The Locker Room

April 30, 2010

Chapel Hill hookah bar closes

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:04 PM

Donna Martinez offers details in the latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive.

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Space Invaders

Posted by Daren Bakst at 2:52 PM

This is a serious article (on the home page of Yahoo!) about whether space aliens will invade earth (including why they would invade earth).


"In movies, aliens only come here for two reasons," Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) told Life's Little Mysteries,'s sister publication. "They either come here to find some resource they don't have on their own planet, or they want to use us for some unauthorized breeding experiment." These scenarios play on our most primal human fears of losing the resources we need to survive or not being able to reproduce, Shostak said.

In reality, it isn't logical to think that aliens would want to do either of those things, Shostak said. Space travel is expensive and requires an enormous investment, he said.

Also in the article: Stephen Hawking apparently thinks we have nothing to fear from space aliens.

I just love how people will give an opinion about something they can't possibly know and somebody will actually take them seriously.  If Hawking says we have nothing to fear from aliens, then it must be true.

There's so many ways to make fun of this article, my head is spinning.

My questions for the experts on alien behavior:

Mr. Shostak, isn't it true that the aliens from planet Mordar can travel 50 galaxies for only $12.95?

Mr. Hawking, with all of your experience hanging out with aliens, isn't it true that some of them aren't very nice and would like to hurt us just for fun, such as the Galagas?

So many questions, so little time--until the aliens attack!  Don't believe the alien deniers.  If we don't take action now, it will be too late.  Even if I may be wrong, can we afford not to take action?  This is about our children and their children.

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RE: Pro-business

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 2:09 PM

Clearly, if 'pro-business' carries the requirement that one must be pro-government subsidies, or pro- other taxpayer-financed 'incentives,' then Ron Paul will never be considered pro-business. He is decidedly free market, however because he understands that that is the system under which consumers get served best. In the free market the costs, risks, and errors of unsuccessful entrepreneurs are not shifted to successful entrepreneurs, taxpayers, and consumers. And successful businesses (those that supply to consumers what they want, and at a price and quality level they are willing to accept) are not demonized for taking calculated risks and earning profits as reward for hitting a bullseye.

As recent Shaftesbury Society Luncheon speaker Dwight Lee recently argued, the moral case for markets does not depend upon conspicuous charity (his 'magnanimous morality'), but rather on wealth creation via the ability to create jobs and incomes. But the tremendously powerful 'mundane morality' of successful business ventures does not succeed (absent government intervention or rescue) without being a servant to consumer wishes. If you are repelled by the thought of business success being rewarded with profits, or whatever arbitrary notion you hold of the undefinable concept of 'excess' profits, you are by definition repelled by the notion of consumers getting more of what they want in exchange for their scarce monetary resources, goods, and labor.

It is a mistake to think that business can achieve its ends in a free market without promoting the ends of consumers. One cannot be 'for' one and against the other, by definition. Only government, by intervening into markets with regulations, subsidies, or mandates can disrupt this balance and divide the interests and behaviors of these two sides of the same supply and demand process.

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Re: Pro business isn't free market

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 1:58 PM

In fact the free market is consumer centered and the great free market thinkers in history have typically stood foursquare against the entrenched business interests of their time. Remember, Adam Smith's support for the free market came out of the injustices of mercantilism and the protectionism and state granted monopoly privileges that it gave rise to. Indeed, most opposition of the free market comes not from anti-business sentiments but anti-consumer sentiments. Trade barriers are erected to protect domestic businesses from the fact that domestic consumers are choosing to make purchases from the competitors of those domestic businesses (again see Adam Smith). Nearly all restrictions on energy use are in response to the fact that consumer preferences dominate the market. For example, CAFE regulations are in direct response to the fact that consumers desire larger, relatively low mileage cars. The same is true with respect to restrictions on the kinds of appliances and light bulbs we can buy. North Carolina's own renewable energy portfolio standard (SB3) is based on the idea that consumers need to be forced to reduce their energy consumption and purchase energy generated from renewable sources. There is no question that consumers would never choose to pay the extra costs associated with energy generated from wind and solar voluntarily. The big utility monopolies don't care what the energy source is so long as consumers are forced to buy the electricity that comes from it. Indeed these big monopolies tend to support these regulations, as was the case in North Carolina. The purpose in all these areas is to thwart consumer preferences. In fact all of these regulations are pro-businesses in that they limit consumer options and therefore limit competition. Businesses traditionally have supported all of the regulatory agencies that regulate them. The FCC, FTC, the now defunct CAB, all the laws that created public utility commissions at the state level were all supported by the industries that they were set up to regulate. Indeed the Chamber itself was a huge supporter of the early progressivist movement to establish broad based business regulation. The fact is that a truly free market is anti-business in that final outcomes are ultimately driven by what consumers want, not what businesses want them to want. The Chamber is right to rank Ron Paul at the very bottom of their list of pro-business Congressmen. My hope is that one day all Congressmen would be vying for that position on the same basis that honor was awarded to Paul.

