By Contributor Archives

I’ve not lived in a state that has the Whataburger chain, but I know that folks who do love their stuff. The Whataburger chain in Texas decided recently that it would not allow the open carrying of guns in any of its restaurants. Management said that some patrons felt uncomfortable being around someone with a visible firearm. They will, however, still allow those carrying a legal concealed weapon to enjoy their burgers on the premises.

Let me just say that I will defend Whataburger’s right to deny service to open-carry patrons. It’s their right to determine who they will and won’t serve, or who they allow on their premises, even if what those patrons are doing is perfectly lawful. They can conduct their business as they see fit, and potential customers can choose to eat where they want. This is what we call “freedom” and “the free market”.

But boy oh boy, if they are ever asked to cater a same-sex wedding, they’d better comply. It’s much less dangerous to the life of your business to exclude lawful gun owners. If you think it’s silly to create a hypothetical situation where someone would ask Whataburger to cater a wedding, just ask Memories Pizza in Indiana how silly it is to ask a hypothetical question about catering a same-sex wedding with pizza. But you may find that difficult to ask; their answer closed their business. #LoveWins?

Be Sociable, Share!

    Lessons From the Greek Tragedy

    Imagine, if you will, a guy who fills out a loan application, but lies on it about his current financial situation, or he tells the truth about his bad situation but signs a promise to get his financial house in order if he can get this loan. Now let’s say he doesn’t make the changes he promised, but spends the money on the same things that got him into the mess he was in before the loan. When it’s time to make payments on the loan, he complains he doesn’t have the money and wants to renegotiate the terms of the existing loan and get a new one.

    You’re the loan officer. What do you do? The guy’s telling you he needs the money to eat and to pay his other bills. But he didn’t change his free-spending ways like he promised and now he’s in a bind again. Is it prudent to give more cash to a guy who can’t change his spending habits, and can’t repay what you’ve already given him?

    No, it’s not. That’s not being heartless; that’s just being a good steward of the bank’s money. And if you keep giving this guy money, and he doesn’t repay it, what about the depositors who’s money it is that you’re handing out? When they need their money, where will it be?

    The guy I’m talking about is the country of Greece. And just like Margaret Thatcher’s description, their socialism was working great, right up until they ran out of other people’s money. You can only soak the rich for so long, and so they went to the European and international banks for bailouts. And more bailouts. But each time, though they promised to mend their free-spending, socialist ways, they didn’t and wound up in the same situation.

    There are 2 major problems that this situation has highlighted. First, the European Union has certainly caused state sovereignty to seep out of the individual countries, such that it’s understandable why citizens of Greece would be insisting that the EU be held at least partially responsible. If Greece must bow to the EU on some matters, the EU must be willing to help. With great power-grabs come great responsibility.

    But the other major problem is one that our own country needs to come to terms with. The Greek government got in over its head with promises it made to various groups. Welfare, pension, and other government payments got to the point where merely servicing those was drowning the country in debt. They made the promises, so they had to keep them. And when the government over-promised, the people voted in politicians who would give them more stuff, until the government had to tax and tax, and borrow and borrow, to keep up. And all that taxing and borrowing reduces economic growth and devalues the currency. So more taxing and more borrowing, and the death spiral continues.

    So then, who should pay for the bad choices of the Greek people? Should we allow the Greeks to default on their obligations, and then have the German and the French people have to bail out their banks? How in the world is that fair? “But what about the Greek people?”, those on the Left were asking when those Greek people voted to stiff their creditors. “Why should they be punished for the actions of their government?” Well, because they voted for the guy who squandered the money and walked into the bank to ask for more. And if the Greeks are let off the hook, there are other European countries looking to try the same ploy. I’m looking at you, Spain, Portugal and Italy.

    The problem is that the Greeks poked a big hole in their own boat, and no amount of bailing by themselves will keep them afloat. More bailers, if you will, would help, and the EU is going to continue to help in the bailing, but the Greeks need to agree to quit making the hole bigger, and take steps to plug it. That’s going to take some hard choices on their part, but that’s the problem with socialism. Once you get used to the idea of free money and benefits, you get to thinking that they are your “right”. Going back to fiscal responsibility is a much harder road to travel.

    The Greeks are learning that lesson. Well, I hope they are. I’m not so sure after they voted to default on their loans. I also hope that we’ll learn it, too. But I begin to wonder about my fellow countrymen when I see how popular presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is, who is an avowed socialist. “Ignore the News, Vote for Sanders!”

    Be Sociable, Share!

      Well, Doug just posted some excellent thoughts on marriage and the recent High Court ruling. Here’s my 2 cents (the going rate I might add, a bargain? You decide)

      Over and over and over from the Christian opposition to SSM we hear that they (we) oppose same sex marriage (and indeed relationships) because homosexual sex is sinful. This is the wrong reason, I think. Yah yah, that’s a sin. But … look at it this way. If you have one individual, in one universe he gets married to another dude. In another he doesn’t. It’s not unlikely that he has a similar quantity of sex in both universes, but in the first … its less random, less disconnected, with fare fewer people, and possibly ultimately less sinful. That homosexual sex is sinful isn’t what is wrong with same sex marriage. It’s not like you and I don’t breed sin in our lives like Fibonacci’s rabbits ourselves (don’t look at me like that). What is wrong with it is that it promotes and continues to solidify a wrong conception of what marriage is about (this post says more about this point better than I could, so go read it, then come back).

      If you study church history, you will discover that every historical Christological heresy (the nature of Christ, human, divine and such) was and often is still being recapitulated as an ecclesiastical heresy (That is to say, what is the Church?). There is a good reason for this. The reason for that is pretty obvious when it comes down to it. The body of Christ on earth (after Ascension) is in fact, the Church. So there should be no surprise that heresies (wrong notions) of “what is this called Christ” copy over to heresies of what is this same thing (Christ) here still on earth. What does this have to do with marriage? Well, for the current marital discussions we recall Paul teaches us, in marriage after some subtle instructions on how to treat with each other, that the husband is to the wife as Christ is to the Church. Furthermore that this relationship is a mystery. Now, first off, don’t get too worked up about the term “mystery”. Remember the best definition of mystery is a thing that you can’t explain very well, or at all, in words but must experience to understand. But the connection to Christology is the same. We are discovering that these Christological hersesies? Well, they are recapitulating as “What is marriage” heresies for exactly the same reason. Fortunately, as in the prior paragraph, another author at the site linked above explains that point from the Orthodox perspective far better than I can.

      Ultimately this is the reason Christians, cannot back down on the marriage question (for there is little question about balancing the small good of perhaps less sin, if the consequence and mechanism for that is promulgating heresy). This thing the state and for that matter the left elite and many others calls marriage. How they define it. How they understand it. Well, it’s a is indeed a”thing”. But that “thing” isn’t the same as what we understand the word marriage to mean. It might have been better if the Supreme court had nationalized a legal structure called fleem. In which two persons, the glissord and the fleeger are contractually (until they choose to dissolve the fleem) bound together and enjoy the following state privileges (and it will be up to the legislature now to go to their chambers and define for us what privileges are granted to those joined in fleemhood.) Well, actually they did exactly that. But instead they chose to confuse all of us and not use a new word. They didn’t call it fleem or even iglifu. They used a word that used to and for many still does mean something completely different. Keep that in mind in the discussions that follow.

       

      Be Sociable, Share!

        In June of 2013, the Supreme Court’s liberals declared that the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton, was unconstitutional, because, as they said, the power of the individual state in defining marriage is “of central relevance", and the decision to grant same-sex couples the right to marry is "of immense import." Basically, it’s the state, and not the federal government, which should determine what marriage is and license accordingly.

        Two years to the day later, those same liberals overrode those immensely important marriage laws in 14 states and proclaimed same-sex marriage from the federal bench. And it once again proves something I’ve said on this podcast so many times; for the Left, it is all about politics. Constitutional matters, federalism, and some supposed regard for the rule of law, all of it, take a back seat in order to get their political agenda passed. The individual state’s ability to define what marriage is, is of central relevance, right up until it isn’t.

        Chief Justice John Roberts, in his dissent, noted this, "This court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us.” Right, that’s what states were allowed to determine on their own, and in fact it was going that way with, as I said, only 14 states left holding on to traditional marriage.

        I will say, as an aside, that this thought by Roberts – that the court is not a legislature – was rather ironic, given his previous rewriting of ObamaCare. It’s like two, two, two Supreme Court chief justices in one!

