Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Very positive news about my brother

Jack is awake, communicating, using all body parts and cracking jokes already with facial expressions.

He is still intubated as a precaution, so he hasn't spoken yet. It will be great to hear his voice again, perhaps within in a few days. He is sleeping a lot as part of the recovery process. We don't know what the nature or degree of his rehab may be, but the signs at this moment are amazingly, blessedly positive.

Given the early, very guarded feedback from the doctor, we were all preparing for the worst. If Jack's recovery continues to proceed as we hope, we will have received a legitimate Christmas miracle.

Many thanks for your comments and e-mails expressing your prayers and best wishes.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

There may be a brief lapse before the next "Shrugging Out" podcast

My beloved brother Jack, who is exactly one year and one day younger than me, has been laid low by a stroke. He has been unconscious since the morning of Dec 24. His condition is very serious, and the prospects for recovery are unfortunately not good.

Next to my wife Mary, Jack is my closest friend in the world, and I dearly hope he returns to me, his wife and the rest of us, but I am bracing for the worst. Please say a prayer for him.

I will return to the podcast and this blog as soon as I can, as your support means a great deal to me, and I have not lost an iota of my enthusiasm for promoting the "shrugging out" concept as we prepare ourselves for the major events that are coming our way.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Atlas Shrugged (the novel), Part 1

Having done nearly fifty shows on the premise of "shrugging out"--and how you should do as much of the "Atlas Shrugged" thing as you can, and be prepared in the modern survivalist sense to 'bug out" of Dodge, wherever your Dodge is--I've decided to do a series of shows on Ayn Rand's epic novel.

This isn't a book report, or something you've already endured in that English class you loathed (or perhaps enjoyed). My goal is to try to understand the struggle between individualism and collectivism with the help of the richness and clarity that Ayn Rand set forth in her magnum opus.

The novel is immense (1,200 pages) and structured in three Parts. Since I want to cover the people and the key moments where the looters and moochers clash with the producers, this project will take at least three shows. There are many stirring and some positively delicious passages, in addition to the timeless lessons on economics and human nature. I have to be selective about it, but there are many things for us all to savor even in the abbreviated format of a podcast.

If you have read and enjoyed Atlas Shrugged in the past, you might want to carve out some time to re-read it. There is always something new to learn, and of course the deep satisfaction of the demise of the collectivists and the transcendence of the individualists is an experience you'll never outgrow. (Imagine what it will be like someday experiencing it for real!)

If you've never read the book, I hope this series whets your appetite. Fair warning: I crash obliviously through any "plot spoilers" that may have existed in the novel when it was first released in 1957. Most people know the general story line today, but if you want to keep yourself in total suspense, set this show off to the side until you have read Part 1, Non-Contradiction.

And one last comment--I am sure that any academic scholars of Atlas Shrugged will find plenty to chuckle about when it comes to my analysis. Their comments are welcome, of course, but if anyone starts rattling off how I am "trapped in the Hegelian dialectic" and stuff like that it will whiz clean over my head, leaving nary a mark. Ignorance can be bliss in some matters. If I do reply, it will probably be to ask the status of your food security preps, in case they are, um, academic. Ignorance in that area may NOT be bliss.
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Episode 48. Can America Be Cleansed of Collectivists?


I have found myself in more and more arguments with Collectivists these days, so I decided to address the whole subject from top to bottom, stem to stern, in this podcast.

Questions discussed in this show include:
- Are we "all in this together"?
- What exactly is Collectivism?
- Is Collectivism a slippery slope, always leading to tyranny?
- Who are the Collectivists? Bearded Marxists, or everyday people?
- What causes Collectivism? Is it in our DNA?
- What makes Collectivism immoral?
- What can we do to cleanse America of Collectivists?

Listening to this show, I think you will come away better equipped to fend off the Collectivists you know, educate open-minded people about the evils of Collectivism, and help shrink the population of Homo Collectivus.

Individualists of the world, disperse!

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

A "rich guy" explains why taxing the rich doesn't work--they will "shrug out"


Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker is a good daily (or even multi-daily) read.

This post by Karl describes why America can't save itself by taxing the rich. Two reasons: Number one, they don't have enough money to close the budget deficit. Number two, as Karl pithily explains, after describing the incredible amount of work and sacrifice of personal time needed to create and sustain an entrepreneurial venture:
"There have been plenty of years where I've written really big checks to the IRS, and not all of them were related to MCSNet. The last few years have been pretty good. But this much I can tell you - if the government was to, for example, tax everything I made at 90% beyond $200,000, I would never make more than $200,000 a year again. Ever. I will not work hard to earn that money only to turn 90% of it over to the government.
...
"The motivation to do this - to take the risk of material loss of one's capital and to trade one's personal life off like this instead of being a working drone that works for "the man" from 9-5 and then comes home to watch "Dancing With The Stars" - is money. Remove that motivation by confiscating what I earn and I will stop doing it and sit in my hottub drinking Cognac or fishing every day instead - that's a promise and a fact, and your illusory "tax revenue" will fail to materialize."

Good on you, Karl, you're exactly right. Soak the rich, and they will stop pulling the cart.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

NY Times Warning: Blue State Armageddon On The Way

This is definitely Signal (versus noise): The coming fiscal catastrophe for "blue states" like California, New York, and Illinois.

Read the original article in the NY Times (!), or this analysis. Take your pick.

Outsized welfare programs, excessive regulatory environments, out of control public sector unions and all the rest are finally adding up for would-be buyers of state bonds, and they are voting with their checkbooks.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Episode 47. Signals Versus Noise

What do whales have to do with the Shrugging Out Podcast? Have I gone all "Save the Whaley" on you?

Of course not. (Aside: Which person in history did more to save the whales than anyone else? Answer: John D. Rockefeller. He was the most important figure in the rise of the petroleum industry, eliminating the demand for whales as a source of oil for lamps and other uses.)

This show is about the incredible, overwhelming, and downright crazy wave of news that has washed over us the past couple weeks. What do we do with all of it? Which stories should we pay attention to, and which should we ignore?

The vast majority of what passes for news is not much more than noise. But amongst all that noise, there are a few important signals that we need to be paying attention to. This show talks about them, and may give you a few useful pointers on what you can safely filter out, and which items should get your full attention.

Sorting out the signals from the noise. Whales do it, and so can you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

T.L. Davis, author of the Constitutionalist, on the beginning of the end of the Tea Party's dreams

Came across this today, and had to share it--a great post by T.L. Davis on how the Republican leadership, fresh from their Tea Party-stoked triumph a few weeks ago, is already starting to backpedal from positions conveniently taken to win the election.

As T.L. puts it beautifully,
"If there was ever any suggestion that the people could lean back and watch the 112th Congress do our bidding, today completely yanked that comforter out from under the napping cat."

What have we been talking about for the past year, my friends? Participate in elections if you must, but don't count on anything changing.

The Democrats and Republicans are simply two rival gangs of train robbers fighting over who gets to rob the train. The train is barreling along at top speed, we're all on it, and up around the bend the bridge is out.