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.

On the Ada Lovelace Thing

Recently there’s been a bit about Ada Lovelace and noting “important women” in science. Why Ada and not another woman? Some ask, if not Ada, who? I say, not Ada. The only rational choice is Emmy Noether. There was nobody like her. Ever. This started as a comment on today’s link thread were this was noted. But it grew into post size, so I’ve promoted it.

The point I’m trying to make if had the name the top 5 most influential people in 20th century physics, Emmy Noether would be a top candidate for that list … or possibly even the top 3. The Ada Lovelace thing is for “famous women scientists”. Other names are suggested but … none of which have that stature.  The big question is why don’t people recognize her? Is it sexism or anti-semitism? Is that a factor. Einstein was a Jew … and it didn’t diminish him .. but it’s a possibility I raised, especially noting in the 30s and 40s anti-Semitism was far more common than it is now.

One other possibility was that it was territorial, i.e., Noether wasn’t a physicist. One might think that it’s embarrassing (for physicists) that one of the biggest theoretical discoveries in your field to be made by some one who just stopped in looked at the maths in your playground for a bit and said, you know “I had this little idea, so I wrote it up.” And subsequently this little paper becomes the cornerstone of your whole science for the next century and counting. In part this is why I find the “Ada Lovelace” kind of thing questionable, there isn’t any question of who the most important women thinker/scientist of the last N years has been, where N is a number larger than 100 (1000? or 10000?). There’s only one candidate, and the other question might be was there anyone male or female who was more influential … perhaps there’s a short short list.  There is not a single one of those women dominated two separate fields of study and wrenched them both around in such a fundamental way. What men might you make the same claim for, what male scientist revolutionized two separate scientific fields? If you think there is a better candidate, put that name out there .. link or comment .. your choice.

So, was it scientific jealousy? Anti-Semitism? Or sexism? Or something else?

My commenter (this started as a comment response), noted he watches Discover/Cosmos type shows. So, in the nature of a quick “Cosmos” style precis, where does Ms Noether’s work fit? (that explanation goes below the cut) Continue reading →

Thursday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. The kid picked last in sports considers athletics in the context of the Olympics.
  2. Praise of the engineer.
  3. What I call “lies” apparently is just post-modernism writ large.
  4. Conservatism and civic pluralism … a tension to resolve? My solution is empowering the local community to be different, with the caveat that the door remain unlocked.
  5. What faith isn’t … the “ability not to panic” might derive from Dostoevsky/Zizoulas’ notions of ontological freedom which in turn connects to faith. So is the sign wrong or right?
  6. Short answer, yes.
  7. The modern state.
  8. A book recommended.
  9. Here’s another.
  10. So, you wanna run?
  11. Deadlines and Afghanistan.
  12. 20% unemployment in a region with jobs aplenty.
  13. Paris and the Romany.
  14. Maximum pessimum.
  15. What’s missing is a digression into what single-action, double-action and the recoil driven double->single feature of the semi-automatic all mean. It’s not that complicated. A double action revolver means the pulling of the trigger cocks the hammer and then releases it. This takes significant force (a light trigger pull affects aim far less). This in turn lead to the double action revolver, in which cocking the hammer was separated, and pulling the trigger only released the sear (which takes far less force). A semi-automatic is just a double action pistol in which the recoil (after the first shot) cocks the hammer for the next shot (the recoil also chambers the next round).
  16. Hmm, that hits a little close to home.
  17. Chick-fil-A and charity … the largest chunk … toward a marriage counseling charity. Gosh, how outrageous.
  18. Unan

Mr Obama Goes to Chick-Fil-A

So, did Mr Obama use the Colorado shooting to set the stage for policy changes:

Every day, in fact, every day and a half, the number of young people we lose to violence is about the same as the number of people we lost in that movie theater. For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, here in New Orleans. For every Tucson or Aurora, there’s daily heartbreak over young Americans shot in Milwaukee or Cleveland.

Hmm. Which policy? Restrict guns or reinforce traditional marriage? Which is more likely a root cause, restrictions on guns or broken families and single/absent parents? The latter is more likely the cause, the former the more likely policy in mind.

Smart guy, our President … or not.

He Bought 6000 Rounds

OK. Seriously. So have I and I’m not a serious gun guy. 6000 rounds isn’t that exceptional a quantity. I did buy .22 LR which isn’t going to be the first choice of for your garden variety killing spree. When I go to the range, I typically shoot 200-300 rounds. If you go shooting once or twice a week, buying in quantity is what you do. If you fire larger calibers than .22 LR … you collect brass and do you own reloads (9mm for example costs about 40 cents a round if you don’t do reloads). It takes repetition to teach your spine to shoot.

Question for the gun controls must be higher and higher? If 50 of the people in the theater were armed via concealed carry … Might the outcome have been different?

The quoted link above clearly thinks that tighter gun laws are necessary, yet the recent shooter had a large cache of illegal explosives. Clearly gun laws weren’t what stopped him. The shooter had no history of mental illness, crime records, or anything to prevent him from buying guns and moderate stores of ammo in any state. His emphatic “make it tougher for criminals and nuts to buy guns” would have done nothing. So, then why bring it up now?

Recently, “America is no longer ‘top nation'” inspired by insipid political advertisements in the guise of Allen Sorkin TV-News drama arose in conversation. This was a big lie cementing a reasonable argument (that we have problems that need addressing). Basing an argument on a lie, however good the argument is, weakens your rhetoric and destroys your credibility.

Look people, both right and left, but it seems lately the left of the aisle turns to this more and more (see the above and AGW) … stop it!! Stop using clearly stupid/false things to persuade. If you think tighter gun laws will help bring down gun crime. Prove it with actual data. If you think on the other side, that armed homeowners and women with concealed carry are safer on the streets at night against predators) use actual data not specious easily disprovable remarks. Against both sides of the gun control argument, data I’ve seen has shown that looser gun laws and concealed carry is uncorrelated with increased gun violence. One study demonstrated that legalized “open carry in bars” had no impact on gun violence in a city (or was it cities). Seems to me if restricting or not restricting personal liberties has no impact either way on our society … then “more personal freedom” should be the default choice.

Thursday Highlights

Thursday … and finally back home.

  1. ‘Cause profiling is just WRONG!
  2. Black. (me too)
  3. 21st century perceptions of the possible and Ezekiel.
  4. The short answer “no”, the long answer “it’s complicated”, the truth … well, he could kill it if he wanted to apparently he doesn’t so that “short answer = no” has a slight malfunction.
  5. The zero bound and the bank.
  6. A polite protest.
  7. Acronym vs Kipling. I’ll go with the latter.
  8. Strong women don’t need muscles or guns.
  9. More background on Mr Zimmerman for the Zimmerman/Martin kerfuffle discussions.
  10. So, true or not? Did you see a better short video segment yesterday?
  11. An interesting point, the legal arguments are entirely disconnected from the non-legal ones.
  12. I think it’s the meta-ethical capture of the Left by Consequentialism.
  13. And when you add the high cost of tax collection … yikes.

Well, that should do for today. Have a good one y’all!

Paddling the BWCA

So, we have returned safely. Because none of my family other than myself had really any camping or canoeing experience we rented all our equipment. The outfitters at Lake Sawbill were great to work with and provided us with excellent equipment (and the food was quite the gourmet experience). Some highlights and remarks on the trip below.

We saw some wildlife, but no moose. What we did see included loon, beaver, a bald eagle, turtles, and some large fish jumping. We heard moose calling to one another late at night. While there were some clear nights, we didn’t really see the any amazing views of the sky on account of the bright full moon. The weather was quite good. Temperatures ranged from the mid 50s at nigth to the mid 60s in the day. Mosquitoes and biting flies don’t like it that cool and are less active at those temps. We had a brief rain shower after we finished canoeing on Monday, numerous showers on Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday were sunny and cool, perfect weather. On Friday it was sunny and warm until a 15 minute squall moved through soaking us just prior to our return to the Outfitters (and our hot shower).

I made two mistakes at leading my family in the canoes. On the first day, it took me a little too long to realize that my wife and eldest daughter were not capable of paddling into a stiff headwind. A light canoe is difficult to keep on a straight line into or across a good breeze as the wind catches the front of the boat and wants to turn it. The solution was to tie a leader between the back of my canoe to the front of theirs to pull them back in line when that occurred. But it took 45 minutes of their struggling for me to remember that. The second mistake was on the next day when I kept pushing on to the destination I had in mind in the morning, and not stopping earlier. We were battling winds and figuring out portaging through that day and didn’t get to camp until after 4:30pm at which point we were all exhausted. We should have stopped at an earlier lake 90 minute before. The consequence of that is that we decided to take a day “off” from paddling and just parked and lazed Wednesday away instead of pushing on.

Portaging is the hard work part of canoeing. The portages were measured on the map in “rods” (320 rods to the mile or 16.5 feet per). Our first portage was short, 30 rods. We had two 140s (one flat and wet one rocky) and a 90 the second day. On Thursday we did a 285 rod portage, almost a mile. The canoes we had were Kevlar and weighed 42 pounds. My youngest and I would carry a canoe on the first leg. My wife had hurt her back just before we left, so my two daughters and I carried the four packs and the canoes and left the jackets and paddles to her. Young fit college kids can do the portages in one trip (one with a canoe, paddles and jackets and the other with two packs). We did two trips each time, which is much slower but more manageable. 

Our puppy loved the woods. My wife was concerned about letting her run free at the campsite but she was just fine. She never strayed very far and loved exploring. She’d race off into the woods on one side of the camp and a few moments later come zooming back from another direction.