        Let me ask you this; which would have been better? Should the Court have allowed same-sex marriage to work its way through the culture, gaining support as it had been doing, or do what it did and just impose it by judicial fiat? Before you answer, consider how well that worked for abortion. It is still a hard fought battle in the culture, and in the state legislatures as well. Rather than let it organically happen democratically, abortion was imposed, and the backlash has been with us ever since. I oppose abortion, and I also oppose a government that will override me and my state’s rights to govern ourselves. I oppose same-sex marriage, but again, the Court’s liberals (and if I may, it seems that liberals in general) have no problem holding state law immensely important one day, and the next day overruling them, so long as their political agenda is served. As I mentioned in the previous episode, the process is just as important as the outcome, and the process, both here and with the ObamaCare ruling, are deeply flawed and set a bad precedent for future courts to reinterpret words, and override the will of the people.

        There have been many predictions about what comes next. Some, on the pages of TIME magazine, are already pushing polygamy. That effort has been going on for years, but it got a boost with this ruling. There are those already calling for the abolishing of tax exempt status for religious institutions – churches and religious schools – that won’t teach the liberal orthodoxy about same-sex marriage or won’t perform them. These are likely coming down the road. But, as Erick Erickson noted, the first thing to come will be … silence. The day of the ruling, a newspaper in Pennsylvania said they wouldn’t print letters to the editor on the topic anymore. I have a friend who, when asked what the Bible says about homosexuality, gave a straight answer (so to speak) and was immediately pounced on for being bigoted and hateful. You don’t have to thump anyone with a Bible anymore; it just has to be in the room for someone to claim you’re evil.

        So silence will fall, but just because you don’t hear a particular opinion anymore doesn’t mean it’s not there. However, if a baker or a photographer can be put out of business for not participating in a same-sex wedding, how much more of a target are those churches that won’t perform them for what 5 justices have now deemed is a “fundamental right”?


        With the ObamaCare and the same-sex marriage rulings, the court has done two things. It has taken power away from you at both the federal and state level.

        If you ever complained that Washington, DC was unresponsive to the needs of the people, the ObamaCare ruling should bother you, at the very least. That is, unless you’re celebrating the topic of the ruling, then the process is likely nothing you’re concerned about. I’ve seen it in my Facebook feed. However, from this day forward, federal agencies like the IRS, and all the way up to the President, don’t have to restrain themselves to the actual wording of the laws Congress passes. ObamaCare said you got subsidies through exchanges established by the states, but an unelected federal agency changed that. Your representatives, and by extension you, have lost more influence. The government can do what it wants.

        And if you ever complained that your state government was unresponsive to the needs of the people, the same-sex marriage ruling should bother you, too. But again, the winners are too busy celebrating to see how this, too, has erased their influence and yours at the state level. It just takes 5 Supreme Court justices to invalidate anything a state does. Vote however you want, call your state representative as much as you want, but in the end, a majority of 9 unelected justices get the final say for over 320 million people. One man, one vote, indeed.

        If you celebrate these rulings, and if you’ve ever been a proponent of power to the people, or you’ve ever put forth the idea that every vote should count, you either have not been paying attention, or have no idea at all what those phrases even mean. At least, I’d really hope that this can all be explained by ignorance and apathy, because the alternative is worse; willful misuse of the founding principles of this country, and that will bring us down faster than any law you can pass.

        The Left loves the platitude “Government is just another name for the things we choose to do together.” Of course, by the phrase “choose to do together”, they mean “use a panel of 9 lawyers to force everyone to do what they want”. Platitudes are useful in the meantime, but in the end, for the Left, it’s all about politics.

        Be Sociable, Share!

          The Supreme Court case, King v Burwell, was essentially a question of whether the ObamaCare law would be interpreted as written, or as it was meant to be written, as best as the justices could divine the intent of Congress. The particular issue was whether the IRS could provide subsidies to those who needed them in states where they had their own health insurance exchanges, or in all states, even if they didn’t have an exchange.

          What the law said was that the IRS would administer those subsidies through the exchanges “established by the states”. However, what the IRS did was to funnel them through state and federal exchanges, which is not what the law, y’know, actually said. They essentially reinterpreted the law to mean that exchanges not established by the states qualified as exchanges established by the states.

          Some states said, no, that’s an unconstitutional reading of the law. There are other places in the law where it specifically refers to the states and the federal government combines, but it does not here. That is true. Here’s something else painfully true; this particular wording was exactly what was meant when the law was written.

