on the ground floor.

We have numbers, we have the ability to get the attention. There are hundreds of good political blogs garnering thousands of readers every day. And each of them probably has the email address of their local newspaper editor. Speak, act, speak louder.

Lawyers can easily swat down a gnat or two – but what about a swarm of killer bees? With enough publicity, the ACLU might even be forced to do the right thing -- or the powerful person or company might just be shamed into dropping the suit.

Am I being an idiot and missing something here? What are your thoughts?

This issue isn't going to go away.

I tend to think this swarming approach would work, in the way Steve suggests, but only because the logic he offers up seems like common sense. Eugene Volokh is discussing blog law also so you may want to check what his thoughts are.

For a more Objectivist angle on this issue, Don't miss Arthur Silber's comments either. What do Jane, Norah, Eugene, Walter and Arthur think of Steve's suggestion?

Update: Rod Dreher has penned an opinion on the libel issue. Thanks to InstaPundit for the heads up.

John Venlet - 1:06:00 PM | Permalink

Is Bush Failing Us

Mark Helprin, writing in The Wall Street Journal, thinks Bush is failing us as a leader since September 11.

John Venlet - 7:49:00 AM | Permalink

Left Nostalgia

Eric Raymond, blogging away over at Armed and Dangerous, has a few things to say about the discordant left. Here's a sample,

But there was one important difference. The anti-Vietnam-war Left may have been deluded and prone to masturbating in front of Che Guevara posters...but if you sifted through enough of their ranting you could detect the outlines of a principled case, or several principled cases. There was one argument on which they persuaded me; though I was not of draftable age, I found I agreed with them that the military draft was an intolerable form of slavery years before I encountered Robert Heinlein's pithy objurgation that "A nation that cannot find enough volunteers to defend itself will not survive — and does not deserve to."

Read the whole post here.

John Venlet - 7:41:00 AM | Permalink

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Blogs - Powerful or Pests?

Orrin Judd post an interesting take on blogging after reading a recent Jonah Goldberg article that somewhat poo poos blogging in American Enterprise. Thanks to InstaPundit for the link.

John Venlet - 5:02:00 PM | Permalink


Natalie Solent is asking "What would Mandela and Fisk do?"

John Venlet - 2:22:00 PM | Permalink

Place Your Bets

Charles Johnson has been keeping an eye on Clear Guidance and other Islamic discussion sites on the net. Start your betting pool now for when you'll be accepting Islam as your faith.

John Venlet - 2:06:00 PM | Permalink

Litany of Errors

Instapundit provides a link and synopsis of the litany of reporting errors in regards to the Florida terrorism debacle.

John Venlet - 2:00:00 PM | Permalink

Preemptive Killing of Bio-Terrorists

As a patriotic American I want to do my part for the war on terrorism, as do many other Americans, and I've finally found exactly where I can contribute most effectively, while at the same time satisfying my blood lust for revenge, which is so decried by the liberal establishment. I'm ambushing and killing bio-terrorists. I already have 8 confirmed kills. My motivation for these actions is Senator Patrick Leahy. Sen. Leahy just recently stated;

"I think we have to ask ourselves: Is it coincidence that we're seeing such an increase in West Nile virus or is that something that's being tested as a biological weapon against us?" said Leahy, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

This statement was motivation enough for me to take action. If my government cannot protect me from bio-terrorism, I will. I quickly drew up a battle plan, donned my darkest clothing for night maneuvers, and implemented Operation Smack. One of my first actions was to pour a large vodka over ice. After the flawless execution of this maneuver, I decamped to the back porch with Melissa, lit a Fuente Cubanito and waited for dusk. As dusk fell, I commenced Operation Smack and it didn't take long for me to locate and terminate my first bio-terrorist. It was a bloody affair. At approximately 2015 hours, Melissa, who had assumed the role of intelligence officer, filed a report of suspicious activity. After reviewing her data, I set an ambush and at 2020 hours I struck my first blow for freedom. I killed a mosquito. Blood poured from the body in a horrific manner while Melissa recoiled in shock at the horrors of war. Though the bio-terrorist seemed to have struck first, as evidenced by my wound swelling to a lentil sized mosquito bite, I considered this a minor thing and the sacrifice for my country to be for the greater good of the American people.

