Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Funny Australian Travel Questions

Not sure if this is legit (see version here), but it's fricking hilarious in any case.

"The questions below about Australia are from potential visitors. They were posted on an Australian Tourism Website and the answers are the actual responses by the website officials, who obviously have a raw sense of humor.

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK).
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)

A: Depends how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles. Take lots of water.

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia? (USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not... oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is north in Australia? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is...oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia? (UK)
A: You are a British politician, right?

Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca, which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It's a kind of a bear and lives in trees. (USA)
A: It's called a Gum Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: Do you have perfume in Australia? (France)
A: No, WE don't stink.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (France)
A: Only at Christmas.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Quoting La Me

I apologize for quoting myself: from this Chronicles thread:
I agree that most people do not want liberty; that is why we do not have it. IMO those who think we can "win" the battle for liberty are just deluding themselves. Why libertarians, who denounce altruism etc., feel as if it's some moral duty to go around wasting large parts of their life in some campaign for liberty is beyond me--it's altruistic; it's futile; it's a waste of time, since one is at most barely increasing the odds, that we will temporarily and slightly increase liberty, the puny benefit of which falls primarily on those who do not deserve it.
I have spoken. So let it be written, so let it be done (affecting Yul Brenner Pharao pose)


In the wake of some emails, let me add a few clarifying commments. I am not saying that it is a waste of time to try to work for liberty. To the contrary. I am saying that one would have to view it as a waste of time, if one really believed the costs of fighting the battle must be justified by the gains achieved--because one must delude oneself into making the equation balance. I just reject the equation. I help fight for liberty because it is the right thing to do. If I strutted around like some libertarians who claim that in their devotion to the struggle for liberty they are "making a difference"--certainly "more of a difference" than people like me who don't write "influential books" or a daily op-ed column or give speeches to socialist legislators in Arabia--then if I were honest I would have to say, it's really not worth it. If the justification for spending time and effort and money etc. to fight for liberty is whether or not we are "winning," then the project is a failure, on those terms. As I noted above, the actions of most of us at most result in a slightly higher chance at barely, and temporarily, increasing liberty--or, more likely, slowing down the rate of increase in government growth--primarily for the benefit of the masses who at root are to blame for the problem in the first place. And honest analysis realizes this.

Freeing oneself from self-delusion is essential for self-honesty and integrity. It also frees one to take principled positions and to avoid making the dishonest and irritating mistake of judging the truth or value of a theory or view by its "strategical" significance.

I cannot count the number of times some irritating jerk libertarian says to me, in response to a theory or normative proposition, "but that is not going to persuade anyone." They immediately assume that everything is to be judged by strategy, rhetoric, persuasiveness. I see nothing wrong with using such standards when appropriate. For example if I am proposing a method or argument to persuade people, then it is relevant whether the proposed argument or technique is persuasive. But when I assert to a fellow libertarian that we have a right to such and such, or that there is no right to xyz, for such and such reasons--it is just a non sequitur, a category mistake--and usually smarmy disingenuity, IMO--to say BUT that is not "going to persuade people." Hey dumbass--I never said it was gonna persuade others. These type of libertarians are in my view basically moral skeptics, relativists, and/or utilitarians. They are incapable of discussing anything normative. Moral talk is simply not "useful." What good, after all, does it to do identify moral truths, if it does not persuade others?

By this logic, there are no rights violations; there is only power. After all, even if libertarian rights could be proved by the Word of God delivered in an engraved envelope--still, an aggressor could disregard it. "Telling" him that he is violating your rights will "do no good." Yes. So? And so? What is the point of this elementary school observation? This entire mindset is that of the self-proclaimed "pragmatist" who does not want to say there are no rights--after all, it might be "useful" if some people do believe in them--but he does not really believe in them. He, in engineer-like fashion, cares only about "practical" "results." And I have no problem with this. But I would prefer they be honest. If I say, "there should be no murder," don't say "that's not practical"; it's not "impractical"; it's a normative truth. To say the rule against murder is "impractical" is to fail to distinguish between ought and is.

Every 5-15 years you see some libertarians waxing about how we are winning the battle, or that we can win the battle, all we need to do is... As far back as the 1930s etc.... They have to delude themselves and engage in wishful thinking and rah-rah political rally self-delusion ("we can win! we can win the Presidency! This year we will get 100 million votes if we just get our message out there!!!"). They have to delude themselves because they have bought into the idea that the cost of the fight is a worthwhile "investment" in the struggle to "achieve" liberty. They must believe that worth it to fight for liberty, implying they think we have, or can, achieve suffiient "gains" to "outweigh" the "Costs". This is naive and wide-eyed gullibility, wishful thinking.

Me--I say, be a libertarian activist if you want (of whatever stripe: more academic, like some of us; a blogger; a writer; join a local discussion group; run for office; donate your time or money to something; help promote economic education and literacy; whatever). I am, myself, to a degree. It's okay to spend effort on a cause one is passionate about. I expend effort reading science fiction, and don't seek to justify it w/ some made-up phantom tangible gains. Fight for liberty for its own sake. If you fight for it based on the gains, you will soon give up.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Please forgive me

It has been over a month since I last fired my 9mm. I am going to the gym more often and drinking less beer and have eliminated junk food. I have lost weight and bulked up. Also, I will be getting a haircut, an oil change, tire rotation/balacing and alignment this weekend. I did laundry and backed up a hard drive. What's wrong with me!?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Called to the Bar

I am very annoyed when lawyers--usually pretentious foreigners from Europe or some third world backwater, or do I repeat myself--say things like, "He was called to the bar in 1992..." Gag me. As bad as "He was graduated from Harvard..."

Also, I notice many Europeans put their last name in all caps, like my co-author Noah RUBINS. Not sure why they do this. It's on the verge of being annoying, but I think there may be some reason.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


I apologize for having the inexplicable gut feeling that use of this term is a bit nelly.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Falling Woman; cool quote

1. Interesting animation of a bikini-clad, animated woman falling through a balloon-populated sky.

2. "The matter does not appear to me now as it appears to have appeared to me then." --Baron Bramwell, in Andrews v. Styrap (Ex. 1872) 26 L.T.R. (N.S.) 704, 706.