Swim Log: 3-17-17

Main set: 2×50 on the 1:00 repeated three times with a 1 minute break. Trying to keep :44 on the swim part. I think I’ve figured out how to practice pacing. The start interval was consistently :43 and the 2nd :45 on the above set. I need to work towards being able to complete 4×50 on the 1:00 keeping the time steady through all four 50s on the :46 or :47, not too fast on the first, and managing to hold the speed on the last 50 still at :46/:47. I’ll work on that in the next three weeks. Did 9×100 kicking with a final tempo (1:35 100). All breaststroke except for warmup. 4 weeks to my next meet.

Total yardage: 2500

Nationalism and Common Sense

Our former sexual predator-in-chief, err, former President Clinton recently pontificated quoted here as saying, ““taking us to the edge of our destruction.” Mr Trump’s campaign slogan “make America Great Again” and the left reaction that this is tantamount to fascism stems from some pretty wobbly thinking on the left’s part. It is a common and not unrelated economic judgement/mistake by liberals to think that economic transactions are zero sum. Zero sum economic transactions are in fact very rare. Usually they are not zero sum, but both parties benefit from the exchange. I benefit from my customers from their paying me, they benefit from my work as a programmer for example. Both of us come out ahead in the transaction. America “being great” is also not a zero-sum exchange with other nations. Other nations don’t have to have their “greatness” diminished for America to be a healthier stronger nation. One would think that to be obvious. If America’s education system, roads and infrastructure, and pride of place was among the best in the world … this would not come at the expense of the infrastructure in China or France. But both China and France could benefit from medical and technological developments that came from here. And likewise, if China became “great” in those areas as well that would not mean our freeways would be in worse repair.

Liberal elite similarly tout that education should be equalized. They go to great efforts to reduce suburban parents ability to assist their local school district because there exist urban school districts who don’t have parents with the same interest or resources. At the same time, oddly enough, the liberal elite members pretty much universally send their own (actual) children to the best private schools available.

The instinct to get the best for your children is not far from the instinct to wish for the best for your own nation ahead of other nations. It isn’t wrong. Doing otherwise is what is unnatural (which is why those liberal elite fail so often to put their own children in public schools).

The actual Nationalism that liberals would be right in fearing is if Mr Trump desired or thought, like the Nazi Germany they allude to in their responses to Mr Trump, that our Nation should rightfully be conquering or ruling other countries. Alas, all lack of evidence of this motivation has not in any way hampered the liberal mindset in their allergy to National aspirations.

Of Bigotry and the Left/Right Divide

For three to five decades the left has been hammering the right on racism and sexism. And for the great majority it is clear that this programme of theirs have been successful. After all, if it wasn’t successful then we wouldn’t be seeing the goal posts shift so violently in the last decade adding numerous other “isms” as well as adding such thought crimes like “micro-aggression”. Clearly, if macro-aggression was a thing that was a big issue micro- wouldn’t be discussed. However, unnoticed certainly by the left, the left has become as bigoted as the right ever was. It’s just that the left isn’t bigoted and horrifically biased against a particular race or gender. Their target of hatred is the GOP and conservative Christianity. Don’t believe me. Take the following thought experiment.

  1. Scan the headlines today, tomorrow, or over the past week. Look at a dozen articles (can’t find one? here’s a humdinger … note absolutely no evidence is given for the outrageous claim) making over the top claims against Trump or the right. (How about the person who claimed Mrs Trump was a prostitute? as another example)
  2. Now .. replace Mr Trump with Mr Obama and modify the insult to match (with as much basis in fact) and pretend a conservative said that new statement.
  3. Is your immediate reaction that the speaker must be racist?
  4. Guess what. You’d be right.
  5. And if you found yourself not being outraged by the original article or perhaps agreeing with it.
  6. Then guess what? You are just big a bigot as the mythical conservative (who you might note, most of whom never ever said things that outrageous about Mr Obama)

Midnight terror raids have been replaced by beatings and violence at rallies, burning and rioting at speeches, and paid thugs disrupting political rallies (a side note, while the Dem right now have been quick to equate our President with Hitler … paid thugs to disrupt rallies, beatings at rallies, riots to disrupt and so on … where the tactics used by actual, not pretend Nazi party members). This is however just a symptom of the bigotry noted above.

