Quick Roundup 392

Monday, January 12, 2009

Final Push

Vote for The Stupid Shall Be Punished in the 2009 Weblog Awards. He now leads by over 400 votes, but there's no such thing as a convincing-enough win!

The Waistline Police

Paul Hsieh has been such an effective advocate of individual rights in medicine that it seems almost superfluous to mention his appearance in a major news media outlet, but....

Read his article on "Universal healthcare and the waistline police," which recently appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, if you have not done so already. It is outstanding.

Imagine a country where the government regularly checks the waistlines of citizens over age 40. Anyone deemed too fat would be required to undergo diet counseling. Those who fail to lose sufficient weight could face further "reeducation" and their communities subject to stiff fines.
He notes that this is already happening in Japan, and it is heading our way.
The American Founding Fathers who fought and died for our freedoms would be appalled to know their descendants were allowing the government to dictate what they could eat and drink. The Founders correctly understood that the proper role of government is to protect individual rights and otherwise leave men free to live – not tell us how many eggs we should eat.
The article does a great job of illustrating the real-life consequences of socialized medicine and showing how they directly result from the abdication of personal responsibility it represents.

With an altruistic President making evil abstractions sound good to most people, countering his dangerous proposals will require work like this. Obama refuses to name specifics for a reason. Fortunately, we have Paul Hsieh filling in those crucial details.

Ideas have consequences when put into practice.

The Nearby Pen

I recently learned of a promising new blog that focuses on aesthetics, called The Nearby Pen, and have added it to the sidebar. Daniel's more recent posts discuss a movie I recall being heavily promoted in my part of town some time ago, but which I never saw, Amelie.

The following Wikipedia description seems typical of what I heard about the movie at the time....
It tells the story of a shy waitress who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better, while struggling with her own isolation.
In the context of much of modern culture, this sounded enough like an altruistic schlock-fest that I saw no need to investigate further, especially as I was getting ready to write my dissertation at the time.

But Daniel has me wanting to rent the movie now. He's examining it in some detail, and has piqued my interest in the film. Here is how he opens his ongoing series of posts on Amelie:
Not terribly long ago a director made a movie where every shot is comparable to a painting -- and a beautiful one at that.

It was a film where everything, from the movement of the camera and the music played to the set design and the use of specific colors, was integrated together in order to tell a story consistently well.

That story is a good one. The director is Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The film? Amelie.

The characters in Amelie are driven by deeply personal (often interesting) values. These values are what distinguishes one person from the next. And more, they are shown in such a way that one can easily see the relationship between the attainment of them and their happiness. [markups for accents removed]
Other posts discuss such topics as Lee Sandstead's Art Attack series and the history of chocolate. I look forward to finishing my paper and having more time to go through them myself!

Windows Vista Revisited

Matt F, leaving a comment regarding my usual disappointment with Microsoft products, pointed me to the following XKCD cartoon:

Quite true.

2012 Election Bumper Sticker: "O? No!"

Also, via Matt F is Myrhaf's take on Obama's plan to finish doing to the economy what George Bush started:
Most people, I'm afraid, will read his speech without finding anything objectionable because, as usual, he speaks in banal generalities with making specific proposals. Obama has mastered the art of rhetoric in a welfare state: promote the altruist-collectivist bromides and leave the details for the bureaucrats and lawmakers to deal with behind closed doors. He stays so vague in this speech that he does not even put a number on the cost. Why say anything that can be analyzed and criticized? Like most welfare state politicians, Obama is not a profile in courage. [bold added]
As with the election, so with the Presidency. I noticed this awhile back with regard to the election, in which both major candidates were the ones who managed to say the least.
[W]e are so far down the slippery slope that politicians are loathe to speak in anything other than vague generalities or aphoristic sound bytes that can mean almost anything to anyone. If they were more specific, they'd risk having their power grabs exposed for what they were. Far safer, electorally speaking, to say nothing at all -- or damn near exactly what the other guy is saying.
I now see that this is the essential quality most in demand of a welfare state politician, and it has the added advantage of playing on the individual "dictator fantasy" of any voter who has one.

Obama is a "Human Rorschach Test"? Good for him in the Machiavellian sense. Every "little dictator" out there who voted for him will see Obama as implementing his own personal delusion of the ideal totalitarian state, and thus grant Obama the power to implement his totalitarian agenda -- or, if he an en empty-enough suit, that of someone behind the scenes -- to the degree he thinks he can get away with it.

And when Obama's schemes fail, what next? Barring a massive intellectual revolution, in which Americans rediscover the value of freedom and renounce the welfare state, all future alternatives will be (a) blind rebellion vs. (b) a move towards a "more efficient" ruler whose policies -- essentially the same as Bush-Obama's -- will work "this time". This is because the dominant explicit morality today is altruism, and the dominant approach to ideas is pragmatism. Neither can result in freedom when put into practice.

Grief Recovery Update

I would like to take a moment to thank again all who offered their condolences to me yesterday upon the loss of my cat, Jerome. I had not planned it this way, but writing that post caused me to re-live what I had gone through and turned yesterday into an unplanned day of mourning.

Yesterday was hard, but writing about it, having your sympathy, and (finally) getting a good night's rest have helped a lot. I feel much better today than I have since about the middle of last week. The mourning isn't over, but you helped me get through a major initial phase of it. Thank you!

-- CAV


Daniel said...

Glad what I posted about Amelie so far has you interested in possibly seeing the movie! (More is on the way.)

Gus Van Horn said...

Good to hear!

softwareNerd said...

"Amelie" was a cute movie; fun to watch. It's a hard movie to classify, unless one uses a genre like "whimsical fantasy". Watch it with the wife.

Darren said...

I know it's an exaggeration and a joke, but it's going pretty far. Vista is no better than a blinking picture of Hitler?

What database were you talking about yesterday? I'm just curious what proprietary database you had trouble with. All I do all day is develop great web and desktop applications using Microsoft's latest stuff, including Vista and MS SQL Server, and I don't know what prominent problem with Vista could cause the problem you were having.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks for the suggestion, S/N.

Gus Van Horn said...


The good news for you, as a Microsoft fan, is that I was wrong about the database: It's actually NOT an MS database, but MySQL.

The bad news is that the only difference between the setups (XP and Vista running the same software on the same data) is that the one that doesn't work is Vista.


Gus Van Horn said...

Well, I take that back! The problem cropped up again. This one ISN'T a Microsoft problem, for a change.

Glad you asked that question, or I wouldn't have looked into it and found out otherwise until at a much more inconvenient time.

Matt said...

Ah, link love from THE Gus Van Horn. I have arrived.

Gus Van Horn said...