A Belated Notice

Jim Anderson, the inestimable blogger at decorabilia, has a carnival of vigilantism on the hoof. He emailed me last week about it, and I meant to add it to my links post but forgot. Anyhow …

As you may know, as a debate coach, I often blog about National Forensic League LD resolutions. The most recent is a good one: “Vigilantism is justified when the government has failed to enforce the law.” If you’d be interested in blogging some thoughts about it, I’d be happy to link to your musings. I’m trying to arrange a bit of a mini-carnival of posts by smart, legally- or philosophically-minded blog-neighbors, so if you know of anyone else who might like to join in the fray, or at least would like to link to the fun, feel free to forward this email.

The full announcement can be found at the link above.

A topic for myself for tomorrow I think. 😀

Returning to That Free Will Thing

Blog neighbor Jewish Atheist in a “interview/meme” offers this:

Q7. What’s your favorite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

Without God, I can’t see how we have free will. It appears that we have free will, therefore God must exist. Curiously, nobody seems to make this argument except me, on Opposite Day.

My refutation is that we actually don’t have free will. This has disturbing implications, which I have not yet come to terms with.

Not to stab the theistic argument in the foot, but there are a few short remarks I’d like to make here, some of which I’ve touched on before, but perhaps restatement will bring out some interesting details and conversation:

  • A deterministic universe exhibits simple free will in the following way. Consider a baby (classical relativistic) universe/close system which consists of a experimental  Feigenbaum mapping (google it), tuned past simple period doubling and to the onset of the chaos. In this situation, the mapping acts as a bit shift, xn+1 = Fraction(2 * xn). Initial conditions become amplified by a factor of two every iteration. However, soon over time the Planck distance will intervene, that is the bit shift will probe distances unspecifiable in the initial system, for to specify the system to that accuracy would require probing length scales/energies which would form a black hole … and thus cannot be specified. The system will not “fail” but will exhibit free will, that is the system is “free” and unconstrained by initial (unsettable/undefinable) conditions to take whatever value it wishes. In fact, ever after that point, the system is “free”.
  • Suggesting that initial conditions of our universe sets the behavior today, besides the difficulty/impossibility of setting those conditions suffers from a dimensional problem. If the Universe is D+1 dimensional (D=3+1 or 10 … doesn’t matter for this argument), then the “boundary” at T=0 is D a D-dimensional phase space. To line up the bank shot so that Beethoven will, while deaf, compose the Ninth Symphony (or whatever other work of art you find transcendent or inspired genius) that requires setting the conditions and a space (the evolving Universe) of dimension D+1. Fine tuning/accuracy is required to “finesse” the evolution on a large, if not infinite, time axis.
  • Another issue facing the fine tuning hypothesis, is the current “best understanding” physics gives about the early Universe, to whit inflation. Small quantum (or thermal) fluctuations present at the onset of the inflationary regime (when space-time is “e-folding” or exponentially expanding) are largely flattened out, those fluctuations survive as galaxies and galaxy clusters today, and form the large scale structure of the visible universe. Setting up the Beethoven bank shot has to survive inflation.
  • One way additional way to isolate the free will problem, is genius. That is, I contend genius requires free will. Genius exists. Therefore free will does. To counter that, one must explain how genius can exist without free will. JA, repeatedly contends, without proof, that free will cannot exist in a deterministic system, I disagree. However, on my side I contend that genius, especially as demonstrated in “transcendent” art, cannot exist without free will. The “bank shot” for a deterministic system to create it is too far fetched.

For myself, I would contend free will does not require God. Semiotic content in the Universe however does. If our words have meaning, God exists. :)

Post Number #3000!
A Meme: Locating Beauty in the 20th Century

This post marks 3000 essays, short thoughts and link collections authored by yours truly. I’ve hosted carnivals, particpated in many.I’ve had, and am currently engaged in, great conversation(s) and have profited greatly and hope to continue in days to come. I’ve never however started a meme. So this is my attempt at that.

The 20th century gave us much that was not beautiful such as the Killing Fields, Auschwitz, Holodomor, Stalingrad, and that list continues much too far. However, every age has beauty to claim as its own. Doestoevsky claimed that “beauty would save the world.” In this vein it seems imperative that we remark and remember beauty that is in our midst.

This particular meme invites the partipants to name five things of transcendent beauty that were discovered or created in the last 100 years. Name them, explain why you find it beautiful and then instead of tagging N others to pass it along, if you read this and think beauty important … take it up!

  1. Emmy Noether‘s theorem linking symmetry and conservation. I’m going to explain more about that in detail below the fold.
  2. The SR-71 Blackbird, art, engineering, and sheer power built to fly mach 3.
  3. Michele Bartoli’s ride to victory in Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 1997, dueling at the end against two teammates ranked #1 and #2 in the world and beating both.
  4. J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord Of the Rings trilogy and Peter Jackson’s portrayal of the same.
  5. Donald Knuth’s program TeX.

