Thursday, June 28, 2007

Well I've been blog lazy again. Plus I've been listening to a couple of lectures on Mises which are 15 hours each, so you get the picture there. I'll try to post something substantial soon, but in the meantime I give you to evolution of Frank Black.

Small (*warning bad bad words*)



Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sweden's Heavy Metal Obsession

It seems that in Sweden, the country many people mistakenly title the "Highest Standard of Living in the World," you can't name your child Metallica though if you listen to enough of it they'll subsidize your paycheck.

Man gets sick benefits for heavy metal addiction

A Swedish heavy metal fan has had his musical preferences officially classified as a disability. The results of a psychological analysis enable the metal lover to supplement his income with state benefits.

Roger Tullgren, 42, from Hässleholm in southern Sweden has just started working part time as a dishwasher at a local restaurant.

Because heavy metal dominates so many aspects of his life, the Employment Service has agreed to pay part of Tullgren's salary. His new boss meanwhile has given him a special dispensation to play loud music at work.

"I have been trying for ten years to get this classified as a handicap," Tullgren told The Local.

"I spoke to three psychologists and they finally agreed that I needed this to avoid being discriminated against."

Roger Tullgren first developed an interest in heavy metal when his older brother came home with a Black Sabbath album in 1971.

Since then little else has mattered for the 42-year-old, who has long black hair, a collection of tattoos and wears skull and crossbones jewelry.

The ageing rocker claims to have attended almost three hundred shows last year, often skipping work in the process.

Eventually his last employer tired of his absences and Tullgren was left jobless and reliant on welfare handouts.

But his sessions with the occupational psychologists led to a solution of sorts: Tullgren signed a piece of paper on which his heavy metal lifestyle was classified as a disability, an assessment that entitles him to a wage supplement from the job centre.

"I signed a form saying: 'Roger feels compelled to show his heavy metal style. This puts him in a difficult situation on the labour market. Therefore he needs extra financial help'. So now I can turn up at a job interview dressed in my normal clothes and just hand the interviewers this piece of paper," he said.

The manager at his new workplace allows him to go to concerts as long as he makes up for lost time at a later point. He is also allowed to dress as he likes and listen to heavy metal while washing up.

"But not too loud when there are guests," he said.

The Local spoke to an occupational psychologist in Stockolm, who admitted to being baffled by the decision.

"I think it's extremely strange. Unless there is an underlying diagnosis it is absolutely unbelievable that the job centre would pay pay out.

"If somebody has a gambling addiction, we don't send them down to the racetrack. We try to cure the addiction, not encourage it," he said.

Henrietta Stein, deputy employment director for the Skåne region, is also puzzled by the move; "an interest in music" is not usually sufficient to qualify for wage benefits.

"Certain cases are confidential but in general there is always a medical reason that is well-documented," she said.

Tullgren currently plays bass and guitar in two rock bands and says that he tends to get a lot of positive reactions for daring to be himself.

"Some might say that I should grow up and learn to listen to other types of music but I can't. Heavy metal is my lifestyle," he said.


Not exactly a substantially informative video but it made me crack up laughing.

From 1988

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Gun Post, Part Two

You can view part one here.

Continuing on the notion of natural rights, the right to self-defense is perhaps the most basic of all. In fact, you cannot have any other rights without first having the right to protect your most basic of possessions, your body. Surely the right to life enumerated in the Declaration of Independence is inseparable from the right to self-defense.

The most obvious extension of the right to self-defense is not arming as many people as possible or restricting guns to private citizens, but rather allowing individuals to decide for themselves the best means of self-protection. There is no one size fits all solution to defense, and best person to decide for you how to protect your person is you, not a non-responsive overbearing government that can only pretend to know specific solutions to a broad number of individual situations.

The ignorance and arrogance towards the natural right of self-defense in the anti-conceal carry lobby is the most infuriating of all positions. They think not of society, but only of themselves. Because they are in a stable and most likely affluent environment they see no need for others to protect themselves. They think a quick call to 9-1-1 is the only defense a person should ever need. These are the Rosie O’Donnell types who are more than willing to trample on the rights of others as long as it doesn’t affect them.

