Recent comments

  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 15 hours ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Quite right, Mishochu, in your first line. He certainly does not, and nor does anyone else.   But he, like you and quite a few others who comment here, certainly needs to get his head together. The Academy will help, I hope; but it's built upon a huge resource of works by scholars far better qualified than I am.  A short sampling appears here.   Your second paragraph is nonsense.   Your third is false, as a very simple bit of homework would have shown you. An internal sense of liberty is marvelous, but cannot be compared to the practical liberty of a society rid of government. The goal of achieving one is readily achievable once the brain is in gear, as above.
  • mishochu's picture
    mishochu 9 weeks 18 hours ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    This guy certainly doesn't need Jim Davies' permission to define freedom for himself. It appears that Jim Davies is so concerned with everyone getting on his "freedom academy" and adhering to its syllabus that he defines freedom for himself as when enough other people (external to himself) accept its tenets then he will be free. This goal is tantamount to dying an enslaved (or not fully free) individual. He refuses to accept the premise that other people will to be free (mentally/internally, where it counts according to some) without waiting for the rest of society (a sadly unlikely goal). Perhaps these people really are free, particularly, free to ignore Jim Davies.
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 19 hours ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    So you need Sam's permission before you can define what you mean by "freedom"? If so, the poison has penetrated deeper than I thought.   From your bio, Glock27, I see that life has treated you roughly. You have a painful back condition, and you suffered the agony of trying to teach kids in a government school who wanted not to be taught.   I'm sorry about the former and wish I could help, but about the latter, why did you continue? You were delivering good value, I'm sure; more value than you received in pay. Therefore, you were making government a net gift. Why? Does your concept of "freedom" extend to the freedom to assist the foremost enemy of freedom? Or does it define the word (as many do) to include government as a promoter or guardian of freedom? Is your definition, perhaps, infinitely elastic?   Perhaps you belong, like Sam apparently does, to the Charles Lutwidge Dodgson school of language, in which words mean whatever the user says they mean. But he was an Oxford man, and through his Humpty Dumpty character he was, of course, kidding. I fear that you two are not.          
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 20 hours ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    You must be referring to Emory University in Georgia.
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 20 hours ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Alas, you've got me there. What is a "blue poop trail of reference"? Can't recall ever seeing blue poop.
  • Glock27's picture
    Glock27 9 weeks 1 day ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Sorry. Double posted.
  • Glock27's picture
    Glock27 9 weeks 1 day ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Ah geez Sam. I have always been under the impression that AA did not particularly subscribe to a religious perspective, but more of a spiritual aspect, my ignorance there I guess. as I have, to this very day have believed that one (a person) could invoke Budda, the Tao, or the democrat party if they wished. I think they just accepted the idea of a higher power than ourselves without a descriptor, ah poop. I am not an alcoholic, so I really don't know and I guess I have never given it a second thought or I would have researched it. Give me a boost and tell me. Forever indebt to your wisdom.
  • Glock27's picture
    Glock27 9 weeks 1 day ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Thanks ever so much for that bit of editorial advice. Life saver-in effect-for me. I have never been able to figure out how to drop all those little blue poop trails of reference, I guess it's because I am somewhat lazy, but I would greatly appreciate it if you would share that piece of information. It would be wildly helpful. Thanks.
  • Glock27's picture
    Glock27 9 weeks 1 day ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Hi Alex (do I have one of your books?), I perfectly understand what you are saying. Sometimes common language is just that, common, and well understood by hundreds of thousands of people. I am familiar with Oxford College, an institution of higher learning. Hope all is well with you and your wagon is on smooth grounds for miles and miles and miles.
  • Glock27's picture
    Glock27 9 weeks 1 day ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Sam...I have always liked you the day I stumbled into this world. Your remark here is beautifully laid out, simple, straight as an arrow flying into the wind. Remarks I have always trusted and felt safe with because of the honesty which exudes from each carefully chosen word. Your words represent safety, and gives the sense of the freedom to be with you. Ten years my senior and you teach me so much. Thank you for being here, thank you for your time honored wisdom, thank you for being a giant among the, uh, hm-m-m, well thank you Sam. I deeply appreciate what you have to say and giving me the freedom to define freedom for myself.
