Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Braves Should Be Businesslike

Members of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners,

I've been a Braves fan ever since the Braves were the Boston Braves through the end of the 1952 baseball season.  I followed the career of the only Braves player who played with the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta:  the late great Eddie Mathews.  All of that to say that I'm as much of a Braves fan as anyone else who claims to be a Braves fan.

However, there is absolutely no acceptable reason to rush to bring the Braves from Turner Field out to Cobb County.  It appears that a little coterie is trying to cram this new Braves' presence in Cobb County right down the throats of every single taxpayer without providing adequate time for the tax-paying citizens of Cobb County to determine whether or not they actually want to get stuck with yet another tax liability, something to the tune of $300 million – for starters, to assist in the Braves’ transition from Turner Field to Cobb County.  If the Braves’ organization wishes to conduct their business as real businesses are compelled to conduct their business, buy land in Cobb County, and build a new stadium and anything else that tickles their fancy WITH THEIR OWN MONEY AND FINANCING - AND ONLY THEIR OWN MONEY AND FINANCING, then I have no problem with their following the same procedures that any other business has to follow when it wishes to set up shop in Cobb County. 

In light of what has been revealed, you members of the board of commissioners seem to have determined that we voters are only slaves on your plantation, and you commissioners are our masters.  Perhaps Im mistaken about that.  I hope I am, but I fear that Im not.  There are quite a few others - primarily in Washington in the halls of Congress, the White House, and the U. S. Supreme Court, and yes, even in our own Georgia legislature  with Charles Gregory being a welcomed and notable exception - who obviously have embraced this regrettable philosophy of governance for far too long, but that gives you no license to attempt to emulate them. 

I respectfully request that you postpone whatever you were planning to do tonight (November 26th) and take steps to be certain that there is a public hearing – make that several announced public hearings county-wide, and include all details of the current proposal in printed form, available to all Cobb County citizens.  After that, hold a true county-wide referendum to give Cobb County taxpayers the opportunity to which they’re entitled to accept or reject the currently proposed conditions under which the Braves wish to move from Fulton County to Cobb County.  

Roland M. Renne 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Shutdown a barometer of surrendered liberty

How much do people want government in their lives?  Try taking it away for a couple of days and see what happens.  

Tea Party Republicans have managed to keep the government from passing legislation that would fund the government for the next fiscal year.  How is this playing out on social networks and in the media?

What follows is my personal survey, which is to say it is not scientific.  


TP Republicans are being called terrorists, children, and inhuman for keeping 30 million people from getting free health care. One poster shows a cup overflowing with a dark liquid, with a caption that reads: We've had enough tea, thank you. Now give us our government back. One person thanked the selfless members of Congress who were diverting their paychecks to furloughed employees. (I'm curious to know exactly how that works.) Others are outraged that our national security is threatened by the @#&#! Republicans. There are few pro-shutdown comments.


I Googled "shutdown saving taxpayers" and was swarmed with links arguing that the shutdown would cost taxpayers dearly. From MSNBC:

"Even if workers aren't given backpay, as they were in the nineties, the government will still lose out on important sources of revenue, like inspection fines and visa and licensing fees. Plus, there are back costs to re-opening.

"So while Republicans continue to dig in the ongoing budget showdown, they could end up doing the very thing they say they're in Washington to stop: new government bills."


The Poor

Will the shutdown hurt the poor?

RT - 10 ways govt shutdown will hurt America http://rt.com/usa/us-government-shutdown-effects-550/

Mother Jones - 48 Ways a Government Shutdown Will Screw You Over http://tinyurl.com/k3x3ndq

etc., etc.

The Children

Will the shutdown hurt kids?

"[Governor Mike] Beebe says more than 85,000 meals for Arkansas children would not be provided and 2,000 newborn babies would not receive infant formula through the Department of Health's WIC program." http://www.ktts.com/news/Arkansas-Governor-Says-Government-Shut-Down-Will-Hurt-Children-225878501.html

And let's not forget . . .

Meanwhile, as if to remind us that freedom is dangerous and government is our savior, CNN is running an article about the dangers of legalizing marijuana:

Legalized pot would mean more addiction http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/02/opinion/sabet-war-on-drugs/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn

The Dollar Vigilante

Fortunately, Jeff Berwick reminds us sardonically about the effect of the shutdown on roads, national parks, and government websites.

"Roads in national parks throughout the US were immediately shuttered on Monday.

"Within minutes of being held from extortion (tax) funding these roads immediately became impassable. At least when an escalator stops working it just becomes stairs and is still usable, but these roads simply cease to be usable immediately at the start of a government shutdown. . . .

"[National parks] also just cease to exist the moment government is not funded and, for your safety, they are immediately walled off. No child could possibly play on that grass without the government being involved!"

Berwick includes a poster of Matrix star Laurence Fishburne in sunglasses with text-over that reads: What if I told you . . . you can just walk around the "park closed" sign?

And some - in wheelchairs - did just that.

"A number of senior citizens managed to get by the 'closed' sign in Washington to get to a World War II memorial to remember and grieve for all the people and friends of theirs who died because of the US government and the Rothschild-backed World War II."


What will we experience when the government shuts down for real because of unavoidable insolvency?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Political commentary for Sept. 17, 2013

Putin wants no U.S. war on Syria or Iran. This requires no chemical weapons use in Syria and no nukes in Iran. This coincides with U.S. interests, if not Lindsey Graham’s.

The Russians, with ties to Tehran and Damascus we do not have, can be helpful in keeping us out of wars we do not want. 

The true friends of America are those seeking to keep us out of wars, not those maneuvering us in.

At the state and local level every American faces brutal, armed psychopaths known as the police. The “law and order” conservatives and the “compassionate” liberals stand silent while police psychopaths brutalize children and grandmothers, murder double amputees in wheel chairs, break into the wrong homes, murder the family dogs, and terrify the occupants, pointing their automatic assault weapons in the faces of small children.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Swiping at a criminal regime

As the brilliant article by Glenn Greenwald explains, there is a vast difference between the actions of Edward Snowden and the U.S. government.  Snowden has revealed on-going criminal activity by the U.S. government that has shielded itself from legal prosecution by passing unconstitutional laws allowing such activity.  Snowden knew this and decided it was such a terrible wrong that he had to expose it to the public, knowing that the penalty for doing so would be severe.  As others have noted, Snowden's leaked documents are hardly revelations to other governments, journalists, or people who pay attention to the news.  But for most people it was news, shocking news, to learn that everything they tell others digitally also gets told to the NSA. 
The "enemy" they're seeking to keep ignorant with selective and excessive leak prosecutions are not The Terrorists or The Chinese Communists. It's the American people.

The Terrorists already knew, and have long known, that the US government is doing everything possible to surveil their telephonic and internet communications. The Chinese have long known, and have repeatedly said, that the US is hacking into both their governmental and civilian systems (just as the Chinese are doing to the US). The Russians have long known that the US and UK try to intercept the conversations of their leaders just as the Russians do to the US and the UK.

They haven't learned anything from these disclosures that they didn't already well know. The people who have learned things they didn't already know are American citizens who have no connection to terrorism or foreign intelligence, as well as hundreds of millions of citizens around the world about whom the same is true. What they have learned is that the vast bulk of this surveillance apparatus is directed not at the Chinese or Russian governments or the Terrorists, but at them.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Things about old cars you probably didn't know

Freedom for many people still means being able to get in your car and go wherever you want.  The automobile has vastly contributed to American freedom for this reason alone, providing people a means of "getting there" quickly, at least compared to previous modes of transportation.

It's not surprising to find the Left at war with cars.  As Jon Gabriel writes,

Since Henry Ford’s first Model T rolled off the Detroit assembly line, the car has represented the individual and freedom. Finally, the city dweller could chart his own direction outside of a subway or trolley car and the farmer could explore beyond the reach of his horse and buggy. 
But in the Age of Obama, the individual is less important than the group. Hence the push for light rail, high-speed rail, unrealistic mileage standards and emission mandates, rising energy prices, and even the state-ordered destruction of perfectly good automobiles. In the Long March toward the bright progressive future, even transportation needs to be collectivized.

Those who appreciate the automobile's role in American freedom might enjoy this trip down memory lane.  You can find more at JDJournal.

Q: Who opened the first drive-in gas station?
A: Gulf opened up the first station in Pittsburgh in 1913.

Q: What city was the first to use parking meters?
A: Oklahoma City, on July 16, 1935.

Q: Where was the first drive-in restaurant?
A: Royce Hailey’s Pig Stand opened in Dallas in 1921.

Q: True or False?

The 1953 Corvette came in white, red and black.
A: False.

The 1953 ‘Vetted’ were available in one color, Polo White.

Q: What was Ford’s answer to the Chevy Corvette, and other legal street racers of the 1960′s?
A: Carroll Shelby’s Mustang GT350.

Q: What was the first car fitted with a replaceable cartridge oil filter?
A: The 1924 Chrysler.

Q: What was the first car to be offered with a “perpetual guarantee”?
A: The 1904 Acme, from Reading, PA. Perpetuity was disturbing in this case, as Acme closed down in 1911.

Q: What American luxury automaker began by making cages for birds and squirrels?
A: The George N. Pierce Co. Of Buffalo, who made the Pierce Arrow, also made iceboxes.