This first kill, though horrific, seemed to inflame my bloodlust and as I sipped my vodka on the field of battle, glorifying over the body of my enemy, I impatiently scanned the twilight skies for additional opportunities to satisfy my thirst for action. In the next 30 minutes I was able to identify and slaughter another 7 bio-terrorists. As their bodies piled up around me, the adrenaline of battle seemed to cause the fog of war to totally envelop me and I indiscrimately killed 2 innocent moths and a slug that had been eating Melissa's flowers. Although this could have been the effects of the vodka rather than the bloodlust effects of battle.

At 2130 hours, the bio-terrorists seemed to withdraw from the field of battle. It appears that the viciousness of Operation Smack had demoralized and scattered them. Their evil plan had been compromised. I gathered the terrorists' bodies together, confirmed my kill count, and burned their bodies, not even bothering to notify the authorities or their next of kin. After completing these activities, I also withdrew from the field of battle and attended to my wound with a dab of Neosporin. I then filed my battle report with Melissa and retired to the command bunker where I fluffed up my pillow and slept the sleep of the just and patriotic.

John Venlet - 9:31:00 AM | Permalink

Samizdata Slogan of the Day

It's quick so click.

John Venlet - 9:06:00 AM | Permalink

The Three Stooges of Terrorism

One of the big stories this weekend, it actually began on Friday, was the closing of Alligator Alley down in the Florida Keys because of a phoned in tip. A Shoney's patron had overhead three men who seemed to be discussing a possible terrorist action on September 13th. Here's what was overheard, according to Eunice Stone, the Georgia woman who phoned in the tip;

The scare began when Eunice Stone said she overheard the three Muslim men at a Shoney's restaurant Thursday morning making suspicious comments. At one point, Stone said the bearded man said if Americans "were sad on 9/11, wait until 9/13."

Stone said she heard one of the men ask "Do you think we have enough to bring it down?" Another one of the men replied, "If we don't have enough to bring it down, I have contacts and we can get enough to bring it down."

I would have phoned in too if I had overheard this conversation. Fortunately, the three men did not seem to have any connection to any upcoming terrorist event, although some of their actions after leaving Shoney's could lead one to believe they may have been up to something, but they weren't. Now that we know this, and the media has access to them, they of course say it is all lies though The Miami Herald reports it could've been just a joke.

It shouldn't surprise any of us that Ayman Gheith, one of the three men detained, says Eunice Stone is lying. Most people, if accused of a crime, will say that their accusers are lying. Gheith states Eunice made the alleged overheard conversation up because of the way he looks. Based on this statement, Eunice Stone is just a racially motivated liar. So, Eunice Stone visited the Shoney's restaurant, spotted three Middle Eastern looking men, concocted a conversation for them in her head, and phoned it in to authorities because of the way Gheith looked. I guess this explanation is plausible but I find that scenario difficult to digest. Instapundit paraphrases and links to some additional thoughts on this also.

Read the whole story here, and don't miss Glenn's post, and decide for yourself if Eunice Stone is lying or is being used as a scapegoat by the three men because of the way she looked at them.

John Venlet - 8:44:00 AM | Permalink

Saturday, September 14, 2002


Dahlia Lithwick, who writes for Slate and Eugene Volokh, who blogs over on The Volokh Conspiracy, are attempting to work out the legality of whether or not we can be at war over the weekend, according to Dahlia. It appears that Dahlia would come down on the side of not being at war, or more directly that the war on terrorism isn't really war. Instead she champions the use of the courts to combat terrorism, which can be ascertained by reading the piece she penned here. Eugene Volokh's stance would appear to support that we are at war and he provides legal arguments to support this stance which can be read here. He has posted may other times on this issue and if you search through his archives I'm sure you'll find many other posts that support the we are at war position.

Dahlia's current piece does provide many sound arguments for her position, but I still disagree with her take on whether we are at war. Specifically Dahlia writes,

The second—and to my mind, more urgent—question is how did we come to be talking in terms of a "war" at all? Why does the war model—soldiers, uniforms, nation-states, civilians, weapons, and battlefields—apply to our fight against terrorism?

Dahlia believes the war model needs all of the above. I submit that our current war on terrorism has all of these. I suspect, but do not know for certain, that Dahlia may take the position that the main ingredient we are missing from the "war model" are nation-states. Though al Qaeda may not have one centralized nation-state it is connected to, or aligned with, I believe they are succored by mutliple Middle East nation-states so this argument, in my opinion, is null and void.

