The author is an ex-submariner, questioner of authority, cigar smoking fly-fishing fanatic who wants to live to be 103.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
From Dialogue Between Socrates and Meno
"...but one thing I would fight for to the end, both in word and deed if I were able - that if we believed that we must try to find out what is not known, we should be better and braver and less idle than if we believed that what we do not know it is impossible to find out and that we need not even try."
Plato, Great Dialogues of Plato, Meno (Menon), pg. 51
Modern Translation by W.H.D. Rouse
John Venlet - 8:16:00 AM |
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
An Observation on Medical Marijuana
The New York Times, registration required, in an article entitled "Doctors Tread a Thin Line on Marijuana Advice," reviews the issue of doctors advising patients on the benefits of marijuana use for certain medical conditions. With an emphasis on the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which "allows" doctors to discuss said benefits of marijuana use with their patients. As if the government has any right to determine what issues or treatments we discuss with physicians, legal or illegal. Though the government's muddling in this aspect of our private lives concerns me, I want to point out a patent absurdity that is veiled by both the doctors and the government as they argue over the regulatory aspects of this issue.
The doctors' quoted within the article seem to be mainly concerned with the aspect of "prescribing" marijuana for certain patients. A legitimate concern since "legally" marijuana is not legal. But if one considers the fact that the illegality of marijuana has a miniscule effect on its availability, the writing of a prescription to obtain marijuana is a rather ridiculous consideration. Thus, advocating for the government's "permission" to prescribe marijuana is akin to asking the government to control one more aspect of your life from which the government will undoubtedly scheme to profit.
My advice to the doctors and patients is to discuss the benefits of marijuana use for their particular conditions. If the use of marijuana is determined to possibly be of some benefit, inform the patient of this and allow them to weigh the legal ramifications for themselves of obtaining it. Granted, the absurdity of being prosecuted and convicted for purchasing an ounce of pot to relieve certain debilitating medical conditions is a risk, but it is a minimal risk. Though you cannot purchase marijuana from your local Rite Aid or CVS pharmacy, you undoubtedly can locate a source in any city in America. I'd start by asking your friends. I'm fairly certain that if you ask ten of your friends, at least three of them will know where you could obtain the needed remedy, and the only prescription required will be written on government paper inscribed with the words "This Note is Legal Tender for all Debts Public and Private." Private being the operative word.
John Venlet - 10:18:00 AM |
Where's The Risk?
Karen DeCoster has a few things to say about the insurance industry in this linked post which, as a fellow Michigan resident, I can appreciate. The final sentence in her post clearly answers the "where" question that headlines this post but its the "why" that gets at the crux of the matter.
"The entire insurance industry everywhere is socialized, without most people paying a bit of attention to that."
Bold added for emphasis.
John Venlet - 8:07:00 AM |
Though I personally believe in a designed universe, and may, as Steven Weinberg says in this essay, use the words God or designer as "protective coloration," when discussing the cosmos, the linked essay by Weinberg is an interesting read, though he argues against a creator. Be that as it may, Weinberg makes one comment, in regards to religion, within this essay, that I found to be, unfortunately, quite accurate.
"With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion."
Anna, over at Belligerent Bunny Blog, provides an extensive photo essay and commentary on the DC rally which occurred over the weekend. It's worth taking a look at. I'm anxious to contrast Anna's comments with BillyBeck's, if he actually had an opportunity to "trip around and jeer at the ANSWER creeps."
John Venlet - 8:13:00 AM |
"Public choice theory demonstrates why looking to government to fix things can often lead to more harm than good,...
And this statement, from the body of the essay, clearly states the inherent evil of government,
"Much of the growth of the bureaucratic or regulatory sector of government can best be explained in terms of the competition between political agents for constituency support through the use of promises of discriminatory transfers of wealth."
What is your choice?
John Venlet - 8:04:00 AM |
"All the great services that are done in the world are performed by volunteer characters, who accept nothing for them; but the routine of office is always regulated to such a general standard of abilities as to be within the compass of numbers in every country to perform, and therefore cannot merit very extraordinary recompence."
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (1792)
On a related note, also addressed by Paine, it is a pity that those who purport to represent us, do it not for honor, but only to claim the glory of the office and self-enrichment.
"As representation is always considered, in free countries, as the most honourable of all stations, the allowance to it is merely to defray the expence which the representatives incur by that service, and not to it as an office."
