Archive for February, 2013

Food For Thought

Dave Killion — February 27, 2013

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Movie Reviews – ‘Atlas Shrugged II’ and ‘Libertopia’

Dave Killion — February 26, 2013

 

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The Victoria LBC met at my place last week to share some pizza and screen ‘Atlas Shrugged II’ (Shrug Harder?). I’m sorry to say that it wasn’t very good. And by ‘it’, I don’t mean the pizza. Although some of the lines came across very well, the overall production value of the movie was shockingly low. The special effects, in particular, were so obvious that we felt uncomfortable. As viewers! And yet, according to the most recent numbers at Metacritic, Part II is even better liked by viewers than was Part I. So, there’s no accounting for taste. If you’re libertarian, enjoy it with your friends. Your libertarian friends. Anyone else, and I fear you might damage the cause.

Somewhat better was Christina Heller’s documentary ‘Libertopia‘. Over a 90 minute period, Heller looks at three individuals participating in the Free State Project. Although a little slow, the film effectively captures the earnest determination of people so enthralled by liberty that they elect to build their lives around its preservation and expansion. No matter your political orientation, ‘Libertopia’ is a beautiful, touching insight into human drive, and the power of an idea.

Preserve Your Secret Identity

Dave Killion — February 25, 2013

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The unblinking eye of the state never rests, and if you are the type who finds this disconcerting enough to defend against, you will be interested to know that there is an easy and cheap way to prevent your face from being captured by video or CCTV

“Most cameras (especially black and white security cameras) will see low levels of infrared light. This helps them video at dusk/dawn and in lower levels of light. The level of light the camera can see is called the LUX level. To test this theory turn on your video camera and point your TV remote control at it. Change a few channels and you will see a pulse of light flash that the naked eye obviously can’t see. With that said you can easily make an infrared hat with cheap $1 infrared LEDs stitched into the front of the hat, the more the better… Attach a 9 volt battery to the LEDS and bam you are now a giant LED flash light. People will see nothing out of the ordinary, but CCTV cameras will only see a large flash of infrared light coming from your head, hiding your face. “

Cool trick. If you want to see a video on how such a hat can be constructed, then look right here.

Embrace Your Opponents’ Endorsements

Dave Killion — February 24, 2013

The Cato Institute’s Dan Mitchell shares this amusing information

“Every so often you get a “teaching moment” in Washington. We now have one excellent example, as President Obama’s nominee for treasury secretary has been caught with his hand in the “tax haven” cookie jar. Mr. Lew not only invested some of his own money in a Cayman-based fund, he also was in charge of a Citi Bank division that had over 100 Cayman-domiciled funds. “

Mitchell has pointed out plenty of this type of conduct before, and he notes that Republicans are tickled to mock left-wing hypocrisy (chiefly, I think, because it distracts from right-wing hypocrisy). But I think this sort of response misses an opportunity. Rather than mocking the opposition for being hypocrites, it might be better to point out that they have, through their actions, revealed that they actually approve of the practice/regulation/what-have-you that they have been speaking against. Afterwards, never miss an opportunity to defend your own position by citing the implicit endorsement of it by your opposition. If we demonstrate to left-wing and right-wing voters that the politicians they support are actually opposed to the values they hold, perhaps we can bring them that much closer to libertarian enlightenment.

Random Thought

Dave Killion — February 23, 2013

One of the arguments often heard against home schooling is that it doesn’t provide children with skills for socializing. If this is the case, how is it that we are bombarded with anti-bullying harangues, zero-tolerance anti-bullying policies, and ceaseless anti-bullying programs? It is as if government schools actually (if inadvertently) teach anti-social skills.

A Chance For You To Help

Dave Killion — February 20, 2013

Over time, I have discovered a number of Canadian libertarian bloggers, and a number of Canadian blogs that advocate libertarian solutions to specific issues (such as school choice). It has taken a while to find the ones I know of, and I am sure there are others yet to come to my attention. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one site where all this material could be promoted and discussed!

To that end, I propose an internet forum for Canadian libertarians. There is already a very active conservative forum, which provides an idea of how the new forum could work, but in sum, it would act as an aggregator for Canadian libertarian blog posts, as well as news and topics of interest to Canadian libertarians. Although I am too busy to run the project myself, I am certainly willing to pitch in, particularly in development. If you have the interest and the expertise (but mostly the interest) in making this project a reality, please let me know. I have a sense that libertarianism is on the rise in Canada, and a little effort on the part of just a few people at this stage could have outsized effects over the coming years.

Please, give it some thought, and spread the word.