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 1 day ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Let the record show that you did not answer the questions. You don't have to do so, of course; but the omission is very significant.   It means that you, who write here on a freedom site so profusely and so often, decline to tell readers what definition you attach to the word "freedom."   It means that you decline to explain why a subjective belief in tolerance ("live and let live") is in any sense better or superior to a belief in rule ("live and control").   Hence it means that you've provided no basis for distinguishing between good and evil, or even for defining the term "evil." And yet (as you note) you are still "here", on a site at whose mast head is the phrase "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil, to one who is striking at the root."   You're a nice guy, Sam. Your response to Kevin Patten's article, with which you obviously disagreed passionately, was a model of courtesy and restraint. But you are not up to the job of striking at the root of evil, for you cannot coherently identify (or at least, have not identified) the target. You're out of your depth, as I suggested recently in another thread. That is not BTW a criticism; all of us come eventually to the limit of our intellectual abilities, and I clearly recall how and when I met my own.   What's important is that we don't then pretend we haven't.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 9 weeks 2 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    "...beliefs and principles are purely relative and subjective..." We're both here, are we not? And most of us are here to discuss and share and sum up succinctly as practical, "beliefs and principles". Some are more succinct than others. Most of us are here, Jim, to discuss and share beliefs and principles without attempt to impose "libertarian orthodoxy" upon other participants at STR. Not to bicker with each other over "relativism" or other "ism's". A few months back there arose quite a vivid exchange regarding "circumcision". It ended well. It motivated me to research further. I found myself moving a ways to the left -- or the right -- wherever a less opinionated stance leans. You've become "hard shell" with age. As I see it, with you it has become "...my way or the highway..." -- literally. If I don't totally agree with your concept, for instance, of "freedom", you feel it incumbent upon yourself to petition the administrator of this forum site to "ban" or somehow eject me from participation here. Then you appear resentful if he doesn't rise to the bait. I believe, for instance, that I can be free. Here. Today. At this very moment. I'm 82. Don't have a lot of time to fool around about it. "If it don't happen now, it ain't a-gonna". You appear to believe that there must be a large amount of "orthodoxy" to assimilate by me (or anybody else) before any of us can become truly free. With you providing the orthodoxy. I believe you have the "right" (I prefer "choice") to hold and expound that, just as I have the "right" to challenge you on it; but the consequence of squabbling is the attrition of major participants. So I'd better quit here, while we still have a few on board. Sam
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 2 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    So, beliefs and principles are purely relative and subjective. What seems to you "the only path to freedom"  might be quite different to someone else. Do I read you correctly?   If so, would the same be true about ethics, for example, since they derive from beliefs? To you, live-and-let-live is your chosen, guiding principle and therefore murder is, to you, immoral. But to someone else, live-and-control is the preferred principle, and to him, should someone decline to be controlled, it would be entirely ethical to kill him. All is relative and subjective, yes?   By the way, in your wholly relativistic universe, what definitive meaning, if any, do you attach to the word "freedom", as you used it in the quoted phrase? - or is that, too, open to an infinitude of defintions?    
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 9 weeks 3 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    To me, anybody I suspect to be promoting a "libertarian orthodoxy" appears to be simply acting out her latent desire to be in charge. It is my prerogative ("right" if you please) to so believe. I sometimes wish I were wrong (cognitive dissonance with respect to you, since I've known and admired much of your writing and conversations for years). Perhaps I am. That, too, is my prerogative. Being wrong, that is. Because I believe the libertarian philosophy allows one to believe what she has come to believe without need to subscribe to a list of libertarian "rules". Obviously, when one subscribes to the libertarian way of life, s/he will not continue to aggress, insult, or defraud. That rather comes with the package. But liberty is liberty. S/he need not check her brain or her personality or her philosophy in at the door. "Live-and-let-live" appears to be the only viable path to freedom -- for me. It might not be so for you. That is your prerogative, as long as you understand that folks like I might see folks like you as innate managers and controllers. But please remember this, Jim my dear friend: the world revolves around MY belly-button, not yours. My world. Your world revolves around YOUR belly-button, whether you admit it or not. The advantage this philosophy offers me -- right up to and alongside "live-and-let-live" -- is lots of freedom. It is not necessary for me to expend emotional angst worrying about what you think of me or how you might phrase some imagined insult toward me. You're much more concerned about your affairs than you are about mine. Sam
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 9 weeks 3 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    What the late Bill Wilson did in regard to LSD is his responsibility, not mine. My AA program does not depend upon Bill W or anything he might have said or done. Naysayers will have him convicted of adultery, drinking in secret, drugging -- all kinds of other "evils". Such is the reward of gaining a high level of celebrity in any endeavor. Again, not to affect my AA program -- truth or lies. I'm not his judge, your judge, or anybody else's judge.
