Archive for October, 2011
26 Oct 2011

A Note From Your Luggage Inspector

, ,

A TSA inspector was moved by something he saw in a young lady’s luggage to leave her a note of encouragement.

Alarmed at potential bad publicity from the victim of this intrusion’s tweet, TSA removed the employee responsible from screening operations and issued an apology. TSA Blog

So, the moral is evidently that it’s ok if low-grade rent-a-cops paw through your underwear and unmentionables, as long as they refrain from sharing their glee at what they get to see with you.

25 Oct 2011

Former Soviet Citizen Discusses Socialism With Occupy Wall Street Protestors

, ,

25 Oct 2011

Every Conspicuously Successful Company Looks Like a Monopoly to Washington

, , ,

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google

L. Gordon Crovitz, in the Wall Street Journal, quotes extensively from an interview which former Barack Obama-supporter Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, gave after being hailed in front of a Congressional committee recently to answer charges that Google is a monopoly and guilty of unfair trade practices.

Mr. Schmidt had just given his first congressional testimony. He was called before the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee to answer allegations that Google is a monopolist, a charge the Federal Trade Commission is also investigating.

“So we get hauled in front of the Congress for developing a product that’s free, that serves a billion people. OK? I mean, I don’t know how to say it any clearer,” Mr. Schmidt told the Post. “It’s not like we raised prices. We could lower prices from free to . . . lower than free? You see what I’m saying?”

An absence of consumer harm didn’t stop senators from offering some improbable recommendations. Among them: that Google replace its algorithm with a panel of experts to ensure “fair” search results. As Google tries to improve the relevancy of its search results for consumers, some sites inevitably come up higher and some lower in the results. The losers now lobby Washington.

“Regulation prohibits real innovation, because the regulation essentially defines a path to follow,” Mr. Schmidt said. This “by definition has a bias to the current outcome, because it’s a path for the current outcome.” …

Washington is always slow to recognize technological change, which is why in their time IBM and Microsoft were also investigated after competing technologies had emerged.

Mr. Schmidt recounted a dinner in 1995 featuring a talk by Andy Grove, a founder of Intel: “He says, ‘This is easy to understand. High tech runs three times faster than normal businesses. And the government runs three times slower than normal businesses. So we have a nine-times gap.’ All of my experiences are consistent with Andy Grove’s observation.”

Mr. Schmidt explained there was only one way to deal with this nine-times gap, which this column hereby christens “Grove’s Law of Government.” That is “to make sure that the government does not get in the way and slow things down.”

Mr. Schmidt recounted that when Silicon Valley first started playing a large role in the economy in the 1990s, “all of a sudden the politicians showed up. We thought the politicians showed up because they loved us. It’s fair to say they loved us for our money.”

He contrasted innovation in Silicon Valley with innovation in Washington. “Now there are startups in Washington,” he said, “founded by people who were policy makers. . . . They’re very clever people, and they’ve figured out a way in regulation to discriminate, to find a new satellite spectrum or a new frequency or whatever. They immediately hired a whole bunch of lobbyists. They raised some money to do that. And they’re trying to innovate through regulation. So that’s what passes for innovation in Washington.”

Read the whole thing.

25 Oct 2011

The Problem Isn’t Material Poverty


Bookworm saw all the Powerbooks and iPads buzzing down at Occupy Wall Street, and reflected that these young people’s problem doesn’t consist of material poverty in the traditional sense. They were badly educated and their problem is intellectual and moral poverty combined with a weak grasp of reality.

[T]here’s the sense of poverty created by utterly ludicrous expectations. We promised these kids that they were all “good enough, smart enough and, gosh darn it!, that everyone would like them.” We promised them that they were all number one, and that they would never need to make any actual effort to achieve that blue ribbon status. We taught them, through MTV and computer games, that a 3 minute attention span is sufficiently long to be awesomely cool and win the game. And, God help us, we taught them that a Womyn’s Studies, or Africana Studies, or GLBT Studies, or Oppressed People’s degree from some big name university would assure them the kind of job that would enable them to pay off $25,000 or $100,000 or even $250,000 in student loans. We, the older generation, created this wealth of stupidity.

