Thursday, December 22, 2005

Moi

Stuart K. Hayashi







This is a picture of me.

This post serves no purpose other than to get my photograph to appear on the margin of this weblog. I hope this works; I'm not good at this sort of thing I'm also hoping that the photo won't send you to any outside link.



UPDATE several minutes later... I see it didn't work. I don't know if this is because I established this as a team weblog to begin with. But what I was attempting did work in Stu-Topia.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A Book Reviewer Who Doesn't Know the Definition of 'Book Review'

Stuart K. Hayashi

Jenny Turner was supposed to review the book Ayn Rand by Jeffrey Britting for the London Review of Books (referral from Rockwell; 11/3/05).

What Ms. Turner wrote can hardly be called a book review. You can see right on the top what the assigned subject was:

Ayn Rand by Jeff Britting [ Buy from the London Review Bookshop ] · Duckworth, 155 pp, £12.99

Yet, in this humungous mess belched out by Ms. Turner, we find that, out of all 49 of its paragraphs, Britting's book is only mentioned in three of them . . . in passing.

And in those three paragraphs, there are barely any references at all to Britting's writing style, to the manner in which he organized ideas, or in his presentation. Ms. Turner cares not to inform us whether this book is easy or difficult to read, whether it is worthy of interest by the general public or not, or whether it had any good or bad points.

You would expect the London Review of Books to notice that a book review's purpose is to assess the quality of work done by the author of the book being reviewed: in this case, the job Jeff Britting did with his book -- the one this publication claims to be reviewing, remember?

Turner's essay is a sham from the get-go, because it cannot be considered a book review by any reasonable standard. Instead, it's a review of Ayn Rand's reputation. Rather than address the quality of Jeff Britting's book, this "reviewer" launches a screed against the tome's subject.

Excuse, me, Ms. Turner, but if I wrote a book about Napoleon, you're supposed to talk about how well I wrote the book; not about how much you like or hate Napoleon.

Somebody needs to inform Jenny Turner and the London Review of Books that the publication's name isn't London Review of People. How difficult is it to understand that a book review is actually supposed to review a book?

Monday, November 21, 2005

He Denounced Japanese Internment When It Mattered

Stuart K. Hayashi


Steven Greenhut is the author of a terrific book about the horrors of eminent domain, titled Abuse of Power.

And, on Sunday, November 20, he produced a fascinating op-ed piece (referral from: L. Rockwell) about Orange County Register publisher R. C. Hoiles, who spoke out against the U.S. government's interment of Japanese-Americans when it mattered most: when this injustice was actually occurring.

As Greenhut observes, it's very easy for people today to condemn some horrible government action decades after the fact. It takes a real man, such as Hoiles, to speak out against it when it's happening. He was among a minority of people who spoke out for the rights of a minority whom bigots stereotyped as enemies of the American way on account of their being "unassimable" and coming from a "savage culture."

Speaking of people who stereotype minorities I am getting increasingly disappointed with Thomas Sowell. Greenhut's piece on the Japanese-American internment reminds me of this.

I found it quite self-contradictory that, in the very same column, Sowell endorsed the conclusions of two political books -- Greenhut's criticism of eminent domain and Michelle Malkin's apologia for Japanese-American internment.

Sowell correctly faults the governemnt for forcibly taking houses away from people, and yet he apparently doesn't fault the government for forcibly taking people away from their houses.

The real defenders of freedom are not jingoists, but people lik Hoiles who are rabidly in favor of laissez-faire enterprise and civil liberties and privacy rights equally.

Not surprisingly, Hoiles counted himself as an admirer of Ayn Rand's.

His is an example worth following.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Right On, Tibor!

Stuart K. Hayashi

Last Saturday, C-SPAN aired a panel discussion held at the second annual Liberty Film Festival. I taped it because its participants included communist-turned-neoconservative Ronald Radosh (ho-hum), NewsMax writer James Hirsen (ho-hum), and the Ayn Rand Institute's Jeff Britting, who was a co-producer of Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life (excellent!).

I was rather disappointed in the event, as Jeff Britting only got to have his say about three times. The moderator from the American Enterprise Institute pretty much let the leftwing movie critic Richard Schickel interrupt everyone else whenever he wanted.

Fortunately, business ethicist Tibor R. Machan of the International Society for Individual Liberty noticed what was wrong with this "discussion": "I think Jeff Britt[ing], with his Randian ideas, was treated shabbily and hypocritically." How shabbily?

Upon airing these views as Rand’s, Britting was told his ideas are ridiculous—by Schickle and some others. Even Ron Radosh, who is an ex-Communist but has long since recanted, made a special point of dismissing and deriding Rand’s viewpoint on this issue.

What did these people object to?

The gist of it went that if one seriously disapproves of someone's views, one has every right (and often ought) to boycott them. Otherwise one is aiding and abetting someone who is working against one’s ideals. Accordingly, if one is pro-capitalist and they are procommunist, one has the right and maybe even the responsibility to boycott and, if possible, blacklist them.