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Pro-Business Isn't Free-Market

Posted by Daren Bakst at 1:14 PM

There's an interesting post on the Washington Examiner web site by Timothy Carney.  Here's the first line:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued its 2009 congressional scorecard, and once again, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex. — certainly one of the two most free-market politicians in Washington — gets the lowest score of any Republican.

It seems that voting against business subsidies and against the stimulus bill didn't make Ron Paul popular with the Chamber.

The question I pose to others: Is it possible to be pro-business and pro-free-market?  I think it is, but DC trade associations are so short-sighted and wrapped up in political maneuvering, they never consider whether subsidies are beneficial beyond a narrow industry.

Take the Chamber for example: Is the net effect of subsidies for solar energy beneficial to most of their members?  BTW: This was one of the subsidies the Chamber liked.  The answer is of course it isn't beneficial for most of their members.

As I have similarly mentioned on previous occasions, the next time a group like the Chamber talks about being in favor of free-markets, just laugh.  They only care about what's in the best interest of the organization itself and those members that they are concerned about pleasing.

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Hayward assesses the Churchill bashers

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:03 PM

In reviewing Paul Johnson's recent biography of Winston Churchill for The Weekly Standard, Steven Hayward — who's compared the great British prime minister to America's 40th president (and others) — notes with curiosity the negative reaction many left-leaning thinkers have toward one of the 20th century's icons:

There is more going on here than a critical disagreement with Johnson’s approach to Churchill, or even a mere dislike of Johnson’s Tory leanings. Mann and Chotiner are hardly alone among center-left writers in disdaining Churchill and decrying the fondness conservatives display for him. Both Christopher Hitchens and Michael Lind have written disparagingly of the “cult of Churchill” on the right, with Lind going further to designate Churchill as the patron saint of neoconservatives, which is tantamount to saying that Churchill should be regarded as something of a devil. 

This lazy disdain for Churchill reveals yet another facet of the decaying liberal mind, for Churchill ought to be as much of a hero of liberals as he is for conservatives. He was an enthusiast of Progressivism and the New Deal, and an early architect of the British welfare state. In American politics Churchill preferred Democrats to Republicans, got on well with Truman but badly with Eisenhower—indeed, he confided to several people that he preferred a Stevenson victory over Ike in 1952. (Lind’s complaint against Churchill as a neocon icon is based partly on seeing it as another Straussian/Republican plot, apparently unaware that Leo Strauss was also a Stevenson supporter.)

Churchill’s political philosophy, Johnson notes, was somewhat opaque; late in life Churchill told a Labour MP, “I’ve always been a liberal.” Johnson notes that Churchill “found the center attractive,” and Churchill’s dislike of partisanship, manifested in his multiple party switches, makes him the ideal prototype for today’s fetishists of post-partisanship. There’s seldom been a better example of ending “gridlock” in government. Far from sending Churchill’s bust back to London from the Oval Office, Barack Obama should have added another layer of polish and adapted the legacy to himself.

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The clamor for more financial regulation

Posted by George Leef at 12:23 AM

My Freeman colleague Sheldon Richman has some intelligent insights here.

When it comes to money and finance, what we need is not voluminous regulations, but simplicity and honesty.

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Another cynical, partisan ploy

Posted by George Leef at 10:52 AM

That's what Cato's John Samples has to say about the Democrats' latest campaign finance bill, the "Disclose Act." Read his thoughts on it here.