Q: What car first referred to itself as a convertible?
A: The 1904 Thomas Flyer, which had a removable hard top.

Q: What car was the first to have it’s radio antenna embedded in the windshield?
A: The 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix.

Q: What car used the first successful series-production hydraulic valve lifters?
A: The 1930 Cadillac 452, the first production V16

Q: Where was the World’s first three-color traffic lights installed?
A: Detroit, Michigan in 1919. Two years later they experimented with synchronized lights.

Q: What type of car had the distinction of being GM’s 100 millionth car built in the U.S. ?
A: March 16, 1966 saw an Olds Tornado roll out of Lansing, Michigan with that honor.

Q: Where was the first drive-in movie theater opened, and when?
A: Camden, NJ in 1933

Q: What autos were the first to use a standardized production key-start system?
A: The 1949 Chryslers

Q: What did the Olds designation 4-4-2 stand for?
A: 4 barrel carburetor, 4 speed transmission, and dual exhaust.

Q: What U.S. Production car has the quickest 0-60 mph time?
A: The 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS 409. Did it in 4.0 seconds.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Are Tablets the New Teachers?

Meet Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop Per Child, who believes that “If [children] can learn to read, then they can read to learn.”  He bases this claim on experiments run with first grade age children in two remote Ethiopian villages.
One village is called Wonchi, on the rim of a volcanic crater at 11,000 feet; the other is called Wolonchete, in the Great Rift Valley. Children there had never previously seen printed materials, road signs, or even packaging that had words on them, Negroponte said.

Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android,” Negroponte said. “Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.”

Elaborating later on Negroponte’s hacking comment, Ed McNierney, OLPC’s chief technology officer, said that the kids had gotten around OLPC’s effort to freeze desktop settings. “The kids had completely customized the desktop—so every kids’ tablet looked different.  We had installed software to prevent them from doing that,” McNierney said. “And the fact they worked around it was clearly the kind of creativity, the kind of inquiry, the kind of discovery that we think is essential to learning.”
There are about 100 million kids worldwide who don't go to school.  Tablets plus some adult encouragement may be the way they can learn.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Technology at a wedding

One of my daughters was married last September (coincidentally on Ludwig von Mises' birthday).  The groom's mother lives in Bulgaria and couldn't attend in person, but an iPhone and Skype brought her to the ceremony nonetheless.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to unravel governments

Silent Circle is a family of applications that can transmit encrypted data between mobile devices.  Right now the apps are only available for iPhone and iPad, but support for other mobile devices is in the works.  From Slate's Ryan Gallagher:
The encryption is peer to peer, which means that Silent Circle doesn’t centrally hold a key that can be used to decrypt people’s messages or phone calls. Each phone generates a unique key every time a call is made, then deletes it straight after the call finishes. When sending text messages or images, there is even a “burn” function, which allows you to set a time limit on anything you send to another Silent Circle user—a bit like how “this tape will self destruct” goes down in Mission: Impossible, but without the smoke or fire. [Oct. 16, 2012]
In a Feb. 4, 2013 article Gallagher says
Until now, sending encrypted documents has been frustratingly difficult for anyone who isn’t a sophisticated technology user, requiring knowledge of how to use and install various kinds of specialist software. What Silent Circle has done is to remove these hurdles, essentially democratizing encryption. It’s a game-changer that will almost certainly make life easier and safer for journalists, dissidents, diplomats, and companies trying to evade state surveillance or corporate espionage.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Love msg from Israeli paratrooper

Thanks to Facebook this is becoming a big movement.  Imagine, Israelis and Iranians actually liking one another.  Of course, it's done in defiance of their respective governments.  Best viewed in full screen.  Please share.  NOTE: For some reason this won't run under Safari.  If you're a Mac user, view it with Firefox or something other than Safari.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

GDP Has Built-in Bias

And the bias doesn't favor the market.  Government pumps money into the economy by way of inflation, taxes, or borrowing, and GDP grows.  Should we conclude then that government spending helps the economy?

Veronique de Rugy writes in the June, 2011 issue of Reason:

When the federal government pumps trillions of dollars into the economy, it looks as if GDP is growing. When government cuts spending—even cuts within the most inefficient programs—aggregate GDP shrinks.  
But that’s misleading. If Washington spends $1 a year on a bureaucrat’s salary, for example, GDP numbers will register growth of exactly $1, whether or not the employee has produced any value for that money. By contrast, if a firm pays an engineer $1, that $1 only shows up in the GDP if the engineer produces $1 worth of stuff to sell. This distinction biases GDP numbers—and the policies based on them—toward ever-increasing government spending.