In the entire world there were two veterans of World War I alive on Saturday, and now there is only one. Frank Buckles enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917. He died yesterday at the age of 110. I wrote a brief post and linked an article about him a year ago.
Monday, February 28, 2011
1. "THE SOCIAL IDEAL OF THE LEFT AND THE DILEMMA OF THE UTOPIANS" Always dependent on other people's money.
Representative Sample: Those who don't learn this lesson--who believe that what is yours was stolen from them; who insist that they own you and that your talents and skills are their means to a perfect society--grow up (or rather, don't grow up) to be leftists. They carefully disguise their desire to steal your wealth and control your life, as well as the parasitic nature of their philosophy, by convincing themselves (and even the people they use and manipulate) that they are loving and compassionate; that they only want to "help" you for your own good and that of the "greater" good.
2. "The Gates Doctrine: Avoid Big Land Wars" But sometimes they happen whether you want to avoid them or not.
Representative Sample: “The strategic rationale for swift-moving expeditionary forces, be they Army or Marines, airborne infantry or special operations, is self-evident given the likelihood of counterterrorism, rapid reaction, disaster response, or stability or security force assistance missions. But in my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should “have his head examined,”
3. "Underpaid of Overpaid?" Good points.
Representative Sample: there is no 'correct' wage so there can be no comparison between even supposedly identical jobs and certainly not between averages of workers doing different jobs. The situation is quite simple, employers want to pay as little as possible to get someone qualified for the job, paying up for experience and better productivity, since what employers ultimately pay for is productivity, i.e. the end product and its unit cost. Employees, in general, want to earn as much as possible for doing as little as possible, but are willing to do more or make less for jobs they find rewarding or pleasant.
4. "Kristof reflects the left’s naiveté on democracy in Middle East and Africa" There's been some naivete on the right also.
Representative Sample: Look at the present regimes in the area and history of the countries in the area and you tell me. For the most part the cultures in many of them don’t support the principles that underlie a democratic society. That’s obviously not to say that can’t change, but the question is what is the likelihood, given the specific country’s culture and history, that it will change?
5. "How education can save your life" Maybe those degrees were worth something after all.
Representative Sample: New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Public Health demonstrates that education is also correlated with lower blood pressure and a decrease in other factors which influence health
To submit a blog post for HOT5 Daily, please e-mail me at unrright@NOSPAMgmail.com. Put HOT5 in the subject.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I would say that this portends the death of civilization, but that's not entirely accurate. In reality, it only happens when civilization has already died.Duke is writing specifically about the case of Cassy Herkelma in Iowa, who competed on the boy's team in the 112 pound class. He praises one of her male opponents who refused to wrestle her and forfeited a chance to win the state tournament. There's just so much idiocy in Duke's article it's hard to know where to start. But let me first state where I agree with him. Boys and girls are different. These differences make it necessary in most cases to separate the sexes in sports, in the interests of fair competition. I have no problem with the decision of her opponent to withdraw rather than wrestle a girl. That's obviously going to be an uncomfortable situation for many boys to face. But then Duke goes off the rails.
few will unabashedly say what should be said: Having girls and boys grapple on mats in front of spectators is nothing short of social perversion.It's an athletic competition. They aren't having sex on the mat. Duke thinks it's obvious that a such a wrestling match is "immoral," and an example of "impropriety." It's not enough that he thinks his personal standards for morality as it applies to this particular situation should be followed by all. When he says "social perversion" he means that women need to be kept in their proper place -- and that proper place is to be defined by he and his ilk. That's why he's so upset about this situation, and why he sees it as a sign of the collapse of civilization.
As for allowing girls and boys to wrestle, it's only a degraded society that has to even debate the issue. First, such contact is plainly immoralWhat nonsense. There's is nothing "plainly immoral" at all about a wrestling match between a girl and a boy.
At the level of population, a prerequisite for men being gentlemen is that women are ladies.And what he means by this is of course "ladies" based on his personal definition of what that means, and how girls should behave.
I won't shrink from saying that a girl who wants to engage in organized wrestling simply hasn't been raised correctly.And I won't shrink from saying that making such a statement is completely idiotic. Women fighting or participating in mock forms of combat is not a new phenomenon. A minority of women are drawn to such pursuits, as a minority of men are interested in things than tend to be favored by women. The particular interests of this girl have nothing to do with "not being raised correctly," and the suggestion is both stupid and offensive. Duke knows nothing about her family situation and is allowing his own prejudices to substitute for reasoning ability.
The entire article is basically a gigantic rant about how women need to be locked into "traditional sex roles." Why? Because that's how Duke thinks things should be. What are the odds that religion has something to do with his attitude? And you have to laugh when he writes the following.
what happens if you dare talk about teaching girls to be ladies today? You're cast as a bearded mullah with an iron burka.
The reason you are compared to a mullah is because you are behaving like one. Duke's attitudes would be looked upon with favor throughout much of the Islamic world.
Naturally Duke left out some relevant points in his rant. Cassy Herkelma had this to say.
it would be a "lot more fun and more exciting" if girls could wrestle other girls in Iowa instead of having to face boys.The reason Herkelma was wrestling on the boys team is because she's exceptional. It's not that she wants to wrestle boys, it's that she wants to compete in that sport and it simply isn't available to girls in that school. She and one other girl were the only ones to qualify for that tournament in 85 years. Even if it were the bad thing Duke thinks it is, it's hardly a common phenomenon. My suggestion to people like Duke is to try joining the modern world, and stop pretending that your retarded view of women is some sort of truth that's being perverted. If you can't handle it, convert to Islam and move to Saudi Arabia where your ideas on the "proper" place of women will find a great deal of support. Women's combat sports are here to stay. I'll end this article by giving a plug to Women's Mixed Martial Arts, a growing sport with many excellent competitors. And just to make the heads of Duke and his kind explode, here's a picture of Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate, who once wrestled on the boys team in high school.
1. "State of USA, Incorporated" Not a pretty picture.
Representative Sample: KPCB's Mary Meeker has created an extensive report (266 pages) on America's fiscal condition, evaluated as if it were a business. The resulting picture is, to put it bluntly, disturbing.
2. "Iran Is Exploring Nuclear Weapons, Watchdog Says" Most people paying attention have known this for years. But now that even the UN has gotten a clue, I wonder if the various useful idiots denying reality will change their tune. I doubt it.
Representative Sample: The United Nations' nuclear watchdog said it has uncovered new information indicating that Iran is exploring ways to militarize its nuclear program, including ways to affix atomic weapons onto long-range missiles.
3. "A gun buyback program I can really get behind" Group in Texas turns useless/counterproductive gun buyback event into something beneficial.
Representative Sample: About 40 gun buyers, both independent and otherwise, stood in front of the Austin Police Gun Buyback Event offering CASH for the guns they were about to turn in to the city for food cards. As people rolled up, we approached them with our offers, and paid them hard cash after inspecting the guns to make sure they were operable.
4. "The Irrational Atheist: A Refutation" A long but interesting response to an anti-atheist book.
Representative Sample:the profile of the Secretary of State has recently undergone a silent revolution, a far-reaching overhaul of the profile that has been silently accepted by both Democrats and Republicans.
5. "Hesternopothia" Links to a pretty amusing article.
Representative Sample: The Top 10 reasons we should revive the Dark Ages
To submit a blog post for HOT5 Daily, please e-mail me at unrright@NOSPAMgmail.com. Put HOT5 in the subject.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
1. "Russia launches $650 bn military spending drive" We'll see how much they actually get for their money.
Representative Sample: The programme revealed by Deputy Defence Minister Vladimir Popovkin sees Russia building 100 new ships and acquiring 1,000 helicopters -- figures that would dramatically swell the number of modern and battle-ready craft.
2. "Building the Perfect Politician" If that's not an oxymoron.
Representative Sample: For politicians who make important legislative decisions, there is a constant tension between ideology, politics, and pragmatism. These three political tensions exert force on one another, and often one will overpower the other two. If I were to design the perfect politician from the ground up (stop laughing), I think I would strive for perfect balance among the three political tensions.
3. "Average Joe: The Return of Stalin Apologists" I actually had a Stalin apologist for a professor in graduate school.
Representative Sample: A mirror image of Nazi apologetics—including Holocaust denial—but without the moral and intellectual stigma, Stalinist revisionism has a long pedigree. Its initial, primitive version was actually offered up by Nikita Khrushchev in his “Secret Speech” at the Twentieth Party Congress in 1956. The most recent incarnation is the growing body of work suggesting that the time of Stalin was neither evil nor dark but, to the contrary, wholesome and enlightened.
4. "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People With Email: 10 Easy Points" Things not to do.
Representative Sample: follow these ten tips and you might end a marriage or two, lose your livelihood, or look like a complete and utter fool, but that won't be your fault. It's e-mail, where anything goes, you can do what you want, and so-called 'netiquette' doesn't apply. Right?
5. "India Finds The Ways" Successfully suppressing terrorism.
Representative Sample: India, despite numerous rebel and terrorist groups operating in many parts of the country, has managed to steadily reduce the violence (or at least the number of deaths from rebels and terrorists) over the last decade.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
1. "Obama Is Helping Iran" I don't know if I'd go quite that far, but a provocative argument.
Representative Sample: On Obama's watch, the regional balance of influence and power has shifted even further away from the United States and toward Iran and its allies. The Islamic Republic has continued to deepen its alliances with Syria and Turkey and expand its influence in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine.
2. "Is Arab Democracy an Oxymoron?" I don't think so. But it isn't necessarily a good thing either.
Representative Sample: Israel’s detractors claim that a country cannot be both Jewish and democratic. But do they think that a country can be Arab and democratic? Theoretically, it could: if national identity and the rights of minorities can be reconciled in democratic nation-states such as Japan, Sweden or Israel, why can’t they be reconciled in an Arab nation-state? It is hard to answer this question, since history has yet to produce one example of a truly democratic Arab state. Meanwhile, the Arab contention that a country cannot be both Jewish and democratic looks more like a manifestation of what psychologists call “projection.”
3. "10 Things You Need to Know About High Gas Prices and Obama’s Oil Policy" More reasons -- as if we needed more -- to vote Republican in 2012.
Representative Sample: President Obama has been unilaterally taking steps to increase the cost of gasoline for two years. Here are ten things you need to know about gas prices that you may not hear reported elsewhere:
4. "What the Democrats are telling us is that they would rather have no legislature than allow legislation that breaks the power of the unions " Another good article on the implications of the Wisconsin situation.
Representative Sample: What does the Democratic Party stand for? You can find out by asking what they will take a stand for. In the recent protests against limitations on the power of government employees' unions, the Democrats have taken the strongest stand possible, short of outright insurrection. In Wisconsin, in Indiana, and potentially in Ohio, Democratic legislators have actually fled the state in order to deprive their state legislatures of the quorum necessary to vote.
5. "The Hidden Cancer Cure" I've heard this particular conspiracy theory from several different people offline.
Representative Sample: This topic also brings up a meme that has been around for a long time – the notion that scientists have already cured cancer but the cure is being suppressed by the powers that be, to protect cancer as a source of income.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
"Our planning for the march for the defence of secularism is aimed at calling for co-existence among Tunisians of different religions and ideological and intellectual convictions," Tarek Sliti told Magharebia.This is not the kind of statement you hear too frequently in Muslim majority nations. They even included atheists. Naturally not everyone was on board.
