.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Friday, March 31, 2006

Strange Similarities

Does anyone else notice any similarities here... Maybe it's just me.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Now you have done it. We'll have riots at the next debate caucus. They will burn our cars!

8:40 AM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger festivus said...

Uh, I think that's only if one of the pictures is purported (or assumed) to be of the Prophet Mohammed. These two numbskulls clearly don't qualify.

10:04 AM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Yeah sure, tell that to them festivus. I for one am parking far away from the club at our next caucus.

4:36 PM, April 01, 2006  

Post a Comment

Consciousness and Mortality

Some argue that computers are getting so advanced and complex that they may become conscious beings in the near future. However, what if there is more to consciousness than just the processing ability of a computer. A general definition of consciousness is the realization that one exists; “I think therefore I am.” It could be that consciousness may be related to mortality – that a being is not “conscious” until it realizes that its own existence is not permanent. Thus, a being can only realize it exists when it knows that it will someday not exist. It is only with consciousness that a being knows that each day is different from the next.

Although computers may gain the mental capability to understand mortality, they may never gain consciousness because a computer can technically live forever. Therefore, all that is required for survival is instinct. In the same sense, most animals and infants are not conscious because neither has the capability of understanding their own mortality. (It could be that some higher animals such as whales may actually realize their own existence and are therefore conscious beings).

If consciousness is linked to mortality, it could be possible for humans to lose consciousness. For example, if humans discover the secret of living forever (such as having our minds downloaded into a computer), such a realization and occurrence could be followed by the complete loss of consciousness, which would be no different than death. Thus, under the mortality/consciousness theory, it is impossible for humans to ever live forever (at least in this world).

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Interesting theory. But would you then argue that a two year old, not aware of his own mortality, is not conscious?

7:43 AM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Yes, obviously at some point a child does become aware of his or her own existence. I am not sure what age that would be.

8:17 AM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

"I compute, therefore IBM."

8:44 AM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I believe it is somewhere around one year of age that a child develops an ego. But awareness of mortality would come later, perhaps closer to age four or five. From your argument, consciousness would not exist until that later point.

A computer could be taught to be self-aware. The current day home PC already is in a rudimentary fashion. But mortality would be another matter.

Except for my computers. My computers definitely consider themselves mortal.

3:35 PM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

And actually, this is going to become a moot point as computers and humans merge. Computers have already been installed in brains to, for example, remotely control a bionic arm. And what do you think a pacemaker is?

Personally, I'm looking forward to my internet implant. I'll be infinitely intelligent.

3:55 PM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Scribbler, you don't need any implants.

4:19 PM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Slonasasarus, you need to do some research about the work the American Primate Institute has done with the great apes. In teaching them to talk American Sign Language, and to understand English and to type it into computers they have found that they are very self aware, understand death, and have concepts of after death. They also name things, not only their own pets with personal names, but contrary to Genesis they also name species. Coco the gorrila has a vocabulary of over a thousand words, and has been on line in chat rooms. She also has romantic instincts and has been involved in the "choosing" of her own mate. She has a pet cat, (her second or third) who she has named and picked herself, and mourned terribly the death of her first pet cat "All Ball".
Sounds like consciousness to me.

4:31 PM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger festivus said...

Scribbler, an internet implant would make you both infinitely intelligent and infinitely stupid, raging and prone to violent fits of conspiracy mongering at the same time. Infinity - infinity = 0.

5:58 PM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Take the numbers 1,2,3,...

Next, remove all the odd numbers. This leaves 2,4,6,8 ...

Still infinity.

6:13 PM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

So, Festivus, you're saying it really wouldn't change who I am.

Air Marshall, I'm not touching your implant comment!

6:39 PM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger festivus said...

Pencil, a most excellent point that I had not considered. I guess the main issue at that point would be determining all the odd numbers, and I suspect it would be more difficult that just removing all the web sites that Daily Kos links to, although that would be a great start.

7:31 PM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Why Scribbler, whatever do you mean?

8:12 PM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Air Marshall, I considered your argument, which is why I noted "most animals." It could be true that some apes or whales or elephants could also be conscious.

Scribbler, perhaps consciousness is not an all or nothing realization, but rather a sliding scale. A toddler may have only an inkling that they are mortal and may be only "semi-conscious." As a child grows they will eventually learn that that death is impossible to prevent. A computer on the other hand may only learn as time goes by that death can be prevented, and thus that death is not inevitable... Therefore, only instinct is required for the computer to exist.

9:19 PM, April 01, 2006  

Post a Comment

Sneetches – A Critical Review

The casual reader might come away from Sneetches
(by Dr. Seuss) thinking it teaches
Their children a lesson about, what, can I say?
Perhaps the role that entrepreneurs and surgeons play?
That in society it is just to exploit
Without trading a service. That just ain’t, um, roight.

Doctor Seuss, if indeed that’s your real name,
Let me tell you, as you lie and spin in your grave,
In your grave by the sea, now you listen to me,
While I tell you, I'll tell you what real Sneetches should be.

Those populist Sneetches, those star-unendowed,
They lacked creativity, when they weren’t allowed
To the frankfurter roasts. Now why couldn’t they boast
Of their own greatest and latest in marshmallow toasts?
Of their social skills, of their friends in the know?
Why did they envy? Why did they lay low?

For a Starless Sneetch party, is what I would say,
Is the place to play bluegrass, at the end of the day.
The Star-Bellied Sneetches, cocktail wieners in hand,
Pinkies raised high, had no such fun plan.

But the Star-Bellied Sneetches, those faux elitists,
Weren’t the ones to call in the Surgeon Cosmetis.
No, the driftless and listless with Stars-Not-On-Thars
Summoned McMonkey McBean in his strangest of cars,
Demanding their equity, their fair-share tattoos,
They cared not for the dollar, nor which dollar was whose.

Far from the shyster, as Seuss paints McBean,
He provided a service, one in great need.
Or so it was seen by the faux populists,
Those who fancied stars as an elitist test.

Seuss also maintained that money was wrong,
That Sneetches got saintly once it was gone.
To Seuss I would ask, were he still here,
Why did you write? For money, I fear?

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I'm not sure I agree that Seuss just wanted a buck.
He wanted good books for children, but was plumb out of luck.
So write them, he did, for his children and mine.
And read them, we do, time after time.

So please don't knock Geisel of Dr. Seuss fame.
Not everyone's good at this book writing game.
Look at Madonna, adored by the hordes,
she probably won't read her own book to Lourdes.

But I do like this business of rhyming our posts.
The best one's to do it have reasons for boasts.
The Secretary should always consider employment
of rhyming the minutes for the members' enjoyment.

9:36 AM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

The rhyming could happen, there is some potential
For the minutes to sound as if from a Seuss pencil.
But might that sound corny, a tad bit extreme,
When we’re to be visited by a Justice Supreme?

6:37 PM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

This rhyming could spell trouble
for those of us who are slow.
Our poems are a mumble,
we have nothing to show.


Rhyming is hard.
Where is my thesaurus?
How on earth will a find
a word to rhyme with Sloanasaurus.

9:29 PM, April 01, 2006  

Post a Comment

Monday, March 27, 2006

Quie Commission on Judicial Elections

Former Governor Al Quie is chairing a citizens' commission of 40 or so credentialed people to reform or perhaps even to get rid of state judicial elections. The Commission is largely responding to Republican Party of Minnesota v. White -- the Wersal case. Their report is due in December of 2006. I, for one, patiently await the results.

I think the best they and others could do is embrace judicial elections and make them as useful as possible. My fear is that they and others will use this as another opportunity to tell the people how stupid "they" are.

On second thought, as populist reformers, we should not patiently wait for the Commission to make their report. Rather, let's go back to our caves and plan the next pitchfork rebellion. Any takers?

You know what they say, "Stupid is as stupid does."

Blogger festivus said...

I'm in. I am so tired of politicians that think 'they' know better. Wersal et. al. did not take this case as far as they did for the sheer purpose of relegating selection of judges to politicians.

10:10 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

I am loading magazines as we speak.

10:19 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Lance Rimpi said...

Just one request, Air Marshall, as you load away: Try to fire away from the Sometime Chandler, and next month's guest debater (both Members of the Commission). I am certain that a sternly written E-mail would suffice for each of them.

9:31 PM, March 29, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

One must always be sure of ones target. I will take your advice to heart.

9:49 PM, March 30, 2006  

Post a Comment

Did Alexander Cause Climate Change?

Currently I am reading Alexander, by Theodore Ayrault Dodge. I definately recommend it to anyone who is interested in the finer details of Alexander the Great and his campaigns. Dodge is best known for his book on Hannibal, which remains the authority on the brialliant Carthaginian.

Dodge pays a lot of attention to detail in his writings, especially to topography, weather, etc... In Alexander, Dodge constantly refers to how the climate has changed from 330 BC to late 19th century (the book was published in 1890) including references to locations now partially submerged or landscapes that have changed. Here is a typical example in Dodge's discussion of the Battle of Hydaaspes in 326:

The rainy season had just set in. Today it is said to begin in July. Unless the ancient chronology is at fault, it began earlier two thousand years ago.
Now, Alexander viewed himself to be the son of a God. Could it be that Alexander himself caused climate change? Perhaps his ego partially clouded out the sun. Or maybe major climate change occurs natuarally.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

His was a journey not only of conquest but of exploitive scientific imperialism. They built new cities, transplanted differing species of plants, drained swamps, destroyed other cities, poluted areas they passed through, and burned trees they cut down for their campfires wherever they went. This wanton destruction and disregarde of the natural order resulted in wide spread damage to delicate eco-systems, harmed the fragile biosphere of the planet, and upset the natural cultural evolution of peaceful non-European societies with their unprovoked attacks. The net result was disasterous climatic change, destruction of habitat for indigenous animals, polution of air and water resources of wide areas of non-European lands, and the spread of European diseases throughout populations lacking immunity to the foreign germs.

5:54 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I wonder what the leftists were like in Alexander's time. Certainly the many examples of fellow citizens opening the gates in the middle of the night to let the enemy in (in the name of peace) is probably close.

8:53 PM, March 27, 2006  

Post a Comment

A HUGE victory for free speech

I don't have time to comment on this right now, but suffice it to say that the Constitution, citizens and bloggers won big today.

FEC Won't Regulate Internet Politics

Saturday, March 25, 2006

BOB Classic -- Sink the Bismark

I heard a BOB classic on 106.1 FM that I wanted to share with our audience. I am always struck by how powerful the British Naval tradition is in the collective British memory. Rule Brittania!

Artist: Johnny Horton Song: Sink the Bismark
Album: America Remembers Johnny Horton (1960)
[" America Remembers Johnny Horto " CD]

In may of nineteen forty-one the war had just begun
The germans had the biggest ships
That had the biggest guns
The Bismark was the fastest ship
That ever sailed the seas
On her deck were guns as big as steers
And shells as big as trees

Out of the cold and foggy night
Came the british ship the Hood
And ev'ry british seaman
he knew and understood
They had to sink the Bismark
the terror of the sea
Stop those guns as bid as steers
And those shells as big as trees

We'll find that german battleship
That's makin' such a fuss
We gotta sink the Bismark
'Cause the world depends on us
Hit the decks a-runnin' boys
And spin those guns around
When we find the Bismark
we gotta cut her down
The Hood found the Bismark
and on that fatal day
The Bismark started firin'
fifteen miles away
We gotta sink the Bismark
was the battle sound
But when the smoke had cleared away
The mighty Hood went down

For six long days and weary nights
They tried to find her trail
Churchill told the people put ev'ry ship a-sail'
Cause somewhere on that ocean
I know she's gotta be
We gotta sink the Bismark
to the bottom of the sea

We'll find that german battleship
That's makin' such a fuss
We gotta sink the Bismark
'Cause the world depends on us
Hit the decks a-runnin' boys
And spin those guns around
When we find the Bismark
we gotta cut her down

The fog was gone the seventh day
And they saw the mornin' sun
Ten hours away from homeland
The Bismark made its run
The admiral of the british fleet said
Turn those bows around

We found that german battleship
And we're gonna cut her down
The british guns were aimed
And the shells were comin' fast
The first shell hit the Bismark
They knew she couldn't last
That mighty german battleship is just a memory
Sink the Bismark was the battle cry
That shook the seven seas

We found that german battleship
Was makin' such a fuss
We had to sink the Bismark'
Cause the world depends on us
We hit the deck a-runnin' and
We spun those guns around
We found the mighty Bismark
And then we cut her down

We found that german battleship
Was makin' such a fuss
We had to sink the Bismark'
Cause the world depends on us
We hit the deck a-runnin' and
We spun those guns around
We found the mighty Bismark
And then we cut her down

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Great song. But who is BOB? Is this a populist culture phenomenon I've missed along with, I don't know, what's hot right now, someone named Iced Tea, the Prince formerly known as a number, and the like?

2:05 PM, March 25, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Is this one of those irredeemably evil Rock and Roll songs? Or is liking this just a matter of taste? Could you play a riff or two for us?

10:56 PM, March 25, 2006  

Post a Comment

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Saddam and Osama

ABC News is now reporting that Saddam Hussein and Osam Bin Ladin had a much closer relationship than previously reported:

A newly released pre-war Iraqi document indicates that an official representative of Saddam Hussein's government met with Osama bin Laden in Sudan on February 19, 1995 after approval by Saddam Hussein. Bin Laden asked that Iraq broadcast the lectures of Suleiman al Ouda, a radical Saudi preacher, and suggested "carrying out joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia. According to the document, Saddam's presidency was informed of the details of the meeting on March 4, 1995 and Saddam agreed to dedicate a program for them on the radio.

This isn't news to me, but it may be for some people. I suppose the rationalizaton will be that Saddam may have had a previous operational relationship with Osama to attack Americans, there is just no evidence that the operational relationship was ongoing in 2001....


Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

What? No comment on Russia leaking the war plans to Iraq?

3:46 PM, March 24, 2006  

Post a Comment

Please let it be true!


As Sen. Reid vows to filibuster tough immigration reform proposed by Majority Leader Frist, we are witness to yet another reason to be thankful. Every time Republicans are on the ropes, the Democrats do something stupid.

Immigration is a huge issue that I believe that RNC and Republicans don't generally know how to deal with, because they are fearful of losing the gains they have made with Hispanics. What they don't realize is how resonant this issue is with the rest of the country, and I suspect that strong tough immigration reform and border control would gain Republicans more votes with blue collar Democrats than we would lose with any other consituency.

I have this recurring nightmare that the Democrats get a clue on immigration and Republicans don't. Under such a scenario, I don't even want to think about what that does to 2006 and 2008. With as much trouble as I think Republicans are in, we should be glad that our competition is so inept.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dow Near All-Time High

Today the Dow closed at 11,317, slightly lower than the all time high close of 11,337 on May 21, 2001. Frankly, I thought the Dow (and whole market) would tread water for another 5 years as it did in the 1970s. Obviously, this is not the 1970s. Our economic and policy planners should be commended. This is quite an achievement.

In case you forgot, instead of Dow 11,000, the bunny could have been running the country.

Ballistas for Sale

The new thing in home defense. The Ballista!

Originally developed in 399 BC. by the ancient Greeks at Syracuse, the ballista was in effect a giant crossbow, used for shooting large arrows or darts. It was a powerful anti-personnel weapon, capable of transfixing several armoured men with a single dart.
Purchase your own Ballista here!

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Do they come with high capacity magazines?

11:04 PM, March 22, 2006  

Post a Comment

Anti-war Conservatives and the Left

Apparently, Paul Begala and James Carville have been running around the last few days citing an obscure professor named Martin Van Creveld arguing that Iraq is the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus lost three legions in Germany in 9 BC (sic).

I wrote about this ridiculous and totally wrong historical comparison back in January. Nevertheless I find it interesting that Federal Farmer was citing the same source to make the same argument. Are Paleocons and the left in league with each other? Or do they just find it convenient to cite bogus facts and assertions in defense of their opinions.

For anyone that cares, Varrus' legions were lost in 9 AD, not 9 BC. Who cares about facts....

Furthermore, I recommend that Begala, Carville, Federal Farmer, and Creveld all read "The Battle That Stopped Rome: Emperor Augustus, Arminius, and the Slaughter of the Legions in the Teutoburg Forest." written by Peter Wells (a local historian).