Question then is, how best to show to liberals their own growing bigotry? Here’s one small suggestion. Many times you’ll hear statements made by liberals to the effect “Conservatives say/believe/think XYZ” and the XYZ statement is one that you as a conservative is ridiculous (for example, conservatives want the poor to have no access to healthcare). You might try pointing out that you’ve heard that if one would say,

I’ve heard that if one was to say ‘Black women just have babies without marrying their husbands for the welfare checks’ that the liberal response to this is that that this statement is both untrue and racist. Many have those children for a variety of reasons, they have numerous different ways of approaching the opposite sex in their communities and making derogatory generalizations like that is racist.

And you know what, you’d be right. Statements like that are evidence of bigotry.  So … why do you think it OK to generalize about conservatives in the same manner? Why do you pretend that it isn’t just as an egregiously bigoted statement that you just made?

Academic Insanity

Noted. Seriously, how dumb can you be. Although perhaps he was just repeating a common left wing meme.

Now, in the last two terms Mr Obama was secure from the threat of impeachment largely for two reasons. The first being that the GOP learned after impeaching Mr Clinton if that tact fails, it strengthens the impeached and doesn’t weaken him. The second reason is … after impeachment Mr Biden would have been President … and nobody in their right mind would want that. However, apparently the left has forgotten exactly how impeachment works. While any House member may suggest proceedings, you need a majority in the House to start impeachment. Hello liberals? The GOP has a strong majority in the House … and then … if impeached he’d be tried in the Senate, which is also has a GOP majority.

The left is also blind to the notion that their strident and, frankly, horrible and unjustified reactions against Mr Trump are pushing people exactly in the opposite the direction that they desire. Worked for me. I was lukewarm at best over the notion of a Mr Trump presidency. The left is every day convincing me more and more to support him more and more. Go figger.

Mr Trump and the Wiretap

So, several things were proven by the latest round of “Obama wiretapped me”. One of the main takeaways is that left wing reporters can’t use google. See this “8 point” review. Point 2 quoted although I think “diving deep” is an exaggeration:

Diving deep into Roget’s Thesaurus, media outlets were quick to call the President’s charges “baseless,” “unfounded,” and “without evidence.” What they seem to mean is that he didn’t footnote his tweets. But any halfway decent reporter could have found the source of the President’s charge—a Breitbart article that built on earlier reports by the BBC and Heatstreet. These articles make quite specific claims that the Obama administration used the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to investigate alleged Russian ties to the Trump campaign.

“Any decent reported” aka one who’s heard of google … kinda a low bar, eh?

The final point is the real salient takeaway, btw.

Kentucky Cloaking, err, Clerking Devices

So, the lone Kentucky clerk is now in jail. On charges? Of contempt. Well, h*ll, I’ve bushels contempt for a whole lot of jurists, elected officials, and public scalawags pretending to serve the people while most assuredly not doing so. I hadn’t realized holding in contempt those well deserving of same is actionable.

Her jailing is apparently (“bad optics”) is a meme going around. Ya think?

But aside from that, this jailing is done by the feds. This is a state (actually county) clerk enforcing state laws. Her failure to do so doesn’t violate federal statutes, but state ones. Apparently the state hasn’t decided to censure her or prosecute. What is odd that … those who think this sort of thing is wrong, fully supported those who decide that the biased non-supporting of federal immigration statutes by just deciding not to is in the purview of the federal law enforcement and prosecutors is just peachy.

Either supporting the law (all of them) is the job of the President, the Attorney General, and every public official on regards to immigration and every other statute on the books … as well as by county clerks or disobeying such statutes because they are inconvenient or against some personal principles is ok. Both are wrong nor neither. You cannot and maintain any principles declare that these statutes can be disobeyed by those you like and those you don’t like can’t.

Which reminds us, why exactly is Ms Clinton not being arraigned on security related charges? Hmm. Could it be politics. See above. If the clerk goes to jail, so should Hilary. They could share a cell. Last thing I read about Ms Clinton’s “emails not marked confidential” included an email detailing all the known locations of North Korean nukes. On what planet does anyone pretend that isn’t confidential or higher in security clearance (answer apparently: Democrats with inactive grey cells).

Sometimes You Can’t Complain

Oracle is suing because Google “ruined” Java for mobile devices. Uhm, Google created their own version of Java because Oracle (having bought it from Sun) wouldn’t open it up enough that they could afford another companies controlling the development language for their devices. You can’t complain that others took a concept that you wouldn’t open up to others that they went and played in their own playground instead of your tightly controlled one.

It’s akin to the people living by the O’Hare airport who complain about noise abatement because of jets. When you a buy a house that’s a steal because of noise, then when you own it … trying to press for noise abatement isn’t something about which you can justly complain.

The principle is clear. When you make a choice which has advantages and drawbacks at the time you make your choice. Complaints about drawbacks should be ignored.


Regarding Inside/Out

My wife and I had a “date night” cinema viewing Saturday. We saw the Pixar Inside/Out at the dollar theater.

I thought the notion that the “joy”-self was identified as the primary ego/self driver for the pre-teen child an interesting notion that might be plausible for most healthy happy kids. Also plausible is that emotional maturation consists in part (mostly?) with bringing a more complex emotional group to drive “self” image.

I’m less certain that emotional selves get lost in the inner mind in times of emotional crises.

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.

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.

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)?

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.

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.


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.

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?

“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 →

Off the Cuff

So, Dr Gruber, not a politician. Ya think? This gets much mileage in the press and the liberal politicians are going distance themselves from him as if he he were scalding acid. Abortion as eugenics, to be applied to minorities, hmm. That’s palatable, albeit Ms Sanger was in the camp too I think. Regarding Mr Gruber, the outrage is confusing. I mean, here is a guy who admits selling Obamacare on falsehoods. But I mean, why is the right acting all put out? Those lies were not believed by the right, but by the left. Why is the left not outraged that they were sold a bill of goods? Politics remains very confusing for me.

Some IQ specialist thinks he has evidence that intelligence is not nuture but nature, which will alas irk the (mostly racist) race theorists no end (see this too). So, if it comes out that intelligence (and therefore success in school) are due to nature not nurture, can we stop with the stupidly high inheritance taxes that the left thinks are necessary to stop the “rich” from having unfair advantages?

I wonder what this sort of graph but instead for the WWII Germany/Soviet Eastern front wars would look like. It would be appalling I think. Appropos of that and in the discussion which mention Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo. But like most of the Western canonical history forget that Russian led armies sacked Paris in 1814. The same poster (rightly) mocks those college students of today who are so so so ignorant of history it seems.

Regarding Ms Feinstein and her “release” of CIA investigations on torture. The left’s thesis (which is badly flawed) is (a suggested thesis of her report) is that torture doesn’t work, ergo we shouldn’t do it. Actually historically it seems very very likely that when done efficiently with an understanding of what you are up to, it works and works very well. See Mr Fernandez excellent book  No Way In (or read about the Gestapo and well, anywhere they operated). Look. Every single time a resistance cell loses a member to the torture using establishment everyone has to find a new safe houses, move and so on. Why? This wouldn’t be so if torture was ineffective. But. It is. The argument against torture is not that it isn’t effective or cost effective but that is immoral. It is wrong. That is the only argument needed or which should be used against it.


A Few Remarks on the Comet/Shirt Kerfuffle

Ms Althouse has some interesting remarks regarding this kerfuffle (I’m going to assume those readers aren’t hiding under baskets and know the actual subject of this particular kerfuffle, which dealt with particular details on an engineer’s shirt during a press release after the successful landing of a satellite on a comet). Mr Reynolds (Instapundit) points that the landing on a comet by a satellite is more important than what a person wears and the “feminists” (or some feminists) were hijacking this event. Ms Althouse in an attempt to “be provocative” suggests:

And I will be more provocative: In the broad span of human culture, fashion is more important than space travel.

