Eytom Blog

April 30, 2005


Now this is a cool gig...

Nathan Sawaya | The Art of the Brickâ„¢ | Han Solo in Carbonite

Posted by rasafrasit at 09:12 PM | Comments (0)

Nazi-Pope Redux

I've said it before, I'll say it again, Ratzinger is a fucking asshole.

Cardinal Ratzinger warns about dangers to Roman Catholic Church in final stump before conclave to choose new pope

In the following document he manages to dismiss other religious beliefs (particularly the "Eastern" ones) and specifically acceptance of them as "so-called pluralist theology of religion"and to assert that "putting praxis above knowledge in this way is also a clearly Marxist inheritance." It should come as no real surprise (being that he is an adherent to a church) that he distrusts individuality. What is surprising is that he sees it as an antagonist to progress, "We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires." Rather ironic coming from a man who claims to dislike Marx/ism.


Posted by rasafrasit at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

Cool (but dormant) Blog

nova lounge: September 2004

Posted by rasafrasit at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

Firefox Pop-up Killer

Firefox Pop-unders
Here's a tweak to stop these new pop-unders!
To block pop-ups from plugins, open your Firefox 1.0 or 1.0.1 browser.

1) Type about:config in the address field.
2) Right-click in the resulting config page somewhere and select New -> Interger. 3) Type privacy.popups.disable_from_plugins in the resulting dialog, hit OK,
4) Type 2 in the next dialog and you're all set.

This pref can actually take three values:

# 0: open allowed
# 1: the opened windows are treated as popups, but they're allowed to open (we limit the number of these types of popups)
# 2: the window is a popup, block it

Posted by rasafrasit at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2005

Gluons and the Physics fo the Fantastic

Messenger particle my ass, their just making shit up-trying to find effective metaphors. I don't have a problem with that, what strikes me as unscientific however is the way in which the physics community has, as Joseph Campbell puts it (regarding people who take the Bible literally), confused the connotation for a denotation.

How does a particle know when to send out its messenger?

Google Search: messenger particle

Posted by rasafrasit at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2005

Mint as a Meme

I've pulled most of the weeds from the vegetable garden in preparation of getting my 'maters in the ground soon. Across the way, the mint has taken over my herb garden, despite planting it in a pot. My house drink is bourbon and ginger ale with four or five mint leaves in it (no, this is not a Mint Julip). It is my hope to propagate the bourbon and ginger ale avec mint as effectivly as the mint propagates itself. When you get home tonight, try my house drink or just cruise over and I'll make you one myself.

Posted by nalgene at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

ummm...? om?

So this is what mental breakdown looks like in India...kinda what I expected.

Laughing Yoga Video clip

Posted by rasafrasit at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

Trouble all around

This is insane. Here's my take:

1) this girl is clearly a litte shit and in desperate need of some discipline (but forcible arrest is hardly the proper course of action) and some real parenting
2) the teacher(s) are clearly constrained by:
-fear of legal retribution should they try to take any substantive action against the girl's unruly behavior
-weak, pathetic and obviously useless pedagogy
3) to handcuff a 5-year-old is beyond the pale in terms of the inherent violence of the State. What this girl needs is a forceful. stern lecture and big damn hug. 'Cause clearly, her shit is all fucked up.

The State is largely to blame but NOBODY seems to have ever done the right thing by this little girl and certainly not in this particualr instance.

Police shown on tape handcuffing misbehaving 5-year-old

Posted by rasafrasit at 12:32 PM | Comments (7)

Not sa fast, missy

I'm on the verge of turning on my Greasemonkey Xeni Jardin filter...Yes its bullshit to do a thumbscan to get a tan and yes its a dangerous step in the wrong direction but nobody is forcing people to patronize the place and thus calling it illegal is nonsensical.

Boing Boing: Arkansas salon requires thumbprint to get a tan

Posted by rasafrasit at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2005


For those who do not know, Firefly is the best TV ever. The release of this movie in September means more to me than Star Wars and, dare I say it, LOTR. Firefly does for Heinlein what that fucking hack Paul Verhoven never could. Not that Firefly is an adaptation of Heinlein but it gets all the feeling and politics of Heinlein in a way that Starship Troopers simply did not.

Incidentally, there is a Firefly wiki: http://www.fireflywiki.org/Firefly/HomePage

Apple - Trailers - Serenity - index

Posted by rasafrasit at 10:15 AM | Comments (1)

Now, THIS is good modern art

(I am reminded of the Simpson's episode where Lisa does a science experiment to prove that Bart is dumber than a hamster)

A TIME AND PLACE - Christian Moeller

Posted by rasafrasit at 10:08 AM | Comments (1)

April 26, 2005

...something, something...I forget

That explains everything.

Emails more damaging than cannabis - vnunet.com

Posted by rasafrasit at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)

Boo! Who?

I particularly like the t-shirt ideas.

SOS: Students for an Orwellian Society

Posted by rasafrasit at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

Stupid, stupid, stupid

Now that Spring is here I am bemoaning the sale of my motorcycle. I have lusted after this bike for years. When the time comes, this will be the next bike I get.

1989 HONDA GB500 - Walneck's Classic Cycle Trader

Posted by rasafrasit at 09:49 PM | Comments (0)

Eagle Nebula

A new view of the Eagle Nebula, one of the two largest and sharpest images Hubble Space Telescope has ever taken, is released by NASA on Hubble's 15th anniversary April 25, 2005. The new Eagle Nebula image reveals a tall, dense tower of gas being sculpted by ultraviolet light from a group of massive, hot stars. During the 15 years Hubble has orbited the Earth, it has taken more than 700,000 photos of the cosmos. EDITORIAL USE ONLY REUTERS/NASA/Handout
Reuters - Apr 25 10:27 PM

Posted by nalgene at 04:03 PM | Comments (1)

Journey Of Mankind

For a graphic presentation of human migration over the long term, click here.

Posted by nalgene at 01:18 PM | Comments (1)

April 25, 2005

Mmm, copyright infringement

Copy DVD to DVD-R using DVD Decrypter (DVDs smaller than 4.36GB)

Posted by rasafrasit at 02:09 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2005

Madison on 2nd

Posted by rasafrasit at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

O-S Diagram

Posted by rasafrasit at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

Individualism for the Modern Age

Individual-i stands for:

* Freedom from surveillance
* Personal privacy
* Anonymity
* Equal protection
* Due process
* Freedom to read, write, think, speak, associate, and travel
* The right to make your own choices about sex, reproduction, marriage, and death
* The right to dissent


The association with the U.N. strikes me as radically conflicted but, whatever.

Posted by rasafrasit at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2005

I Fart In Your General Direction

Environment News Service (ENS) Either a big fat fascist fuck named Tom got in the way or the weather was too bad for the plane to land.

And for some comic relief:

US Dept of State - Bush Vows to Restore, Improve, Protect U.S. Wetlands

Posted by rasafrasit at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)

Pretty, pretty

Dragunov.net - Izhmach Dragunov Tiger

Posted by rasafrasit at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)

April 22, 2005


My name's Brady. I was approached by Nalgene to be a writer here. I too am an Agorist from the Great Empire. I believe the market is the single greatest achievement of mankind, and the instrument by which it will continue to achieve great things. I also hold some other rather radical philosophical opinions, but I will try to avoid posting those as this forum is focused on politics. I don't really have much to post right now, but I've been looking into lucid dreaming a bit recently and I'd recommend it. http://www.dreamviews.com It's a good alternative to drug use and won't get you in trouble with mommy state.

