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Out with IP, in with ?

"Intellectual property" is an idea still struggling for a concrete legal status on the internet—I know where I stand, and I'm still working on advancing my position. However, I think the deck is stacked against my side because of the name. Intellectual property. That ties it in with the existing idea of property. Read more »

Putting an end to the dreaded HPV...vaccine

Ronald Bailey provides yet another example of how Christians are ruining the world:

Molinari sample

The best way to get people to read something is to give them a taste of it. With that in mind, I give you the beginning of Gustave de Molinari's The Production of Security:

Comm news

Two news items that I missed earlier this month:

Millions of Africans are getting cell phones and using them for what any new technology is for—making their lives better. Anything that contributes to development in Africa is welcome news, and this will be a good thing to remind myself of next time I'm in a restaurant next to some idiot on a cell phone. Read more »

On the ground in Iran

I've quoted the entire article here, but you should go see the picture.

Ramita Navai, Tehran Correspondent for The Times, was among thousands on the streets of the Iranian capital for annual anti-Israel rallies, at which the President continued his inflammatory rhetoric.

"It's a bit like a family day out, but with cursory outbreaks of flag burning. There are people sitting on picnic blankets, street-vendors and people selling balloons... there's a kind of carnival atmosphere.

Levy on Pluralist and Rationalist Liberalism

Everyone interested in liberty should read Jacob Levy's excellent introduction to the pluralist/rationalist debate within liberalism (pdf). I am aware that it has been discussed before in comments on this blog—that's how I found out about it—but I thought it was good enough to bring to the main page. [His academic page is here, and his blog is here.] Read more »

Towers, Monuments, And Utopia

Two friends of mine have recently visited Shanghai, and they tell me it's an incredibly large and impressive city. They were both bright enough to realize that the quality of that city wasn't an argument for adopting the Chinese system, thankfully, but I worry that more broadly speaking, people who visit places that are important as the faces of the states they're in make this mistake sometimes. Read more »

Heraclitus and friends on the environment redux

James D. Watson on genetic engineering:

If you thought every plant was the product of a god who put it there for a purpose, you could say that you shouldn't change it. But America isn't what it was like when the Pilgrims came here. We've changed everything. We've never tried to respect the past, we've tried to improve on it. And I think any desire to stop people from improving things would be against the human spirit.

stability problem

One of the main criticisms of the "totally voluntary society" is the stability problem. No less a libertarian headliner than Robert Nozick thought that a system of non-monopolistic security provision would degenerate into something more or less like our current state. It seems to me that this is a misguided criticism: in a world of people armed with that most powerful of weapons, ideology, the system can

Heraclitus and friends on the environment

There was a famous ancient Greek dictum: “you can't step in the same river twice.” It was always changing, so it was a new river by the next time you put your foot in again. The response to this was obvious enough that another ancient Greek beat us all to the punch: “you can't step in the same river once.” It's changing while you step in it. Read more »

And most of all freedom

Just up the street from my residence in Atlanta is a Cuban joint called Papi's. I like their food and it's close so I'm there fairly frequently. Once I noticed a menu flyer of theirs, printed before their opening a couple of years ago. The back told the broader narrative of which the restaurant was only the last act.

It's easy for me, a radical American libertarian, to make a distinction between two linked but separate ideas. First, the idea known as "America," the land of opportunity and freedom, where you go to make your fortune unencumbered by potentate, neighbor, or ancient battle-line. Second, the political institution known as "the United States of America," a sad and thorough parody of that idea. But it's nice to see that some people still think of America when they think of the United States. The story this flyer told really gets to the core of that noble experiment. So without further ado...

The Story of Papi's...

It was always Reynaldo "Rey" Regalado's dream to own a business, and together with his father, Rey Sr., he yearned for a better life abroad in the United States. The two often spoke of presenting the delectable culinary tastes of East Cuba to the Americans. Specifically, they wanted to introduce Rey Sr.'s family recipe for pork marinade to the meat of the traditional Cuban sandwich. How, they wondered, could the Americans resist? Despite the constant barrage of the Cuban government's anti-American rhetoric, the "Land of Opportunity" held steadfast in their daydreams.

The dream blossomed when the Soviet Union began its inevitable demise during the late 1980s. Cuba, long dependent on trade and subsidies from the Soviet Union and Communist bloc countries, began to struggle economically. By 1990, food rationing, already in effect since the 1960s, was tightened as well as a strict limitation on access to certain goods and servies. Fidel Castro declared a "special period in time of peace," during which Cubans were forced to live as if the country were at war.

In addition to rationing, the Castro regime maintained its ever-present strategy to thwart the US-led embargo: all electronics, some foods, quality clothing, and other essential items, must be purchased with United States dollars. To this date, most Cubans live in extreme poverty without the assistance of remittances from abroad - namely US dollars sent from relatives living in America. Rey knew that he had to act quickly to make a better life for himself so that he could, in turn, help his parents and younger siblings live better. Read more »

Movie Review--Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst

Patty Hearst

I recently watched a very clever documentary called “Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst.” (Its other title is Neverland: The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army. This is a better title, but it doesn't have quite the hook that the girl's name has.) I got it because I've always had a morbid fascination with the story of the Symbionese Liberation Army and Patty Hearst, but this particular commentary has much broader appeal than that.

Alternating between archive footage and interviews, what emerges is the story of a band of young idealists slowly driven off the edge by what, in the end, is clear to everybody as a foolish dream. Some of the interviewees are from the media; the late Tim Findley is a particular highlight. Two of the interviewees are former members of the SLA. One was an early member who watched the Patty Hearst spectacle from prison, and the other was a latecomer and only got involved by chance. Their mix of insider and outsider perspectives is the real treasure of the film. Read more »

The Culture Cult

Thanks to the fantastic Arts & Letters Daily I've been made aware of The Culture Cult, a site housing the various writings of Roger Sandall. The title of the site is also the title of his book about Western views of primitive cultures, and how misguided they usually are.

Jerry Seinfeld on helmets and helmet laws

"...Skydiving was definitely the scariest thing I've ever done. Let me ask you this question in regards to the skydiving: what is the point of the helmet in the skydiving? I mean, can you kinda make it? You jump out of that plane and that chute doesn't open, the helmet is now wearing you for protection. Later on the helmet's talking with the other helmets going "It's a good thing that he was there or I would have hit the ground directly." Read more »

Authoritarian logic

When you talk to your friends and colleagues about government, you can parse this statement I saw in a high school civics textbook:

In 1988, the Federal Government admitted that the wartime relocation [of Japanese Americans] was unnecessary and unjust. Congress voted to pay $20,000 to each of the internees still alive. It also declared: "On behalf of the nation, the Congress apologizes."