Thursday, August 26, 2010

One big argument, coming right up!

What do the American Bird Conservancy, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the Association of Avian Veterinarians, and Project Gutpile have in common? They are the groups that have petitioned the EPA to forbid the manufacture of firearms ammunition containing lead.You can read the petition here . This is the result of "special interest groups" having access to regulatory bureaucracies that must justify their existence by the production of regulations. Historian Forrest Mcdonald talks about it here and Thomas J. DiLorenzo describes bureaucracy here. If a body is created to perform a function, that is what it will do. The personnel in that body will always be looking for opportunities to expand their scope of operations because to do so will increase their funding and staffing and raise the rating and salary of the present staff and make the body itself more powerful and important.

The EPA is a classic example of this phenomenon. Richard Nixon established the EPA by executive order in 1970, it has since grown to over 17,000 employees and a 2010 budget of $10.5 billion, a 34% increase over the previous year. And it's not enough that these busybody government appartachiks arbitrarily determine the parameters of water and air quality, automobile fuel efficiency and emissions, pesticides allowed in the steadily growing battle against bedbugs, laundry detergents, and just about everything else that physically enters our lives. Now, on the basis of concern for birds, they are considering a ban on lead ammunition which will basically be gun control through environmental regulation. Public comment on this subject will be accepted until late October. While these bureaucrats are in no way under the control of Congress, it can't hurt to make your opinion on this matter known to your senator or representative. This is another example of the nanny state attempting to regulate our lives without the inconvenience of republican process.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Here we go again.

Another innocent savage runs afoul of anthropomorphism and pays the ultimate price. A captive Ohio black bear has mauled one of his keepers to death and has now been euthanized. The family wished it so.

Monday, August 23, 2010


If you've recently read Thomas Hardy's classic tragedy, "Tess of the D'Urbervilles", watching the movie will be very much like reading the book over again. The 1979 Roman Polanski film follows the book nearly word for word, except for the very end. The book, like all Hardy's fiction, not only explores the complicated and tortured relationships between men and women in the Victorian age, but also preserves forever a picture of life in bucolic rural England in the nineteenth century that was swiftly disappearing even as he described it. And while the scenery of south England is gorgeous, the day to day existence of those on the bottom rungs of society was drab, dirty, tiresome and mundane. In this era, steam was beginning to provide the motive force in transportation and agriculture but it still required many hands and hooves to bring in the crop. The daughter of uneducated and unskilled parents, Tess is forced to leave home in her youth to earn her keep first as a chicken herder and later as a milkmaid. Her continuing encounters with two men are the focus of the novel. As compelling as it is, there's a problem with the story both in its literary and cinematic form. What is it that makes Tess, an introverted, taciturn, moody girl, so attractive to men? Even played by the captivating Natassia Kinsky, the natural reserve of Tess and her response to male advances doesn't seem to make her the most believable object for male conquest. There's a similar situation in the recently popular TV series, "Deadwood". The vicious, amoral saloon keeper, Al Swearingen, is hardly the type to actually be successful in a kind of business that requires at least an imitation of bon homie and likeability. As the narrative continues Tess becomes less and less able to successfully adapt to her tragic circumstances. Ultimately, our sympathy for her is tempered by the realization that our heroine is just as flawed as the two men in her life. Pro bullriding score-78.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


"If a man has a genuine, sincere, hearty wish to get rid of his liberty, if he is really bent upon becoming a slave, nothing can stop him. And the temptation is to some natures a very great one. Liberty is often a heavy burden on a man. It involves that necessity for perpetual choice which is the kind of labor men have always dreaded. In common life we shirk it by forming habits, which take the place of self-determination. In politics party-organization saves us the pains of much thinking before deciding how to cast ourvote. In religiouis matters there are great multitudes watching us perpetually, each propagandist ready with his bundle of finalities, which having accepted we may be at peace. The more absolute the submission demanded, the stronger the temptation becomes to those who have been long tossed among doubts and conflicts.
So it is that in all the quiet bays which indent the shores of the great ocean of thought, at every sinking wharf, we see moored the hulks and razees of enslaved or half-enslaved intelligences. They rock peacefully as children in their cradles on the subdued swell which comes feebly in over the bar at the harbor's mouth, slowly crusting with barnacles, pulling at their iron cables as if they really wanted to be free, but better contented to remain bound as they are. For these no more the round unwalled horizon of the open sea, the joyous breeze aloft, the furrow, the foam, the sparkle, that track the rushing keel! They have escaped the danger of the wave, and lie still henceforth, evermore. Happiest of souls, if lethargy is bliss, and palsy the chief beatitude.
America owes its political freedom to religious Protestantism. But political freedom is reacting on religious prescription with still mightier force. We wonder, therefore, when we find a soul which was born to a full sense of individual liberty, an unchallenged right of self-determination on every new alleged truth offered to its intelligence, voluntarily surrendering any portion of its liberty to a spiritual dictatorship which always proves to rest, in the last analysis, on a majority vote, nothing more nor less, commonly an old one, passed in those barbarous times when men cursed and murdered each other for differences of opinion, and of course were not in a condition to settle the beliefs of a comparatively civilized community."

"Elsie Venner", Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1859.