Power Corrupts; Bureaucracy Enstupidates

This seems to be real. The fish that threatened national security.
the TSA supervisor was called over, and he berated me profusely. He exclaimed that in no way, under no circumstances, was a small fish allowed to pass through security, regardless of what the ticket agents said.

Mr. Supervisor was causing a grand scene, marshaling the full authority of the TSA to refuse me. Now, I know my fish is a terrorist (Osama Fin Laden we used to call him back at school), but doesn't it strike you as funny that, with all the commotion my little security threat was causing, by now engaging the full attention of the TSA at LaGuardia, that someone who posed a real threat to passenger safety might be conveniently slipping by?

By this time, I was in tears. The supervisor furiously told me to dispose of the fish. Dispose of my fish?!
Funny yet angering.
Controlling the Proletariat

Most people don't know that the police as an institution are a modern invention, part of the industrial revolution just like railroads. Those who know tend to assume that the reason the police were invented was a natural reaction to crime rising. This article challenges that notion:
contrary to the crime-and-disorder explanation, the new police system was not created in response to spiraling crime rates, but developed as a means of social control by which an emerging dominant class could impose their values on the larger population.

This shift can only be understood against a backdrop of much broader social changes. Industrialization and urbanization produced a new class of workers and, with it, new challenges for social control. They also provided opportunities for social control at a level previously unknown. The police represented one aspect of this growing apparatus, as did the prison, and sometime later, the public school. Moreover, the police, by forming a major source of power for city governments, also contributed to the development of other bureaucracies and increased the possibility for rational administration. In sum, the development of modern police facilitated further industrialization, it led to the creation of other bureaucracies and advances in municipal government, it consolidated the influence of political machines, and it made possible the imposition of Victorian moral values on the urban population. Also, and more basically, it allowed the state to impose on the lives of individuals in an unprecedented manner.
Crime rates skyrocketed when the police were instituted, not because they were naturally going up but because many sorts of new laws were created and imposed, that could have never been enforced without a standing army of enforcers.
Qveere Eye for thye Medieval Man

Kyan: "thy hovel moste certainly is a pigstye!"
Jim Henley's blogging has gotten noticed. He has a perceptive piece in The American Spectator
The conservative charge that Democratic candidates for president want to 'cut and run' from Iraq is unjust, which is too bad. We'd have a genuine debate then. With the partial exceptions of the minor candidates, the Democratic presidential candidates rush to assure us that we must stay the course. ... Their metamessage is that this election, to exhume a phrase, is about competence, not ideology; the chorus from the December 9 debate in New Hampshire: We'll fix Iraq better.

How? There is a single answer: Get foreigners to do it!"
As Jim says: "We'll get more international help is not a policy, it's a hope." Quite so. The opposite of engagement is disengagement, which makes sense to me. But clearly the American people are not ready for it; most are pro-war know-nothings. But the bike-path left aren't going to win with pro-war-lite. Prowar intellectuals correctly understand that war is committing, and if you are to do it you must do it "right". Doing it right - that's exactly what real anti-war intellectually are afraid of. Go read up on your War Nerd if you are a bike-pather and don't really understand war.
What is War

Was just googling to find Gary Brecher (the War Nerd), and found a great interview. Two of my favorite writers: Steve Sailer interviews the War Nerd for UPI. A choice quote: "Get it straight: massacres are normal, battles are unusual."

Here's more:
Q. When journalists [describe] various wars in Africa as 'senseless,' are they making sense?

A. That's the best question you asked. No, it's absolute BS but nobody calls them on it. If you guys were doing your job, they couldn't get away with it, but they do. When Kristof says 'senseless,' he means he doesn't WANT TO KNOW about it. He won't even try to think like the people doing the fighting. Try doing that and see if it still seems senseless.

Here you've got one kind of war, the 'sensible' kind with uniforms, 'rules of war,' and big battles like Jena or Verdun. That kind means you stand up and walk into cannon fire, grapeshot or machine-gun fire and massed artillery, and all you get out of it is a few dollars a month, and if you decide to quit on your own, they hang you. How is that sensible?

Now take African war. You have these neighbors you hated since forever, and you decide to do something about it. You get together quiet with the rest of your tribe and jump the enemy village while they're sleeping and kill everybody except maybe the cute girls, then you take all their stuff and burn their houses and take the girls home to be slaves.