Dahlia follows up the previous quote with this statement,

The administration calls this a "war on terror" to avail itself of the limitless executive powers—mainly domestic detention and surveillance—triggered in wartime. This "war on terror"—wherein we track down rogue al-Qaida members, then hold and/or torture them—is not a conventional military operation that meets any technical or international definition of "war." And the oddest part of it all is that despite all this insistence that we are fighting a war, almost no one can come forward with a coherent theory of why.

Based on this statement, Dahlia appears to believe the use of the term war is only a smoke screen that enables the government to trash civil liberties, as is evidenced by her innuendo "and/or torture them." Trashing of civil liberties is a legitimate concern, not only in times of war, but at all times, but I don't believe this is a legitmate argument against our not being at war. We, as citizens, must remain vigilant against the erosion of our civil liberties and I'm pleased that Dahlia is on point for this but I don't believe, at least right now, that our civil liberties are being trashed.

I think what needs to be understood is that the war model has changed forever. Think about it. If any nation-state directly attacked the U.S., the entire might of our country would soon be marshalled against it. We would take the battle to their shores and destroy them. Our current war is not that direct. It is more akin to guerilla warfare. A parry and thrust type of warfare with a need for hard intelligence from multiple sources. The battlefields are fluid and in many cases not fields at all but homes, lawless territories or even our own cities.

I look forward to reading the direction of Dahlia's and Eugene's weekend discussion of whether or not we are at war, but I once again submit, we are at war, it's just that the current manifestation of war is decidely different from any other war we have participated in the past.

John Venlet - 5:07:00 PM | Permalink

The Farcical U.N.

A sound analysis of the U.N. by Cosmo's human. An appetizer:

The problems with the United Nations are legion. It is a parliament of thugs masquerading as the authentic voice of the world's people. It is a megaphone for simultaneously childish and serious America-bashing. It is a place where utopian schemes and Malthusian nightmares will always find a sympathetic ear. It is a gold rush for criminals and cranks looking to drain the treasuries of nations too racked with guilt to put up a "No Panhandling" sign once and for all.

Read the whole thing, it goes great with a cup of coffee and a donut.

John Venlet - 8:57:00 AM | Permalink

Friday, September 13, 2002

"Coming up on a year"

Teresa, who blogs Making Light, wrote this on September 7. She lives in New York. Thanks Teresa. Thanks Natalie Solent for the link.

John Venlet - 3:47:00 PM | Permalink

Nominated for Best Florida Election Vote Coverage

Click here, it's short.

John Venlet - 2:07:00 PM | Permalink

Evasive Democrats

The editors of The New Republic have penned a damning litany of evasion against the Democratic party. I guess their stonewalling on the debate about what to do about Iraq is apropos though. For some reason this brings to mind Yosemite Sam berating a mule in a Bugs Bunny cartoon - ya mule, ya mule and the damn thing won't move.

John Venlet - 1:21:00 PM | Permalink

It's A Riot

Charles Johnson, over at Little Green Footballs provides some of the best reading material around in regards to idiotarian Arab news and commentary. This post is no exception. He deconstructs a foolish argument that the rioting at Concordia U was justified.

John Venlet - 12:26:00 PM | Permalink

Racial Quotas

Sasha Castel is asking "Should orchestras have racial quotas?" after reading this article in The Chicago Sun Times. The simple answer is no, but read Sasha's post yourself. Don't rely on my simple answer. Thanks to Light of Reason for the link.

John Venlet - 12:19:00 PM | Permalink

Banking and Free Markets

Jane Galt has been reading Joseph Stiglitz in The Atlantic Monthly and has posted a lengthy discourse refuting his position. So strap on your reading glasses and illuminate your mind. Me thinks she knows of what she speaks.

John Venlet - 12:04:00 PM | Permalink

It's Like Playing Concentration

We all remember the game show Concentration where you have to match up certain phrases to win prizes right? Well I recall the story last year where the "rumor" was some kid in a NY school said in class that the WTC wouldn't be there next week. Today the topic keeps showing up. It's at The Corner. Glenn Reynolds mentions and links to the story after noticing a reference to it at Jane Galt. Here's the story itself. If what Jeff Shapiro is reporting here is true, or can be verified, there is more wrong with our intelligence community than we realize. Even more damning, if our government is attempting to cover this up by not thoroughly investigating, it needs to be totally swept clean.

Update: According to The Miami Herald this could all be a joke. Well, if it is, I think the three dumb f*&#ks who perpetrated it are, well, dumb f*&#ks. Link via Drudge.

John Venlet - 11:12:00 AM | Permalink

High Noon or Good Shepherd

Donald Sensing has penned another analogy about Bush's UN speech. Read this post of Don's too while you're at it.

John Venlet - 10:19:00 AM | Permalink

Rich I Tell You, I'm Rich

Meryl Yourish has the inside track, it seems, to taking possesion of the floating Nigerian bank account. Well, if she can stop laughing long enough to respond to "Shapiro Morris."

John Venlet - 10:13:00 AM | Permalink

Some Blog Debate Clarifications

Norah Vincent has offered some clarifications, which I would comment on, but that would only obfuscate what she is making clear. These clarifications are in response to an earlier post from Norah which I commented on here. This link will provide the link to Norah's earlier post which I am commented on. Anyway, Norah clearly states her case.

John Venlet - 9:50:00 AM | Permalink

The Discussion Continues

At the beginning of the week there was a discussion going on about the blogosphere with charges of sexism, who's linking to who and why, et cetera. Many bloggers jumped into the debate, which was good, and offered up a cornucopia of opinions. The discussion was kicked off by Dawn Olsen, who blogs Up Yours, and she once again has some thoughts to add. This people is why we blog. Read what Dawn has to say and adjust your opinions accordingly.

John Venlet - 8:58:00 AM | Permalink

Chicken Sounds

John Hawkins, over at Right Wing News, deconstructs, in a straightforward manner, The Chickhawk Argument. Here's a straightforward quote,

Are these same people refusing to criticize President Bush's decisions because they've never been President? Will they refuse to criticize any action of the police if they've never been a policeman?

John Venlet - 8:33:00 AM | Permalink

Is There Anybody Out There

Glenn Reynolds thinks it's an alien. The Minor Planet Center in Massachusetts has dubbed it J002ES, which I think is space talk for what the heck is that, as this quote tellingly supports,

But experts are not completely sure what exactly the object is.

I wonder what Rand Simberg thinks about this report.

John Venlet - 8:15:00 AM | Permalink

Reality Check

Dave Shiflett, in The American Prowler reminds us to take a bite or two of humble pie from time to time. It may not be yummy but it sure can be nourishing.

John Venlet - 7:47:00 AM | Permalink

Green With Envy

We've all seen the commercials and print ads for Rogaine where some bald individual wistfully eyes some stud with a full head of hair. Well scientists are working on a gene therapy that could bring new meaning to the term green with envy. They are putting jellyfish genes into the hair follicles of mice and bringing forth flourescent green fur. Yes, green fur growing on mice. Amazing. The experimental therapy has quite a ways to go before it reaches the balding domes of the world but can you imagine the fun you could have with this?

John Venlet - 7:33:00 AM | Permalink

Thursday, September 12, 2002

No More Fiddling Around

Men, do you suffer anxiety in the moments leading up to passion as you fumble around with your condom? Well suffer no more. South Africa has developed a condom applicator that makes it as easy as saying ready, set, go. So quit fiddling while your lover's passion turn to coals and mount up.

Thanks to Brig at EatonWeb for the link.

John Venlet - 4:01:00 PM | Permalink

Ouch, That Hurts

Christopher Johnson gives a thorough fisking to former Illinois senator Paul Findly who is now shilling for The Arab News. A choice morsel is hereby offered up to entice you to read the whole thing.

And Findley's paranoia blossoms like the first ugly, poisonous flower of the spring. I'm right and this bill that I offered is the right for the country to do. So the fact that this bill was overwhelmingly defeated can't be because the rest of Congress just happened to disagree with its provisions. How can any right-thinking person disagree with the right thing to do? They must have been bought off; this must be a conspiracy. I mean, you can't even criticize those people in private conversation.

John Venlet - 3:24:00 PM | Permalink

A Suggestion for What Bush Should Have Said at the U.N.

At the U.N., Bush ought to listen to his Texas roots. All it takes is a stride up to the podium, rack a shotgun, and say: "This here's private property. Get off my land."

This suggestion brought to you by Amish Tech Support.

John Venlet - 1:46:00 PM | Permalink

Tracking Barbie in India

Perusing the world papers I came across this editorial in The Times of India. It seems that Mattel's Barbie is known well enough round the world for her to warrant editiorial commentary in India. I wonder if Mattel is considering a suttee Barbie?

John Venlet - 1:25:00 PM | Permalink

Speaking Up

Meryl Yourish comments on the recent riots at Concordia when Benjamin Netanyahu was supposed to speak:

The brownshirts of the 21st century wear the kaffiyeh today. Must we wait for another Kristallnacht before we squash those responsible for this hate? Will the book-burnings begin soon? The targeted deaths of Jews has been going on, worldwide, for decades. Will Canada be the next country to see scores of Jews die in a terrorist attack?

Shame on you, Concordia. Shame on you, Montreal. Shame on you for allowing this kind of lawlessness and hate free reign.

Read her whole post, complete with links here.

John Venlet - 11:08:00 AM | Permalink

Got Ayn Rand

If you've been following the Rand discussion I've linked to earlier with input from Jane Galt and Norah Vincent, Arthur Silber has once again posted some comments in response to Jane Galt's hypothetical question about a badly needed blood transfusion.

John Venlet - 10:59:00 AM | Permalink

Can't Spin This

Mickey Kaus gets it about right when he states the reason the Dave Karnes story hasn't gotten press is:

P.P.S.: I admit to blubbering myself when I read about Dave Karnes, the ex-Marine accountant who unaccountably drove from Connecticut on 9/11 in his Porsche and found two of the only survivors in the WTC rubble. But, of course, one of the reasons Karnes' story hasn't been hyped on TV around the clock is precisely that he's not a blubbering victim. He's an obsessive, super-religious straight-arrow type -- bad TV! -- and, worse, he doesn't seem to have lost any buddies or loved ones on 9/11. TV producers these days generally prefer heroes who are victims too. ... 12:15 P.M.

I first read and linked to the Karnes story yesterday. Although I knew about the last two peope rescued, I knew nothing about the people involved in their rescue and Mickey's right, a standup guy story, like Karnes', won't play. At least not to the press.

John Venlet - 8:03:00 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

We Are Not Afraid

Dale Amon, writing for Samizdata, pens a lesson to the media. A choice bit.

We are none of the things you say in our name. It is your own mirrored image you speak and write of, not ours. Do not speak for me. I am an American; I am proud of that fact; I grieve for my dead and I feel pride in the bravery and spirit and individualism shown by our heroes of that day... but I do not cower in fear and neither do my fellow countrymen.

John Venlet - 8:59:00 PM | Permalink

New York Greeting for Osama

"So here is a last New York greeting to Osama, should he be alive, or even if he is enjoying his reward. F**k you, pal. You got a problem with that?"

Courtesy of Richard Brookhiser at National Review Online.

John Venlet - 5:49:00 PM | Permalink

Humor is Cathartic

Jonah Goldberg provides a lighter look at our current world and manages to hit all the right serious notes.

John Venlet - 5:43:00 PM | Permalink

Bravado and Reality

Toren Smith contributes three short quotes. Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

John Venlet - 5:27:00 PM | Permalink

Only This Isn't A Movie

Glenn Reynolds points to this Orrin Judd post which equates George Bush and our nation to High Noon.

John Venlet - 2:48:00 PM | Permalink

Dignified Death and September 11 Writings

Leon Wieseltier pens a powerful essay about a man photographed leaping to his death from the WTC. The essay is in The New Republic and may require you to register. Thanks to Arts & Letters Daily for the link.

John Venlet - 1:31:00 PM | Permalink

Sontag Rejoinder

The best Sontag fisking I've seen.

Susan Sontag gets a column on the New York Times op-ed page to say virtually nothing. She flirts with moral equivalence, noting the French Resistance were considered "terrorists" by their opponents and calling good vs. evil rhetoric "jihad language." But in the end, Sontag supports taking action against our "vicious, abhorrent enemy." It's just that she doesn't want to call it "war." She can't reflect properly if it's a war. Well, OK. Let's call it a "banana." Thinking any better?

Thanks to Tim Blair for linking to Joanne Jacobs.

John Venlet - 1:10:00 PM | Permalink


The New York Post published a story with the headline of Blood Money which relates the tale of Edward Fine, a September 11 WTC survivor, who is charging $911.00 for two hour interviews. I don't think The Post thinks much of Mr. Fine's fee. Matthew Graybosch, writing for the blog Light of Reason, provides another take.

John Venlet - 8:28:00 AM | Permalink


One year ago today. One year to reflect. Here are some tributes, direct and indirect, found throughout the blogoshpere.

Jane Galt
James Lileks
Michael Craig
Ken Layne
Samizdata I
Samizdata II
Samizdata III
Tim Blair
The Moose
Joe Katzman
The White House
Sgt Stryker
Donald Rumsfield Courtesy of National Review Online
N.Z. Bear Courtesy of InstaPundit
Madster Courtesy of Eugene Volokh
Meryl Yourish Multiple Links and Short Quotes

John Venlet - 7:27:00 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, September 10, 2002


It's 10 P.M. and I've just said goodnight to Melissa in Cleveland. She flies from there to Newark tomorrow. I asked if she was nervous about it, and she hesitated just briefly before saying "not really." I'm not overly concerned about flight risks tomorrow either, although you cannot make any guarantees, I don't care how vigilant one may be. If the Islamofascists are as fanatical and determined as I, and many others, believe, a suicidal effort cannot be outruled, whether it be airplanes or some other common carrier. I stand for dealing with terrorism harshly, if an attack, and that is what September 11 was, occurs again we must not hold back any longer. Terrorism has been brought to us from the Middle East. You can start with Iraq, Iran or Saudi Arabia it doesn't matter. The world must realize this and accept it. There is no moral equivlance.

I pray that nothing out of the ordinary happens tomorrow. I'm prepared if it does. I don't hunger for war, but I know what needs protecting and it is the freedoms that can be provided only by living in the United States. We should not allow anymore of our countrymen to be hurt, maimed or killed. I am hopeful for tomorrow, my heart goes out to everyone who lost loved ones one year ago. I plan on living my day the way I always do, sure I'll be more aware, vigilant even, but I will not be intimitated into changing my daily life.

John Venlet - 10:24:00 PM | Permalink

Jane Galt Responds

Earlier today I posted some comments on the Rand discussion in response to Jane Galt's which can be read here. Jane's response to my input is sympathy, placing me in the ""Slippery Slope" school of individualism," which is my own fault for asking where one then draws the line in response to her hypothetical argument. I didn't mean to present my argument against her view as a "Slippery Slope" position. What I should have said was that forcing a person to do something against their will is evil. Forcing someone to donate blood, against their will, is no different than forcing someone to have sex. Forcing someone to have sex is rape, forcing someone to donate blood is no different, you just wouldn't necessarily call it rape.

John Venlet - 7:58:00 PM | Permalink

A Call From Iran

I wonder what Sontag et al would think of this. Thanks to Charles at Little Green Footballs.

John Venlet - 1:28:00 PM | Permalink

Gay Argument in Favor of the Boy Scouts

The courts in California just can't seem to shake their notoriety for poor decisions. Here's an argument, from Arthur Silber, for free association, in favor of the Boy Scouts. Thanks to Light of Reason for the link.

John Venlet - 12:53:00 PM | Permalink

Out in the Open

Julia Gorin has penned an essay for FrontPage Magazine that bears reading. Here's a salient quote:

Truth and social conscience, meanwhile, have a way of trickling down, to whatever degree, to the less than average, less than informed citizen, so that now even he has a sneaking suspicion, if nothing more, that "the Jews" are not what ails the world.

Read the whole essay, it's well worth your time. Thanks to Meryl Yourish for the link.

John Venlet - 12:41:00 PM | Permalink

Ayn Rolls in Grave

I've been following this new Rand discussion and would like to comment on one of Jane Galt's responses to Arthur Silber. Here's a blurb from Jane:

Okay, well, let me give you a hypothetical. Say a child is dying, bleeding to death. No time to get them to a hospital; they need a transfusion now. But the child is type O Negative. A transfusion of the wrong type of blood could kill them. The equipment to perform the transfusion is available, but here's the problem: there's only one person in the immediate area with O Negative blood, and he's afraid of needles. He refuses to donate.