Sliti added, "We want to say to all people that Tunisia today can accommodate everyone, including secularists, Muslims, atheists, Jews and Christians."
a woman wearing the niqab stood at the opposite street carrying a banner denouncing secularism because "it calls for atheism". She was joined by other anti-secular protestors, who debated the issue with secular marchers.But even with the counter-protesters and the calls to maintain Islam as the official religion, it's encouraging that a reported 15,000 people would take part in such a march in favor of secularism.
1. "Cartoon Shows The Sick Joke That Is The UN" Exactly.
Representative Sample: It's a cartoon.
2. ""The Right Side of History"" A misleading phrase we've heard a lot recently. Links to another longer article.
Representative Sample: the concept of a "right side of history" in itself directs us towards policy decisions that are fundamentally ill-advised. It makes us believe in a linear concept of history in which outcomes are fundamentally pre-ordained.
3. "The Day After Reflections and Questions" Good questions and analysis.
Representative Sample: It isn't very often the US Navy has an aircraft carrier, a cruiser, and two of the largest destroyers on the planet and loses a battle, but that is what happened on Tuesday. Obviously there are reasons why it happened, but 4 Americans died - and that is the outcome. So lets start asking questions.
4. "Spiritual Life of An Atheist: Meaning from Materialism" A good response to a common misconception about atheism.
Representative Sample: The simple answer is that atheists by and large find meaning in the very same things that theists do–their family and friends, personal activities and accomplishments, contributions to their communities. None of these depends on a belief in a god or soul or superstition.
5. "Six Views of Truth" Pretty good. Diagrams how people view truth.
Representative Sample: It's a series of graphics.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
The way to eliminate piracy is well known, and has been for a couple thousand years. You kill the pirates, and you destroy their bases. It really isn't much more complicated than that. Yet international naval forces vastly more powerful than historical counterparts can do little more than catch and release the occasional pirate stupid enough to get caught. ... we are just too civilized to use such effective methods against piracy. We are too worried about someone calling our actions illegal, or about possibly killing innocent people -- as if people who permit a pirate operation to take place in their midst shouldn't have to accept the risk of retaliation. Instead we'd rather put merchant seamen at risk of being taken hostage or killed.According to the NYT link we captured thirteen pirates involved in this killing. If we were serious about combating piracy, we'd summarily execute twelve of them as an example of what happens when pirates kill Americans. We would save the most cooperative pirate to obtain information regarding where this particular group was based, and then use that knowledge to raid and destroy that location. Will we do those things? Of course not. Instead we'll give the pirates lawyers, pretend they have rights, waste time trying them in civilian court, and house them in our prison system. Somalia pirates will continue to expand their range, secure in the knowledge that all the awesome naval power in the world isn't that scary when it's crippled by legalism. There's always a chance that a warship might be in the right place at the right time, but as long as you aren't stupid enough to put up a fight, the worst that could probably happen if you encounter a U.S. warship is that you'll find yourself arrested, put on trial and sent to jail. Given conditions in Somalia, and the huge ransoms available from piracy, most Somali pirates are probably going to view that as an acceptable risk to reward ratio.
1. "Toward a Rational Foreign Policy" Outstanding essay.
Representative Sample: To begin constructing a rational foreign policy, we need to begin at the center. A policy serves someone's interests. Whose interest does our present foreign policy serve? A rational foreign policy serves the interests of its nation. It's hard to argue that our foreign policy does that. Successive administrations have said that our foreign policy is America because it is moral, or that it is America because it is what makes us a great nation, or similar rhetorical boilerplate with no real meaning.
2. "Bahrain's No Egypt" The Iranian connection.
Representative Sample: For more than a century, Iran and Bahrain disputed over Bahrain’s sovereignty, until a 1970 survey determined that Bahrainis overwhelmingly desired independence. That decision was embraced by Iran’s Shah and ratified by Iran’s parliament, but suspicions still linger.