Both my wife and youngest are eager to return, but family circumstances being what they are, my daughter and I will likely do the camping for a bit and my wife and I after the kids move out to college and beyond. Backpacking anyone?

A Variant of Epimedes As Suggested by the Current Executive

One frequenly noted logical paradox is one typically attributed as follows:, “Epimedes the Cretan informs us vistors to the Island that Cretans always lie. He also continues, ‘I am a Cretan.'” This is amusing of course because if Epimedes is telling the truth then his two statements cannot both be true, yet if he is a liar it is also that case that both statements cannot be false.

What I’m seeking her is an attempt to understand the casual seemingly random relationship between what Mr Obama says and what is true (that is his frequenly lying).

Our President offers a interesting problem in game theory. Mr Obama of course, does not always lie, but from watching him in office he tells outright dishonest statements so frequently that no statement made by him can be taken in a normal manner … that is judge from the basis that the speaker means what he says.

It might be said that one of the most valuable things a person in his public life (and likely private … but those are normally distinct) is his honesty. When people are making statements of what they will do or what they believe in public the perception of honesty is, normally, a precious comodity, one that is (and should be) carefully guarded.

But, perhaps after a study of the Clinton Presidency and its scandal, our current President came to the realization that honesty fixed but not infinite value for the President. The President’s statements, coming from the so called, bully pulpit are not judged by the honesty of the speaker but for their ideological resonance. They are as often taken as symbolic statements first and foremost and their veracity if of secondary importance. And our President has acted with this understanding. His statements are uncorrelated with truth their value is entirely freighted as sign and symbol.

What makes this confusing, is when as now the President decides to act as mediator between the parties in Congress. This is where the game theory might return … What makes this negotiation difficult is that most of the actors are speaking directly, in normal terms of tradeoffs, compromise and give and take. Yet the mediator is not. Somewhat like the Star Trek NG episode where the aliens spoke in pure metaphor, the mediator isn’t speaking English by in sign and symbol. Apparently this particular public disfunction of Mr Obama’s has been with us for some time.

Mr Wiener and Immaturity in High Offices

Those on the left, in the dozen or so instances which I came across, almost universally qualify their discussions of Mr Wiener’s recent passing out (exchanges of) PG-13 (and worse) photo’s of himself with a number of women. The qualification includes some sort of admission that “well, there’s nothing wrong with *that*). This is sort of a generic meme on the left. Whatever might be your fetish, it’s OK so long as its between consenting adults. How you know that the person with which you correspond over the Internet is anyone’s guess. However the premise itself is suspect.

Mr Wiener has been engaging in a electronic version of the guy in rubber galoshes in a raincoat whose fetish consists of exposing himself to women. If the public exposer used a defense that “he got consent” and “they women to whom he exposed himself told him they were of age” that doesn’t change the fact that this is nebishy behavior. And that is going to be the electoral poison that kills his career. Not there is a sexually tainted skeleton in his closet, but that his particular skeleton paints his character as one worthy of contempt.

Mr Clinton was a serial sexual offender, but his offense didn’t (apparently) paint him in the same corner as the raincoat wearing creep but as a powerful man with an out of control libido, both qualities that have tacit approval in some quarters. Commenter Boonton suggests that sexual hijinks in the future coming to light will have less and less impact. That may be, but those foibles and fetishes which come to light which paint you as immature at best or as weak or weird will not become more and more accepted.

It is not American puritan influence public sexual ethics that most obviously end Mr Wiener’s public career. It is the particulars and what picture they they, rightfully or not, paint of his character.


Will go up later today. The hotel this morning doesn’t have the bandwidth to make this workable … and then I’m driving back to Chicago from Detroit this morning. Links are collected, I’ll post them in the early afternoon.

The Anne Rice Meme

Ann had an interesting meme post which I noticed today, the “Ann Rice” meme. This meme asks us to: 

  1. Name 3 things that really annoy you about church in general.
  2. Name 3 reasons why you stay.

So, without further ado: here’s my list.


  1. When Christians make references to “those sinners” with a tacit assumption that “they” are not us. That is having the hubris to make the claim that there are groups and categories more sinful in the sight of the Lord than any group that includes me.
  2. That the “the road is narrow and the path is steep” doesn’t mean that there isn’t more than one road. It means that the getting there is difficult.
  3. How often we fail to treat other Christians as our brother and to love those who hate us.

Things Keeping me there:

  1. The Creator created, the tomb was empty, and the Spirit descended.
  2. Those times in which we succeed to treat Christians as our brother and to love those who hate us.
  3. The stories and writings of those who it seems before us did manage well to trod that narrow path.