Save Your Bacon

Dave Killion — February 19, 2013

Well, surely you didn't think all that corn was for free, did you?

Well, surely you didn’t think all that corn was for free, did you?

The Wild and Free Pigs of the Okefenokee Swamp is a classic fable concerning the dangers of surrendering freedom and self-reliance for easy handouts. Take heed, my children –

“Years ago, about 1900, an old trapper from Dakota took his Studebaker wagon, packed a few possessions — especially his traps — and drove south. Weeks later he stopped in a small town just north of the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. It was morning when he walked into the general store.

Sitting around the pot-bellied stove were seven or eight of the town’s locals. The trapper asked, “Gentlemen, could you direct me to the Okefenokee Swamp?” Some of the old-timers looked at him like he was crazy.

‘You must be a stranger in these parts,” one said. “In the Okefenokee Swamp are thousands of wild hogs. Any man who goes into the swamp by himself asks to die!” He lifted up his leg. “I lost half my leg, to the pigs of the swamp. Those pigs have been free since the Revolution, eating snakes and roots and fending for themselves for over a hundred years. They’re wild and they’re dangerous. You can’t trap them.” All the old-timers nodded in agreement.

The old trapper said, “Thanks for the warning – but where’s the swamp?” “Due south,” they said, begging him not to go. With ten sacks of corn and meat and supplies the old trapper bid them farewell and drove off.”

Find the rest of the story here. Enjoy!

Wrong For The Goose, Wrong For The Gander

Dave Killion — February 18, 2013

Bjørn Lomborg (The Skeptical Environmentalist) has an article in Slate, examining the losses humanity has suffered due to regulations that slow or prohibit the adoption of genetically modified (GM) food. Lomborg makes some important arguments that need to be made, but he starts off on the wrong foot

“Finally, after a 12-year delay caused by opponents of genetically modified foods, so-called “golden rice” with vitamin A will be grown in the Philippines. Over those 12 years, about 8 million children worldwide died from vitamin A deficiency. Are anti-GM advocates not partly responsible?”

Tempting as it would be to indulge in vilifying the anti-GM crowd for promoting policies that are fatal to tremendous numbers of vulnerable people, let us keep in mind how the very same approach was taken by gun-control advocates after the Connecticut school massacre. Remember the accusation that those of who have opposed ‘reasonable regulation’ have the blood of school children on our hands? So let’s not indulge ourselves in the same sort of cheap vilification in which our opponents wallow. Rather, let us remember that no anti-GM advocate ever deprived a farmer or consumer of GM seed or food. That was done by governments. They are the party responsible, the guilt is entirely theirs, and they are the bodies which must be held accountable. Lomborg provides cover for them when he suggests otherwise.

Regulation Makes Good Things Into Bad

Dave Killion — February 17, 2013

Already challenged by human overpopulation, black-market wildlife trading, global warming, and habitat loss, the Slow Loris makes matters worse for itself… by being too darned cute

“According to the study, wildlife photographers in Thiruvananthapuram – the capital city of Kerala- pay Rs. 500 to 1500 to the indigenous Kani tribes in the areas to capture Slender Lorises and arrange photo shoots. The practice occurs despite the fact that the animal is protected under Schedule I of The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Apart from capturing and keeping it, the Lorises are often tightly held on short branches and prodded so that it won’t move during a photo shoot; to help the ‘professional wildlife photographer’ get enough good pictures. Moreover, the poor animal will be illuminated with torches aimed at it, says the study. It is a known fact that aiming strong light sources like torches and camera flashes at Slender Lorises for longer, will be irritating to the animal since it has very sensitive, large eyes to help their nocturnal life.

The study team has also noted that the animal captured for such photo shoots are not returned to the place from (which) it was collected.”

Sounds rough. But consider the Yorkshire Terrier.

Survival Of The Fittest

Unlike the Slow Loris, there is no habitat in which Yorkies can survive unassisted, under any circumstances. Yet not only does cuteness fail to handicap the Yorkie as it allegedly does the Slow Loris, it is, in fact, a Yorky’s chief asset. Indeed, without cuteness, the Yorkshire Terrier would not exist at all. What explains the difference? It is this – because there is a largely free market for Yorkies, breeders can produce as many of them as the world desires, with no fear of criminal penalty, but the only way to acquire a Slow Loris is to have it stolen from the wild. The former practice increases and sustains a population, while the latter diminishes it. All in all, a pretty good example of how regulation turns assets into liabilities.

 

Hat tip: The dependably ridiculous Boingboing

Big And Scary

Dave Killion — February 16, 2013

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When my kids were small, they used to check for corporations under their beds before they went to sleep.