What about the Losers?

Originally titled Austin, the Portland wannabe, this entry has morphed into an In Related News type column (with a tip of the hat to Dan Carlin) because Common Sense 113, What about the Losers asks the same questions that were being asked by Jeff Ward when he interviewed Austin Mayor Will Wynn (Editor’s note: it only took me 11 years to notice I spelled Will Wynn’s name wrong, and unfortunately I can’t find that interview online anymore. The link I had for it is dead. My Google-fu failed to turn it up anywhere else.) on Our Little Show a few months ago.

At the time, I was screaming at the radio “It’s because Austin desperately wants to be Portland!” but I think the answer will take more explaining than that. Probably quite a bit more.

First, let’s deal with Dan’s assertion that we live in a capitalist system. This is important because Dan’s point is quite valid; in a capitalist system the growth of the markets should be robust enough that even the least ambitious, least able to compete amongst us can be provided for charitably from the fat left on the table. The problem is, we don’t live in that system.

Ask any economist and they’ll hem and haw and finally explain that we live in a managed market system, a hybrid market managed from the top down with central controls placed there by government to ostensibly protect the investors/users/general population from the dangers of an uncontrolled market.

What those dangers are is anyones guess, because hindsight has shown that the failures of the stock market can generally be traced back to interference in the market by the Federal government, or by it’s monetary arm, the Federal Reserve (before the Federal Reserve the fluctuations in markets were probably an offshoot of the legalized theft that is Fractional Reserve Banking. I’m leaving that discussion for another time because this thing is almost a book already) Most of the other markets haven’t so much failed, as they were never allowed to fully bloom before being stifled by state and local controls placed on whatever resource or talent the market formed around.

But the controls do serve the purpose of keeping the markets in check (whether the controls are professional licensing, health inspection, zoning and planning, or just the good old Securities and Exchange Commission) Keeping the markets in check being indistinguishable from slowing growth.

So we don’t really live in a capitalist system, and it’s been getting less and less so for more than a hundred years now. We do still live in what is largely a meritocracy (which is better than the alternatives) but it’s a far cry from the kind of capitalism that most laissez-faire capitalists dream about, and the profit margins are getting leaner all the time.

If there’s limited profit (what it means to be lean) then there’s limited fat to provide for those marginal types on the fringe of society. And no amount of exhortation to buckle down and provide for them from outside is ever going to result in their getting more of what they need. Like a parent telling a child to be good and share, if there’s only one toy, the toy’s owner gets to play with it.

Globalization (Dan’s second point) was occurring whether we drafted and joined GATT, NAFTA, CAFTA, et al, or not. I would actually offer up the observation that the agreements appear to have been drafted to favor the staid multi-national corporations after the wilderness had been tracked by more nimble entrepreneurs.

[much like the stock tech bubble was burst just in time for established corporations to wade in and take over newly created tech industries. But it would be very black helicopter of me to say that, wouldn’t it?]

So blaming the state of affairs on these agreements suits me just fine. I just wouldn’t waste time kicking the scapegoat of Globalization (whatever that means) for the fact that you can’t make $30 bucks an hour doing tech support for (insert giant corporation’s name here) anymore. As Dan rightly points out “they have smart people in India too” and they’ll work for much less. Any corporation bent on reducing costs is going to outsource work in those sorts of circumstances, globalization incentives in place or not.

It’s not globalization’s fault, because that’s only part of the big picture. There’s also the consistent devaluation of the dollar (generally referred to as inflation) by spend-happy congressmen bent on buying their way into re-election at the top end of the government chain (not to mention crusading Presidents with Foreign Dragons to Slay) These actions reduce the purchasing power of the dollars you have left after your job was outsourced to India.

On the other end of the government chain, you have cities (like Austin) that have activist governments bent on achieving various goals, either for the enrichment of the powerful within the city, or to satisfy the security/comfort demands of the citizens, or both. In Austin, the government has used zoning, licensing, and control of the water/wastewater and road system, as well as what’s known as an Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) to limit growth and prevent what city planners refer to with distaste as sprawl. The predictable results have been growth outside of city controlled areas (leading to congestion and a mad dash to toll all roads that lead into Austin) and a steep climb in real estate values within city boundaries.