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Governor's gimmick-based budget represents a missed opportunity

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:29 AM

That's the assessment Joe Coletti offers after analyzing Gov. Bev Perdue's latest spending proposal. Follow the link for more details, and watch Joe discussing his analysis below.

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Hess on the 2010 American Educational Research Association conference

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:13 AM

It's that time of year again! The AERA conference is on and Rick Hess from the American Enterprise Institute has the gory details.

A paper worth catching, if only because it won the annual "Using Epistemic Twice in a Title" award, is, "'Game Changers': The Role of Epistemic Reflexivity in the Work of Epistemic Gaming." Another one that's enticed me with its cryptic post-colon prose is, "Outdoor Learning: Authenticity or Performativity." I'm also eager for the chance to get the scoop on the sophisticated sounding inquiry into paper airplane utilization, "Examining Exclusionary Activity Through Mediated Discourse Analysis: Looking Critically at Play, Peer Culture, and Paper Airplanes."


A terrific follow-up session for those seeking even more counterstorytelling is, "Cyber-Sista Cipher: Black Female Students' Color Consciousness and Counterstories as Hush Harbor in and for Universities." Can't resist sharing Francesca's take on this one, "This just makes me laugh. Read it aloud twice." I mean, really? "Color Consciousness and Counterstories as Hush Harbor?" What is that supposed to even mean?


Okay, I don't want to overstuff anybody's program. But there is one more panel during the weekend that seems like a can't-miss: "Saints and Sluts: Racialized Pedagogies of the Good Girl-Bad Girl in Global Youth Culture," which features the papers, "True to the Game: Representations of Black Gangsta Femininity in Urban Street Fiction," "One Word: Benevolent Girlhood in the Cheetah Girls," and "Rebel Girl or Tamil Hottie? Media Representations of MIA as a Transnational Production of Girlhood." 'Nuff said.

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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by David N. Bass at 08:57 AM

  • Campaign finance records show that Republicans Thom Goolsby and Michael Lee are largely bankrolling their own campaigns.

  • House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman, a Democrat from Davidson County, will hold a town hall meeting May 6. Holliman faces a tough re-election fight this November.

  • Third tier candidate Ken Lewis launches a negative ad against opponent Cal Cunningham in the Dems' U.S. Senate primary.

  • One-time close political allies square off in the Republican primary for House District 22.

  • Ken Lewis accuses Marshall, Cunningham of playing the race card.

  • Dems get snippy in Wake County race for state House.

  • And now for something completely different: convicted felons run for sheriff across the state.

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Most of what you think you know about unions is wrong

Posted by George Leef at 08:48 AM

So argues Tom Woods in this highly informative Von Mises Institute article.

Unions make a few people better off (especially the union leaders!) but their depredations against capital and productive efficiency make many others (mostly poorer people) worse off. And their political agenda of promoting welfarism, the growth of government, and hindering free trade greatly compounds the harm.

Long ago, Big Labor made an alliance with the Democrats, who gave them the special favors it wanted (such as the "right" to represent people who didn't want anything to do with unions) in return for money and campaign muscle.

Woods quotes Professor Morgan Reynolds' whose book Making America Poorer gets things exactly right: through their interference with the free market, that's what unions do.

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In case you missed him ...

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:08 AM

John Hood offered WTVD his two cents about a recommendation from the General Assembly's Program Evaluation Division that the state sell many of its aircraft to save money.

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This weekend on Carolina Journal Radio

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:07 AM

What does Ruffin Poole’s recent guilty plea mean for the ongoing criminal investigation of controversies surrounding former Gov. Mike Easley? Rick Henderson explores that topic in the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio.

Paul Chesser of the Heartland Institute and Climate Strategies Watch will share his insights about the likely impact of “Climategate” on global warming policies at the state and national levels.

And we’ll examine the Tea Party movement. You’ll hear highlights from John Locke Foundation experts’ recent presentations to tax day Tea Parties, and you’ll learn why some people felt compelled to participate in those gatherings across the state. Plus Jon Ham will examine the media’s treatment of Tea Party protests.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:51 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Sara Burrows' report on the Republican primary in N.C. Senate District 47.

This week's Friday interview features a conversation with John Skvarla, founder of the Alliance for Bonded Term Limits.

Kristen Blair's guest Daily Journal discusses the alarming statistics of boys' recent academic slide.

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