Of Heresy and Marital Ontology

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.

Going Round and Round

Links seen round about.

  1. So. What constitutes “brilliant”. It is indeed difficult often to notice brilliance in an endeavor with which you don’t have expertise. For example, although Mr Obama is touted by the left as very smart, like dentistry, I for one have no clue what “brilliant” or even “smart” means with respect to law. Do we judge him by results, in which case, “meh”. Do we judge by rhetoric, which is unusually dishonest … and certainly pedestrian. Do we just depend on the testimony of other experts in that same field. In which case, partisanship likely over-rules honesty.
  2. This is an unusual observation of suburban vs urban demographics. Not very compelling future it paints as well. This quote “Suburbia is the slave quarters of the postmodern plantation, where most of the people that create wealth live.” Really? I deem actual slaves (which we are told by those watching such things) are more numerous than 200 years ago would dispute the notion that those in suburbia are slaves.
  3. So, is this an viewpoint that is a point of commonality between left and right, or right only? I wonder if any survey has been done comparing the views of what defines abstractions like dignity, rights, good, evil and so on between those prototypical of left and right.
  4. An epitaph.
  5. Apparently young white liberals are measurably racist. Who knew?
  6. Mr Trump’s candidacy. I suspect that the reason he’s #2 is cricket race contamination by the other team. But perhaps that is just because I want to think of voters in a charitable way.
  7. A result from fake data and science gone wrong (in the shootin’s too good for him category, I deem)
  8. Apparently the PC (translation: stupid) backlash against the battle flag of Virginia did indeed have consequences for trashy comedy. Here are some outsider’s thoughts on the matter.
  9. Grist for the slipping marriage slope discussions.
  10. Tech gets down and dirty … and big.

Grrr

So. I’ve been busy (yet again). Now I’m on a job, which is fairly big, in Ohio (outside/southeast of Dayton). I found a place to swim (woo. Did 2.5 km today! … huff puff). It’s a bit of a drive (less next week as I’ve sorted the hotel/pool/jobsite triangle better). We start early on the job … but I promise. Links with each with a short paragraph remark tomorrow.

Oh. John Wright has a new novel. That has been sucking time as well. It’s an excellent start btw. (if this is your first Wright novel, I’d still suggest starting with Golden Age)

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?

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.

Hitler was not a good man. In fact, in the 20th century he was one of the top ten in the “most evil” category. However, during WWII the Wehrmacht (literally Defense Force) especially the Heer )(army) were unparalleled as a fighting force. If you consider the quality of armed services from officers to privates of any of the services in WWII that the Wehrmacht was unquestionable by a large margin far far better than the rest. It is a sign of how ashamed of Hitler’s regimes great crimes that this is not remembered positively at all in the modern era. In part that is because Germany is not, like some other cultures, in danger of losing their identity. We Westerners are somewhat puzzled when Russians want to bring back their memories of Josef Stalin, who joins Hitler in that top evil ten list; but who while he brought them so so much pain and suffering with his endless purges, mass executions, imprisonment and enslavement of his own people also lead them through a time of testing. For those who want to remember and honor him do so, in spite of his evil, but because of the great things that they in his time accomplished by modernizing their nation and surviving and overcoming by dint of pure stubbornness that superior Wehrmacht noted previously.

Similarly many in the South remember the Civil War and their brief fight for independence in the same manner. All but a few of those who would fly that flag are not concentrating on the evils of slavery but on the valor and bravery on the battlefield. They recall that they were few against many and they stood. They recall they were greatly outnumbered, had far less industry, and little commerce when compared with the Union and yet their armies fought far far better man for man, and their quality of leadership/generalship far exceeded that of the Union. Being proud of such as that is not a bad thing. It is in fact, good. Seems to me we should be charitable to those who would fly that flag are doing it for those reasons and not assume instead that they are evil or insane.

Today’s repudiation of the flag of the Confederacy is uncharitable. It is a sign that Americans, at least those in the opinion generating elite, have lost our typically enthusiasm for the stubborn underdog. It is a sign that that the liberal cultural elite no longer believe in the multi-cultural values that they used to profess.

