Another weekend ramble: Slavery, warming, cooling, quantum and lust!
A ramble this morning through a few things that caught my eye this week, and saved up for you for the weekend.
- Amazing Grace is a new film out imminently that celebrates Britain's great anti-slaver, the abolitionist William Wilberforce. Ahead of the film's UK release, the boys at Samizdata offer a few thoughts on both Wilberforce and the evil he played such a large part in abolishing.
If there is a point worth making on a libertarian blog like this, it is that slavery in all its forms is an abomination, a stain on humanity and should be resisted. Furthermore, man since ancient times has known that slavery is an evil but for many centuries was either resigned to the institution, or was cowed into thinking that it was part of the natural order of things... On the 200th anniversary of Britain's outlawing the slave trade, let's celebrate what [the abolitionists] achieved.A Few Thoughts on Wilberforce - Samizdata
FILM WEBSITE: 'Amazing Grace'
- Bookend that celebration, if you like, with the realisation that slavery still exists in some places in the modern world. Hat tip goes to Stephen Hicks, who in this same vein links to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report, and to a recent report from Italy where 2,000 were recently arrested for human trafficking.
Slavery and Child Labor Today
- A different kind of oppression is locking people up for things they do to themselves. David Slack fires a salvo at prohibitionists and the damage they do to society in the pursuit of headlines and photo calls. A great read.
He Cook That Crystal Meth 'Cuz His Shine Don't Sell - David Slack, Island Life
- Following our discussion yesterday of how Nanny is/might be becoming uncool, it's good to report that The Dangerous Book for Boys is selling strongly and being well-reviewed in Britain. Great stuff.
- Hans Bethe was a physicist with a sense of humour, and by all accounts an inspiring lecturer. Publishing a paper with a student, Ralph Alpher, Bethe invited his friend George Gamow to be co-author: The result, the famous Alpha-Bethe-Gamow paper. The treasure trove on offer here today is a set of lectures delivered by Bethe in 1999, which as the label says is essentially Quantum Physics Made Relatively Simple. Worth a look if you want some idea of what all the quantum fuss is about. The lectures are presented as three Quick Time videos, plus introduction. You might find it both enjoyable and useful in your understanding of the concepts to visit Carl Wiemann's site, and play with some of his Java applets. It's like a pain-free visit to a very well-stocked lab! Links below.
Three Lectures by Hans Bethe - Quantum Physics Made Relatively Simple
Interactive Physics Simulations - Physics Education Technology
Physics 2000, "an interactive journey through modern physics!" - Carl Wiemann, Colorado Uni.
- You may by now have seen the photo of the wounded marine with his girl, on their wedding day. All sorts of mileage has been made of the photo. Freedom Underground offer some background -- what they call The Story Behind the Photo: Wounded Marine Returns From Iraq to Marry His Girl. Apparently the bride, Renee, knew her man was back with heart and mind unchanged when he awoke from his ordeal on Valentine's Day, the tube was taken out of his throat, and he asked if she wanted to make out.
The Story Behind the Photo: Wounded Marine Returns From Iraq to Marry His Girl
- $10,000 for global warming bashing? Sounds cool, right. The Gristmill blog tries to get to the bottom of the reports that a leading lobby group "was paying scientists $10,000 a piece to "undermine" the just-released report from the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. AEI was described as a 'lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies' and an 'ExxonMobil-funded think tank with close links to the Bush administration'."
How a conservative think tank's foray into climate policy stirred up a media hornet's nest - Grist
- While we're on global warming, one of the debunkers of the Mann hockey stick Steve McIntyre notes that the US National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) have a new "Beta" data set using “recent scientific advances" and new algorithms to process the raw data of the US temperature record. The result is some "minor changes," including reversing the order of 1934 and 1999, with the relative change amounting to 0.45 deg F....
USHCN versions - Climate Audit
- Still on global warming, Frederic Sautet remembers when the bogeyman was global cooling, and he's posted a page or two from Newsweek of the seventies predicting all the horrors were were supposed to suffer. "The main difference," he says, "between now and then is to be found in the causes of climate change. In the 1970s, no one seemed to think that human beings were responsible for global cooling."
