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.
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    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?
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      Gosh, If You Could Do That Over … (a better answer)

      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?

       

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        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.

         

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          Links: 2015-05-11

          What’s gnu?

          1. So. Some possibly ISIS inspired Islamic fellows decided freedom of speech isn’t for them and attacked a group who purposely insulted their religion (which reminds me, if you can’t depict Mohammed with pictures why it both a common name and people with that name have pictures taken and published). Be that as it may, the usual suspects some out with remarks.
            1. A liberal commentator invites the attacked groups leader and declares her interview to be filled with hate. Except alas, said hate is nowhere to be seen. Methinks the accuser self-labels himself as that which he accuses.
            2. A cartoon in response.
            3. And a column on freedom of speech (in which said cartoon was first seen).
            4. more here.
            5. The liberal response in a nutshell. (apparently … you can recall their not-similar reaction to, say, “piss Christ”)
            6. Is this related or not?
          2. Grist for the Indiana bakery discussion.
          3. An interesting division by sex in the motives of serial killers.
          4. A suggestion of a famous art piece’s interpretation.
          5. Loss of credibility has consequences.
          6. Journalistic malpractice on display.
          7. The fine print on Obama/Kerry’s Iran centrifuge deal.
          8. A very cool time-lapse sequence.

           

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            Links: 2015-04-28

            Snippets?

            1. A liberal ponders Baltimore, and while he professes to be optimistic certainly seems not to be. His optimism is founded on “hopefully we’ll have an exceptional leader” is his only hope having found that process and and representational liberal solutions have failed. This is hardly unsurprising as social destruction of the two atomic parent family and those discounted (by liberals) conservative values being lost trump process liberalism and representation.
            2. My thoughts on Baltimore mirror what has been said elsewhere (including perhaps badly by the President). Even though liberals and elites think terrorism on the other side of the globe doesn’t sully the message. They. Are. Wrong. In the Middle East and, say, the Chechen mountains murdering civilians rightly invalidates your message. Do you want people to respect your right to self govern in Palestine? Then stop killing women and children with bombs. Do you want police to take more care in their jobs? Then don’t riot, steal, and destroy. One of the complaints of inner city slums is that everything costs more locally than it does in the exurbs. Guess what? You just made it even more expensive. Good work. You just bought the Baltimore police free sympathy, after all, look at what they’ve been dealing with.
            3. The other thought on Baltimore is that this is a continuation of a retrogressive civilizing trend that’s been going on for quite some time. In the 19th century wars had a lot more conventions and rules. We’ve gone away from that and it’s not a good thing. It’s a sign of less order, less thought, and less honestly and honor. A fight between individuals (or nations) doesn’t have to be a “until you call uncle” affair, but could … if the combatants be civil decided at a stage significantly sooner. More akin to a duel, which is sometimes but less frequently, “to the death” but decided by an agreement to hold to the outcome of a symbolic struggle. Nations too could struggle via proxy, if they could honorably and honestly hold to the outcome of said proxy contest. Alas, men aren’t by and large honest anymore. Certainly not our world leaders at any rate.
            4. Well, the liberal elite certainly have no sympathy for it. And a law to be challenged I’d offer.
            5. In light of the NRO article about DA Chislom using his office to quash political opponents. He’s not backing down, but upping the ante. In the absence of any liberals coming to his defense, which seems to imply his position isn’t defensible, where are the cries from the left against him?
            6. Tasting the winds of change. Mr Fernandez is not optimistic about the crises in education as typified in the recent failure of a chain of colleges in California, which if Baltimore hadn’t irrupted we’d be talking about today.
            7. At least my kids did some free running. Those in authority which went against that Maryland couple who let their kids walk from parks to home … should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.
            8. Actually I’d like to see more of this in general in the hospital systems, inviting friends and family to help in the care seems like a great idea.
            9. So. Get out of Jersey when you can, I guess.
            10. A great lady noted.
            11. What the climate models have demonstrated very well. A succinct way of putting it, is that these models all operate under the principle that CO2 is a driver of global warming. They they all fail, demonstrates the converse, CO2 is not the driver of climate.
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              Suitable President: Loyola and Napoleon