These young people also suffer from a vast intellectual and moral poverty. One of the things that shines through when we interview the people taking to the streets is that so many are woefully ignorant, and that they wallow in a sea of relativism that allows for no morality other than that gained by intense navel gazing. They are the antithesis of the original American revolutionaries, whose leaders were men of exceptional erudition and thoughtfulness, and whose followers knew at the very least their Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress. Revolutionaries of old were shaped by philosophy, known science, literature, practical life experience, and a deep sense of morality and justice. Today’s little park piddlers are shaped by an aching sense of unfairness, a terrible fear of human-kind (that would be the AGW shtick), and a morality shaped by Oprah and whichever fabulously rich Hollywood Leftist happens to grab the microphone on any given day.

These self-styled 99%-ers are not poor, not by any known standard, either today or in the history of the world. They are intellectually and emotionally bereft, but otherwise awash in material benefits.

24 Oct 2011

The Social Contract


Tumak and Loana (Raquel Welch) in “One Million Years B.C.” (1966)

Dagny, said last week:

“The social contract exists so that everyone doesn’t have to squat in the dust holding a spear to protect his woman and his meat all day every day. It does not exist so that the government can take your spear, your meat, and your woman because it knows better what to do with them.”

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

24 Oct 2011

Common Sense Jesus Says

, ,

24 Oct 2011

1 Per Cent Exploiting Everybody Else


Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, says those Occupy Wall Street protestors have got it right about the 1% exploiting the 99%. They just are mixed up about the identity of the parasitical 1%.

The “occupy” protest movement is thriving off the claim that the 99 percent are being exploited by the 1 percent, and there is truth in what they say. But they have the identities of the groups wrong. They imagine that it is the 1 percent of highest wealth holders who are the problem. In fact, that 1 percent includes some of the smartest, most innovative people in the country — the people who invent, market, and distribute material blessings to the whole population. They also own the capital that sustains productivity and growth.

But there is another 1 percent out there, those who do live parasitically off the population and exploit the 99 percent. Moreover, there is a long intellectual tradition, dating back to the late Middle Ages, that draws attention to the strange reality that a tiny minority lives off the productive labor of the overwhelming majority.

I’m speaking of the state, which even today is made up of a tiny sliver of the population but is the direct cause of all the impoverishing wars, inflation, taxes, regimentation, and social conflict. This 1 percent is the direct cause of the violence, the censorship, the unemployment, and vast amounts of poverty, too.

Look at the numbers, rounding from latest data. The US population is 307 million. There are about 20 million government employees at all levels, which makes 6.5 percent. But 6.2 million of these people are public-school teachers, whom I think we can say are not really the ruling elite. That takes us down to 4.4 percent.

We can knock of another half million who work for the post office, and probably the same who work for various service department bureaus. Probably another million do not work in any enforcement arm of the state, and there’s also the amazing labor-pool fluff that comes with any government work. Local governments do not cause nationwide problems (usually), and the same might be said of the 50 states. The real problem is at the federal level (8.5 million), from which we can subtract fluff, drones, and service workers.

In the end, we end up with about 3 million people who constitute what is commonly called the state. For short, we can just call these people the 1 percent.

The 1 percent do not generate any wealth of their own. Everything they have they get by taking from others under the cover of law. They live at our expense. …

Why don’t the protesters get this? Because they are victims of propaganda by the state, doled out in public schools, that attempts to blame all human suffering on private parties and free enterprise. They do not comprehend that the real enemy is the institution that brainwashes them to think the way they do.

They are right that society is rife with conflicts, and that the contest is wildly lopsided. It is indeed the 99 percent versus the 1 percent. They’re just wrong about the identity of the enemy.