I say predictable, because this is the same formula that Portland and other cities modeled after Portland have used to limit growth and encourage compact city centers. The problems with this model have been documented in CATO studies, which I have perused often enough that I end up in a screaming match with my radio when the Mayor is interviewed.

Traffic congestion, homelessness and poverty. All of these are attributable side effects of limiting road construction, driving up the cost of housing, and diverting public funds to programs (such as light rail and subsidized housing) that do not produce the benefits promised. When you couple that with multi-national corporations outsourcing employment to countries where three generations of a family live under the same (small) roof; and the devaluation of the wages that remain, you have the recipe for the near unavoidable disaster which looms on the horizon.

Hello, interesting times. The ancient Chinese guy I was just talking to mentioned you.


So, what about the losers? What’s the solution? A lot less government, and a lot less government interference. It’s what will occur whether we head that way voluntarily or not. We might as well plan for it.

On the local end it’s going to mean relaxing building restrictions at the city level and perhaps relying upon the licensed professionals to do their job without the city looking over their shoulder (an architect can dream, can’t he?) it means privatizing road ownership (road construction, contrary to popular belief, is already mostly private) so that real maintenance costs can be established and funded. Privatized mass transit systems (London’s seems to work just fine)

On the Federal end, who knows? Can Washington be reasoned with? Considering the battle in California over medical Marijuana (a clear states rights issue if I’ve ever seen one) I’d have to say it looks like no. Can the out of control bureaucracy be brought to heal? That remains to be seen, but also doubtful.

[I’d be interested to see what would happen if the states insisted on payment of federal debts in Constitutional money; precious metal coinage. I think the Fed would have a hard time winning that battle in court]

So the real question is “will the Federal government survive the collapse of the dollar?” (which appears to be underway right now. It’s been slow so far, let’s see how long that lasts. And yes, I’m being serious. When have you ever seen the USD trade at parity with CAD? I’ve never seen it, till now) I don’t think it can be avoided. If, by some machination of events beyond the average persons comprehension collapse is avoided, and the federal government continues, there’s no telling what it will look like. Better to not worry about events beyond our control.

As for the plight of the losers, I’ve been rolling this idea around in my head for years now. Since we don’t use real money anyway these days, and since the banks can create money out of thin air when they need it, why can’t we do the same thing for that portion of society that would do without necessities if they aren’t extended the equivalent of credit.

There would need to be a standardization or nationalization of accounts, so that each person would have one account (and only one account) into which his electronic funds are transferred when he works, and from which funds are drawn when purchases are made. But rather than having a lower point at which no more funds are available, as in today’s bank accounts, the loser hits the point where the cash card becomes a charity card. Businesses would be given direct tax write offs for extending charity, and charity would be limited to strictly defined necessities (such as utilities, food, etc.) If you want a large screen TV, sorry you’ll have to do without. If you became productive again, then after a set period of time your charity card would once again convert to a cash card, and you could purchase whatever you wanted with it.

Not a libertarian solution, but a solution all the same.


I can see several of my AnCap acquaintances bristling from all the way over here. So, why should I care if the losers do without necessities? If I don’t want to give them charity, I don’t have to. And that’s true, as far as it goes. This post is already too long, but I thought I’d touch on the issue of haves and have-nots (or winners and losers) because it’s the have-not / have quotient (and the correlative societal highs and lows of money and status) that defines whether a society can continue to function peacefully or not.

Too high a number and the have-nots are emboldened to take what they want from the haves; and not all of us are or want to be Joe Horn. Too low a number, and human nature takes over correcting the trend turning haves into have-nots through natural laziness.

So obviously, it’s in the haves best interest to act in advance of the outset of violence, by not allowing the number to get too high; and the easiest way to do this is to keep the low end of the have-nots from falling too low. Put whatever conditions you want on the charity that makes you happy (after all, this is an exercise in “what if?”) Sterilization of the lowest portions of society so as to prevent a blossoming of their ranks through reproduction, in the event that they go on charity status. Repayment of charity before cash status is returned. Whatever.

Just remember that the more draconian the penalties, the less effective the charity will be at mediating violence. Which is the point of offering it in the first place, if human decency isn’t enough of an appeal to move you.


Editor’s note 2019. So much bullshit, so little time. Be thankful I took the time to correct the former mayor’s name. The rest of this? Mostly smoke blown up my own ass. But, it was amusing writing it at the time. I will point out that my naivete concerning the motivations of the wealthy are on full display here. I fully expected them to be cognizant of the fact that there aren’t enough bullets in the world, even if you could speed load them all, to be able to kill every hungry, poor person lurking outside your window before they get you, when the payback time arrives. Apparently they think action movies are real just like everybody else does.

McCain: The Myth of a Maverick

Matt Welch has written a book that, if I was into reading books on political figures I have only a marginal interest in (McCain has always been just another weasel to me) I would probably find fascinating.

But, his discussion at CATO about the book was quite revealing about the character of McCain. Not exactly the type of guy I’d want as president. Not even vaguely. Here’s the video:


Like I said, I don’t have much of an opinion on the subject of McCain, but perhaps I should have since it looks like Republican voters are going to hand him the nomination. Not that he can win against either of the Democrat frontrunners with the pro-war stance that he currently has.

The CATO daily podcast brought the subject back to the forebrain today. I had listened to the event podcast weeks ago and pretty much forgotten it until today.

FFrF Radio: Ellery Schempp & Robert Sapolsky

Podcast Link.

February 2, 2008Champion of the First Amendment

Parsing Bush’s state of the union address. “There was a notion that somehow there needed to be a clear separation of church and state.” as an example. (this mans lack of knowledge concerning proper government, AFTER 8 YEARS AS PRESIDENT, is shocking. Where is his brain?) Here’s hoping that congress stands firm and allows the Office of Faith Based Initiatives to die with the retirement of the sitting president.

Ellery Schempp was instrumental in getting bible readings and prayers stopped in public schools (he sent a letter and a $10 dollar bill to the ACLU, asking for their help, while a Junior in high school) Ellery’s Protest chronicles these events. The government is still trying to sneak prayer into the schools via as many different back doors as it can find, but I’d like to extend a word of thanks to Mr. Schempp for his brave stand. This is his second appearance on the show.

This is the first episode in which the name Madalyn Murray O’Hair has been mentioned, which I find odd, because the average American probably thinks the name and the word Atheist are synonymous; although they aren’t. I credit her antisocial behavior with the stunning lack of freethinkers in the otherwise ‘liberal’ city of Austin.


2007 Archive episode.

February 3, 2007Robert Sapolsky – “Hellbound Atheist” & Scientist

One of the more entertaining interviews, Robert Sapolsky discussed in a lively fashion everything from evolution, to the impact of testosterone on violence, to secretly wishing he could anestha-dart his colleagues at the university in order to study them.

The most interesting portion of the interview was the discussion concerning Schizotypal people, and the linkage to magical thinking; leading to the hypothesis that the ability to turn what would normally be a disabling mental problem into a leadership quality has lead a genetic mental problem (Schizophrenia) to be more predominant than statistics says it ought to be.

FFrF Radio: Ernie Harburg & Eleanor Smeal

Podcast Link.

January 26, 2008The Atheist Lyricist Who Put the Rainbow in the Wizard of Oz

50 members of congress have gotten together, at the behest of (the laughable) ACLJ (founded by Pat Robertson, who has managed to leverage a barely average ability in televangelism into an influential religious based series of businesses. If his followers would just quit giving him money, maybe he’d finally go broke and we’d be finished with him) to respond to the lawsuit requesting the removal of under god from the pledge of allegiance.

As ill founded as I think FFrF vs. Congress is (making children say the pledge is contrary to freedom) I find it hard to believe that an infinite number of congresscritters could find 80,000 Americans who gave a damn one way or the other about the contents of the pledge, let alone 50. I think all 50 of those members should be ashamed of themselves for letting themselves be manipulated like this. This pandering to the Religious Right has to stop.

This is the second appearance for Ernie Harburg on the show, talking about his father Yip Harburg, and the new Biography Who Put the Rainbow in the Wizard of Oz. His first appearance was on the first episode of the show.


2007 Archive episode.

January 27, 2007The Religious War Against Women: Ellie Smeal

Hard to believe that it’s only been a year since the currently endless road to the White House election cycle started. It feels like it’s been at least 10 years. The show starts with a clip from the Daily show (catch it when I can) lambasting Sam Brownback (who?) for his stance on the importance of religious belief in the selection of government officials.

“I mean, when I picture a zoning board that doesn’t understand that Christ gave His life for our sins, I can’t imagine how it could regulate land use within a mixed residential slash industrial zone.” -John Stewart

But then the progressive political dogma shows up again. I know that Bush, when he’s talking about school choice, thinks he’s talking about giving tax money to private religious schools. But Annie Laurie Gaylor should know better, she’s smarter than he is (a box of hammers is smarter than he is) a simple scan of private schools in your area will probably turn up several schools which are not religious in nature, most of which (if you live in a large city) will produce students of a superior caliber than the more costly government schools.

In Austin there are no less than 10 Montessori schools. And while Maria Montessori was Catholic, the schools that follow her methods are generally progressive in nature; that is, there is no religious teaching in the schools

[it’s funny, the only time I’ve experience a problem with religion in the schools has been when my children have been in the government school system. I’ve had to intervene when the schools have tried to impose silent or lead prayers as well as mandate pledging; or the time when the son’s charter school was actually housed in a Catholic church. The Montessori years, for both of them, were trouble free when it came to religion]

and the Montessori schools are just one type of private school in the average metropolitan area. If we’re going to cast aspersions here, I think the blind insistence that government schools are the only schools free from religion is a dangerously dogmatic opinion, and does a disservice to those parents and teachers who seek to be freed from the restrictions placed on them by heavy handed bureaucrats who have an agenda separate from simply educating children. I could go on, but then I’ve already said what needed to be said either here, or here.

Ellie Smeal was on to talk on the issue of abortion (Blog entries) on the anniversary of Roe. 70,000 women die each year from botched abortions. I wish they had stayed on the subject of family planning, rather than wandering around various issues related to feminism; too much material for a half hour interview. It’s a travesty, what’s been done to limit family planning all over the world, including in the US.

The discussion of the crimes of the Taliban against women was illuminating.

Discover Your Inner Economist & Mind of the Market

A couple of CATO events that struck a cord with me lately.

Tyler Cowen discussed his new Book Discover your Inner Economist in a recent CATO event. I haven’t read the book, but I found the event discussion quite engaging. The objections that I’ve had to beancounters for all of my life were touched on numerous times. They miss the portions of human interaction that can’t be quantified with numbers in a ledger, and consequently make wrong decisions when it comes to directing business expenses.

He’s in a CATO weekly video here discussing incentives within a family setting:


read more | digg story

Then there’s Micheal Shermer’s CATO event where he is discussing his new book The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics. I didn’t find his presentation as compelling, but he presented several observations that I found thought provoking.

[My major beef with Shermer is a common problem that I’ve observed over time. He mistakenly uses the word ‘Altruism’ when he means ‘charity’ (“reciprocal altruism” should be “reciprocal charity”; as in a transaction where there is no profit outside the charitable benefit. Altruism is not charity]

Here’s the CATO video With Shermer:

read more | digg story

They’re both on CATO daily podcasts as well.

This discussion is related to the discussion of health care and private markets, believe it or not. The average American is letting his desire for security override his common sense on this (and other) issues. Just figured I’d point out some resources for those who can’t wrap their heads around the idea of free markets.

FFrF Radio: Katha Pollitt & FFrF’s political Dogma?

Podcast link.

Examples of why Huckabee is indeed the true religious fruitcake. He wants to change the constitution to bring it more in line with god’s teachings. You get the award Mr. Huckabee. (at least he’s now trailing in the polls. That’s a relief) Discussion of who and what Gideons are, and the latest decision against giving bibles to school children (I have one of those bibles myself. I prefer the Catholic version; more books) Gideon warning label. The former Cardinal Ratzenberger’s continuing war on science. The Misogynist nature of the Bible.

Kata Pollitt‘s third (?) appearance on the show, discussing her latest book Learning to Drive. Always entertaining.



2006 Archive episode.

January 20, 2007 –

The least interesting interview to date, Matthew Rothschild. One of the favorite phrases on Freethought Radio is “Beware of Dogma”; and if there is one thing that qualifies as dogma, it’s progressives embracing policies and practices that have been proven to harm those they are intended to help.

Such is Mr. Rothschild’s allegiance to the minimum wage, and his shocked condemnation of those who are opposed to it as conservatives. There are many people who are opposed to stealing jobs and money from the poor in order to aid those middle class workers who are union members (the true benefactors of a minimum wage hike) Fiscal conservatives are just part of that group, and very few of them are in evidence in the legislature these days.

That they let him rant on about the lack of ethics of those who would oppose the minimum wage is suspect here, but I’ll let it slide this once. I’ll not be paying much heed to what Mr. Rothschild has to say in future.

The Health care Problem

Health care. Again.

I got slapped so hard by people who just love the idea of Single Payer Health care systems (and I don’t care what the Wiki article says on the subject. Tax funded health care is socialized medicine. Calling it anything else is attempting to sugarcoat the pill) when I sent out my Sicko comments the other day, I decided to do a little digging and see if I could find some hard evidence on the subject. Luckily I didn’t have to look too far.

CATO just happened to sponsor Health Care University 2007 about a month ago. If you listen to the podcasts, you might be shocked to learn a few things. Arnold Kling visits his article Government and Health Care: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly and discusses what does and doesn’t work in currently instituted government programs.

Suppose that instead of looking at health care policy as a means to push an ideology or score political points, we examine it from a pragmatic American vantage point. What works? What does not work? What backfires? Those are the good, the bad, and the ugly, respectively. The table below summarizes our experience in terms of three goals of health care policy: improving access to care; improving the quality of care; and lowering the cost of our health care system.

Government and Health Care: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

A CATO scholar that thinks government can contribute positively to the health care problem? Shocking! But oddly, making very good arguments.

Michael D. Tanner
talks about what doesn’t work in the health care systems around the world. Things like innovation that isn’t available anywhere else but here. That there aren’t any single payer systems that work;

When you look at single payer systems, you can divide them into two categories, those that work, and those that are actually single payer systems.

In Canada, 800,000 people are on the waiting list for treatment. In the UK today, 40% of all cancer patients never get to see an oncologist (because they die before seeing them) (The UK NHS Wiki article shows the same heavy handed bias as the other article I linked to above. I’m thinking theres a gov’t employee who is paid specifically to insure that the wiki article on NHS stays pro-NHS. If everything is so good, why are there so many articles on NHS problems on the web?) in terms of survival rates, the US ranks number one in cancer survival, the UK ranks 16th.

The government health care systems that equate to the quality of the U.S. health care systems, like in France, feature co-payment plans with co-pays as high as 40%. This is not a single payer system. In fact, it’s not much different from the system we find ourselves in here in the U.S.

The problems with the U.S. system are problems that have been beaten to death already, as far as discussion goes. Mandates don’t work (Massachusetts is a stellar example of this) percentages of uninsured motorists exceed the percentages of those people who have no health insurance, in areas where automobile insurance is mandated.

Employer provided health insurance doesn’t work. It has given rise to the problems we currently have.

Just paying for the insurance has the same problems as employer provided insurance. Those who use the service do not have to pay the costs of the service. (and will be indistinguishable from any other gov’t welfare system; e.g. demand will far exceed supply, costs will spiral, and rationing will once again be necessary) This is also not a solution.

So, what is the solution? Well, Health Care University 2007 didn’t offer one (at least in the podcasts) but I would think that for the U.S., the solution is obvious. Get the government out of health care as much as possible. At least provide tax incentives for individuals to purchase their own health care, with plenty of choices; in other words, not just incentives for health insurance, but incentives for health savings accounts. (HSA’s are extremely unpopular with insurance companies, and insurance companies are active lobbyists. Consequently, you won’t hear about them during the evening news soundbites) Remove regulations that strangle the insurance industry. If you want more, visit CATO’s voluminous Research Areas on the subject.

As someone who pays for his (and most of his families) health care costs out of pocket, I have to say that it isn’t the day to day costs that are a problem; it isn’t even the “what if you child breaks a bone?” type accidents that are a problem.

No, the problem arises when you have a chronic ailment that requires costly procedures, and most of the time these types of ailments will get your insurance (under the current system) canceled. Of what use were those $300 a month family health care coverage payments worth then?

HSA, HSA, HSA. I don’t think I can repeat that enough. Let me save that money myself, and after a few years, I won’t even need insurance coverage other than catastrophic care (which I dare you to find these days. Seriously, have you seen one?) so why would I need government assistance at all?


Editor’s note, 2019. Health Savings Accounts were a chimera.

Critics contend that low-income people, who are more likely to be uninsured, do not earn enough to benefit from the tax breaks offered by health savings accounts. These tax breaks are too modest, when compared to the actual cost of insurance, to persuade significant numbers to buy this coverage.

Wikipedia

The writing on the wall is and will always be that the cost of healthcare is more than anyone not in the 1% can afford. That is, if you live long enough to get cancer or a chronic illness. Someone has to pay for the professionals to research and create cures for the health ills of every human being, and the healthy simply don’t care about the cost of maintaining their health until they become ill. Then they go bankrupt trying to repair something that would have been more cheaply fixed had they not ignorantly broken it.

…things like, sleeping only four hours a night because insomnia keeps you awake for most of the night anyway, so why bother going to bed unless you are so tired that you almost doze off while chewing your dinner? Had I thought to look into sleep deprivation or sleep problems sooner, I might have worked a lot later in life. Believing I didn’t need a doctor to tell me what my problems were was my fool for a patient moment without having to go through all those years of residency and schooling.

To use the phrase socialized medicine is to repeat oneself needlessly. All medicine contains costs borne by the public at large. All of it. It is a classic case of an economic externality, which is why businesses toss the cost of healthcare around like a hot potato. No one wants to foot the bill, therefore everyone must be forced to foot the bill. How that cost is paid equitably, while providing access to limited facilities equitably? That is the really hard and important question. One that I am finally fully cognizant of lacking the knowledge and expertise to solve. It’s about fucking time, if I do say so myself.

FFrF Radio: Atheists in the Pulpit & Katha Pollitt

Podcast link.

January 12, 2008Atheists in the Pulpit: Ministers Who Lose Their Faith

Discussion of HR 888 “American Religious History Week” Talk2Action says:

Falsified American history has already been taught to 190,000 American public school students via an elective Bible class curriculum with bogus American history ( here’s Chuck Norris and his wife, in a short video, to tell you about it) and on an even larger scale via falsified history – attacking church/state separation no less – that’s been inserted in the Army’s JROTC curriculum taught at public high schools nationwide.

This issue concerns more than a House Resolution endorsing fake history ; the core function of the falsified “Christian nation” historical narrative – which is built from many little history lies and distortions (and some big ones too) is to support Christian nationalism (link to an essay I did on how I think that works. What’s Christian nationalism ?)

The fight over the American historical record is a battle about whose version of history will be the dominant narrative that will get to shape the historical understandings of the next generation of Americans. The falsified narrative of the Christian right has been gaining ground for decades but now – with the letters and phone calls people right here on this forum have sent and made to their representatives in Congress – the fightback, to protect the integrity of the historical record, is truly underway.