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (1792)
John Venlet - 8:19:00 PM |
They're Both Right
Arthur Silber and The Raving Atheist both comment on a soon to be released study of sexual abuse by Catholic church clergy. One Bishop Gregory, in this article, cautions that the data to be released in the study will appear without perspective because no comparable study has been completed for other organizations where large numbers of children are possibly subjected to abuse. How soon we forget the child care abuse case witchhunts of 10 to 15 years ago. Granted, those were not studies, but those cases do have some relevance to this. But Arthur's most salient point on this subject, in my opinion, is this,
"Here is the Catholic Church, which for a couple of millennia has specialized in promulgating moral absolutes. But now that it is the Church itself that is being examined and criticized, the Church apparently has just discovered that judgment of moral harm and blame ought to be made by using a comparative sliding scale."
To this I'll add the comment that not only has the church, and not only the Catholic church, been "promulgating moral absolutes" for "a couple of millenia," the church has wrongly been JUDGING all those who deny their moral absolutes as bound for eternal damnation. The church has been plucking at the splinters in others' eyes rather than the board in their own eyes since time immemorial also due to their we're better than you attitude. Which makes their secular moral relativist comments about other studies, which have not been done, that much more lame.
Raving agrees in principle with Arthur's above comment but also states the church should receive some leniency in regards to the numbers the study may show because of the lack of comparable data on other institutions where abuse may or could have occurred. Personally, I think the church is copping out with the but other studies haven't been done attitude, but it is this comment from Raving that bears the most consideration,
"The real problem, however, is that the Church has been held, by society and itself, to a much lower standard in its response to the problem."
As I mentioned above, the church is so busy plucking splinters from others' eyes, the board in their own eyes has blinded them to the reality of their own fallibility.
John Venlet - 8:24:00 AM |
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Would They Have Arrested George?
A couple of days ago, in a post entitled "White Lightning Ludicrousness," I noted an article, pointed to by Karen DeCoster, where the "revenue man," or more commonly called, today anyway, assistant special agent Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control, proudly displayed a tiny still, run by an enterprising private individual, confiscated from a small shed in Virginia. Today, MSNBC has an article posted entitled "Washington’s whiskey re-created" where they wax eloquently about George Washington's private distillery and its profitability in the first year of operation. The article also provides George's whiskey recipe, which enterprising private distillers may find useful. Just watch out for the state of Virginia's revenue man. Something George had no need to be concerned about.
John Venlet - 11:12:00 AM |
Work is Highly Overrated
I've spoken the above line many times in the past 25 years. Most times, when I uttered the above, I was defending the fact that I was in fact not working to those around me, such as family and friends, who would wonder aloud to me when I was going to get a job rather than spending my time reading, flyfishing or just contemplating the days going by as I slowly ate up the savings I had accumulated. Bob Black evidently thinks work is highly overrated also and has written a lengthy essay entitled "The Abolition of Work" which is linked for your perusal. As Black says in his essay he is both joking and serious about abolishing work. Either way, the piece is an interesting read.
A few days ago I noted a couple of competing headlines about the supposed "obesity" problem here in the U.S. One headline trumpeted a continuing increase in so called obesity and the other headline trumpeted American's thinning down. Clarie Wolfe has noticed this trend of abuse in regards to the use of the word obesity and has posted some comments here. But it is Claire's definition of obesity, quoted below, that maybe should be consider for inclusion in future dictionaries.
"Faugh! The one truly true example of gross, bloated, disgusting obesity in this country is the federal bureaucracy and the greasy, fatty, globby excrescences of agenda-driven propagandists that cling to it like a Speedo to a cellulite-pocked posterior."
John Venlet - 11:48:00 AM |
Monday, October 20, 2003
"95 Percent Sure"
How well do you know firearms? The gentleman in this story evidently knows them intimately. While being robbed, at gunpoint, he informs the would be robber that the gun he is using (the robber) isn't real and the robbee then reveals his real handgun, a .25 caliber, and puts things right. Gummi bears notwithstanding.
"Of course, the photo reflects an utterly ludicrous visual of "triumph" of government (good) over freedom (bad), when it's merely the celebration of coercion and statism holding sway over free men. Go Moonshiners!"
The reader who alerted Karen to the article and photo also scores a bullseye with his comment about the photo,
"Plus, note the typically dorky bureaucrat standing next to his 'prize' -- doesn't it look so threatening?"
As much as I hate to say it, because I am hesitant to judge anyone by their appearance, but the bureaucrat does mimic the appearance of the classic dork.
What I find even more amusing than Karen's and Eric's comments were these comments taken from the body of the article,
"As disturbing as finding a working moonshine still was the knowledge that someone had been running an open flame inside a shed and roaming on someone else's land, said ABC special agent Katie E. Hudak, who tramped into the woods to investigate. Those actions, she said yesterday, shaking her head in wonder, took "gumption."
An open flame in a shed, oh my, how utterly disturbing and irresponsible. That does take "gumption."
And assistant special agent Phil Disharoon's comment, which closes the article, also is quite silly,
"The manufacture of illegal alcohol is a felony," he said. "It wouldn't matter whether you're doing it for your own personal consumption or for purposes of making a few bottles here and there to sell. . . . That's not something you play around with."
Indeed, we can't have citizens distilling their own liqour, how would the state be able to gather their bakeesh if citizens produced liquor for their own consumption?
I wonder how long the feds will keep the grill and bucket in custody since they have no idea whose property it is? Maybe the confiscated still will become a classroom prop to warn "the children" about the inherent dangers of not kowtowing to the government's wishes.
It's definitely Fall here in the state of Michigan. Last night the temp in Western Michigan, at least by my house, got down to 27. Chilly nights, bright sunny days lately. Based on the fishing report, and the accompanying photo, I should head north for a few days. Take a look at the colors also here.
John Venlet - 10:26:00 AM |
"The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades"
The title to this post, taken from a Timbuk 3 tune, should possibly be adopted by the Bright movement as their theme song. Much like the hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers" has been a theme song for fundamentalist Christians. Be that as it may, since the word bright was nominated as the "new" moniker for atheists, it has gained a small following, much like the start of early Christianity, and continues to draw commentary from various sources. Some commentartors attempt to raise the bright banner to higher heights and others attempt to crush it like Nero burned Christians.
The real problem between atheists and Christians isn't the God thing, it's the fact that Christians typically attempt to force their moral beliefs onto everyone else. If there was no mention of God invoked on the Christians' part, when they push their moral agenda, they would receive the same amount of flack from atheists and others for attempting to force feed their moral code onto others. If God wasn't invoked by the Christians, as authority for their morality, the disagreements between atheists and Christians on morality would be more akin to the Sharks and the Jets rumbling in "West Side Story" or Republicans and Democrats disagreeing about tax and spend issues.
But back to the bright thing. The Raving Atheist, who would possibly label me a "God Idiot," has a new post up touching on the "Bright" label, which is the catalyst for this post, which was spurred on by this piece, written by George Dvorsky, entitled "Brights Generate More Heat than Light." Both posts make for interesting reading.
I believe in God, a simple term, commonly understood and misunderstood, though I could just as easily use the term "Concealed of the Concealed," Todd, "The Primordial Point," "The Head which is not," or whatever. I believe and I don't need a term to define myself. Why does an atheist? If you're an atheist, be an atheist and be unafraid of naming yourself as one. I'd call myself a Christian but many of my ideas of who and what God is are rather heretical for the Christian label so I'll just say I'm a believer.
I leave you with the following quote from Albert Camus' play "The Possessed." The quote sums up my feelings in regards to atheists quite well and I offer it to the atheists with the utmost respect as the perfect rebuttal to Christians who scoff at their unbelief.
"The complete atheist is more respectable than the man who is indifferent. He is on the last rung preceding perfect faith."
John Venlet - 8:23:00 AM |
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Corralling the Internet Genie
Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, links to a long essay written by John Walker entitled "The Digital Imprimatur." Walker, who previously had high hopes for the internet's ability to allow unfettered access to the ideas of liberty, free speech and information throughout the world, today is quite pessimistic. People more well versed in these matters may pick apart his arguments, but Walker, as evidenced by the following quote, apparently is immune to this,
"I will doubtless be attacked by prognathous pithecanthropoid knuckle-typers who snatch sentences out of context. So be it."
"And here we encounter the seeds of government disaster and collapse -- the kind that wrecked ancient Rome and every other civilization that allowed a sociopolitical monster called the welfare state to exist."
The above quote was spoken by Barry Goldwater, who, as a politician, could talk could a good line, but in the end didn't really do us any favors, as if any politician really does, by dismantling the "sociopolitical monster called the welfare state." Keeping the above quote in mind, I point you to ""The Bad News...,"" a post written by Billy Beck, in response to a Megan McArdle column at Tech Central Station dealing with budget deficits, medicare, social security, smoke and mirrors and just how much money the state needs to steal from us to stay afloat. Billy Beck's additional comments on this issue are here.