But this is a failed essay. John Adams derided Thomas Paine as a wrecker and not a builder. He (Paine) could point out the flaws in a government and raise people to insurrection, but he was not a builder. He had no interest in suggesting a better path, of building a new better place. Like Mr Paine, this essay fails, because I don’t know how to reverse this, admittedly, horrific trend on the left, our tendency these days to exclude from conversation those ideas found wanting. How are we to return to people to can at the same time, know that slavery is wrong, but at the same time welcome men and women who want to honor their brave honorable predecessors who wore the Gray.

Global Climate Confusion

So. Global climate change alarmists are … well alarmed. But gosh, if CO2 levels increase that encourages greater plant growth. Seems to me that is a good, not a bad thing.

Fresh water is predicted to be a shortage problem in many areas in the globe. But higher tropospheric and ocean water temperatures will lead to increased evaporation into the atmosphere, which in turn will lead to increased rainfall, which is fresh water. Again. Good thing.

Now, some bad things might result. Some people might have to move. But people aren’t trees. We are mobile. We can construct dikes (see the Netherlands or New Orleans and other reasons inhabited regions close to oceans and below sea level).

So. Question: why do climate alarmist never ever mention the positive aspects of warming? Seems to me most of the changes would be good, not bad.

But if we want to warm things up, we have to work a lot harder people? This CO2 thing isn’t going to help much.

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, with no foul balls on the third pitch, just strikes.
  • Impossible virginal perfect game, Pitch count exactly 81, all strikes no batter makes contact with a thrown pitch.

Any more suggestions for improvements?

Manfred and the SSM Debate or Riddle Me This Mr Liberal

Recently at Symphony I was privileged to hear Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony, which is  loosely based on a Lord Byron poem of the same name. And while I am unfamiliar with the poem, I did in fact read the program notes. And what I read there spurred a question to which I have no answer with respect to the modern liberal position vis a vis marriage and who is allowed to partner in such arrangements.

The liberal position with respect to homosexual partnerships is that they should be allowed to marry even though the relative numbers of such partnerships is very small and the there is no possibility to have children. These are not dis-qualifiers for the state to sanction marriage in their view.

So here’s my problem. Manfred by Lord Byron is (we are told) is an expression of his forbidden sexual desire for his sister though the eponymous hero as proxy.  So to put a point on it, in the context of reasons the liberal arguments why can two men or women may marry but a man cannot marry his sister? Or let’s put it concretely. In a state where gay marriage is allowed, what argument could you muster for me not to marry my sister? What reasons for gay marriage are there that do not apply equally well to my marriage with my sister (or for that matter, my brother, my mother, my father, or grandmother/father …. if they are currently not married to anyone else)? It might be added that I have had a vasectomy, so no progeny are possible so the “genetically damaged offspring” argument does not apply and cannot be used. Also, the numbers of people desiring such relationships are not relevant (apparently). (side note: I have no sister so no siblings have been harmed by the this test case).

The non-religious conservative case, that marriage should privilege heterosexual marriage because children are both hard to raise and required to continue society forbids all these newfangled relationships. The exclusion of religious arguments depends both on the insistence that the Declaration of Independence separates law from morals/ethics and that the Habermas/Ratzinger debate is a clear Habermas win. I’ll concede the first half of this “both/and” but not the second, but note that most American’s although they should concede the first half, typically don’t.

So. Riddle me this Mr Liberal? What reasons for two men to marry don’t apply to me and my sisters’ desired nuptials? Or should we be planning seating charts and ordering a cake from a Islamic bakery (and will you condemn and attack said bakery for bigotry because they won’t deliver said cake because they object to our being wed in admittedly not-holy matrimony)?

Links and Remarks

  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.

A Wrong (but very common) Notion

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?

Money In A Mattress

Is apparently illegal. I never knew that. Mr Hastert is obviously being defended vigorously by the Bill Clinton defenders who seem to think lying to government official in order hide embarrassing  events in ones’ past is a thing that is permitted (note, that they never seem to remember that attempting to tamper with witnesses is not that). Oh, wait. that’s not happening.