Maybe I'm crazy, but that sure makes more sense to me than getting your head blown off for the glory of king and country.
As a fellow war nerd, I say read it all. Brecher is funny, which is why people read him, but what's he's saying is not funny. And it's more applicable now than ever, what with the Iraq situation.
The Origin of Property

It is sometimes argued by statists that creating property rights can only be done via the state. I think of that when we get snowstorms, as we did last week here in Baltimore. After a storm, the cost of creating a parking spot, combined with human beings' natural territoriality and innate sense of justice, creates property. It doesn't matter whether or not the practice is legal or not. People will claim the spots they create. The state is not creating this property; often it is opposed to it. But it happens nonetheless. Enforcement of the regime is easy enough, via anarchic individual action. When someone steals your spot, you retaliate against their car.

Here's some stories on the practice of winter parking spot homesteading. Given its roots in human nature, I expect it will be found anywhere where there is a combination of parking in a commons, and big winter snowstorms.

In Baltimore:
Shoveling mounds of back-breaking snow brings out the territoriality in Baltimore's automobile owners. Like flags declaring a pioneer's conquered land, Baltimoreans will use anything they can find to mark the asphalt their hours of work have uncovered.

In Boston, they do it:
If you're looking for a parking space in the wintertime, especially if it has recently snowed, be careful. Residents who shovel the snow out of a parking spot on the street will, for the rest of the winter (and sometimes into spring), view that parking spot as belonging exclusively to them. When their car is not in that spot, they will "reserve" the space by leaving a chair or a trash can or anything else they have on hand in it. If you should remove this debris and park your car there, you may find scratches, broken windows, or some other damage to your car when you return. Be careful!!!

Don't think too badly of the Bostonian for this lapse in friendliness. There is so little parking around town - and the snow makes it that much harder to get a decent spot. I've spent hours shoveling snow & chipping ice out of a spot. And when somebody else "steals" your spot, it forces you to "steal" your neighbor's spot.

Some people don't "get it" naturally, as happened to a callow youth in Troy, NY:
The man pointed to my car and asked if I knew who owned it. I replied that it was mine.

I informed the man that I had spoken to officers in the Troy Police Department, and that they had told me that the laws that permitted residents to reserve parking spots with garbage cans had been repealed three years ago, and that parking on the street was fair game.

The man didn't seem to care, and he demanded that I immediately move my car or else he would have it towed. When I reminded him that the law was on my side, he threatened to slash my tires, which I suggested might not be such a good idea, seeing as I knew that he lived next door. Naturally, my neighbor began to hit the side of my car with a snow shovel, something that is apparently a customary way to ask another to move his or her car in South Troy.

In Chicago, the system has (necessarily) been perfected:
Rule #1: If you shovel a spot after there has been enough snow to make it difficult or impossible to pull in without shoveling, it's yours. If there are two inches of snow on the street and you try to save a spot, drop dead. I'm not saying anyone OWNS a parking spot. There's a difference. If you do have the right to a spot, be creative and put something truly hideous there that suggests you have no taste, no shame, and certainly no problem causing serious property damage to anyone who moves your junk.

Rule #2: Peeling out of a spot for 10 minutes and leaving a ton of snow everywhere does not count as shoveling. You have not actually removed any snow, you've just sent it into the street and into the spots on either side of you. Lazy bastard! Don't even think of putting that milk crate there, your neighbors have eyes everywhere and they will steal it.

Rule #3: If someone moves your stuff out of your spot, tosses it aside in the snow, and then takes your spot, you are free to pour some nasty liquid on their car, especially if you put a lot of work into clearing that spot. If it took me more than an hour of back-breaking labor, that car would feel my rage. I still laugh thinking of the old man on my dad's block on Wolfram near Southport who actually dragged a chair and hose out and sat there all afternoon icing down someone's car. The cop who lived next door came out and shot the shit with him for a while, and then just asked him to stop. That's justice!

Rule #4: If someone goes a step a further and STEALS your stuff out of your spot (even if it's junk, which I hope it is) and then takes your spot, escalate the property damage accordingly.

Rule #5: If someone has the audacity to take your spot and then put their own junk in it when they leave the spot, that has serious, serious repercussions. That is beyond rude, that is an actual assault to your dignity and to the dignity of humanity. I would recommend breaking windows, scratching a key on every single panel, or knifing the tires. Or even better, doing all three. "Listen to your heart," as Fat Tony on the Simpsons would say.

You may be afraid to take action when someone steals your spot because you wonder how you know if the person parked there was the person who took it in the first place. Well, if it's been less than a few hours I'd say the chances are really, really good. But yes, if you aren't sure, play it safe. Then again, if someone sees a spot that looks too good to be true, e.g. it's neatly shoveled and there is a giant ironing board in the snow next to it, I'd say they ought to know better and stay the hell out of it.

Am I insane? Yes. But try to find a cop who gives a shit when you call up and claim someone iced your car. They know the score.

Chicago economics professors have noticed the phenomenon:
The tough issue is whether the Chicago system is better than any real-world alternative. Writers who condemn the practice treat the situation as one of mere distribution of a given amount of parking space. But an economist would predict that permitting private property would incite others to expand the amount of space. And so it does. Not only do those who dug out their cars the first morning have a space thereafter, but neighbors whose cars were not on the street begin to hack away the snow masses created by city plows to make a space for themselves. As black patches increase, the snow melts fast along the cubs. In both respects, the result is not just distribution of a given quantity of space, but creation of more space.
To me what's most interesting is not whether or not the system is efficient. It's the simple fact of the creation of private property outside of the law. The state is not necessary for private property to exist.

Back when I was watching Farscape, and complaining to scifi friends about how nobody would stay dead, everyone (and I mean everyone!) was telling me that I would love Buffy. That was before I had seen a single episode. Having now watched all of Buffy (except the season 7) via the magic of my Replay device (a DVR), I can confidently say: they were right! Joss rules. Joss kills 'em like flies, and at least some of 'em stay down. I don't ask for all of 'em. Just some. Thanks, Joss.

Now we have on radar a remake - er, "reimagining" of Battlestar Galactica. I vaguely recall the original series, having been the perfect target demographic at the time. But I have no strong attachment. The new thing... any good? Well, I'll see tonight. I have #1 on the DVR, with #2 slated to air tonight. Meanwhile, this review makes it sound quite promising: "this is definitely one of the darkest sci-fi shows I’ve seen in a while."
Everyone is paid, except one

In the Journal of Medical Ethics, a call for a market in human organs:
There is a lot of hypocrisy about the ethics of buying and selling organs and indeed other body products and services for example, surrogacy and gametes. What it usually means is that everyone is paid but the donor. The surgeons and medical team are paid, the transplant coordinator does not go unremunerated, and the recipient receives an important benefit in kind. Only the unfortunate and heroic donor is supposed to put up with the insult of no reward, to add to the injury of the operation.

We would therefore propose a strictly regulated and highly ethical market in live donor organs and tissue.
They probably mean "regulated" as coercive, but it can be read as voluntarist by the anarchist.
An Alien State

Fred Reed, living in Mexico, writes on The Virtue of Lawlessness:
In fiesta season, which just ended, everybody and his grand aunt Chuleta puts up a taco stand or booze stall on the plaza. Yes: In front of God and everybody. These do not have permits. They are just there. If you want a cuba libre, you give the nice lady twenty pesos and she hands it to you. That's all. There is in this a simplicity that the North American instantly recognizes as dangerous. Where are the controls? Where are the rules? Why isn't somebody watching these people? Heaven knows what might happen. They could be terrorists.
Yes Master

At samizdata, Natalie Solent has a great piece on the effects of men owning other men. Application: medical research. "Slavery is: work for nothing. Slaves are: lazy, obstructive, lacking in zeal. "The work is not well done." Yes, life must have been tough for the owners of lazy slaves. And it always will be. Important work is done by free men."
Segregation in Public Facilities

Via DeCoster, I found this article:
Transgender, gay and feminist groups at the University of Chicago are asking officials to consider creating more gender-neutral bathrooms, saying some people aren't comfortable selecting a gender-specific facility.

"Persons who are not easily legible as male or female often experience various forms of intimidation in these places. If a woman in a women's-only restroom is assumed to be a man, there may be real threats to her comfort and even safety," warns the Coalition for a Queer Safe Campus
PC gone amuck. Kind of funny.

I doubt that in an anarchy there would be any trifurcated bathroom system. Nonetheless, on this issue the transgendered people are right. The state should not discriminate on sex. It should not have separate-but-equal anything - schools, jobs, and yes, even bathrooms. Of course, the fact is that most people like sex discrimination. I do too. But that has nothing to do with equal treatment under the law. It's just a preference. We don't racially discriminate regardless of what the poll numbers on it are.

The right answer to the problem here is simply that the state has no business doing anything where discrimination is necessary. It should not be running universities. A private university can discriminate against transgendered people, and probably should (at least, in terms of economic efficiency it should). But if the state insists on supplying education, it should make bathroom facilities open to everyone. Anything less is unequal protection.

The problem here is not the trangendered activists: they are a symptom. The problem is state ownership of the means of production.