Continue reading →

Running Man

I was on the run, well, actually just not at home this evening. Specifically, at the Wednesday night pre-sanctified liturgy service jointly held at our “sister parish” a nearby Greek Orthodox parish. The liturgical rubrics in the Greek church is a little different and enough of the service is actually still sung/chanted/said in Greek to give it a very foreign feel. A Lenten dinner was held afterwards.

I’m just going to have time to respond to some comments tonight and try again tomorrow night.

Slander Noted

Mr Kuznicki, a normally level headed respectful and insightful blogger, offered some slander the other day (and I’m just getting around to defending the object). In an essay on Nationalism, he offers:

The whole discussion might benefit from some methodological individualism. This name is given to the approach to social sciences that ascribes intention, moral agency, and causality only to individuals, and never to groups. A methodological individualist will not deny the existence of groups, and will not deny that people often feel powerful allegiances or antipathies to them. But he will say that ultimately, “the Fatherland” isn’t asking anything. Only individuals make demands, because only individuals have agency.

After that, there’s no sense sugar coating the truth. Other people — other individuals — are asking you to die so that they may parade down the streets in triumph, award themselves fat pensions, and live on your orphaned children’s tax money. That’s what nationalism is, no more and no less. To make it all cohere as a political platform, these people, these other individuals, are trying to co-opt the feelings that you have for your very own family. [Emphasis mine]

In my recent discussions with Mr Sandefur, he seemed to never understand the notion of what “state” means if one is, in Mr Kuznicki’s terms, a “methodological individualist”, for he kept asking if this state or that state “acted wrongly.” This made no sense, because only people act rightly or wrongly. However, the notion emphasized above, seems to directly and emphatically offer slander to our armed services and their officers. That is somewhat offensive. Who does he think is asking this “offer your life so they might parade down the street?” It seems to me, by his remarks, the most obvious candidate might be take that he would imputed that remark on a majority of our generals and higher ranking officers are those who are asking/ordring our sons and us into harms way were some die for them, in the name of Nationalism.

So I’d ask, put this on an individual level, name some names. Does Mr Kuznicki think that David Petraeus is one of the “other people”? Is Petraeus asking his men to die for his fat pension? If one is working on a notion of methodological individualism, so it seems likely one should be able to name some names, some individuals. What percentage of the armed services commissioned officers are in it for the “fat pensions and the parades”? If it is, as I suspect, a number very close to zero, then why make such slanderous remarks about them?

Does he think it’s not the generals, instead the politicians. Now, I make fun of and mock the antics of our Congressional leaders as much of the next fellow. And it seems to me, everybody else does such a bang up job of mocking the President, that I need not chime in. But does Mr Kuznicki really think that our Congressmen, by and large, are not sincere? It seems pretty clear to me, that with a few notable exceptions, our politicians are earnest. Mr Bush for example, right or wrong, clearly really felt that invading Afghanistan and Iraq was best for the security of our nation. I think that there was nothing in that decision a notion of “sending children to die so he could parade down the streets in triumph.” Again, if the count of politicians who are motivated to satisfy their personal glory over the blood of their nation is vanishingly small, again … why make such remarks if they aren’t applicable?

And if soldiers and politicians aren’t motivated that way, who is left to accuse? All of us in some amorphous collective fashion … but if that were the case how is that “methological individualism”?

That isn’t to say there never have been leaders like that, e.g., Napoleon. I just don’t think the zeitgeist of our age in our nation has that motivation at all. I think that for this age, this culture, the idea proposed by Mr Kuznicki as the motivation for nationalism is akin to blasphemy.

Nationalism fueled the desperate stand by the Soviets in Stalingrad and the end result of the absolutely horrific slaughter finally and decisively turned the tide of Hitler’s forces. Few and far between were those in that carnage that were being asked or were in the thick of it fighting and dying in order to “die for fat pensions and parades.” In the light of that example, one wonders what Mr Kuznicki is talking about?

I’ve Been Memed: Celebrity

Weekend Fisher has tagged me with the Celebrity meme. The meme, answer these questions:

  1. Who would s/he be?
  2. Where would you expect him/her to bring you?
  3. Where would you bring him/her?
  4. What would you like to do with him/her?
  5. What’s the one thing you’d been always wanting to ask the celebrity?
  6. If s/he didn’t treat you well, would s/he be your favorite celebrity?
  7. What would you give to him/her as a gift before saying goodbye so s/he’d remember you?
  8. Tag 3 people.

Now, I’m assuming some things about this “Celebrity”, that is the common famous people currently living related to “show business”, not for example famous Comp-Sci icon like Donald Knuth, mathematicians like Terrence Tao, or theologians like Metropolitan John Zizioulas and living so we might exclude any number of very famous people. Too many others I like, for example as authors Dan Simmons or other popular authors are too obscure to be celebrated/celebrity. What is my answer?

Iwas hoping over the weekend to come up with an idea of a celebrity who was really a celebrity, Eddy Merckx for example is a celebrity in Europe but cycling is too small a sport to matter here. From the acting community, I was really really impressed by Michael Kitchen in the Foyle’s War series … but again I think too far “down on the charts” to count.I wanted to think of a famous person recognized in America as really a celebrity who was actually praiseworthy and someone whom I wanted to meet. Alas, my small brain can’t figure an answer to that question this weekend. But there is a celebrity, with whom I think I’d be glad for some advice with respect to my youngest daughter … so with that in mind we begin:

  1. So my celebrity choice would be Nadia Comaneci. She may be out of the spotlight for some time but I watched, was amazed with the world, and admired/adored her during the 1976 Olympic games. My youngest daughter is, albeit starting a little late, becoming enthusiastically involved in gymnastics and beginning to compete.
  2. I wouldn’t expect her to bring anything.
  3. Perhaps we could meet at a meet? That would be cool. I’m a novice at watching gymnastics. Some pointers at what to look for from the stands would be really nice.
  4. I’d like to talk, to get advice with respect to my daughter.
  5. What’s fame like? Is it worth it if it comes during your pursuit of your passion/vocation?
  6. I wouldn’t feel bad if she didn’t treat me well. I’m the one imposing on her.
  7. I think a nice goodbye gift might be an icon of St. Emmelia, my daughter’s name/Chrismation saint. I don’t know if she’s Orthodox, but the percentage of Orthodox in Romania is in the high 90’s so there’s a chance. I’d hope she might find a place for it in her corner if that wasn’t too large an imposition.

Three to tag? How about Brandon at Siris who might be able to think of a celebrity of virtue, Matt Anderson of Mere Orthodoxy might have some interesting thoughts on this as well, and last but of course not least, I’ll try, Jim Skaggs of One Eternal Day.

Noting A Dim Observation

Mr Sullivan redefines stupid today, via The Daily Dish regarding Ms Malkin:

She won’t vote for McCain – even against Clinton.

Imagine that. Imagine that voters prioritize issues as they see fit (columnists included). Golly.

This is allowed and perhaps even expected, but perhaps not by Mr Sullivan it seems. Why is this a suprise? For Ms Malkin it seems immigration is key. Not a big surprise at a casual perusal of her blog.

Inspecting the Liberal/Conservative Divide

There is a long piece I’ve excerpted from blog neighbor Jewish Atheist. I think he misunderstands that the words he rejects mean different things to the conservatives than they apparently do to the liberal. Because of the length of the excerpt, I’m going to put it all below the dreaded fold … and probably even break things up with the even dread bullet list.

Continue reading →

Foes of Diversity … the Left

David Schraub has put out a very long (4 pages when inserted formatted and printed) reply a conversation we were having regarding diversity. It’s going to take an effort to try to reply, which is in part why it’s taken me a bit to get around to composing one.

I think there are two arguments going on here, and I’m going to try to separate them a bit.

  1. That diversity is good.
  2. Mr Schraub thinks diversity is good and is an activist for the Black American community and thinks boosterism for that cause is also good. Now, even granting that both of these is good … I disagree that the two notions are connected. In fact, if one is in favor of diversity then it seems logical that is in opposition to support specifically aimed at the Black community, for example regarding college affirmative action which seems a primary example.

Below the fold, I’ll endeavor to explain my objections or counterpoint to both points.

The punchline however is: To put it bluntly, the advocate for Black American affirmative action is a natural enemy of anything resembling actual diversity. Continue reading →

A Remark Noted

Via Patrick Ruffini at Hugh Hewitt’s blog:


“I think the Democratic Party is a fine party, and I have no problems with it, in their views and their philosophy.” – John McCain

Except, you know, that itsy part where their views and philosophy are for the most part just plain wrong. 😀

Dancers at the End of Time

In two posts, Jason Kuznicki here and here, expresses affirmation of the notion that if technology could defeat death, then this would be good. He notes, for example, “society would not collapse.” Well, that depends on what you mean by “collapse”, I suppose. Europe is currently undergoing a radical change of 1 child per couple … a society in which there are essentially no children, no parenting is one which is not recognizably like our society. The main similarity is that the people populating each have the same number of limbs and fingers in common and some other gross features. A complete and utterly radical change of society not being called “collapse” is purely semantic. Yes, there would be a society of some sort. It would however, not likely be recognizable as anything like the society today so “collapse” might indeed be appropriate. Continue reading →

Tainted Roots of World

Jason Kuznicki of Positive Liberty today writes on the heritage we have of the Enlightenment. He writes (in part):

It’s been a constant theme of my blogging: The eighteenth century may have ended chronologically, but it’s never really gone away. And as the controversies of the nineteenth and twentieth fade into the background (Free silver anyone? Or Marxism?), those of the eighteenth come back with a vengeance: Religion and atheism. Religion and public life. The nature-nurture and mind-body debates. Free will and determinism. Politicized sex scandals and sexualized politics. And the great enemy — again — is religious intolerance, which has no place in civilized life.