She is in some ways correct, in other ways not. I will return her provocative remark by noting that which is important about fashion, is exactly the same as what is important about “space travel” or landing on comets. What is important about fashion is man’s search for beauty. This is the central search in science, space travel, and much of engineering. The search for a beautiful solution is not far adrift from the cathedral (architectural beauty) or fashion (beatiful people/clothing). Beautiful clothes and in general the quest for beauty is precisely what was achieved in a different field (aerospace engineering) as what is sought (and I’d offer rarely found) on the fashion runway. Fashion is not “more important” than space travel. Landing spacecraft on comets is the height of fashion for those who don’t do color and form, but instead do maths.

And I disagree that wearing that shirt is “an attack on feminism”. Feminism celebrates such displays, witness vagina displays, slut walks &c. I’ll also disagree with Ms Althouse that he intentionally “made a statement” by wearing that shirt. More likely, given the engineering culture, is that is was the top “button down” (read as ‘fancy’) shirt in his drawer or closet.

My Guess

Which is probably worthless as I know about as much about World Cup soccer as I do NCAA basketball. My picks for tomorrow and Wednesday would be Germany and Argentina … (although I’d like the Netherlands to beat Argentina I don’t think they will).

Travel Update

So …. Monday/Tuesday I was offsite working, yesterday … frantic half-day at the office, and half day packing. Today we drove from the Chicago area to Tofte, MN. Tomorrow, we push of from Sawbill for 9 days in the wilderness, no internet, no radio, nothing but canoeing, moose and loons. I’m brining paper to take a diary to report from on my return.

Of Sochi and Terror

So, everybody thinks … and perhaps rightly that Chechin terrorists are a looming threat for the safety of the Sochi Olympics. I don’t understand the following in that respect. So, you’re a dissident or rebel in Chechnia or elsewhere. Why would you set a bomb or attack in Sochi? If you do, you and your cause will be universally reviled the world over. How to you benefit from that? I fail to understand the motives behind an act like that. Why do you want your cause hated and reviled?


Well, we made it home Saturday. Then it snowed. Then it got cold. The diesel didn’t start when we got home (not because of any diesel fuel issue but because of a dead battery). Since it was snowing … and today it was -20 F we didn’t trickle charge it yet. We’re going to charge it tomorrow and then try starting it Wednesday when the temps are supposed to get north of 10.  We’ve discovered some things about packed snow, ice, and salt.  When temps are below -15 salt doesn’t do squat. Snow melted/softened by salt which then is cooled below 10 or 15 below is hard as a rock. Squeeky snow (which is snow below 0) is very slippery on the roads. The only solution is to go slow … and finally, I live on a road which is on about a 15% grade. You can’t drive up it. You can only go down. If your speed gets above about 5mph … you’re out of control doing down. Creeping is only way.

A reminder, the difference between 60 and 20 is the same as the difference between 20 and -20. Think of what you wear at 60 compared to 20. Stay warm out there if you’re in this arctic blast.

I’d have posted tonight, except life intervened. I did get to the gym to swim however but a little late. I got 1500 yards in, but we got there late so I had to stop before I got to 2000.

Two Premises in Conflict — Problems with Multiculturalism and the Progressive Movement

Recently, as I noted, I’ve started reading Charles Taylor’s Essay (and some responses and criticisms) on Multiculturalism. Progressives with whom I’ve been acquainted would all agree with the following:

I would like to maintain that there is something valid in this presumption [note: keep reading, the presumption in question will become clear], but that the presumption is by no means unproblematic, and involves something like an act of faith. As a presumption, the claim is that all human cultures that have animated whole societies over some considerable stretch of time have something important to say to all human beings. I have worded it in this way to exclude partial cultural milieux within a society, as well as short phases of a major culture. There is no reason to believe that, for instance, the different art forms of a given culture should all be of equal, or even of considerable, value; and every culture can go through phases of decadence.

They also would defend their “progressive” stances on gender and abortion within their notions of providing support for the weaker (by political or social measures)  by particular identity features which aren’t contained in culture (we’re going to ignore for now the particular problem of the weakest of all is the fetus). A exemplary statement of the feminist (and gender problem)  would be something like (from Ms Wolf’s ‘comments’ on the initial Taylor essay):

The problems of women who have been constrained by their role as women can remind us that, say, African-Americans can also be constrained by an intolerant insistence that they give cultural identity a central place in their lives. And the problems of those who have been urged to ignore or suppress or remove their differences from white, Christian heterosexuals can remind us of the dangers of trying to deny the significance of, say, gender differences that may run very deep.

So … Progressive/Liberals I think would agree strongly with both of these statements. The elephant in room however which they are forced to ignore is that these two statements are absolutely incompatible. The majority of those cultures regarding which the first statement demands that they operate under the premise that their features are as valid as their own … also happen to strongly reject the second statement. In concrete terms this means you cannot say “I find your values of considerable” and at the same time  reject those same views as ignorant and harmful.  This puts them in the unenviable position of defending both premise A and not-A. It should come as no surprise that they end up embracing such things as Derridan “all values are expressions of power” … which is just plain silliness unless you are in a position of rejecting the whole game because of your prior problem of A/not-A. Ms Wolf, for example, rejects Mr Taylor’s notions of multiculturality by an interesting twist, she chooses to deny all cultures value including her own. A unstated unmet problem with Ms Wolf’s preferred gender problem friendly all inclusive culture is that it neither exists and is if it did would not be sustainable (seeing that from a simple sustainable point of view a culture needs a 2.1 replacement demographic and the double decade long commitment to raise its next generation well … and that gender neutrality has no cultural solution which satisfies those requirements).  

You cannot be avid lover of a sport without picking a particular team. Sports fandom demands you pick a team. A person who says “I love baseball” but isn’t a fan of any one particular team is either a professional player or is a person that doesn’t realize that he/she is missing most of the experience of baseball, that is being a fan. Similarly you cannot truly label yourself a supporter  multi-culturalism without loving your own culture. This means rejecting the Derridan fallacy and picking a team that is, belonging hook line and sinker to a particular culture, which means believing and following its foundations tenants and assumptions.

That brings one to the interesting modern paradox, liberal/progressives have a pretense of loving other cultures (which too often just means they merely like a varied ethnic dietary menu) but so often in rejecting their own native culture they end up equally despising all cultures. Returning to the sporting/baseball analogy, this is akin to a person claiming to love baseball, but having no allegiance to a particular team, and on inspection on finds they dislike all actual teams. What they mean by “love baseball” itself becomes suspect. This isn’t respect … and if you really want the multicultural experience you have to first become a … (oops) conservative/conserving member of your own.

In the iconic 70s film, The Outlaw Josie Wales, Mr Wales meets with some Western tribesman and defines for us a conservative multi-cultural moment. He and the chief come to an agreement regarding territory based on their shared commitment to their separate cultures, their shared willingness to put their life on the line to defend their own particular culture.

Wednesday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Apparently there is a misconception that doing the thing you feel is ethical should indemnify you from a jail term. This is wrong.
  2. Really. And seriously, let the guy speak, typically guys like that are better advocates for the point of view they oppose than the one they putatively support.
  3. Guns and stars.
  4. A fool-for-Christ noted.
  5. The current not-warming trend may be more extensive than suspected.
  6. In the cui bono category.
  7. Well, one of them got caught.
  8. This is not unrelated.
  9. Google’s algorithmic ideology.
  10. Yikes.
  11. Fukashima an example of nuclear power safety.
  12. An shining example of White House open-ness.
  13. And … I’ll end with a note that should leave a bad taste in your mouth. Sorry.
  14. Oh … I can’t do that.