Lastly, the misogynist position on guns is control or abolition. Why? Because males physically have advantages over the vast majority of women when it comes to strength. Most men, stronger than most women. In society, the only thing that can, when it comes to an attack, create 'equalization' is a firearm. White men have tried to keep guns out of the hands of all downtrodden and oppressed peoples, they tried to keep them out of the hands of the "negros" post-slavery, they tried to keep them out of the hands of the Jews during the Nazi reign of terror, and even today, they and the morons that support anti-firearms restrictions attempt to keep guns out of female hands. If we de-armed society tomorrow, we'd still have to worry about the worst of all arms control... the trained and fit arms of aggressive and idiotic males. Society would be at the mercy of the physically strong in all matters as the lack of equalization that firearms bring would then unleash the oppression of numbers (gangs) or strength (most males vs. most females).

So what of all the gun violence in American then? Surely the numbers tell us that we are more apt to kill with a gun than any other industrialized nation in the World.

If people were really interested in curtailing the use of guns to end the life of others they’d attack the source of that violence, not the symptom. Simply repealing our unnecessary and oppressive drug laws would eliminate, almost overnite, the vast majority of needless violence in this country.

Switzerland has MORE guns then the United States; they actually issue the same assault weapons that have suburban moms in America fretting day and nite over to their citizens. Yet the Swiss don’t even register on statistics measuring homicides using firearms. Gun control advocates who rattle off statistics need to explain these numbers before they can use their selective figures to 'prove' guns cause more violence.

The Europeans I work with tell me the solution to America’s societal ills is more government control. Stricter drugs laws, stricter drug laws, censorship of our media, even prohibitions on our right to petition government. This, to them, is a ‘conservative’ approach. The conversation usually starts off something like, “You know, America is the greatest country in the World, but….” Followed by some sort of logic in which we should change our laws to be more like Europe. Ignoring the obvious conclusion that being NOT like Europe is the very thing that apparently made us “the greatest country in the World.”

Less government intrusions in our personal matters is the forward and progressive course of action. It is the true liberal approach. When government intrusions like unconstitutional drug laws create more violence, the solution is eliminating the government intrusion, NOT adding more nanny state regulations turning us more and more into a 1984 style regulated state in which “Big Brother” tells us what to eat, drink, smoke, where to go, what to think, who to interact with, and ultimately when to die.

America was, at one time, the greatest nation on Earth. And while most people can name something from the other side of the aisle that has tarnished our status, few can see that it is the sum of government itself that is the problem. Until we stop attributing moral value inanimate objects like guns and drugs, and start recognizing the truths that were the foundation of our nation, we'll only regress not progress.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Gun Post, Part One

It is sometimes said in Libertarian circles that if you could just get the anti-drug people to see that drugs are okay, and the gun control people to see that guns are okay, then the vast majority of people would be Libertarians. I’m not sure how true this is, but I suppose for the average American anyway those two issues are pretty paramount to their formation of left/right thinking, at least where moral issues are concerned. I’ve already delved into the issue of drugs here, and today I will give a go at my thoughts on firearms.

This was going to be one post, but as I wrote more and more I decided to post in two parts. This first part will have to do with the legal and philosophical issue of guns rights. The next part will have to do with the more practical aspects of firearms and violence.

It seems to me the first issue one must examine in dealing with firearms is rights. The standard line of reasoning for gun advocates is to appeal to the U.S. Constitution, and specifically the second amendment. However, to do so shows an incredible lack of understanding on what the constitution is and the philosophy of the founding fathers.

Our country was founded on the philosophy of Liberalism. We are not a country spawned from nationality, but rather one born from a philosophy. That philosophy was that all men are created equally and with the same natural rights. Rights that can neither be given, nor taken by a governing State. They are indeed unalienable; they cannot be taken away, they can only be infringed upon. They are dependant on no other person to obtain, as the only requisite for having them is human DNA.

Understand that any time something is needed to obtain a so-called “right”, such as a permit, license, or the express written consent of Major League Baseball it is no longer a right at all, it is a privilege.