The Big Race In Progress

Right now the Giro is entering its third and final week. And with some luck this will be a nail biter to the very finish. Sometimes are races, grand tours even, in which the winner is clear by the middle of the race or that only one possible contender remains. But this time by happenstance, a 45 man breakaway got a bit 20 or so minute lead with enough people well enough placed that after the end of that day the five or six pre-race favorites and contenders were 10 minutes in arrears and several of those guys with substantial leads have the teams and quality to make it a struggle to get that time back.

So, what does that mean? What it means is that every day those leaders aren’t defending. They have to attack. Every little chance they get, they have to claw back time. Every day. So what this means is that this is one of the most aggressively raced final weeks in recent memory. Universal Sports, a (US) broadcast digital channel carries the race live every day with numerous re-broadcast opportunities. So if you have access to Universal Sports … I recommend watching it every day this week, except possibly Thursday which looks to be a flat stage.

A Democratic Victory

It has been noted on the left that it is counted as a political victory in taking Mr Murtha’s vacated seat, e.g., here. The right has noted that this victory in a state with a hotly contested Democratic primary and no such race on the other side with the winning candidate being a Democrat who campaigned taking a hard line against Obamacare, against abortion, and for gun rights. Well, if you want to call that a victory on the left, more power to y’all. If more Democrats pushed for smaller government, against abortion, and for gun rights … there’d be less obstructionism by the GOP in Congress too.

But you all knew then already.

The Big Commission Thang

Today we find the announcement that Mr Obama and the White House are launching a commission to figure out what happened in the oil spill.

I predict the same thing will happen as is occurring with the financial crash … more Democrat stupidity is what will happen. And no. I don’t expect that “if this was a GOP President and Congress” there would be any lack of GOP stupidity. But … today we have a Democratic President and Congress so they own the stupidness (which isn’t a word … stupid mess?)

What is occurring with the financial crash you ask that is evidence of Democrat stupidity in action? A commission was launched to study the causes of the financial meltdown. And the report on the findings of that commission is due in three months. Yet today and not in three months time the Democrats are rushing to put in place 1,400 pages “redefining” and restructuring how banking is done in the country … before the results of the study are out.

So here’s my prediction. That similarly there will be an exhaustive and complete restructuring of the oil industry and how it operates pushed through with great fanfare. Well in advance and like the financial package completely and obviously ignoring the results of the commission and any study launched with much fanfare.

Now the argument that the politically charged studies of this nature produce no meaningful results likely has merit. I think that argument is can find a lot of good historical backing and that later careful studies done show that those initial high stakes commissions produce results which are worse than a random stab at the cause or answer. But … if that is the case, then the news about this new commission is just yet another great big waste of taxpayer money. If we had a press corps with cojones, there’d be hard questions asked about the nature and expected effectiveness of such a commission which highlights the failures of the same in the past and pointing out essentially that “isn’t this commission just a way of pretending you’re doing something useful when you aren’t?”

It is not necessary for the beltway buffoons to be experts in oil drilling. It is in fact impossible for them to do so, they lack the time, the resources, and any incentive to do so. What would be good is for the beltway to get a clue about regulation. Regulators work when they have an personal stake and an incentive in regulating well. Oil drilling safety regulators would far better being beholden to insurers and not the platform operators. In the financial world, there is much noise about the problems with bond/security ratings companies getting their money from the bond issuers themselves. The (wrong) government solution is to have the government pay for (or in essence do) the ratings themselves. But that is just skewed in a different (and wrong) direction. It will cause bond ratings to skew for political purposes which are just as inaccurate. Inaccurate ratings are the problem. The solution of “who should” pay for the ratings is the same as the answer to the question “who most clearly depends on accurate ratings?” That is the same agent that should be paying for the ratings. In coal mines, the canaries might be said to be the ones wanting to be hiring the safety commission. In general the person or agents that have the most at stake, who depend the most keenly and sharply on regulation to get it right should be paying and funding said regulation (it should be noted that this is a quite different group from those who directly oppose the activity in question).

Ms Kagan

So. Ms Kagan. Anybody find any links to online articles authored by her? It is said by her defenders that she’s a brilliant academic, whatever that means. Publish or perish means there should be scads of articles and books by her if she was as claimed a brilliant academic. No book at Amazon, except a $45 tribute essay contribution in honor of some Harvard dude. And I’m guessing this book isn’t hers. Finally there is this at Amazon as well … out of print and no reviews. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t publish in journals not available on-line. So … anything?

Do legal professors not publish? What is the point of being in the Academy if you don’t publish? I don’t get it.

Look to be a brilliant academic you have to make a mark. To make a mark you have to publish important works which make a visible impact on our profession. I see no evidence that is the case for Ms Kagan. Perchance this is more of this retconning thing in which brilliant academic is recast to mean something entirely different. Perhaps it now is to mean an academic liked by Mr Obama who just happens to be another ‘brilliant academic’ who lacks any actual substantive academic record.