Of Henry and Barack

Henry II had a stalwart friend and assistant in Thomas Beckett his chancellor. When there was a chance to elevate Thomas to a position of arch-Bishop of Canterbury Henry did so, thinking he’d have a close ally in the Church. What he didn’t realize was that Beckett was loyal not to him as his chancellor but the office … and when he was head cleric … he was likewise loyal to his office and no longer a close friend and ally of the King. In a frustrated rage (and Henry had a temper) Henry famously hollered  “will someone not rid me of this meddlesome priest” … and two knights took him at his word, rode forth in the night to Canterbury and slew the Bishop in cold blood at the altar, an act which shocked and horrified both England and their King who never actually intended this act to be carried out.

The left in general and the left elite in particular see themselves as the faithful guardians and representatives of the people. A popular movement arising naturally belongs within their party, not the opposition. When this occurs it is an affront to their long held assumptions that the ordinary folk are their constituents and this movement is a betrayal (just talk to a gay conservative as to how liberals treat with them … for a party that thinks that harsh words against oppressed groups are harmful, they are mighty quick to use them themselves).

Mr Obama has joked about using the IRS as a political tool, he’s remarked how Tea Party members were nefarious, he’s publicly called out persons and groups to be targeted by liberal pressure. Low and behold a few knights ride out to do his bidding. Actually more than a few, but who’s counting. Apparently we are to believe there was no connection between his attitude, the atmosphere he encouraged in his administration and its behavior. History if I remember, finds Henry culpable for the consequences of his remarks. History likewise, will likely find Mr Obama culpable for the spate of government overreach and partisanship it demonstrates …

On the other hand, it seems calls for “impeach the bum” keep coming from the right. Uhm, a few points to this remark:

  • Biden? Geesh
  • The President is tried in the Senate, by Senators not a few of whom have Presidential aspirations and for which a majority share the same political party as the President.
  • Which means, the only actual good that would come of impeachment is … that it would shut down the federal government for a month or so.
  • and finally, Biden? If that doesn’t frighten you, nothing will.

Oh, wait. Point #3 might be the actual point. Impeachment even without conviction would be likely to hamstring the President during and afterwards … and he’s not going to be convicted so the Biden threat isn’t very real.

Talk or Not Talk — Beast Feeding

Ms McArdle wrote this a few days ago referring to a class she took in which terrorism was mentioned:

He asked us to think about three facets of terrorism: strategy, goals, and tactics.  The tactics here are obvious.  But what are the strategy and the goals?  What did these two brothers want?  And how did they think that bombing the Boston marathon would achieve it?

Here’s the thing, set aside tactics for a moment and consider their goals. We have three types of these people committing acts of terror to consider, random nutcases (Lanza for example), independent and organized terrorists (and by this second category of terrorist I mean those doing acts of terror for non-personal reasons). In many cases a primary goal of the second two types of terrorist is to get his cause on the front burner of national and international discussions. Look at the Boston event. Most American’s probably didn’t even know about the Russian Federation and its “issues” in the Caucasian mountain regions. For the nuts out there “getting famous” and noticed is likely a primary motivator. So we should make an effort to not give them what they want.

So, on Boston, here’s how not to feed the Beast … much if not most of the press coverage of the Caucasus kerfuffle has been slanted with an anti-Russian Federation slant, US sympathies tend toward the little guy after all. Well in light of bombing marathons, the non-little guy point of view just got a boost. If public discussion and public opinion were to clearly shift away from the sympathies that terrorists hold as a regular response then the incentive to violence would go away. However, so far the beast has been feed. If their goal was to be noticed, to be known, and to have their cause considered they’ve achieved their goal and by y’all talking about it in that way, you’re feeding the beast. You will have more and more frequent acts like this … because they work. They achieve the desired goal.

So to put this in context, ever Palestinian bomb should be seen as yet another reason to realize that their cause is less worthy of consideration. By this time, they should be laughing stock in polite conversation. Why they are not remains a mystery.