UPDATE: Scribbler points out below that I have taken the criticism of paleocons too far. Well noted. I have thus changed the title above.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

S'aurus, perhaps I can be of assistance in crafting titles for your future posts:

How Paleocons Have Destoyed Western Civilization
Paleocons and Pedophilia
Paleocons and Their Secret Love of Hitler
Do Paleocons Really Have Lower IQs Than Rocks?

I can come up with others when you've completed these posts. Now get to work!

3:56 PM, March 22, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

How Neocons have given victory to Iran.
How Neocons mislead the U.S. into war.
How Neocons seek to move the Republican party to the left.
Neocons plot to expand the war.
How Neocons are really Trotsky-ites.
The former radical left and Neoconservatism.
Neoconservatives and the New World Order through the U.N.
Geroge Bush Senior and the Neocon plot to form a U.S. global empire.
Neocons and the Council on Foreign Relations.
How Neocons co-opted the Republican party.
Neocons and the decline and fall of the United States.

10:58 PM, March 22, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

I missed a big one. How the Jewish and Evangelical Christian-Neocons trick the U.S. into supporting Israel.

8:49 AM, March 24, 2006  

Post a Comment

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The media a blessing?

JR Dunn of the American Thinker notes that the concentration on negative news by the U.S. and world media in Iraq may have actually hurt the insurgency more than helped. He argues that the instant gratification from casualties and bloviating in the media caused by IEDs clouded the true picture that the insurgency was losing strategically. Consequently, the insurgency was not able to adjust in time to the larger strategic errors and defeats that were building.
I am not sure if I agree, but it is an interesting thought. Nevertheless, after the failure of the golden mosque bombing in Samarra failed to ignite civil war, what is left for the terrorists to try?

It is also interesting to consider how much reliance people outside the United States (notably the terrorists) put on our media and whether they are able to dissect the facts from the commentary in our media. As we all know, politicians and reporters often mix in opinion with fact. While many here easily identify the bloviating, how many people overseas are able to properly interpret the message. And further how many people overseas understand that the fickleness of the American public works both ways.

Where is the Red Star on Dean Johnson

I looked all over the Star Tribune Website for coverage on the Dean Johnson "The Supreme Court told me...." story today but could not find one. Considering that this is the largest political scandle in Minnesota for quite some time, one would expect a little digging at the Star Tribune (perhaps not!).

I am shocked that Johnson is still Democratic leader. If a Republican made such a statement he would be gone from his leadership post. I guess Democrats operate under a different standard.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I would attempt to answer the question posed in the title of this post, but this is a family-friendly blog. (And I don't actually know the answer, thankfully.)

7:35 AM, March 22, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I almost had coffee go through my nose from the last comment.

4:09 PM, March 22, 2006  

Post a Comment

Public School Grammar

Today, my oldest son brought home a flyer from school written by his teacher. Included in this flyer was the sentence
"In social studies we have been learning about our countries [sic] heroes and citizenship."

Now, we're all human and make mistakes, but this is not the first time this teacher has had problems with basic grammar (almost spelled that grammer, but caught myself). This is perhaps the 3rd or 4th time that my wife and I have seen something like this, and we don't read the material with the intent of catching mistakes. I've also heard her make other grammatical errors when speaking to a group of parents.

Should I laugh with her, at her, or simply hang my head and cry?

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

It would be more interesting to find out who the teacher thinks our countries (sic) heroes are?

4:00 PM, March 21, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I don't know about everyone else, but I make mistakes like this all the time when typing. I'm forever writing "there" when I mean "their", "its" when I mean "it's" and so forth. Usually, I go back and correct just after typing the word.

Part of this is reliance on spell checkers. The spell catcher won't catch "countries" vs. "countries" because both are correct on their own.

I guess I would really cry if she didn't understand that she made a mistake vs. understands and was just not careful enough.

4:09 PM, March 21, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Festivus, I've said this before and I'll say it again: get your kids out of public school.

I don't agree with Pencil that this should be excused. We forgive each other in email and posts, but teachers should be held to a higher standard as we are entrusting our children's education to them. I might understand it, but not excuse it.

4:18 PM, March 21, 2006  

Post a Comment

PaleoCon Plan for Proliferation

We have all heard Bush's argument about spreading Democracy. He believes that proliferation is inevitable and that a more permanent solution to combat the use of WMD on America in the future is to change the nature of the governments who would use them (along with trying to stop the proliferation). I happen to agree with this argument, which is why I support the democracy project in the middle-east.

Paleocons oppose this argument. However, I have never heard the Paleocon plan for dealing with the proliferation of nuclear weapons other than the threat of retaliation..."If you touch us we will nuke all of you." This is a bad plan.

What is the Paleocon plan..... Hmmmm

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

"Peace through strength." Worked for Reagan.

Did you see Reagan swarming the troops into the Soviet Union, pounding them into democratic submission?

No. He built up our weaponry, improved our military technology and said "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." And the wall, as the story goes, came a-tumblin' down.

12:13 PM, March 21, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Yes, I remember. We may be able to look to Reagan and the cold war in our dealings with China.

However, our more immediate problem lies with proliferation of nukes by terror and failed states. I'm not sure if peace through strength works in this case.

Another question is after you have promulgated a paleocon response to the question above, you need to ask yourself if you would actually hope that such a plan be implemented.

12:28 PM, March 21, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Even jamming democracy down the throats of these little nation-states is not going to erase the threat of rogue nucular, um, nuclear proliferation.

We need to place blame where it belongs. If Russia is exporting enriched uranium to Iran, let's have sanctions against Russia. And so forth.

Friendly Middle Eastern nations should be policing their own corner of the world as well, though that will meet with limited success.

Leveling sanctions is our most powerful weapon, as I see it.

1:00 PM, March 21, 2006  

Post a Comment

Monday, March 20, 2006

Paternal Abortion

Twenty five year old computer programmer Matt Dubay has been ordered to pay about $500 per month for child support for his seven month daughter. He claims the child's mother lied to him about being infertile and/or on birth control. (See here.)

His legal argument is rather ingenious. He is claiming a constitutional violation of the equal protection clause. That is, we as a society are wholly unwilling to say to women "if you don't want to deal with the responsibilities of having a child, don't have sex" but that is precisely what we say to men. A man has basically zero choices to make after a child is conceived. Whether the child is aborted is a decision given entirely to the mother. If the mother chooses to allow the child to born, she may choose to keep the child and the father is usually given no legal choice but to pay whatever a court determines he should pay. (I write "usually" because I believe after the baby is born, the father could sue for custody, and if he wins, the mother could be forced to pay child support to him. Nevertheless, the presumption is that the baby goes home with the mother automatically. The father gets custody only after an extraordinary intervention by a court.)

So again. I'm against abortion. I'm perfectly ok with society saying to both sexes (to put it bluntly) "You have choice. Don't have sex." But is it a violation of the equal protection clause to say this to men only?

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Pencil is right in that the abortion laws do not treat men equally.

But for the sake of argument, the court needs to deal with a child that "is." Even here, the courts are sometimes biased toward women, but certainly not always. There is a trend among a few judges to award equal parenting time to fathers, even if the father is employed full time and the mother is a full time parent, provided the father asks for equal time and is willing to harrass the mother through extensive, expensive litigation over a long period of time, to the point of liquidation of all assets if necessary. This is a crazy attempt to "equalize" the sexes, has thrown the baby out with the bathwater (not entirely figuratively) and is unfortunately on the rise. But I've gone off on a tangent.

There are two solutions to the problem Pencil presents: 1) no one has a right to kill a kid and should either not have sex or take extreme precautions with birth control, or 2) allow the sperm donor to also elect for abortion. There are obvious problems with forcing the mother to undergo the abortion procedure against her will, but beyond the first solution, that's the only other option for pure equity.

4:06 PM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

What about giving the plaintiff what he asks for? - the right to simply walk away. I understand that this isn't good for the child, but then again, neither is letting the mother kill him. But if we delve into that moral netherworld of only considering what's fair to the adults and to hell with the children, then I don't see what's unfair about this.

4:50 PM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

In this case, you would think that would be an answer.