              Bertrand de Jouvenel in his musings on authority and power suggests that in the executive there are two primary qualities needed. These qualities are not “either/or” type features but often one dominates over the other. Jouvenel is French, so his examples he draws from French history, and actually from one particular element of each of the titular men’s life. For Loyola he cites an (apparently) famous painting in which Loyala is seen under a spreading oak tree and with his words and example reconciling two opposing people. Reconciliation and bridging of differences is the feature that he cites for Loyola. This is one kind of leader. Napoleon he cites another painting, a heroic charge across a bridge. Napoleon (again apparently) through his charisma, leadership and bravura inspires his mean and leads a charge across a bridge capturing victory from defeat. Inspiring leadership is the second quality that we seek in our chief executive.

              Neither alas, has been found in any measure in my lifetime in any executive elected in this great nation.

              My suspicion is that the reason is how our electoral process has developed over the years. The qualities that are required to win the election in this country have little to nothing to do with the qualities that would serve us best in serving in that same office.

              Fortunately we are in something like a democracy, which as noted is the worst sort of government … except for all the rest. Let’s hear it for representative democratic rule. Sucks less! What a wonderful slogan.

              Which brings to mind another question. What two opposed qualities makes a good leader of a Church?

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                Links: 2015-04-21

                Haven’t done a links post in a while.

                1. Exhibit A, why ivory tower eggheads get ignored. Want to stop it, stop suggesting stupid things.
                2. Answer, … confiscation.
                3. So, GPS mistakes have in the past, by saying “turn now” convinced people to drive into lakes and such. Doctors and nurses sometimes don’t ask “is this reasonable” when a computer error occurs either. Consequences can be deadly to ignoring common sense.
                4. Not fossils.
                5. Guns and society. If you think you can’t trust your neighbor with guns, why trust the state? The state is comprised of people like your neighbors.
                6. Hard to believe.
                7. A statistic to start a conversation.
                8. “Vampire Squid”
                9. Why? Seriously? Answer: Unions.
                10. This is making the rounds (here too). Comparisons to Hitler’s Germany are not apt. But then if the motivations are political then there is also no defense. And … what the heck? You can’t talk about this! That doesn’t sound legal. More importantly, it doesn’t sound ethical and ethics trumps law.
                11. Well that’s because the slaves aren’t homosexuals.
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                  Decoding The Text

                  So the President and his ilk announced recently that Cuba would be “off the terror state” list. Oh, goody. But then you get to the why. Why are they now off the list. Well, it’s because Cuba has not sponsored acts of global terrorism for the last 6 months. Hmm. Why the six months figure and not, say, a year, or two, or more?

                  Well, it probably means they did actually as a state initiate or sponsor acts of global terror in between 6 and 12 months ago … even if you need a security clearance of some sort to figure out exactly that act that was.

                  Gee thanks Mr President.

                   

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                    Experts and Suchlike

                    Experts believe Iran is 3 months from a nuclear device now … and if the Kerry/Obama agreement is kept honestly by Iran (and you can take that with a grain of salt(peter)) then they will be a year from having a device.

                    These same experts were the ones who said Iraq had lots of poison gas, where taken completely by surprise by Egyptian uprisings, the Russian Crimean adventure, and pretty much every uprising and event in the last decade. The question really is, who are these experts? Why does anyone believe them when they say anything? Who pays these guys? And …

                    The kicker, Mr Obama has on many occasions spoken of his (secret because details are never given) plan to proceed to a non-nuclear weapon world. How does giving Iran (probably) a weapon faster and more resources to fight conventionally (see their recent overthrow of the Yemen government) … get you to a safer place.

                    Not seeing it.

                    Mr Obama. You can complain about us in the States not having faith in you. But you see, you have to actually make arguments for the things you believe. That argument has not once been made publicly . So, don’t just ask us to trust you. ’cause we have no reason to trust anymore. You’ve told too many baldfaced lies for that.

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                      Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act

                      The state of Indiana has come under fire for passing their version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. RFRA, as it’s called, was passed in response to court cases that eroded First Amendment protections of the exercise of religion. Religious freedom used to be judged on a case-by-case basis, considering whether each law had specific exemptions for religious groups. Charles Schumer, Democratic Senator from New York, introduced a bill in 1993 to set a standard on how religious freedom cases should be considered; using the same standard that another First Amendment protection – freedom of speech – was adjudicated. I’ll get to the details of that standard in a moment. The bill passed the US Senate 97-3, and by acclamation in the House. Bill Clinton signed it on November 16, 1993. Today, that same action at the state level is being called “bigoted” by Democrats.

                      States have been doing this ever since a Supreme Court decision said that the federal RFRA didn’t apply to the states. Most of the states that have one use language identical to the one Clinton signed. But while religious freedom used to be supported by Democrats, the rise of a particular protected class (and reliable Democratic voting bloc) changed all that; homosexuals. Once again, as we have seen so many times, politics trumps everything else for the Left, even, apparently, the Bill of Rights.

                      The fear being stoked is that this will allow Christian businesses to turn away gays just for being gay. Here are a couple of articles that are lists of frequently asked questions about the Indiana RFRA, and they explain, no, that sort of discrimination is not protected. If a Christian denies service to someone simply because they are gay, on the grounds that it’s a sin according to Christian doctrine, you would have a tough time proving those religious grounds in court. According to Christianity, we are all sinners. None of us are perfect. So that business owner would have to deny service to everyone, including him- or herself.

                      Participation, one way or another, in a same-sex marriage ceremony has been the typical cause of contention. And all of the examples that I’ve seen that have been taken to court are regarding business owners that would bake cakes, take pictures, or arrange flowers for a gay customer for any purpose other than a same-sex wedding ceremony. This is most definitely not discrimination against gays because they’re gay. It is, however, a religious objection to a ceremony that the business owner does not wish to participate in.

                      Read the rest of this entry

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                        That Dread (Medical) Thing

                        So. 50. In this day and age, turning fifty (which I did a few years ago, but … ) means you get your recommended endoscopy (colonoscopy?). So I did it today. People talking about it talk about the putative horrors of the day before, drinking and getting, err, emptied out. Turns out it really was no big deal. Not too bad tasting. Not too much. The after effects, not horrible, just kind of insistent. And the procedure itself? Well, the recommended “twilight” medicine basically prevents long term memory formation. So, afterwards, …. it’s kind a like nothing much happened. Scattered memories of the start of the procedure. Not much else.

                        So,  if you dread it. Don’t.

                        Oh, the other thing. In my case, the good news no polyps. No growths. Clean slate. Woo!

                        And another note, apparently routine endoscopy to check for growths and polyps is regarded as the “banana” of health care. Cheap and very good for you. Couple that with it not being at all a big deal, means … it shouldn’t be avoided.

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                          Kinda Dumb, Question Remains, Intentional or Not?

                          So, this sort of thing is going around in many ways all over. Succinctly put (from here):

                          If you want to feel depressed about the future of American politics, Obamacare confirms an unnerving phenomenon that has been well-documented by social scientists: more and better information has almost no effect on the political mind.

                          It’s some sort of mirage apparently to the left, who remains convinced that it is just a misunderstanding that divides right and left. Which is apparently their premise, but I can’t believe they actually believe that.