Tuesday Highlights

Good morning, and sorry about not posting links yesterday.

  1. To be or not to be.
  2. Hear hear.
  3. The dangers of spell check on an unfettered US budget.
  4. Debt and out of control spending. Money supply and created value are unconnected, who knew?
  5. Gosh, cut 1-2% out of the budget and what sorts of screaming do we get. You’d think that the Administration would realize they have control over what spending gets cut and what doesn’t so that actual critical things wouldn’t have to be cut. Apparently air traffic control and defense are not critical. And look at how savage those cuts are. Another view.
  6. In a word, no.
  7. Golly, why just kill the unborn and the elderly. Let’s move on the inconvenient as well.
  8. The fate of Cassandra.
  9. From the Oscars.

Super Bowl Comments

Well so far not much (close) game, we’ll see if SF can make it a game in the 2nd half. First ad was on that got me to laugh (the Forte robot girl ad).

I had a mild preference for the 49ers. I liked Jim H. as a quarterback for my Bears … and the 49ers young quarterback seems a gifted athlete who will be good to watch for some years. On the other hand, I enjoyed the Blind Side movie so Mr Oher is a person to root for.

Anyhow … enjoy.

Cars, Guns, and Civil Society

Lots of silliness has ensued in the weeks following the shooting in Newton, CT. Gun advocates suggest putting TSA-like agents in every school (as if schools aren’t expensive enough), gun control advocates suggest restricting “assault weapons” (a fictional category for semi-automatic rifles) and “high capacity magazines” (as if the 1-2 seconds to swap magazines would really make a difference) and basically making it far harder to obtain guns (against for example, peer reviewed academic studies showing that the elasticity to gun availability is .1 to .3 out of the 50-60 gun related deaths per 10k people per year.  As much posturing as we have on this matter, if the time the President and his Renfieldian co-conspirator Biden have wasted giving speeches on gun control more children have died in auto accidents than did in the incident they pretend is motivating their interest in gun control. But do they go after drivers and car safety? Nope.

Frequent commenter Boonton has suggested stopping gun violence by tying the liability (financial) for any gun violence to the gun owner …. the economic study above suggests the actuarial costs of such a tie would be about $10/year if you own a gun for his suggested $100k payout. The higher cost to that suggestion is figuring out how to actually reliably track the ownership trail for the millions of guns out there not to speak of those purchased in the future. That will change … what? Offer a public notion that were-guild is legal notion whose time has come?

There are those who would suggest that gun ownership is part of a former age and that modern man doesn’t have any call for guns. There are two problems with that suggestion. It suggests that the person who says that has never ever ever lived in rural America. Get out out of your current aviary and take notice that the majority males and many females living outside of cities are avid hunters. The second problem is akin to the Sudan vs Congo problem alluded to above. In the Sudan 10’s to a few hundreds of thousands of people were killed in a genocidal spasm of violence. In the Congo over the last decades millions  have died. Which got the angst and notice in the press … the Sudan not the Congo. What kills Americans (besides lack of exercise)? Cars. Automobile deaths dwarf those by gun violence by orders of magnitude. But do we have hue and cry for limiting automobile speeds to under 30 mph? Do they cry for immediately restricting cars to be only driven by state licensed professional drivers in state owned and operated vehicles? Nope. So those who decry “more gun control” need to explain why “more car control” is not a higher priority, many orders of magnitude more die that way …. so you’d think that would be were the legal and social action would be driven. But no, this is just like you’d think that the violence in the Congo would get more notice than the Sudan and Darfur was noticed. So … if you think you don’t have any call for guns in the modern age, well some people disagree and exactly the same argument you’d pretend to use to explain why you can buy a car that you prefer and drive it at more than 25-30 mph the argument exactly paralleled that you have to turn around and (hypocritically) argue applies to your desire for driving fast but not to someone else who wants to do something that you do not.

But … that begs the question. Lots of people (if not most of the people) suggest stupid things on both sides of the argument (although to be truthful, post Newton, more of the errant stupidity comes from the control/restrict side of the aisle …. however suggesting putting TSA-like guards in cash strapped schools is pretty dumb in itself). Can some intelligent suggestions be made?