John Venlet - 7:39:00 AM |
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Perspectivism, Situatedness, Social Constructionism
"This view purports to show that science is neither universal nor peculiarly well equipped to arrive at the truth; that on the contrary it is local, Western, socially and culturally embedded, and therefore, merely one form of knowledge among many. Its claims of objectivity and dispassion are an illusion, rationality is window dressing for power, evidence a matter of negotiation and agreement, and truth an outdated metaphysical word that should be confined to the dustbin of history. Indeed, in this view science is not only no better at discovering the truth about the world than any other method, it is worse. Some epistemologies are more unequal than others. Science is crippled by its blind infatuation with reason, its foolish insistence on evidence before believing something, its tiresomely pedantic insistence on replicability, peer review, statistics, falsifiability, distinguishing correlation from causation, and all such nit-picky hair-splitting rules that impede a good imaginative hypothesis."
I refer you to an earlier post of mine regarding shortsightedness as a response to the type of thinking brought to our attention by Benson.
John Venlet - 8:37:00 AM |
Fatter, Thinner, Fatter, Thinner
It sounds like a schoolyard arguement almost.
Both of the below linked articles hit the web on October 14.
USA Today's headline reads "Obesity predicted for 40% of America" and the body of the article states that approximately 31% of Americans are currently obese and that number will continue to expand to 40%. No pun intended. Ha.
Of course, the fact that people are getting fatter and fatter is not their fault, as evidenced by this statement by John Foreyt of Baylor College of Medicine, from the USA Today article,
""We are affected so strongly by the environment — fast food, big portion sizes and the lack of a need to be active — that we are doomed."
Doomed. Yep, we are doomed alright, but it isn't the food that is going to bring about our doom. Sheesh. Fatter, thinner, fatter, thinner, you decide. I'm going to have a cup of coffee and a doughnut, supersize it please, I'm feeling left out since I'm thinner.
John Venlet - 8:03:00 AM |
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
What The ?
The title of the article, written by Jill Stanek, is "Is a crying baby alive?" Your immediate reaction is to say yes, of course it is. At least I think most rational people would say yes. The article provides a rather different answer.
Though the article is written as another clarion call for anti-abortion laws, which we definitely do not need, unless that is you believe the state needs to make your decisions for you and those who you believe should do as you do, the semantic reasonings behind whether a crying baby is alive or not are mind boggling in this case.
Martha, Kobe and Rush currently. In the not too distant past, Clinton, Milken and Waskal. There are many other examples throughout history and all have been subject to, temporarily of course, ostracism. Unlike the Greeks, when the above mentioned were ostracized, they were not banished from the country, they were simply denied access to the halls of power and possibly suffered a momentary constriction of cash flow into their individual pockets. So Martha, Kobe, Rush, Clinton, Milken and Waskal can take heart in the passage which follows.
"For the ostracism was instituted, not so much to punish the offender, as to mitigate and pacify the violence of the envious, who delighted to humble eminent men, and who, by fixing this disgrace upon them, might vent some part of their rancour."
Plutarch, Plurtarch's Lives, Themistocles pg. 148
John Venlet - 7:41:00 AM |
Monday, October 13, 2003
France, Same Problems Different Century
Via Arts & Letters Daily we are treated to a Guardian article entitled "Doubts tearing France apart." The body of the article provides us with the names of Frenchmen, and tidbits of their commentary, who are lamenting the decline of France's standing in the world community. The following comment, made by authors Romain Gubert and Emmanuel Saint-Martin, sums up, for them at least, France's dilemma rather succintly,
"With our sermons, our empty gestures and our poetic flights, we (the French) have pissed off the planet. Worse: we make them laugh."
While the French themselves may just be coming to a realization of their inadequacies, and the humor generated thereby, Mark Twain apparently recognized their visions of grandeur back in 1879, and in an attempt to ameliorate them, wrote the essay "The French and the Comanches." Twain's desire in writing the essay follows,
"Now if my work has been intelligibly done, I have shown that the Frenchman is in some respects the superior of the Chinaman, in others the equal of the Turk and the Dahomian, and in hardly any particular the conspicous inferior of the Comanche. I hoped and believed I could do this; I think I have succeeded. There is little question, in my mind, that France is entitled to a distinguished place among the partly civilized peoples of our globe."
Twain ends this piece, taken from his book "Letters From The Earth," published posthumously, with a call to action that evidently still needs to be acted on,
"Let us all aid the Frenchman. Let us take to our hearts this disparged and depreciated link between man and the simian and raise him up to brotherhood with us."
It may take alot of work.
John Venlet - 12:24:00 PM |
Saturday, October 11, 2003
Are You a Slave or Free?
"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)
John Venlet - 12:03:00 PM |
"There is no such thing as liberty if liberty is to be interpreted as unrestricted self-will."
The Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent, now has his own reality TV show. I won't be able to watch it because I don't have cable. Thankfully, Daniel Medley, who blogs LoboWalk, has viewed the show, proclaiming it "most entertaining," and has collected a few Nugeisms for us to ponder on. Here's a link to a Nugeism on sex and here's a link to some Nugeisms on conservationists and environmentalists. Scratch it Ted.
Stopped by Noodlefood today and Diana had recently posted a story, I hadn't heard, about a Michigander who was in a spot of trouble with the state of Michigan's DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality). The story entails a pond, dams, flooding, debris, threats of $10,000.00 per day fines and beavers. And it is not an urban legend. Though the story itself is somewhat dated, it's worth a laugh or three.
John Venlet - 3:04:00 PM |
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
The cosmos and all it encompasses interests me greatly. Our knowledge of space, its infiniteness or finiteness, is actually quite miniscule. It needs be explored. The newest theory of the cosmos and its shape posits that it is much like a soccer ball. Who is playing goalie I wonder? Anyway, the more we learn, the more we determine we actually know very little about this vast realm. Hopefully, someday in the future, we will laugh at this soccer ball theory much as we would laugh at this charta cosmographia of Apian published in 1544.
John Venlet - 8:28:00 PM |
A Thought on Shortsightedness
Though the below quote is directed at initiates of the Qabalah, it is worth considering.
"The ignorant man goes no further than the concept of God as an old man with a long white beard who sat on a golden throne and gave orders for creation. The scientist will go back a little further before he is compelled to draw a veil called the ether; and the philospher will go back yet further before he draws a veil called the Absolute; but the initiate will go back furthest of all because he has learnt to do his thinking in symbols, and symbols are to the mind what tools are to the hand - an extended application of its powers."
Some months ago I posted a series of comments postulating that God is an anarcho-capitalist, here,here and here. For a more indepth look at this subject, I point you to James Redford's "Jesus Is an Anarchist" which was published by Anti-State.com back in December 2001. If you have any interest in this subject matter, Redford's essay provides a much more indepth analysis. Enjoy.
John Venlet - 11:54:00 AM |
Monday, October 06, 2003
Pining for Fire & Brimestone
Cal Thomas' latest column at Townhall.com, entitled "In Dow We Trust," seems to lament the fact that Christian believers are, more and more, today, not much different than non-believers. And in actuality we, and I believe in God, are not. Thomas also states that if people, and I'm assuming he means those who believe in the Christian God of the pope, evangelicals, Protestants et al., wonder why the church has lost power and real influence, governmental influence that is, they need look no further than the transformation they, the believers, need to undergo in order to reclaim the "right" to set moralistic standards. Thomas then points us to two recent publications, one, written by Alan Wolfe, a book, and an article written by Luisa Kroll which, based on Thomas' opinion, seem to point out the errors of the Christian church and why it is losing its influentional power. Both Wolfe's and Kroll's writings do point out some glaring problems for organized religion yet neither Thomas, Wolfe or Kroll seem to grasp that these problems are actually a good thing. Neither organized religion, nor the government, are supposed to be setting the standards, which for both organizations means laws, for morals in any country, let alone the United States.
Both organized religion and the government, since time immemorial, have been attempting to rule over people through the use of laws, statutes, excommunications, etc., to no avail. Maybe when both institutions are ground to dust we can get down to the business at hand, the pursuit of happiness in total liberty.
John Venlet - 7:29:00 PM |
Saturday, October 04, 2003
"...the people is not everyone who speaks our language, nor yet the elect marked by the fiery stamp of genius. Not by birth, not by the work of one's hands, not by the wings of education is one elected into the people.
But by one's inner self.
Everyone forges his inner self year after year.
One must try to temper, to cut, to polish one's soul so as to become a human being. And thereby become a tiny particle of one's own people."
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
The First Circle, Chapter 61, Going to the People
Via Andy Stedman at No Treason we are pointed to an essay, referenced in my heading for this post, entitled "Micropiece."
An excerpt, on how to be a rabblerouser, which I found particularly enjoyable,
"That is the proper way to be a rabblerouser. By treating people as people. By engaging their hearts and souls. By approaching them as human beings and not potential converts. Walking up wild-eyed and tossing pamphlets and yelling slogans simply gets you written off as a nut. You'll never change a person's mind that way, unless they are as crazy as the slogan shouter in the first place."
I am a micropiece.
John Venlet - 8:16:00 AM |
Thursday, October 02, 2003
A Walk in the Woods
Clarie Wolfe graces us with a story that casts an eye on the positive side of freedom and an individual who willingly risks his property to live this freedom and in turn relieves the suffering of others.
It's not exactly a "Villa Incognito" but it is a conservatory recess.
John Venlet - 7:50:00 AM |