          How do we know this? Jonathan Gruber, the well-paid architect of the law itself, told us so. It was a classic carrot-and-stick approach. The carrot was billions in tax dollars. The stick was that if you didn’t set up a state exchange, you wouldn’t get any of it. There a link in the show notes to a video explaining all this and him saying, “I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges.”

          This was not a case of trying to read a crystal ball and discover the intent. This was not trying to reach into the minds and writings of the founding fathers and trying to glean what they meant on some obscure constitutional point. You can’t search YouTube to find out what Washington and Jefferson were thinking, But Gruber is all over the Internet, on and off the record.

          This was a game of chicken. Would the states blink first, and all setup exchanges, or would the feds blink and change the law. As it turned out, the fed’s blinked, but instead of changing the law, they just did what they wanted, and the IRS (which, last I checked, was not part of the legislative branch of the government) ruled that it would provide subsidies through the federal exchange as well.

          And Chief Justice John Roberts and his cohort said, “Eh, seems legit.” OK, the ruling was a bit longer than that – 21 pages longer – but in the end that’s what they did. They claimed that if the subsidies were stopped it would ruin the implementation of ObamaCare, ignoring completely that that was the point all along.

          Justice Scalia, writing in his typically entertaining dissent (which is basically the high point of this whole ruling), said that if an exchange not established by a state is actually an exchange established by a state, then words have no meaning. Truer words, that do have meaning, have never been spoken.

          I don’t think those who are celebrating and praising this ruling have any idea at all what it could mean in the future for the power government has over us. And by “those who are celebrating”, I mean, generally, Democrats. The process, however fatally flawed and upside down it is, doesn’t matter as long as they get what they want. It’s always about politics.

          From this point on, federal government agencies can now interpret the law any way they please. Really. Restrictions that were in place in the ObamaCare law were cheerfully ignored in furtherance of a political agenda, and the Supreme Court gave them 6 thumbs up. George Will, writing at the Washington Post, put it this way.

          The most durable damage from Thursday’s decision is not the perpetuation of the ACA, which can be undone by what created it — legislative action. The paramount injury is the court’s embrace of a duty to ratify and even facilitate lawless discretion exercised by administrative agencies and the executive branch generally.

          Theprocess has been butchered by this ruling. Sure, ObamaCare proponents got what they wanted, but at a price to their own power as a people that I’m sure they are blissfully unaware of. The political process of a government restrained by law, influenced by the people, which has been slowly eroding anyway, just did a nose dive.

          You say lobbyists have too much power? I’d agree, because they just had to go to one place – Congress – to spend their dollars budgeted for graft. Now, they can bypass the middleman and go straight to the IRS or any other federal agency and bribe an unelected bureaucrat. And that bureaucrat doesn’t have a campaign coffer he or she needs to keep funded, so it’ll be cheaper for the lobbyist. It’s a win-win! But remember, you don’t figure into either of those two wins.

          Some folks, when I bring this up, claim I’m just mad because my side lost. Well, I don’t deny that I don’t like the outcome of the ruling, but even beyond that, and looming larger, is the power grab I see in DC. Unfortunately, all I get in dissent is, “Blah blah blah. Too bad. You lost. I don’t care.” Yes, literally, those words.

          Be Sociable, Share!

            On Wednesday evenings around the country, many churches hold mid-week services or children’s programs, or bible studies. Sometimes, all three. A few weeks ago, a pastor was leading one of those Bible studies when a visitor came into the church and sat in on the group. He was welcomed to join in. He requested to sit next to the pastor, and so he did.

            An hour passed by with readings from the Bible and discussion, perhaps about what the text meant, perhaps about how to apply it personally. Even, perhaps, asking for the visitor’s thoughts, though I would imagine that the group, not wishing to create an awkward situation, probably didn’t push him to participate in an unfamiliar setting, content to let him listen in, and yet willing to let him speak should he want to.

            I don’t know what was discussed, or what the passage was that was the topic of the evening, but the visitor later said that the people were very nice to him. So nice, he said, that he almost … almost … didn’t do what he had come there to do. But in the end, he did, and when he was done, the pastor and 8 others had been shot dead.

            Dylann Roof had come there to start a race war; to start an uprising that would supposedly boil over into a full-blown conflict.

            At this point, we can only guess what he imagined the sequence of events would be leading to that war. Certainly he had seen the news reports about riots in the streets in other cities when a white man killed a black man, so it’s conceivable that he thought his actions would create the same situation, only more violent, because unlike many of those other instances, these would be killings that were obviously pre-mediated, with no other explanation than hatred. He wouldn’t have any self-defense case. He wouldn’t be a cop who may, or may not, have thought his life was in danger. No, nothing would be murky about this. This would be a clear cut case of racially-motivated murder, possibly causing an even more violent reaction than those previously.

            But all his plans were taken apart piece by piece, because of who he targeted. He targeted those who believed that you should love your enemies, and pray for those that hurt you. He targeted those who believe that the merciful are blessed. He targeted those who are told to forgive as freely as they themselves have been forgiven.

            He targeted a Christian Bible study. And while he was committing those acts of hatred, of malice, of evil, he had no idea that he was also opening up the floodgates of the love that those he killed professed. Those that survived, and hundreds of others in Charleston, though undeniably hurting, expressed that love to him. A reporter covering the crowd that stood outside the arraignment had a difficult time keeping his composure in the face of such love.

            Inside the proceedings, instead of acrimony and hatred, surviving family members expressed the forgiveness that the evil had certainly not expected.

            I would like to note that the faith community in other cities with unrest – Baltimore, Cleveland, and others – did take a stand and tried to calm and heal the tensions in their area, sometimes meeting with gangs to come to a truce, sometimes with special services for those in need because of the riots. But because there were riots, they got the headlines, and the tweets, and the Facebook posts. But in Charleston, riots didn’t happen, so they didn’t mask what good things were happening.

            So now it can be seen, and it is surprising, amazing and, dare I say, perplexing many who see the love of God in action. It’s been there, perhaps in the background, not grabbing the front page, but it’s been there nonetheless.

            There are those that believe that God, or even just religion, isn’t necessary to express this kind of love. We can, so the idea goes, work this up within ourselves without any help, because the capacity is clearly there in people. I would say that, yes, the capacity is there, because we are made in the image of God, and since God is love, we too have that ability. But while we, within ourselves, might be able to approximate the appearance of such a love, it is but a dirty reflection of what is truly possible. If, instead, we let, not our love, but God’s love shine through us, that’s when you’ll see what it really looks like, and it will be surprising, amazing, and perplexing.

            Some will ask, “Where was God? Why wasn’t He protecting His church?” That question has been asked many times, in many situations, throughout history. Perhaps one of the earliest examples of an answer to this comes from a man who was sold into slavery by his brothers. Through a series of events, over the course of years, he became second in command of the biggest economic power of his time. And in that position, was able to return good for evil, and save his family from a major catastrophe. You may recognize the Biblical story of Joseph, the son of Jacob. Or you may recognize the musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. Either way, when his brothers felt extremely uncomfortable in the presence of the one they hurt, Joseph forgives them, telling them that, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” We don’t always get to see the big picture – we may not live to see the big picture – but for those who trust Him, God uses the evil to work out the good. Dylann Roof intended to start a race war. He failed because God’s people let Him shine through them.

            If you’re wondering how such forgiveness and love can really happen, I have a suggestion. Somewhere near you, very likely, is a church. Now, you don’t have to jump in completely to their Sunday service. You might just want to test the waters. Try getting your feet wet at, perhaps, a Wednesday night Bible study. One of those almost stopped a gunman filled with hate. Imagine what it could do for you.

            Be Sociable, Share!

              Riddle Me This Mr Lynch

              So, public tar and feathering was proper and righteous when a baker refused to bake a cake for a wedding ….

              Would a Black owned bakery be similarly treated for refusing a family baking a cake in memory of their ancestors bearing the Battle Flag of the Army of North Virginia? Hmm?

              Hypocrisy runs rampant in the public square, eh?

              Be Sociable, Share!

                Of Sign, Symbol, and Culture

                In 1977 I was passing through Chicago with my family (I was just finished my first year of High School), we’d gotten off the train and were wandering around downtown Chicago prior to renting a car and driving up to Wisconsin to visit grandparents (both my mother and father’s family lived south of Madison in a small town and a farm … for kids, the farm was way way more fun). There was something of a kerfuffle near city hall. Seems some KKK boys were having a parade. Do you think that parade would be allowed today? I’m doubtful.

                A decade or so later, PBS had a hour long program that I recall about four small sub-cultures in retreat. French speaking Quebec and their separatist movements, the Basque, and two others which escape my memory. At the end, they had an editorial verbal essay about how cultures often go to separatism and similar gestures to maintain a cultural identity in the large wash and mix of our modern Babylon.

                Seems pretty obvious that events and symbols which evoke pride in accomplishments past are one of the obvious means of doing that. Sometimes these symbols are not quite untarnished, but it seems uncharitable in the extreme that those who hold to those symbols are not remembering the good, but the bad instead. That some evil and some insane men cling to those same symbols on account of the tarnish does not change that we should remain charitable. Read the rest of this entry

                Be Sociable, Share!

                  How One-Party Rule Has Affected Cities

                  A few thoughts on this particular subject.

                  Chicago, Illinois; the safest city in the US because of its strict gun control laws. Heh, no, not really. It’s got some of the highest gun crime in the country in spite of, or perhaps because of, it’s strict gun control laws. Gun control is one of those things that liberals insist works in spite of the reality to the contrary.

                  Here’s another: in spite of Chicago being a liberal paradise – not having a single Republican governor for over 80 years since 1931 – somehow the city’s economy is crumbling. It’s Democrats who keep insisting that they, and not Republicans, know how to bring the poor out of their situation, and believe that if we only spend enough money on a problem, it’ll get solved by government. And yet Moody’s Investor Service, which rates, among other things, the municipal bonds of cities, has downgraded Chicago’s credit rating to junk level. It also said that the city’s future outlook is negative, which I guess means that someday the credit rating could drop to “extra junk”, “junkier”, or maybe “double secret junk”.

                  I’ve mentioned Detroit, Michigan in the past. They’ve had Democratic mayors since 1962; about 30 years less than Chicago, but still over half a century. And yet the economy and infrastructure have seen better days. The city of Baltimore, Maryland was in the headlines for riots over the death of a black youth in police custody, and the state of its economy came to the fore during that; an economy where poverty was still rampant. And its mayors? Only 1 Republican since 1947.

                  Read the rest of this entry

                  Be Sociable, Share!

                    Baseball Silliness

                    So Max Scherzer almost pitched a perfect game (stymied apparently by a guy leaning into a pitch to get a hit-by-pitch call). Now a perfect games is all good (9 innings 27 batters). You could of course improve on that.

                    • Impossibly perfect game of the first degree, nine innings 27 strikeouts.
                    • Impossibly perfect game 2nd degree, nine innings 27 pitches … all hit in play for an out on the first pitch.
                    • Impossibly perfect game third degree. Pitchcount exactly 81 pitches. All strikes, three pitches per batter. No foul balls on the third pitch to any batter.
                    • Impossible virginal perfect game, Pitch count exactly 81, all strikes no batter touches a ball.

                    Any more suggestions for improvements?

                    Be Sociable, Share!

                      What’s Your Opinion of Opinion Polling?

                      The founder of our Stones Cry Out group blog, Rick Brady, was much more a student of polling than I, but I wanted to give a few observations of my own, such as they are.

                      The science of polling the general public has had its good and bad times, and it appears it’s going through one of those rough patches at the moment. Mark Olson, who also blogs here, refers to polls as “cricket races”; basically a snapshot of where things are in a particular race, that has as much bearing on our lives as a race amongst crickets. If it’s a slow news day, release the results from a poll, and call it news.

                      Some might put the word “science” in the phrase “science of polling” in scare quotes, not convinced that it’s much of a science at all. I do have some respect for those whose lives are in various statistical occupations. It seems like a black art, but, for example, one pharmaceutical client I worked for years ago had a Quality Assurance group that tested the products coming into the warehouse before they could be shipped out, and they explained quite a bit to me.  I couldn’t relate what they said now – I really can’t remember it all – but basically, given a good random sample, they could give you a good reading on whether or not the batch that just came in was good enough to ship out. Yeah, the only way to be totally sure was to test it all, but to get close enough to 100% sure without going overboard, there was a lot of science backing up their procedures.

                      Sampling people, on the other hand, is nowhere near as straightforward as sampling pharmaceuticals. People can say one thing, and yet do another. Which apparently happened in a big way over in the UK recently, when the conservative Tories trounced the liberal Labor Party in national elections, gaining their first outright majority since 1992. This even though Nate Silver, the US polling expert, had a look at all the UK polls and proclaimed that a Tory win of a majority of seats in Parliament was “vanishingly small when the polls closed – around 1 in 500.”