But actually, the only things Mr Hastert has been charged with so far .. are hiding money in a mattress (which is as noted illegal, … but who knew? I certainly did not) … and lying to the FBI about being blackmailed.

I do have another question about that. Look. You are being blackmailed. It is almost certain that when the authorities approach you some sensitivity is required by the authorities if they want to stop the crime of blackmail. Well. That failed utterly.

Some Books Recently Read

So, I like a few others read Mr Stephenson’s Seveneves. Unlike Mr Beale I was not as taken aback by the social themes for their own sake, but unlike Mr Likko while I agree Mr Stephenson has full control of his craft, I found much of the major plot elements unlikely. The whole Lord of Flies destruction of thousands for the sole purpose of the title of the book seemed, to strain my credulity (as well as the transparent venality of the former President, which oddly enough few seem to notice). So, when I finished the book, I was on the verge of recommending to many of my acquaintances … but as the hours (not days) passed, the “but …” kept coming up about things I found unlikely or unreasonable. So, for my 2 cents, if you’re going to grab some science fiction for your summer reading, I’d instead recommend Mr Wright’s two series (start with The Golden Age or Count to a Trillion). Of those two series my thought’s keep returning to themes and phrases drawn from those two. That of course is if you haven’t read The Martian already.

I did finish Prit Buttar’s Collision of Empires, covering World War I focusing on the Eastern front, the blog post which pointed me to this work, of which I don’t recall the provenance, noted that this was one, if not the only, historical English work covering that part of the war. It was striking how all of the actors in this affair while mostly (to greater or lesser degree) understood that defense in this time (due to technology) far outstripped the capabilities of offense at the same time. Yet almost everyone of them (Conrad especially) insisted that vigorous offense was required of their troops (to the obvious horrific consequences).

 

Two Really Good Answers to “If you knew then what you knew now” Question

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?

 

A Short Thought

A month or two back in a comment thread I had remarked on how then President Clinton had promised the Ukraine after their separation from the Soviet state that they didn’t need to keep the nuclear weapons stockpiled there. He, in short, promised that the US would insure their national boundary/security against Russian aggression. Well, we all know how that turned out. When I’d remarked on this, the reply was that nobody on either side of the aisle wanted to get involved in the Russian/Ukrainian dispute. And I don’t disagree with that.

But. (and ain’t their always that sort of thing cropping up). But that being said, the thing about keeping your word and those trusting you to hold to your word isn’t about when keeping your word is easy or in your best interest. It’s keeping it when it isn’t easy, fun, or affordable.

If you make a promise. Keep it. If you inherit a promise. Keep it. And remember that, so you don’t make promises you don’t plan to keep.

And you wonder why the current President whose main rhetorical method is the BS session comes off so so poorly.

Random Things I Don’t Get

  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.

 

Remarks for Monday

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.

 

Training and Training and Travel

So, back home and now caught up on sleep. Fitness training took a few days off, with some shoulder soreness and work requirements overlapping. On the other hand, my “brain” fitness experiment is under way. I’ve chosen texts (with a trio of Sussman &co books as the textbooks with which I’m starting). I’m out of practice, which in itself is interesting.

My eldest daughter arrived home from college today, which is a good time for us in this little house.

Race to Train, Train to Race

Is a saying in master cycling, and likely every masters sport. If fitness is a big part of the point, racing is great training  (so race a lot) and on the other hand, racing also serves as a focus for your training.

But. Right now, I’m not racing or cycling much until I get this SVT thing figured out (I’m on a med now that might be do it).

Physical training is simple. For cycling, a technique “light” sport, training comes down to managing levels of effort (intervals and so on) and rest. Swimming, the sport I’m beginning to get interested in, is a technique “heavy” sport. Alongside the interval and rest side of the equation, technique of stroke is very important to your ability to go fast for sprint or distance. But all things told, physical training is straightforward. You plan workouts. Set goals. Periodically take “metrics” to measure progress locate weaknesses so as to structure future workouts and goals, and repeat.

What I’ve been thinking about lately is how to move that sort of relatively straightforward methodology to other arenas, like programming, maths, and other more purely intellectual pursuits. More on that as my experiments begin.

Sundry and Vary

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.

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.

Hmm. Links?

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.

What That Probably Means

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.

 

Two Remarks, Off the Cuff (Or From the Airplane) as It Were

So, Ms Clinton has officially thrown her hat in the ring. Ms Clinton, unlike many other contestants in this contest, mystifies me entirely in several respects. The chief source of my confusion lies in why on the earth would anyone ever vote for her? What positive qualities do they think she has that would encourage one like her, much less vote for her? I fail to see any. That being said, I don’t know much about the current/prospective crop of GOP candidates. Mr Walker and Mr Cruz are interesting so far mostly in the light of the positive spin the deluge of bile and spite from the left, meaning, if they garner such hatred and fear something must be in their favor.

Recently in comments the observation was made by me, that those of the left or the “other” party, have a habit of overreacting in response to those who badge as conservative or of the GOP, but whom their expectations are that they “should” be liberal (or Democrat). Examples abound, and demonstrating isn’t the point of the following question (example: try coming out as a gay conservative). But as is often the case, that those things we do are less obvious to us than those things others do. The question is, do conservatives exhibit the same behavior? Do you know of any examples of conservatives overreacting against anyone who “should by all rights be a conservative” but who is not? What, if any, similar behavior does the right do? How do conservatives overreact especially with frothing-at-the-mouth hatred and scorn?

 

Yikes

I’ve been neglecting the blogging thing. I’m going to blame (mostly) Holy Week last week which in addition to getting exercise sucked all my spare time out of my life.  Anyhow, our Paschal celebration was exhilarating and joyous and we are not in Bright week.

I’m traveling later today and will try to pen an essay for posting tonight whilst on, uhm, da plane boss, da plane!

Experts Believe

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.

What Dread 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.

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?

Some Links

So. Working out of a Hotel.

  1. For the “regulation doesn’t impeded development” crowd. It does. Lots.
  2. Don’t worry, Obama and the left already are figuring out how to give ISIS it’s own state and seat at the UN. ’cause like Palestine, legitimizing their desire kill Jews and destroy Israel will somehow weaken them. Whatever happened to “don’t negotiate with terrorists”?
  3. From a time, apparently, when the press was somewhat more reputable and not so dominantly ideologically bound to one point of view. Wonder if he’d have said that if the press was 98% pro-British tories?
  4. Mr Cruz and reasons why the left hates him. I read the transcript of his speech announcing his candidacy. Looked OK from my end.
  5. German civil disobedience.
  6. I am woman, hear me roar. Or not. Y’all do realize, either feminism mean’s women are capable, strong, and all that. Or they need safe rooms and play-do. Not both. Pick. I’m going with the empowered, for my vote, arm your daughters. Which is to say, I concur. I fail to see how anyone would disagree. This too is not unrelated.
  7. That reminds me, #1 daughter recently got us to watch a Luc Besson film, Adelaide Blanc-Sec, The Adventures of. Watch it. Very amusing and cute … and quite the stick poked in the eye of those that thing “female heroines” are just women how act like male action heroes.
  8.  In that vein … man-alive “doofus” doesn’t begin to describe it. Infantile stupidity squared.

Two Strange 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 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 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. On the other hand, computer programmers put dates YYYY/MM/DD … so that things sort numerically naturally, we’ve got quite while before pi days become interesting for real people, i.e., programmers. I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader (or Wolfram Alpha) how many days until May 9, 3141.

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.

 

Getting It Exactly Wrong: Extremism

Often you’ll hear or see someone making the statement, the “problem” is extremism. Sometimes the term extremism is replaced with fundamentalism. There is a problem with this statement, if you examine what is meant by that, nobody believes it and contrary to being the problem, extremism is exactly what we are supposed to be doing. Extremism is not a vice, it is a virtue. More than that, pretty much everyone would agree that this is so.

Examine common extremists, Olympic athletes, professional athletes, and the top researchers in physics, mathematics and chemistry are all what we would regard as extremists. They have devoted their entire life, to borrow from the Bible have, devoted their pursuit of their goal with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. What they are doing is how extremism is defined. They are taking their pursuit of excellence, be it a time in the dash or a proof of an abstract concept … it consumes their attention, their life. Breaks from that pursuit are (typically) intentionally taken to bank their coals, to spur them to higher and greater efforts when they return. I’d mention politicians, who can often also show great zeal in their extreme efforts mostly in the pursuit of … (yikes).

