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

Improved Clinch

Sunday, November 30, 2003

From the Outside

Because I had been thinking about institutionalization after reading two recent pieces at No Treason, one written by John T. Kennedy & Lynette Warren and a second by Lynette Warren alone, I googled the word institutionalize, looking for other sources of information on the subject. I'm glad I did. I've found a few items of interest I'd like to share, but I'll start with this one.

The link will take you to an article from Capitalism Magazine written by Glenn Woiceshyn and it is entitled "'Anti-Discrimination' Laws Destroy 'Human' Rights and Institutionalize Bigotry." The article was written in May 1998 in response to recently passed legislation in Canada dealing with gay "rights." Here is the summary, offered at the very beginning of the article.

"Summary: "Anti-discrimination" laws destroy the fundamental rights of all citizens (including gays) thus paving the way for institutionalized bigotry and other evils."

Here is the concluding paragraph,

"What the government can do positively to fight bigotry is to leave those who are rational free from those who are not via full protection of individual rights. Rational people have a very powerful weapon against real bigotry -- rational persuasion. And for those bigots who refuse to be rational -- moral condemnation and voluntary economic boycotts. In this way the legitimate rights of all individuals are not destroyed under the guise of anti-bigotry or any other alleged "do-good" intention."

I will not accept being institutionalized.

John Venlet - 9:25:00 PM | Permalink


Also via Diana Hsieh, is a link to a Eugene Volokh post where Eugene responds to a criticism from a reader regarding Eugene's lack of sensitivity for a Klansman who was shot by a fellow Klansman at a Klan rally. That's almost poetic. A portion of Eugene's response,

" A little harsh? A lot harsh. I believe in being harsh to Klansmen. I have zero sympathy for them, and I would shed no tears if more got critically injured. I'm pretty broad-minded as to people's politics. The Klan is way outside my limits.

Nor do I think that I'm being "callous," in the sense of being indifferent to human suffering. I'm thinking of the people this jerk might have victimized or terrorized in the future, or the mess he could have made of some child's mind. The world is likely to endure less suffering with fewer Klansmen in it."

John Venlet - 10:51:00 AM | Permalink

Swirling in the Cesspools of Washington

Diana Hsieh provides a link to this article, penned by Robert Novak and posted at the Chicago Sun-Times website. Novak's piece looks at the political machinations that took place to pass the Medicare bill. The machinations used include threats, promises of dollars or advancement and knuckle rappings with a ruler. Okay, I'm kidding about the last one but it seems it would be appropriate for the petulant children swimming in the cesspool.

Diana lauds the integrity of the few who voted against the bill, but sums up what happens when one ventures into the cesspool of politics by entitling her post "Politics is Sickening." Even those who voted against the Medicare bill are not immune to the sickness.

John Venlet - 10:37:00 AM | Permalink

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Sore Loser

Via Arts & Letters Daily we're pointed to a Wall Street Journal article about one Raymond Damadian. According to the article, Raymond, who is a "celebrated pioneer of MRI," is put out because he wasn't selected to win a Nobel for work in his field of expertise. Two other guys won. Damadian is so put out he's taking out ads in newspapers and such. An example is shown in the WSJ article which is too small to read except for the bold typeface which heads his ad. The bold typeface reads "The Shameful Wrong Which Must Be Righted." Okay.

David Gelernter, who wrote the article, makes a couple comments which are worth repeating here.

"We are a marvelously uninhibited society. If you want to dye your hair green, stick jewelry up your nose or take out newspaper ads introducing the public to all the awards you ought to have won but didn't, why stint yourself? But 99% of the public no doubt wishes it could get some of that old-fashioned inhibition back. Inhibition (a k a "taste," "dignity") is missed around here. The sounds of an uninhibited society are a lot like whining."


"We are a society that talks too much about "entitled," not enough about "unbecoming."

Have a little dignity Dr. Damadian.

John Venlet - 11:07:00 AM | Permalink

Friday, November 28, 2003

Lazy Afternoon

This morning a friend stopped by and dropped off the DVD "Winged Migration." There is little commentary within the film, thankfully no enviro preaching, and though the musical accompaniment leaves much to be desired, the cinematography was excellent. If you have any interest in wiling away some time, the film is a mere 89 minutes, and you enjoy birds, without an ornithologist looking over your shoulder and spouting Latin names, I'd recommend viewing the film.

John Venlet - 3:24:00 PM | Permalink

"...It's just an orgy...

Bob Barr on privacy from this Washington Times article,

" The growth of new technology, particularly since the September 11 terrorist attacks, has been tremendous and its effect on privacy "absolutely astounding," said civil libertarian Bob Barr.
"It seems to have given the green light to every sort of privacy intrusive technology imaginable — it's just an orgy of privacy invasive technology being developed by government and private industry," Mr. Barr said."

Via Kim du Toit who promises magnet use advice in the future.

John Venlet - 12:04:00 PM | Permalink

Free Market Anarchy

Jonathon Wilde has an interesting post up, with links, that uses the blogosphere as an example of a system which the title of this post refers to. From the post,

"Last week I wrote about how the blogosphere is a free market anarchy - a system without any top-down command authority, where property rights are fully secured, coercion is nowhere to be found, and all relations are voluntary. At first blush, if you did not know I was taking about the blogosphere, a picture of an entropic free-for-all would have likely entired your mind upon reading everything after the hyphen in the previous sentence. No leader? Pandemonium! No design? Chaos! No control? Bedlam!

Yet, the as any denizen of the blogosphere knows, it is not chaotic. Why not?"

John Venlet - 11:02:00 AM | Permalink


Last night, when I first read about Bush's visit to the troops in Baghdad, the first thought that came to my mind was the Native American practice of counting coup.

"Bravery was extremely important. Every male Indian wanted the opportunity to prove their bravery. Each Native American tribe expected loyalty and great bravery from its members. A point-scoring system was run for hitting an enemy with a ‘coup’ stick. A warrior would gain few points for killing a man from a distance with his bow and arrow, but would gain maximum points for getting close enough to tap him with his coup stick! The greatest sign of bravery during battle was to touch an enemy with either bare hands or a special long stick called a coup stick. Acts of bravery like this were more important that actually killing someone!"