The guests this week were Tom Reed (second appearance. his first appearance was longer) and Dan Barker. They were both featured in the Psychology Today article An Atheist in the Pulpit. The episode also features audio of Dan Barker’s appearance on Oprah. This is also the second time Dan has guested on his own show. Two of Dan’s songs are featured towards the end of the episode.


2007 Archive episode.

January 13, 2007 – Katha Pollitt – She’s on next week (this year) as well. This episode she’s discussing Virginity or Death, concerning the HPV vaccination that will avert nearly all cases of cervical cancer if given to girls before they become sexually active. Of course, the religious right don’t like the idea of saving anyone from gods righteous wrath, so they are foursquare against the vaccine.

Another issue I’ve discussed before, just not on this blog. Suffice it to say I was on the fence when it comes to requiring the vaccination by state law, as Texas nearly did. But then I’m on the fence about requiring any vaccination by state law. Otherwise, I don’t see the point in not requiring the vaccination, if you are going to require others. Of course, the Religious Right got their wish, and the only thing the sitting governor has done that I’ve agreed with was voted out by the legislature. Go figure.

There was a lengthy list of Freethinkers in the media at the end of this episode. Of special note was Ernestine L. Rose.

“Do you tell me that the Bible is against our rights? Then I say that our claims do not rest upon a book written no one knows when, or by whom. Do you tell me what Paul or Peter says on the subject? Then again I reply that our claims do not rest on the opinions of any one, not even on those of Paul and Peter, . . . Books and opinions, no matter from whom they came, if they are in opposition to human rights, are nothing but dead letters.”

Ernestine Rose, responding to religious heckler at Seventh National Woman’s Rights Convention

FFrF Radio: Litigants & African American Freethought

Podcast Link.

This week’s interviews are with current litigants in state/church lawsuits. This is a recurring show topic on the radio program; not that I’m complaining mind you. It’s just that they seem to blend together after awhile.

The quote this week that sticks out?

Concerning the lawsuit asking for the records of visitors to the White House (just another document made secret under the presidency of GWB) and why Ted Haggard was not on the list of people visiting the White House.

Dan Barker: “Ted Haggard was probably visiting Larry Craig’s office”

I’m sure Larry Craig was choking on that one…


2007 Archive episode.

January 6, 2007 – African American Freethought and Atheism

Marion the Barbarian (Pat Robertson) and his latest round of (completely erroneous) predictions for what will happen at the end of the year (that year has passed, and guess what? No Boom)

This weeks guest was Norm Allen, editor of the anthology, African-American Humanism. What can I say? I keep listening to the show because the interviews are generally quite engaging. This one is yet another example. I hope they have him on again.

The Porgy and Bess song “It Ain’t Necessarily So” sung by Sammy Davis Junior as Sportin’ Life is also featured.

Hardcore History: James Burke & the K-Web

I have listened to all of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (wish I could say the same for Common Sense. I’m still missing the first 40 or so of those) and they’ve all been good. I would have had a hard time picking the best episode…

…Until now. I know, I know, this episode was rough, it didn’t have the polished edges of the rest of the episodes.

But
It’s
James Burke!

C’mon.

I’ve been a fan of this guy since I saw Connections 1 several years ago. I just recently caught Connections 3, and I guess I’m going to have to track down Connections 2 on my own because no one seems to be airing them.

I’m apparently not the same caliber of fan that Dan Carlin is, though. I’ve never even heard of American Connections before, and I put The Day the Universe Changed on my wishlist based on Carlin’s glowing praise alone.

While all of the interview was worth listening to, I was intrigued by Mr. Burke’s latest project The Knowledge Web. While not really up and running yet, the concept sounds a lot like Connections; which was intriguing to me at first glance because it reminded me of the way I used to read the encyclopedia; not from front to back, but from reference to reference.

Can’t wait to see it finished.