This really is a simple idea: Jews who didn't wish to purchase German cars even way after WWII were engaging in such a justified boycott -- refusing to give jobs to and enrich Germans who were very likely complicit in the horrors of Nazism. If one refuses to hire someone to clean one’s home or type one’s manuscripts or whatever, someone who is an avowed or secret but well enough known communist, one is doing the right thing. If one, a pro-choice advocate, refuses to do business with pro-life advocates, this makes perfectly good moral sense.

Generally, Rand held that one has every right to make a determination who one will freely do business with. She was not advocating any government action against the Hollywood folks. She did, however, think they were morally depraved for giving aid and comfort to Soviets and their American spies. So Hollywood had every right, even responsibility, to boycott or blacklist them.

Free speech means that you can say whatever you want to anyone willing to listen, without violating anyone else's right to life or property and without any other party -- government or otherwise -- threatening violence upon you on account of your speech. The threat of violence is embodied in every injunction, every citation, and every regulation of government since, the more one resists the law, the more severe the penalty will be enforced by armed government officials.

Free speech means that I can either make a movie out of my own screenplay or sell my screenplay to any studio wishing to purchase it. If I want someone other than myself to make a film out of my treatment, then I can only rightfully make this happen if I have the other party's permission. We have a natural, Lockean right to do this without anyone -- government-employed or otherwise -- threatening violence on us in order to coerce us to stop.

Free speech does not mean that, if no one will buy my screenplay willingly, I have the right to have the government or some gang of thugs coerce some film studio to purchase it under the threat of violence for noncompliance. That isn't upholding my right to free speech; it is violating the right of the studio to its own property -- and thus violating the free speech rights of the studio's owners. The right to free speech entails the right of any private citizen to refuse participation in any form of expression outside a court of law.


Interestingly, the movie Schickel called "the best of 2004" actually glamorized a real-life wealthy Hollywood producer who was a very outspoken participant in the blacklist. I suppose he likes seeing Hollywood producers consistently practicing capitalism in biopics but not in concrete reality.


The second-best panelist was James Hirsen, since he pointed out that Joseph McCarthy was right that Soviet agents really had infiltrated the U.S. federal government. But he didn't voice any support for Britting's view, I'm sad to say.

I should have known that only Dr. Machan would give this event the criticism it deserves.

UPDATE from Wednesday, November 9, 2005: I also like this November 8 column of Dr. Machan's about the hypocrisy of media corporations distributing motion pictures that denounce corporations per se.

Middle-Eastern Civilians More Murderous than American Ones?

Stuart K. Hayashi


I have often been told that Middle-Eastern Muslims should not be allowed to immigrate into the United States, because they are "culturally stuck in the Stone Age and murder is inherent to their culture."

When I ask people making such accusations to actually bother backing themselves up with statistics, they tell me that I'm just plain "ignorant of Muslim culture. If you weren't ignorant, you would understand that the Middle-Eastern culture enshrines murder and that Middle-Eastern immigrants carry that cultural baggage with them when they settle in the U.S. and Europe."

But if one is going to accuse an entire demographic of people of being murderous, one should actually look at the hard data collected on the number of murders. And it won't help to simply create a long list of all the murders ever committed by Muslims, because that doesn't put anything into perspective. That has no context. If one wants to prove that an immigrant from a Muslim-dominated country is likelier to commit murder than someone born in a Western country like America, then one should compare the murder rates of Muslim-dominated countries to Western ones.

When it comes to murder committed by the State itself, it is difficult to compete with an Islamic fundamentalist state like that of Iran or Saudi Arabia. For information on mass murder committed by national governments, one can check out information provided by Rudolph J. Rummel.

However, the story is different when it comes to the civilian populations of various countries, according to a chart provided by the United Nations Survey on Crime, which takes into account murders in general, as opposed to just "honor" killings.

The people who keep telling me about how Middle-Eastern immigrants are so likely to commit "honor" killings didn't provide me with statistics on this when I asked them for it last week, so I had to find this information myself. According to Human Rights Watch, one third of all the homicides in Jordan -- the Islamic country that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is from -- are "honor" killings.

Additionally, there were 400 "honor" killings in Yemen in 1997, and, out of the 812 homicides performed in Egypt in 1995, 52 were "honor" killings.

Expect some people to cite those statistics as proof that all Muslims are evil, without bothering to measures these figures against murders committed by non-Muslims or the number of Muslims who have not been charged with murder or domestic violence.

Inthe United States, where Muslims comprise only 1 percent of the population, there are 4 civilian-committed murders for every 100,000 people per year. That's a higher annual murder rate than in places like India, whose 144 Muslims comprise 13.4 percent of the population, the Muslim-dominated constitutional monarchy of Yemen, and Azerbaijan, which is 93.4 percent Moslem. The murder rates for India, Yemen, and Azerbaijan are all 3 civilian-committted murders per 100,000 people.

And Qatar,a Middle-Eastern nation that is 95 percent Muslim, the notorious Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia, which is 88 percent and which has seen attacks from particularly vicious Islamic terrorists, have the respective annual rates of civilian-committed murder: 1 per million per year (since the country has fewer than 1 million residents, this suggests that , occasionally a year may go by without any civilian-committed murders) 4 per million, and 1 per 100,000.