Unfortunately, that opens the door for a lot of fathers, wanting to leave a marriage for the sole purpose of dating other women or such, who would agree to do exactly that, divorce their children, to not pay child support. And there will be mothers, with however many children intentionally fathered by this guy, who will be stuck with nothing with which to support those children.

How could such a law be written to protect such mothers and the children who will go without because their father has other interests? Would the father need to file a "Wish to Abort" within the first three months of pregnancy or some such thing?

6:25 PM, March 20, 2006  

Post a Comment

Get US out of the UN

The Environment Correspondent for Rueters reports on the UN Global Biodiversity Outlook report:

Humans are responsible for the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs and must make unprecedented extra efforts to reach a goal of slowing losses by 2010, a U.N. report said on Monday. (snip)

"In effect, we are currently responsible for the sixth major extinction event in the history of earth, and the greatest since the dinosaurs disappeared, 65 million years ago," said the 92-page Global Biodiversity Outlook 2 report. (snip)

A rising human population of 6.5 billion was undermining the environment for animals and plants via pollution, expanding cities, deforestation, introduction of "alien species" and global warming, it said.

Can we leave now? Can we get US out of the UN? Regardless of whether the above is true (and I have serious doubts it is), we used to call this evolution. Remember evolution? That's what these same people insist kids be taught as fact in elementary school.

It's not the money wasted on this study that concerns me (and the US pays for 22% of every silly thing the UN does), or the millions to billions that will now need to be spent on "planning to achieve the 2010 goal," but that we know what comes next. The UN will now demand that we cease to burn fossil fuel, start riding bikes, and install the mandatory 1 windmill per household.

Out. I want out.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Some members could probably get a very usable amount of power from a home windmill.

1:48 PM, March 20, 2006  

Post a Comment

The Myth of Reagan

Many at JAS often cite Reagan as a model conservative, especially from a small government point of view. However, I saw some claims on the net earlier this week that Reagans numbers just don't add up to the rhetoric. So I tested it myself using Federal Reserve Statistics...

According to the Fed stats, during Reagans time in office Federal Government spending peaked at 23.46% of GDP and never fell below 21.28%. In contrast, government spending under Bush peaked at 21% , with most of the time spent at 20%.

Also, the federal tax burden under Reagan fell to 17.8% in 1985 from a high of 19.8% when Reagan took office. Under Bush, the burden fell to a low of 16% from a high of nearly 21% in 2000.

The Conventional wisdom was that Bush's tax cuts were small compared to Reagans. These stats say otherwise.

If Bush is such a big spender, then he is only relative to the second half of Clinton's second term and Nixon in the 1960s. Compared to Reagan, Bush is a small government.

UPDATE: If you throw in state and local spending- during Bush's terms, State and local = 13.2% of GDP. Under Reagan, the amount was around 11.5%. Perhaps this is the missing link. However, state and local spending has been increasing at a regular pace. It is not up and down like the federal government. Hmmm...

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Conservatives have long acknowledged that spending was a problem in the '80's. But you must recall that Reagan was dealing with a wholly antagonistic House and Senate, where Bush should be able to get spending cuts through like melted butter.

6:50 AM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger festivus said...

The problem is that the Republican Congress is like a bunch of bread sitting there sopping up the butter and taking that tasty mix of earmarks back to their constituients.

7:15 AM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I agree Congress should cut spending more.

Say all you want, however, the Fed stats show that this Republican Congress has been spending far less than Congress in the 1980s and about the same as Cingress up to 1997. Only Congress from 1998-2000 spent less, and something makes me wonder if the big cuts during this time came in defense?

Maybe my stats are wrong....perhaps I am not including some sort of other number. Maybe Harsh Pencil can check some reports.... However, more likely is that Bush is just a bad communicator, something we all know.

8:29 AM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Sloanasaurus, do some more research and tell me what percentage of the spending was for defense under Reagan vs. Bush. How much for entitlements. How much for earmarked pork. Then tell me how many people were impacted by the Alternative Minimum Tax under Reagan compared to Bush.

1:59 PM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Just for you Air Marshall I looked it up. It appears that Defense spending peaked in 1986 at about 6%. Today it is 3.5%. The difference of 2.5% does not change the previous analysis of the Reagan years. Even witout the extra defense spending, Reagan is no better at spending than Bush.

Isn't it strange that no one ever cites data when they make these criticims of Bush. You only hear about the deficit and earmarks... but no details. What if there are 5 x more earmarks but the average cost per earmark is 1/5th.....

12:20 AM, March 21, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

I am supprised that the percentage of defense spending as related to GDP is so similar. I would have thought the Reagan years would have been higher. Thanks for your efforts. Maybe the left is correct in hating GWB. Maybe he is a right wing nut.

10:32 AM, March 21, 2006  

Post a Comment

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Free Speech (unless the state doesn't like what you have to say)

The Minnesota Senate voted 58-1 to ban protests and picketing at funerals. The House passed similar legislation unanimously. I have to say, I would have voted "nay." This can't be constitutional, can it?

Let us say an abortion doctor is being buried in a Catholic cemetery. Even then, most people wouldn't have the stomach to protest. Hitler, then. Hitler is being buried and his five supporters are there, including his family who want to carry on his work. Perhaps then one might want to protest.

But in a nation that puts the freedom of speech on a pedestal, I don't have to give you an absurd enough example to make you agree. The essence of free speech is that the most abhorrent content must be allowed if the speech which is near and dear to your own heart is to be protected.

Am I missing something? This vote wasn't even close. It was nearly unanimous. Can someone explain to me how this infringement of speech is constitutional?

(For your edification, here is a link to a Strib story on the bill.)

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I doubt this is constitutional. Further, the Phelps guy and his family use these laws to make themselves wealthy. They sue and win attorneys fees and their own children are the attorneys.

11:38 PM, March 19, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I guess I dont see how restricting protests at funerals would restrict free speech. Protesting at funerals leaves the political realm and enters the bad taste realm. At the very least, protesters should be required to get a permit before protesting at a funeral. Therefore, the families can react accordingly.

12:13 AM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

(My apologies to Festivus. I didn't see his post before pounding mine off.)

Protestors are likely violating trespassing and other laws. Deal with them that way.

Speech of "bad taste" is precisely the speech in need of protection. Speech about warm feelings and happy thoughts meets with no objection and needs no protection.

6:54 AM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I disagree. I would not support laws against name calling, however, I think such laws would be constitutional if they in no way encroached on someones ability to express their views. What these people are doing at the funeral is harassment, it is not speech. People at the funeral do not need to be at the funeral to protest their views. They can do it somewhere else.

It should not be legal for someone to sit on the street outside someones house and yell whore and bitch all day long (they should not be allowed to sell their drugs either). This is really just harassment, its not speech.

I guess I am not a libertarian.

8:38 AM, March 20, 2006  

Post a Comment

Consistency and funeral protests

JAS member Craig Westover blogs about his support of State Senator Becky Lourey's lone and courageous 'no' vote against a bill to ban picketing and protests at funerals, prompted by the recent protests at the military funeral of Minnesota soldiers killed in Iraq.

I agree with Cap'n Fishsticks. This actions by those protesters is so vile and despicable that voting for a bill restricting such behaviors is almost a no-brainer, but the 58 state senators who voted for it were thinking politically, not constitutionally, turning those 'no-brainer' YEA votes into a vote by those with no brain.

However, this post is not about the vote, and not about my agreement with Westover. It's instead about my wonder, given her interest in protecting free speech, regarding Sen. Lourey's position on other types of protests. The one that first came to mind was that of restricting pro-life protests at abortion clinics. If faced with a vote on a similarly-worded bill to limit protests at abortion clinics, would Sen. Lourey have the same courage of her convictions and vote NAY?

Heresy! Paleocons Are Never Wrong!

Heresy! Paleconservatives are never wrong! Why not they say? Paleoconservatives would have you wait -- let's say a generation or two -- until events prove that they were right all along.

It's like predicting chaos before going to war, debating with a paleoconservative can be like debating with a rock. You can provide new information, an education and persuasive arguments but it's not going to change its mind and it is not going to acknowlege your efforts.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Paleocons freaked at Reagan's rosy reception of the Gorbachev regime. They said it was a mistake to treat Gorbachev as a reformer.