When Global Cooling Was Upon Us - Austrian Economists
- Ain't YouTube wonderful! Up at You Tube are two excellent interviews with the always inspirational Ayaan Hirsi Ali, here and here. Islamism "starts small and then grows," she warns.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: "It starts small, but it grows" - The Dougout
Apostate Ayaan Hirsi Ali" True Islam is radical Islam - You Tube
- Hat tip for both of the above goes to Amit Gate at Thrutch, who also reflects on "the claim made by some revisionists that the 'imperialist' West 'stole' the Middle East's oil and that justice wasn't served until those countries 'rightfully' took back the oil via nationalization. "Not true," says Amit. In fact the Middle East -- given its philosophy and culture -- couldn't discover or exploit any of the resource, and still can't even after stealing all the technology and machinery necessary to do it." Amit suggests that in ten years the same revisionists will no doubt be surprised when Venezuela's and Nigeria's production statistics start taking a big plunge.
Iranian/Arab impotence - Thrutch
- If Czech president Vaclav Klaus is a hero (and he is), then are US Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman the Smoot & Hawley of our generation? Nicholas Provenzo makes the argument that the Senators' Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act is this generation's Smoot and Hawley Tariff Act. Who were Smoot and Hawley, you ask and what was the big deal with their tariff? Answer: Those two, via their Tariff Act, were largely responsible for exporting the Great Depression from the US to the rest of the world. Story here.
McCain and Lieberman: The Smoot & Hawley of our generation? - Rule of Reason
- Speaking of heroes and reason leads naturally to another real-life heroine: Ayn Rand, and her philosophy of Objectivism. Greg Salmieri and Allan Gotthelf have a masterful short summary of both Rand's life and the philosophy of reason she developed, and what makes that philosophy and her life so special. Greg P. at Noodle Food loves the piece: "Reading it feels almost like reading a poem," he says.
Ayn Rand and Objectivism: An Overview - Ayn Rand Society
- Philosophy and politics do mix. Unguided by philosophy (or guided by the wrong philosophy) political revolution either doesn't work, doesn't last, or either doesn't achieve what you set out to achieve, or what your supporters actually think you achieved. Dodger Rugless's eighties 'revolution' achieved a lot, but nowhere near what his modern-day supporters think it did. For a long time I've linked to Lindsay Perigo's masterful overview of the revolution that really wasn't, and David Farrar's recent post on NZ tax levels since 1950 makes the point with one picture (right): tax levels under Dodger rose extravagantly -- as Farrar says "they spent like drunken whores and the tax take went from 29% to a massive 36%." That is one of the failed policies of the eighties that we're still stuck with.
In the Revolution's Twilight - Lindsay Perigo, The Free Radical
Tax since 1950 - David Farrar, Kiwiblog
- Here are two somewhat differing views on what in my view is still the chief threat confronting civilisation: the thread of jihadists. Caroline Glick asks Why is America continuing to weaken its resolve in fighting the jihadists? And Jeff Jacoby wonders if only the GOP is the anti-jihad party? And complementing those two, and perhaps concretising the importance of commitment in fighting the jihadi threat-- or at least the means by which jihadists make themselves threatening -- is John Robb on the methods of Fourth Generation Warfare: the means whereby a determined, disparate network of committed fighters can defeat a much large, much better equipped, but less committed enemy. As John Lewis's insightful article argues, commitment is the key: There is No Substitute for Victory.
- Concluding on a brighter note, and perhaps underscoring the heights to which western civilisation can and have aspired, here on You Tube is the climactic First Act conclusion of Wagner's opera Die Walkure (yes, that's 'The Valkyrie' in English), in a production that so masterfully achieved the enormous integration of music and drama that is a Wagner opera. As Siegmund and Sieglinde burn up the stage with love and lust at first sight, you realise as one reviewer said that the curtain only just got lowered in time.
Die Walküre, act one conclusion - You Tube