Bold added for emphasis.

I mention this because the first comment I read of Bush's visit, correctly surmised the type of reactions this visit would receive from the left, as evidenced by this post, which gives just a small sampling of the "hollering" going on about Bush's visit.

Bush will, without a doubt, gain standing in peoples' eyes for his visit, but the real reason the man went to Iraq to visit with the troops on Thanksgiving day was to HONOR THEM. I honor Bush for his visit.

John Venlet - 10:34:00 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Just in Time for Thanksgiving - Let's Eat

In a post entitled "Enablers," J. Bowen, at No Watermelons Allowed, alerts us to a story about a 772 lb woman, whose public housing unit is being modified, to the tune of 15 thousand dollars, at the expense of the taxpayers. Now, this woman may have a glandular problem, as they say, but I find this quite without reason. Especially when you consider that those who were advocating for her say that her civil rights were violated because she could not exit her unit. Come on, she couldn't exit her unit because she weighs almost 800 pounds. Absolutely ridiculous.

John Venlet - 4:03:00 PM | Permalink

"They Look Funny"

While cruising the blogosphere this AM with my five year old nephew, in town for Thanksgiving, sitting on my lap, we cruise by Drudge, who has a photo of a couple anti-war protestors with faux bullet holes in their foreheads posted at the top of the page. At the instant the page finished loading the young man said, "they look funny." You know what, they do.

I can't stop laughing at his running commentary.

John Venlet - 7:36:00 AM | Permalink

Newspaper Shows Lack of Moral Relativism, At Least in this Instance

The Mirror, in reporting on a case of cannibalism, actually takes a stance and calls the voluntary main course a "pervert." The paper did not specify if the chef was perverted.

Via Billy Beck.

John Venlet - 7:16:00 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Nirvana? Give the EU a Gun

As the US continues fueling its "rocket-sled to hell," isn't it ironic that words such as these are coming from a former commie country?

"...will not change until people start thinking and realizing they are not moving toward some sort of nirvana."

Vaclav Klaus commenting on the false nirvana that is the EU.

Via Drudge.

John Venlet - 9:51:00 AM | Permalink


"What comes next is that we must correct that failure (moral relativism), by incorporating into the Western tradition of critical rationalism an objective conception of right and wrong."

From a David Deustch piece written for

Via Billy Beck.

John Venlet - 8:36:00 AM | Permalink

Anarchy Experiment Cancelled

Leonard at the blog Unruled, while wandering the blogosphere, came across a blog that appears to be run by an Iraqi. The post Leonard links to describes how some of the locals were protecting themselves and what happened after the locals were told they couldn't protect themselves because the coalition would be protecting them. Leonard's summation comment follows,

"This quote is almost too good to be true for an anarchist. Anarchy releases criminal elements (the unorganized political means). This is opposed by the armed people, which works: "we actually felt safe". But the state interposes; it will not permit any challenge to its monopoly, regardless of the price that the peons pay."

John Venlet - 7:55:00 AM | Permalink

Monday, November 24, 2003

Gay Marriage Debate Contribution

David Brooks' essay, "The Power of Marriage" is receiving alot of attention and commentary. John T. Kennedy and Lynette Warren, writing at No Treason, have posted a piece entitled "Marriage, The Institutional Man, and The Sovereign Individual" which is well worth your time to read. I mention this because I agree with their analysis and, more importantly, because I believe in acting as a Sovereign Individual, even though my marriage, my second, has the state's stamp of acknowledgement. But, in my attempts to act as Sovereign Individual, and to encourage my friends to do the same, I recently joined together in marriage two close friends of mine. They did not purchase a state marriage license and I am not a licensed preacher of any type. Anyway, I wanted to share a couple of passages from the ceremony which state, what I believe, recognition of marriage really is. The names used in the following passages have been modified. I used my own name and my wife's.

"John and Melissa are not entering into this bond for reasons of security – the only real security is not in owning or possessing, nor in being owned or possessed –John and Melissa are not entering into this bond demanding or expecting, nor even hoping, that what they each need in life will be supplied by the other, but rather in knowing that everything you need in life, all the love, all the wisdom, all the insight, all the power, all the knowledge, all the understanding, all the nurturing, all the compassion, and all the strength, resides within you – and that they are not marrying each other in hopes of getting these things, but in hopes of GIVING these gifts to each other."

and, the crux of the matter,

"John and Melissa, only a couple can administer the sacrament of marriage to each other and only a couple can sanctify it. No church, nor any power by the state, can grant the authority to declare what only two hearts can declare, and what only two souls can make real."

Bold added for emphasis.

The two above passages were taken from Neale Donald Walsch's book "Conversations with God - an uncommon dialogue - book 3."

John Venlet - 10:20:00 AM | Permalink

"What we need is here."

While walking my dog Iz yesterday morning, wearing a "Blogger" sweatshirt, one of my neighbors says "So you're a blogger hey?" Anyway, Dave runs a blog called Domestic Diversions and he has posted a Wendell Berry poem entitled "The Wild Geese." The last line of the poem is the title to this post.

John Venlet - 10:05:00 AM | Permalink


Brian Micklethwait, over at Samizdata, was reading Steven R. Covey's book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" over the weekend and asks this question "What is the difference between 'freedom' and 'liberty'?" The question is spurred on by a passage about Victor Frankl, a psychologist who spent time in the death camps, and Frankl's recollection of his freedom while in the camp.

The comment thread is worth your time also.

John Venlet - 8:14:00 AM | Permalink

I've Got My Eye On You

The above is possibly going to be the government's new motto. I mention this because of the fact that we learn, from a New York Times article, that the FBI has been gathering information on anti-war protestors. A couple comments I've read concerning this. Bryan M. Westhoff has this to say,

"Anti-war protesters are not terrorist. Some are smelly hippies and communists, sure, but they are not terrorist. The insinuation that they might be plotting acts against the United States is nothing short of a blatant attempt to put in the general public's mind that if you disagree with this war, you are in favor of the terrorist. Its so wrong on so many levels."

in his post over at The Agitator.

