Showing posts from 2016

Weighing My Choices Between Trump and Hillary

On Trump There is no conservative or libertarian case for voting for Trump. There's no Republican case for it either. He's never been conservative and he represents a screw-you to the Republicans. A President Trump would represent the end of the Republican Party as we know it and he'll probably spend the next 4 years running against Republican Congressmen and Senators. He would not be comfortable with the party until it were re-branded as a channel for his twitters.

But... although it might be bad for conservatives and Republicans, a President Trump might be good for America. You see, Trump will never have the full support of his party and will always have full opposition of the Democrats. He will always be one major scandal away from impeachment. This is good. A democracy is not well served by high-trust in the government or leaders. It is very possible that starting in February 2017 or earlier, the Republicans and Democrats will unify to lock away the considerable tools…

A List for Watching Westerns for People Who Haven't Watched Westerns

If you aren't fairly familiar with the Bible (Torah, Writings, New Testament) you will be face-blind to the whole of Western history, philosophy, and literature before about 100 years ago. By the same token, if you aren't handy with the peaks and feel of Westerns, you will not understand cinema before the 1980s or cinema by people who came to love film during that time. 

Westerns pre-80s were just a vehicle for all the other genres of the time. There were kitchen table dramas, romances, cultural-political examinations/commentaries, detective stories, revenge stories, bright lights big city stories. It would be more reasonable to lump Star Wars and Gattaca together as "two common examples of SciFi" than to willy-nilly lump any movies with a horse in them as a "Western".

All Westerns share a similar stereotypical setting: They are set at a time before the pre-eminence of the automobile (City Slickers isn't a "Western") and in a place west of the M…

On Sally Hemmings

Sally Hemmings of course, was the slave and (candidly) baby-mama of six children by Thomas Jefferson, four of whom survived until adulthood. The two oldest, simply left Monticello when they became adults and moved to Washington DC where they disappeared from the historical record. The oldest, Harriet, passed as a white woman. The two youngest, who were not 21 when Jefferson died, were freed in his will. But since Jefferson's estate was heavily in debt, it took an actual act of the Virginia congress to ultimately pull it off. It turns out that being Jefferson's child wasn't all bad. (That's sarcasm.)

That issue of  Harriet "passing as a white woman" is quite ironic and reveals how pernicious and corrupting was the system of racial slavery in the US. Harriet was legally a slave and "negro" because her great-grandmother was an African slave who had had at least one child (Harriet's grandmother) with a white sea captain. The captain allegedly tried …

At Fighting In the War Room, They Make a Mean Casserole

A message to the Fighting in the War Room podcast. Maybe my last. It's a trilogy.

Hmm #1 Why would your conservative listeners prefer you didn't inject politics into your discussions? Possibly because, at best, you end up talking about them like they belong in a zoo (you guys know that half the country voted for Romney, right?). I mean you've run across a conservative or two and it was nice, but not the *crazy* ones! (Given your attitude, do you think they'd tell you what they really think?)

Because you laugh at how conservatives are blacklisted in Hollywood and Journalism because progressives are so intolerant - especially toward social conservatives. Ha ha! Lighten up, everyone!

Have you considered that your conservatives listeners kinda like you and would prefer you didn't portray yourselves in that light?

#2 Why is it painful for conservatives to listen to you guys mix politics and pop culture since Joanna has a token conservative friend with whom she enjoys di…

The Traveller has come! What did you do, Joanna?!

Fighting In The War Room, a podcast I like, has done it again. Previously, I used them as a foil to rant against an irrational obsession with Girl Power when critiquing pop culture. Their consensus, at that time, was that we should cheer the work of female directors even when their work is not so great. Why? Because there aren’t enough female directors (by some weighted model) so any movie directed by someone identifying as female is a definitive Good based on that criteria alone. Ugh.

This time, the topic was the Ghostbusters all-female cast and the offender was the onliest Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair. Joanna -- who didn't seem to like the movie at all -- expressed concern that the failure of this property would undermine support for genre movies with an all female cast. So, even though she says it’s not a good movie, she advised  audiences to “Go see it!”

Now, before I say anything else, I haven’t seen the movie. For all I know, I’ll love it when I rent it on Redbox. At the lea…

Blogger Reimagines His Family as Disney Princesses

Snow White and Aurora These orphan girls (Aurora thought she was an orphan) were forced to take their naps by baddie old ladies. Not dirt naps, but nice comfortable feather bed naps that came with handsome man alarm clocks.

They would be a gruff but lovable Middle School teacher and a scarlet haired hipster. And check out those beards. Watch out for chaffing, princes

Belle, Jasmine, and Pocahontas These strong-minded young women were put in perplexing situations by their family meddling in their romantic choices.

They would have left a trail of thousands of bodies behind them on Xbox. Disney offers lots of opportunities for kids to interact with princesses online. But if these princesses were my daughters, you would never want to meet them online. Online, they would be serial-murdering psychopaths.
Rapunzel This coiffured lass was locked in a tower by an evil witch and had to turn her own hair into a stairwell.



Corporations Are People

You say corporations aren’t people. If corporations aren’t people then they don’t have Constitutional rights. Only people have Constitutional rights.

In that case, the New York Times corporation doesn’t have First Amendment rights. The NAACP doesn’t have standing to file law suits for civil rights violations. In that case, the government doesn’t need a warrant to enter the property of the Sierra Club and peruse their membership files or bug their phones. If corporations are not people then they can’t own property. They can’t enter into contracts.

English Common Law has always treated corporations as people for the purposes of the law. Boston and other colonies were founded by corporations. If corporations are not people, where did all the people in the Massachusetts Bay Colony come from?

