Saturday, March 25, 2006

Chomsky - Thy Name is "Hypocrite"

Hat Tip to American Thinker for two great recent reads (here and here) on the infamous Noam Chomsky, his convoluted theories, and his blatant hypocrisy. While the second commentary shakes down one of Chomsky's theories, the first commentary links to an article in Canada's National Post which exposes the man for doing what he criticizes others of doing:

The iconic MIT linguist and left-wing activist frequently has lashed out against the “massive use of tax havens to shift the burden to the general population and away from the rich,” and criticized the concentration of wealth in “trusts” by the wealthiest 1%. He says the U.S. tax code is rigged with “complicated devices for ensuring that the poor—like 80% of the population—pay off the rich.”

But trusts can’t be all bad. After all, Chomsky, with a net worth north of US$2-million, decided to create one for himself. A few years back he went to Boston’s venerable white-shoe law firm, Palmer and Dodge, and, with the help of a tax attorney specializing in “income-tax planning,” set up an irrevocable trust to protect his assets from Uncle Sam. [...]

Over the years, Chomsky has been particularly critical of private property rights, which he considers simply a tool of the rich, of no benefit to ordinary people. "When property rights are granted to power and privilege, it can be expected to be harmful to most," Chomsky wrote on a discussion board for the Washington Post. Intellectual property rights are equally despicable, apparently. According to Chomsky, for example, drug companies who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars developing drugs shouldn't have ownership rights to patents. Intellectual property rights, he argues, "have to do with protectionism."

Protectionism is a bad thing -- especially when it relates to other people.

But when it comes to Chomsky's own published work, this advocate of open intellectual property suddenly becomes very selfish. It would not be advisable to download the audio from one of his speeches without paying the fee, warns his record company, Alternative Tentacles. (Did Andrei Sakharov have a licensing agreement with a record company?) And when it comes to his articles, you'd better keep your hands off. [...]

Chomsky has even gone the extra mile to protect the copyright to some of his material by transferring ownership to his children. Profits from those works will thus be taxed at his children's lower rate. He also thereby extends the length of time that the family is able to hold onto the copyright and protect his intellectual assets.[...]

Read the entire revealing article here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What I'm currently reading (or attempting to)...

I'm smack-dab in the middle of three vastly different books.

The first is a dog-earred copy of "Shadow Divers" by Robert Kurson (non-fiction) lent to me by my Dad. It's a fascinating telling of the discovery of a WW-II German U-boat found off the coast of New Jersey by a group of deep sea divers. I'm about a third of the way through the book, and it's gripping reading. Chapter by chapter, Kurson describes the dangerous details of wreck diving, the backgrounds of the individuals involved, their histories amongst each other, and the research necessary to help uncover the mystery that's over 230 feet below the surface of the Atlantic - all while carrying his readers along the journey of this incredible discovery. Two of the main divers, John Chatterton and Richard Kohler, can be seen on their History Channel series, "Deep Sea Detectives."

The second book (another non-fiction) is Tom Standage's "The History of the World in 6 Glasses." He approaches history in the light of six important libations (three alcoholic, three caffeinated) and their affect on civilizations. He starts with beer, then wine, and then on to spirits - describing how they were discovered or invented, and how each changed the course of history. He then picks up a glass of tea, continues with coffee, and then concludes with cola. I've soberly read the alcohol section and am ready to express my way through the caffeine chapters. The book starts off a little dry (no pun intended), and his constant usage of BCE and CE as historical tags are a bit forced. He short-changed the "spirits" section - he concentrates on brandy, rum and whiskey, but barely touches on rye and bourbon, and gives no mention of vodka, gin, tequila, saki, nor the monks of the Middles Ages. It's an interesting read, nonetheless.

The third book (more non-fiction) is the "The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales - for Lent." I'm a couple chapters behind on this one, but this 400-year-old compilation of instruction by this holy Saint is filled with nuggets of truth that gets savored in the mind. Good reading for this time of the season. I've underlined certain passages from his sermons on Faith and on Eternal Happiness. I'm sure I'll be doing more of that as I continue to read.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I've finally settled on a name for my guitar...


She's long, tanned, curvaceous, sleek, sexy, and tempermental ~ like a French model.

She's a single-cut semi-hollow Canvas-CSC70 electric with a gorgeous brown sunburst maple body. Maple neck with rosewood fretboard and custom bow-tie mother-of-pearl position markers. And two black Alnico5 humbucker pickups with black hardware.

A picture of the model design can be found here.

A picture of the color of the model can be seen here.

After occasionally picking and plunking on her, I think I'll finally start taking real lessons sometime after I get my tax refund check.

Perusing recently bought CDs...

Had a $50 gift certificate from and decided to buy some CDs with it. Picked up an interesting collection of stuff. Nothing brand new, though.

I picked up Vertical Horizon's "Live Stages" CD which is a live performance before they made it big with their more rocking/electrified sound. They were a bit more of a folky duo before they broke out into the mainstream. It's an interesting collection, and their opening track ("The Man Who Would Be Santa") is an awesome tribute to Dad's everywhere. Other tunes of note are "On the Sea," "Falling Down," "Heart in Hand" and a 12-minute jam of "Wash Away."

I also bought Duncan Sheik's "Daylight" CD. It's really grown on me. I've always liked parts of his debut CD with the hit "Barely Breathing", and this one (his third release) is well done. "Good Morning," "Half Life," "Such Reveries," "Start Again" and "What's On Her Mind" are all great tracks. He does tend to be a bit too maudlin and self-absorbed with his occasional sparseness, though. Plus, politically he's an idiot (a frelling Noam Chomsky-ite fer cryin' out loud). But I'm able to overlook those shortcomings in order to enjoy some nice tunes.

Got Better Than Ezra's latest, "Before The Robots." I still need to listen to this one a few more times to make a judgement, but so far I'm a tad disappointed. They had two great first CDs ("Deluxe" and "Friction Baby"), but then somehow went off the rails. This fifth release gets them back on course, but barely so. I think they've lost their touch.

Art Garfunkle's "Everything Waits To Be Noticed" (from 2003) is a surprise. It's kinda like a long-lost Simon & Garfunkle record, and Art wrote some of the material (a first for him). His voice is angelic as ever, though his vocals sometimes get lost in the mix with two other singers. Perfect for those quite moments to relax and to dream.

I also had to get Steve Winwood's 1980 classic, "Arc of a Diver." Four great slices of music are on the CD: "Arc of a Diver," "Slowdown Sundown," "While You See A Chance," and "Night Train." Still holds up after 25 years, though that classic early-80s Prophet-5 keyboard sound is now a bit dated.

My brother sent me a copy of Burton Cummings' "Up Close and Alone" - a live CD from 1996, with just Burton and a piano. INCREDIBLE! This guy still has his chops, vocally. He performs some of his popular and a few obscure solo tunes, as well as the main hits from his former band, "The Guess Who." "Laughing," "Undo," "These Eyes," "Stand Tall," "Timeless Love"... it's a treasure-trove of one of the great rock voices of the 60s and 70s.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Okay... I've got my brackets finally filled out... How about you?

I have a couple first round toss-ups:

Georgetown vs. Northern Iowa
Seton Hall vs. Wichita State

The two “favorites’ in these games don’t impress me, especially against who they’re playing in the first round.

My 1st Round upsets:

#9 Bucknell over #8 Arkansas
#9 UAB over #8 Kentucky
#10 NC State over #7 Cal
#11 San Diego State over #6 Indiana
#12 Utah State over #5 Washington

MY SWEET 16 (* advances to Elite Eight):

*UConn beats Illinois
(UConn is too complete a team, here)
*North Carolina beats Tennessee
(Tennessee is playing waaaaaaay over their heads)

*Villanova beats Nevada!!!
(Nevada’s big man inside will knock off BC in 2nd Round)
*Florida beats Ohio State
(Florida is young, but has strong defense, while Ohio State has no perimeter shooting)

* Pitt beats Memphis
(Pitt is huge, and they have a deep bench, while Memphis is young with no perimeter shooting)
* Gonzaga beats Marquette
(by a fuzzy mustache whisker)

* Texas beats West Virginia
(Texas has big, big D; WVa is only a 2-man team that's scored above 71 pts only twice in last 15 games)
* LSU beats George Washington (or Duke beats LSU)
(LSU is young but with the best rebounding in nation, if they play GW. If Duke gets past GW in the 2nd Round, they’ll handle LSU)


UConn vs Villanova
Pitt vs Duke/LSU



Remember... you heard it here first!

Regarding all of this "The Duh!-Vinci Code" nuttiness...

I'm just waiting for the movie to come out, and then all the people who've read the novel and think it's "all just so believable, don't you know" will witness the flurry of convoluted ideas and conspiracies swirling around in their heads suddenly thrown right up there on the big screen for all to see. And it will appear so truly absurd (just like the film "National Treasure") that most people won't help but laugh and realize that the whole theory is nothing but a lame joke.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

On immigration... (something Cardinal Mahony should review)

From Jimmy Akin:

The subject of immigration is heating up. With the presence of more than ten million people illegally in the United States--or three percent of the total population--many citizens are concerned enough that we seem to be building toward a breaking point on this subject.

As a result of all the news stories on this topic, I've had requests to explain the Church's teaching in this area.

Sometimes folks receive the impression that Church teaching requires essentially an open-border policy where people can come into a country with no restraints, but this is not true. If you read the actual Church documents on the subject, they contain important qualifiers that are often dropped out of the discussion when presented by some individuals.

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say:

2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.

Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.

I've highlighted three important qualifiers that are often dropped out in this discussion.

The first recognizes that there is a limit to the number of immigrants that a nation can absorb. Common sense tells you this: No nation can absorb an unlimited number of immigrants...

The second qualifier that I have highlighted recognizes the state's right to set legal requirements that must be met for immigration...

The third qualifier that I have highlighted reflects the duty of immigrants to respect the laws of the nation to which they are immigrating...

... Of course, what the Catechism has to say cannot in such a brief space represent all that moral theology would have to say about this topic.

For example, this passage of the Catechism does not mention another humanitarian endeavor that is incumbent on prosperous nations, which is teaching underdeveloped nations how to grow economically so that all of their citizens may benefit and not just the lucky few who can immigrate.

Since the latter humanitarian endeavor cures the problem at the source, it is the one that would be preferred by moral theology. Orderly, regulated immigration is a stopgap for cases in which this doesn't work, but the goal must be primarily to help other nations shake off the problems (such as corruption and legal barriers to starting and maintaining businesses) that keep their populations in poverty..."

Full details here.