After the country gained independence from Britain the Founders were so frightful of government they formed an extremely limited, loosely bound confederation of States rather than an overarching strong Federal government. The problem came when the States began to print too much money to pay off debts to France after the Revolution and in order to curb inflation some proposed instating a new Federal government that would have the power to coin money over the States. Thus, the U.S. Constitution was written and sent out to all the States for approval.

Immediately objections were raised, the Anti-Federalist claiming that the new government would have too much power. To answer these objections the Federalist Papers were written as a series of essays that are basically a comprehensive commentary on the entire constitution. One of the biggest objections to the constitution was that, while it did limit the powers of the government, it did not offer any written protection for the rights of the People.

Ultimately, the answer to this criticism was the Bill of Rights.

Alexander Hamilton, whom I am not much of a fan of, was astonishingly correct in his assessment of the faulty nature of such a listing of rights in the Federalist No. 84.:

“I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power.”

So to put that bolded piece in modern terms it might say, “Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of individuals to own whatever firearm they choose shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions on owning inanimate objects may be imposed.” And yet we’re currently living in an age where the constitution has been completely circumvented and those very restrictions HAVE been imposed.

Hamilton was afraid that the government could use the limited amount of rights listed in the Bill of Rights to make the claim that rights are, in fact, limited. That they were dependent on the government itself to be granted. To make sure this would never happen, the framers included the ninth and tenth amendments in the Bill of Rights to give any rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution to the People or the States, NOT the Federal government. Ironically, these amendments have been discredited by modern day statist for being too ambiguous and giving too many rights to the people, the very thing they were designed to do.

Without question, the myth that has been most debilitating to liberty in American history, is the myth that our Bill of Rights gives us our rights. This myth is why we have people dissecting the language of the second amendment trying to figure out it's true intent, whether it is meant to provide rights to individuals or to a collective mass. However, this is totally irrelevant, because the power to restrict gun ownership is not given to the Federal government in the Constitution.

Please limit comments on this post to the issue of gun rights. The next post will delve into the practical issues of guns and society; there we can talk all we want about violence and such.

Part two now posted here.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Pretty Good Way to Spend a Weekend

Taking before pictures probably would ave given this a bit more of a dramatic effect, but since I didn't just imagine a lot of really tall weeds where the mulch is now.

And if anyone can help me and identify this ground covering I will offer them a very special ePrize.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

They Want Us Out

They being the Iraqi government.

While most observers are focused on the U.S. Congress as it continues to issue new rubber stamps to legitimize Bush's permanent designs on Iraq, nationalists in the Iraqi parliament -- now representing a majority of the body -- continue to make progress toward bringing an end to their country's occupation.

The parliament today passed a binding resolution that will guarantee lawmakers an opportunity to block the extension of the U.N. mandate under which coalition troops now remain in Iraq when it comes up for renewal in December. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose cabinet is dominated by Iraqi separatists, may veto the measure.

The law requires the parliament's approval of any future extensions of the mandate, which have previously been made by Iraq's prime minister. It is an enormous development; lawmakers reached in Baghdad today said that they do in fact plan on blocking the extension of the coalition's mandate when it comes up for renewal six months from now.

Reached today by phone in Baghdad, Nassar al Rubaie, the head of Al-Sadr bloc in Iraq's Council of Representatives, said, "This new binding resolution will prevent the government from renewing the U.N. mandate without the parliament's permission. They'll need to come back to us by the end of the year, and we will definitely refuse to extend the U.N. mandate without conditions." Rubaie added: "There will be no such a thing as a blank check for renewing the U.N. mandate anymore, any renewal will be attached to a timetable for a complete withdrawal."

Without the cover of the U.N. mandate, the continued presence of coalition troops in Iraq would become, in law as in fact, an armed occupation, at which point it would no longer be politically tenable to support it. While polls show that most Iraqis consider U.S. forces to be occupiers rather than liberators or peacekeepers -- 92 percent of respondents said as much in a 2004 survey by the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies -- the U.N. mandate confers an aura of legitimacy on the continuing presence of foreign troops on Iraq's streets, even four years after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Read the rest of the article.

President Bush said two weeks a go that if they wanted us out, he would leave. My guess is he won't, and the Democrats will continue to provide him the resources and authority he needs as long as they get their pork.

Ain't politics fun?

Friday, June 01, 2007