I'll end with a Hunter S. Thompson quote:

"I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me."

Posted by Phantasos at 09:04 PM | Comments (2)


Wish I had a reason to do this.

Bluetooth a Mile Away - Popular Science

Posted by rasafrasit at 01:53 AM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2005

Damn Shame

Look at all the beautiful FALs. Oddly sensible commentary here

Posted by rasafrasit at 10:13 PM | Comments (2)

April 20, 2005

Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog

Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog

Posted by nalgene at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

Old Johnny Reb on The Recent Unpleasentness

link to audio

A recording of Civil War veteran tells historic tale

By LINDA MCNATT, The Virginian-Pilot

"After fighting several hours, Gen. Ewell surrendered us. And thus I became a captive."
- Julius Franklin Howell

SUFFOLK — Russell E. Darden’s great-great-uncle Julius first reached out to him about 20 years ago, when a sudden stiff breeze blew through an old house in Southampton County.

Darden, a Civil War buff and a historian, was visiting an elderly friend, a man whose father had served in the war. He remembers looking up, startled, as a bedroom door blew open in the wind. On the back, framed in plastic, were photos of soldiers in Confederate uniforms.

Darden didn’t know it then, but the breeze had pushed open a door to his family’s past.

Several months later, with the faces of the men still haunting him, he returned to his friend’s house and asked permission to examine the pictures again.

On the back of one faded daguerreotype, he found the name of Julius Franklin Howell, a corporal in the 24th Virginia Cavalry.

His great-great-uncle.

It took years for Darden to uncover the full story of Howell, the Civil War veteran who became a college president, addressed the U.S. Congress and lived for more than a century.

The most exciting moment came when he got a telephone call from a man at the University of Texas who had somehow heard of his quest for knowledge about his relative. In the university’s archives was a recording of Howell on a wax cylinder -– made in 1944, Darden believes, when his uncle was 98.

On Sunday at Riddick’s Folly House Museum on North Main Street visitors to Suffolk’s Civil War Weekend can hear Howell’s haunting account of the years between 1861 and 1865.

Displays Saturday and Sunday at Riddick’s Folly, which was occupied at one point by Union forces, are only part of the weekend’s activities. There will also be artists, noted authors, re-enactors in period costumes and tours, including a lantern tour though historic Cedar Hill Cemetery.

As for the authentic voice of a true Civil War veteran, Darden said he believes the audio recording may have been professionally made by Warner Brothers. Uncle Julius was great friends with Mary Pickford, the silent film star, who was part owner in the film company at the time.

Howell, his southeastern Virginia accent strong and clear on the recording, says, “I remember very well when John Brown tried to free the slaves.”

Russell Darden

He explains that he considers it a “distinct honor” to be recalling the war years, and he asks the listener to forgive him “if I make little mistakes,” because “time has passed so rapidly.”

Howell, who was born in 1846 near the Holy Neck section of Suffolk, in the Holland area, would likely enjoy being a part of the weekend in his hometown.

He was the youngest of 16 children, the son of a prominent Baptist minister. His daddy wouldn’t allow him to join the army until he was 16½, he says in his account.

He saw action guarding the Blackwater River against Yankees until his regiment was called to help defend Richmond in 1864. By then, he was a corporal and courier for two generals.

In April 1865, Howell was taken prisoner at the battle of Sailor’s Creek and was transported to Point Lookout, Md., a notorious Union prison. He was there when he heard about the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

“I arose pretty early,” he says. “There were 20,000 of us there. I saw a flag pole, and a flag stopped halfway.”

The youth, a slightly built man with bright red hair, knew what it meant.

“I stuck my head in a tent and said, 'Boys, there must be some big Yankee dead.’ ”

A guard told the men later that the president had been shot. Howell says he felt no hatred toward Lincoln, only kindness.

“We didn’t fight for the preservation or extension of slavery,” he says. “It was a great curse on this country that we had slavery. We fought for states’ rights, for states’ rights.”

After the war, Howell taught at Reynoldson Institute in Gates County, N.C. He soon left teaching and went to the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with a history degree. From there, he went on to Harvard and got a doctorate in history.

Howell was a history professor at the University of Arkansas. He eventually headed the department. In 1901, he was named president of Virginia Intermont College in Bristol, where he served for 50 years.

Uncle Julius, said Darden, was forever loyal to the South. He became state commander of the Tennessee Confederate Veterans and, in 1940, was named commander-in-chief of the national United Confederate Veterans.

In 1942, Life magazine did a spread on Howell. Several photos of the old gentleman show him dressed in his Confederate uniform. Because legislators wanted to hear more from the Confederate veteran, Howell addressed the combined Congress of the United States in Washington in 1944, when he was 98, and Darden thinks that’s when the tape was made.

Four years later, in February 1948, on his 102nd birthday, the city of Bristol threw a party. Mary Pickford and her family attended.

Howell, who had never been sick a day in his life, according to his great-great-nephew, died the following June.

Posted by nalgene at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)

Ain't it true

(just really like this image)

Posted by rasafrasit at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)

Right-Wing Assholes and the State

I've fucking had it with these right-wing fucknuts and their specious moralizing, not to mention their willingness to employ the power of the State to enforce their bullshit. Oh, and fuck the State for pandering to them.

Wired News: House OKs Family Copyright Bill

Posted by rasafrasit at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)


A few words while I switch the designs around... (plasticbag.org)

"A weblog by Tom Coates who works at BBC Radio and Music Interactive
Concerning social software, mass amateurisation, design, and future media consumption."

Sounds promising and intriguing.

Posted by rasafrasit at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005


Never Loved Milk

Posted by rasafrasit at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Apology to the Left

I often deride the Left and heavily. This should not be misconstrued or misrepresented as an expression of support for the Right. It should be apparent very quickly that anarchism is a field outside the false polarizations of Left and Right. I harp on the Left because, in this case, it is their fraudulent economic theories which are impeding much of the progress towards their intended social objectives.

They do not bear the whole burden of blame but merely the bulk of it and they share it not with the Right, but rather with power-mongers (and the overlap is significant). The Left's apparently morbid fear of letting people do as they please with their money (even, gasp, wasting it) and their presumptions of “equality” (see The Incredibles for more on this) mesh beautifully with the general desire (nay need) of the State to steal money from people and suddenly the Market is a “public good” and the State garners supposed moral justification for its arrogations of property and liberty.

That said, the Right, with their repulsive presumptions of universal morals and deistic thuggery can take a flying fucking leap (how's that for academic objectivity?).

Posted by rasafrasit at 11:55 PM | Comments (1)

Lagrange Points

Navigating Celestial Currents: Science News Online, April 16, 2005

Science News Online

Week of April 16, 2005; Vol. 167, No. 16
Navigating Celestial Currents
Math leads spacecraft on joy rides through the solar system

Erica Klarreich

Last April, the Genesis spacecraft began its journey home. It had been parked out in space collecting solar particles for 2 years. Yet even though its job was done, Genesis didn't head straight home. Instead, it took a 3-million-mile detour, swinging past Earth to do a loop de loop around a distant point before flying back to Earth.


