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?

Links with Remarks

So, what have other people been talking about, eh?

  1. Well, that’s true, … but actually just about everyone toward the top of the world-class game is effing hard core. The exception is the few who are not.
  2. Hmm. (if true) Don’t worry that’s matched by the liberal intellectual and political elites who underestimate it.
  3. There is a serious problem when people who give voice to the cry of “teh racism” don’t bother to deny the actual fact that there was cheating involved. Is your race supposed to give you license to cheat? Or what?
  4. Now that’s very cool. On the not-very-cool and not completely unrelated news, my Christmas present for my daughter (glow in the dark plant seeds which were (supposed to be) genetically modified with jellyfish DNA to glow) … haven’t arrived.
  5. Speaking of very cool. Bet you could shoot planes with that. Somewhere recently I read that many many inexpensive drones with explosives would make tanks and capital ships like the one carrying ordnance linked obsolete, forget both sides have drones. You’re going to have a bloody war (as it always) with defensive and offensive drones fighting. That is just another front. You’re still going to need ships to carry troops, ships to protect those ships, tanks to protect infantry, and as always … infantry. I don’t think that’s changed yet.
  6. Speaking of unrestrained power in motion. This is interesting to watch.
  7. What passes as liberal labor theology is just out of my site racism. Until the minimum productivity/wave fanatics stop talking about US wage laws and start pushing for global wage standards … it’s just racism of a different sort.
  8. A very strange architectural wonder. My sweet wife has a fascination for very small houses (I think there is a movement, but don’t recall the phrase). I think the about 100 sq foot houses require a warm climate where you can do much of your living outdoors. Which is nice. It just isn’t where the thermometer reads single digits for much of the year (if at all).
  9. So, Mr Obama opened a can of stupid and declared that the Crusades were a Christian war of aggression in which atrocities were committed. Here’s as close as an even handed look at that point of view as you’ll find. I mean, if “because it was war and all wars contain atrocities” and Christianity was involved (just as Islam is involved in ISIS, which he denies (keeping that can open)) therefore … uhm. Isn’t this supposed to be a “smart” President. Why such a simplistic shallow view of the Crusades? Hmm?
  10. University budget cuts and how it is pointed out how an argument of this hardship is not made correctly.
  11. If true … the President should be excoriated for many lifetimes.
  12. Who is paying for ISIS/ISIL? (who is playing their video?) Answer should be nobody. Why isn’t it nobody?
  13. An economic indicator of hard times ahead. So, optimists, ‘xplain why that’s not a problem.

 

Missing a Measles Point

Uhm. Am I missing something or is this just a matter of righteous payback?

Kids are getting measles and it is spreading because a significant population of non-vaccinated people exists. Either the vaccine doesn’t work, or the only kids getting sick aren’t vaccinated. Isn’t that the choice? You vaccinate or you risk getting sick. If you don’t vaccinate and you get sick. Uhm, wasn’t that the risk you signed on for? I’m not getting why anybody gives a hoot about this at all.

Following Rome

So. As the Roman Empire got too large and complex they went to a Eastern/Western Empire situation. If you take as given that the job in front of today’s US executive is too complex to be handled by one man, would instead of a geographical a similar separation of responsibilities might help allow someone with who could be more expert in the area and a smaller contingent of responsibilities make sense? For the following take it as a given (as in we won’t argue that point) the job needs to be broken up and concentrate instead on how to do so.

This question it seems has two parts. The first is, wow to best break the job up. Foreign/domestic seems an obvious choice, but there may be other ways. Bertrand de Jouvenel suggested in his political philosophy that there were two types of leadership, one that drives forward toward a goal and one that can reconcile differences between people. Perhaps that would be another way to divide the two. Any other suggestions?

The second part is, how to implement this? Could this be done by dogmatic precedent (like the two term limit which followed Washington’s example for so long)? Could a President announce at his inauguration that he was doing this, and his vice President was going to, say, handle 100% of foreign affair issues and he would 100% concentrate on the domestic affairs.  The titular President would promise to rubber stamp any decisions made by his VP as if he were signing them as long as there were in the foreign affairs sphere and vice versa. Would this fly? If not, why no? Or would a full Constitutional amendment process be required to effect this?

So. Vaccinations?

Some ground rules should be established in these conversations. Everyone should agree:

  • Vaccines greatly decrease the chance of contracting the disease which they target.
  • If a significant proportion of the population is vaccinated, then epidemics are unlikely.
  • This “significant” number does not have to 100% to be effective. Flu shot vaccination rates hover around 50% for the last few years according to the CDC, and no epidemics have occurred.
  • Vaccines are not 100% risk free, although globally speaking the benefit outweighs the risk. This, of course, does not help either the person getting sick or having an allergic or auto-immune reaction.
  • All currently required childhood vaccines are for horrible illnesses. Measles for example “Most patients with uncomplicated measles will recover with rest and supportive treatment.” (from the wiki). Like chicken pox, in childhood in the 50’s and earlier .. almost all kids got the Measles. Oddly enough people survived.

My question is, if you think measles vaccinations should be mandatory, why don’t you think flu shots should be mandatory?

If you think free riders are a problem and deserve active censure, should childless middle age adults (or older) be similarly censured?

Race, Logic and the Left

Consider the following, almost to a person those on the left would agree it was (would be) OK to vote for a man for the President on account of his being Black, or for a woman (say like Ms Clinton, but never never like Ms Palin) on account of her being female, or for a student to be admitted on account of his/her gender, race or other superficial feature.

This is wrong and here is why. I will use “vote” and “Black” as my examples, but this can be extended without modification to other situations and criteria (like admissions and gender or race).

Premise 1: It is a permissible criteria to vote for a man because he is Black.

