Thursday, September 25, 2008
One of the few figures of speech I retain from my Navy days is a somewhat sarcastic use of the term "noted", which is normally just a way of acknowledging some bit of information in informal conversation.
In its sarcastic sense, "noted" is a sort of verbal rolling of the eyes and is a reaction to information that is obvious, not really news, not pertinent to the matter at hand, or is coming from a source not really on the same page as everyone else. Everyone else, that is, with some modicum of rationality and contact with reality.
That is my reaction, for all of the above reasons, to a little care package I received in the mail yesterday at my own expense from my paternalistic government. Its cover is shown at right, and its contents might have been more useful had it arrived nearly two weeks before Hurricane Ike's landfall (or better yet, before the start of hurricane season), rather than nearly two weeks after. Furthermore, there is nothing within that anyone with even the slightest degree of initiative couldn't simply obtain from the Internet at the cost of only a small amount of effort and time. I did that and more. Hell, I even know what the phenomenon known as "lightning" is and that it could be dangerous! But if I didn't, I suppose I could have learned as much from this glossy brochure since, having attended private schools in my youth, I am literate.
The only thing more gauche about this document than its late arrival is the following punchline on its back cover: "If you need a copy of the Hurricane Disaster Preparedness Handbook in Spanish, Vietnamese, [or] Chinese[,] please call 713-794-9954."
And I already had the "disaster plan" it urges me to have had, and got along fine without the government's "help", thank you very much.
Oh yeah! Maybe there is something else more gauche than the late arrival time and the ungrammatical English invitation to non-speakers of English for a translated guide! It's the whole idea of the government "being there" for us (and posing as some sort of cognitive authority) after greatly exacerbating the catastrophe on the coast by subsidizing imprudent development -- again, at our expense!
Eric Berger, a local hurricane blogger whose analysis leading up to the storm I found invaluable, asks whether "we" should rebuild Galveston. I submit for his consideration the view Brian Phillips expresses (in the previous link) that this is not properly a political question, but one for each affected individual to consider on his own and to act on, at his own expense.
(Incidentally, the comments to Berger's post are interesting as a sort of diagnostic measure of where Americans in one of the freest parts of the country stand on the issue, and why. Some of them, as indicators of common beliefs and confusions, go a long way in explaining the man-made component of this disaster.)
Film. Change Clothes. Film Again.
For comic relief, this pair of videos of an explosion (Part I, Part II) after the storm, suggests how the shooting took place! (HT: Michael Gold)
"They will know we are Christians by our love." (Part III)
Awhile back, I noted the spiteful, anti-intellectual tone of an expletive-laden editorial by Christian apologist Doug Giles on "How to Shut up an Atheist if You Must":
I thank Doug Giles for expressing his views on reasoned debate and for providing such an excellent example, in the form of his essay, of how ugly the lack of intellectual confidence that comes with the abandonment of reason can be.Apparently, while I was swamped, some comments by Nick Provenzo on a woman's right to have an abortion have elicited that and more, including death threats! Like Diana Hsieh, I am horrified by this, but I am not in the least bit surprised.
Reason is the only objective means of communication and of understanding among men; when mean deal with one another by means of reason, reality is their objective standard and frame of reference. But when men claim to possess supernatural means of knowledge, persuasion, communication, or understanding are impossible. Why do we kill wild animals in the jungle? Because no other way of dealing with them is open to us. And that is the state to which mysticism reduces mankind -- a state where, in case of disagreement, men have no recourse except to physical violence. [bold added] (Ayn Rand, in Philosophy: Who Needs It, p. 66)If the animals snarling at Nick -- and therefore at me, who am in agreement with him -- would do this to themselves, why should anyone doubt they would also want to murder those of us who really choose life?
I have not yet read the entirety of Nick's posts on abortion, but based on what I know of Nick's character and thinking, I am sure that I would fully, or almost fully, agree with them. And in any event, he has the right to argue for his position. Justice demands that I express my support for his position and for his right to state it openly.
Who Will Rescue the Rescuers?
Regarding tyranny, there is an ancient question attributed to the Roman poet, Juvenal: "Who will watch the watchers?"
Perhaps, with Bush "rescuing" Wall Street from decisions encouraged by our government's monetary policies, and then McCain, whose attempt to grandstand by suspending his campaign was about to go awry, and him, in turn, Obama, who wasn't going to Washington (at first).... Perhaps we need to re-cast Juvenal's question: "Who will rescue the rescuers?"
We need to ask that question very badly, based on the joint statement Obama got McCain to bail him out with yesterday:
This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.Never mind that central planning can not run an economy, and thus that "Washington" thus never has been, and never will be "capable of leading the country". Never mind that both speak of statism as is it were as incontestable as the daily rising of the sun. Never mind that substantive change in the course of our country demands better ideas and that, without debate, better ideas will never be heard.
How fitting it is that they may not debate! They both fundamentally agree that our country needs "leadership" from the government, rather than for the government to do what it ought, which is to get completely out of the way of the economy.