LOOP-DE-LOOP. The Genesis spacecraft's superhighway path took it to the Earth-sun gravitational-equilibrium point L1, where it made five "halo" orbits before swinging around L2 and heading home.

This circuitous route was no accident. The spacecraft had hopped aboard the interplanetary superhighway, a network of tubes crisscrossing through the solar system. By jumping from one tube to another at the solar system's version of highway interchanges, a spacecraft can travel vast distances using practically no fuel.

"Genesis was the most efficient space mission ever flown," says Jerrold Marsden, a mathematician at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena who studies spacecraft trajectories.

A celestial superhighway sounds like the output of a science fiction writer's overheated brain. Yet it's reality, grounded in the competing gravitational tugs of the sun, Earth, and other solar system bodies. By studying the mathematics underlying subtle gravitational interactions, researchers are starting to create an atlas of this superhighway. Engineers are designing trajectories to send spacecraft coasting along these routes to make voyages that were previously unimaginable.

Traditionally, spacecraft have used fuel-guzzling engines to punch their way across the solar system, says Edward Belbruno, a mathematician at Princeton University who masterminded the first spacecraft journey along low-fuel highways in 1991. Travel on the interplanetary superhighway works with gravity, not against it, he explains.

"The old way is like using a 747 jet to blast through the sky," Belbruno says. "The new way is like using a glider plane, which rides the natural currents and eddies of the air."

Gravitational sweet spots

Engineers have traditionally pieced together a spacecraft's path by considering the gravitational pulls between the spacecraft and just one other body at a time. To create trajectories for the Apollo lunar missions, for instance, engineers calculated how Earth's gravity would affect the spacecraft at the beginning of its trip and how the moon's gravity would affect the craft toward the end. Each of these interactions is considered a two-body problem because it asks how two objects—such as Earth and a spacecraft—behave if the only forces acting on them are each other's gravity.

Isaac Newton solved the general two-body problem in the 17th century. He calculated that the two bodies rotate around their common center of gravity. By adding in the forces generated by a spacecraft's thrusters, engineers have used Newton's equations to design the spacecraft's trajectory.

The paths that arise from this method tend to be direct but inefficient. "You just brute force your way there," Marsden says. The spacecraft must expend much fuel to counterbalance the pulls of other celestial bodies.

Newton himself tried to analyze these other pulls, but he hit a wall when he tried to calculate how three objects would move under the influence of each other's gravity. In the centuries that followed, this three-body problem became one of the most famous questions in mathematics. In the 1950s, mathematicians finally proved that it's impossible to solve.

Nevertheless, over the centuries, mathematicians have gained traction in understanding a simplified version of the three-body problem that happens to be ideal for designing spacecraft trajectories. This restricted three-body problem asks, What happens to three bodies if two are massive but the third—say, a spacecraft—is so small that its gravitational pull on the other two is negligible?

In such a setup, the two large bodies—say, the sun and Earth—behave as in Newton's two-body analysis, rotating around their common center of mass. In the case of Earth and the sun, this center of mass is buried deep inside the sun, creating the appearance that the sun is stationary and that Earth orbits it.

To visualize how the gravitational pulls of the sun and Earth will affect a spacecraft, mathematicians plot the three bodies using what's called a rotating frame, a coordinate system that turns along with the sun and Earth. In these coordinates, the sun and Earth are always at the same two fixed points.

In the 18th century, European mathematicians Leonhard Euler and Joseph-Louis Lagrange discovered that in this rotating frame there are five gravitational sweet spots, now called Lagrange points. At these equilibrium points, the competing pulls on the third body balance each other, and the body remains motionless.

To find one of these Lagrange points, consider the line connecting the sun and Earth. At one point on this line, the gravitational pulls of the sun and Earth balance, so any object placed there should stay put. This equilibrium is unstable, like that of a marble poised on a mountain ridge. If the object is given even the slightest push, it will go zooming away from the equilibrium.

That analysis is incomplete because it ignores another pull. The centrifugal force, which pushes a person outward on a carousel, also pushes outward any objects in the rotating coordinate system. As a result, the true balance point between the sun and Earth, called L1, is closer to the sun than it would be without the centrifugal force.

The centrifugal force produces four additional equilibrium points. One, called L2, sits along the Earth-sun line on the far side of Earth, at the spot where the combined inward pulls of the sun and Earth balance the outward centrifugal push. An analogous point, L3, sits on the far side of the sun. Like L1, these two equilibriums are unstable.

Harder to visualize are L4 and L5, which sit at two points that complete equilateral triangles with the sun and Earth. L4 and L5 are stable equilibriums: An object placed at one of these points will tend to stay fixed.

The Lagrange points have captured the attention of both astronomers and amateur space enthusiasts. Because L1 offers an unobstructed view of the sun, it's currently home to several sun-observing spacecraft, such as the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. And L2, at which a telescope can always face away from both Earth and the sun, is an ideal spot for deep-space observatories. The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), which measures the cosmic background radiation, is in orbit there. More fancifully, L3 is science fiction writers' favorite spot to conceal a "Planet X," since it's always on the opposite side of the sun from Earth.

It's the unstable Lagrange points—especially L1 and L2—that are most useful for designing spacecraft trajectories, according to Marsden. "In nature, unstable things are often more efficient than stable things," he says.

Just as it's possible to balance a pencil vertically on your hand—a highly unstable state—by gently wiggling your hand, it's possible for a spacecraft to stick around an unstable Lagrange point using small rocket thrusts. But, it's even easier for that craft to go swinging away into a different part of the solar system.

Tube hopping

In the late 19th century, French mathematician Henri Poincaré had an amazing insight. He realized that the restricted three-body problem displays sensitivity to initial conditions. That is, two objects that start out in nearly the same spot can go spiraling off into wildly different regions of space. Poincaré's discovery gave birth to the mathematical field of chaos theory, which today encompasses a host of phenomena, from the weather to traffic patterns.

Despite this chaos, Poincaré found that it's possible to organize similar paths through the three-body system into special surfaces. In the late 1960s, mathematicians Charles Conley of the University of North Texas in Denton and Richard McGehee of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis built on this work to discover a collection of these special surfaces shaped like tubes. These spiral into or out of orbit around the unstable Lagrange points. If an object sits in one of these tubes, the natural gravitational pulls sweep it along, toward or away from the Lagrange points.


Dean MacAdam

In 2000, Marsden and his collaborators showed that these tubes wind chaotically through space. Although chaos is a drawback when it comes to predicting the weather, from the point of view of designing spacecraft trajectories it's great news. Near a Lagrange point, a spacecraft can use a tiny thrust to hop between tubes that snake off to completely different destinations.

These tubes make up the freeways of the interplanetary superhighway, so named by Marsden's collaborator Martin Lo of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. However, the tubes of the five Lagrange points are just a small piece of the picture. After all, the restricted three-body problem can be applied not just to the sun and Earth but also to Earth and the moon, the sun and Jupiter, and many other pairs of large bodies. Each celestial pair produces its own Lagrange points and tubes. And "in remarkable coincidences all through the solar system," Marsden says, many of these tubes link to form a network of intersecting highways.

Unlike terrestrial highway systems, the interplanetary superhighway is not static. The Earth-sun Lagrange points and tubes, for instance, are stationary only when considered in the Earth-sun rotating frame. In reality, the tubes flail about "like streams from a crazy garden sprinkler," Marsden says, and the patterns of highway interchanges keep shifting.

To get from one tube to another, a spacecraft must hop on at exactly the right moment and at the right speed. Marsden says, "It's like transferring between trains at a station with no platform. The other train had better get to the station at the exact time you arrive." Fortunately, researchers can now use computers to chart when and where many of these highway interchanges materialize.

Exploring the superhighway

The three-body problem made its spacecraft trajectory debut in 1991, when Belbruno helped rescue the first Japanese mission to the moon. The Japanese spacecraft Hiten, while orbiting Earth, had ejected a basketball-size probe that was supposed to go into lunar orbit. Unfortunately, the probe was lost after its communications system failed. The much-larger Hiten, never intended for lunar orbit, lacked the fuel to reach the moon.

Five years earlier, Belbruno had used the dynamics of the three-body problem to design a hypothetical 2-year trajectory that rode gravitational currents from Earth to the moon without requiring fuel. He and James Miller of JPL put the idea to the test by modifying this trajectory into a 3-month path to the moon for Hiten.

"The route flew 1 million kilometers past the moon before falling down to it," Belbruno recalls. "It allowed Hiten to ride a crest and get to the moon for free."

More recently, the European Space Agency's SMART-1 spacecraft followed Belbruno's original 2-year trajectory to the moon, arriving there late last year.

Although Belbruno didn't express his work in terms of tubes and highways, it laid the groundwork for subsequent mathematical explorations of the interplanetary superhighway. In the mid-1990s, a team led by Lo and Kathleen Howell of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., built on these ideas to design a superhighway trajectory for Genesis, whose mission was to collect particles of the wind constantly emanating from the sun. In August 2001, Genesis rode a tube from Earth out to the Earth-sun L1, where it orbited five times, facing the sun. For its return journey, it followed a highway route that swung past the Earth-sun L2 and then coasted back to Earth.

After takeoff, Marsden says, Genesis used fuel only to stay balanced and make small adjustments to keep on course. That fuel amounted to just 4 percent of the craft's total mass, says Shane Ross of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, who worked with Lo and Howell. By contrast, previous missions, such as Galileo and the Apollo Lunar Lander, consumed from 40 percent to 60 percent of their weight in fuel.

It currently costs about $1 million to send just a pound of fuel to the moon, Belbruno says.

But perhaps more important, the interplanetary superhighway's fuel efficiency enables researchers to construct space trajectories that would otherwise be infeasible. For instance, Marsden, Lo, and Ross worked out a potential tour of Jupiter's moons that NASA has adapted for its planned Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO). Its launch is tentatively scheduled for 2012.

JIMO will exploit the linkages among the tubes of the planet and its four icy moons to leapfrog from one moon to the next, orbiting each in turn, to collect data on whether liquid oceans lurk under the moons' surfaces. Previous missions to Jupiter have included only brief flybys of its moons because to slow down and go into orbit using conventional trajectories takes "a colossal amount of fuel," Marsden says. "But using tube hopping, you can linger as long as you want at one of the moons and it doesn't cost you more fuel," he adds.

In addition to planning one-time missions along the superhighway, Marsden, Lo, and Ross, together with a NASA team, conceive of a permanent manned space station at the Earth-moon L1 point. Ross calls it the "nearest rest stop on the superhighway." Astronauts could get there from Earth in days, and a spacecraft could travel in hours from the station to any point on the moon.

The main attraction of such a station, Ross says, is that each month the tubes from the Earth-moon L1 intersect tubes to the Earth-sun L1 and L2. Astronauts could travel to the station by conventional means. Once there, they could assemble, say, a deep-space telescope intended for the Earth-sun L2, then set it drifting along the tubes toward its final destination. Such telescopes could be larger and more delicate than those sent from Earth because they wouldn't have to fit in a rocket and withstand the rigors of a launch. And if a telescope at the Earth-sun L2, such as WMAP, were to malfunction, it could simply ride a tube back to the lunar gateway station for servicing.

"It would be hard to send humans to the Earth-sun L2 to service a broken telescope because of the long transit time and the harsh radiation environment," Ross says. "But it would be easy to bring the telescope back to the gateway station."

It's unlikely that astronauts themselves will ever ride the interplanetary superhighway, though they might someday guide telescopes on and off its entry ramps, says Wendell Mendell of NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. Because the tubes follow such winding routes, trips along them tend to take a long time—compare Belbruno's 2-year trajectory to the moon to the 4-day Apollo 11 mission, for instance. Using the tubes is like sending cargo down the Mississippi River on a barge, Mendell says. "It's cheap but slow."

For unmanned missions, the interplanetary superhighway's potential is just starting to unfold, Marsden says. "I suspect that there are tubes connecting many more systems of moons and planets than we've discovered so far."

If you have a comment on this article that you would like considered for publication in Science News, send it to editors@sciencenews.org. Please include your name and location.

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Belbruno, E. 2004. Capture Dynamics and Chaotic Motions in Celestial Mechanics: With Applications to the Construction of Low Energy Transfers. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. See http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/titles/7687.html.

Koon, W.S., M.W. Lo, J.E. Marsden, and S.D. Ross. 2000. Heteroclinic connections between periodic orbits and resonance transitions in celestial mechanics. Chaos 10(June):427-469. Available at http://www.cds.caltech.edu/~marsden/bib/2000/07-

______. 2002. Constructing a low energy transfer between Jovian moons. Contemporary Mathematics 292:129-145. Available at http://www.cds.caltech.edu/~marsden/bib/2002/05-

Lo, M.W., and S.D. Ross. 2001. The lunar L1 gateway: Portal to the stars and beyond. AIAA Space 2001 Conference. Albuquerque, N.M.. Aug. 28-30. Available at http://www.cds.caltech.edu/~shane/papers/lo_ross_2001.pdf.


Edward Belbruno
Department of Astrophysical Sciences
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544

Jerrold Marsden
Division of Engineering and Applied Science
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA 91125

Wendell Mendell
Office for Human Exploration Science
NASA Johnson Space Center
2101 NASA Parkway
Houston, TX 77058

Shane Ross
Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089


From Science News, Vol. 167, No. 16, April 16, 2005, p. 250.

Copyright (c) 2005 Science Service. All rights reserved.

Posted by rasafrasit at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)


Witness the glorious state!

Posted by nalgene at 02:43 PM | Comments (2)

April 17, 2005


frontline: the persuaders: neuromarketing | PBS

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April 15, 2005


(note HK91)

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In nonor of "Steal from the slave-citizens Day"...

Marginal Revolution: Where Your Money is Going

The Republican Welfare State (Yet Again) - Mises Institute

(p.s. shoot 'em if you got 'em-'cause firearms equal liberty)

Posted by rasafrasit at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

Economics of Open-Source-A dissenting view

Can open source IT be a money pit? by ZDNet's David Berlind -- Last year, Doug Kaye over at IT Conversations recorded an interview with MIT professor and serial entrepreneur Philip Greenspun. Greenspun's most successful venture to date (revenue-wise) was probably ArsDigita -- an open source business that flamed out after he handed the reins over to venture capitalists who, he claims, ran a perfectly good company into [...]

Posted by rasafrasit at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

Linux and thin clients

(note image has nothing specifically to do with the article, I just like images of tux with a gun)

NewsForge | Linux and thin clients

FYI a thin client is essentially a dummy terminal but the term implies modern networking methodologies and UIs.