Claire Wolfe, comments that, individually, our motto is going to become "Silence is Health" in response to this. A slogan borrowed from Argentina during its military junta days.

John Venlet - 7:57:00 AM | Permalink

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Tragedy to Travesty Via the State

A Maryland father's ten year old son is dead after accidently shooting himself (the ten year old), while climbing down from a tree stand with the ready to shoot crossbow in his hands. The state is charging the father with reckless endangerment because the father did not have his son complete a hunter's safety course and because the son was unlicensed.

Does this make sense or provide any benefit? No. The state is simply pursuing this for reasons of law enforcement, not justice. Granted, the father's failure to adequately instruct his son in proper weapon handling contributed mightly to his son's demise, but, if the state believes they are the only adequate source of hunting safety instruction, they are sadly deluded. The father, and anyone reading about this incident, will garner much knowledge of hunting safety without the state's gun poking them in the back in the name of laws. If the state of Maryland actually decides to proceed with this case, they are simply adding insult to injury while at the same time turning a tragedy into a travesty in the interest only of law and the collection of fees.

Via The Obscure Store.

John Venlet - 1:58:00 PM | Permalink

Friday, November 21, 2003

A Judge I Could Almost Like

An appeals court ordered a judge to trim a $3 Mil award to a plaintiff because they deemed it excessive. So he did. He trimmed the award to $2,999,999.99. Now the judge has been reprimanded and removed from the case.

Via The Obscure Store.

John Venlet - 3:13:00 PM | Permalink

Responding to PC Criticism

John Derbyshire has been mocking the speech mannerisms of Al Sharpton and he has been taking a little heat for this. A portion of his

"It is, of course, difficult, if not impossible, for patronizing liberal nail-biters of your stripe to conceive that black people differ from each other in any way at all, and to be filled with baffled outrage when they do. None the less, I can inform you with certainty that black people have lots of different ways of speaking. Al Sharpton chooses to speak like Stepin Fetchit's dumber brother. That's his right. My right is to poke fun at him for it."

John Venlet - 3:07:00 PM | Permalink

Maneaters, Dogs, Terrorists

Yesterday morning, one of the first things I read, news wise, was about the Instanbul bombings. Suicide bombings natch, against unsuspecting innocent people. I then read this Radley Balko piece entitled "Post-Reductio America," which, as John T. Kennedy says, explains "that reductio ad absurdum is politically useless since politics freely embraces absurdity." After reading these pieces, I shut down my computer, hollered to the dog and headed north for the day and went walking deep in the woods and then into the river.

As I waded downstream with the hope of enticing a trout I got to thinking about maneating critters such as bears, cougars and tigers which segued into rabid dogs, or dogs that turn mean on you, which naturally led me to thinking about terrorists. Here are some of those thoughts.

When a bear, or bears, as in this story, attacks and kills a human, or humans, immediately someone heads out and kills the bear or bears. You don't hear alot of complaints about the bears being killed, except maybe from PETA or some such organization. The same thing happens when a cougar attacks and kills a human, as this story shows. Dogs are no exception to this eradication if they turn mean as this story shows. As I was contemplating this, I would occasionally glance at my dog, Iz, as she either sat on the bank, showing remarkable constraint as I waded downstream or chased a rabbit or other woodland creature deep into the forest.

As I watched my dog, which I raised from a pup, I thought about what I would do if she turned mean and bit someone. I love my dog, but if she turned mean and bit someone, I'd take her out in the woods and put her down. I'd feel sad that I would have to do this but it would have to be done. I feel the same way about terrorists. They are no better than dogs that have turned mean. They need to be taken out into the woods and put down.

The saddest thing about these thoughts is the additional thought of the people who willingly make excuses for the mean dogs, whether they be terrorists or dogs, and in my mind one is no different than the other. Though the excuse makers put up bigger fusses over the terrorists than the mean dogs.

John Venlet - 9:47:00 AM | Permalink

How to Sell Newspapers to Young People

"If you want your newspaper to appeal to young people, you must be willing to print the word "fuck."

From an Eric Celeste article in the Dallas Observer.

Via Arts & Letters Daily.

John Venlet - 8:18:00 AM | Permalink

I Didn't Realize Laws Could Provide Self Esteem

"I'm beginning to feel what it's like to be a complete human being in the eyes of the law for the first time since since I was twelve or thirteen years old. I didn't realize how much the deprivation of basic rights affected me psychologically, affected my whole view of the world, until the prospect of having those rights was in sight."


Via Andrew Sullivan's "Email Of The Day."

John Venlet - 8:11:00 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Leadership Thoughts

Claire Wolfe pens some comments under the heading "MAUNDERINGS ON LEADERSHIP" that consider our need for leadership and our desire to not be led, in a libertarian perspective. A true dichotomy. This comment,

"Unfortunately, when it comes to leadership, the only difference between us and the worst statists is not to our credit: If nobody leads us, we stand around and bicker and carp and philosophize and do nothing. But if anybody dares step forth to lead, we turn like a school of pirhanas and unleash our bickering, carping, philosophizing, and utter damnation upon him."

sums up the problem rather nicely. Personally, I've always felt that a leader was a leader because they led by example, not force, and, if I aligned myself under a leader, it was because I was willing to concede that said leader had better organizational capabilities and, more importantly, exhibited a deep reluctance to lead. A real leader, in my opinion, would be such a person as I briefly described above and, once said leader had assisted in leading us in the direction in which we wanted to proceed, or, had brought us to our goal, would quickly step aside and resume an individual life.

Reading Claire's writings, and noting her reluctance to lead, in order to enjoy the fruits of her "hermit writer" life, which I envy, she probably should be a leader.

John Venlet - 1:58:00 PM | Permalink

Eye Strain?