Oh, comes the objection (from the marginalia), but we mean religious extremism is what is bad. Hmm. So, secular extremism is good, religious extremism bad? Except that isn’t quite so. The most common example of religious extremism a common religious in these parts, are monks. Monastics, like those athletes, devote themselves entirely to God, withdrawing from the world. Horrible they are not. Secular extremism is also bad when the thing pursued is a vice (alcoholism for example).

This may yield a clue.  Extremism may be seen as human in pursuit of particular excellence (as opposed to general excellence). One concentrates on one thing, as exclusively as possible and devotes ones life to that. If the thing for which you pursue is is a vice, or generically “is bad”, then this form of extremism is harmful. But pursuing vice is bad, in and of itself, that is the loci of the “badness” of extremism to the cause of a vice, not the extremism itself.

See also “arete” or what the ancient Greek’s would have recognized as common extremism.

Next up: why fundamentalism, is also not problematic.

Sunday Sunday (links)

Well, post swim lactic acid and endorphin levels have ruined my chance to offer a intelligent essay. So … on to links.

  1. A middle ground?  You mean like where people who want guns can get them and those that don’t don’t. Sounds like a middle ground to me.
  2. So the left has been full frontal attack mode on Mr Walker. They’re making him a more and more attractive candidate from where I sit. I mean, for example, when you demonize a guy for “gosh he’s making it illegal on Wisconsin campuses to report rapes and assaults” … uhm, dig just a little bit and you find he’s doing that at the effing request of the University (not a hotbed conservative place, btw). And the whole, “he’s clearly unqualified” after giving reasonable responses to stupid/unreasonable questions. Uhm, no. That’s not unreasonable, but hey, the questions were.
  3. On speaking truthfully, unless you are a politician. (for a prime example see our President), in which case (to borrow from Shania Twain) as we know politicians only lie when they’re breathing.
  4. On the IRS and Obamacare.
  5. On the IRS and their breathing thing, or lying thing .. whatever.
  6. Tech for the plant floor.
  7. Cool image.
  8. Evil and consequences.
  9. Zoom.
  10. A school (down under) getting it all wrong.
  11. Left wing boorish bullying, an example.
  12. So, Obama vetoed Keystone, because he things rail is much cleaner safer way to transport oil. Teh stupid, it burns.
  13. So, will the Rubicon be crossed in the next decade or two? Wonder if anyone is laying odds.

The Great Canon (continued)

So, some selected passages from tonight (Tuesday’s) canon. (tonight’s link is to Tuesday’s canon, and is the translation we used in our service tonight)

(from the 3rd ode)

In You, the Destroyer of death, have I found the Fountain of Life, and now from the heart cry out before my death: “I have sinned. Be merciful and save me!”

I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned against You, but be merciful to me, though there is no one whose sins I have not surpassed.

I have imitated those who in the days of Noah indulged themselves and like them I deserve to perish in a flood.

(later, ode five)

The midwives, though instructed by Pharaoh to kill the male infants of the Hebrews, obeyed their God instead. Now that you, my hopeless soul, have been spared death like Moses, like him also be nourished on the wisdom of the Lord.

By killing the oppressive Egyptian, Moses severed his bond to Pharaoh. But you, O my hopeless soul, have not even begun to attack the wickedness of your mind. If you have not accomplished even this much, how can you expect to pass through the time of repentance, which alone can drive away our sinful passions?

(ode seven)

You have heard of Absalom and how he rebelled against his father David, and know how he defiled his father’s bed. So why do you still imitate his wild impulses and his love of pleasure?

By following Satan your freedom has become enslaved to your body, O my soul, as when on Ahitophel’s advice, Absalom revolted against his father. But Christ has scattered the Enemy’s counsel that you might at all costs be saved.

Solomon was mighty and full of wisdom yet did wrong before the Lord when he turned to idols. And you, my soul, resemble him in your evil life.