I think Mr. Rockwell is wrong, though, about those public school teachers and other government employees. Today’s public school system is an employment empire, which devotes far more energy to its real purpose of growing itself and gaining an ever larger share annual budget and staff than it does to its ostensible purpose of educating. Public schools in America are either rudimentary babysitting services which evolves into concentration camps or lavishly funded credentialing services designed to maintain the grip on status of the next generation of the haute bourgeoisie.

24 Oct 2011

Punctuation Marks

, ,

Gramarrian Henry Hitchings, in the Wall Street Journal, takes an interesting look at the history (and future) of punctuation marks.

Early manuscripts had no punctuation at all, and those from the medieval period suggest haphazard innovation, with more than 30 different marks. The modern repertoire of punctuation emerged as printers in the 15th and 16th centuries strove to limit this miscellany.

Many punctuation marks are less venerable than we might imagine. Parentheses were first used around 1500, having been observed by English writers and printers in Italian books. Commas were not employed until the 16th century; in early printed books in English one sees a virgule (a slash like this /), which the comma replaced around 1520.

Other marks enjoyed briefer success. There used to be a clunky paragraph sign known as a pilcrow ; initially it was a C with a slash drawn through it. Similar in its effect was one of the oldest punctuation symbols, a horizontal ivy leaf called a hedera . It appears in 8th-century manuscripts, separating text from commentary, and after a period out of fashion it made an unexpected return in early printed books. Then it faded from view.

Another mark, now obscure, is the point d’ironie, sometimes known as a “snark.” A back-to-front question mark, it was deployed by the 16th-century printer Henry Denham to signal rhetorical questions, and in 1899 the French poet Alcanter de Brahm suggested reviving it. More recently, the difficulty of detecting irony and sarcasm in electronic communication has prompted fresh calls for a revival of the point d’ironie. But the chances are slim that it will make a comeback. …

How might punctuation now evolve? The dystopian view is that it will vanish. I find this conceivable, though not likely.

Read the whole thing.

I liked that hedera and I mean to start using it.

24 Oct 2011

How Do You Like the Revolution Now, Comrade?

, ,

The New York Post reports that some of the demonstrators Occupy’ing Wall Street are experiencing the joys of socialist redistribution by government firsthand. I guess this Smith guy never read “Dr. Zhivago” or “Atlas Shrugged.”

Even in Zuccotti Park, greed is good.

Occupy Wall Street’s Finance Committee has nearly $500,000 in the bank, and donations continue to pour in — but its reluctance to share the wealth with other protesters is fraying tempers.

Some drummers — incensed they got no money to replace or safeguard their drums after a midnight vandal destroyed their instruments Wednesday — are threatening to splinter off.

“F–k Finance. I hope Mayor Bloomberg gets an injunction and demands to see the movement’s books. We need to know how much money we really have and where it’s going,” said a frustrated Bryan Smith, 45, who joined OWS in Lower Manhattan nearly three weeks ago from Los Angeles, where he works in TV production.

Smith is a member of the Comfort Working Group — one of about 30 small collectives that have sprung up within OWS. The Comfort group is charged with finding out what basic necessities campers need, like thermal underwear, and then raising money by soliciting donations on the street.

“The other day, I took in $2,000. I kept $650 for my group, and gave the rest to Finance. Then I went to them with a request — so many people need things, and they should not be going without basic comfort items — and I was told to fill out paperwork. Paperwork! Are they the government now?” Smith fumed, even as he cajoled the passing crowd for more cash.

The Finance Committee dives on whatever dollars are raised by all the OWS working groups, said Smith, and doesn’t give it back.

The Comfort group has an allowance of $150 a day, while larger working groups, like the Kitchen group, get up to $2,000.

“What can I do with $150?” said Smith. “We have three tons of wet laundry here from the rainstorm — how do I get that done? We need winter gear, shoes, socks. I could spend $10,000 alone for backpacks people need. We raise all this money. Where is it?”