An interesting essay on e-books, and their limited success to date, written by Gary North, is available for your enjoyment. It's entitled "Picard's Syndrome." Gary provides some good arguments on why e-books should be more popular and prevalent, as compared to dead tree books, such as the following,

"It is a system of censorship. It allows the State and other groups to control what the public reads. This means that the gatekeepers can control what people think, merely by cutting off access to politically incorrect material."

which, in my opinion, is a sound argument.

Though I can appreciate the benefits of e-books, I would still prefer to read a book that didn't require an external power source in order for me to read it.


John Venlet - 9:28:00 AM | Permalink

On William Godwin

Roger Kimball pens a piece entitled "Friends of Humanity? for "The New Criterion" where he takes a look at William Godwin's opinions as presented in "Enquiry Concerning Political Justice." A quite popular little read, for supposed enlightened individuals, back in the mid to late 1790s which catapulted Godwin to his fifteen minutes of fame. Kimball sums up the transistory nature of Kimball's ideals quite aptly with this comment,

"Of course, sudden intoxications have a way of turning crapulous without warning."

A thought which should be considered as governments everywhere continue their attempts to be friends of humanity rather allowing us to be individuals.

Via Arts & Letters Daily.

John Venlet - 8:39:00 AM | Permalink


Andy Duncan, writing for Samizdata, reviews David Friedman's book "The Machinery of Freedom" by comparing aspects of Friedman's ideas to Hoppe's ideas presented in Hoppe's book "Democracy, The God That Failed." The piece is entitled "David Friedman: Radical capitalist or utilitarian apologist? The Machinery of Freedom."

John Venlet - 8:03:00 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Quite Sad, Actually

This is Senate Resolution 178.

Rob at Strike The Root blogs an apt description of the bill by entitling the post "A Bill To Prevent Stealing."

John Venlet - 9:25:00 PM | Permalink

Reality Based

""America" does not want farmers; farmers want farmers. "America" is not a person with wants and goals. I, as an individual, would rather buy food from people who offer me a lower price, including those in the third world trying to make a better life for themselves. The reason taxpayer money is coercively redistributed from me to farmers is that farmers bribe politicians. Of course, Dionne says as much, but then uses this to justify a similar policy for teachers."

Jonathon Wilde, commenting on an E.J. Dionne proposal in the Washington Post for a Leave No Teacher Behind Act.

Personally, I'd prefer to be left alone and behind.

John Venlet - 11:44:00 AM | Permalink

More on Flag Waving

A couple of days ago I posted this "Misunderstood Flag Waving." Here is an additional post, if you're interested, by Alan K. Henderson. Here or here.

Update: Edited for redundancy.

John Venlet - 9:37:00 AM | Permalink

Warrior Talk

Think what you will about the military, but when it comes down to having to fight, these are the type of men who will.

"But I want to make sure you understand my intent: that I want to be lethal. Make them understand, when they come up against us, they’re going to be killed or captured."

Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno in this MSNBC article.

John Venlet - 9:14:00 AM | Permalink


Leonard, at the blog Unruled, responds to some criticisms of Austrian economics.

John Venlet - 8:40:00 AM | Permalink

An Experience

Daniel Medley, over at LoboWalk, shares a personal story you must read. The story includes aspects of sleeping in your car, self defense, being down on your luck, emergency prayers and someone handing you 90K, in cash. The story is entitled "Sunset On The California Zephyr."

John Venlet - 7:55:00 AM | Permalink

Monday, November 17, 2003

Spot On

"These parents, they think I'm a role model," Spears says. "It's the parents who should be teaching their kids how to behave. That's not my responsibility. I'm not responsible for your kid."

Britney Spears in the November 21 issue of Entertainment Weekly. Not available online, unless you want to pay.

Bold added for emphasis. That is all.

John Venlet - 5:40:00 PM | Permalink

Foreign Quiz Shows versus US HUMINT

Tim Cavanaugh, at Hit & Run, after watching a foreign game show, compares the success of the foreign quiz show contestants, and their knowledge of Americana, to the US military's lack of HUMINT sources in the Middle East. Cavanaugh posits that the quiz show contestants' knowledge of Americana is a "more telling" factor than the US military's lack of HUMINT as US operations continue in the Middle East. If I understand Cavanaugh correctly, in this post, because Americans do not have a wealth of knowledge about Middle Eastern movie stars, are there any, or various Middle Eastern officials, typically despotic, we are somewhat ignorant.

I will concede that the US military is lacking in HUMINT sources in the Middle East but comparing that lack with the success of quiz show contestants is way off the mark. Think about Tim. Everything American is exported and sucked up around the world. Heck, even in the mosques Americana is tossed from the pulpit as an example of evil. Is it any wonder foreign quiz show contestants have a burgeoning knowledge of America? If there were other countries that could offer the plethora of opportunities, in a relatively free environment, America offers, more Americans would have a deeper interest in these foreign countries. Plus, we'd be better quiz show contestants.

John Venlet - 4:09:00 PM | Permalink

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Hate Crimes?

Robert W. Tracinski is asking rational questions about hate crime legislation, and providing rational answers,

"What, then, will a "hate crimes" law add? Despite its name, it is not "hatred" as such that the proposed law targets. After all, which crimes aren't motivated by hatred? Are assaults and murders usually committed out of benevolence toward the victim? The real target is the criminal's ideas. The proposed law declares that criminals motivated by a government-designated set of intolerable ideas--racism, sexism, religious sectarianism, anti-homosexuality--deserve special prosecution and additional punishment.

But to subject someone to trial and punishment on the basis of his ideas--regardless of how despicable those ideas might be--constitutes a politicization of criminal law. Why, for example, should a racist be prosecuted for the special crime of targeting blacks, while the Unabomber is not subject to special prosecution for his hatred of scientists and business executives? The only answer is that the Unabomber's ideas are considered more "politically correct" than the racist's."

On a related note, God of the, has a post up entitled "Your Criminial Mind, and Mine" which is also worth a review as long as we are looking at this subject matter.

Both links are courtesy of Mark Wickens, who, in linking to the God of the Machine post, makes this enjoyable comment,

"That's real crime Aaron's taking about — you know, the kind where something other than someone's feelings is hurt."

John Venlet - 11:06:00 AM | Permalink

Misunderstood Flag Waving

Karen De Coster, whose insights and writing I tend to respect and enjoy, posts a link and some comments about Ian Anderson, of Jethro Tull fame, who had this to say about flag waving here in the US,

"I hate to see the American flag hanging out of every bloody station wagon, out of every SUV, every little Midwestern house in some residential area," Ian Anderson was quoted as saying in an interview published Sunday in the Asbury Park Press. "It's easy to confuse patriotism with nationalism. Flag waving ain't gonna do it."

Karen gives Ian a salutatory nod for this comment. Personally, I think Karen and Ian misunderstand what this flag waving really means, though a portion of the flag wavers do wave the flag in the blind patriotism and nationalism that Ian mentions and is concerned about. Though I have no empirical data to support the following comments, I believe the flags are waved for another reason. And I'll admit that I have a flag on all three of my SUVs and another one waving from "little Midwestern house." And have for the past 11 years.

The majority of people waving the American flag from their SUV's and "little Midwestern house(s)" are waving their flags to make this statement, "Don't Tread On Me." The majority of flag wavers are not espousing blind patriotism or nationalism. The majority of flag wavers are waving the flag because they value freedom. The majority of the flag waving people are people like the ones mentioned in this post by Richard Nikoley, where Richard gives a nod to Billy Beck for casting an understanding light on certain things,

"Most particularly, he helped me to recognize that a lot of the people I admire most, like the mom & pop with their first dollar, or the guy bent over the fender of his car tinkering with it (all the while telling you about every mechanical improvement he's made) often, implicitly, "get it."

I think Karen De Coster would "get it" but I don't know if Ian Anderson would. I think the majority of the flag wavers "get it."

John Venlet - 9:02:00 AM | Permalink

Friday, November 14, 2003

Government is Not Justice, Only People Can be Just

In a post here, I passed on the info about an 89 year old woman, Helen Shue, whose $800,000.00 property had been confiscated and sold for $15,000.00 for want of a tax payment outstanding in the amount of $572.00. The buyer, Philip Dobson, has opted to return the property to Helen. Dobson, who will get his 15K back from the county, nailed it with this comment,

"It was a no-brainer, a moral issue, not a legal one. The property should be returned to her."

Also via Drudge.

John Venlet - 3:28:00 PM | Permalink


The headline reads "Teens Turn Legal Plant Into Dangerous Drug." The story relates the tale of teens using Jimsonweed, which, when distilled and ingested, can provide a hallucinogenic high. Wouldn't the more accurate headline read "Teens Turn Stupid After Distilling Jimsonweed?"

Via Drudge.

John Venlet - 3:17:00 PM | Permalink


The Michigan Miss Photogenic (Jennifer Granholm) Roadshow has been traversing the state recently. Disguising their wolfish rapacity in the costume of good shepherds, the roadshow gathers wayward sheep together allowing them to baa in false security about THEIR wool as the state cosmetically dips them to keep them calm. Nevermind that ALL the sheep actually end up being shorn before they are shuttled off to the slaughterhouse. As I said the dip is cosmetic.

Anyway, in my house, if there is a shortage of funds available we cut back on spending. No matter how painful that may be. And let me tell you, smoking cheap cigars is not that pleasant. Unfortunately, supposed public servants, in need of OUR cash, don't operate under the rules of reality and they make comments like these,

"Mike Shibler, superintendent of Rockford Public Schools, said Granholm should start looking at taxes.

"I think we need to put a pause on the tax cut and look at the revenue side rather than just continually looking at cuts," Shibler said."

Yep, look at the revenue side. The sheep still seem to have a little wool stuck to their hides.

John Venlet - 1:12:00 PM | Permalink

Worth a Read

"The tyrannical idealists want to win wars without killing people. They want peace through their own tyranny, that's all. The key word there is not peace, but tyranny."

David Yeagley in a post entitled "Brilliance in America's Crippled Military."

John Venlet - 12:03:00 PM | Permalink

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Good Point

Kim du Toit received a letter in response to his "Pussification" rant/essay from a European who wanted to debate some of the points made in said rant.

Here's a good point made by Kim in his response to the letter.

"Because it's all very well to be civilized, but when the barbarians are at the gates, then it behooves every man, whether soldier or philosopher, to be able to wield a sword. Otherwise, all the pretty words and noble sentiments mean nothing, and civilization will be pushed into the abyss."

John Venlet - 8:53:00 AM | Permalink

Only 14 Days Leave

Andrew Sullivan posted a "Belated Veteran's Day Note." The note is a letter Andrew received from an air traveler which I post below in its entirety.

"In addition to all the flights that had been canceled on Sunday, the weather was terrible in Baltimore and the flights were backed up. So, there were a lot of unhappy people in the terminal trying to get home, but nobody that I saw gave the soldiers a bad time. By the afternoon, one plane to Denver had been delayed several hours. United personnel kept asking for volunteers to give up their seats and take another flight. They weren't getting many takers. Finally, a United spokeswoman got on the PA and said this, "Folks. As you can see, there are a lot of soldiers in the waiting area. They only have 14 days of leave and we're trying to get them where they need to go without spending any more time in an airport then they have to. We sold them all tickets, knowing we would oversell the flight. If we can, we want to get them all on this flight. We want all the soldiers to know that we respect what you're doing, we are here for you and we love you." At that, the entire terminal of cranky, tired, travel-weary people, a cross-section of America, broke into sustained and heart-felt applause.The soldiers looked surprised and very modest. Most of them just looked at their boots. Many of us were wiping away tears. And, yes, people lined up to take the later flight and all the soldiers went to Denver on that flight. That little moment made me proud to be an American, and also told me why we will win this war."

John Venlet - 7:48:00 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Well Said

Nicholas Provenzo, at The Rule of Reason, commenting on the possibility of drafting military personnel in response to a Tony Blankley column entitled "To Arms".

