Violence, 2

An article in LA Times is titled, "Islamic State and its increasingly sophisticated cinema of terror."

Such barbarians. Anyone forget "Shock and Awe"? "We" are being imitated, if still primitively.

Violence

The American state kills, the Russian state kills, the French state kills, and now the Islamic State kills, too. Whence the surprise?

I suppose that for Americans, killing is a game; while ISIS takes it seriously.

And of course, our butchers are good; their butchers are evil.

Prospects for Liberty

The masses are more ready for liberty now than at any time in the past throughout the whole human history.

Aureoles

They are consolation prizes.

Thus, St. Thomas attributes to virgins "incorruption of mind and body." But we are not salmon who die right after spawning. And all people die, both virgins and not. In fact, being a parent, especially of a lot of children raised well, is rewarded with a far greater main aura than being a virgin. The aureole is a poor substitute for this glory.

A martyr has failed to arrange his affairs in such a way as to avoid death at the hands of other people. This is shameful, regardless of his faith and devotion. Again, his aureole is a consolation prize.

A doctor as a scientist merely contemplates; he does not improve upon the divine works; nor does he improve his own well-being; nor the well-being of fellow men. For this poverty and failure at active life, he is deprived of the main aura or crown but receives an aureole in recognition of a somewhat valuable life.

Theological Virtue Loops

A person should love charity out of charity, says St. Thomas. Note what this does. Charity is loving God and all other things for the sake of God. But God usually responds to prayers for goods loved out of charity. Therefore, by loving charity, you enlist God's own protection for this theological virtue. This ensures that you will not lose charity in the future.

But why not extend similar reasoning for the other two theological virtues?

Accordingly, one ought to have faith that his faith is correct, thus invoking God to keep one from falling into error regarding any article of faith.

One must also hope that his hope in God will not be disappointed.

The loops protect these virtues from being damaged.

Net Neutrality

What a surprise: a group of bureaucrats votes itself more power and control over the evolution of the Internet.

I mean, I look at this federal f---ing government and wonder, is it possible for them to do anything right? Anything at all?

Repost: The “Obesity Epidemic”

It's true, there are a lot of fat people walking around. Shame on them. But the word "epidemic" properly applies only to infectious communicable diseases that can spread easily from person to person: an epidemic is "an outbreak of disease that spreads quickly and affects many individuals at the same time" (m-w.com).

A case can be made that during an outbreak of some hideous disease, the carrier's liberty can be infringed by means of a quarantine ("a term during which a ship arriving in port and suspected of carrying contagious disease is held in isolation from the shore," also more generally, "a restraint upon the activities or communication of persons or the transport of goods designed to prevent the spread of disease or pests.") This violation of rights, though evil in itself, can still be attempted to be justified. A sick person just by being around other people pulses with a negative externality: he can infect them.

Moreover, being infected in the case of a true epidemic is not a "temptation," such that whether or not to give in to it is under the control of one's will. (So, something like "peer pressure" cannot create an epidemic, any more than Coca-Cola.) One may get the illness while being completely innocent of any wrongful or stupid behavior.

I think enough books and movies (I'm thinking Stephen King's The Stand) have explored this issue, so the point should be clear.

But obesity is not contagious. One cannot catch fat from another person. In fact, a fat guy walking around can spread positive externalities: I look at him, am disgusted, and resolve in my heart not be like him, to stay or get fit.

Another implication here is that there are no "public health" issues apart from local externality controls, such as enforcing sanitation rules, making sure that private exterminators do not just drive the vermin next door, and suchlike trivial stuff.

The use of the word "epidemic" is a crude appeal to imagination and emotion, as though fat were flying through the air, attaching itself to people's stomachs. Being obese is a personal consumer choice (of lifestyle, food, exercise or lack thereof, etc.). Coercively to interfere with it (or in general to save people from themselves) is straightforwardly to harm people.

Good Intentions

For a purely economic analysis of law, the lawmakers should be granted good intentions. "An economist investigates whether a measure a can bring about the result p for the attainment of which it is recommended, and finds that a does not result in p but in g, an effect which even the supporters of the measure a consider undesirable." (HA: 883)

Any political analysis superadded onto that ought not to presuppose any good intentions. The government is thus not a "nanny state"; it does not aim to "save us from ourselves"; it does not "seek the greatest good for the greatest number"; it does not act "for the children"; etc.

It aims to hurt, not to help; to destroy, not to save; to rip off, not to create wealth. The government is both stupid economically and evil politically, though in doing evil it is deviously smart.

Abortion

The fact that abortion may be a sin does not entail that it ought to be criminalized. I must side with Rothbard on that.

Re: What ISIS Really Wants

Three important points in this interesting article:

"The rise of ISIS, after all, happened only because our previous occupation created space for Zarqawi and his followers."

"But [the Islamic State's] threat to the United States is smaller than its all too frequent conflation with al-Qaeda would suggest. Al-Qaeda's core is rare among jihadist groups for its focus on the 'far enemy' (the West); most jihadist groups' main concerns lie closer to home. That's especially true of the Islamic State, precisely because of its ideology. It sees enemies everywhere around it, and while its leadership wishes ill on the United States, the application of Sharia in the caliphate and the expansion to contiguous lands are paramount."