Read the whole thing. It’s a hoot.

23 Oct 2011

The 99%

, , ,

23 Oct 2011

Left’s Lech Wałęsa Scam Foiled

, , ,

An announced visit to New York by former Polish President, and leader of the Solidarity movement, Lech Wałęsa to stand with, and endorse, the Occupy Wall Street protests was slated to be a major coup for the International left. A hero of the anti-Communist labor movement which liberated Poland from the Soviet Empire endorsing OWS would prove, once and for all, that the demonstrations represented a legitimate, mainstream expression of protest, and that they were not simply astroturf, a fraudulent, artificially contrived, and unrepresentative collection of assemblies of bums, bohemians, and gullible students out for a good time, representing nothing in particular and with no rational agenda, arranged by the hard-core radical left to wave the red flag prominently as a form of agitation at a time in which the left’s grip on political power can be perceived imminently to be slipping away.

Matt Yglesias, in fact, was quick to have a go at hiding the commies behind the anti-Communist hero Wałęsa in his apologia for Occupy Wall Street in The New Republic.

The notion that Occupy Wall Street is a fundamentally radical anti-capitalist movement is completely without foundation. Not only is it odd for TNR to take a harder anti-communist line than, say, Lech Walesa, but this view misunderstands the basic nature of a fluid and rapidly growing movement. The participation of some radicals in the initial organization of the Zuccotti Park protest shouldn’t distract from the fact that the movement has grown by attracting a diverse set of adherents united primarily by an appropriate sense of grievance.

“See?” says Yglesias, “If Lech Wałęsa is willing to stand with them, those protestors cannot possibly be anti-capitalist radicals, agitating for a Marxist revolution.”

But, sorry, Matt, what the American left failed to reckon with, when it tried pulling journalistic strings in Europe to secure a visit and endorsement from Wałęsa is the fact that a significant Polish community exists in the United States, particularly in Chicago, and educated, articulate, and responsible Poles live here, who have family, academic, and political ties to their Fatherland. Ethnic communities with roots in former communist dictatorships and captive nations. not surprisingly, loathe Communism. Poles feel about Marxism and the Left exactly the same way Cubans do. Communists? They hate those guys.

So, what do you know? It just so happened that, hearing reports of that proposed OWS endorsement, an Illinois businessman and political activist with Polish roots named Adam Andrzejewski made it a point to get in touch with people in the Old Country in contact with Wałęsa, to share with him some home truths about just who is who and what is what about those Occupy* protests.

Andrzejewski himself explains what happened at Big Government.

When Walesa’s comments hit the AP wire last week, my team immediately reached out to our Polish contacts. We made the point that the political themes of Occupy Wall Street may have started out with some of the principles that we share, but OWS themes were rapidly being morphed into anti-freedom and anti-liberty messages. At the core is the want for a big, powerful central government to dominate the lives of individual citizens.

Using plus other news sources, rapidly we painted an accurate picture of the groups training, leading, and organizing the “movement.” The movement is organized by anarchists, Code Pink, the American Communist movement, jihadists, anti-Israel, socialist, and anti- free enterprise interests. OWS folks are politically to the left of President Barack Obama.

At the Lech Walesa Institute Foundation in Warsaw, they were thankful to receive this information.

Based on our discussion and intervention, President Walesa is not going to get involved with the OWS. He is not comfortable with the “organizations” behind the movement. It was not a difficult discussion.

The lifetime of good work exercised by President Walesa has lifted people around the world fighting tyranny. Through the Lech Walesa Institute Foundation in Warsaw, Walesa has supported freedom and liberty around the world. As a man primarily responsible for vanquishing communism in Poland, Walesa has a personal bent toward helping the underdog and the downtrodden.

This spring, when President Obama visited Poland, President Walesa refused to meet with him.

So, no, Mr. Yglesias, you guys did not succeed in bamboozling an aging anti-Communist hero into serving as a useful idiot, and, yes, your protest movement is “fundamentally a radical anti-capitalist” piece of communist agitprop. You lose.

22 Oct 2011

Hard Times Do Wonders For Inequality

, , ,

Megan McArdle, Business and Economics editor at the Atlantic, was attending her tenth B-school reunion at Chicago and ran into econometrics specialist Steven Kaplan who had updated the Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez data on top incomes through 2009.

The numbers show that income inequality fell sharply as the economy declined.

Isn’t that wonderful? Occupy demonstrators can clearly now pack up their tents and drums and go home.

Income inequality is clearly easy to cure. Simply adopt left-wing policies, ruin the economy, and sit back and watch all the boats sink, with the upper boats descending to levels much closer to their neighbors than before.

21 Oct 2011

Occupy Movement Begins to Resemble Art

, , , , ,

In Oakland, there are problems with violence and sexual harassment and organizers have resorted to vigilantism. As Verum Serum reports, it has all come to remind some of the local authorities of a book they read in high school.

One officer compared the scene to “Lord of the Flies.” His supervisor was even more insightful:

    One Oakland police supervisor said that the participants first appeared to him as “freethinking activists” but have since devolved into something more sinister. He said it was “interesting for a group that claims to be against current civilization and rules to set up a far more oppressive society than our own.”


New York Magazine
compares Zuccotti Park to “Animal Farm“, reporting with amusement that some of those who Occupy Wall Street are levying taxes on other more enterprising protestors, and the latter are not very happy about having their earnings spread around.

All occupiers are equal — but some occupiers are more equal than others. In wind-whipped Zuccotti Park, new divisions and hierarchies are threatening to upend Occupy Wall Street and its leaderless collective.

As the protest has grown, some of the occupiers have spontaneously taken charge on projects large and small. But many of the people in Zuccotti Park aren’t taking direction well, leading to a tense Thursday of political disagreements, the occasional shouting match, and at least one fistfight.

It began, as it so often does, with a drum circle. The ten-hour groove marathons weren’t sitting well with the neighborhood’s community board, the ironically situated High School of Economics and Finance that sits on the corner of Zuccotti Park, or many of the sleep-deprived protesters.

“[The high school] couldn’t teach,” explained Josh Nelson, a 27-year-old occupier from Nebraska. “And we’ve had issues with the drummers too. They drum incessantly all day, and really loud.” Facilitators spearheaded a General Assembly proposal to limit the drumming to two hours a day. “The drumming is a major issue which has the potential to get us kicked out,” said Lauren Digion, a leader on the sanitation working group.

But the drums were fun. They brought in publicity and money. Many non-facilitators were infuriated by the decision and claimed that it had been forced through the General Assembly.

“They’re imposing a structure on the natural flow of music,” said Seth Harper, an 18-year-old from Georgia. “The GA decided to do it … they suppressed people’s opinions. I wanted to do introduce a different proposal, but a big black organizer chick with an Afro said I couldn’t.”

To Shane Engelerdt, a 19-year-old from Jersey City and self-described former “head drummer,” this amounted to a Jacobinic betrayal. “They are becoming the government we’re trying to protest,” he said. “They didn’t even give the drummers a say … Drumming is the heartbeat of this movement. Look around: This is dead, you need a pulse to keep something alive.”

The drummers claim that the finance working group even levied a percussion tax of sorts, taking up to half of the $150-300 a day that the drum circle was receiving in tips. “Now they have over $500,000 from all sorts of places,” said Engelerdt. “We’re like, what’s going on here? They’re like the banks we’re protesting.”

21 Oct 2011

Poetic Destruction

, ,

Untitled (gas loop) No 1 by Ariel Schlesinger.

Hat tip to TodayandTomorrow.

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted for October 2011.

Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark