Quick Roundup 316

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hillary Rodham Clinton Costanza

One of Seinfeld character George Costanza's more memorable quotes was, "Jerry, just remember, it's not a lie if you believe it." Apparently, this is advice to live by for the distaff member of our field of presidential candidates:

When a politician accepts the premise that in politics appearance is reality, it can be dangerous to his mind. The words he says do not necessarily have to stay connected to reality. Just think of how this false premise could wreak havoc with a person's epistemology. Over time a person would become less sharp and more vague in his thinking. He would not examine his words against reality but against the standard of political pragmatism. Do his words help his poll numbers that afternoon? Then they become reality.
And be sure to read the comments.

Myrhaf also seems to be working on a series of "problem" posts. First, there was "Obama's Problem", then "Hillary's Problem". I hope he concludes with "McCain's Problem" before the election or we'll be living with "America's Problem" when all is said and done.

On second thought, that's what we'll get no matter what in this election.

Objectivist Carnival

I've been too swamped to notice the submission deadlines lately, but the weekly Objectivist roundups are going strong. Kendall's hosting this week. I read Dan Edge's entry yesterday and found it very insightful -- but you'll have to stop by the roundup to see what I'm talking about.

Limping for a Few Days

If you had any idea how busy I've been lately, you'd see the humor in this....

I was online checking my email at home Tuesday night when my screen suddenly went blank. After testing my monitor on an obsolete computer we still have around and swapping out video cards, I have to conclude that the motherboard went bad. This means that the time frame for upgrading my desktop just got moved from "some time in the next few months" to "within days".

In any event, I'm getting by on our laptop, but I am now frantically looking for a decent, cheap desktop. I've had too many problems with Dells at home and at work, so I'm avoiding them. I am comfortable swapping out components, but don't have the time or patience to build something entirely from scratch. I know that there are decent, new, fairly stripped-down models out there for a few hundred smackers.

With the laptop, I can wait a short time for delivery.

Has anybody out there an online computer merchant he can recommend, or any other advice for someone in my situation?

More on McCain's Authoritarianism

Yesterday, I linked to an article by Matt Welch on McCain's war against the individual and criticized its author for not being more explicit about the danger McCain represents to freedom.

I have since learned of a lengthier and more alarming piece by the same author. Here's a sample, with a disclaimer and link following:
If you're beginning to detect a rigid sense of citizenship and a skeptical attitude toward individual choice, you are beginning to understand what kind of president John McCain actually would make, in contrast with the straight-talking maverick that journalists love to quote but rarely examine in depth. For years McCain has warned that a draft will be necessary if we don't boost military pay, and he has long agitated for mandatory national service. "Those who claim their liberty but not their duty to the civilization that ensures it live a half-life, indulging their self-interest at the cost of their self-respect," he wrote in The Washington Monthly in 2001. "Sacrifice for a cause greater than self-interest, however, and you invest your life with the eminence of that cause. Americans did not fight and win World War II as discrete individuals." [bold added]
Although I stand by my fundamental criticism of Welch for subscribing to libertarianism, an anti-intellectual political movement that poses a grave threat to the cause of individual rights, I must now concede that he does understand the danger McCain represents better than I'd given him credit for -- although still not enough to quit aiding and abetting the Libertarian Party.

I wince and hold my nose as I link to Reason Magazine, but the facts regarding McCain contained in this article want very wide dissemination.

-- CAV


: Corrected a typo.
4-1-08: Added hypertext anchors.


C. August said...

Holy shi'ite, Gus. I skimmed that McCain article (I'll read in detail when I have time) but when I got to the end I saw two very revealing and scary things.

"McCain once wrote that Teddy Roosevelt “invented the modern presidency by liberally interpreting the constitutional authority of the office to redress the imbalance of power between the executive and legislative branches that had tilted decisively toward Congress.” This is the kind of president John McCain is aching to be." [bold added]

Teddy Roosevelt? McCain idolizes HIM? One of the worst, if not THE worst president in US history due to his constant war against individual rights in nearly every aspect of foreign and domestic policy? I've certainly agreed with your other attacks on McCain, but there is something about this that concretizes it for me more than anything. He may as well have said that Marx had some nifty ideas, or that Stalin was great at bringing unity to his country. (side note: see my post that talks about one aspect of Teddy Roosevelt's rotten ideas)

The other interesting bit I saw was in the next paragraph of the Reason piece:

McCain is at his most unintentionally revealing when writing about his Republican predecessor in the Senate, Barry Goldwater. “I really don’t think he liked me much,” he wrote in Worth the Fighting For. “I don’t know why that was.…He was usually cordial, just never as affectionate as I would have liked.”

Yes, Johnny Boy, Goldwater didn't like you. He probably had the same sense of revulsion when he saw you as we do.

Anonymous said...

For a new computer on-line try Newegg.com. Actually, it isn't hard nor terribly time consuming to build one yourself--and, besides getting exactly what you want, it's fun. Newegg has all you need to do this.
Walt Bussey

Gus Van Horn said...