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 3 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    So Sam, in your opinion "libertarian orthodoxy" is an oxymoron. Really?   You also wrote 'I learned "live-and-let-live" is the only path to freedom.' That phrase is not at all a bad summary of libertarian orthodoxy, and you say that it's exclusively so.   Which is it, then? - an oxymoron, or the only path to freedom?  
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 3 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Well done. "Internationally prestigious Oxford University" will soothe the most ruffled Oxononian feathers.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 9 weeks 4 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    '...Until 95 percent of AA congregations say "LOOK...we don't want you here...we're not signing courtcards anymore," I will continue to view AA as an involuntary organization...' Kevin, I believe you've detected the pulse of and identified an underlying diagnosis as to why the "libertarian-movement" has experienced difficulty getting off the ground and going anywhere. I'll attempt to explain by using the AA example that you've so colorfully explored in your essay and pinpointed by your personal experience. AA exemplifies the one truly libertarian exercise that I'm aware of. There could be others of which I'm unaware. Individualist thinking in a collectivist world is virtually unheard of -- unthinkable. You can witness bickering and squabbling and "divorce proceedings" among participants right here on this supposedly "libertarian" forum over trivial detritus like definitions for and existence of "law" and/or "rights", etc. The term "libertarian orthodoxy" was mentioned -- an oxymoron of oxymoron's in my book. AA fits the libertarian model. Lots of quarreling and arguing over nothing definitive. And religion. Religion formed the backbone of AA, or so it seemed at the time. But "they" (treatment centers, rehabs, organized religions) have nothing to do with us, and we have nothing to do with "them". One would think that libertarianism, by the nature of the definition, would absolve all squabbling and dialectic polemics. Not so. Bill W was quoted as defining early AA as one gigantic squabble. Long before forums such as STR and the internet I stood in AA Intergroup meetings and chairman's workshops belaboring your above quoted argument. I would pound tables and insist that "we" should abstain from signing court attendance papers. That would elicit some-are-sicker'n-other looks so common in AA -- particularly after the influx of intellectual "treatment center" graduate types. Some would always counter that chairmen should hold court papers until the end of the meeting before signing, to insure that the parolee "would-get-the-whole-treatment". It took years of cyber-fellowship here and other anarchist forums to turn my authoritarianistic mentality around. I eventually stumbled upon an unknown libertarian/anarchist writer, the late Delmar England, who wrote one un-acclaimed essay, then up and died. "Mind and Matters" was published posthumously. At times it is AA slogans that present solutions. I learned "live-and-let-live" is the only path to freedom. For me. Along with "one-day-at-a-time". My sponser of soon-to-be 40 years once took me aside at an AA clubhouse (after bailing me out of "treatment" for the n-teenth time) and said, "Sam, all those slogans over there on the wall are important. But there is one you should ignore. It does NOT apply to you: "Think, Think, Think". Because, for you, that one always seems to translate into "Drink, Drink, Drink". So, with this I'll quit thinking and leave y'all alone. Sam
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 4 days ago Web link Westernerd
    Said shareholders, and those they employ, get to vote. There's the problem.   Seguay to the F-35 fighter-bomber. The current issue of Forbes reports that shareholders in Lockheed may do okay, despite a Trump tweet that its cost over-runs were obscene. The article said this military toy costs $100 million a pop, and that 3,000 are to be built.   What the hell for? - seems a fair question. But the 14,000 people working at the Lockheed plant will not be asking it. Instead, they will vote themselves continued employment. Such is government. There is no rational alternative to a free market.  