Posted by rasafrasit at 10:37 AM | Comments (2)

New (to me anyway) Data Feeds to Watch

|| concealed position || blog ||

Illuminati Conspiracy Archive: ConspiracyArchive.com

From above blog:

"There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution."
Aldous Huxley's lecture to The California Medical School in San Francisco in 1961

Posted by rasafrasit at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2005

Chowder head

A perfect example of just how misguided the Left can be.

Toner Mishap: An Even More Mercenary Society “ A Misanthropic Rant

Posted by rasafrasit at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)


Add Gnomes To The Lord of the Rings

Brilliant satire of nerdom or violently insane, the Inter-Web keeps some of its secrets.

Posted by rasafrasit at 02:47 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2005

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Perfect Spot Found for Moon Base
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 13 April 2005
01:02 pm ET

Researchers have identified what may be the perfect place for a Moon base, a crater rim near the lunar north pole that's in near-constant sunlight yet not far from suspected stores of water ice.

Permanently sunlit areas would provide crucial solar energy for any future Moon settlement, a goal for NASA outlined last year by President George W. Bush. Such sites would also have resort-like temperatures compared with other lunar locations that fluctuate between blistering heat and unfathomable cold.


Equally important, in the permanently shadowed depths of craters around the lunar north pole, water ice may lurk, according to previous but unconfirmed observations.

Melted, it would be vital for drinking. Broken into hydrogen and oxygen, the water could provide breathable air and be used to make rocket fuel for a trip to Mars.

That fits in neatly with the White House vision of using the Moon as a stepping stone to Mars.

Hot real estate

The best spot to settle on the Moon may be on the northern rim of Peary crater, close to the north pole, says Ben Bussey of Johns Hopkins University. The analysis, to be published in the April 14 issue of the journal Nature, is based on 53 images from the spacecraft Clementine, which orbited the Moon for 71 days in 1994.
Image Gallery

Unlike Earth, whose extreme tilt causes seasons, the Moon's rotational axis is almost perfectly upright, deviating just 1.5 percent from the main plane of the solar system that extends outward from the Sun's belly. On Earth, summer means constant sunlight at the North Pole, and winter plunges the Arctic into permanent darkness. But on the Moon, theorists have long suspected there might be high points from which the Sun is always visible.

Because the Moon has virtually no atmosphere, temperature fluctuate wildly from day to night, from about 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 Celsius) to minus 292 Fahrenheit (-180 Celsius) near the equator.

Other scientists have estimated that temperatures on any possible permanently lit spot would be comparatively balmy, though still a frigid minus 58 Fahrenheit (-50 Celsius), give or take a little.

"A region with this relatively benign temperature range represents an attractive site for building hardware designed for long-term use," Bussey and his colleagues write.

The researchers produced an illumination map of the polar region. The Peary crater, created long ago by the impact of an asteroid, is about 45 miles (73 kilometers) wide.

Questions remain

Craters near the south pole have also been previously discussed for a possible Moon base. Those are not highlighted by any constantly illuminated spots, the same research group concluded previously. Even so, the north polar region needs further analysis before NASA can decide where to go first.

Clementine was in a position to see the lunar north pole for only brief periods of the northern summer. So Bussey's team had had to make assumptions about the extent of winter sunlight.

"With the information available, it is not possible to state definitively that these areas are permanently sunlit because the data correspond to a summer rather than a winter day," the scientists report. "But we can be certain that they are the most illuminated regions around the north pole and that they are also the areas on the Moon most likely to be permanently sunlit, given that there are no constantly illuminated areas in the south polar region."

Image Gallery

The south polar sites are not ruled out, however, since sunlight is no more important than water.

"It's a combination of those two things that determines which pole you'll visit first," Bussey said in a telephone interview.

The European Space Agency's SMART-1 craft, currently orbiting the Moon, is expected to shed additional light on lunar topography. NASA plans a robotic reconnaissance effort in 2008 that would provide more information on polar illumination. Meanwhile, India's first mission to the Moon, planned for 2007, would pack a U.S.-made radar instrument designed to pin down the locations of water ice.

Bussey said water ice might be found to be equally distributed at both poles, or it may exist only in select craters.

Posted by nalgene at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)

The Real Scoop

Perhaps a bit ignominious that it posted on April 1 but worth tooting my own horn anyway.

Greasemonkey Serves Up The Web As You Like It

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April 12, 2005

Open-source, on the move

It will be very interesting to watch how this plays out.

Start-up wants to improve on Firefox | CNET News.com

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is not a qualified state of affairs. That is, while being free may exist in degrees, Freedom is a singular event.

I am hard on the Left, harder than I am on the Right. I came from the Left, into what I hesitantly call Anarchism, and I see in the Left, more desire to see people be free. The Left's failure is the assumption that the State is an effective tool for solving problems which naturally arise from the State, exclusively. This produces the Leviathan/Commanding Heights.

What the Left fails to appreciate, for example, is that the mis-named demon of Capitalism (read heretofore as Mercantilism) is the result of the State's ability to intervene in the Market NOT something which requires increased intervention (hackthestate-into tiny little person-sized pieces). 1984 is the product of a socialist state (a redundancy in the eyes of anarchism).

That said, the Left, unlike the Right, are willing to champion the rights of the “oppressed” (who isn't oppressed by by the State?). How often do you see the Right speaking up for a group of people other than themselves? Never. And how often does the Right not allow its inherent religious bigotry not interfere with its definition of right and wrong? Never. And how often does the Right falsify its claims to the Constitution and both American revolutions by seeking to use the State as a means of unifying ethics and morals? Fucking daily.

Therefore, neither side even knows the full meaning of freedom or individual liberty much less is able to claim to defend it.

Bob Dylan: Masters of War

Posted by rasafrasit at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2005

We've Come for Your Liver


Police raid wrong home
Deaf B'klyn mother of two pulled from bed and handcuffed by narcotics cops who were on wrong floor

STAFF WRITER; Leonard Levitt contributed to this story.

April 8, 2005

Police who busted into a Coney Island apartment looking for guns and drugs found only a deaf woman with asthma and her two screaming kids, victims of a raid that went awry because police used a back entrance that left them on the wrong floor, Newsday has learned.

Mini Matos, 28, and her two children were fast asleep when about five cops from Brooklyn South Narcotics burst into her apartment in the Gravesend Houses in a predawn raid Jan. 15.

Before Matos was aware of what was going on, she was pulled from her bed and handcuffed. Her son, Benny, 8, and daughter, Mayralee Matos, 5 - asleep on bunk beds in an adjoining room - were startled by the commotion and burst into tears.


"I actually thought I was dreaming," Matos said. "When they handcuffed me I was having trouble breathing. I told them I had asthma and I needed my asthma pump. But nobody was paying attention to me."

"They just said, 'You're under arrest' and when I asked them why, they said, 'You're gonna find out when we take you the precinct.'"

But matters never reached that point.

Matos, who can hear only with a hearing aid and is speech impaired, remembers that as she was trying to calm down her children, a female officer came running into the apartment to inform her colleagues that the apartment, 2D, was the wrong one.

Apartment 1D was the apartment listed on the no-knock search warrant.

"I'm sorry," the officer said several times as she uncuffed Matos.

After that, Matos said, police moved quickly to rectify the mistake.