Paleocons were wrong, Reagan was right.

3:36 PM, March 19, 2006  

Post a Comment

Paleocons wrong again

Many of the Paleocons have adopted the leftist position that Saddam would never have had a relationship with Al Qaeda because Saddam and Osama were ideologically opposed. Of course this is one of the most moronic positions as history provides many examples of similar alliances (i.e., Sparta/Persia, Rome/Visigoths, Hitler/Stalin, USA/Stalin, etc… Nevertheless, the press is willing to continue this fraudulent argument mostly because their audience is also devoid of history.

Now recently translated documents show that Saddam was up to his ears in supporting Al Qaeda – in fact Iraq was more involved in supporting terrorists and planning terror than any previous claim by any high level Bush Administration official.

On another note, I recall a Paleocon at JAS repeating the Michael Moore fraud that Iraq was a free and peaceful country prior to the invasion. How shameful. I will never forget.

UPDATE: I just heard Murtha say on Meet the Press that there was no connection of Iraq to Terrorism. Russert asked him about Iraq's connections to Al Qaeda. Murtha blew it off as an "excuse." The paleocons and the misguided continue to lie to the American people...to our peril.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Federal Farmer was on to something when he labeled Sloanasaurus a PaleoConPhobe. I also believe S'aurus is a closet PaleoCon, afraid to explore his heart for fear that in the deepest recesses of his soul lie the dark impulses, that he may be more like Us than he would admit.

2:29 PM, March 19, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

One always knows they are right when their opponents resorts to name calling.

3:30 PM, March 19, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

. . . Paleoconophobia, nuttiness, that kind of name calling. You can tell you're doing really well, for example, when there's a rash of posts indiscriminately bashing "Paleocons."

4:29 PM, March 19, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I would vote to drop the label "paleocon." Simply use the term "those on the right against the war" or some such. Again, I agreed (and agree) with many or most of the foreign policy positions of those labeled "neo-cons" but I still hate the term.

7:03 PM, March 19, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

But Pencil, it is far more satisfying and exciting to call people names and affix lables, particularly derogatory ones. This can make up for a considerable lack of substantive argument. Besides, it was the Paleo-wallas that started all the name calling and sneering. I was a "Con" in 1952, long before most of the current crop of "Neos" were born, let alone the term coined, yet I have been labeled a "Neo" by some of the more infamous "Paleos". Not one bloody thing new about me, least of all my conservatism. When Buckley came along I said "finally, someone on our side who is well spoken"!

9:58 PM, March 19, 2006  

Post a Comment

Saturday, March 18, 2006

France Contemplates At Will Employment

Could it be? Truth be told, the proposal would only affect the youngest workers, but what is shocking is that France is seeming to grasp that companies would be more willing to hire employees were they less hampered by regulation, specifically, had they the ability to hire and fire at will, something we just barely recognize here in the States.

This drastic measure, known as the First Employment Contract, is only being considered in the face of a French national unemployment rate for young workers of 23% with an impoverished subsector unemployed at a rate of 50%.

Actually, this story is about rioting taking place as a result of the proposal, riots involving the same youth who are enjoying the 23% and 50% jobless rates. I'm sure I wouldn't want to hire anyone from this bunch of greasy, destructive, pre-alcoholic (it is France, of course), leftist parasites either.

(As an aside, it's fun to see some French guys in militaristic garb. They don't actually have guns or anything, but it's a start.)

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Most of the employable ones leave the country. I heard one French woman on a CNN business program who designed graphic cards say that France is my home, I love France. But, who would do business there....

9:45 AM, March 19, 2006  

Post a Comment

Chaos Predictions in Iraq Revisited

I dispute the accuracy of the following post:

Chaos in Iraq
A JAS member stated to me last night that he was right about Iraq because he had predicted chaos prior to the invasion.I told him I predicted that there would be action in the next football game.It's easy to predict chaos for any war. He obviously has a cynical view. I asked him if there was chaos in the other 14 provinces in Iraq that we never hear about and where 50% of the population lives. He said he didn't know.

I recall that that certain JAS member on the floor stated after the invasion that he had predicted "chaos" prior to the invasion. There is no evidence that prior to the invasion that he predicted "chaos." In my opinion, it is important before someone is given "oracle" status that somehow the prediction is recorded prior to the event that is being predicted occurs.

Your thoughts?

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Hear, hear!!! Anything not recorded did not happen. Period!

4:30 PM, March 18, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

He needs at least one witness not related to him. I certainly heard nothing of the kind.

6:30 PM, March 18, 2006  

Post a Comment

How Lucky We Are

For his first public speech since being confirmed as Chief Justice of the United States, John G. Roberts, Jr., gave an address at the Reagan Presidential Library (link available here).

For Reagan (or Roberts) fans who have 40 minutes to spare, this funny, thoughtful and inspirational talk will boost your spirits.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Garden of Eden Revisited

Venezuelans to Gather and Pose in the NudeMar 17 9:44 AM US/Eastern
CARACAS, Venezuela
American artist Spencer Tunick has photographed and filmed masses of people in the nude in dozens of public places from Finland to Australia, and now he is looking for at least 2,000 volunteers in Venezuela.
Organizers said Tunick had chosen a street in Caracas for his human art installation, and was asking volunteers to show up and strip on Sunday morning.

"I chose a location to me that was beauty and chaos combined _ organized chaos," Tunick said Thursday. "I'd probably be arrested for doing this and charged with a crime in half of the United States, so I'm honored to be here in Caracas and not be arrested."
The New York artist has been documenting assemblages of naked people in public places since 1992, and has been arrested multiple times in the United States while doing so.
"It's a wonderful thing for a city and a country to give some honor to the body as an art object," Tunick said. "For me, it's all about the body as a substance, as an organic substance."
Tunick said it often was hard to predict exactly how many people would show up. He recalled that when he traveled to Chile, he only expected about 800 people to participate, but over 4,000 showed up.
As for Caracas, he said, "Hopefully, I'll get over 2,000 (participants). I really need 2,000 people to make this sculpture happen."

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Well, I didn't want to have to be the one to comment on the SSC's naked post, but it seems he is attracting international visitors, one just now from Venezuela.

(Go ahead, Venezuelan, strip on down. We'll be looking for you. There'll be worse bodies than yours out there. Maybe.)

6:34 PM, March 18, 2006  
Blogger ssc said...

Naked is as Naked does.

2:40 PM, March 19, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

And who, I ask, is willing to say, "The Venezuelan has no clothes?"

3:14 PM, March 19, 2006  

Post a Comment

Thursday, March 16, 2006


In the opening speech last night, Noumenon argued againsts "scientism" and told us that philosophers of science have essentially agreed that there is no such thing as the "scientific method" and that humans discover scientific truths in exactly the same ways we discover any other truths.

The arguments for this may sound all well and good. But it's like arguing that the hand in front of my face really isn't there. Even if somehow you can give me a logical argument that I can't find fault with that my hand isn't there, I can still see my hand. All I've learned is to discount logical arguments since if I have to choose between some fancy philosophy of science argument, which tells me my hand isn't there, and my eyes, which tells me it is, I will go with my eyes.

Look around. We have airplanes and nuclear reactors and computers and life saving drugs. I can look at a satellite picture of my house on the internet. We've landed robots on freakin Mars! Meanwhile, philosophers, theologians, and Bill Clinton are still arguing what the meaning of "is" is.

I have no use for a logical argument that the scientific method is no different than philosophy or theology. I see the differrence as plain as the hand in front of my face.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I can see seven miles in front of me, and it's flat. The earth is flat, man. (Actually, I see a neighbor who needs to paint his trim. But if that neighbor were not there, 1) that would be a good thing, and 2) I could see seven miles in front of me, or at least Lake Minnetonka, which would still be a good thing.)

5:16 PM, March 16, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

How do you know that the beast isn't deceiving you into believing that your hand is there? Maybe you don't have a hand... heh heh heh heh

8:47 PM, March 16, 2006  
Blogger festivus said...

Scribbler, all you've done is proven that the earth, at least for that 7 miles or .1 degree of arc, is basically flat within the tolerance of your measurement instrument (your eyes). You can generally trust your eyes (but not all the time, as this shows), but you can't make assumptions about things you cannot see by simply extrapolating out from what you can.

10:02 PM, March 16, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I believe the world is round, despite the fact that it certainly looks flat to me in my daily experience. If someone were to give me a purely logical argument, with no new facts, that the world must be round, I'm not sure I could be convinced. It was data that convinced me.

Take a look at Hume's argument (said to be an attempt by him to show what to much navel gazing can do) that induction (the belief that the sun will come up tomorrow because it always has in the past) is invalid. Hume's argument is the following: the only justification for believing in induction is that it has always worked in the past. But you can't prove a hypothesis by relying on that very hypothesis. Induction can't be used to prove the validity of induction. Thus we have no basis for believing induction.

Hume's point (and mine) is that this sounds all well and good, but I will still go on believing in induction, thank you very much.

11:56 AM, March 17, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

What I should actually assume, were I to only trust my eyes, is that the earth is not only flat, but just shy of 154 square miles (or Pi*49).

As to your hand, Pencil, were you blind (and there is at least one JAS FC who would contend that is the case), would you then believe in your hand?

Festivus, you're right, of course. I am merely pointing out the shortcomings of Pencil's argument. Cool illusions there.

1:14 PM, March 17, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Noumenon can't find his password, so this is from him, not me.

Harsh pencil makes no pretentious distinction between technology and science. He leaves this to the "scientists".

Good for him.

But is the bicycle a product of science, or just common engineering sense? Is morality "unscientific" even though it obviously works?

Does science have to have different tests for truth (besides the only two that are logically possible) because it leads to technology? All I have to do is change linguistic culture to get talk started about "moral technology" and "religious technology" based on our ability to reasonably predict the results of being moral and religious. Isn't pscychoanalysis technical? Is it really science?

So even technology is not necessarily an exclusively scientific progeny. In fact, ethics is more predictable than economics -- our favorite, dismal, social science.

In any event, if there are two pounds on one side of the scale, and one pound on the other, the theory of mass will tell me that the 2 pound side will win. It's confirmed by experience. The theory offers practical predictions. If I make sure that my window is so weighted I have derived technology from the same old test for truth, the same test I use when I predict the tasteless behavior of the unchurched -- idoliters of science like Harsh Pencil.

Applied science says nothing about the logical structure of the underlying theory. It simply exploits the predictions!

I predict that Harsh Pencil will not agree.

By the way, women exhibit prediction and control skills par excellence, while rarely being accused of science.

8:41 PM, March 20, 2006  

Post a Comment

Chaos in Iraq

A JAS member stated to me last night that he was right about Iraq because he had predicted chaos prior to the invasion.

I told him I predicted that there would be action in the next football game.

It's easy to predict chaos for any war. He obviously has a cynical view. I asked him if there was chaos in the other 14 provinces in Iraq that we never hear about and where 50% of the population lives. He said he didn't know.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Y'all are much too tough on FF, your lone dissenter and token dove of the JAS. (I've become agnostic, or at least conflicted on the matter, after my initial and irrational exuberance of going to war. Finding Saddam cowering in a spider hole was obviously fun.)

1:22 PM, March 17, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I don't think S'saurus was referring to FF. Hmmmmm.

1:28 PM, March 17, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I don't recall Federal Farmer making predictions. FF would say that making decisions is as much folly as invading Iraq.

2:04 PM, March 17, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Okay. But definitely a "he," which helps. And Pencil knows who . . .

Is it an SC? Or just a C? It is, it's the C.

9:13 PM, March 17, 2006  

Post a Comment

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

PaleoCon Phobia?

What's up with Sloanasaurus? Has he totally gone off the edge, like Adoph Hitler when his dreams of world conquest were dashed?
Sloanasaurus said:
The reaction to the ports deal from the so called paleo-to hell with them-cons is an intellectual travesity(sic).

It certainly wasn't "paleocons" that were vocalizing about that; it was the Republican party. The American Conservative or Chronicles Magazine weren't the ones who defeated the deal. I no longer read the yellow journalism of neoconservatism (it's pretty boring with all the mea culpas lately), but I suspect the opposition to the deal emanated from neoconservative talk radio or Pat Robertson.

Allthough I lack the historical knowledge of Sloanasaurus and don't know of "Guy Lusignan's march of folly from Jeruselam (sic) to Hattin," nor do I even know which direction to go from Jerusalem to get to Hattin, unfortunately, we are all becoming familiar with a "march of folly," and it wasn't the "so called paleo-to hell with them-cons" who provided the drumbeat for the march.

Buckley, Fukuyama, et al., to their credit, are withdrawing from the "intellectual travesty" which the neocons promoted, whatever their position was on the Dubai deal.

Sloanasaurus sounds like he may have been induced to have invested some money in Dubai Ports.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

S'aurus is member of the Dubai royal family of the United Arab Emirates -- Aha!

Farmer, you've helped to clear the smoke of the murky mystery over why the small faction known as Sloanasaurus was putting so much into this particular battle.

To think I used to consider myself cool to be a DAR.

8:44 PM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

The ports deal reveals an interesting policy divide. Should we work with the Arabs to try and manage the world's problems or should we say screw em..."let them do their thing let us do our thing." There was no security issue with the ports deal. If you think threough the facts rationally, the security issue is minute. The whole ports deal was a gift to the screw-em side. The screw em side was blessed with a complicated issue and a media willing to deliver false information because they hate Bush.

There is a segment of American society that says screw-em, which includes paleocons. There is also a segment of Arab/Muslim society that says the same thing. The Muslim side is in full bloom with Iran's President Ahmadinejad, who desires and believes that conflict with the west will make his society better. The American paleocon says to hell with them, we can just nuke the whole area if they (a few criminals) mess with us.

These are dangerous times, which require consistant and intelligent management and rational decision making under the light of guiding truths and principles. Paleocons may have principles, most I whole heartily agree with.... they just don't have any management skills.

8:33 AM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

While I shudder to realize this, I believe I agree with Federal Farmer over S'saurus on this issue. One dispute I had with FF was that I never appreciated being called a neo-conservative. These labels simply aren't useful since who'se a neo-con and who isn't keeps changing. But the same applies to paleo-con. Whatever-con has simply come to mean "conservative I disagree with."

Now the ports deal is an interesting issue. But it wasn't the paleo-cons (ie: Buchanan and the like) who hated it. Almost everyone did.

But both sides are simply making too big a deal out of it. I agree that the security risk wasn't huge. But I also don't see how this substantially hurts our relationship with moderate Arabs. Moderate arabs, like the UAE government, don't have a good relationships with us because they like us. They have good relationships with us because they see that relationship as in their interest. What has changed?

And lastly, what is going on here with the anti-port side is statistical discrimination. That is, it also just doesn't make sense to let a guy named Mohammed run airport security, no matter that he's a US citizen. If the fallout from this makes everyone comfortable with common sense discrimination, I'm all for it.

9:06 AM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I ageree with Pencil that the port decision will not on its own affect our relationship with UAE or "moderate" arabs. This argument is not persuasive. UAE wants us around because we defend them. They are the Belgium and Netherlands of the Middle-east... always ripe for the taking.

However, Pencil plays slight of hand with the issue. He says "it also just doesn't make sense to let a guy named Mohammed run airport security, no matter that he's a US citizen...." In this he falls into the trap.

What has airport security have to do with operating port terminals? The security issue is made up. If I say Mohammad is catering the police cafeteria.... do I leap to saying that Mohammad controls the police?

Pencil throws out a term "statistical discrimination." This is no different than the argument made by Scribbler. The problem with the "statistics" is that the probablity is determined from an irrational fear and not from facts or common sense.

Pencil's reference to Mohammad running airport security is not xenophobia it's common sense. However, if Pencil applied the same common sense to Mohammad doing corporate budgets in dubai for a subsidary company, wouldn't the answer be different?

Perhaps I am most upset about the herd mentality with this issue. John Boehner recently commented that it no longer matter what the facts are about the port issue... the issue was now a loser. He was accepting reality. A frustrating and dissappointing reality.

9:53 AM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

My point was not that the UAE port business had much to do with security. It was that perhaps we are all now willing to admit that statistical discrimination is not always a bad thing. Thus if incorrectly applying it the port deal (which isn't much of security issue) helps nudge us to correctly applying it where it really matters (like immigration policy and things like airport security) then quite a bit of good might come out of this.

10:24 AM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I agree with your last point. I support common-sense profiling. Of course most of us at JAS support profiling. So perhaps what you are saying is that the deal would cow some moderate democrats and the media into supporting it as well making profiling more politically tenable.

If the blown ports deal results in more profiling, then the blown ports deal will have been a good thing.

Of course the media and democrats don't care much about being hypocrtical.

Maybe the whole thing is a rovian trick. Bush knows the media and democrats will be knee-jerk against anything he does. Therefore, if he wants to get something done (and needs democratic support), he just needs to be for the opposite.

10:35 AM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Sloanasaurs, you never told me you are a member of the Dubai Roral Family! Cool! Can we get trips on their airplanes to Monte Carlo? To Greece?

3:30 PM, March 16, 2006  

Post a Comment

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Flag Etiquette

Shouldn't the American flag always be elevated above any other flag? Does this hold true on foreign soil as well, such as Afganistan in this picture?

Blogger festivus said...

I seem to recall from my Boy Scout days that the US Flag takes precidence when with other non-country flags, but is treated equally when displayed with flags of other countries. To verify my memory, I found this

When flown with the national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height. Each flag should be the same size. They should be raised and lowered simultaneously. The flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation.

I can't tell from this picture what other flags are displayed, so perhaps it's correct and perhaps not [Another of the many reasons I just love our flag - easy to tell it from a distance]

9:41 PM, March 13, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Thanks, Festivus. My knee seems to be jerking a lot these days. I feel better now.

(But are those OUR soldiers holding other coutries' flags? Surely not.)

7:36 AM, March 14, 2006  

Post a Comment

Goodbye, Dubai

Goodbye, Dubai

We hardly knew thee
(And that's fine with me)

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

The reaction to the ports deal from the so called paleo-to hell with them-cons is an intellectual travesity. It reminds me of Guy Lusignan's march of folly from Jeruselam to Hattin. Guy was a paleocon as well. He said to hell with them and in the end lost everything.

Paleocons are not fit to lead...they never have been.

11:21 AM, March 13, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I never understood why there was a small faction hell-bent on seeing this transaction go through. What was so impressive about this deal? Sure, I saw some minor arguments for technological and some other sharing benefits, but nothing of a convincing nature.

It is our government's prerogative to oversee such transactions that could potentially have security implications. Even the White House has back-pedaled on this one.

And no, I'm not thrilled about China managing some of our ports either.

1:37 PM, March 13, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Someone explain to me how we would be in more danger having a foreign port terminal operator? The Paleocons and Democrats said it would make us less secure because the muslims could do nefarious things because they would be privy to our port security plans.... WHAT THINGS? What would they do? Take over a Port? Stop the flow of Hummas? The one you hear all the time is that they could smuggle in a Nuke? Yet, the best place to detonate a nuke is in the harbor, not in the port. Why would anyone risk moving it in through the port.

The risk is so low that it becomes nutty to use the risk as an excuse.

In reality, nixing this deal makes us less safe. DPW is one of the largest port operators in the world. The better our relationship is with them, the better for our security in getting information about what is going on at foreign ports. They real risk is the foreign ports... thats where the bomb would be loaded.

In my opinion it is the Paleocons that are the true warmongers. They say lets disengage... and if we are attacked we can nuke them all.... (so what if we lose a few cities).

"TO HELL WITH THE MUSLIMS." - Guy Lusignan - 12th Century Paleocon

3:45 PM, March 13, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I don't KNOW that DWP would constitute a risk. In fact, I might say there's an 80% chance there would be no compromised security. But I need that number to be closer to 100.

I'll go even further to say that Dubai is likely a fine, upstanding company, pure as the wind-driven snow, and I'll put 98% on my comfort level with that.

But the door is opened when they hire employees, and those employees have friends who know somebody else in that part of the world.

Yeah, maybe I'm paranoid. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get ya.

And maybe I'm rascist. I think DWP ownership would cause problems with our ability to profile, such as it is. But just because I may or may not be rascist, doesn't mean that the guys who blew up the World Trade Center didn't come from the Middle East.

This was played wrong by the White House, plain and simple. At least they've owned up to that much.

S'aurus, I wouldn't necessarily put Neocon/Paleocon stickers on the 2 sides of this issue. This is one that's made for strange bedfellows.

7:33 AM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:18 AM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Scribbler, I don't think your a racist. I think you have given up reason in exchange for a gut reaction on this issue. You made up the 80% number. You ask that someone prove the deal would provide close to 100% security, knowing full well that such proof is an imposibility. After all, the same arguments can be made about any American company running a port. In fact, history shows that we have more to fear from our own treasonous citizens then we do foreign companies.

My point is that the arguments such as....

"the door is opened when they hire employees, and those employees have friends who know somebody else in that part of the world...."

is pure nuttiness.

The truth is you can't really come up with an argument other than improbable what-ifs that have no basis in fact. No one has come up with realistic security arguments. The only real argument is an economic one... that we should encourage American owned ports to create more jobs here or a xenophobic argument.. that foreigners should go away. But these are not security arguments.

Instead the critics say "it just doesn't feel right..." or "we should error on the side of security in this instance...."

Come on...

9:59 AM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I have been accused of nuttiness before, or was that naughtiness, but never by a fellow JASer. Not that there's anything wrong with that . . .

There are enough questions about this transaction, and the stakes are too high to ignore them.

Yeah, I made up the 80%. I could go 75% or 85% but not high enough for comfort. I'm not saying it needs to be 100%, but certainly closer to that number than we are.

The United Arab Emirates was hometown to three of the 9/11 terrists (Saudi Arabia the majority of the remainder) and owner Dubai Ports World. That, in a very small nutshell, is the difference between 80% and 100%, to me.

12:44 PM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I recognize that in accusing you of nuttiness, I am taking a big risk on a accusing a large percentage of conservatives of the same. However, I stand by my accusation. I think the reaction to this ports issue is nutty.

Your claim that UAE is damaged goods because three of the 9/11 attackers were from there is far out. Every society has its criminals. So what. Why the collective responsibility for UAE? In response the Arabs world could argue that they should not do business with us...because some of our soldiers committed personal crimes. You know... collective responsibility. I say this with seriousness because I believe that many paleocons would like such a response from the Arab world. It is part of the "to hell with them" philosophy (never mind the consequences).

The one argument that I think is a good one is that DPW is owned by members of the royal family in Dubai, which means that DPW is partially "state" owned. We should not be doing business with state owned companies out of principle. But we do. AirBus is partially state owned. So are many Chinese companies. Many more companies have state subsidized financing. The list goes on....Therefore, that is not a good argument for the DPW ports deal.

2:04 PM, March 14, 2006  

Post a Comment

Friday, March 10, 2006

A “modest proposal” for government-enforced morality

The headline on Paul Tosto’s article in the Pioneer Press today reads St. Thomas struggles with ethics debate, which pretty much sums up the ugly world we would have if we fail to heed the need for collective vision.
The effects of a University of St. Thomas decision that kept two unmarried partners from traveling together on university business continue to ripple through the campus, and what began as a debate about travel policy is edging into a tougher discussion about the university's future.

Two recent St. Thomas rulings launched a wider debate over Catholicism and the university's reach into employees' lives. A choral director last spring was told she couldn't officially bring her lesbian partner along on a trip with a university choir; two professors who live together as unmarried, heterosexual partners were told in December they could travel with students only if they stayed in separate rooms.

Last week, a letter signed by 132 faculty and staff appeared in the campus newspaper Aquin supporting the professors and calling the administration's stance intolerable. Although the signatures represent a fraction of total faculty and staff, the letter was extraordinary on a campus that rarely sees public dissent. Some teachers recently boycotted a faculty recognition event. There's been scattered talk of professors seeking jobs elsewhere. E-mails and discussions on the matter are a daily distraction for some.
So much wasted effort. Can society afford the time and resources to examine the values we hold and whether or not we should actually live by them?