Where do we see gun violence of the unwanted kind? We find gun violence in sporadic random mass shootings (like Colorado, Ms Giffords, and the recent Newtown shooting), armed robberies and muggings, some assaults and rapes, in home invasions, gang violence, suicides, and in some crimes of passion.  If there were no legal access to guns, it is likely that gun usage in the suicides and crimes of passions would fall slowly over the years as gun ownership slowly dropped. Gangs and drug traffickers aren’t obtaining their guns legally and for that matter lots of them aren’t using guns (such as fully automatic guns) which are available anywhere legally now.regions in which gun ownership is close to 100% of the population don’t have much higher gun violence (and in many places it is lower). Clearly possession isn’t the problem. Like cars (and say impaired by drugs or inattention) …. the bigger problem is intentional misuse by a very very small minority. As an aside the liberal (urban) plea for gun control and less guns in general sounds a lot like the liberal insistence that government tax us to provide charitable services (which only makes more sense if you are a standard liberal who does not (willingly) give to charity in any real measure) … that is the urban liberal is against guns because he isn’t safe with them … and figures everyone else is just like him.

So we have a variety of issues to solve. How are might these individually be addressed? Let’s quickly run this list of problems and suggest ways to ameliorate them:

  • Random mass shootings and many assaults, muggings and rapes might be solved (as suggested elsewhere) by more, not less people who carry and are trained in the use of firearms. Specifically, if the President and his cadre of liberal intelligentsia instead of moving against the presence of guns in our society tried to push that more and more of our women carried and had training … it would be a lot harder for mass shooters to get much traction. Much like the Darwin award contestant who tried to use a pistol to hold up a gun store (and got shot by a number of customers) if those schoolteachers were armed, it is quite likely that either the shooter wouldn’t have even tried or that he wouldn’t have been able to continue his rampage for so long. One of the TPM anti-gun crusaders pointed out that if you pull a gun in the presence of an active shooter that you become a target. Yes. But if 10% of the movie theater audience does so … there is no longer one target … and the odds of the shooter surviving long become themselves long. Arming our girls is the solution to both the danger of unstable mentally ill white boys and to the alleged rape epidemic and violence against women in general. 
  • Legal-to-purchase (non-automatic) Guns and fully automatic weapons in the presence of gangs are, in my view, a lot like trying to solve the “problem” of corporate money in politics. Those with the money want to spend it. It is impossible (as we see) to stop them with regulations. Just so with guns and gangs. How then to proceed? You have two choices … to fight it with greater force (police) or to move to take the profits out of the activities they perform to make their money.
  • It might also be useful to note that magazine limits and caliber limits are not good federal laws. You may want to pretend that no person in Chicago has any need for a .50 caliber Desert Eagle pistol. But … against grizzly bears in the Montana and Alaskan backwoods may still be that same pistol. And “need” is a fuzzy word. Remember, you don’t actually ever “need” to drive more than 25 mph. You just want to. And so too does the Chicago shooter. He might want to fire that .50 cal. So … remember that as you whiz along on the freeway at 70 mph.

The Near Future

For most of last week and possibly through the next blogging will be very light. I’m working 11-13 hours a day 7 days a week, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for much besides eating and sleeping, driving to/from the job site and … about an hour of relaxing. I’ll try to keep any comment conversations going as I have time.

Media Bias: A Litmus Test

The almost-here “fiscal cliff” (where the heck did that uniformly used label originate I wonder) provides a wonderful litmus test for your perusal the press and other commentary sources.

The expiration that looms involves the addition of a set of tax increases and spending cuts. Both occur. If the source talks about the “cliff” as about tax increases and not about looming cuts in spending, that’s a Democrat biased source. If the source talks not about taxes but about spending cuts which will occur that’s a GOP biased one.

The only possibly non-biased sources are the ones that talk about both. That they talk about both doesn’t mean they are unbiased.