"Without a catastrophe such as [a reconciliation between ISIS and al-Qaeda], however, or perhaps the threat of the Islamic State's storming Erbil, a vast ground invasion would certainly make the situation worse."

How right Mises was about Islam (and Judaism at the same time):

"Today the Islamic and Jewish religions are dead. They offer their adherents nothing more than a ritual. They know how to prescribe prayers and fasts, certain foods, circumcision and the rest; but that is all. They offer nothing to the mind. Completely despiritualized, all they teach and preach are legal forms and external rule. They lock their follower into a cage of traditional usages, in which he is often hardly able to breathe; but for his inner soul they have no message. They suppress the soul, instead of elevating and saving it.

"For many centuries in Islam, for nearly two thousand years in Jewry, there have been no new religious movements. Today the religion of the Jews is just as it was when the Talmud was drawn up. The religion of Islam has not changed since the days of the Arab conquests. Their literature, their philosophies continue to repeat the old ideas and do not penetrate beyond the circle of theology. One looks in vain among them for men and movements such as Western Christianity has produced in each century. They maintain their identity only by rejecting everything foreign and 'different,' by traditionalism and conservatism. Only their hatred of everything foreign rouses them to great deeds from time to time.

"All new sects, even the new doctrines which arise with them, are nothing more than echoes of this fight against the foreign, the new, the infidel. Religion has no influence on the spiritual life of the individual, where indeed this is able to develop at all against the stifling pressure of rigid traditionalism."

Again, ISIS arose as the most recent reaction to the crimes of Washington's foreign policy. It is as Mises describes it, but the US is fully complicit in its creation. Wood writes:

"Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks."

Kind like the US killing Muslims with drones. Also happens all the time. Americans expected that they'll just take it and die quietly. But then, how many divisions has the Pope?

Climate, 2

Suppose we admit for the sake of argument that the climate is always changing, including at this very moment, and even that costly adaptations are perpetually required of us humans to deal with this change.

Why expect that the best way to adapt is collectively by having Obama sign various global treaties that would disrupt the world's economy?

The environmentalists, if they are to be taken seriously, need to prove to the rest of us that they are not using the idea of climate change as a reason to destroy the industrial civilization.

The Climate Is Always Changing

(Except when it's not.) So, what's the big deal?

Glory

I recall a Simpsons episode, where there's this exchange:

Bart: "Wow, my father an astronaut, I feel so full of... what's the opposite of shame?"
Marge: "Pride?"
Bart: "No, not that far from shame."
Homer: "Less shame?"
Bart: "Yeah."

Actually, the opposite of shame is glory.

Speaking of which, God has no glory unless man does. Your own virtue and works bring glory to your Creator.

God is goodness, and the world must be good. And it will be, if I can help it.

Guns, 3

Anti-gun-ers are cowards.

Advice to Brian Williams

He should present himself as a mischievous kid who got caught and make light of the whole thing, laugh it up.

Use the jokes to his advantage: "So, there we were at this bridge, and Frodo says to me: 'Here, you take the ring.'" Just say it on Letterman and make everybody laugh.

I mean, it really is just a fish story to which everyone reacted out of all proportion.

Supplements, 2

And here is fraud in the highly regulated conventional medicine, but I don't see people yelling that medicine should be regulated "even more" rigorously.

Evil, 2

There are 2 antonyms to the word "good": bad and evil. Bad would mean "I wish the situation were different." Evil means absence of some good that somehow both can and ought to be there. Thus, blindness may be regarded as evil in a man but not in a stone, since a stone is not supposed to see in the first place.

Now the very conception of evil is a profoundly religious notion. To the objection that suffering feels real, I reply that for any instance of evil, whether physical, moral, or metaphysical, it may be asked: "Why should the opposite to it good be?" "Who promised you a happy life?" "Who breaks his contract with you, if you suffer or die?"

That it ought to be "on earth as it is in heaven" but is not presupposes a good God who mysteriously permits us to live in a non-heavenly environment.

Suffering for an atheist is merely bad not evil. An atheist is like a diseased dog, suffering dumbly without trying to discern any higher purpose to the suffering.

Guns, 2

Pro-private gun ownership folks need to realize that they have to go on the offensive, namely to repeal anti-gun regulations, to liberalize the guns business and buying, selling, and transporting guns.

It is important to shoot down future possible gun control measures, too, but the we need a positive platform, a vision of a great gun regime.

Don't just play defense and say crazy things like "we don't need new guns laws; we need to enforce existing laws better." No, we need to enforce existing laws worse and even not at all, and ultimately repeal all those laws.

Capture the moral high ground and go from there.

Bloomberg on Gun Control

If you want to disarm the populace, admit the real reason for it: take the guns away from "those people," especially blacks. I am heartened that people still say such un-PC stuff publicly. Way to go, though I think Bloomberg is wrong: most of "those people" are precisely victims and need guns more than anyone else to protect themselves from their violent brethren.

A Beautiful Song

Gates of Dawn, take what you will from it.