Surly Curmudgeon

   The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
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    Wednesday, June 29, 2005


    No doubt you've seen this...

    Someone's making a bid to eminent domain Justice Souter's house and build a "Lost Liberty Hotel". I love it.

    On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

    ...

    Clements' plan is to raise investment capital from wealthy pro-liberty investors and draw up architectural plans. These plans would then be used to raise investment capital for the project. Clements hopes that regular customers of the hotel might include supporters of the Institute For Justice and participants in the Free State Project among others.


    I'm not wealthy, but where do I send a check?

    Posted by Tom, 6/29/2005 7:01:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Things that make you go HMMMM...

    John Lott gives us some good ol' fashioned anti-Brady smackdown:

    This wasn't supposed to happen. When the federal assault weapons ban ended on Sept. 13, 2004, gun crimes and police killings were predicted to surge. Instead, they have declined.

    For a decade, the ban was a cornerstone of the gun control movement. Sarah Brady, one of the nation's leading gun control advocates, warned that "our streets are going to be filled with AK-47s and Uzis." Life without the ban would mean rampant murder and bloodshed.

    Well, more than nine months have passed and the first crime numbers are in. Last week, the FBI announced that the number of murders nationwide fell by 3.6% last year, the first drop since 1999. The trend was consistent; murders kept on declining after the assault weapons ban ended.


    Gives me a warm fuzzy.

    Posted by Tom, 6/29/2005 6:59:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    NASA Nitwit News

    The latest on NASA:

    NASA got some unsettling news when its own advisory panel said the agency had not fulfilled all the safety goals it had promised to meet before returning the shuttle fleet to orbit. But it is planning to go ahead anyway, launching the Discovery in about two weeks.

    In other news, several astronauts from the upcoming mission have been shopping for life insurance and updating their wills.

    Posted by Tom, 6/29/2005 6:56:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, June 24, 2005


    More on the SC

    Neal Boortz has some excellent comments on this BS from the Supreme Court:

    Let me give you a few real-life examples of just how politicians can now use this Supreme Court decision. In considering these examples, please remember one of the first rules of politics: There is absolutely no limit whatsoever to a politician's desire for more tax money to spend.

    First let's consider our lovely Southern Belle producer Belinda. Belinda and her husband recently purchased a tract of land behind her new home. That tract of land contains one rather small and old house plus some empty acreage. Belinda will rent the home for just enough to cover her debt service and property taxes on the new purchase ... maybe. Now, here comes a developer. He wants Belinda's land because he can build at least three, maybe four new homes on that property. Belinda says no. She likes not having houses abutting her back yard and appreciates the investment value of the land she has purchased. So .. the developer wanders off to the Capitol to talk to some politicians. He tells them that he can increase the property being paid on that tract of land tenfold if he could just get in there and build some houses, but the owners just won't sell the property to him. Under this Supreme court ruling the city can just seize the property from Belinda and hand it over to the developer to build those homes. Belinda has no way to stop this action. The city will have to pay Belinda "just compensation," but that compensation will never match what Belinda might have earned by selling the property herself. Besides ... she didn't want to sell in the first place. It was her property, and she wanted to keep it. Now it can be taken ... just like that.

    Another example. This time we'll use me. About two years ago I brought a building lot in the Northeast Georgia mountains. It's a lot in a mountain resort community. Before I bought the lot I made sure that there were no covenants or regulations that would require me to build a home on that lot before I was ready to do so. At present it is not my intention to build a home. I bought the lot as an investment. Now, since there is no home as of yet the property taxes are rather low. Along comes a developer. He wants to build a home on my lot. I tell him the lot is not for sale. He waltzes off to the local county commission to complain. He wants to build a house, I won't sell him the land. If he could build the house the property taxes would jump on that parcel of land. The county commission then sends me a letter telling me that if I don't sell my land to that developer to build that home they are going to seize the land and turn it over. Thanks to the Supreme Court, I'm screwed.

    Now take the situation in New London. This is the case the court was considering. The targeted neighborhood is populated by middle class residents. The homes are old, but very well kept. One couple now slated to have their property seized is in their 80's. They celebrated their wedding in that home. They raised their children in that home. They held their 50th wedding anniversary party in that home. Now they're going to lose that home because a developer wants the property to build a hotel, some office buildings and a work out center. This is America. This shouldn't happen in America. That couple shouldn't be kicked out of their home just because a new development would pay more in property taxes.


    Thanks for nothing, you useless pansies in the "third branch".

    Posted by Tom, 6/24/2005 5:41:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, June 23, 2005


    Supreme Court to Citizens: Screw You

    The Supreme Court basically took away any pretense at limitations on eminent domain.

    A divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.

    Bastards.

    Posted by Tom, 6/23/2005 6:38:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, June 21, 2005


    I've never read the whole thing...

    ... until now, and I love it.

    Tiger, Tiger, burning bright
    In the forest of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

    In what distant deeps or skies
    Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
    On what wings dare he aspire?
    What the hand dare seize the fire?

    And what shoulder and what art
    Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
    And, when thy heart began to beat,
    What dread hand and what dread feet?

    What the hammer? What the chain?
    In what furnace was thy brain?
    What the anvil? What dread grasp
    Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

    When the stars threw down their spears,
    And water'd heaven with their tears,
    Did He smile His work to see?
    Did He who made the lamb make thee?

    Tiger, Tiger, burning bright
    In the forests of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

    - William Blake (1757-1827)


    Posted by Tom, 6/21/2005 6:46:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    I liked this one

    Here's an awesome article that takes a step back and looks at the state of the mental health field and its impact on society. The best line is toward the end, where the author talks about the "pathologization of the human condition", where everything that basically boils down to "that's life" gets labeled as some sort of disorder or another, providing an easy excuse for those who don't want to deal with it. "Oh, I've got PTSD (or whatever), so I don't have to deal with life like everyone else."

    Don't get me wrong; I think there are people who are truly messed up in the head. The problem is that they're being neglected in favor of every person who's had enough and just doesn't want to get out of bed because life's suddenly too hard. Cry me a river. Then get off your butt and back to work.

    Posted by Tom, 6/21/2005 6:23:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thumbs Up

    Government finally has a clue and is pursuing an expansion of nuclear power. Not quite as good as a free market that allows companies to pursue it without all the handwringing and busybodies, but I'll take what I can get.

    Posted by Tom, 6/21/2005 12:02:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, June 20, 2005


    Thumbs Down

    The TSA has apparently been violating all the rules regarding their formation and operation. Convince me that this is somehow unexpected. The link should read "passenger screwing".

    Posted by Tom, 6/20/2005 11:53:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, June 17, 2005


    I am SO getting one of these



    Thanks to Scott at PVPOnline for coming up with it. They are supposed to be coming up at ThinkGeek any time now.

    Posted by Tom, 6/17/2005 6:12:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005


    Gotta love Bebo

    Bebo Norman is probably my favorite artist at the moment. His music has a deep soulfulness that I've only seen in one other artist: Rich Mullins. The lyrics come from a heart of humble worship, and communicate a mindfulness of one's place in the universe. For example, his song "Nothing Without You" begins with the words

    Take these hands and lift them up
    For I have not the strength to praise You near enough
    For I have nothing, I have nothing without You


    I don't know about you, but I've felt that kind of spiritual weariness, where the problems of life just seem to weigh in so hard that you don't even have the strength to address God. The song goes on in that vein, and toward the end has this little gem:

    But I love You

    With all my heart
    With all my soul
    With all my mind
    And all the strength I can find


    Once again he brings up the idea that sometimes we just don't have the strength to maintain our end of our relationship with God. It's putting that kind of thing on display in all humility, that makes me think of Rich Mullins, especially my favorite song of his, "If I Stand":

    So if I stand let me stand on the promise
    That you will pull me through
    And if I can't, let me fall on the grace
    That first brought me to You
    And if I sing let me sing for the joy
    That has born in me these songs
    And if I weep let it be as a man
    Who is longing for his home


    This says "I can't promise to be what You deserve as a worshipper, God, but whatever I do, whether it's succeed or fail, I'm trusting you to make it work". I find myself moved by that confession, because most of the time I find myself tired of trying to be SuperChristian, which I do compulsively even though I know I can't succeed at it.

    Posted by Tom, 6/14/2005 7:23:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, June 8, 2005


    WoW wins it!

    I'm at the Apple Design Awards at the World Wide Developer's Conference. Blizzard's World of WarCraft just won best entertainment product, and that's some well-deserved kudos for them. It was awesome to see them recognized in this venue. Way to go, guys!

    Posted by Tom, 6/8/2005 10:20:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Voice vs. Exit

    From Mises.org:

    Voting is based on the idea that every adult citizen should have a voice. Capitalize that: Voice. The first problem with the power of Voice, already discussed, is that it requires the voter to have more information than he will undertake to get, and to do more thinking that he will undertake to do.

    The second problem is that one vote is worthless. In order to make Voice heard, you have to convince many others to add their votes to yours, which means making a public campaign. Unless your side wins, you get nothing.

    What Voice gives the individual voter is the appearance of power without actually having any. Those who influence electoral majorities, those who operate the state, and those who influence them hold the real power.