                      So much for that prediction. But the predictive value of polls is lessened when the pollsters themselves hide some of their results. It happened in the UK, and it happens quite a bit, apparently. No pollster wants to publish results that wind up being way out of line with those from other polls. No one wants to be the outlier, but that’s what happened in the UK. A last-minute poll by one group got the percentages virtually dead on to what the voting results were, but they didn’t publish it, “chickening out”, as the group’s CEO explained. It’s a herd mentality that we see in news coverage as well.

                      Read the rest of this entry

                      Be Sociable, Share!

                        Links: 2015-06-11

                        1. Your feel good story for the day. (HT)
                        2. Mr Schraub shows is partisan bent … in that it was very partisan of him that he twigged on that and not, say, birth citizenship queries aimed at Mr Cruz (or the somewhat silly NYTimes “expose” pieces demonstrating Rubio had (gasp) some parking tickets a few decades ago).
                        3. A freaking felony? Truly!! Stupidity squared.
                        4. I think what underlies this post is one of the things separating the left from right. The left thinks our civilization is robust and strong. The right knows it is not … tell me what caused the decline and fall of Rome? How do you know that won’t happen to us too? Read too the Dominic Flandry novels by Poul Anderson for a vision of life during the decades and centuries of the decline. As goes the predominance of the our Protestant work ethic and our can-do attitude about what is possible so goes our future.
                        5. Pointing out the problem with we’re not charging you with a crime, but your response to our investigation … that was criminal.
                        6. Squid farmers on Mars, “so who should have won the Hugo?” Hmm. The Martian never won. That was in the top 3 best sci-fiction novel of the last decade or two. How’d that get missed?
                        7. To cheer up the conservatives, a reminder … the failure and fall don’t happen over night.
                        8. Freedom of speech on campus … and a confused girl.
                        9. The Urkainian conflict as war as UFO.
                        10. Big data and the government. The author the linked letter has trust in the government. Look, Google and lots of big retailers know lots more than you’d expect about you and so does the government. But for myself, I’d trust Google further with that then the state. I know why Google (as proxy for commerce) wants that data. They want to sell me stuff, but not randomly, they want to be able to sell me stuff that I actually want when I actually need or want it. Just recall the recent IRS partisan attack on conservative groups and ask yourself if you really think our state can be trusted not to abuse their data, haven’t abused that trust already.
                        11. Considerations of Pacific conflict and geographical implications on the same.
                        Be Sociable, Share!

                          Scattered Thoughts on Law and Ethics

                          Take two sets of actions and deeds, in the first set we have “things which are moral” in the second “things which are legal”. There may be overlap. Observing the fights about various things in our (mostly urban/rural cultural divide for which party serves as proxy) like marriage, divorce, abortion and so on .. many if not most people confuse the two and figure what overlap there is (most killing for example) is intentional and what is moral and what is legal in a “good” society would be a very close if not exact match. This. Is. Wrong. Very wrong. It is an unconstitutional and un-American idea.

                          Here’s the thing. The purpose of the law is to structure our society to promote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (and happiness != pleasure but the meaning Aristotle and the like intended).  This structuring of law as constructed in our country leaves morality out of the metaphysical framework underpinning it. “Life, liberty and the pursuit …” is not the 10 commandments. It isn’t a call to act rightly. It isn’t a prescription of how to act or think. Our law is not encoded so that we will be righteous by what ever meta-ethic you or I live by. But free, alive, and able to pursue excellence.

                          This isn’t precisely true however. You notice our founders made particular exceptions for freedom of religion and the law subsequently has made a point to encourage religious practice. Many, especially of the academic left and press think religion and it’s place in our society is a relic and it’s time has passed. It might be worth noting a really good start in this discussion which shouldn’t be ignored is first to read through this discussion. Then argue from there.

                          This realization that law and morals (personal ethics) are independent has consequences. For example,

                          1. For most, what is moral should take precedence. If you must do something because it is right, you must do it even if it is illegal.
                          2. Take abortion as an example. If you think abortion is immoral, don’t do it and don’t advise those around you to do it. If you want to argue that it should be illegal those arguments shouldn’t center on how it is immoral but how it doesn’t exactly give a chance at, erm, life, liberty and pursuits to those who are among the weakest and smallest in our midst (there’s a Rawlsian argument to be made there). You could point out that excluding people from personhood based on particulars of their existence and not the ontology of their being has a very poor history of human rights vis a vis the 20th century. There may be good arguments on the other side of this question, but they are not known to me so I won’t attempt that. Similar “life &c” argument can be made with respect to most, if not all, of those things over with the rural/urban cultural divide quarrels.
                          3. Moral instruction for children, an essential responsibility of parents, is quintessential. This is the most important thing a parent can impart to their child. Why? Because the civil environment (law) does not do that. But you can’t be happy (see link above) without ethics. After all ethics can be succinctly coined as a study in what is good (and doing that). Without know what excellence is, how can you be happy?
                          Be Sociable, Share!