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 4 days ago Web link Westernerd
    (re-posted as a reply)
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 4 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Try hitting "Enter" twice, to make a para break. Doing it once merely starts a new line.
  • KenK's picture
    KenK 9 weeks 4 days ago Web link Westernerd
    Mil-Indust complex shareholders profited quite hansomely during President Peace Prize's reign. If you made drones, parts, programs, missles, bombs (smart & stupid) & etc you likely did real well sales-wise.
  • KenK's picture
    KenK 9 weeks 4 days ago Web link Westernerd
    Trudeau is an Obama clone with lighter skin & less racial animus. See how Canada looks in eight years.
  • Kevin M. Patten's picture
    Kevin M. Patten 9 weeks 4 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    In fact Alex, your articles prompted mine. This essay was finished MONTHS ago. But I had to take out all references to yours, and then BEG (like one does with all publishers) to have it put up.  So...since you agree that nobody should be forced into AA -- but that AA meetings by and large have no problem with people being forced to enjoy their company -- we don't disagree on much.  Thanks for weighing in.  Cheers. 
  • Kevin M. Patten's picture
    Kevin M. Patten 9 weeks 4 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    How the hell do you break up paragraphs on here?? I still can't figure that out. What's the secret?
  • Kevin M. Patten's picture
    Kevin M. Patten 9 weeks 4 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Sam, I really do appreciate you opening your AA meetings with that line. In my experience, that's very, very rare. I've tried to have people just sign my court cards beforehand, and while that can happen pretty often with the guys smoking outside, never have I heard a meeting faciliator act so libertarian. Until 95 percent of AA congregations say "LOOK...we don't want you here...we're not signing courtcards anymore," I will continue to view AA as an involuntary organization. I theorize it's because they want more people who are quick to throw a buck around. Also, as I say in the article, plenty of state-sanctioned health programs include AA....maybe somebody is worried about losing their subsidies. We dont know because their HQ remains so damn quiet.  "Dissing religion is stupidity personified"........I agree. I was just heeding the word of God, and therefore slaughtered a ram in His honor, afterwards sprinkling its blood in the right corner of the temple, just before scolding someone for eating shellfish and then watching homosexuals getting stoned to death. I kid, I kid. Religion is totally rational. 
  • Kevin M. Patten's picture
    Kevin M. Patten 9 weeks 4 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Thank you much Jim. I might get around to correcting that. Hope you enjoyed my rant. 
  • Kevin M. Patten's picture
    Kevin M. Patten 9 weeks 4 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    The meme is no doubt an inarticulate smear. But I wonder what our resident AA proponents think about introducing LSD into the regimen. The point is, far too few people know about that little factoid (as insignificant as it was in my arguments), and we should have a fuller understanding about AA and it's creators. 
  • Kevin M. Patten's picture
    Kevin M. Patten 9 weeks 4 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    That's too bad. I couldn't get it right with Clinton, nor with AA. Maybe third time's a charm, and then you can appreciate the polemical style. 
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 4 days ago Web link Westernerd
    Good point, Brian. My Blog did consider the Idle Rich a while ago, and more recently Rich Folks, with a reference to Forbes; but neither specifically considered high CEO salaries.   Government regulation of some industries - notably banking - is such that competition is virtually excluded, so the normal way excessive pay could be trimmed is negated. Such firms are "too big to fail" and so that incentive for limiting officers' salaries is removed. On the other hand shareholders can usually set such pay rates without interference, and if (as in the banks' case) a potentially catastrophic failure is averted when the CEO negotiates a bailout with the FedGov, they are understandably grateful.   A separate consideration is that multimillion dollar salaries only puts such CEOs on a par, more or less, with founders of successful startups, of which Forbes is very good at reporting. This month for example it portrays 30 people under age 30 who have begun enterprises worth $100 million or more; they may presently pay themselves a modest "salary" but their endeavors are setting them up to be much better off than a mere senior employee of a Dow-30 firm.   The coming zero government society will, I think, continue to reward innovation in such ways but by removing the prop of government support it will allow large inefficient firms to collapse and be replaced by nimble competitors, plural, who will be led by CEOs whose pay will be under more active control by shareholders eager to control costs and so stay competitive.   I'm not clear, though, what impact AI will have on that process. As Will Groves has argued, it may impact the jobs and pay rates at the bottom of the ladder (though I think very little) but how would it much affect the top rung?