Premise 2: If a thing is a valid criteria for, then it is valid criteria against. Valid criteria compromise those things you consider when making a choice. If a thing is a valid criteria then it is purely personal preference whether a particular criteria weighs for or against a decision.

Statement 1: It is racist to vote against a man because he is Black. Conservatives get told this all the time, it must be true.

This is a direct contradiction, of the two premises. Therefore either premise one is false or premise two is false. Premise two is not false by symmetry (and kindergarten, “turnabout is fair play”). Therefore premise one must be false.

If you voted for Obama because he was Black or support affirmative action, therefore you are a racist. Logic insists. See.

Or to put it another way, Martin Luther King said the color of a man’s skin was not a valid criteria with with to judge him. Why was he wrong?

“Islam is not the Problem” … Is that Right?

Many of our intellectual elite keep (White House, others) keep repeating that Islam is “not the problem” behind the terrorism, violence and so on in the Middle East and elsewhere (France for example). What is not said in those pronouncements is, if Islam isn’t the problem, exactly then where does the problem lie? It seems likely that the statement Islam is not the problem is only half right. People who claim “Islam is the problem” (or not the problem) can be compared with people who claim “germs cause disease” (or that they don’t). Stating that Islam is or isn’t “the problem” isn’t useful. What are some more useful remarks or questions that might be raised instead? Such as, what does a more complete story/picture look like? What are useful ways of approaching this matter, not that the President and the left elite don’t have a useful way, they just are very very coy about what that way is, as “it’s not X” does not explain “it is Y”. Continue reading →

A Little Confusion

So, the left has gotten unhinged about Mr Christie offering that vaccinations for kids be voluntary. This isn’t an “anti-vaccination” position, as he hasn’t said not get them. If you need evidence that they have gotten unhinged, the proof is in the conflation, equating “anti-vaccine” with “optional”.

Look. I’m not getting the kerfuffle. Explain to me the difference between optional flu shots and optional measles shots. The first is OK, the second a horrific idea. Not getting it. So. Explain. (hint: “It’s about the children” or “‘cause they are minors” earns you a dunce cap and won’t be considered a response). So why are flu shots not required for everyone? Hmmm?

Or is this just the purely partisan stupid hacking like it looks like?

 

Wednesday Linkage

So. Back to work tomorrow.

  1. Carnegie-Mellon puts PV=nRT to the test.
  2. No prejudice in the alteration of data.
  3. Methane for vehicular fuel, exhibit a and exhibit b.
  4. School hi-jinks.
  5. Corruption in (a) government noted.
  6. Someone on the right praises Ms Obama.
  7. With the common practice of security free medical devices, do you think security will be a primary concern for its use. (Update: I hadn’t checked past the headline when I linked this. Apparently it’s a security update that makes this a possibility. I’d still be concerned however, I think if you were installing a hackable device on my heart).
  8. Very cool. Wonder what it would be like to play with that on at the same time.
  9. 200 million? That seems not very much, it’s likely they lost more than twice that from employees borrowing pencils and office supplies.
  10. Unemployment and welfare.
  11. Military aid for families takes an ironic turn.

Tomorrow’s the Day

So. Surgery (sort of) tomorrow. Technically it’s a cardiac Electro-Physiology Lab study. The lab study will attempt to replicate my SVT (Supra-Ventricular Tacchycardia). If it can be replicated then RF ablation will be used to stop the cross-talk between nerve clusters on my heart. Then the SVT trigger process will be repeated event. When if/when the SVT cannot be triggered via electodes …  we are done and my SVT will not recur (and ala Monte Python, there will be great rejoicing).

If you have a mind to, offer a prayer for me tomorrow about 11am CST. Thanks.

Update: Good news and bad news. Good news is, I’m in recovery (at home) and things look a good … for recovery. The bad news is that they couldn’t emulate the SVT event in the first step and never did any ablation. I’ll have a followup in a few weeks. One option I’m considering is seeking the option of trying this or s similar procedure with a EP specialist who is an amateur endurance athelete. My impression is that they didn’t push hard enough to trigger the event, in part not realizing that my heart is quite a bit fitter than average.

Links Ahoy

Linky link.

  1. Still seems like mental illness to me. The dysphoria <->BIID comparison seems to make that clear. It might be that the best available treatment is to live with it, but that doesn’t make it not a mental illness.
  2. Not unrelated, Mark Daniels on addiction.
  3. Toyz.
  4. Nutt’n better to do I guess than pretend to know about that which you don’t.
  5. “Digitally faked”. Now that’s just wrong (and embarrassing to own up to I’d think).
  6. An animal with a backpack.
  7. A use for old hard drives.
  8. “Everywoman” … isn’t.
  9. Extra-terrestrial taking a leak.

26 days to (Western) Lent. 31 Days for the Eastern Church (for which there are 10 days to the Triodion … this Sunday is Zacchaeus Sunday).

Tech Attempt

New Tablet … an attempt to see how android 5.01 works with WordPress for creating links posts.

  1. Oh. It’s a race!
  2. Color me unsurprised.
  3. I am not unsympathetic to the notion that at some point in end of life, end is inevitable and pain and loss of dignity is the only thing left. However, I also think euthenasia should be illegal and a likely jail term in the offing. That isn’t to say, if push came to shove and the hard choice was mine to make, I think if you love your parent or spouse, isn’t that love great enough to go to jail for your beloved? *That* will prevent abuse. It is often the error that illegal=immoral (hint: it isn’t. And furthermore, when given the choice, moral wins, not legal).
  4. I use LastPass. How ’bout y’all?
  5. Fiction, Fact, stranger than … Raiders of the Lost Arc edition.

Well, that wasn’t impossible. I need to figure out how to create enumerated list in the android wordpress app.