They were very apologetic, Matos said, and within a few hours her badly damaged door had been replaced by the Housing Authority.

The correct apartment was raided shortly after police cleared out of Matos' apartment.

They arrested Lance Sharp Sowell, 30, and his brother, Wondell Sharp, 25, on gun and drugs charges. Police recovered crack, marijuana and two loaded pistols. Sharp Sowell pleaded guilty to gun possession and was sentenced to 3 years in prison. His brother's case was dismissed.

A police source said the wrong apartment was raided because the back entrance through which officers entered the Bayview Avenue building leads into the second floor, not the first.

The door separating the hall from the stairwell is clearly marked with a black 2, but the source said that door was open at the time and officers did not see it. The apartment door had no marker, the source said.

Police got the warrant, the source said, after three drugs buys were made inside 1D after police got a tip. The officers in the raid decided to use the back entrance because the windows for 1D face the building's front entrance, raising the possibility the suspects might have seen police had they used that entrance.

After the raid, police brass ordered a review of the incident, the source said.

The mixup, it appears, is the first time police raided the wrong apartment since March 31, 2004, when the apartment of a couple in their 80s in the Sheepshead Nostrand Houses was raided in search of a drug dealer.

Police said a paperwork foul-up led to cops entering the wrong building.

The police source said the NYPD's narcotics squad had made about 1,300 raids in 2004, and 300 so far in 2005, without additional problems.

NYPD officials declined to comment.

The NYPD in the past three years has come under fire for a series of controversial raids, most notably in May, 2003, when Alberta Spruill, 57, a grandmother and city worker, died of a heart attack suffered inside her Harlem home during a raid in which police, acting on a bad tip, detonated a flash grenade.

Spruill's death, for which the city paid a $1.6 million settlement to her family, plus publicity from several other settlements paid to others who filed lawsuits for raids in earlier years, prompted a massive overhaul of how police conduct raids and deal with informants.

"We revamped the process for evaluating confidential informants," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a Newsday interview last week. He also said there have been changes in tactics, with supervisors in a better position to assess informants and conduct the necessary field work before raids.

Matos, meanwhile, says that while she was glad police were quick to correct their mistake, they ignored her questions about filing a complaint.

Now, nearly three months later, she says she and her kids are still not over their ordeal.

"My son understands more, but my daughter couldn't sleep for two days and she thinks they're going to break in again," Matos said. "I'm also worried it's going to happen again. I keep getting up and looking at my door.

"I want to make sure we're safe."

Leonard Levitt contributed to this story.

Problems from past

Some other recent cases:

March 31, 2004

Police hit the right apartment in the wrong building at the Sheepshead Nostrand Houses. They were looking for a man in his 20s. Instead, they found Martin Goldberg, 84, and his wife Leona, 82.

Feb. 6, 2004

The city agrees to pay a Bronx family $100,000 for a botched 1993 raid. Police had busted into the home of Edward Garrison, a black correction officer, looking for a drug-dealing Hispanic man with three dogs.

May 16, 2003

Alberta Spruill, 57, suffers a fatal heart attack inside her Harlem home when police raid it and detonate a flash grenade. No drugs are found. Police later acknowledge the informant's tip was not properly investigated. The incident leads to sweeping changes in how police deal with informants. The city pays $1.6 million to Spruill's family.

Posted by nalgene at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)

Fuck the Police

As per a user suggestion: we have a new category-Cops Gone Wild

We were fed

Posted by rasafrasit at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2005

A Breaking Point?

by Butler Shaffer

Major changes in the course of a nation or a civilization are often associated with a single event, whereas the causal explanations are always much more complicated. Thus, a British tax on tea becomes the focal point for the American Revolutionary War, or the tearing down of the Berlin Wall for the collapse of the Soviet Union. While such isolated occurrences are convenient bookmarks for understanding history, human events are produced by interconnected factors too numerous, uncertain, and complex to be explained in any singular manner.

In the same way that our individual lives are subject to conscious, unconscious, and genetic forces of which we are woefully unaware; our social relationships are distinguished by a widespread ignorance of the interconnected influences that organizational systems have upon our lives. Events seem to have a sui generis quality to them, not unlike the response of most Americans who could not understand the events of 9/11 as a reaction against foreign policies they had been told would protect them from attacks! Just as the courses of complex systems are impossible to predict, so it is difficult to unravel the causal explanations for complicated past events. It is little wonder that the study of human history has not always provided clear direction.


On the other hand, a single event can become a focal point for the release of energies that have accumulated beneath a broader surface. The long-building pressures that develop along continental plates and erupt into earthquakes or volcanic activity, find a social analogy in tensions and conflicts that collect, unabated, in ways in which we deal with one another in society. At some point, a Rosa Parks may refuse to move to the back of a city bus and spark a civil rights movement. But an amassed energy underlay her act of defiance. Had she not been the trigger, some other person or event would have provided the cause celebre.

The study of chaos, or complexity, is providing us with insights into such dynamics. In simple systems, there tends to be a fairly linear, proportional relationship between input and output. For example, if "x" produces "y," "x + 1" will produce "y + 1," and so on. At some point, however, a further increase in output generates disproportionate, nonlinear patterns. This creates a "bifurcation point," one in which "x + 4" produces not "y + 4," but "z," with "z" representing turbulence. The phrase "the straw that broke the camel’s back" is a popular expression of a system that has become nonlinear (i.e., where effects are grossly disproportionate to an immediate input). The slowly increasing flow of water from a faucet; the rising smoke from a cigarette; arrhythmic heartbeats, provide examples of linear patterns being thrown into turbulence.

These same patterns are at work within social systems. Accumulated entropic pressures – such as undigested distortions arising from years of government interference with the marketplace – may erupt into a turbulent state. This turbulence will either be met by an intelligent response, or the system will likely collapse into entropic death.

Our current American society has been in this state of turbulence for some time, without much focused intelligence guiding alternative courses of action. Because governments thrive on conflict – which they promise to "manage" – America is characterized by cross-currents of demands people make upon one another, a destructive force arising from endless divisions, confrontations, politically-enforced expectations, and discord. Such conflicts find expression in efforts to micromanage the personal and social lives of others; a disrespect for the inviolability of one another’s lives and property interests; quarrels over the role that "spiritual" versus "secular" values are to play in legal and political policies; disputes regarding the sanctity of life, and the social value of "wars" and "peace;" and the relative importance of the "individual" versus the "collective."

A distrust of governmental power and a desire for individual liberty that was gaining ascendancy even as we moved into the 21st century, collapsed into a widespread groveling worship and obedience to an imperial president and a willingness to expand state powers after 9/11. A viciousness that can only be regarded as a loosing of unconscious "dark side" forces, beset America with such ferocity that even those who knew better feared to openly resist the impulse for herd-thinking. Suddenly, the idea of endless wars against endless enemies was not only acceptable, but patriotic; such wars could even be unprovoked, and the possible use of nuclear weapons against civilian populations became widely accepted; men and women could have their personal lives subject to widespread searches, surveillance, and interrogation; the torture of "suspects" became an established practice that one leading radio talk-show babbler equated with fraternity hazing; "due process of law" has been held captive in foreign-based prisons; while lawyers who defended "terrorist" suspects were, themselves, prosecuted as "terrorists" for doing so.

Taxpayers who, four years earlier, bitterly complained about growing tax bills, now offer few protests to a government that has taken spending and an accompanying national debt to exponential heights. So-called "red state" farmers who used to object to the EPA regulating their lands in order to protect the nesting grounds of the kangaroo rat, rushed to the voting booths – waving their flags – to reelect George W. Bush.

The American political system no longer lives up to even its illusions of constitutional limitations and procedures. Congress votes for a measure even before it is fully drafted (the Patriot Act), and legislates the medical treatment for an individual patient (Terri Schiavo). People have their homes taken, through eminent domain, to be turned over to corporations to build factories, shopping malls, or sports stadia. Prison construction has become one of America’s growth industries, providing housing for a growing list of persons convicted of victimless crimes. An imperial president declares and conducts wars as suit his pleasure, with almost no objection from a Congress into whose exclusive hands such constitutional authority was given.

Most Americans suffer from a lack of moral and intellectual centeredness; an absence of what the late Joseph Campbell labeled "invisible means of support." As a result, the Iraq war has severely damaged – perhaps even destroyed – the character and integrity of many Americans. A willingness to kill innocent people – even when the stated purpose in doing so was known to have been grounded in lies and deception – has produced adverse consequences that may be beyond the capacities of even a full-blown catharsis to correct in time to save the existing system. Far too many Americans embraced the mindset of serial killers, willing to vent their rage upon any convenient target.

Americans have become, in other words, a mass of conflicts and contradictions. On 9/11, one of my colleagues asked me what I thought of all of this, to which I replied that most Americans will have to go through a prolonged examination and catharsis of who and what they have become. Events since 9/11 have confirmed that there is still so much turmoil, so much entropy that has not yet worked its way out of the minds of most of us. As the study of chaos might suggest, it may take a complete social collapse from which new social premises and systems can emerge to make America, once again, a free and creative place.

I have long thought that the oppressive and destructive American political system will eventually reach a breaking point where the addition of one more intrusion upon the lives of people will produce a nonlinear reaction (i.e., a consequence out of all proportion to that singular factor). Like the Boston "tea party" or the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, some will mistake this single event for what may prove to be the "cause" of the collapse of the American nation-state. Something which, standing by itself, would seem to have little significance – like a woman refusing to move to the back of a bus – may become the focal point for the release of long-suppressed emotions and resentments.

As the Iraq war, the use of torture at Abu Ghraib, the Patriot Act, and the pathological lying of the Bush administration make clear, most people are too cowardly to openly confront the state when it is engaged in its most abusive practices. Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and other tyrants knew what their modern wannabes know, namely, that most people will suppress and internalize their resentment of despotic acts. But such feelings remain a source of discontent – both within the individual and society – contributing to the turbulence that threatens the state. Like water that builds up behind a weakened dam, some marginally insignificant event may unleash the restrained forces and overwhelm the structure.

A possible candidate for such an occurrence might be the Terri Schiavo case. While deciding whether to terminate the life-support for this woman had great meaning to her family, it was the kind of decision that is made, daily, in hospitals across the country. Thousands of families are faced with such a dilemma each year. Why did this particular case arouse so much attention, generate so much emotional energy, and implicate all branches of government? What mobilized such intense energies – not so much from politicians and special interest groups desirous of exploiting the situation to their advantages – but on the part of so many others? Might this event be a focal point for bringing to the surface the underlying conflicts, contradictions, and grievances which, particularly after 9/11 and its aftermath, remain unresolved?

Again, as a student of chaos and complexity, I have no way of predicting how complex systems will play themselves out. It is most likely, however, that the present turbulence will not sustain itself, and that the forces underlying it will eventually erupt. The Schiavo case could become the proverbial "straw" upon the back of the camel.

Think of the influences that were at work here for a matter of weeks. A world divided between "religious" and "secular" thinking found expression in the media and in the streets outside Terri Schiavo’s hospice. The intrusion of federal and state governments into the most private of matters met with libertarian opposition. The "brave new world" of biological engineering – wherein the human and the machine became inseparable – was confronted by sentiments that insisted upon the inherent dignity and inviolability of the individual.

The very meaning of "life" was on trial in the Schiavo case, an inquiry that could not be conducted without exploring the deeper property question: "who owns and controls your life?" Terri Schiavo might very well become the Rosa Parks of a widespread reaction to years of pent-up frustration with a political system that is beyond the powers of the citizenry to effectively control; a system that has consistently denied self-ownership and insisted upon metastasizing its control over the lives of everyone.

Whatever impact it might otherwise have, the Schiavo affair will not cause a major political upheaval. It could, however, serve as a focal point for latent pressures that may have found expression in the sad fate of this woman. Our current turbulence need not result in an entropic freefall. The response to turbulence can be a creative one, generating new systems in which "order" arises out of fluctuation; in which freedom and an openness to change represent the health of any system; and in which organizations are looked upon only as tools to be used, and not as structures to be revered and preserved.

The current corporate-state system is beyond repair and should be abandoned. Trying to salvage its antiquated and life-destructive forms is as senseless as trying to rehabilitate a Jeffrey Dahmer. The time will come, and soon, when we shall be called upon to discover new social systems and new ways of thinking about what it means to be a human being living in society with others. Whether such fundamental changes are brought about through conscious effort on our part, or are thrust upon us by events that trigger a collapse of institutional viability, remains to be seen.

April 8, 2005

Butler Shaffer [send him e-mail] teaches at the Southwestern University School of Law.

Posted by nalgene at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

Peace and Guns

The two are not incompatible and, arguably, there cannot be the former without the latter. Some would find this ironic if not heretical butguns do not make people violent and they do not make people dangerous, they do not make the possessor paranoid or outrageous. Guns are neutral and gun ownership a right but also a simple act of utility, a rational act, a praxeological act.

Google Search: peace guns

Posted by rasafrasit at 12:03 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2005

The David

Posted by nalgene at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2005

Police State in Action

Final Four Teargassing Footage

Posted by rasafrasit at 03:44 PM | Comments (1)

How Are Popes Elected? Two Complimentary Lectures

audio link

Posted by nalgene at 01:02 PM | Comments (3)

April 01, 2005

What Are You Calling 'Anarchy'?

by Robert Murphy

In a recent article, I analyzed the ambiguities and contradictions in the typical usage of terms such as liberty and order. In the present piece, I would like to do the same with the word anarchy. As before, I won't get to spend much time with substantive analysis. Before sober minds can consider these difficult matters, we first need to clear away the confusion—we can't debate various ideas if we don't even know what we're saying.

To illustrate the problem, I will give three examples from mainstream journal articles that discuss "anarcho-capitalism" (or "free market anarchism"), the anti-political system of complete laissez-faire advocated by Murray Rothbard and many others in the Austrian school.

In his articleiii claiming that private defense agencies might degenerate into exploitive gangs, Daniel Sutter explains:

I consider the prospects for cooperative anarchy within the institutional framework of anarcho-capitalism in which private, for-profit agencies offer sets of legal codes and enforcement of these codes. In anarchy no institution exists with legitimate authority over all members of society. (Sutter p. 602, bold added)

Already there is a problem, regardless of Sutter's empirical claims, for what does Sutter mean by "legitimate authority"? For example, a staunch Catholic no doubt believes that the Catholic Church, as a universal institution asserting universal truth, has legitimate authority over all members of society. Does the existence of such believers rule out the possibility of anarchy? I would think not, since presumably Sutter wouldn't bother writing articles on such an elusive concept.

One might think that an institution has to be actually legitimate in order to qualify for the elimination of anarchy, rather than simply being considered legitimate by some members of society. On this view, then, the Catholic Church isn't a legitimate authority over everyone, because there are plenty of atheists and Protestants who dispute the Pope's claims. However, by the same token, there are plenty of people (including me) who reject George Bush's claims, as well as the claims of all agents of the federal government. Does that mean Sutter thinks the current United States is in a state of anarchy? Again, I doubt it.

Notice that we could conceivably have a system of for-profit agencies as Sutter imagines, and yet still have one institution that is considered a "legitimate authority" over all members of society. In particular, suppose that every single person in the world reads Rothbard's Ethics of Liberty and is completely convinced of the beauty and justice of his arguments in the book. All governments then dissolve, to be replaced by private law enforcement agencies. Driven by the desire to serve consumers who all happen to hold identical views on legal codes, the agencies compete on the basis of price, the uniforms of court personnel, the catchiness of slogans and commercial jingles, etc.

And yet there really is a uniform set of laws binding all people, as fully laid out in Rothbard's treatise. Of course, one might claim that such an unlikely (yet possible) scenario would not be an example of true "authority" (since the "submission" to Rothbard's views is completely voluntary), but then we would always have anarchy if we are to save Sutter's claim in bold from the block quotation above. In short, I believe this hypothetical scenario highlights the internal inconsistency in Sutter's use of anarchy.

Let us now turn to an intriguing articleiv by noted economist Jack Hirshleifer, which starts with the following provocative opening:

What do the following have in common? (1) international struggles for control of the globe's resources, (2) gang warfare in Prohibition-era Chicago, (3) miners versus claim jumpers in the California gold rush, (4) animal territoriality, and (5) male elephant seals who fight to sequester "harems" of females. Answer: They are all anarchic situations. (Hirshleifer p. 26)

The problem is that the second example does not conform to Hirshleifer's definition of anarchy as "a system in which participants can seize and defend resources without regulation from above" (p. 26). Even on the face of it, it is simply not true that Prohibition-era gangsters could fight each other without "regulation from above." Except in very unusual cases involving specific bribes, Al Capone's men wouldn't shoot a rival gang member in front of a uniformed police officer. (Go read The Godfather to get a sense of the relative strength of mobsters versus cops.) And even if we did assume that Capone paid the chief of police to allow his men to "legally" take out a rival boss, that just proves that the Chicago police force is the most powerful gang in town, which exercises the "authority" to punish uses of violence for which it has not given prior approval.

On a deeper level, the example of Prohibition-era warfare is particularly ironic, since it only existed because of government regulation. That is, the moment alcohol was legalized, Chicago gangs stopped shooting each other. Far from being an example of anarchy, therefore, Hirshleifer's second example is really a case of violence caused when a group of armed men attempt to impose their views of justice on a population.

The last example comes from Dennis C. Mueller, who writes:v

In contrast to the medieval village, the modern metropolis with its millions of highly mobile inhabitants is scarcely imaginable without overtly authoritarian government actions controlling behavior in many prisoners' dilemma situations. Indeed, one can scarcely conceive of noncooperative behavior like stealing being controlled solely by custom and social pressure from other members of the community in a city like New York. Even with the authority of the police force parts of New York resemble a Hobbesian jungle. At the same time, the modern city is a market place of unprecedented dimensions. The open cities of Hong Kong and Singapore epitomize the potential welfare gains from the operation of free markets in a highly mobile, mass society, just as New York symbolizes the potential welfare losses from prisoners' dilemma breakdowns in large communities. (Mueller p. 822, bold added)

In this passage, Mueller hasn't used a term inconsistently, but instead he has adopted another common tactic of citing a failure of government operations to prove their absolute necessity. That is, Mueller believes that government "obviously" must supply law enforcement services, and as evidence of this he cites a case where the government does a horrible job protecting property.

To see Mueller's argument more clearly, let's switch examples. Suppose I argued the following: 'It is scarcely conceivable that Spanish speakers could produce goods and services without government intervention. Even with its rationally designed economic plan, Cuba has neighborhoods that are in shocking poverty. In contrast, the English speakers in the U.S. have a relatively unorganized economy and yet enjoy a very high per capita income.'

Such a hypothetical (and absurd) argument is analogous to Mueller's; he thinks government intervention is necessary for the provision of so-called public goods, while free markets are perfectly adequate for the provision of private goods. An anarcho-capitalist would disagree, of course, and view this distinction as spurious as the alleged dichotomy between Spanish and English speakers. Again, let me stress that the point here isn't whether the distinction is a good or bad one. Rather, the point is that Mueller doesn't seem to realize the irony of citing a case of government doing a terrible job to prove how vital government is.

Hirshleifer and Mueller both (implicitly) adopt the position that no government is the same thing as unsuccessful government. This is a typical view; it's why people refer to gang warfare or current Iraq as examples of "anarchy." Yet as I explained above, such a classification is wrong in both an obvious and a deeper sense.

It's obviously not the case that we have anarchy in Iraq; there is an official government that is killing people in an attempt to enforce the objectives of its leaders. (See Hans Hoppe: "Does Iraq Show That We Need a State?")And on a deeper level, anarcho-capitalists would say that the widespread violation of property rights in places such as Iraq and Colombia occur because of government actions, not in spite of (unsuccessful) government actions. To illustrate this latter point: Suppose the U.S. government reduced the penalty for cocaine distribution to a $100 fine. Would this relative "impotence" of U.S. officials increase or decrease the amount of violence in the drug trade?


Political scientists, historians, economists, and others have many weighty issues to consider when it comes to the State versus anarchy. But before such a discussion can even begin, we need to avoid ambiguous and contradictory definitions in our basic terms.


Robert Murphy is an adjunct scholar of the Mises Institute. He teaches economics at Hillsdale College. robert_p_murphy@yahoo.com. See the Murphy Archive. Discuss this article on the blog.

i People often criticize this website for running articles on anarchism, on the grounds that Ludwig von Mises himself was quite hostile to anarchy in his own writings. Let me be clear: Mises did indeed criticize "anarchy," but his analysis is really a critique of pacifism; Mises argued for the necessity of law enforcement, and assumed that this proved the necessity of government law enforcement. In any event, the principles underlying Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism are certainly consistent with Misesian economics.

ii Many socialists object that anarcho-capitalism is a contradiction in terms, because anarchy is a social system without rulers, while capitalism enshrines a certain group (the capitalists or more generally property owners) as rulers over others. In the present article I can sidestep this objection, because all of the authors I discuss would classify Rothbard's ideal world as anarchist.

iii Sutter, Daniel. (1995). "Asymmetric Power Relations and Cooperation in Anarchy." Southern Economic Journal Vol. 61, No. 3 (January): pp. 602–13. (Note that all of the articles cited are available online through JSTOR.)

iv Hirshleifer, Jack. (1995). "Anarchy and Its Breakdown." The Journal of Political Economy Vol. 103, No. 1 (February): pp. 26–52.

v Mueller, Dennis C. (1988). "Anarchy, the Market, and the State." Southern Economic Journal Vol. 54, No. 4 (April): pp. 821–30.

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