  • D. Saul Weiner's picture
    D. Saul Weiner 9 weeks 4 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    I really must say that I don't understand why the author has seen fit to smear Bill W by including a meme which says that "he takes LSD", like there is something inherently wrong with him for doing so, or by extension, it is wrong for others to do so. LSD and other psychedelics have been, and continue to be confirmed as very beneficial for overcoming addiction, when used in the right setting. As it happens, Bill W was treated medically with LSD by 2 Candadian doctors, Hoffer and Osmond and received great benefit from his experience. As a matter of fact, Bill W thought it should be added to the AA protocol, but he was overruled by the AA medical board. Hoffer also treated him with high-dose Niacin, from which he obtained great benefit, as did the other alcoholics he recommended it to. Again, the AA medical board did not support him adding it to their program. So if the intent was to decry the monopolization of recovery programs with a quasi-religious approach, it makes no sense to denounce Bill W, who actually tried to bring a more holistic approach to AA.
  • John deLaubenfels's picture
    John deLaubenfels 9 weeks 4 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    The author is carrying a huge chip on his shoulder; why, I cannot guess.  I can't speak for every chapter of AA, but the one my friend attends is nothing like the author's lurid hell.  Nobody crams the 12 steps down anyone else's throats.  My friend describes it as a supportive, extended family.  He's been sober for several years now, after multiple drunken run-ins with the law and ever-longer jail sentences, all pre-AA.   Of course no one should be compelled to attend: it's axiomatic among libertarians that no one should be forced to patronize any particular organization.  But the author is not content with making this point; he feels compelled to tar AA with every brush in his palette.  I find the result extremely uncompelling.
  • Brian Mast's picture
    Brian Mast 9 weeks 5 days ago Web link Westernerd
    I believe that the potential widespread job loss resulting from AI would be less painful if the state sponsored privileges were removed from certain top-level professions. There have already been many libertarian articles covering topics such as subsidies, the federal reserve, inflation, licensure, the oligarchy, rent-seeking, and so forth. I agree with the authors of those articles that the state should not have interfered with the markets because it picks winners and losers. I have yet to read a libertarian article about the unreal high pay that CEO's get, and if I had the ability to research the cause and effects that lead up to it: I would write one. The Forbes article I linked to doesn't satisfactorily answer why a free market would allow for this gigantic pay increase to happen, so I suspect that the state or the banksters are the culprit. I do not believe for one split second that present CEO's are that much better or more productive than the CEO's from say 40 or 50 years ago. CEO's ought to only get paid what they are worth. Lowering their pay could result in greater profits for business owners and share-holders, increased pay for employees, and/or lower cost goods. I do not at all advocate that the state create a new law to 'fix' this problem, but what is the free market solution? Removing these state-enabled subsidies may result in either higher pay for the lower class or make their present income go further. Removing state-caused employment costs may result in more people getting employed. Employees could also opt for a shorter work week which would cause more people to get hired. These suggestions do nothing about the AI problem if it is indeed a problem, but they certainly would improve the economic prospects for all employees and enable them to buy more products.
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 5 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Kevin, please allow me to offer a very minor correction: Oxford is not a "college", as stated. It is a University (and incidentlally a city.)   Like its immeasurably superior rival Cambridge, it consists of about 30 affiliated colleges, such as Christ's, Trinity, Baliol, Lady Margaret, etc; see here. In broad outline the University furnishes the laboratories and lectures, appoints the professors and awards the degrees, while each of the colleges provides student accommodation, fellowships, scholarships and tutors.   I'll not take sides with or against your thesis, for I'm fortunately not an alcoholic (cheers!) but I was interested indeed to notice that AA has roots in Keswick, in 1908. In a former incarnation I was a Christian, and still believe that the annual Keswick Convention, which I once attended, is possibly the very acme of that religion. Its influence has been profound and worldwide, and now I know it even includes AA, for good or ill. Keswick is a small town on the edge of the most spectacularly beautiful area of England, called the Lake District. If ever you get the chance, pay it a visit. When it's not raining.