                            On Iraq Invasion … Answer:

                            How many iterations do I get? I mean, we know a lot now about what worked in Iraq and what didn’t. If I knew what worked I could alter my tactics and strategy and do it far better the next time. But … that might not get it quite right, can I do another iteration and fix what doesn’t go right the second time? Be kind of cool, run the Iraq war like Tom Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow”. Gosh we could do lots of things if we could replay hundreds of times. Now you can run this both ways from the onset to do nor not to do. But when you have replay ability clearly “do” is the correct answer, because gosh, whenever you say “do” you can replay until you get it perfect. If you “don’t” then there is no action, so no replay. So apparently the question real question at hand is “would you like a perfect Iraq invasion” or “no perfect invasion”. Clearly perfection is better.

                            Follow-up on this question is to ask the questioner first what thing in his life he’d most like to redo. And perhaps as well, to suggest some of the things you’d start doing differently in your re-do.

                            That’s the “interesting” answer. Now less “clever” answer but smarter political tack, which was a path not taken, is to turn the question on your political opponents, that is to ask about decisions made by those whom you see as your adversaries whether they’d redo their decisions. Like regarding Obamacare, Libya, or the early Iraq pullout, any “redo” or second guessing there?

                             

                            Be Sociable, Share!

                              A Link (and some remarks): 2015-05-13

                              1. Syria. So a year or so ago, our President “drew a red line” in the sand taking a “hard stand” against the use of poison gas. Assad (and/or the opposition) used said gases after he said that. Turns out that “red line” meant, “let’s talk”. Supposedly back then Mr Putin hornswaggled the President diplomatically and brokered a wonderful deal which satisfied everyone. Except, now there are reports that weaponized chlorine gas has been in use for some months in Syria. Why isn’t that bigger news? Why isn’t it talked about. I don’t get it.
                              2. So the Clinton’s both of them, are scum. They’ve been involved and complicit in so many scandals and have so many items of pure greed and corruption laid to their feet that the mind boggles. Yet somehow, because “they’ve done it before” nobody except the opposition party seems to care. I really really don’t get it. I’m not saying that they need to go to jail (though that would be nice) but … that seems a very low bar. “Not going to jail” is no reason to listen to speeches or pretend you’d vote for them.
                              3. Mr Schraub (and lots of other people especially on the right … which Mr Schraub certainly isn’t … ) get affirmative action exactly backwards. Affirmative action is wrong not because it “helps” minorities at the expense of other (mostly missed minorites, e.g., Asian Americans) but because it is harmful to those it supposedly benefits. Those on the right gripe about aff/action for the wrong reasons. Read Clarence Thomas’ remarks on why he thinks his Yale law degree wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. Or watch (or recall) the movie “Tuskegee Airmen”. The critical error by the openly bigoted people running the training squadron was that making things very very hard creates an elite unit. And how do you destroy the moral and capabilities of a group? Lower the expected standards. Aff action is wrong because it is harmful to those it pretends to help. This should be obvious to everyone observing it. So the point regarding Ms Clinton and Mr Obama gets it hind end foremost. They overcame the deleterious effects of affirmative action. This, on their part, is commendable … but any advantages they received from it is likely dwarfed by the disadvantages (again, read some Thomas on the subject and learn).
                              4. And a last snipe  at his post… Mr Schraub writes “Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were and are every bit as qualified and meritorious as your typical President before them” … hmm. Mr Obama was less experienced and qualified as Ms Palin and as qualified as Mr Cruz and about Ms Clinton, well, we the prior point and remind everyone that for example selling US Uranium ore rights to Russian plutocrats to raise money for your PAC is the apparently exactly the kind of qualification Mr Schraub applauds. I remain ignorant of the methods and metrics people use to determine (and those on the left seem very very sure about this sort of things) how “qualified” or “smart” a politician is. As above, I don’t get it.

                               

                              Be Sociable, Share!
                                 Page 1 of 240  1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »