Parallel Lives: Allegedly Unfounded Investigations

The left felt that inquiries into “Benghazi” were unwarranted. As the investigation was done it was in fact unfounded. The actual “scandal” as far as I could tell with Benghazi was that the two-fold. The first part isn’t actually actionable, but should be scandalous. That was the part in which the administration and cabinet on the night the scandal happened, purely because it didn’t fit the foreign policy narrative they were trying to sell, decided to lie about the cause and what occurred. They knew clearly immediately that this was an organized attack, yet repeatedly told the public itr was riots that were a reaction to a year old video exposing and mocking abhorrent practices that Egyptian Muslims had done against Coptic Christians in Egypt. The actually actionable piece was another bold face lie by Ms Clinton who under oath at Congress claimed to know nothing and have no input or knowledge about the security measures at the Embassy. This was in fact against the law, as Congress had enacted a law that all embassy security needed sign-off by the Secretary of State after, I think, the Cole bombing. So. She had no knowledge (under oath) of a thing she was required to have personal responsibility for. Seems to me that’s not strictly, or not-strictly, legal.

Now, in parallel, the Dems are pushing for investigations into Mr Trump and the current administration’s Russian connection. Nobody, if you ask them, think anything the Russians did affected the election outcome. What little evidence has been made public is very weak. Sometimes you see, “We see this person talked to a Russian ambassador”. Uhm, that’s not actually actionable and more importantly what is an ambassador’s job? An ambassador’s job is to make contact with officials in the government in the county he/she is posted within to address issues relevant to the relations between the two states. That an ambassador talked to people in or likely to be in a position of influence in the government isn’t surprising. It’s expected. Furthermore, on the face of it, it was probably more in Russia’s interest that Ms Clinton be elected over Mr Trump. It is likely, that like the press and the left, a Clinton landslide was what they expected, what would their “tampering” motive be? What Russia might have wanted as well, was to weaken the position of whomever was elected. Oddly enough, just as in the cold war period, the left continues its role as useful idiots and acts apparently unknowingly to support the Russian regime (well, to be honest “unknowing” wasn’t really a factor in the 70s and 80s … idiots however still applied).d

So. What is the goal of the Democrats here? Do they really believe collusion with Russia? On what basis and to what end? That part never reaches their statements on the matter and I suspect isn’t one they’ve considered.

Drugs and Crime

Mr Borepatch is apparently for decriminalization. I have in the past had sympathy for that notion. Until I read the statistic that 90% of the money spent on legal marijuana in those states is spent by people devoting 80% of their income to the stuff.

The problem is that we don’t have enough responsible adults as consumers to make that viable. If you make all (many/most?) drugs which are illegal today you’re going to fill homeless shelters, cemeteries and hospitals.

Yes, the “war on drugs” has cost a lot. Not warring might very well be more costly.

Not Shostakovitch’s 7th Exactly … But

So, Shostakovitch’s 7th Symphony was written in Leningrad during the horrific siege of the same city in WWII, first movement. After the introduction there is a quiet pizzicato in the violin section with a Mozart-like melody accompanied almost inaudible snare drum. The melody is meant to evoke an (allegedly) favored Mozart piece that Hitler liked. The melody and drum represent the far off Nazi war machine and the threat of the violence of war. By the time the movement ends, this melody has been repeated louder and louder and louder with more and more sections and instruments joining in to a terrific climax. See this … 5:50 starts the crescendo. Listen to the whole movement though, it is worth your while.

This post then is to presage the weekend, when blogging will resume here on a regular basis.

Riddle Me This Mr Lynch

So, public tar and feathering was proper and righteous when a baker refused to bake a cake for a wedding ….

Would a Black owned bakery be similarly treated for refusing a family baking a cake in memory of their ancestors bearing the Battle Flag of the Army of North Virginia? Hmm?

Hypocrisy runs rampant in the public square, eh?

Of Sign, Symbol, and Culture

In 1977 I was passing through Chicago with my family (I was just finished my first year of High School), we’d gotten off the train and were wandering around downtown Chicago prior to renting a car and driving up to Wisconsin to visit grandparents (both my mother and father’s family lived south of Madison in a small town and a farm … for kids, the farm was way way more fun). There was something of a kerfuffle near city hall. Seems some KKK boys were having a parade. Do you think that parade would be allowed today? I’m doubtful.

A decade or so later, PBS had a hour long program that I recall about four small sub-cultures in retreat. French speaking Quebec and their separatist movements, the Basque, and two others which escape my memory. At the end, they had an editorial verbal essay about how cultures often go to separatism and similar gestures to maintain a cultural identity in the large wash and mix of our modern Babylon.

Seems pretty obvious that events and symbols which evoke pride in accomplishments past are one of the obvious means of doing that. Sometimes these symbols are not quite untarnished, but it seems uncharitable in the extreme that those who hold to those symbols are not remembering the good, but the bad instead. That some evil and some insane men cling to those same symbols on account of the tarnish does not change that we should remain charitable.

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

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

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

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

Global Climate Confusion

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

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

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

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

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

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)?

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

On Iraq Invasion … Answer:

How many iterations do I get? I mean, we know a lot now about what worked in Iraq and what didn’t. If I knew what worked I could alter my tactics and strategy and do it far better the next time. But … that might not get it quite right, can I do another iteration and fix what doesn’t go right the second time? Be kind of cool, run the Iraq war like Tom Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow”. Gosh we could do lots of things if we could replay hundreds of times. Now you can run this both ways from the onset to do nor not to do. But when you have replay ability clearly “do” is the correct answer, because gosh, whenever you say “do” you can replay until you get it perfect. If you “don’t” then there is no action, so no replay. So apparently the question real question at hand is “would you like a perfect Iraq invasion” or “no perfect invasion”. Clearly perfection is better.

Follow-up on this question is to ask the questioner first what thing in his life he’d most like to redo. And perhaps as well, to suggest some of the things you’d start doing differently in your re-do.

That’s the “interesting” answer. Now less “clever” answer but smarter political tack, which was a path not taken, is to turn the question on your political opponents, that is to ask about decisions made by those whom you see as your adversaries whether they’d redo their decisions. Like regarding Obamacare, Libya, or the early Iraq pullout, any “redo” or second guessing there?


A Short Thought

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

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

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

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

Random Things I Don’t Get

  1. Syria. So a year or so ago, our President “drew a red line” in the sand taking a “hard stand” against the use of poison gas. Assad (and/or the opposition) used said gases after he said that. Turns out that “red line” meant, “let’s talk”. Supposedly back then Mr Putin hornswaggled the President diplomatically and brokered a wonderful deal which satisfied everyone. Except, now there are reports that weaponized chlorine gas has been in use for some months in Syria. Why isn’t that bigger news? Why isn’t it talked about. I don’t get it.
  2. So the Clinton’s both of them, are scum. They’ve been involved and complicit in so many scandals and have so many items of pure greed and corruption laid to their feet that the mind boggles. Yet somehow, because “they’ve done it before” nobody except the opposition party seems to care. I really really don’t get it. I’m not saying that they need to go to jail (though that would be nice) but … that seems a very low bar. “Not going to jail” is no reason to listen to speeches or pretend you’d vote for them.
  3. Mr Schraub (and lots of other people especially on the right … which Mr Schraub certainly isn’t … ) get affirmative action exactly backwards. Affirmative action is wrong not because it “helps” minorities at the expense of other (mostly missed minorites, e.g., Asian Americans) but because it is harmful to those it supposedly benefits. Those on the right gripe about aff/action for the wrong reasons. Read Clarence Thomas’ remarks on why he thinks his Yale law degree wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. Or watch (or recall) the movie “Tuskegee Airmen”. The critical error by the openly bigoted people running the training squadron was that making things very very hard creates an elite unit. And how do you destroy the moral and capabilities of a group? Lower the expected standards. Aff action is wrong because it is harmful to those it pretends to help. This should be obvious to everyone observing it. So the point regarding Ms Clinton and Mr Obama gets it hind end foremost. They overcame the deleterious effects of affirmative action. This, on their part, is commendable … but any advantages they received from it is likely dwarfed by the disadvantages (again, read some Thomas on the subject and learn).
  4. And a last snipe  at his post… Mr Schraub writes “Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were and are every bit as qualified and meritorious as your typical President before them” … hmm. Mr Obama was less experienced and qualified as Ms Palin and as qualified as Mr Cruz and about Ms Clinton, well, we the prior point and remind everyone that for example selling US Uranium ore rights to Russian plutocrats to raise money for your PAC is the apparently exactly the kind of qualification Mr Schraub applauds. I remain ignorant of the methods and metrics people use to determine (and those on the left seem very very sure about this sort of things) how “qualified” or “smart” a politician is. As above, I don’t get it.


Race to Train, Train to Race

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

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

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

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

What That Probably Means

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

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

Gee thanks Mr President.


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

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

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


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.

Two Strange Thoughts

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

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


Following Rome

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

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

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

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

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

A Little Confusion

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

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

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


Tomorrow’s the Day

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

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

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

A Health Note

I have been diagnosed (finally after much testing and such) with a cardiac condition known as SVT. This is repairable, which when repaired should just “fix” the problem.

My “study” which will repair has been scheduled but will be February or March.

For a person who likes and enjoys working out hard, I must say SVT is very very annoying.

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.


Reader’s Exercise

So, Mr Obama is going to offer his “executive order” on immigration tonight. Constitutional scholars are going to offer their opinions. But I’m going to give you a homework assignment, in two parts no less.

Part 1. Imagine a Democrat held Senate/House and a GOP conservative President. Craft what you might see as an abortion executive order that would elicit the same <em>Constitutional</em> objections regarding balance of powers between Congress and Executive as are debated by, say, the Volokh lawyers in the wake of Obama’s immigration order.

Part 2. If you honestly did the homework of part one, explain why (if GOP) you support the part 1 proposal but object to Mr Obama’s proposal or, if a Democrat why you support Mr Obama but reject the GOP proposal.

(note: if you are “consistent” and oppose/support both, this is probably a sign you didn’t honestly complete part 1).

Secular Immortality and Cinema

Two films recently have been very similar (and this afternoon I saw the second, even though it’s been out for some time). Elysium and In Time are very similar. Both feature a totalitarian control on magically efficient health care. In both access to this is highly restricted. In both of them health (or immortality) access is highly restricted. Why? Population pressure is explicitly mentioned on one, but it is not clear that this is the problem they might pretend. As an extreme, Michael Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time are all immortal by a technology long lost and long forgotten. Our hero in that story is unusual, he’s the only person alive who was “born”.   Continue reading →

Vocabulary Confusion/Bleg

So, in Sunday’s service (St. Basil Liturgy now that we are in Lent) the phrase “God is [..], adorable” appeared. The word “adorable” in its original meaning actually came from Christian contexts meaning “worthy of adoration” but now mostly is applied to small mammals meaning “very cute”. “Oh, he’s so adorable” is not usually applied to God but to kittens, small seals, and babies.

Which brings to mind the question, is there a word in English that means “worthy of adoration”? If so what is that word?

I think “venerable” has gone through a similar degradation, and similarly I don’t know a word meaning “worthy of veneration” in the English language.

Do you?

Our Stupid Crocodilian Leaders

Reflect a moment on the Olympics, the US and many Western leaders have decided “not to attend”, Google followed suit with a rainbow Olympic rings display, and publicly gay (privately … who knows) stuffed shirts were sent as part of the US delegation and many others. This was supposedly in response to how Russia is perceived to deal with public homosexuality.

Consider the following. Make an honest list of the top 10 economic, liberty, social, legal, and cultural issues facing the Russian people and the Russian Federation today. Order these by which have the highest priority and will do the greatest good. If you are honest (and I will charitably assume that is the case), gay rights did not appear on the list. Extend it to 20. Gosh. Still not there. In fact, I’d be willing to bet, if you put the time and effort it that gay rights might not even (if you are honest) make the top 100.

So …. why is that a putative issue for our leaders? Could it be because all politics is local and this is a safe way of pretending to do something about gay issues in their country without having to actually, you know, do anything about those issues? Crocodile tears all around.

A Remark on Atlanta and Inclement Weather

One of the nice things about the Internet and blogging is you hear ordinary voices from all over. Atlanta recently had a few inches of snow a condition with which drivers in Atlanta are not experienced at driving and the road crews are not equipped with the supplies of shovels and salt or sand that we have in the north. So … before y’all get all cocky about how you don’t even blink at a few inches in your area and schools don’t close unless more is dumped. Consider. I read a few years back from an Alaskan blogger who pointed out that schools in her town don’t close unless more than 48″ are dumped on the town in less than 24 hours. So. Set your pride aside and consider how Chicago, Minneapolis, or New York (or your town) would react to having 48″ of snow on a Tuesday.

Apropos of Nothing

So, as noted before, I’ve started swimming for exercise. Now I used to race bikes, and now that I’m swimming … one is led to consider the tri-athlete events. I had one thought about that, how the event dis-favors the swimmers so much. Look at the classic Iron man, approx 3 mile swim, 115 mile bike, and a 26 mile run. If you took average professional athletes in the three events running a relay, you’d probably have respectively that’s about 45-50 minutes in the water, a little over 4 hours on a bike, and just over two running.

Seems out of whack.

Wouldn’t you want to weight the events the same, so that the expected time for each for a good athlete would be the same for each of the events, that put the three events on an even keel. So for if you shoot for an hour for each that would be about a 4 mile swim, 30 mile bike ride and a  half-marathon. Or double it if you want to get the “Iron” out there.

Just say’in.

Growsing about Protectionism

So, seeing that the “Twin-Up!” (link) is released. It reported will about 215 mpg with an 8 gallon tank (consider refueling every 1600 miles, eh?)

But it likely won’t be released in the US. Well, no problem, just buy it there and bring it over. Woops. You can’t drive it here? Why? Because it has a CE safety rating which isn’t the same as the US ratings. What is the biggest difference, after all emissions isn’t going to be an issue, it doesn’t burn enough to have any substantial emissions? So then, what is the problem? It seems side air bags in the US are required to protect people who don’t wear seat belts, but in the CE they are only required to protect passengers wearing seat belts. Uhm? It’s illegal to drive in the US without a seat belt … so why then do we require cars to protect people when they engage in illegal activity? There is no good reason …

Or more accurately, the real reason is to isolate the CE and US markets from allowing cars approved over there from competing over here and vice versa. It’s all about smaller confined markets.

Some Short Thoughts

  • Those who think or write that the Washington DC football team’s name “Redskins” needs to be changed are the modern equivalent of those in the 13th century buying indulgences. Sporting team names are pretty far down on the actual list of problems in the daily life of indigenous Americans, drug abuse, alcoholism, poverty, suicide and so on. Those are issues much higher. Seems to me if you actual cared one whit about the native American you’d be acting on real issues not pretend ones. (for extra credit, cite last time you heard the term redskin used as a derogatory racial epithet. If you, like me, never have … gosh perhaps it isn’t actually a derogatory racial epithet).
  • Continuing that theme, of modern indulgences. The Redskin thing is a racial/racism indulgence or guilt expiation.  It is interesting to note that those same people who are pretending at concern for Native Americans with the Redskin thing are the same ones punting for SSM … what sin is that indulgence paying for?
  • On the other side of the coin (those against SSM), just remember “Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am first.” Gays can’t destroy marriage as thoroughly as heterosexuals are doing right now.
  • One hard fast rule of Internet punditry to remember, there is always, yes always, someone smarter than you, better informed than you, and better in whatever way you can imagine who disagrees rationally and logically with that strongly held opinion of yours. So the next time you call someone an idiot or stupid because they hold an opinion (especially political or religious) different than you, remember that.
  • American politicians should play more Go than Chess. A paradigm intrinsic to Chess is forking, putting the opposition into a corner where he only has two bad choices. Go’s fundamental paradigm by contrast teaches you how to quickly recognize a losing position and moving elsewhere.

Some Thoughts On Syria

Scattered thoughts. Mr Obama has apparently (I’ve been busy … I haven’t read his transcripts) … so, what is  the basis of his moral/ethical argument for killing bystanders to send a message to Mr Assad?

  1. An analogy for Syria .. consider bullying the moral schoolyard equivalent of gas warfare. You put a red-line in the sand to the school-yard bully. He is seen bullying some people, so … you beat up his sister, who may or may not be able to convince him to stop in ways you cannot. But, is that ethical?
  2. This passage can be said to argue that state violence is in some cases permitted, to as it were, send a message.
  3. Some differences between gas and military vs civilian targets and modes of delivery. But … if the reason you are against gas is that it is a thing killing civilians why aren’t people speaking even more strongly against practices that kill far more civilians. The biggest killer of civilians of all, the tacit acceptance by everyone (but me apparently) who fails to call committing violence for political purposes without wearing a uniform a war crime which should invalidate both your cause and any claims for mercy.
  4. The Volokh link I posted earlier tonight highlights the real-politik position on the matter.
  5. What motive did Mr Obama have in denying “I never said red line” … does he not realize that statements he makes are not in a vacuum and he indeed did say red line?
  6. Speaking of gas, the Germans manufactured several tons of ClF3 intending to use it. Yikes. That stuff seems as dangerous for the caster as the castee. It does on the other hand make light of typical protections like gas masks.
  7. Would a limited token bombing discourage or encourage another totalitarian ruler to use Sarin on his people?

Something Rotten in Denmark — Deficits

A few weeks past, Mr Krugman (and I’m not linking him) noted that contrary to popular beliefs (and cited some polls) deficits have not increased in the last few years. We are also told by similar sources that inflation is not occuring.

Yet. we need to keep raising the debt limits to keep the government solvent. If it was true that the deficits were not still increasing then we would be lowering not raising the debt limit. Somebody is not being honest.

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.