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 9 weeks 5 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    P.S.  Sam and Kevin:   Here's another AA piece I wrote some time ago (Sam, you'll likely recall it).  Enjoy:   http://strike-the-root.com/fine-and-functioning-anarchy    
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 9 weeks 5 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Sam, I love that opening statement for an AA meeting chair.  That is pure genius.  In fact, if you don't mind, I'm saving it.  :-)
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 9 weeks 5 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    First of all, use of the term "cult" is the prerogative of the beholder. If your group differs in doctrine or litany from my group, then your group is a cult. In my humble opinion. Anybody reading these words must definitely be considered as leaning toward what the dictionary defines as a cult. (I'm ashamed to admit, however, that STR didn't even make the "fake news" list). But Kevin, most who know anything -- anything about AA -- will stop reading upon seeing this: "...But this is mainly for those who are here voluntarily..." The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking. There can be no (legal) "mandated attendance" -- any more than there can be "mandated attendance" over at Catholic Catechism. Of course the Catholics are authoritarians, and would probably not complain if judges or appointees claiming jurisdiction in such matters would start sending their convicted drunks to Catechism. They'd probably welcome them with open arms, and gleefully sign attendance sheets. The problem with AA is that it is pure libertarian. You and I live in a world full of people who do not understand or even process the concept of liberty and freedom. Therefore, you began your essay with the mentality that there can be such thing as mandated, or involuntary attendance at AA. Which is as understandable -- as it is universal. I have a standard opening statement whenever I chair AA meetings: If you are here with a paper from someone claiming jurisdiction to require your attendance at this meeting, please pass all such attendance sheets up to me now before we start the meeting. I'll sign them, and you will then be free to leave. You are welcome to stay for the meeting. But you should understand that the only requirement for membership in AA is a desire to stop drinking. Nobody has authority to require your involuntary attendance here. Your essay could be shortened by 80% with that understanding. Sam
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 9 weeks 5 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Kevin, this seems an awful lot of vitriol in order to establish the undeniable facts that a.) no one should ever be forced into AA -- or any other recovery program -- by the State or anyone else, and; b.) AA could use some more prominent competition.   Otherwise, it's a good essay.   This was my take on the subject from a while back:   http://strike-the-root.com/voluntaryist-vitriol-anarchic-attacks-against...    
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 9 weeks 6 days ago Page Kevin M. Patten
    Haven't read the whole essay as yet, Kevin -- you spent a goodly amount of time on it and did your homework nicely. Glad to see you posting. But I've gotta be up and on the bike (82, still biking to work, not because I need the work, but need the bike ride). I'm one of the "old timers" around AA. Over 50 years, with a substantial number of "slips" -- over 35 years and counting since last drink. Haven't been to a meeting in over a year, but that's not because AA is going downhill. It's because I'm gettin' too damned old. AA is perhaps the last of the truly libertarian organizations. There are no rules, no leaders -- lots of parasites (folks who take the "12 steps" as their own, then make it appear we are part of "them"). It's probably one of the factors that eventually led me to STR. I had never heard the term "libertarian" in the 50's, when I first began attending (from lockup). It's nobody's business if or when I go back to drinking, and that's why the Tripey's and all the naysayers (most of whom have their own brand of "recovery" to sell) are so vociferous against AA. It's like reading "anti-libertarian" garbage on mainstream media. They have no real idea what they're talking about. And, no sense arguing with neocon and/or leftist anti-libertarians -- they know everything. And that is that. To them, the idea of no central authority is cult-like. And, as to the religion thing, there are now many, many agnostic groups about for those who tend to wear their feelings on their sleeve against the religious drunks. In the old days, religion was the "cure". Since day one I merely sidestepped the religion and religious lamentations concomitant with many in recovery. When they say their out-loud prayers I count heads. Dissing religion is stupidity personified. Hope you continue to crank us out some good essays. Sam
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 6 days ago Web link Westernerd
    Ha! Very amusing, Will. And quite true, up to a point. Yes, humans have "wants" to a huge degree I for one have not yet fathomed, and yes, less work is always better because there is such a vast amount of beauty and knowledge to explore during one's time away from the work bench.   Yes, too, the universe is "meaningless" in the sense that it comes with none ready-packaged in some mythical enclosure; not, though, in the other important sense that we humans have an amazing and priceless opportunity (unique in all Nature, I think) to fashion our own meaning.   Yes, yet more, I think so highly of the libertarian understanding of which way is up that I am indeed jealous of preserving its "orthodoxy", for want of a better word. I have, however, no such "handbook" as you mention; just a grasp of the essential principle that every person rightly owns his own life, along with some ability to draw deductions from that axiom.   Thank you, yet further, for reference to the Zero Government Blog. I'm gratified indeed that you have been for "years watching it in action." Disappointed, though, that your prejudice in favor of the current manifestation of the Luddite Faith has prevented you embracing its reasoning. Some day, perhaps, you'll favor us with an explanation of how you can simultaneously deplore the alleged replacement of humans by robots, yet earn a living by helping design them.
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 6 days ago Web link Westernerd
    I hope my dismissal of their arguments was not "offhand", though you raise an interesting point: is it valid to reject a conclusion without having studied deeply the arguments that support it? You're saying it's not, but then again life is short and books are many.   I suggest that it frequently is valid. We can reject Marxism without having spent a lifetime in socialist libraries; on the simple grounds that in the dozens of countries where his ideas have been tried out, they have in every case proven to be miserable failures. We can dismiss Islam as a deeply inferior religion, simply by placing its Five Pillars alongside the Nicene Creed.   And here, we can dismiss the claim that automation is causing the sky to fall, just on the basis that such a cry has gone up every time a bright new labor-saving invention enhanced the human race over the past scores of thousands of years; but every time, the sky has preserved its elevation.   Yes, it's just possible that this time, the warning is valid. But when there exist clear and obvious alternative explanations for the growing number of un- and under-employed low-skilled people, I'm not going to lose sleep over that possibility.   One other, lesser point while I'm here: you mentioned low-price Chinese imports are "shit", quote. That hasn't been my experience, anecdotal though it is. I've bought a dozen or more small items via eBay from China, and with only one exception they have been well made, cleverly designed, low priced and rapidly delivered. I'm delighted that after centuries of deep poverty, a large number of Chinese people have begun to taste the pleasures of prosperity.
  • Douglas Herman's picture
    Douglas Herman 9 weeks 6 days ago Page Douglas Herman
    Thanks Jim,   Your compliment means more to me than if I were published in the MSM.  And paid to do so. 
  • Will Groves's picture
    Will Groves 9 weeks 6 days ago Web link Westernerd
    If anyone reading the STR blog wishes to see the limited benefits of technology, look no further than the AI-trollbot that automatically posts under the "Jim Davies" handle.   After years of watching it in action, I think I finally have figured it out:  Its libertarian purity-test algorithm checks all posts for "flaws" and provides boilerplate "corrections" straight out of the Handbook of Libertarian Orthodoxy.  It supposes to "think," yet it sees only in black and white.  As a machine, it cannot understand the non-material aspects of life that are the root of what it means to be human.  It's programmed to view humans as biological robots , that we live in a meaningless universe, that consciousness is an illusion, and everything that can't be measured doesn't exist.  In its algo, humans have infinite wants, so more stuff and less work is always better, even when in real life, it isn't. 
  • mishochu's picture
    mishochu 9 weeks 6 days ago Web link Westernerd
    I'd posit it's only a curse if the average person doesn't have access to owning one of these machines. If all automation is centralized then yes that would leave very little opportunity to those that used to labor. However, most labor saving devices to date have found their way into the average household, garage, and even pocket. If that trend continues, it will be up to the average person to determine how their life is made better.
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 9 weeks 6 days ago Page Douglas Herman
    Doug: a tour de force.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 10 weeks 18 hours ago Web link Westernerd
    '...By "jointly envision the same demise of central political authority" you meant that you don't agree with me that the State can be abolished...' "The State" has been abolished. Or is in the process of being. I did not say or infer your apparent conception. "It" will not be abolished by me (well, it already has in terms of "jurisdiction") -- and I don't see it being abolished by you. But if you see differently, that's certainly your privilege. How 'bout let's call it your "right". These squabbles are merely playing with words -- fiddlin' while Rome burns. IMHO -- which ain't all that humble. Sam
  • James Clayton's picture
    James Clayton 10 weeks 1 day ago Web link KenK
    Exactly. Show me, don’t just tell me. I suppose we’ve gotta use words when we talk to each other … but I don’t spend too much time wondering if I AM (“x”), especially if “x” seems somewhat vague, abstract and subjective.
  • Will Groves's picture
    Will Groves 10 weeks 1 day ago Web link Westernerd
    On some level, all work is monotonous.  I've been in operating rooms and observed open heart surgeries to speak with surgeons and understand how they want a certain tool designed.  Speaking first-hand, one bypass surgery looks a lot like the next.  It's monotonous, just in the way that making nice furniture or preparing ingredients for a dinner with friends or any number of meaningful activities are monotonous.     Machines that make subtle decisions are here, and in that context, when they can do nearly every task that humans can do, only faster, better, and cheaper, what then?  It's possible that individually we thought that we were working to create machines that would make the world a better place, but in the aggregate, the system created through that action decreases the overall quality of life--and not just the material aspects.  Matt Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft discusses the value in terms of the feeling of self-worth that comes from working with your hands, and my experience resonates strongly with his views.   AI-driven technologies are of a fundamentally different kind from what has come before.  They are able to survey a complicated situation and then "decide" on the best way to approach it.  Not many people know that newswriting algos have been implemented for years now--see here. Push this forward several decades and ponder what creative endeavor this leaves humans to do.   Offhand dismissals of arguments made by the authors I mentioned isn't really a rebuttal when you aren't familiar with their arguments.  We're living in a world when pro-technology mantras are drummed into the heads of everyone from childhood, and most people haven't ever heard a compelling arguement against the march of technology.   Not all, or even a majority of the authors I listed are neo-Luddites (though Kaczynski would identify as such), but most embrace certain technologies while shunning others in an attempt to create a more meaningful and convival life.   If you zoom out far enough, it's not hard to see that humans today are serving the interests of the machines more than they are of their own well-being.  
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 10 weeks 1 day ago Web link Westernerd
    Will, you have some thought-provoking ideas here. Somewhere, though, they must have a flaw, because your "technological development is undermining human dignity" cannot be right. Technological development has been taking place since our race climbed down from the trees, and I can't accept that modern hom sap is less dignified than a monkey. Tech dev is the story of man! It is that at which mankind most excels! Those seven authors you name cannot be right; technology most certainly has, for all of history, made life dramatically better.   Not uniformly, sure; when governments get hold of it they put it to the most dreadful uses - but we know where to place the blame for that, and it's not on the technology itself.   Technology is and always has made monotonous work obsolete. Yes, and a good thing too. It releases the assembly-line human robot to do something creative and interesting. If he cannot find something creative and interesting to do, that too is not the fault of technology - but rather of the educational system (in the broadest sense) which fashioned his mind and outlook. And we know who is responsible for most of that.    
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 10 weeks 1 day ago Web link Westernerd
    Oh, I get it. I should have got it first time, the fault is mine. By "jointly envision the same demise of central political authority" you meant that you don't agree with me that the State can be abolished.   Okay, if none of us do anything, it can't. It may well spiral itself into a destructive black hole of some kind and produce appalling poverty and misery, but out of that will come some monstroius replacement. It will never abolish itself, on that we agree.   Further, a frontal attack on everyone supporting the state won't work either; at any one time, nearly everyone is caught up in the statist religion, yes. Government has been clever and systematic over many generations in educating people to suppose it is indispensable.   But one at a time, dealing just with the few who have become fed up with all of it... there is the opportunity. And it's all we need - along with a little patience. And if you disagree with that, we'll have to agree to disagree.