Read Voltaire, or Diderot, or Hume. It’s all there. Every bit of it. Alexis de Tocqueville may still be interesting and valuable — but unlike Tocqueville, La Mettrie could easily top today’s bestseller lists — as one of the “new” atheists. Everything old is new again. That’s why it’s so important that we get the Enlightenment right.

Now the point I’m going to investigate is the one about religious tolerance. I’d argue that this notion is essentially axiomatic to our American and democratic heritage. However, I think it deserves a little investigation, which I’m going to try to do below the fold. Continue reading →

Mutating Genre Meme

I’ve been tagged by Siris, in repayment for doing the same, with a meme.  The rules:

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”. Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

  • You can leave them exactly as is.
  • You can delete any one question.
  • You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change “The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…” to “The best time travel novel in Westerns is…”, or “The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is…”, or “The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is…”.
  • You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”.
  • You must have at least one question in your set, or you’ve gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you’re not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

Ok. First, this meme’s particular ancestry:

My great-great-great-great grandparent is The Flying Trilobite.
My great-great-great-grandparent is A Blog Around the Clock.
My great-great-grandparent is The Anterior Commissurotomy.
My great-grandparent is Laelaps
My grandparent is Quintessence of Dust.
My parent is Siris.

The best scary movie in the 1970’s is: Frenzy by Alfred Hitchcock.

The best sexy song in pop rock is: Put Your Hands on Me by Joss Stone.

The best scary story in science fiction is: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

The best B-movie in 1980’s horror films is: They Live, by John Carpenter.

The best modern retelling of a classic is Dan Simmon’s Ilium/Olympos retake of Homer.

In turn I tag:


What were you doing … 10, 20 and 30 years ago. The Internet is a wild place, a Bible translator living in Africa tags me with a meme, while on the road in Reno living in (or outside of) Chicago.

  • 1997 — Employed at the same place as now, just a year into racing bikes, happily married with two little toddler girls aged just shy of 1 and 3. Attending Church regularly as a resident alien, i.e., not as a Christian myself.  Most of my reading was of the non-directed entertainment variety. 7 years out of Academe, working to perfect the craft of programming toys, err, computers to make machines do things.
  • 1987 — In graduate School at the U of Chicago, starting work on what would be come my very strange thesis project, attempting to apply non-Archemedian numbers in analogous forms and formalisms as continuous Archemedian ones. Watching a rediculous amount of cinema. My computer was a hopped up Commodore Amiga, on which a lot of time and money got sunk. Three years into my non-church-going fallen away years. Still playing RPGs.
  • 1977 — Sophmore year in High School, bookworm and proto-geek. Frightenly shy around members of the opposite sex. Living at home. My summer job … documenting a large Fortran process control program for the old HP-1000. RPG role playing games were a big time sink in these years.

Tagging for myself I’d choose, Kevin, Brandon, Joe, and Jim.

On Racism and the Ilk or Why I Can’t Be On The Left

David Schraub, at The Debate Link: The Trouble with Anti-Semitism has a post up recounting a discussion on anti-Semitism:

Stop trying to silence our voices by accusing us of playing the anti-Semitism card. Stop running us together with White, European Christianity. Stop forgetting the unique issues, burdens, history, and violence that Jews have face and continue to face in an anti-Semitic world. Stop ignoring the presence of anti-Semitism as a structural, institutional phenomenon that shapes the very fabric of our society and infects the vision of all people at all levels of society

From a basic (likely faulty) recollection of Kant’s Metaphysic of Morals, we need to attempt to universalize our ethic in order to see if it is valid. That is, to imagine any moral decision as Universally applied … and if that seems ok … then the notion is moral. So, besides Jews, we have Blacks, Turks, Armenians, Ukrainian, Russian, Bulgarian, Japanese, any of a (likely) hundred or so Chinese ethnic groups, Tibetan, Mongolian, Romany, Anglo-Saxon, Catholic, and the list goes on. I’d imagine that a small classroom could generate a list of over 1,000 special interest groups (10,000+?) each staking a claim to existence and each having their own “unique issues, et al”. For each, then, Mr Schraub would have us remember the “unique issues, burdens, history, and violence that “Group X” have face and continue to face in an anti-“Group X” world.” With X a set numbering in the thousands. How exhausting. (How worthless)

What I wonder is how anyone has the energy to be liberal/progressive at that rate.  My guess is … they don’t. Do they imagine they do?

Seems to me, if you treat everyone with respect (image of God and all that) you don’t have to know their individual story and past histories based on their covering/badging state.  But, that’s just the simple view from the right.

Church and State

Jonathan Rowe at Positive Liberty writes about Church and State (and his motivations for a long standing series of essays):

My own reason for debunking the Christian Nation thesis is I think sectarian religious passions in politics are dangerous, I want to quell that zeal, and see religious conservatives adopt a more live and let live attitude on cultural issues.

Conventional wisdom of today is in fact right in line with Mr Rowe’s thesis, i.e., that church and state must stay separate or great dangers lurk down that path. Continue reading →

Worldview and Babel

Par tof the methodology by modern progressives is to put much weight on narrative over dialectic. Personal and other narratives … story is put to the forefront when defending policy choices. An odd factor in this choice of narrative as important is that, for example, I can’t remember any particular time, if ever, my friendly neighborhood liberal/progressive blogger David Schraub bloggin at The Debate Link has ever given any narrative explanation from a conservative point of view that resonated as being a good description of the conservative mindset. That is, he’s often given his perception of the conservative take and explanation (narrative) to explain a policy or point of view on an event. As far as I remember, it’s never been right.

Likely this means as well, that as far as that goes, I’m also completely misguided and wrong when I attempt to interpret and diagnose liberal points of view. How much more likely are we to be completely off base and confused when we try to interpret the point of view or narrative of Iranian politicians or Hamas militants? It turns out that modern historians have some techniques that might be useful. This method is outlined in The New Testament and the People of God by N.T. Wright. Bp Wright wears two hats as it were. He is both a theologian and a 1st century historian. In this book, in the first part, he explains the methods that historians have developed for trying to come to understand and, well, crawl into the head of people who lived long ago, in his case the 1st century middle east. In our case, we might consider trying to use this to cross the left/right divide in this country or the Islamic extremists (mostly) overseas. Below the fold, I will attempt to summarize some of what he writes on these methods. Continue reading →

Negrophobia: Three Points Considered

David Schraub and I have exchanged some book titles to read. The second book suggested was Negrophobia and Reasonable Racism by Jody Armour (a contributor here). Below the fold find my initial thoughts on this book, I’ve skimmed through the book at this point. I need to return and reconsider my concluding thoughts because I couldn’t find the thread connecting much of the second half of the book. However a few (three) things came up in my reading which I thought worth considering. Continue reading →


Jim Anderson of Decorabilia (possibly) signs on to localization of policy and law, at least regards to drug enforcement. I don’t know if that would also apply to other areas, i.e., abortion, divorce, marraige, and so on.

Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost has second thoughts about Mr Thompson because he favors localization, although not as local as I’d like as Thompson’s localization is at the State, not local, level. And his (stated) reason is different than mine, his being “States become laboratories for democracy and experiment with different kinds of laws.”, not local empowerment builds a sense of and reason for involvement in democracy.

A Reply: Covering and Badging

David Shcraub asks a question (emphasis mine):

Mark has posted a response to my badgery post, but a very perplexing one. I say so because it rather persistently refuses to engage with the actual points under contention, instead continually reasserting that “people badge” and that this is often a good thing. Given that I don’t disagree that many, if not most or all, people badge, and that this is perfectly fine (when, in Mark’s own words, they do it “willingly and eagerly”), there’s very little point in rehashing that badging can be OK.

What still seems to be under contention, and the original point that prompted the debate, is when a covering demand is not okay. So, in writing this post, I want to pin down a simple position which I think is being elided thus far. Does Mark think covering requirements can ever have negative effects on those its demanded of? If so, does he think those effects are ever bad enough so we can legitimately say “this is an unjust requirement”, and speak out against the requiring party and argue they have a moral obligation to change it? And finally, do you think there are covering requirements that can be legally proscribed, by, say, anti-discrimination law (as I argue the “women and only women must wear make-up” position by Harrah’s should be?).

First a brief succinct reply to the direct questions and then a longer discussion below the fold.

  • The statement “that many, if not most or all, people badge, and that this is perfectly fine” is too weak in my opinion. I would state that everybody badges in more than one way. Badging is universal.
  • Yes I think covering requirements can be negative. I thought I made that clear. I’m admitting that there are negative aspects, but Yoshino (and Mr Schraub) seem to neglect the prevalence of badging. That is the point I’m making and I think failing to address it is a serious problem with the book or argument.
  • Every instance of covering, however, is voluntary. It is a perception that the badge and its cost is worth the gain that the badge and association does (or might) grant.
  • While I think that there probably are unjust requirements that we should speak out against, that these cases are rarer than He posits, because all badging (be it covering or not) is a tradeoff.
  • Finally, at one level I encourage legal prescription/prohibition of all sorts of badging but only at the local level.
  • And furthermore I don’t see the Harrah’s case as a valid plaint and I agree with the verdict.
  • It might come as a shocking surprise but I don’t think women’s cosmetics and couture as inherently misogynistic.

Continue reading →

Covering or Not?

David Schraub, at long last has responded to my earlier final response to covering. This post is a little exasperating in which Mr Schraub tends to attribute “a sort of arrogance” and “emblematic of deep-seated misogyny” to my thesis on parts where it really seems that his objection is concerning points I’m not making. It is also somewhat odd, that in borrowing Mr Yoshino’s style of using personal narrative to make one’s point, Mr Schraub rejects this and takes this as an opportunity to decide that such forms are not allowed for such as myself, lacking the epistemological basis to say, well, anything on this subject based on my little life.

Mr Schraub points to two distinctions between what I term as badging and covering. These two differences “two axis” in his essay, lie along the source “top down vs bottom up” and “willing vs unwilling” alteration of dress or praxis. To highlight the points I’m trying to make, so that they are what is being addressed instead of red-herrings I’ll resort to the dread bullet list:

  • Badging is universal. Everybody badges in a multiplicity of ways. Humans form numerous voluntary associations and indicate them by altering our behavior to indicate our membership. That’s all that I mean by badging, that is external signs and habits that signify our associations with creed, group, or other associations. The arguments posed against and highlighting the harm of covering does little in the way of acknowledging the sources, the good, and as well the universality of badging.
  • Badging is a shortcut. Recognition of others badging is a way in which we gather cues as to nature of “other” as we interact especially with those we don’t know intimately yet. In many cases, an instinctive negative reaction to exposed covering, is seen as counterfeit or deceptive practice by making those cues unreliable. It’s the reaction against a person revealing that one is not holding with a given association just appearing as such.

The discussion continues below the fold. Continue reading →

The Debate Link: On Jouvenel

Months ago David Schraub and I exchanged some books we’d like to see the other read. Now at, The Debate Link: Jouvenel David reads Jouvenel, or most specifically Mahoney summarizing Jouvenel. I’m not yet going to dive in and comment on Mr Schraub’s take of Jouvenel vs mine, he’s only started reading and that’s too soon to muddy waters. However, when he writes:

Ironically enough, it is Yoshino’s Covering that explains why, noting how people are forced to significantly alter their public persona, behavior, and speech due to some external pressure (if that isn’t power, what is?). Sometimes these are governmentally mandated, and sometimes they are “just” social norms, but often times they are the function of “private” entities like corporations, run by the very barons Jouvenel (descriptively) believes the state should be suppressing the power of, and (normatively) should be working to counter the power of the state. Yet, what we see instead is state organs explicitly sanctioning serious corporate restrictions on the activities and presentment of their employees. Some companies could fire me for writing this blog, others for wearing my hair in a certain ways. Even the supposedly liberal 9th Circuit has held that a women who is otherwise excellent at her job (as a bartender) can be fired for not wearing make-up.

I thought it worthwhile commenting, as Covering was a book he asked me to read, and I did (here).  And I think what I wrote in my second essay from that book speaks here to Mr Schraub’s remarks. Mr Yoshino in his covering misses universal and far more common practice which I in response to the term “covering” termed badging. Badging is the book Mr Yoshino, or someone needs to write, in reply for it is the other half of covering. Most people don’t cover, they badge. We significantly alter our public persona, behavior and speech in order to signify joining, to willingly if not eagerly show our membership our assent and unity with various groups in our society. The missing part of Mr Yoshino’s dialectic is a recognition of the value men (and women) place on badging, for I found little if any recognition that badging forms a universal and important part of every culture. The negative reaction to covering is in essence a reaction to counterfeit badging.  I’ll admit that covering is difficult for some. Mr Yoshino and others have to also admit the good that is to be found in badging.

Corporate standards of behavior and dress are in no way forced on an individual. Labor is not, liberal presentiment to the contrary, purely a buyers market. We are free to go into business on our own, work for companies with different standards and so on.

Three Thoughts on Iraq.

Via Mr Sullivan who notes a post at The Daily Bellwether:

Could that pose a problem for President Bush if Petraeus is correct and people start asking: Why were things bungled for so long? Where was the leadership in 2004, 2005, 2006? Why were we told things were going well when they obviously were not? Would the war and dying be over if the White House had recognized sooner the Pentagon and Central Command needed competent leaders?

Query: How long did it take Lincoln take to find General Grant? If “dying” was the priority was Grant the right choice? How did history look at his “bungling for so long” … or do they look at the end result?

Michael Totten, another blogger in Iraq, interviews with troops and some history of how far Anbar has come. What I don’t get is how intelligent people can read something like that and at the same time hold “but experts say” there is no measureable progress. There is no measurable progress if your preconceived notions prejudice the data which you only get via massaging data from here until it fits with political goals.

Finally via Hugh Hewitt, who writes:

There’s a local TV show that I appear on. Practically every time I’m on, the host, a good egg even though a pronounced lefty even by Boston standards, asks me how Republicans are supposed to stand by this war effort and still prevail in 2008. I always respond the same way: They aren’t. In all likelihood, 2008 will be a disaster for Republicans at the ballot box. But we, the rank and file of the Republican party, expect Republicans to risk their comfortable offices in order to see the war in Iraq through to a satisfactory conclusion and to continue the war against the forces of Jihad. Let the political chips fall where they may.

Whenever I repeat this sentiment, the host and the other two guests who are usually also liberal, look at me like I have two heads. They obviously suspect some ploy is afoot. But I mean it. And so do most other Republicans. A party that won’t see this thing through isn’t worth supporting, not in political defeat and even more so not in political victory.

If you read this, and are from the left, do you think the notion that holding to a policy and letting the chips fall were they may is a remark you wouldn’t make? Or would look askance at anyone saying this as if the speaker “has two heads.”

On Petraeus via Wiki:

Upon promotion to lieutenant colonel, Petraeus moved from the office of the Chief of Staff to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he commanded the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)’s 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment from 1991-93. As battalion commander of the Iron Rakkasans, he suffered one of the more dramatic incidents in his career when, in 1991, he was accidentally shot in the chest during a live-fire exercise when a soldier tripped and his rifle discharged. He was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, where he was operated on by future Senator Bill Frist. The hospital released him early after he did fifty push ups without resting, just a few days after the accident.

I’ve read he didn’t press charges at the trainee who shot him. Who can wonder if he might not “stand up to the heat” in Washington. If they do, do they base it on notions of what they would do in his place, random general spite/hate, or some actual basis of their estimation or knowledge of General Petraeus’ character. The latter seems unlikely for any person of any sort of discernment. What choices remain, alas, unfortunately do not reflect well on the speaker.

Things Worse Than Death

As a starting point, the “debate”, which I missed as it’s still too early to bother, in my opinion The No Kool Aid Zone (this refers to comments between Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee):

As Mike said, we can leave for the historians the question of whether or not we should have gone in. But now that we’ve “broken it”, we have to fix it, and our honor is more important than Republicans winning elections. Yes, Mike, yes, 1000 times yes!

If you want to know why none of the top Democrat candidates want to come out full ahead with the “withdraw” from Iraq categorically, read Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America and realize that the two major “folkways” of Mr Fischer, the Southern and Backcountry, still influence American south and withdrawal is a matter of honor and pride. A categorical withdrawal means punting in the Southeast and that segment throughout the country. No serious politician gives up such a large sector that lightly.

Communism showed us there are things worth fighting against. Life as dhimmi is another.

In 674, Byzantium resisted Islam in a crucial battle/seige four year which was the first major setback of three which halted the 7th and 8th century tide of Arab Islam (a second battle with Byzantium was the 2nd and Charles Martel at Tours was the third). A candidate who suggests that Iraq in 2008 be the first major setback for the West be voluntarily us (or the US) without first/also suggesting an aggressive strategy for addressing and confronting Islamic fundamentals will lose faith with a large voting bloc.

We Don’t Read The Same Material?

Over at Jewish Atheist

Unless we are making progress towards an Iraqi government capable of preventing a civil war — and it appears that we are not — then there will be a civil war and probably ethnic cleansing whenever we leave.

It is unquestioned (until recently perhaps) notion mostly on the left that no progress is being made. How do these people interpret Mr Yon’s reports? Do they imagine he must be completely fabricating his accounts? It certainly doesn’t read like fabrication. It reads more like the story that the MSM should be telling but is failing to do.

See for example: part 1, part 2 and part 3 (of 4) on Anbar. Explain the “it appears we are not” in that context.

Getting Smarter … or Not

Mr Sailer seems to concurr, if my casual reading is right, that we are “getting smarter” in this modern age. I, unsurprisingly, disagree.

However, there is some sort of contrary evidence. Out of curiosity, some years ago, I bought on eBay a pair turn of the century (1900) 6th grade textbooks, math and literature/english/grammar. It seems to me more likely that we aren’t getting smarter. Just better at some things and worse at others.

I’ve pulled them back out, for review. The books are Grammar School: Myers and Brooks published in 1902 and 1906. My daughter has just finished the 6th grade. This book, lacks the flashy graphics, but the problem and course material is not completely dissmilar, however the older book is strikingly better at stressing and testing one’s pratical application of the material.

The second book, Elson: Grammar School Reader Book One, published in 1911. These (6th graders, I think) read a lot more poetry than kids do today. Vocabulary is similar by my estimation. Again, no graphics or pictures.

However, the contention that our kids are in any real measureable way so much smarter than those now with all the “advantages” seems, based on their textbooks, a hard one to make.

Parties and Phone Booths

Mr Schraub gets it upside down at the Debate Link writing:

Republicans should generally “regard participation in the self-destructive homosexual lifestyle as incompatible with public service on behalf of the GOP.” The party cannot claim “authority and clarity to the moral issues that confront our society and at the same time send ambivalent messages about sexual behavior.” As David Kurtz notes, objectively speaking, such a standard would have to extend beyond just homosexuals and out to adulterers, divorcees, abortion recipients, etc., and then you have a party that can fit inside of a phone booth.

Actually the choice by the media choice to “out”  is the real anti-gay message (see here and here) and the phone booth analogy fails. The GOP wants to hold its leadership to a high (particular) standard of ethics, that might constrain the leaders, but it says nothing (at all bad) about the party or its healthy size.

The Democrat on the other hand wants no (or very low) standards for its leaders, e.g., Mr Clinton a serial sex offender and adulterer yet still highly praised by feminists, but that it’s mainstream members be sheep, err, properly willing to take the advice of their betters, where here “better” means the more knowledgeable large brained highly (and properly) educated class.

I’m unclear on how the attempt to hold a leadership to a high standard makes the grassroutes a phone booth … but at the same time, I don’t know how the condescension of the Democratic party leadership leads to a party that must needs something larger than a phone booth for its membership.

Pretending to Naivete

Blog neighbor Jason Kuznicki at Positive Liberty wrote while I was vacationing on the Mr Vick/dog-fighting kerfuffle and animal “rights”:

Why the law needs to get involved, I really don’t understand. If the law were to act here in any fair or consistent way, it would also be forced to destroy a lot of other uses for animals that we mostly find unobjectionable. For every argument you make against foie gras or dogfighting — both practices of longstanding tradition — someone else can come along an make what’s probably an a fortiori case against industrial farming, which obviously involves more pain to more animals, which is of very recent institution, and which bothers relatively few.

In a followup post he continues in this vein:

The state exists to redress real injuries to persons and to the property of others, not to assuage hurt feelings or to enforce the preferences of a group, even if that group is in the majority, and even if the hurt feelings are profound — as they are in the case of religious dissent. If the state can’t use force to stop the cosmic, existential hurt feeling of thinking that your neighbor is going to Hell, then I can’t see the case for using state force against any lesser hurt feelings, either.

Now, this is all fairly standard political thinking … but incorrect nonetheless. The statement, the state exists to redress real injuries to persons and to the property of others, is a statement which is axiomatic in one particular family of theories of government. It is not axiomatic to all of them and Mr Kuznicki however is certainly very well aware of that. After all, “the state exists for X”, where X is the choice of the Libertarians isn’t the X as might be taken universally. I can understand writing essays with the notion that your opinion is fact, that is the style of the essayist. But Mr Kuznicki’s line of reasoning seems to imply that his imagination fails him in preventing him from even conceiving or remembering that there are actually other political systems. This seems unlikely. One wonders then to what why he makes such naivete as a dialectical technique. Bertrand de Jouvenel in the mid 20th century sliced and diced both Hobbes contractual notions of governance as well as re-iterating and perhaps strengthens Rousseau’s critique of Locke’s defensive ideas on rights. Certainly there are better assaults on rights and contract than naivete, if that be Mr Kuznicki’s goal.

If one seeks a reason why dogfighting might be illegal. One need only look look in some musty books. I’ve mused that “progressives” hold equality as the main purpose of the state, libertarians freedom , and for conservatives … virtue. Aristotle and many classical Greek thinkers held that the state exists to provide in order to nurture virtue in its citizens and that on that basis laws might be written. To defend legalization of dog-fighting and cruelty to animals one must, it would seem, in that arena arrive at a reason for linking dog-fighting and its practices with the cultivation of virtue. In the absence of same, there is no reason to protect it. If, as is more likely, dog-fighting has only ill effects on the virtue of any and all involved … it might very well be made illegal in that case. I’m still hunting for the classical arguments against the idea that government is for our virtue, for I’m sure they exists … somewhere.

Finally, I might remark that ultimately as a result of my reading of Jouvenel (and Solzhenitsyn) that what is most needed from a legal perspective in our state is that Federal laws should absent themselves from considerations of dog-fighting (as well as abortion, marriage, and a plethora of other affairs). In fact, our States also should steer clear. For our personal civic virtues are being atrophied by increasing federal centralization and the concommittant disenfranchisement of the common man. Strong exercise and a sensibilities for civic virtue is a requirement for the preservation of liberty and is being lost in our land. The local counties, parishes, wards, and precincts should decide such things. As such, they should be ruling on the righteousness of dog-fighting in their locale. And while, I happen to think, for other virtues, it should be illegal. It is more important that each of us be forced to consider these matters ourselves.

Dock Me Pay

Alas, no essay will be forthcoming tonight. We returned from vacation yesterday and my brother stopped by in town on his way back from performing in the Peninsula Music Marathon Festival, (see here @ Principal Oboe). He’s stopped by our homely domicile for on his way back home to Florida.

Tomorrow, I’m embarking on a new “feature” which will probably take me at least 6 months to burrow through. I’ve made it a condition for my two daughters (still both under 13) that in order to embark on the enterprise known as “dating” that they must first read (and worse … discuss with me) topic and notions which arise on reading Wing to Wing (banner advert/link below). This is a collection of readings and thoughts on courtship, marriage, and dating. Monday nights I’m going to write an essay as I work my wok my way carefully through the book. After gathering them in a “topic” heading, I figure that at the very least my essays can serve as a resource for them and hopefully your comments/our discussions as well.