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*** September 2012 low content thread ***

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gotlucky replied on Thu, Sep 27 2012 2:42 PM

I posted this screenshot at Autolykos' forum, but I thought you guys might find it amusing. It would seem Drudge is trying his hand at subliminal messaging. Michelle and Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Vladimir Putin all winking. I don't think I'm reading too much into it.

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Clayton replied on Thu, Sep 27 2012 3:51 PM

American doctors still back circumcision

The term that should be used for this procedure is "male genital mutilation" because that's what it is. "Circumcision" is a euphemism. It is irresponsible for medical professionals to be advocating this procedure, let alone advocating that it be structurally subsidized by the health insurance system. Most young parents do not yet understand the problems with circumcision. Circumcision actually has profound social consequences that I won't get into here. Suffice it to say that tattoos, brands, minor amputations and other forms of bodily mutilation have always been practiced by slave-owners as a way to establish ownership of their slaves on a psychological level.

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gotlucky replied on Thu, Sep 27 2012 4:02 PM

CNN and MSNBC Pundit Arrested for Vandalizing Anti-Muslim Ad In N.Y. Subway System


 

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gotlucky replied on Thu, Sep 27 2012 4:10 PM

Clayton:

The term that should be used for this procedure is "male genital mutilation" because that's what it is. "Circumcision" is a euphemism. It is irresponsible for medical professionals to be advocating this procedure, let alone advocating that it be structurally subsidized by the health insurance system. Most young parents do not yet understand the problems with circumcision. Circumcision actually has profound social consequences that I won't get into here. Suffice it to say that tattoos, brands, minor amputations and other forms of bodily mutilation have always been practiced by slave-owners as a way to establish ownership of their slaves on a psychological level.

Perhaps it is male genital mutilation, and I do think that it should not be subsidized. But I don't quite get the attitude against it. It originated with the Jews for health reasons - forget the contract with God aspect of it. It's the same as why pig was banned. Certain foods were dangerous at the time. It was better to just not eat them and not take the risk. It was the same with circumcision. In a desert region, circumcision has benefits for maintaining health.

Maybe in the modern world it does not have the same sorts of benefits, just as forsaking pig really doesn't do much now. But it did not originate for slave purposes...at least not with the Jews. Maybe there are other cultures throughout the world that do this, but I am not aware of any.

I'm not sure what social aspects you are referring to. I am circumcised and I have never had any negative social experiences regarding it. The Jews that I know also have not had negative social experiences regarding it. Rarely is circumcision ever on my mind.

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Clayton replied on Thu, Sep 27 2012 4:58 PM

Perhaps it is male genital mutilation, and I do think that it should not be subsidized. But I don't quite get the attitude against it.

Really? You have a hard time understanding what the problem is with gratuitously severing pieces of the human body?

It originated with the Jews for health reasons

Ah, yes, because the ancient tribes of Israel were so medically advanced.

- forget the contract with God aspect of it. It's the same as why pig was banned. Certain foods were dangerous at the time. It was better to just not eat them and not take the risk.

Turns out that pork that is fed properly is perfectly safe and it is also one of the most affordable sources of essential proteins and fats. That's why wild hogs were one of the first animals that man domesticated.

It was the same with circumcision. In a desert region, circumcision has benefits for maintaining health.

This is pure voodoo mumbo-jumbo.

Maybe in the modern world it does not have the same sorts of benefits,

It's a myth that it was ever practiced for health reasons. The Pharisees regularly washed their hands. You think they did it for health reasons? Think again. They turned the palms downward and poured the water over the backs of their hands. It was ceremonial. As was circumcision. Nothing to do with health.

I'm not sure what social aspects you are referring to. I am circumcised and I have never had any negative social experiences regarding it. The Jews that I know also have not had negative social experiences regarding it. Rarely is circumcision ever on my mind.

I was unclear. I mean that it alters the character of society itself, not that it has any particular social effects on circumcised vis-a-vis uncircumcised. After all, that is generally private information. Rather than delving into the subject, I'll simply turn your attention to the enthusiasm for circumcision during the Victorian era. Look it up.

I think the key issue here, however, is not the negative effects. Let's assume that circumcision did no harm at all (which I would say is false) but also does not help (which I contend is actually true). In this case, it is clear that the parents have no right to gratuitously sever any portion of their child's body. They are merely trustees - not owners. If a competent adult should decide to undergo the operation by his own choice, then so be it. But doing this to infants or children is clearly aggressive.

The argument based on supposed health benefits is no better as it is inherently collectivist "We've decided that your health was better served by having one of your body parts severed". If the health benefits really are so great, then allow the individual to make that choice as a competent adult. Is there really an epidemic of glans infections among young males in the vast areas of the world where circumcision is rarely practiced?

The circumcision-fanatics have so muddled public thinking on this topic that many people believe there are no negative effects at all. I won't go into the possible dysfunctions brought on by circumcision so as to avoid unnecessary discouragement to people. I will restrict myself to pointing out that the sheath actually performs a vital function in sexual intercourse, something that the public is generally unaware of. It eases penetration by reducing the amount of pressure required, thus reducing the incidence of minor tearing or chafing and discomfort. So, not only does circumcision have no health benefits - contrary to the propaganda - it actually removes a functional member of the body. The fanatics have done a good job muddling public knowledge on this issue to the point that almost no one in the general public is even aware of the fact that the foreskin serves a function.

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gotlucky replied on Thu, Sep 27 2012 6:01 PM

Really? You have a hard time understanding what the problem is with gratuitously severing pieces of the human body?

It is not at all similar to female genital mutilation. Or cutting off a finger. Or gouging out an eye. I've seen people stretch their ear lobes with those gauges. Obviously, I am entirely against doing that to another person without their consent. But when you consider the sliding scale of altering bodies, circumcision is not even close to the others. 

So I find it strange that people get hooked on that instead of these other things.

Ah, yes, because the ancient tribes of Israel were so medically advanced.

This coming from the guy who goes on about cultural memes being important and having useful purposes. Anyway, here are some reasons that it is believed the Jews banned it.

This is pure voodoo mumbo-jumbo.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/circumcision/MY01023/DSECTION=why-its-done

It's a myth that it was ever practiced for health reasons. The Pharisees regularly washed their hands. You think they did it for health reasons? Think again. They turned the palms downward and poured the water over the backs of their hands. It was ceremonial. As was circumcision. Nothing to do with health.

Suddenly you claim ignorance on the origin of memes. What happened to all this mystical unstructured knowledge? I'm not saying that the Jews had structured knowledge into why they might have started doing it (and apparently other cultures do it too). But considering there are benefits...oh but people like to say these are inconsequential at best. Okay, maybe in modern America it is inconsequential. But we are not talking about circumcision originating in a society where it is considered gross to not wash your hands after using the toilet. We are talking about circumcision originating in a society that apparently washed hands for ceremonial reasons - if I'm to take you at your word.

Some things that might be inconsequential now might have been worth it in a primitive society that does not have the kind of medical knowledge that our society has.

I think the key issue here, however, is not the negative effects. Let's assume that circumcision did no harm at all (which I would say is false) but also does not help (which I contend is actually true). In this case, it is clear that the parents have no right to gratuitously sever any portion of their child's body. They are merely trustees - not owners. If a competent adult should decide to undergo the operation by his own choice, then so be it. But doing this to infants or children is clearly aggressive.

Maybe it is. But so is pulling your child from the path of an ongoing car - that is a claim you have made in the past in order to say that the NAP is not sufficient for a healthy society. That there are necessary hypocritical actions in a healthy society.

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In addition to what gotlucky has said, it should be noted that it is not uncommon for men to have unretractable foreskins.  This greatly lessens the ability to reproduce, and in pre-modern times an adult circumcision is far more difficult, painful and risky than is a circumcision at birth.  Even today getting a circumcision at birth is far easier than getting one later on.

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Clayton replied on Thu, Sep 27 2012 7:20 PM

considering there are benefits

This is the crux of the matter. Let's start with the hypothesis that there are no health benefits and work our way forward. Could this "unstructured memetic knowledge" of the "benefits of circumcision" have actually arisen if circumcision does not, in fact, have health (and thus, reproductive) benefits? Of course it could not. Hence, in order for the practice of circumcision to actually be a form of "unstructured memetic knowledge", it would have to be the case, in fact, that it is beneficial.

However, it does not have to be beneficial to health in order for it to have been practiced by ancient tribal cultures and for this practice to be subsequently recast in the light of some kind of "intuitive medical knowledge" or "unstructured memetic knowledge" on the part of such tribes.

The fact is that we already know why tribes practiced circumcision: it's a rite of passage. In at least one African tribe (can't remember the name), the operation is performed at an older age and the child can refuse it. However, by undergoing the operation, he becomes a made man. He is "one of the men" from that day on. Those who opt out are considered yellow. They are beta males.

Returning to the issue of unstructured memetic knowledge, I think you may have missed the import of it. I think most of this knowledge is actually concerned with social facts. Facts about how people behave and react to one another. I think you can consider herbal/traditional medicine as a form of this, as well. However, I strongly disagree with the idea that this is how circumcision arose. It's an ahistorical and unreasonable account. So, the fact that it was practiced by ancient peoples is no evidence at all of its health benefits.

You seemed to compare circumcision to something like gauging the ear lobes or ear piercing. This is incorrect because gauging the ear lobes does not alter the function of the ears. Circumcision is more like cutting the entire outer ear (pinna) off. You actually don't need the exterior ear in order to hear just like you don't need the foreskin to have intercourse. Nevertheless, the foreskin plays a vital role in intercourse and protecting the glans just as the outer ear plays a vital role in hearing and protecting the ear canal.

Also, any comparison to acting in the child's safety is obviously incorrect because the operation is not necessary to the child's safety. The strongest arguments that can be offered for it are merely preventive and there is no good argument why these preventive benefits are so great that the operation cannot be deferred until the child is old enough to make the choice himself.

Please note that in countries where circumcision is rarely practiced, few if any competent men go back to get the operation voluntarily. Lots of women that didn't have their ears pierced as a child later get their ears pierced, whether they live in a culture where ear-piercing is a religious custom (universal) or not. This tells me there is a very fundamental difference, here. Many women will ultimately demonstrate preference for piercing over non-piercing when given the choice. Few, if any men will demonstrate preference for circumcision over non-circumcision. The reasons for this should be obvious.

Finally, this leaves the medical "studies". Note that the strongest case that can possibly be made is that it may have preventive health benefits. But coercive circumcision is a non sequitir because:

a) The decision can be deferred
b) Unlike ear-piercing, most men will choose not to get a circumcision if given the choice later in life

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Wheylous replied on Thu, Sep 27 2012 7:58 PM

Remember that only the US and Isreal are hell-bent on the procedure. Europe is living just fine without it.

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gotlucky replied on Thu, Sep 27 2012 10:14 PM

@Wheylous

Don't forget the Muslim part of the world. They actually circumcise far more than America and Israel combined.


Separately, here is a video of Block: An Evening with Walter Block - Mises Canada. Just started watching it. I like Block's conversational style, even if I don't always agree with him.

EDIT: LMAO. Walter Block is hilarious: "Go take a hike, Will, the hell with you. I'm a capitalist pig, oink oink. I wanna exploit the workers. My way or the highway."

EDIT 2: Block touches on incitement vs aiding and abetting. I'm liking this video. It's pretty basic stuff for most of us, but it's interesting to hear how Block phrases the ideas. It's probably a decent introductory video if there are any beginner's reading this post.

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Maynard replied on Thu, Sep 27 2012 11:23 PM

I have a quick question that doesn't deserve its own thread. When people talk about "median household income" and the like, are those numbers before or after income taxation?

 

On an unrelated note, consider this hypothetical:

A man earns untaxed, untraceable income. He buys everything in cash, including apartment rent and utilities, signing no contracts. This can still be done believe it or not. The only thing he can't work around to avoid State seizure is car ownership. He must register and have a license. Which opens wide your life for the State to track you, and take your money; and if audited, opens the door to the State to finding out you've been hiding money from them (how'd you pay for that?). You could rent a car, but you would definitely have to give your information, it would be too costly, and you'd still need an ID. You could register it under someone else's name and have your name on insurance, but then you'd really have to trust them, and you'd still need an ID. Is there any way for this man to work around this, or is he left to bike, walk, bus and train ride for private transportation? How severe are penalties for driving an unregistered car, without a license?

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Wheylous replied on Fri, Sep 28 2012 8:12 AM

gotlucky - you may have a point.

On an unrelated topic, this is so true:

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Clayton replied on Fri, Sep 28 2012 12:51 PM

The man who sent sex text in error to ALL his contacts... and ended up in prison

Damn, you beat me to it.

@Maynard: I think a more realistic way around these kinds of problems is to create "anti-state mutual aid groups". For example, a group of four or five young men attending college will often rent one large house and split the rent N ways, thus achieving a better standard of living but still at low cost. This could be done but with respect to separating legal entities - one or a couple people could be the "designated drivers" for the community, they go and get the licensure, etc. while another member might pay for rents and utilities while another might handle registering the mail address and phone numbers in his name and so on. In a less extreme form, the Gypsies do this. They have family patriarchs and use extra-legal means to settle disputes within the community. There was a video recently posted on one of these low-content threads of a young man giving an interview who was raised in a kind of "freedom commune" down in California.

The key issue here is that entering into such intimate arrangements with strangers off the street really is very dangerous. Defection can quickly become more profitable than loyalty. So, the incentives for loyalty have to be greater than just the monetary calculus. This could be achieved through blood means (as in a gang), through family connections or - with qualifications - through ideological bonding (e.g. religious cults). Maybe there are other ways to do this I haven't thought of.

The key is to actively frustrate the attempts of the State to force the individual to betray himself by dividing the necessary functions of being an individual across multiple people who will plausibly deny entanglement, even under legal threats. Then, you frustrate the State's attempts to pry open your affairs by giving them the run-around.

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I always wondered why I felt like Eric Hoffer led me more to this line of thinking than anyone else, even though he didn't say anything specifically about it.  I just came across a Hoffer quote that matches up perfectly with Justin Raimondo's article that caused such debate on the forums:
 

There is always a danger that the suppression of a specific clearly defined evil will result in its replacement by an evil that is more widely diffused—one that infects the whole fabric of life. Thus, the suppression of religious fanaticism usually gives rise to a secular fanaticism that invades every department of life. The banning of conventional war-making may result in an endless undeclared war.

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Clayton replied on Fri, Sep 28 2012 4:08 PM

@myhumangetsme: Nice quote! (Archive it in the low-content quote thread)

This is why I suspect that natural order* society would be a kind of "religious feudalism", that is, fuedal order based not on territory and martial might but on ideological/cultural containerization.

The key problem here is that the newborn babe enters the world wide-eyed and his brain is not naturally wired for the hostile, subversive environment he is entering. His brain is rapidly configuring itself for an environment that requires an altogether different kind of cunning. Sure, he is wired for social cunning, natural cunning, mechanical cunning, but he is not wired for the systematic subversion of human nature itself. For this, he must get "run through the wringer" and then come to realize that the world is very, very different than he believed it to be. He must deconvert if he is to tackle the world-as-it-is. He must stop believing in Santa Claus, so to speak. Either that, or he will remain blissfully unaware of the "Desert of the Real" where he will be unwittingly exploited and cuckolded his entire life.

But not all people are equally suited to this task. In fact, I think that the vast majority of people find occupation with this kind of thing so distasteful that they would rather just pretend that Santa Claus exists than have to deal with the ugly reality. But division-of-labor is the answer to this sort of problem, where people who are disinclined to this kind of cynicism without losing their sanity can offload the task onto others more willing and able. But doing this is kind of psychologically "turning yourself over" to someone else's stewardship in the hopes that they will not violate your trust. You get to keep believing in Santa and they take care of the cynical work of identifying and defending against exploitative threats.

The only remaining question is that of remuneration. I've thought about this, too, and I think the only correct answer is donations. If it's done for payment, then there is too much room for conflict-of-interest and abuse of authority. In many ways, I think this is, in fact, one of the roles that religions (perhaps most notably, the Catholic Church in medieval Europe) has played in human society and I think it's not a coincidence that most religions are voluntarily funded out of charitable donations.

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*I'm uneasy with this term, it's just a way to denote "a world where systematic, large-scale coercion is less kindly accepted by the public at large"

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TheFinest replied on Fri, Sep 28 2012 10:53 PM

 

lol

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Clayton replied on Sat, Sep 29 2012 3:49 PM

AWESOME Lew Rockwell speech

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Happy Birthday Ludwig von Mises!!!

If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore. HHH

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Malachi replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 3:02 AM
The real robinson crusoe

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Selkirk

Keep the faith, Strannix. -Casey Ryback, Under Siege (Steven Seagal)
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Ten Reasons Not To Abolish Slavery (by Robert Higgs)

I decided to make an audio version of this article:

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Wheylous replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 11:29 AM

Oh, wow, thanks for pointing that article out

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Watching a hit piece on wal-mart on netflix.  You can instant stream it if you would like to watch it.

"Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" - its pretty crazy how far the stretch their propaganda.  Its just one big pro union and anti corporation hit piece.

Eat the apple, fuck the Corps. I don't work for you no more!
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Clayton replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 12:41 PM

@Graham: Outstanding! Five-stars, two-thumbs up!

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If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore. HHH

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gotlucky replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 7:57 PM

I just read the following paper on libertarianpapers.org: Norms and the NAP. It's quite good overall. It might be a good introductory paper for some newbie libertarians or just people interested in understanding libertarianism. The only thing I strongly disagree with is the following passage:

 

Suppose that two men from different parts of the world, A and B, are both simultaneously stranded on the same island. A is from a place where holding out a hand indicates the desire to shake hands, while B is from a place where the same act indicates a desire not to be touched. When they first meet, B holds out his hand as a warning for A to keep his distance. A grasps B’s hand to shake it. There is now conflict, but who is responsible?

If they had been in A’s hometown, then B would have caused the conflict, because he tried to use his native norm in a place where it has a different meaning. If they had both been in B’s hometown, then A would have been responsible. A would have had no reason to believe that B was not operating under local norms.

Now, on a deserted island, neither can apply their native norms. There is effectively no communication via norms. In this case, A is violating the NAP by grabbing B’s hand when B does not want him to. In this way, we can see how the same act can convey different meaning, and thus have different ethical implications, depending on the circumstances.

I don't think it's clear that A is violating the NAP in this scenario. Certainly there is conflict between the two should A shake B's hand, but A has not violated B's rights. This is the case because the two stranded men have yet to determine what the relevant rights are between the two of them. We can have our own opinions as to who was acting rightly, but the NAP states nothing about scenarios where the rights have yet to be determined. This is where mutual respect enters. It is not predicated upon previously determined rights. If A and B desire to share mutual respect, then they will attempt to resolve their dispute without further violence. There could be a case where two people who share respect for each other wish to duel instead, but this changes nothing. So long as the method of resolution was decided equally, it does not matter how they wish to resolve it.

Mutual respect precedes rights, so I think the author of that paper is wrong about that particular issue. Nevertheless, it's a worthwhile read, and I think a lot of beginner libertarians could get something out of it.

 

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Maynard replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 10:50 PM

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This was posted in another thread, but I thought it needed emphasizing:

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