If St. Thomas were a public rather than a private institution, there would be no need for students and faculty to struggle with reconciling their personal beliefs with their actions and Catholic doctrine. Laws governing public institutions prohibit discrimination and alleviate the need for people to struggle with ethical issues. Collective morality frees people to worry about grander things, like global warming.

The situation at St. Thomas is precisely why we need society to step in and pass laws defining appropriate personal behavior. Without such laws, society, like St. Thomas, bubbles in a cauldron of individuality until collective vision evaporates. Individuals make decisions that are not in keeping with the collective vision. Worst of all, those that are content to let society do their thinking for them are faced with the nightmare of making individual ethical decisions -- of differentiating “right” from “wrong.”

Isn’t it easier to have government remove that threat? Do we want a world that is like St. Thomas where individuals must struggle with ethical questions? Do we want a world where it is always 3 o’clock in the morning, and we lie awake with nothing but our souls for comfort? Isn’t it time to move beyond humanity and institute controls on individuality for the sake of the collective good?

Let St. Thomas serve as an example of the ugliness that awaits if we resist the tranquility of a single collective vision. It might not be possible to extinguish humans to make the world a better place, but with a little effort, we can abolish “humanity.” Isn’t it worth it?

Blogger ssc said...

Craig, this is a brilliant post. You should publish it somewhere. It is obvious to any logical person that the only way to live in complete harmony is to have the government decide -- everything. In that way, we will all be equals, friends and have no secrets among us. Even better, since all decisions of the government will be anticipated -- the answers to the questions are always obvious beforehand -- we will be able to predict the future, too. Utopia!

8:39 AM, March 11, 2006  

Post a Comment

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Anyone watch the Oscars?

I don't. I haven't watched them in years. Actually, I don't think I've ever watched them from start to finish like I might a football game. I see snippets either in passing if I happen to be watching TV or portions on other news shows days after. To me, they're boring, entirely too fawning and self-congratulatory, and rarely have any basis in reality.

I am somewhat tempted to watch more this year, as I think Jon Stewart is one of the wittiest guys out there. I don't agree with his politics, but I find him really entertaining. Were it not for the absolute political nature of the best picture nominees, I might actually consider spending some time watching. It will be interesting to find out how well he goes over with that crowd.

Does anyone here allocate any significant amount of time to the Oscars?

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Single word answer: NO!

11:53 PM, March 04, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Oh! I just LOVE the Oscars! Mostly, it's to see just how AWFUL some of the dresses are! I mean, REALLY! What ARE they thinking sometimes?!

And this year! I mean, COME ON! Capote! Heath Ledger! George FREAKIN Clooney! How can I NOT watch!

8:42 PM, March 05, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Ok, serious now.

I didn't watch a minute of the Oscars, but I did see Crash (because it's out on DVD). Not a great movie, but a very good one. And the conservative criticism of it is way overblown. It has a million of the most un-PC lines I've ever heard in a movie, many of which are enormously funny. It has people talking about race without making speeches (except for a short one by Matt Dillon). The Matt Dillon character - a racist white cop - is actually shown rather sympathetically. For instance, he puts himself at great risk to save the life of a black person.

Good rental.

9:16 AM, March 06, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Is this the same thing as Academy Awards? How about the Globals? All the same deal? Assuming this parade of names I vaguely recognize was on television, I can safely say I was not in danger of visual contamination.

5:10 PM, March 06, 2006  

Post a Comment

Friday, March 03, 2006

Nap Time

Even drawings can be worth a thousand words.

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

My respect for Ginsburg just went up, not down. I don't see how the others stay awake.

11:49 AM, March 03, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Pencil, this may possibly be why you have not been nominated for SCOTUS (have you?).

Kudos to Souter and Alito; I wouldn't have woken her either. I wish her snoozing, were it to persist, would make a difference in our favor, but unfortunately Ginsburg already knows how she's going to vote on any matter and hearing of testimony is mere window dressing.

1:42 PM, March 03, 2006  
Blogger festivus said...

Please tell me she really didn't go face down in the spaghetti...

When I heard this, I figured that she did a "nod and bob". This picture looks like she took a full scale nap.

Had this been Scalia, the left would have called for him to recuse himself.

9:44 PM, March 03, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote:

"At first, she appeared to be reading something in her lap. But after a while, it became clear: Ginsburg was napping on the bench. By Bloomberg News's reckoning -- not denied by a court spokeswoman -- Ginsburg's snooze lasted a quarter of an hour."

7:59 AM, March 04, 2006  

Post a Comment

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Harry Browne, Dead at 72

I was suprised and saddened to hear that Harry Browne died yesterday at his home in Franklin, TN (where I once briefly lived). Harry Browne was presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 1996 and 2000, an author and investment advisor. I met him a few times and he seemed so vital, not a man capable of dying.

Harry Browne presented a positive face for the Libertarian Party, a prolife candidate who adhered to a message of small, constitutionally-limited government.

Mr. Browne's website is still up at http://www.harrybrowne.org/ where he most recently posted in December. The Libertarian Party also eulogizes Harry Browne at http://www.lp.org/media/article_294.shtml.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What Europe should do about its Muslims

A few days ago (as he is wont to do), Air Marshall emailed around to some of us an article by Mark Steyn. arguing that Europe is surrendering to Islamism without a fight.

In response, a past Chairman of our Society asked "Does he advocate any practical solutions? ... Or is this just Right-liberal hand-wringing?" Good question. I have been strident in the past in pointing out that various critics of the Iraq war offer no prescriptions themselves, so I feel an obligation to offer policy suggestions for what Europe should do about its "Muslim problem." Here goes:

  • Halt all immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.
  • Encourage immigration from countries with residents more likely to assimilate, in particular, Latin America. (This should especially encouraged in Spain from the Spanish speaking countries and in Portugal from Brazil).
  • Eliminate any laws or policies which allow for Muslim states-within-a-state. For instance, forced marriages and violations of women's rights must be prosecuted as vigorously among the Muslim population as they are on the non-Muslim population.
  • Stop showing any sensitivity to Muslim sensitivities. If local Muslims object to a statue of a pig or painting of Muhammed in the local church, they need to be told to sod off. You have the right to practice your religion, but not to tell us what to do.
  • End welfare (stick) and stop discriminating against Muslims (carrot). In general, get Muslims into the middle class lifestyle.
  • Deport Wahabi imans whenever possible.

Blogger ssc said...

Harsh Pencil has an excellent agenda for Europe. But, they still need to have more babies.

12:14 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger festivus said...

Given that the number of children fathered by the two prior writers in this thread number above 10, there might be an excellent opportunity to consult with the Europeans on the exact process by which they might take up SSC's suggestion.

7:51 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

In all seriousness, "have more babies" is not a policy prescription. Subsidies to having babies, or at least making sure that families are not penalized financially, do seem to have a positive, albeit modest, effect. Scandanavia (where I think, festivus, they know the production function for babies) has ok fertility, on par with native born Americans, has pretty good incentives for having children compared to the rest of Europe. So pro-natalist policies might be warranted.

8:35 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Under Franco Spain had very pro-natalist policies and had very stong birth rates. Those rates fell rapidly when those policies were ended. Seems to work. Used to work here when married people got a tax break rather than a penalty.

11:32 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

The trick to pro-natalist policies is to disproportionally get those people likely to raise good future citizens to have more babies. The key might be to look at the incentives to having children broken down by education level and try to devise a system that gets more educated people to have more children.

11:56 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

While the Pro-Natalist movement has recently been co-opted by the Populist label, I would caution the above to take great care in adopting this measure fully, as Pronatalism historically has its strongest roots in PaleoConservatism. (See farming families of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.) Not to confuse the issue, but post-modern PaleoCons often shun Pronatalism in practice in favor of fiscal conservatism.

12:58 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Wern't the farmers of the 16th and 17th centuries all immigrants?

1:51 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Farmers in the 17th century were mostly immigrants, certainly in the early 1600's when the Puritans swept into town. But by the 1700's, farmers were often 2nd, 3rd, even 4th generation Americans.

7:33 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

I must congratulate Harsh Pencil on his recomendations. They would work here too in my opinion. Too bad none of our leaders here or in Europe have the heart to do any of them, let alone all of them. Courage is a rare commodity today.

9:55 PM, March 02, 2006  

Post a Comment