Sita Sings the Blues

Art, Media, Liberty 2009-07-26 08:39

Sita Sings the Blues is a feature-length, animated film that I found unique and entertaining.

The creator, Nina Paley, wrote, animated, directed, and produced the whole thing. A film of this caliber could only have come from a Hollywood studio at a budget of million a decade ago. Now one (admittedly very talented, ambitious, hard-working) person can do nearly the whole thing herself.

It’s licensed under the Creative Commons License. If you’re not familiar with the CC licenses, recall the FBI warning at the beginning of most DVDs: it states that you’ll go to jail if you give a copy of the movie to your friend, or show it to a group of people in a public place (a “screening”). Now, imagine the exact opposite of the FBI warning. That’s the Creative Commons License. It encourages you to freely share, copy, and remix the work in any way you like.

Liberty, Justice, and the American Way

Silly, Liberty, Sexuality 2009-07-09 03:08

Here’s to liberty and justice:

From Bent’s 4th of July event page.

Modern Slavery

Liberty 2009-03-18 04:41

“Many feel that sex slavery is particularly revolting—and it is. I saw it firsthand. In a Bucharest brothel, for instance, I was offered a mentally handicapped, suicidal girl in exchange for a used car. But for every one woman or child enslaved in commercial sex, there are at least 15 men, women, and children enslaved in other fields, such as domestic work or agricultural labor. Recent studies have shown that locking up pimps and traffickers has had a negligible effect on the aggregate rates of bondage. And though eradicating prostitution may be a just cause, Western policies based on the idea that all prostitutes are slaves and all slaves are prostitutes belittles the suffering of all victims. It’s an approach that threatens to put most governments on the wrong side of history.”

From A World Enslaved by E. Benjamin Skinner

75th Anniversary of the End of Prohibition

Psychedelia, Politics, Liberty 2008-12-05 05:09

On this day 75 years ago - Dec 5, 1933 - the 21st amendment was passed, repealing alcohol prohibition in the United States.
Read more »

Messy Particulars

Culture, Liberty 2007-10-14 12:44

“Maybe, I tell myself hopefully, it’s all a spasmodic reaction to the unfettered discourse that the Web and cable TV and talk radio have unleashed—that because freedom of expression is rather suddenly greater than ever in so many ways, people are trying desperately to reestablish limits on what can and can’t be asserted in their vicinity. […]

Maybe the fever will pass. Or maybe a lot of us are permanently losing our taste for liberty, devoted to “freedom” in the abstract but unprepared to endure all its messy particulars.”

From The Age of Apoplexy by Kurt Andersen

Dance

Politics, Spirituality, Culture, Liberty 2007-07-09 02:12

Does anyone else think it’s odd that you need a permit from the government to dance? Not individual dancers, but the owner of any venue in which people might choose to dance. That’s right, if you stop and do a quick jig at your local market, you could be placing the owner in legal jeopardy.

A ban on dancing in New York bars was upheld in court recently, and the Institute for Justice is fighting a case for a restaurant allow square-dancing despite the fact that it is not in the proper zone for dancing.

Dancing permits come from the fire marshal, who is certainly the first person that comes to my mind when I think “dancing authority.” The idea is that venues which have people regularly dancing in them will have a different occupancy level (as determined for safe evacuation in case of fire) than those that don’t.

My concern that government decides when and where we may dance in semi-public venues may seem like a small point. And it is - kind of. But I also think that you can look at this another way. This the most basic and fundamental exercise of human liberty: people gathering together to express themselves in an emotional and, for many, spiritual way. Freedom of expression, peaceable assembly, and religion: together these comprise the very first amendment to the US Bill of Rights.
Read more »

The Freedom To Think Not Much At All

Philosophy, Spirituality, Liberty 2007-06-22 03:00

“People who once lived under the yoke of oppressive religion now have the freedom to believe, read, and do what they want. So why have the ungrateful bastards not become full-fledged atheists? The answer from some quarters seems to be that not all have got the message, so what they need is some reeducation in the folly of religion and the joys of science. But this is wrong. The reason they haven’t become atheists is that many people use the freedom to think what they want to not think very much at all. And, given the evidence of history, I don’t think that a population without strong convictions on matters of fundamental ideology is a bad thing.”

From “Toward a More Mannerly Secularism”, by Julian Baggini

(Doesn’t seem to be online, unfortunately - can be found in print in the Feb/Mar 2007 issue of Free Inquiry.)

Baggini makes a compelling argument that uncompromising atheists like Richard Dawkins are sabotaging their own efforts by framing the discussion as a fierce battle of us-vs-them. Us, the reasonable, science-loving atheists; and them, the superstitious, unreasonable theists. But most people would rather ignore both science and religion, while not directly disassociating themselves from either. Perhaps the best way for outdated beliefs to exit our cultural consciousness is to wither away; direct frontal assault will only reawaken fervent faith.

Freedom Challenges

Philosophy, Life, Liberty 2005-12-11 09:49

Life is more interesting when as many people as possible do what they want, get what they want, and have to face the resulting challenges. I assert that the freedom part of that equation tends to produce well-being. […] The last proposition is the peculiar bit: that the unfolding of challenges — their being met and failed — makes life worth living.

From Rich Is Beautiful by Richard D. North, from the November 2005 Cato Policy Report

Economic Freedom of the World

Economics, Liberty 2005-11-18 07:23

The Cato Institute is a libertarian think-tank which puts to work some of the brightest political minds of our time on the task of analyzing policy and seeking pragmatic solutions to issues facing America and the entire world. Putting the same thing another way, these guys fucking rock.

Besides their excellent paper publications (books, magazines, etc), I especially recommend Cato Audio, a monthly talk radio show they send out on CD, or purchasable as an mp3 download.

One of their most powerful publications is the annual Economic Freedom of the World report. The ranking of nations can be found on page 12 of the chapter 1 PDF. To give you a taste, Hong Kong rates at the top, besting the next contender, Singapore, by a full two points. Under that can be found New Zealand, Switzerland, the US, and the UK all coming in about even.
Read more »