                          It is a common practice in many sciences, especially physics, to start with a toy, highly abstracted model to demonstrate the essence of a concept. Let’s posit two parties, positions, “political minds” (whatever the heck that might be), call them the dog party and the cat party. Let’s pretend the dog values exactly one thing, equality and that the cat also values exactly one thing, freedom. A perfect communist utopia would be exactly what the dog, in this example would find the ideal. It is their goal. The cat party on the other hand would look at the (mythical perhaps) wild west as shown in movies as their ideal. It is their goal. Then you present both with a “Obamacare”, a large complicated healthcare plan that has costs, benefits and so on. Learning more and more about it is going to not change the dog or cat perceptions on the benefits of this plan one bit. This shouldn’t be unnerving at all. It is clear, those who value equality would like Obamacare as it shifts more resources from the “haves” to the “have-less”, it equalizes things. Those who value freedom would see this is one more diktat from people who should be mindin’ their own bizness and gitten out of theirn. Learning more about it, isn’t going to convince them one bit that it looks any better.

                          The thing is, those like the poster, Mr Klein all know that the left and right don’t share the same value structure, that they don’t evaluate “goodness” of programs and political situations with the same cost/benefit matrix. Our political system, for better or worse, is naturally bi-cameral. This means that to get any say at all, you align yourself with the “team” whose actual or declared (… which in a perfect world is aligned somewhat) cost/benefit matrix for evaluating “goodness” of decisions is best aligned with yours. Those like Mr Klein know this.

                          Question is, why pretend otherwise? I dunno? Any guesses?

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                            It’s milestone time! Episode 100 of the Consider This Podcast has been released; conservative commentary in 10 minutes or less. (OK, but since this is a special occasion, that time limit has gone out the window.)

                            Well, I made it all the way to episode 100! If you’ve been listening, thanks so much. If you haven’t, might as well start now.

                            I start out the show with greetings and feedback from listeners. Yes, there are people out there actually listening to this, and I appreciate it very much.

                            Then we take a trip back to Camelot, as Mark Twain’s character did in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”. In that book, there is a short chapter about … economics. No, really. And it’s trying to teach a lesson that, over a hundred years later, we’re still having to relearn.

                            Let me know your thoughts on these or other subjects. Click on the link for the show notes and ways to send your feedback, including calling 267-CALL-CT-0 (267-225-5280) or emailing considerthis@ctpodcasting.com. Subscribe to the podcast in iTunesStitcherBlubrry, or Player.fm.

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                              Two Strange (post workout) Thoughts

                              First off, this weekend, we get a high “holy” pi day, after all, 3/14/15 is 5 digits of pi, not just 3. Except it isn’t. See, 3.1415 are the actual first 5 digits of pi. Except if you were to give pi to the five significant figures, that wouldn’t be 3.1415 but 3.1416 as the next digit after 5 is a 9 and you’d round to 6. So if you want to be a pedant (and we all do, right), then on Saturday you may correct people and tell them that next year we’ll have pi to 5 significant figures and this year is the wrong year for that. Also, you could point out your envy for that long lost March day in the 16th century, 3/14/1593 (or 1592 depending on your point of view). Also, April 31 doesn’t exist, so the Europeans are just plain out of luck when it comes to pi days. On the other hand, computer programmers put dates YYYY/MM/DD … so that things sort numerically naturally. In that case we’ve got quite while before pi days become interesting for (us) real people, i.e., programmers. I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader (or Wolfram Alpha) how many days remain until May 9, 3141, i..e, 3141/5/9.

                              And secondly, this GOP letter to Iran is just plain dumb. Look. Nothing Kerry or Obama say means squat. Practically every statement either of them ever utters is a bald-faced lie that has little to no relationship to reality. What they say is about what effect they figure their statement will have on the listener not whether the statement itself bears any relationship to intent or truth. On the other hand, that is probably true of the Iranian delegation as well, so birds of a feather and … they can craft a document wich history will likely regard in on a par with the Stalin/Hitler Poland pact … and anyone believing that they have any more sincerity than that pair has been smoking in Colorado too much.

                               

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