An Objective Look At Issues Without Idol-Worship

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Chavez Funding Mexican Revolutionaries

A Wikileaks diplomatic cable dated October 27th, 2008 (Reference ID: 08MEXICO3178) reveals that Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan dictator and socialist tyrant, has been funding the activities of Bolivarian radicals in Mexico.

The cable exposes an interesting power struggle between Mexico and Venezuela over dominance of Latin America. This struggle has obviously strained the two countries' relationships with each other, especially after Chavez decided to nationalize assets owned by Mexican companies in Venezuela.

Chavez has been trying to build support through his "Miracle Mission" program and ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas) initiative. "Miracle Mission" takes people from across Latin America and gives them free surgeries in Caracas... but only after it indoctrinates them with pro-Chavez and anti-US propaganda.

Chavez is also funding other programs meant to strengthen "alternative movements" and create grassroots support for socialist ideas in Mexico. The Mexican National Intelligence Center reports that there are at least 500 hardcore "Bolivarian" activists - all Mexican nationals - who are in contact with each other and receive funding from Chavez. Furthermore, there are student groups sprouting up across Mexico which are sympathetic to Chavez. Many of these Bolivarian activists are linked to the Worker's Party (PT).

... Anyone else see what's happening here?

Friday, December 24, 2010

RBS: Gov't Impedes Econ Recovery

A Wikileak cable dated May 6th, 2009 (Reference ID: 09LONDON1069) reveals that the Royal Bank of Scotland's chief risk analyst had a pessimistic economic outlook and that signs of recovery were "delusory."

The cable outlined plans by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to focus primarily on reducing costs, primarily by cutting thousands of jobs worldwide and reducing its scope of operations. The cable also showed that RBS officials believed that banks would naturally return to "narrow banking" and more conservative lending practices with high capital reserves in response to the financial crisis. This highlights an important point made by free market economists: if it weren't for bailouts, subsidized deposit insurance, and lender of last resort actions, then banks would naturally regulate themselves and lend in a more conservative manner, without the need for government regulation.

Most interestingly, Peter Nathaniel, RBS's senior risk analyst, noted that global economic recovery was going to be weak, due to the level of sovereign indebtedness and the cost of government borrowing. This emphasizes an important point made by former Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan: rising government deficits cause uncertainty about future government tax policies, which cause investors to hold back. This process slows economic growth and recovery. You can read about Greenspan's statements here.

It's also important to note that government deficits necessarily raise the cost of borrowing for private investors. In other words, because government deficits increase the demand for credit, interest rates must necessarily rise, thereby crowding out private investment. The end result is lower long-run economic growth due to less investment.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Record Review of the Week

American Beauty, The Grateful Dead (1970)

This album is considered to be the studio masterpiece of the legendary Grateful Dead. It is the perfect follow up to the excellent "Workingman's Dead". Both of these albums are considered to be ahead of their time. Without American Beauty there would be no Phish, no progressive bluegrass, no Jack Johnson or Donovan Frankenreiter. This album launched the Dead into mainstream popularity, it received heavy radio play throughout late 1970. The tracks on this album flow together very nicely. It's perfect for a long road trip, or driving down a dirt road in your truck. Jerry Garcia and the band create an excellent country, folk, rock sound with the use of a pedal steel guitar and a mandolin. If you want to get into the Dead buy this album. I really have no complaints about American Beauty.

Key Tracks: Box of Rain, Friend of the Devil, Sugar Magnolia, Ripple, Truckin

Live Blog of "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand"

There will be a live blog of Dr. Leonard Peikoff's "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand" coming up soon.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Record Review of the Week

Their Satanic Majesties Request: The Rolling Stones (1967)

Their Satanic Majesties Request was released right after Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and was an obvious response. I would call this record an attempt by The Stones to do the psychedelic thing, just like The Beatles. Do not get me wrong, this is a great record, but in classic Stones style, it is much more messy than Sgt. Pepper. in a way this is very appealing. If you are sick of all that happy go-lucky crap by The Beatles, check out The Stones. If you are into expanding your mind, this record will not disappoint.

Key Tracks: Citadel, 2000 man, She's a Rainbow, 2000 Light Years From Home

Friday, December 3, 2010

English Town Turns Off Traffic Lights: Civility Ensues

No joke. See it here. As it turns out, we do not live an Hobbesian world of dog-eat-dog, but in a world where, when given the chance, people will be civil to each other. This is a great first step towards freeing the roads from government. Perhaps we could apply the lessons learned from this town to the New York Thruway Authority, which has done a horrible job of regulating traffic.

Environmentalism in Australia

How is the environazi movement affecting Australia? Not too well, according to our friends at Liberty Australia:
Environmentalist ideology is killing the living standards of the Australian people and it must be rejected.

On housing, land planning regulations done under environmentalist justification, are strangling land availability and causing house prices to skyrocket. There are land release and zoning regulations, land preparation regulations, development and building approvals and additional taxes and building regulations. All of these things have resulted in massive artificial increases to the cost of home ownership. All the government has to do to massively decrease housing prices, is to get out of the way. Stop interfering in the marketplace.

On groceries, the federal government is using your tax-payer money to buy water from farmers, so they can pointlessly put it back into the river and let it flow into the sea. When farmers have less water, they produce less food. When that happens, food prices at the supermarket skyrocket, because supply reduces as demand increases, and we start having to import inferior food products from other countries.

Electricity prices in parts of Australia have increased at nearly four times the rate of inflation over the last 5 years. In Sydney they have risen 61.3%. In Melbourne they have risen 56.8%. In Brisbane they have risen 50.7%.

Australia has abundant sources of energy and yet we are paying more and more for electricity. State and federal governments are to blame. Renewable energy initiatives are hurting families because they push up the price of electricity and electricity generators are afraid to make new investments due to the “regime uncertainty” over a carbon tax, which produces the same effect.

The (now former) Victorian Labor government costed a dam on the Mitchell River at $1.4 billion. Such a dam would have produced a massive amount of water. It then disallowed that option under “green” ideology, and built a desalination plant that, at a minimum, costs $5.7 billion and doesn’t produce as much water.

In the last five years Australian households have had to pay up to 95% more for water bills, despite reducing the volume of water they are using. The price increase is due to government investment in unneeded expensive technologies, like desalination plants.


Americans don't have it that bad yet, but it seems like the government is working overtime to get us caught up. I know that John Stossel has made some interesting observations on how the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has significantly reduced the living standards of all Americans. I'll post those up at some later time.

TSA's Porno-Scanners: More Dangerous Than Terrorists?

Possibly. From LRC:
What TSA and FDA experts do not say is that X-rays used by the scanners are very different from the X-rays used in the medicine. Medical X-rays are "hard," and use higher frequency photons with energies from 50KeV to 150KeV. These energetic photons are penetrating (like background radiation from the Sun, radioactive elements in soil, etc), and for them biological tissues are semi-transparent. The "soft" X-rays used in backscatter machines (20KeV or less) are mostly absorbed in the skin – making them useless for medical imaging. All medical X-ray emitters are equipped with special filters to suppress soft X-rays – both to increase clarity of images and to reduce exposure.

The health effects of hard X-rays are well studied due to their wide-spread usage. Information on health effects of soft X-rays is scarce.

Because of the penetrating nature of hard X-rays, the exposure is spread all over the body (and exposure limits are calculated per kilogram of body mass). With soft X-rays the exposure is concentrated in the skin, which makes the effective exposure per unit of mass of tissue 100 or more times bigger than for hard X-rays.

Now imagine if you're a frequent air traveler. You're more likely to die from skin cancer caused by these TSA pornoscanners than from terrorists.

From the Daily Mail:
The airport X-ray scanner has been touted as one of the best ways to prevent a future terrorist attack.

But now a leading scientist has come forward to say it is just as likely to kill you as a terrorist's bomb blowing your plane out of the sky.

The bizarre warning stems from a statistical coincidence which apparently shows that you are just as likely to die from radiation allegedly emitted by the scanners as you are to die due to a terrorist bob on your flight.
All of this makes you wonder about the direction in which this country is heading.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pro Bodybuilder Mark Dugdale on Training

Mark doing HIT with Dorian Yates:

He currently follows a four day split more along the lines of DC Training than Dorian Yates's HIT. Not that it matters, as the two are very similar. Notice how he never does more than 15 sets a day, unless you count rest-pause and drop sets as additional sets.

Consider now that most people do a six-day a week split with twice as many sets, if not more. Yet most people don't have the necessary "chemical assistance" or the requisite genetics in order to handle Dugdale's volume... much less a six day a week split.

If the average person did Dugdale's routine without all of the higher intensity techniques (just straight sets to failure) and with more rest days thrown in (let's say one rest day minimum in between each workout), they'd still probably overtrain.

So perhaps a good gym rule for the Average Joe is "look at what the best do... and then do less."

Arthur Jones's "Wild Cargo"

Some of the episodes of Art Jones's famous "Wild Cargo" series:

US Government Planning an International Incident?

This is messed up:
Another passage suggests strong British and American pressure on Yukiya Amano, the then incoming head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Under his predecessor, Mohammad Elbaradei, the IAEA had steadfastly refused to rubber stamp US and Western European charges that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. The inspectors could find no evidence of it, and were able to certify that no nuclear material had been diverted from the civilian program. They were extremely frustrated by Iran’s lack of complete cooperation, and some entertained dark suspicions, but Elbaradei’s reports only included what could be proven from the inspections. Foreign Minister David Miliband spoke of putting some “steel” in Amano’s spine. Ellen Tauscher, the US under secretary for arms control and international security affairs, said that the US and the UK must work to make Amano a “success.”

Reading between the lines, it seems clear that London and Washington intended to get hold of Amano as soon as Elbaradei had departed, and twist his arm to be more alarmist in his reports on Iran. Surely from Washington’s hawkish point of view, any “success” of the IAEA would be in demonstrating an Iranian weapons program and giving evidence that could be used to ratchet up sanctions at the UN Security Council. Ironically, the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran had supported Elbaradei’s careful approach. Amano may have been predisposed to be suspicious of Iran because of his own country’s experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and his consequent personal commitment to non-proliferation.

It was improper for Miliband to have spoken of putting steel in Amano’s spine, with the obvious meaning that the UK wanted the IAEA to put out reports on Iran’s nuclear activities that mirrored Whitehall’s suspicions– suspicions for which there is no known proof. (Iran has a civilian nuclear enrichment program; no one has found any dispositive evidence that it has a nuclear weapons program, and there is much evidence to the contrary).

There is also a passage about tying Iran’s nuclear program to that of North Korea, said to be urged by then National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones. That strategy is shot through with propaganda, since North Korea went for broke to get a nuclear warhead and has a handful of them now. North Korea conducted underground nuclear detonations in 2006 and 2009, as confirmed by seismic activity. In contrast, Iran has no bomb. All Iran can be shown to have done is to whirl radioactive material around to produce about two tons of uranium enriched to 3.5% and a very small amount enriched to 19.75%, intended for use in Iran’s small medical reactor, given it by the US in 1969. Both these levels of enrichment are considered Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) and are irrelevant to bomb-making unless they are further processed to 95%– something there is no evidence of the Iranians trying to do or even being able to do. Remember, their facility at Natanz is being inspected. So, Iran is just not like North Korea. The latter is a known violator (like Israel, Pakistan and India) of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Nothing Iran has done since 2003 violates the NPT, which it signed– unlike Israel.

Links to Share

The Failure of Government Health Care in America

Why is Greenland so rich? It left the EU.

In Defense of Economic Growth

Tax Cuts for the Rich? Abolish the Income Tax Instead.

Economics: No Longer A Science

... But a propaganda tool. Here is a fine example of how special interests can take over a science with "political correctness" and other thought-control techniques. "This textbook, though excellent, only gets a 'C+' because it does not pander to my misguided views!" Seriously, read the reviews. You'll be disgusted.

An Inside Look At US Foreign Policy


Wikileaks began on Sunday November 28th publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables, the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain. The documents will give people around the world an unprecedented insight into US Government foreign activities.

The cables, which date from 1966 up until the end of February this year, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC. 15,652 of the cables are classified Secret.

The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next few months. The subject matter of these cables is of such importance, and the geographical spread so broad, that to do otherwise would not do this material justice.

The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in "client states"; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.

This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.

Every American schoolchild is taught that George Washington – the country’s first President – could not tell a lie. If the administrations of his successors lived up to the same principle, today’s document flood would be a mere embarrassment. Instead, the US Government has been warning governments -- even the most corrupt -- around the world about the coming leaks and is bracing itself for the exposures.

The full set consists of 251,287 documents, comprising 261,276,536 words (seven times the size of "The Iraq War Logs", the world's previously largest classified information release).

The cables cover from 28th December 1966 to 28th February 2010 and originate from 274 embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions.