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Curry Milestone

Happy 12th Birthday, Molinari Institute!

(Why not celebrate by contributing to the Institute’s General Fund? Support publications, translations, speaking appearances, and more!)

In other news, I’m in England for a conference. More later.

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We’re In Ur Computerz, Messing With Ur Anarkeh

Students for Liberty is (are?) offering two upcoming Virtual Reading Groups: one led by Kevin Vallier and myself, on (mostly) Rothbard’s Ethics of Liberty, and one led by Charles Johnson, on (mostly) Markets Not Capitalism.

Each meets online every other week for about 90 minutes – the Rothbard one on alternate Tuesdays starting September 8th, and the Markets Not Capitalism one on alternate Mondays starting September 7th. (I’ll miss the first meeting of Kevin’s and my VRG, since I’ll be MANCEPTing in Manchester; but I’ll be back from then on.)

The deadline for applying is August 31st. Join us! More details here.

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The New Rankin-Bass Hobbit DVD Is a Fraud

Famously, when the DVD version of the 1977 Rankin-Bass Hobbit was released, the soundtrack was missing lots of sound effects that had been included in both the original broadcast version and the VHS release. You can probably still find a correct version (with video from the DVD and audio from the VHS) downloadable online under the title “Hi-Fi Hobbit.” The sounds make a surprisingly large amount of difference to the ambience of the film; it’s especially noticeable in the Erebor flashback.

When a “remastered deluxe” edition of the DVD was announced this year, I naturally assumed that the soundtrack screw-up that fans have been complaining about for years would be fixed. I mean, isn’t that what “remastered deluxe edition” suggests?

Guess what? Not so much. The new edition has not restored the missing sounds. Remastering, my ass. They’ve just given us the same old crappy screwed-up soundtrack as on the previous DVD release. Just with uglier cover art.

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Andromeda Strain

Here are some pictures of Andromeda, the princess that Perseus rescued from a sea monster and then married. Notice anything about her?

Yes, she’s naked and in chains. I’m sure you noticed that right off. But what else?

She’s white.

What’s wrong with that? Well, Andromeda was an Ethiopian princess. “Ethiopian” comes from a Greek word meaning “burnt face.” In other words, the Greeks knew perfectly well that Ethiopians are black, so the correct colour of the woman whose beauty so stunned Perseus would have been traditionally understood by ancient audiences. Modern depictions have erased a fairly important woman of colour, and a fairly important interracial marriage, from Greek mythology.

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This Self Is Mine

There’s an objection to self-ownership that I’ve never understood; it runs something like this:

Self-ownership assumes that the self contains two aspects; the mind that does the owning and the body that gets owned. But there is no such radical dualism within the self.

But this objection is just weird. It not only presupposes that ownership has to be a relationship between nonidenticals, it attributes that view to the self-ownership proponent, and so infers that the self-ownership proponent must really be talking about some relationship between different parts of the self and so must hold some controversial metaphysical theory. But clearly anyone who believes in self-ownership obviously does not regard ownership as necessarily a relation between nonidenticals.

Thus self-ownership does not assume any position whatever about the relation between mind and body. You can think mind and body are identical; or distinct but nonseparable; or distinct but separable – it’s just completely irrelevant to the self-ownership question. Self-ownership isn’t supposed to be a relation between two parts of you, it’s supposed to be a relation between you and yourself.

So even if the objectors think ownership must be between nonidenticals, the first mystery is why they would attribute this view to self-ownership proponents – the very people who by definition do not accept it. But the second mystery is why the objectors think ownership must be between nonidenticals in the first place. To own something is just to have certain rights of decision-making over that thing, including the right to exclude others from such decision-making over it. There’s nothing in that definition that rules out bearing that relation to oneself. To own yourself is simply for you to have certain rights of decision-making over yourself, including the right to exclude others from such decision-making over you.

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The Four Freedoms

This is some good shit I’m smoking here.

In Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Ayn Rand writes:

Freedom, in a political context, means freedom from government coercion. It does not mean freedom from the landlord, or freedom from the employer, or freedom from the laws of nature which do not provide men with automatic prosperity. It means freedom from the coercive power of the state – and nothing else.

What Rand seems not to have considered is that the coercive power of the state, by promoting the artificial concentration of capital and land, plays a central role in explaining why so many people are dependent on landlords for their housing and on employers for their income. Indeed, inasmuch as economic progress involves the steady increase in the amount of production that can be achieved without effort, the state, by obstructing this progress, is to a considerable extent preventing the laws of nature from providing us with automatic prosperity too.

The choice Rand offers us is thus an artificial one. The libertarian commitment to freedom from government coercion is ipso facto a commitment to freedom from the landlord, from the employer, and from the kärgliche Ausstattung einer stiefmütterlichen Natur as well.

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