If these figures are corect, then that means that Qatar and Saudi Arabia have fewer civilian-committed murders than many of the more civilized countries that Middle-Easterners often migrate to: Norway (1 per 100,000), Denmark (1 per 100,000), Holland (the place where an Islamic fanatic murdered Theo Van Gogh, 1 per 100,000), the United Kingdom (1 per 100,000), and Canada (1 per 100,000).

It also means that Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia have fewer civilian-committed murders per population than even more countries that Middle-Eastern immigrants flock to: Australia (2 per 100,000), France (2 per 100,000 [my rightwing critics would have you believe that the riots in France prove the evil of Middle-Eastern immigrants, of course, but we have yet to see how this will affect the overall trend in France]), and Finland (3 per 100,000). And all these countries have fewer murders per person per year than the USA.

And let's return to the subject of Jordan, where one third of all homicides are "honor" killings. That comes down to an estimated average of 33.4 "honor" killings out of 100 civilian-committed murders per year in a country with a population of 5.759 million people. That's an annual murder rate of approximately 2 people per 100,000 per year.

And we can also revisit Egypt, in which there were a total 812 recorded civilian-created murders in 1995. If that were the number of people civilians murdered per year, in a population of 77.5 million, then that also comes to an annual murder rate of 2 per 100,000.

That would mean that even Jordan and Egypt have fewer civilian-committed murders than Finland, India, Romania, and the United States.

None of this is to say that you are less likely to be violently killed in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Jordan than in the United States. The opposite is true! It's just that the party doing the vast majority of killing in illiberal, Islamic fundamentalist countries is the authoritarian government.

It it the autocratic states of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Sudan, and Iran that prop up the terrorists who have waged war against the West. Middle-Eastern immigrants flee to America, Finland, Holland, and Australia to escape from being executed by the State over something harmless like being homosexual, charging usury, or saying something blasphemous.

The point is not that Muslim countries are safer than America. They clearly aren't. The point is that, when somebody asserts -- without citing any statistics, mind you -- that allowing Middle-Easterners from Mohammedan countries to immigrate into Western countries will necessarily increase the Western coutries' murder rates, he doesn't make a rational case.

When my critics say that a Middle-Eastern Muslim immigrant is likelier to murder me than a native-born American, because that immigrant will "refuse to assimilate into American culture, and will isntead behave in America the same way he did in his home country," that rightwing critic refutes himself.

If an immigrant from Islamic Yemen is just as likely to murders someone when he's in America as he would be in Yemen, then there is a 33-percent greater chance of an American murdering that Yemenese alien than for that Yemenese alien to murder an American.

If my critics choose to dismiss the U.N. statistics I have cited, then I challenge them to come up with better, more reliable statistics. My critics can call me "ignorant of Middle-Eastern culture" all they want. The truth remains that, as long as my critics go along prattling about how letting Middle-Eastern peoples freely immigrate into the United States will necessarily increase the likelihood of my being murdered, their case will be based upon nothing but presumptions if they do not present any statistical data to support their inflammatory claims.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Note About Changes at 'The Fiftieth Star'

Stuart K. Hayashi

As he has noted in the previous post, Fiftieth Star writer Grant Jones has started a new blog titled The Dougout.

For the record, he will remain on The Fiftieth Star's team and will still post here occasionally. However, The Dougout will now be his primary blog. More of his writing will appear there than over here. For Mr. Jones's many fans, The Dougout is the site to bookmark.

As of this moment, I am unsure about the future of The Fifieth Star. Before Mr. Jones's arrival on this blog, I had gone for an entire year without posting anything on it. I cannot promise that I will post on this blog very often in the near (or even distant) future.

I apologize for any disappointment this may cause our readers.

Rest assured, however, that this will probably not be the final post on The Fiftieth Star, which is currently undergoing a transitory phase.



UPDATE from Friday, November 4, 2005: Grant Jones will not be making any occasional posts on this blog in the future. Those who wish to read his work are directed solely to his new blog, The Dougout.

Monday, October 31, 2005

I Hate Moving

Grant Jones

But, sometimes it is necessary. I've started a new weblog called The Dougout.

Thanks to all the visitors of The 50th Star.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Stu-Topia

Grant Jones

The 50th Star's blogfather, Stuart Hayashi has started another blog which he has titled Stu-Topia. Stuart explains his reasons for the new blog:

The purpose of Stu-Topia is for me to unload posts that I may not always find appropriate as material for The Fiftieth Star, though a post from this blog may still end up there if I later deem it appropriate.

While The Fiftieth Star mostly covers politics, Stu-Topia will probably cover other subjects, such as what I think about what I have been watching on television. This will be the space on the internet where I will babble about just anything.

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

My Favorite Cephalopods

Stuart K. Hayashi

I am very excited about the news that the first-ever photographs of a live giant squid have recently been released to the public. These photos, such as the one below, were taken in September 2004. For more information, see here.




I have always loved giant monsters, so this has really made my week.

Speaking of which, the photo reminds me of the pic below, which is from the movie Space Monster Dogora.