    Compare this with the market. It gives you a different power, called Exit. That is, you have the right not to make a purchase, not to renew a lease, not to continue working in a job. You can keep your money, move out, and quit your job. You can Exit.

    Voice and Exit are not original to Friedman. He got them from another "nugget" of political science, Alfred Hirschmanís academic paper, "Exit, Voice and Loyalty" (1970). Hirschman does not champion Exit. Friedman does.

    The first reason to prefer Exit is that even in the singular it gets us something valuable: to get out of a bad deal.

    The other virtue of Exit, Friedman says, is that it "does not require us to think." To say "no" to a market transaction requires no knowledge of public questions, only of what is in front of our noses. The market handles the public question, which is, say, how many one-bedroom apartments to build and what price to set on the ones available for rent. The market makes this decision without any single participant having to think for the whole.

    Says Friedman: "Exit is compatible with the complexity of the world."


    Exit is a power given to us by the market, which is not afforded us by government. I have found that people who are pro-State and especially those who are pro-Democracy are overly concerned with the power of Voice. They tend to put all of their hope and faith into Voice, as though simply having the ability to say "I don't like this" is going to be enough to mitigate aggression. While I think this is a natural starting point, I believe one has to get past this understanding of the world and become enamored of Exit. Exit allows us to say not only "I don't like this" but also "I'm not going to participate in it".

    What is missed by the author of the above article is that the market also gives us the power of Voice. We can use it in both the affirmative and the negative, stating our preferences in as many (if not more) ways as we can in government. In the market, Voice is even more powerful than in government. An individual may use Voice to directly affect his own quality of life, with much more predictable results than in government. With market Voice, the act of stating one's preferences is simultaneously the act of changing one's conditions in accordance with those preferences. With government Voice, one must still wait to see what everyone else's Voice is saying, and our preferences may end up being ignored. So it's not like the people who are defending government would lose anything -- after all, the free market is the most democratic system on the face of the planet. But what's cool about it is that we also have the option to not participate. We can Exit.

    Posted by Tom, 6/8/2005 8:52:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Voice vs Exit

    From Mises.org:

    Voting is based on the idea that every adult citizen should have a voice. Capitalize that: Voice. The first problem with the power of Voice, already discussed, is that it requires the voter to have more information than he will undertake to get, and to do more thinking that he will undertake to do.

    The second problem is that one vote is worthless. In order to make Voice heard, you have to convince many others to add their votes to yours, which means making a public campaign. Unless your side wins, you get nothing.

    What Voice gives the individual voter is the appearance of power without actually having any. Those who influence electoral majorities, those who operate the state, and those who influence them hold the real power.

    Compare this with the market. It gives you a different power, called Exit. That is, you have the right not to make a purchase, not to renew a lease, not to continue working in a job. You can keep your money, move out, and quit your job. You can Exit.

    Voice and Exit are not original to Friedman. He got them from another "nugget" of political science, Alfred Hirschmanís academic paper, "Exit, Voice and Loyalty" (1970). Hirschman does not champion Exit. Friedman does.

    The first reason to prefer Exit is that even in the singular it gets us something valuable: to get out of a bad deal.

    The other virtue of Exit, Friedman says, is that it "does not require us to think." To say "no" to a market transaction requires no knowledge of public questions, only of what is in front of our noses. The market handles the public question, which is, say, how many one-bedroom apartments to build and what price to set on the ones available for rent. The market makes this decision without any single participant having to think for the whole.

    Says Friedman: "Exit is compatible with the complexity of the world."


    Exit is a power given to us by the market, which is not afforded us by government. I have found that people who are pro-State and especially those who are pro-Democracy are overly concerned with the power of Voice. They tend to put all of their hope and faith into Voice, as though simply having the ability to say "I don't like this" is going to be enough to mitigate aggression. While I think this is a natural starting point, I believe one has to get past this understanding of the world and become enamored of Exit. Exit allows us to say not only "I don't like this" but also "I'm not going to participate in it".

    What is missed by the author of the above article is that the market also gives us the power of Voice. We can use it in both the affirmative and the negative, stating our preferences in as many (if not more) ways as we can in government. In the market, Voice is even more powerful than in government. An individual may use Voice to directly affect his own quality of life, with much more predictable results than in government. With market Voice, the act of stating one's preferences is simultaneously the act of changing one's conditions in accordance with those preferences. With government Voice, one must still wait to see what everyone else's Voice is saying, and our preferences may end up being ignored. So it's not like the people who are defending government would lose anything -- after all, the free market is the most democratic system on the face of the planet. But what's cool about it is that we also have the option to not participate. We can Exit.

    Posted by Tom, 6/8/2005 8:52:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...