Typically, no one claims corporations don’t have *those* rights. They usually argue that they merely don’t have the rights (especially free speech rights) that they don’t want them to have. It’s very …

The Crucifixion of the Executive

Subtitle: Time Is a Quagmire
This is post was initiated upon reading Donald Trump's interview in Time where he said he couldn't say for sure whether he would have done what President FDR did and interned American citizens of Japanese-decent during World War II.

The legal argument is easy: There is no Constitutional authority for the US government to imprison Americans when they have done nothing wrong.

But, of course, FDR didn't really give a hoot about the Constitution and that's how we got the New Deal. And if I read Mr Trump right, he's probably the same. He'll come up with argle-bargle to justify whatever he decides wants to or has to do. It is a contemporary political quirk that the interment of Japanese in WWII is a such a dangerous third rail, but President Obama does not suffer for assassinating/executing an American and his 16 year old son in Yemen because that American was speaking his mind in ways that was punching holes in the current administratio…

False Dichotomies v Real Dichotomies

I listened to the You Are Not So Smart podcast today. It was episode 69: The White and Black Fallacy. I'm subscribed to it so I guess it is obvious I enjoy the show. But it was hard to listen to this one and I knew immediately it would be hard because of the first example they used: the quote from George W Bush's Nov. 9, 2001 speech:
Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.   I knew, when this quote led off the discussion that the analysis of this fallacy would be at least a little bit muddled. Unfortunately, the episode confirmed...well not the worst of my potential expectations, but definitely my more pessimistic ones.

On the good side, the panel gave an accurate definition of the fallacy: "Presenting an argument as if it offered only a specific limited number of choices when in fact there are more." They also pointed out the limited number need not be only two. And they gave the other terms for the fallacy: The False Dichotomy and The False Choice. …

Systemic Ideological Segregation vs Systemic Racial Segregation

In an earlier post, I explained that while a white-looking person is less likely to be discriminated against for their skin-color, that doesn't prevent her from from being discriminated against for every other possible reason in the world.

In Megan McArdle's recent Bloomberg column, she demonstrated how impacting this can be by presenting a woman likely rejected for a doctorate program, at least in part, because she was home-schooled and went to a Christian college which the reviewers derided as an institution of “right-wing religious fundamentalists” that was “supported by the Koch brothers.” She opened this by telling the story as if the woman grew up in a high poverty neighborhood and went to a small, historically Black college. She framed the issue the way "white privilege" is typically outlined (remember she is actually talking about a white ideological minority in academia):
No, no one said “we don’t want blacks in this program”; they don’t have to. They just h…

On how price gouging benefits you

I often offer this video as an explanation for why "price gouging" should be allowed, especially after a natural disaster. One reason I like it is that it sets up the question under the most dire circumstances:
There's a natural disaster and a mother goes out to find a generator to run the refrigerator that keeps her daughter's insulin. She finds that the only generators available are now 3x the price. The best argument the video makes for allowing prices to rise freely as scarcity increases is that it allows people who need the item the most to stake their claim for it over people who need it the least. When a limited resource is under-priced (relative to its scarcity), it is only natural that consumers will use up every little bit of it so it will not be available at all to more people who need it the most. As the video points out, settting a low price ceiling on resource when it is limited means that people don't have to be stingy in using the resource. Bef…

The Insidious Beauty of Capitalism

Capitalism is a loaded word. It means a lot of things to a lot of different people. In a practical sense, Capitalism is the freedom to do what you want with your own property, your own labor, your own intelligence. In it's purest form, you can do this without anyone (church, mayor, social justice warrior) looking over your shoulder to see if what you are doing is "fair".  In a free trade system, the only people deciding whether the deal is fair is the buyer and the seller. I'm going to leave aside the question of whether oversight is necessary in practice. I'm going only talk about a benefit that free trade produces in a society.
How many, for the sake of charity, would serve refreshing beverages to strangers -- not just for a weekend, but for scores of hours every week for years. Yet Starbucks has enticed people to do just that for the sake of ...what shall we call it? Greed? Ambition? A desire to thrive and to take part in the luxuries of modern life? Also …

What does the saying mean "The exception that proves the rule"?

How can an exception to a rule prove it?

The meaning of this saying is rooted in an important principle of Information Theory which says that "Knowledge only progresses when an experiment fails." Or inversely, "We don't learn anything from our successes." Here is an example:
Teacher: I'm going to give you a series of four numbers based on a pattern. You can give me three test series and I'll tell you if they match the pattern. Then you must tell me what the pattern is. Ready? "12, 14, 16, 18". Okay give me some test series, and I will tell you if they follow the actual pattern or not.

Student: 20, 22, 24, 26

Teacher: Correct.

Student: 32, 34, 36, 38.

Teacher: Correct.

Student 2, 4, 6, 8.

Teacher: Correct. What is the pattern?

Student: Consecutive even numbers.

Teacher: Incorrect. The pattern is this: "Each number must be larger than the previous one." 31, 45, 122, 123" would have also followed the pattern. Or even "1, 2, 3,…

"societally we can't seem to grasp the idea that even if a woman's body attracts attention, it's NOT an open invitation"

Tattooed women's experiences of nonconsensual touching, grabbing and commentary demonstrate how societally we can't seem...
Posted by Stuff Mom Never Told You on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 Woman posts on problems women with tattoos face with inappropriate attention, comments, and touching. Of course, women without tattoos face the same problems. But what drew my attention to her video was her claim that this has to do with a problem WE have SOCIETALLY.  I don't have a problem like that even though I consider myself part of society.

The term my daughters use for people that do have problems like that is "creepers". I like that term better than "creeps" because it identifies them by what they do in a specific situation rather than assuming to know what they "are". If a guy who "generally means well" is creeping, then he's a creeper. You don't need to know his backstory. I don't think any creepers will be turned around by thi…