"Yet an individualist sacrifices for no one. He lives for himself, and to appeal to him, you must appeal to his values. To convince men and women to serve in the military, you need to impress upon them of the gravity of the threat today and the manner in which it impacts them. You need to convince them of the benefits of the martial lifestyle, and pay them enough so that the cost of their service is not the derailment of every other aspect of their lives. And lastly, you must keep the promise that if they are wounded or fall in battle, they and their loved ones will be cared for by a grateful nation.

The idea of the draft should be anathema to any person dedicated to human freedom. Yes, Mr. Blankley, we have a host of threats arrayed against us. We do not answer those threats by betraying our core values, or sacrificing our freedom. It will take men and women of substance to successfully defend the nation. Such men and women will not be found by a draft board."


John Venlet - 7:46:00 PM | Permalink

A Visual Comment on National ID

Via Samizdata.

John Venlet - 7:37:00 PM | Permalink

Tune In

Billy Beck provides a "Hot Audio Tip" which provides me with a quote worth posting in regards to historians' views on governments.

"They write about the rise and fall of civilizations, of prosperity and famine, of peace and war. While noticing that government is often responsible for bad things, they incorrectly conclude it must be credited for all good in society as well. This leap of logic is what keeps the truth of freedom under wraps."

From "The Wisdom of LeFevre." A short intro piece written by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. which can be read in full if you delve into the tip Billy points to.

John Venlet - 5:56:00 PM | Permalink

Pay -- Dirt?

Paging through our local rag today I stumbled across a condensed version of this article, from the Toronto Globe and Mail which seems to have been driven by this press release from UC Berkeley. The gist of the articles is a push by researchers for recognition of endangered dirt. You read that correctly, endangered dirt. That stuff we dig, spade and shovel may soon become just another tool for enviroweenies to use against us as they continue to attempt to limit the use of our private property.

John Venlet - 3:48:00 PM | Permalink


Greg Ranson of PrestoPundit provides a link to a paper written by Edward Feser entitled "Hayek on Tradition" which is posted at the Ludwig von Mises Institute site. The paper is in a pdf format, and, at 40 pages, takes some time to read through, I've printed it off, but is well worth your time to review.

John Venlet - 11:00:00 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Veteran's Day Honor?

"The only person the man in the wheelchair.

Via Fred Lapides via Strange Cosmos.

John Venlet - 8:50:00 AM | Permalink

Poetic Advice for UN Members From a Cockroach


dipolmatists and ambassadors
are rushing hither and yon
from country to country around the world
by train steamer and airplane
by which i judge that there is more trouble
in store for the human species
for i have notice that conferences
to establish international good will
always break up with another row
there is no hope for the world
unless politicians of all sorts
are completely abolished
you cannot get a millennium by
laying a whole lot of five year plans
end to end if governments would just let people alone
things would straighten out of themselves
in the course of time

archy the cockroach

Don Marquis, the lives & times of archy and mehitabel, pg. 282

John Venlet - 8:33:00 AM | Permalink

Taking Over the Internet

Instapundit links to a Slashdot post which links to a Financial Times article which reports that the UN is considering attempting to manage the internet. Though the plan is being "shelved" for the moment.

It's the last six words of the article, which voice other "unresolved disputes" the UN would like to manage, that concern me even more,

"...and acceptable boundaries to freedom of expression."

John Venlet - 8:23:00 AM | Permalink

"'s a big burden on the taxpayers to count the money"

So says Nancy Lake, clerk of the court in Fairfax County. The "big burden" is counting the money, paid in pennies, by a woman ticketed for driving in a bus lane. The fine itself was only thirty dollars, 3,000 pennies, what irked the person fined was the the fifty-five dollar processing fee, another 5,500 pennies, the county charges to accept payment of the thirty dollar fine.

It's a big burden alright.

Via Strike The Root..

John Venlet - 8:04:00 AM | Permalink

Monday, November 10, 2003

What a Trip

Interesting piece in the The Guardian entitled "Ten years of therapy in one night." Written by Daniel Pinchbeck, the essay covers Pinchbeck's experiences with iboga. A rootbark extract which purportedly contains a dozen plus active alkaloids, and is, of course, illegal and unlicensed. But, as in all aspects of our lives involving any so called illegalities, and the risks associated with them, Pinchbeck correctly states how we should evaluate this,

"The decision whether or not to take such a risk is entirely personal."

Personally, I'd the say the price for a "treatment," no pun intended, is a tad high at $2,800.00 a pop.

Via Fred Lapides.

John Venlet - 7:18:00 AM | Permalink

Saturday, November 08, 2003


An 87 year old Missouri woman gets an indoor toliet for the first time in her life in this story, but it is her comments about the Great Depression that intrique me.

"Times are better now, but they are not as good," she said.
"The depression was hard, but they was good times. They wasn't no welfare; no jobs that you could get then. But when you got a dollar, you could buy a whole lot of somethin' with it. Now you can't hardly buy you a sandwich," she said.
Campbell added, "It was a less stressful time. Everyone didn't have to have the good stuff. Then it was more simpler. You didn't worry about going to the mall today. What you worried about was getting the rocks out there and keeping the kids out of the branch."

Via The Obscure Store.

John Venlet - 11:41:00 AM | Permalink

Law or Justice?

"We followed the letter of the law to a T." That's what a Dauphin County spokeswoman had to say after selling an 89 year old woman's property, owned for over 50 years, to recoup $572.00 in back taxes. A property with an estimated value of $800,000.00, which, to recoup the $572.00, the county fire saled for $15,000.00.

"We followed the letter of the law to a T." These type of statements are uttered by masters about their slaves.

Via a sharp eyed reader and Drudge.

John Venlet - 8:12:00 AM | Permalink

Friday, November 07, 2003

The "n" Word

Oh, oh. Somebody used the "n" word in a sentence again. They must not have gotten the memo. Was the word uttered necrophilia? Nah, necrophilia is a legitimately recognized pasttime. Was the word negritude? Can't be. Not enough people would realize that negritude has positive connotations. Was the word nerd? Nope. Using the word nerd is politically correct still. It must be the word nigger. A derogatory word no doubt, if used in a disparaging context. This time it was an anthropology professor at Emory University who had the temerity to use the word, and this after the university went through a "Year of Reconciliation."

But that's not all. The The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was able to work into this story an unrelated halloween costume faux pas committed by two international students who costumed themselves as blacks. Evidently the students didn't realize you can costume yourself as an American Indian, a Chinaman or an Arab shiekh but not as a black. No, no. Costuming yourself as a black is akin to a hanging offense.

I'm going to go outside and rake leaves.

Thanks to The Obscure Store for the link.

John Venlet - 8:32:00 AM | Permalink

Consider This

Anna, over at Belligerent Bunny Blog, who is a wonderful source of information on defense systems, and bunnies, mentions the newest under-employed weapon in Iraq,

"The newest weapon under development is the p.o.'ed Free Iraqi. He's the cat who won't cop out, when there's danger all about:"

but it's her suggestion for this weapon deployment that needs to be seriously considered,

"The AoD need not waste time and money tracking down the evildoers in Iraq. There are plenty of folks who have a stake in their new society and know who and where the enemies are. We should arm them and let them take care of business.

There's a butcher's bill due in Iraq, and if it takes vigilantes to settle the account we should look the other way. It's not the prettiest solution, but the targets are indisputably ugly. As long as we can keep the Hatfield-McCoy nonsense to a minimum, everything will turn out for the best."

John Venlet - 7:44:00 AM | Permalink

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Too True

"After all, Saudi Arabia is the true source of worldwide Islamist terror."

Glenn Reynolds commenting on a Jeff Jacoby column that uses historical analogies in looking at the goings on in Iraq.

John Venlet - 6:45:00 PM | Permalink

Blog Quote

Posted by J Bowen at No Watermelons Allowed as part of a post entitled "Why no missing links?"

"You don't have to be religious to insist that science not be corrupted by ideology."

On a related note, the comment below, by Diana Mertz Hsieh, a definite atheist, in regards to the announcement of a new book by Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptics Society, entitled "The Science of Good and Evil," fits nicely with Bowen's comment above.

"Notice that 1/2 genes + 1/2 environment = no choice, no character, no morals. And this is supposed to be scientific? *sigh*"

Diana's comment is driven by Shermer's answer to this question,

"Q: What makes people good or evil?"

John Venlet - 7:48:00 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Survey Says

Most of us have heard of the Veg-O-Matic, well here is the Belief-O-Matic.

My results:

1. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (100%)
2. New Age (97%)
3. Mahayana Buddhism (97%)
4. Unitarian Universalism (97%)
5. New Thought (94%)
6. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (93%)
7. Liberal Quakers (92%)
8. Neo-Pagan (88%)
9. Theravada Buddhism (83%)
10. Bahá'í Faith (82%)
11. Hinduism (77%)
12. Scientology (77%)
13. Taoism (66%)
14. Reform Judaism (65%)
15. Jainism (59%)
16. Orthodox Quaker (59%)
17. Sikhism (56%)
18. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (55%)
19. Secular Humanism (51%)
20. Orthodox Judaism (49%)
21. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (46%)
22. Jehovah's Witness (46%)
23. Islam (40%)
24. Nontheist (39%)
25. Seventh Day Adventist (32%)
26. Eastern Orthodox (24%)
27. Roman Catholic (24%)

Which I find quite amusing since I was brought up in a #18 family and would not belong as a member to any of the 27 organized religions posited based on my replies to the Belief-O-Matic. I refer you to an earlier post that references this and reprint the quotes of Thomas Paine, from said post, on this subject which I find compelling.

"With respect to what are called denominations of religion, if every one is left to judge of its own religion, there is no such thing as a religion that is wrong; but if they are to judge of each others religion, there is no such thing as a religion that is right; and therefore, all the world is right, or all the world is wrong."


"I do not believe that any two men, on what are called doctrinal points, think alike who think at all. It is only those who have not thought that appear to agree."

Via J. Orlin Grabbe.

John Venlet - 9:12:00 AM | Permalink

Something New

Having a few extra moments this AM to tour around the blogosphere I ventured over to The Rule of Reason which is the blog for The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism. The posts which I reviewed were written by one Nicholas Provenzo. Here are few links to posts that I found particularly noteworthy. A post on honor which was written in memory of one of the most recently killed servicemen in Iraq. A post on law with an emphasis on if the U.S. should look outside its borders for guidance. The succinct answer from the linked post,

"Every legal decision in the United States should be able to be reduced to the core facts of reality that drive it. While most reasoning is implicit, no American court should permit itself the shortcut of considering the customs of others in reaching its own conclusions. Our courts should not be influenced by Europe—they should be influenced by reality."

The final post I link you to looks at political activism and political philosophy with an eye cast on the recent California governor campaign. The statement below, from this post, is sound,

"The practical way to fight for the freedom is to defend the right of rational men to make rational decisions. It requires a broad understanding of philosophy to make such a case; one must understand how the mind works, its role in human existence and, as an activist, where most people make their errors regarding its use. Only then can one compellingly show that individual sovereignty demands that a person have unfettered ability to make every decision that affects his life. And while that would spell an end to the criminalization of drugs, that would only come as an after effect, a consequence of the larger respect for freedom."

but this statement I would quibble with,

"The real fight in America is not excessive government—it is insufficient individualism."

though if we had sufficient individualism we would not have excessive government.


John Venlet - 8:40:00 AM | Permalink


An interesting morning read entitled "Unreason's Seductive Charms," written by David P. Barash.

Via Arts & Letters Daily.

John Venlet - 7:57:00 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Joke Telling Penis Saga Continues

I've mentioned the Timothy Huffman indecent exposure case a couple of different times here. To refresh your memory, Huffman was convicted of misdemeanor indecent exposure for televising a joke telling penis on his Grand Rapids, Michigan public access cable television show. Huffman's first appeal of the conviction has been denied by one Judge James Robert Redford, as is reported here. This most recent article includes some additional information, written in the "56 page opinion" of Judge Redford, that I wasn't previously aware of and which the judge utilizes to justify his denial. Specifically, the judge's opinion mentions that the joke telling appendage was viewable for three minutes in more than 46,000 homes. I wonder why only one lady complained? Anyway, it is no surprise that Mr. Huffman's appeal was denied in the local courts here. Grand Rapids, Michigan is a bastion of the Dutch Christian Reformed church in addition to the proliferation of other churches in this area. To say that Grand Rapids is conservative is an understatement. No local electable judge wants to appear soft on "indecency" in this area.

I stand by my post which is linked through the word "times" above.

John Venlet - 5:06:00 PM | Permalink

Flashing Lights = Free Speech

Traveling both north and south this past weekend on I75 I was exercising this form of free speech.

Via Drudge.

John Venlet - 4:04:00 PM | Permalink

Two Worth Reading

Clarie Wolfe, whose blog Wolfesblog is always worth a read, provides links to two items worth reading. First, "The Law in Hardyville," written by Claire herself, was originally published some time ago and has been reposted by Backwoods Home Magazine. Secondly, she links to "A Citizen's Guide To Interacting With The Police" which, quite accurately, states as its opening premise, "If you don't know your rights then you have no rights." Read em both, even if only as a refresher.

John Venlet - 3:50:00 PM | Permalink

Monday, November 03, 2003

Pornographic or An Agenda for Media Wonks

Drudge links to a Reuters article entitled "U.S. Military Upholds TV Cover Ban on Iraq Coffins" in which unnamed others in the article claim the reason for this as "...arguing its aim is to prevent the public from seeing large numbers of coffins that could turn public opinion against the war." Arthur Silber, in a post entitled "AND THOSE AREN'T DEAD BODIES, EITHER," also comments on this issue and links to a Toronto Star article entitled "Pentagon keeps dead out of sight" in which the Star posits that the Bush Team is "sanitizing" teevee coverage in order to sell the war. Which Arthur seems to agree with. In all honesty that may be the case. But, I want to draw your attention to another mindset.

Although we cannot view the coffins, body bags, "transfer tubes" or whatever you want to call them of the volunteer military personnel who have been killed in Iraq, we can read, day by day, the tally of those killed. One here, two there, fifteen over there. Lets own up to it, teevee coverage would only allow the dead, who we read about, to be turned into a more poignant marketing image to be manipulated by the media as they tsk tsk over the U.S. involvement in Iraq. More importantly, recall the television coverage of the events of September 11 and how almost every major network declined to continue showing those images in order to "protect" our fragile psyches. The horror, the horror. The Guardian even went so far as to say that repeated showings of the events of September 11 were "pornographic."

I'm all for filming and allowing us to view the dead. We are capable of dealing with that reality. But lets call a spade a spade. Don't not show me one set of images because it may cause me stress and then argue to show me another set of images, with the same connotations, because I need to be informed.

John Venlet - 6:48:00 PM | Permalink

Honorifics for Dollars

On October 27th, when I returned home from making some calls, Melissa informed me I had received a phone call requesting my participation in a business advisory council. Specifically, Melissa informed me that the gentleman who called requested that I serve as an honorary chairman of said council. When Melissa informed me of this I could initially only scratch my head in wonder because I had no idea who would be requesting my participation in such an enterprise. Because the requestor left an 800 number for a return call from myself I picked up the phone and dialled it up.

Much to my surprise, the number I dialled up connected me with Rep. Tom DeLay's "office." The person answering the phone, when I called in, informed me that the person who had originally phoned me wasn't available but that she could assist me if I would just give her my name. Which I did. Once she had my name, she asked if I would be willing to listen to a message from DeLay, acting as House Majority Leader, to which I acquiesced. DeLay's pre-recorded message was a spiel which informed me that the Republicans were great friends of business and of the Republicans' continuing needs for good people such as myself to continue to assist the party in their fight for free enterprise. Cough, cough.

After DeLay's spiel, the woman I spoke to intially returned to the line and inquired if I was able to hear DeLay's message. To which I replied in the affirmative. Then I started asking her questions. First I asked how they had come up with my name. She replied that as a Michigan business owner, my name was probably gathered from some other publication. I informed her that this could not be because I had not had an ownership share in any business since 1994. Upon hearing my reply, she then said that I must have been recommended as an astute business person by some other party or the state of Michigan's Republican party. To which I replied that since I was not involved in the Republican party or any other business organization, I still was uncertain as to how my name had been submitted. The end result of these exchanges was that the how, according to DeLay's people, didn't matter, what mattered was that my business acumen was desperately needed and would I agree to serve on the business advisory council.

Wanting to see where this led, I agreed to serve. That's when the real pitch commenced. You see in order to provide a good impression to the business community, they needed me to contribute dollars to defray the cost of an upcoming full page ad, in which my name would prominently appear, that would be placed in The Wall Street Journal, touting the Business Advisory Council. I informed them that due to the current business climate, I could not afford to do this, thinking that this would be the end of the conversation and my participation in the business advisory council as an honorary chariman. Surprisingly it was not. I was informed that even though I couldn't contribute, I would be receiving a package in the mail with additional information on the council and my participation in said council.

The package arrived about one hour ago. The contents of the package included a personally addressed letter to myself thanking me for my willingness to serve as an honorary chairman for the state of Michigan, informing me that I will be invited to meetings in Washington to meet with members of Congress, including invitations to VIP dinners, The President's Dinner and other social functions. Signed, in facsimilie, by DeLay. Additionally, I received a photo of the President, on cheap photo paper, no signature, with the obligatory "Not printed at government expense" disclaimer, a frameable, embossed 2003 National Leadership Award certificate, also on cheap paper, a honorary chairman biographical information form to be completed and returned, and of course a request for contributions. Interesting.

So, I'm contemplating what to do. Should I fill out the biographical information sheet and return it along with a check for one dollar or just return the sheet with no money and see how many invitations I receive to go to Washington? Or should I just laugh at this and chalk it up to the title for this post and toss the stuff in the trash? Which is my first inclination. What do you think?

John Venlet - 4:04:00 PM | Permalink

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