Solomon was carried away by gratification of his lust. Alas, he who loved Wisdom now makes love to prostitutes and finds himself estranged from God. But in your every thought you have imitated him, O my soul, through your disgraceful love of luxury.

Thwack.

The parallelism I noticed to night is interesting. The text of Ode one from Monday night, is logically connected to the Ode one of the following night, not the next ode on the same night. Kinda of an inducement to pay attention, eh? An example of that? Here is the last stanza from Ode nine of Monday night,

After He had fasted forty days in the wilderness, hunger revealed the Lord’s human nature. Therefore, O my soul, do not despair if the Enemy attacks you, for it is only through prayer an fasting that he shall be defeated.

and here is the first of Ode nine of Tuesday:

The Devil showed stones to Christ which He could turn into bread, then led Him to the top of a mountain to show Him at a glance all the kingdoms of this world. O my soul, fear the Devil’s craftiness: watch and pray to God at every hour!

Where in the World (was Mark tonight)

At the Great Canon of St. Andrew. The Great Canon is, to put it mildly, a penitential 2×4 swung by a gorilla hitting you right between the eyes. An introduction can be found here.

Here are the first few meditations from the first (of 9) “odes”:

Where shall I begin to lament the deeds of my wretched life? What first-fruit shall I offer, O Christ, for my present lamentation? But in Thy compassion grant me release from my falls.

Come, wretched soul, with your flesh, confess to the Creator of all. In future refrain from your former brutishness, and offer to God tears in repentance.

Having rivaled the first-created Adam by my transgression, I realize that I am stripped naked of God and of the everlasting kingdom and bliss through my sins. (Genesis 3)

Alas, wretched soul! Why are you like the first Eve? For you have wickedly looked and been bitterly wounded, and you have touched the tree and rashly tasted the forbidden food.

The place of bodily Eve has been taken for me by the Eve of my mind in the shape of a passionate thought in the flesh, showing me sweet things, yet ever making me taste and swallow bitter things.

Adam was rightly exiled from Eden for not keeping Thy one commandment, O Savior. But what shall I suffer who am always rejecting Thy living words?

It’s not unrelenting. For example, from tonight as well, “Thou art the good Shepherd; seek me, Thy lamb, and neglect not me who have gone astray.”

Most if not all slavic and OCA Orthodox churches will be doing the Canon every evening this week through Thursday night. If you have the time and ecumenical inclination and wish a spiritual penitential push, visit and worship with them. You will be welcomed.

 

Oh, What the Heck

Links?

  1. It is indeed winter. See? Nature can impress, eh?
  2. The are spreading … and it is a religious movement. And not extremists, alas. The President’s strategy of denying their religious origins/basis is, to put it kindly, “a well intentioned but dishonest campaign”. Hmm. Well intentioned and dishonest, sounds like our President’s modus operandi for many many things.
  3. Security and technology, or asking a high school kid to hack a car.
  4. Hmm. Who’s job was it to stop the Balrog? Somebody had to, apparently, put their foot down and say, “You shall not pass!”
  5. How post-modern scholarship gets it (being it = history) wrong.
  6. I wonder how unintentionally ironic that headline is, after all “insane and unbalanced” is a pretty good self-portrait of that particular site. Well, insane might be too strong, unbalanced however is constant as the stars.
  7. Nanotech in nature.
  8. Some verse.
  9. A book now in my inbox. Looks good.
  10. Heh.
  11. I hadn’t realized most outdoors hiking/camping/mountain climbing deaths are by the very experienced not the reverse. Makes sense though. Doesn’t really sound like anything anyone needs to do anything about though.
  12. Regulation. So, is that a generalization principle? That regulation needs to establish both (a) the need for said regulation and to (b) establish that proposed regulation is feasible at a sufficiently low cost. Low. Cost. !!!! Grrr.

Confusing Tactics

So, the Grey Lady has decided enough water has passed under the bridge to have an article pointing out that … indeed there were WMD in Iraq. I guess they figure the “lied/died” meme is entrenched.

I remain confused on two points. Why release this now? And, why did (apparently) the Bush admin hide information about the WMD during the last years of his Presidency?