Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Life Lesson from the British.

Some months ago I ran across a number of lengthy debates in the Blogosphere about torture of terrorists complete with the usual atom-bomb and lifeboat scenarios...anyways...

Tonight I read this: UK wanted US to rule out Bin Laden torture
MI6 believed it was close to finding the al-Qaida leader in Afghanistan in 1998, and again the next year. The plan was for MI6 to hand the CIA vital information about Bin Laden. Ministers including Robin Cook, the then foreign secretary, gave their approval on condition that the CIA gave assurances he would be treated humanely. (Emphasis mine)
The US never gave that assurance.

Right now, this example of British sensibilities and reverence regarding human dignity is a shining light on the principles that maintain human rights. The British were willing to fail at achieving a desired goal if it meant crossing ethical boundaries, even when it came to Bin Laden.

The shame of it is that United States was once a beacon of similar but superior light shining on Britain.

In many ways both countries have lost much of their legacy when it comes to individual rights and human freedom, making this story a welcome change to the usual run of world news.

We aren't the good guys when we break certain rules. Period.

Total respec'.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Politicians as chickenshit schoolyard bullies...

New Zealand politicians, upset at being seen as lazy and offensive, have banned journalistic satire as well as coverage that ridicules or denigrates them, according to new rules passed on Thursday.

Members of New Zealand's parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new rules. Just six members of the 121-seat parliament were opposed. (a grateful H/T to Stageleft for the heads up)
New Zealand is a commonwealth country, just like Canada, and ideas historically often do the rounds among member countries.

Best, then, to make as much fun as we can of our Canadian politicians while we're still allowed.

Then, when it's not allowed:

Do it anyways.

And in case I ever get to New Zealand:

"Hey, you Kiwi politicians....I am a freelance journalist/writer. I am satirizing you, gleefully making abject fun of your pretentious, simpering puniness. I'm saying you're ridiculous and this post covering your actions is absolutely intended to denigrate you."

Maybe Canada has an extradition treaty; have at me.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ain't Planned Economies Wunnerful...

Thousands arrested in Zimbabwe for not cutting prices (CNN).
Nearly 5,000 store owners, managers and business executives have been arrested since the government began its campaign to slash prices last month, state media reported Thursday...

President Robert Mugabe told parliament Tuesday that his government was committed to its program to restore "price stability" and protect ordinary consumers from "inexplicable and astronomical" price increases by profiteers.
The price increases and product shortages are inexplicable and astronomical only to believers in the magical workings of planned economies (read: state socialism). Other folks find these product shortages and price increases easily understandable and absolutely predictable.

Statist Socialists: *heads up* because this is exactly what you're bargaining for--and in exact proportion to the the degree you're consistent with your policies and ideology.

Look for Chavez's Venezuela to follow the same road, but it might take a bit longer to cause Mugabe-level squalor since Venezuela has some expropriated oil money to squander first.

Yo'know, I try to be nice, and I'm sure Mugabe and Chavez mostly love their families and generally treat their pets OK and such, but migawd the two of 'em are arrogant, ignorant fuckheads. No surprise that they like each other.

The Dangers of Pot

Pot may hike risk of psychosis, research finds (MSNBC)

OK. From the article:

“The strongest case is that there are consistencies across all of the studies,” and that the link was seen only with psychoses — not anxiety, depression or other mental health problems, he said.

Note though...

Scientists cannot rule out that pre-existing conditions could have led to both marijuana use and later psychoses, he added.

That's OK. For now, let's assume pot causes *all* the increase...
The scientists found a more disturbing outlook for “heavy users” of pot, those who used it daily or weekly: Their risk for psychosis jumped to a range of 50 percent to 200 percent.
WOW!!!! 200%!!! Still, let's assume pot causes *all* that increase, and it causes the full freakin' 200%.

So what are the risks in plain english:

They found that people who used marijuana had roughly a 40 percent higher chance of developing a psychotic disorder later in life. The overall risk remains very low.

For example, Zammit said the risk of developing schizophrenia for most people is less than 1 percent. The prevalence of schizophrenia is believed to be about five in 1,000 people.

Nope. I'm gonna stick with the 200% for the sake of this analysis. 40% or 50% is playing it too safe. "Think of the children ()", after all...

If the normal rate of psychosis is 1% of the population (though 5 of 1000 people is actually 1/2 of 1% or 0.5%), heavy use doubles (as in: increases by 200%) the lifetime risk of developing psychosis to...


...well, actually 2 times (1/2 of 1%) .5% is....


...which means that for 98% (more likely 99%) there's no psychological worries. Period. That's what they said.

And back to the first paragraph quoted: the link was *only* seen with psychoses, and *not* seen with anxiety, depression or other mental health problems (emphasis mine) In other words, that's *all* the damage smokin' dope does (at worst, and only maybe), just the puny noted raise in psychosis...

...which means this article is very much scaremongering ado about not very bloody much.

My thinking is that there is not a single punishment for the use of, or a method of policing to prevent the use of, pot that doesn't cause way more freakin' problems to the user and/or society than even heavy use of the drug itself.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

South Park Ron

By way of Mike, by way of Brad, by way of Presto. And the help of SP Studio.

I present South Park Ron:

Monday, July 23, 2007

Yeah, that'll work...

Toronto Mayor David Miller said the latest rash of gun violence shows why Canada needs to toughen its gun laws, tighten border security and issue a complete ban on handguns...

The 11-year-old's death was one of four apparently unrelated gun killings in Toronto over the weekend...

Toronto Mayor David Miller said the latest rash of gun violence shows why Canada needs to toughen its gun laws, tighten border security and issue a complete ban on handguns. (Emphasis mine)

Right. Canada already has the toughest gun laws on the continent. It's working well so far, ain't it. Why, just out of respect for our unarmed law-abiding citizens, the baddies are obviously not buying any guns of their own.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wonder why there's *always* a shortage of...

...every "socialized" commodity?

HERE, writ large and obvious so even the dullards might finally get it.

Mr Mugabe has accused business interests of fuelling inflation, running at about 20,000%, to bring down his government. A hotline is in place to report "overcharging", and retailers who flinch at slashing prices are being dragged before the courts. Several thousand have been arrested for "profiteering" over the past week, including the chief executives of the biggest retailers in the country, some of them foreign-owned.

Economists say the price cuts will only deepen the national crisis, leaving many shops bare because they will not be able to afford to restock while official retail prices remain lower than the cost of buying wholesale or importing. Mr Mugabe has dismissed such warnings as "bookish economics".

Now, if you want to get somewhat serious about understanding why this is happening:

The Primer: Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson"
Some Details: Ludwig von Mises' "Human Action"

A part of the "why":

Ludwig von Mises' "Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth" (pdf) --

or just read this Human Action excerpt for starters:

"The Impossibility of Economic Calculation Under Socialism"


H/T: Billy Beck's Two-Four

Monday, July 16, 2007

Life with Ricky, Bubbles & Julian...

Got myself a 6 year old SRI Ambassador AM-884 is what I did. In a nice trailer park nestled over the mighty Peace River (read: an opulent version of a van down by the river).

I like being different places. Moving is a pain.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A dream line-up...

Elvis Presley

All-star backup: Sugarbabes, Marvin Gaye, Jimmy Page, Noel Gallagher, Keith Moon, Sheryl Crow and Stevie Wonder.