Yes. McCain only gets scarier the more you learn about him.

We WANT the empty suit or the cynic.


Oh, don't get me wrong. I'd love to build a computer some time, it's just that right exactly NOW is the worst conceivable time for me to even think about doing it.

And thanks fot the recommendation.


johnnycwest said...

Gus - I feel for you re: computer woes. I was hoping that my almost four year old Thinkpad would last another year but it started acting up in a serious way - time for new, ahead of schedule.

My advice is to get a computer custom made at a local geek computer store. I have six workstations at my office and one at home - all put together at the same store. They give me excellent advice on what makes sense to build - great choice of components - fast turn around. I have been very pleased and would never buy a desktop any other way. My server is IBM - wouldn't mess with the server.

Not only do you get the components you choose, but you get all the documentation and disks including the Windows disk. AND you can get XP-pro rather than Vista (ME). Vista is not compatible with many printers and peripherals - even ones that are quite recent, to say nothing of programs. At least if I order my laptop soon, I can still get XP-pro so the current laptop's demise may have a silver lining. I have heard June may be it for XP.

I am not a computer geek and would never make the time to build and troubleshoot my own desktop, but I like the custom desktop. I know it is a complication that you are moving to Boston soon, but maybe some store owner in your current area has a buddy he can recommend in Beantown. I have had no problems with my custom desktops apart from a couple of power supplies going south years later - easy repair.

Gus Van Horn said...


I like your approach and I had a good experience with a custom-built machine back in grad school.

I may go that route yet or even build one myself IF I determine that I really can do without a desktop for more than a few days. (I have TWO big deadlines looming near the end of April.)


Paul said...

Libertarians might not be able to provide a full and proper defense of individual rights. However, the better ones can be quite on target with their critiques of others' bad ideologies.

In my opinion, Welch has done a good job showing how McCain's seemingly puzzling "maverick" positions flow from the same collectivist authoritarian root.

McCain is no friend of freedom or individual rights. Conservatives who think they'll be protecting individual rights by voting for McCain will be in for a rude surprise if he happens to get elected.

Gus Van Horn said...

I agree.

I was talking to my wife, who until last night was leaning towards McCain, and the NYT article was enough to tip her over to my side. (She's very intelligent and rational, but a non-Objectivist who is not normally that interested in intellectual issues.)

At the same time, the anti-intellectual nature of Libertarianism makes me very loathe to send anyone to a Libertarian site because their (occasional) good attacks lend them undeserved credibility as friends of freedom.

C. August said...

Gus, my wife is exactly the same way... leaning towards McCain a bit, and "She's very intelligent and rational, but a non-Objectivist who is not normally that interested in intellectual issues." Actually, I couldn't have described her better.

I just sent her the NYT article.

Regardless, there's no way a republican -- even a democratic socialist republican -- could carry the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, so a vote for McCain here will be irrelevant.

Gus Van Horn said...

It may be that the McCain issue offers two kinds of "teachable moments".

One is the kind that we have done, where only the information will register.

Another is the chance to make it clear that one is not a Libertarian and why.

(The two are not mutually exclusive nor should one ever allow someone to mistake oneself for a Libertarian for long.)

SB said...

The more I hear about McCain, the more he is scaring the hell out of me.

As far as your computer problems go, I have one word of advice - MacBook!

I've been a PC guy all my life, partly because I used to design circuits that I could just plug into the ISA backplane, and partly because of a stubborn adherence to using Microsoft products as an indication of my support for the morality of their business. But then in a situation similar to yours, the motherboard just died in my Emachines desktop that was only about three years old. I had been dying to get a laptop anyway, and this sort of forced the issue.

So I got a MacBook and I absolutely love it. It’s literally a beautiful machine. I can’t put it down. I even wipe the fingerprints off of it, as if it were a brand new Ferrari. Anyway, it allows you to do a dual boot arrangement so you can run Windows stuff if you need to. (I haven’t done that yet, but I might need to for my MathCAD tools.) So, if you have only a few hundred dollars for a new machine, this isn’t the right fit for you, but if you can justify something in the $1500 range, it’s worth it.

Gus Van Horn said...

Macs are very slick machines, but beyond my current price range.

What I have been doing has been to periodically do partial hardware upgrades and install Linux. (For windows applications, if I need them, I usually have gone the dual boot or virtual machine route.)

Today, I stopped by a couple of stores on the way home and discovered that IDE is either gone or so far along on its way out that my usual tactic of the partial upgrade won't be as easy. My months-old 500 GB IDE drive is "obsolete".

Basically, I might get away with my original plan by finding a computer whose motherboard has an IDE socket, but I saw none at the store, and I imagine I may have to buy used or order online.

But by a certain point, time wasted is worse than money. If I can't get by on just the laptop at home, I may have to bite the bullet, and just get a brand new machine and turn my former hard drive into a ginormous pen drive if for no other reason than to get my data off of it.

Dismuke said...

One thing you can do on the computer which is a step above building it yourself is get a bare bones kit.