In theory, I respect his right to bodily integrity. In practice, I would join with all the other adults in the area and hold him down so we could take his blood.

While I am not a practicing Objectivist, I do find much in Rand's writings that I admire and believe should be practiced by us falleable humans. With that in mind, I must heartily object to Jane's hypothetical above. While she, in theory, respects an individual's right to bodily integrity, she states that this integrity should be forcibly denied an individual for the good of another individual, at least in this hypothetical. Taking such a stance negates Rand's philosophy. Additionally, where then would one draw the line in regards to determining where one's inviolable rights end or begin? Wouldn't a better approach to the needle challenged, unwilling donor be a business transaction? What is the value of the man's blood? It is definitely valuable to him as it sustains him daily, it is also valuable to the child in need of this specific type of blood, or he will die. So what price must be paid? If the needle challenged owner of the blood cannot be induced monetarily or by reasoned discussion to donate, the price must be death for the child. Though this may sound harsh, it is in actuality a much lesser evil than forcibly taking something to which you have no right if the owner cannot be induced to part with it.

John Venlet - 10:44:00 AM | Permalink

Ayn Rand Con't

Chris Sciabarra posts his contribution to the Rand discussion initiated by Norah Vincent and Jane Galt, which I have linked to previously below.

Update: Be sure to read Jane Galt's response to Arthur Sibler's post of yesterday also.

John Venlet - 10:14:00 AM | Permalink

Beating the Drum

Stephen Green, the Friday recipe gourmand who pens Vodkapundit, isn't just "mordant wit and stylish cynicism." He's posting substantive thoughts on what needs to done. Read his post here.

John Venlet - 8:50:00 AM | Permalink

Brave Souls

According to this Reuters story, found on Yahoo, "thousands" of Afghans were chanting "Down with Osama! Down with Osama's stooges!" in a recent rally. Ah, freedom to speak your mind.

John Venlet - 8:38:00 AM | Permalink

"A Decent People" "A Good Country"

Though Dave Barry is a humorist, this column, written two days after September 11 is not funny. I hadn't read this column until today and found its sentiments true. Additionally, this Leonard Pitts, Jr. column, which I had previously read when it was printed on a dead tree, is just as valid today as it was on September 12, 2001, when it originally ran. Warts and all I love America. Thanks to Ken Layne for the links.

John Venlet - 8:28:00 AM | Permalink

Monday, September 09, 2002

Ayn Rand

Norah Vincent and Jane Galt are engaged in a conversation with Arthur Silber. This will be interesting, that is if you're interested.

John Venlet - 9:34:00 PM | Permalink

The Profiled Kid

Since he doesn't carry a six-shooter, well he may but he doesn't weild it very often, he fluorishes his pen. Jonah Goldberg rides again.

John Venlet - 8:51:00 PM | Permalink

Well Said

Short quote entitled Belloc Says.

John Venlet - 8:41:00 PM | Permalink

Required Reading

This essay must be read. Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

John Venlet - 8:35:00 PM | Permalink

Somebody's Happy About Global Warming

Hard to believe isn't it? People happy about global warming. But certain scientists are as you can read here. But doesn't this type of evidence also provide meaningful data on fluctuations in global temperatures as a normal thing, rather than the dire consequences of current human activity? Is anybody looking at that angle based on this report?

John Venlet - 4:14:00 PM | Permalink

Do Something Greens - I Mean Besides Protesting

Take a look at this photo. It's a environmentalist's nightmare yet at the same time it's a god send to them because it visualizes for dissemination to the masses exactly what they are always protesting against. Why do I bring this up? This past weekend I waded 3 miles of river picking up trash, not the amount seen in the linked photo, but nevertheless picking up trash. I wasn't doing this as a form of protest, I wasn't doing it because of Greenpeace or any other of the big name enviro groups. I was doing it because I belong to a small group of people called the Anglers of the AuSable. Here's a report on last years (2001) effort. 200 people showed up last year, and approximately the same amount this year, to act, not protest. Anglers of the AuSable is responsible for cleaning up over 100 miles of river in Northern Michigan. Protesting has its place in the great scheme of things, I guess, but acting on what you're against, like trash in rivers, rather than just mouthing off, leads to much greater results.

John Venlet - 12:57:00 PM | Permalink

Powered by Blogger Pro™