Quick Roundup 534

Monday, May 24, 2010

Palin Warns Us about Herself

Sarah Palin showed that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between herself and Barack Obama over the weekend by the way she criticized the President's response to the Gulf oil spill:

Right-wing darling Sarah Palin accused US President Barack Obama on Sunday of leading a lax response to the Gulf of Mexico spill because he is too close to the big oil companies.

The former vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor, who champions off-shore drilling, criticized the media for not drawing the link between Obama and big oil and said if this spill had happened under former Republican president George W. Bush the scrutiny would have been far tougher.
With the way Republicans often fall all over themselves to prove that they aren't "soft" on destroying capitalism, that last sentence may be true, but that doesn't make it a good thing.

One wonders whether Palin would have been happier had Obama simply nationalized BP and started issuing orders. Worse, her remarks, in the context of today's confused political debate, amount to a call for government regulation of campaign finance, which is one of the last things we need.

Pragmatism in Business

Our printer, an HP 2605, recently needed new black toner according to its status readout. Even after I replaced the toner cartridge, however, the printer still wrongly indicated such a need. Apparently, this is a feature of the HP business model, and not a bug:
How to use ALL of the toner in your HP Laserjet 2605 or 2600

1. On the printer itself, hit the big green checkmark button to access the menu.
2. Select System Setup -> Print Quality -> Replace Supplies.
3. There is likely an asterisk (*) beside "Stop at out".
4. Hit the > arrow once, and the display should read "Override out".
5. Press the checkmark to confirm that (the asterisk should now be beside "Override out").
6. Back out of the menu. The LCD should now display "Override in use", meaning, you can now continue printing for as long as you actually have toner in the cartridges (and beyond, probably).
In a better day, a company like HP would not bet a quick buck against its reputation or the good will of its customers.


Kentucky senatorial candidate Rand Paul has been under fire lately for objecting to the public accommodations portion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I am no fan of Paul's, but many of these attacks strike me as unjust. For example:
It matters not what's in Paul's heart. It's what he carries in his head -- that racial discrimination in public accommodations should be legal -- that puts him firmly in the company of those who would humiliate and marginalize Americans, not because they can't pay or are disorderly but simply because of the color of their skin. That's no intellectual exercise to me. [minor edits]
Not only is Colbert King's unspoken assumption -- that, contrary to historical precedent, people won't change racist attitudes for the better except at gunpoint -- insulting, he is forgetting that, as Ayn Rand once put it, the smallest minority is the individual. So long as he does not cause harm to others, an individual has the right to use his property as he sees fit, regardless of whether King or I would approve of how he does so.

Despite the fact that I find Colbert King's remarks offensive, immoral, and impractical, I shall, however, defend his individual right to say such things to my dying breath. The day we forcibly prevent this man -- or any other -- from blathering is the day that the we also endanger the introduction of better ideas to the public and the spirited debate of their merits.

Bigots who won't serve blacks and advocates of the illegitimate use of government force are just two examples of the price we sometimes have to pay for government protection of individual rights. Fortunately, when individual rights are consistently protected by the government, the damage such people can do is limited to themselves.

Interesting Back Bay Fact

I live near Boston's Prudential Center, about which I recently learned the following:
The complex has direct indoor connections to two MBTA stops, Prudential and Back Bay ... [which] is a stop on the Orange Line and is accessible to the complex via the Copley Place mall... Back Bay is also served by Amtrak, including the Acela high-speed train. This means it is possible to travel from the observation lounge in the Pru to the top of the MetLife Building in New York City without going outdoors (by walking through the mall to Back Bay Station, hopping on Amtrak to Penn Station in New York, and taking the subway to Grand Central Terminal).
I now want to fit this in the next time I have occasion to go to New York.

-- CAV


Andrew Dalton said...

Conservatives have also hopped aboard the bash-Rand-Paul bandwagon. They aren't defending the regulation of private action on principle, but rather in the typical weaselly conservative manner: by saying that the principles of individual liberty are nice, but they don't always work in the real world.

(On this epistemological question, conservatives are 100% in agreement with modern left-liberals, except that the latter don't even bother to make a backhanded concession to liberty being good. The conservatives' tactic is in some ways more insulting.)

Gus Van Horn said...

Needless to say, RNC Chairman led the charge from the right to excoriate Paul.

The Republican landslide this fall that some predict and the Democrats deserve will be cold comfort should it materialize.

Anonymous said...

With this statement, Palin has demonstrated irrefutably that she is a power-luster willing to say anything to trash her political opponent--even if it goes against the spirit of her own "drill baby drill" rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

You seem to defend freedom of speech on the basis that it enables better ideas to be introduced into society. Whilst true, I believe this misses the trunk of the tree. Life, literally for a human being is intellectual independence. Mentally, psychologically it is life itself.Its what separate the dead from the living. Everything else is consequence. I repeat, life is intellectual independence.

Gus Van Horn said...

Anon #1,

Exactly. This woman is nothing but a power-lusting opportunist.

Anon #2,

I am not defending freedom of speech merely on the basis of introducing better ideas to the public debate, but indicating a bad consequence of violating/otherwise failing to protect that right.

Also, while I think I see what you're trying to say about the vital nature of independence, communicating (and indeed the concept of "rights") make sense only in the context of a social setting.

You could be independent alone on a desert island or in society, but on a desert island, there would be no communication and no rights.

To wit:

"A 'right' is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context."


Andrew Dalton said...

One thing I forgot to mention is that the kerfuffle over Rand Paul's comment supports one of the Objectivist critiques of libertarianism (at least of the Libertarian Party bent); namely, that electoral politics is a hopeless forum for airing unconventional ideas.

The reality is that the culture constrains what politicians and policies are possible in any given time. Any elected official, no matter how popular, who steps outside those limits will be smacked down, as Rand Paul is painfully learning.

Gus Van Horn said...

That's an excellent point, and one that I briefly thought of myself at some point yesterday, but promptly forgot to make.

Anonymous said...

"A 'right' is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context." A dictionary defines ownership as control. Isn't this the same as a right? Or plain old "don't steal", with ownership including control of ones body, mind, time, and property ie the responsibilities required to sustain ones life and achieve success.

Gus Van Horn said...


You're missing my point, which is only that the concept of rights is applicable only to a social context.

That does not change in any way the fact that you own your own body, mind, etc. or that one must behave morally (i.e., rationally) in order to survive.


Anonymous said...

The point I was trying to make is that ownership is an easier way to explain the concept of rights to most people, especially children. To many people, your definition is hard to understand lawyer talk.

Gus Van Horn said...

Fair enough.

Qwertz said...

HP Printer instructions just saved my day. Discovery deadline tomorrow, have to print today, and printer won't print black and white unless I "Replace magenta cartridge." How idiotic. I remembered you had posted this and found it through your site search. Day saved!


Gus Van Horn said...

You're quite welcome! Glad this helped!