With a bare bones kit, you get the case with the power supply and the motherboard already installed. With most bare bones kits, you will need to choose and install your own CPU and memory - neither of which are difficult to install. But if that is something you don't want to mess with, you can also get bare bones kits that already include the CPU. Then you will be able to salvage the CD, DVD drives and such from your old computer.

Since you use Linux, this is also a good deal because you are not having to pay for a Windows operating system which you would almost always get if you were to purchase a full system.

Here is one brief intro to bare bones computers.

To find places that sell barebones kits, just enter do a google search for "barebones computers" and quite a number of online retailers come up.

In my case, I was wanting to get a second desktop for my audio restoration work. I was actually considering a barebones system. But I ended up being in Office Depot one day and noticed an incredible offer - a mid range Lenovo desktop w/ Vista bundled with a 19 inch LCD monitor for only $379 after the mail in rebate. That prince was for BOTH the computer and the monitor. The monitors alone at the time were selling for $200 on up. Needless to say, I snapped that up real quick. This was in November and that offer is long gone - and I have yet to see any other offer nearly as nice as that.

Gus Van Horn said...


Ah! That's the word I was looking for.

I'll take a look. Basically, if I can find something whose motherboard will take IDE drives, it will save me something like 300 bucks.

If not, I did find a decent mid-range computer for about 500. But my 500 GB hard drive would get "demoted" duty as an external backup drive.

Dismuke said...

Is your 500 gig drive is a primary or slave drive? I learned a lesson with computers the very hard way a few years ago: do not store files which are important to you on your C drive.

Several years back, I had a bizarre corruption of my Windows operating system The computer was still under warranty and I called tech support. In the end, I had to reinstall Windows from scratch wiping out everything on my hard drive. It could have been worse as the previous weekend I purchased a slave drive and some of my more important stuff had been backed up. But I did lose some stuff that I was not able to replace.

Since then, I store all my files on either a slave drive or an external drive. I use the C drive ONLY for programs or for files which require processing and will be moved immediately afterwards. My laptop is the one exception as using the C drive when I am on the road is much easier than lugging around an external drive. But when it comes to buying a desktop, the size of the C drive is of little importance to me as, these days, it will always be much larger than I need. That Lenovo I bought has a 300 gig C drive and most of that space will never be used. If I were building a computer and did not have a drive that I could reuse, I certainly wouldn't pay for more drive than I would need. Vista, by the way, takes up quite a lot of space. On that new computer, the operating system and all of the programs I installed take up just under 80 gig. But I doubt I will ever need too much more beyond that.

Personally, I prefer external drives because they are so portable. My challenge with drives these days is figuring out an affordable scheme to back up my external drives. I am wanting to get some sort of affordable network storage device which where I will back up all of the important stuff I put on my external drives. The kind of device I am looking for is one of those which has two drives, one of which mirrors the other. Then, every few weeks, my scheme would be to swap out one drives and place it in storage in a safety deposit box or something. That way I have off-site storage in case something happens here and physically wipes all of the primary and backup drive at the same time. That would require three drives and because I have a lot of large files related to my audio restoration work, they drives would have to be pretty large. The good news is the price on such stuff keeps coming down - so right now I am keeping my eyes out for a really good deal on such a set-up.

Dismuke said...

"Yes, Johnny Boy, Goldwater didn't like you. He probably had the same sense of revulsion when he saw you as we do."

Gee, I wish we had a Goldwater on the scene today. Compared with the politicians of his lifetime and since, the man was a giant. I'll never forget when he made a speech at one of the Republican conventions and said we needed a gold standard. Of course, nobody commented on that and most people present undoubtedly dismissed it as the remarks of an old man who was too famous and respected for them to sneer at. Ron Paul talks about a gold standard - but unlike Ron Paul, Goldwater was not a kook. And Goldwater understood why the rise of the Religious Right was a problem and publicly stated that he wanted nothing to do with it.

I seriously doubt Goldwater would have liked McCain - the man was wise enough and had been around the block enough to be able to spot a power luster and an opportunist a mile away.

Gus Van Horn said...

Fortunately, I know better than not to keep backups. Anything work-related I have backed up twice at work and I have most other things backed up on a variety of media. (Using the 500 GB as a backup would simplify some things, so if a barebones computer w/ IDE is too hard to find or too limiting, I'll just take the hit and get the new tower for 500 I spotted the other day.

Jim May said...

With all the attention being focussed on the two Democratic candidates, McCain isn't getting the attention he deserves.

Can you see any of these Caesars saying no to the crown of Empire, were it offered?

Gus Van Horn said...


And this election increasingly reminds me of an example I remember someone using about twenty years ago when explaining how some elections do not really offer a choice.

"So do you vote for the candidate who will chop off your left arm or the one who will chop off your right?"

The right answer is NEITHER, and yet many people will think about whether they are right-handed or left-handed before anwering.

The only difference here is that, conceivably, split government could help, but even then, you have Obama's race card and McCain's attractiveness to certain Democrats.

When I conclude that my "choice" comes down to "which arm", I know that I am no longer being presented with one.