3. "12 Questions I Wish Christians Could Answer" They'll answer them. It's just that the answers are not at all convincing.
Representative Sample: why did God and then Jesus wait so long in human history to make themselves known? Why did God never show himself to any other cultures besides the ones in Mesopotamia? What about all the millions of people in China, India, the Americas, Europe? Why only to people who were previously exposed to the Sumerian and related religions of which early Judaism is similar? Why couldn’t God bring the same message to all people all over the world on his own?
4. "Why Are Liberals So Mad About Wisconsin?" When you support the party of big government and special interests you get pretty upset when there is a threat to one of the key special interests supporting big government.
Representative Sample: that, my friends, is what this is really about for the left – raw, political power. Remember, if this law is not passed, 10 to 12,000 public sector employees could be laid off. Wisconsin kids are losing many days of education. The unions are suffering a public relations catastrophe over this. So, why are they keeping it up? Because if the public sector unions lose their ability to game the political system, the jig is up for Democrat party and the larger political left – there will be, at that point, no large, powerful interest group determined to defend Big Government
5. "Using magma as a power source? Not as simple as it seems." It doesn't seem simple to me, but still interesting.
Representative Sample: intensionally trying to drill into a magma chamber might be like finding a needle in a haystack (if that haystack was made of solid rock). Of course, there is the concern of what exactly might be the ramification of drilling into an active magma chamber
Monday, February 21, 2011
the Egyptians basically despise the U.S., take our money and weapons, and unlike the Saudis, provide us with nothing. Could we actually count on Egypt in any sort of crisis? Of course not. Egypt is a powder keg with strong radical Islamist elements, kept in check by a vicious dictatorship. Even more than Saudi Arabia, our alliance is with the government only. The people hate us. It could go from ally to enemy overnight, similar to what happened with Iran.Well, the powder keg went off, now the only question is whether it will produce harmless fireworks or a nasty damaging explosion. As for Pakistan,
It's basically an ally in name only, and has only cooperated somewhat during the war on terror because the Bush administration put extreme pressure on it. Our relationship with Pakistan has prevented us from having closer ties with India, which, aside from being larger and more important, is actually a democratic state and should be a natural U.S. ally.We now have a situation where Pakistan is holding an American consular employee, Raymond Davis, who apparently killed two men who were trying to rob him. A third man was also struck and killed by a consular vehicle responding to the incident. The LA Times has a brief synopsis of the incident,
At the time of the incident, Davis had been working out of the U.S. consulate in Lahore. He claims he fired in self-defense after the two men, Faizan Haider and Fahim Shamshad, pulled up on a motorcycle and one of them pulled out a gun. Davis fired several shots through his car's windshield, then got out of the car and continued to fire, witnesses said. A police report on the incident states Haider was shot three times in the front of his body and twice in the back. Shamshad also was shot five times, twice in the back. Pakistani police officials have said both Haider and Shamshad belonged to a local robbery gang and had stolen cellphones with them.Despite the fact that even Pakistani police report that the men were known criminals, the anti-American populace, filled with conspiracy theories involving the CIA, wants vengeance on the evil American enemy. They want Davis tried for murder and executed. The weak Pakistani government is caught between the wishes of its population and its alliance with the U.S., a relationship that includes massive American aid. The Washington Post covers the complicated diplomatic issues in its "Fact Checker" column, and then gutlessly refuses to take a position. But it does offer the following statement.
If the State Department is correct and Davis was identified as a member of the embassy's administrative and technical staff when he arrived in Pakistan -- and he was accepted by Pakistan on that basis -- then he should be covered by the Vienna Convention and receive diplomatic immunity, no matter what his job was or how heinous his crimes. The United States has upheld that standard in the past, letting alleged criminals go free. It also does not matter what agency Davis works for back in the United States
From this U.S. perspective the situation is obvious. Davis has diplomatic immunity and Pakistan must respect it. So far the Obama administration has acted correctly to defend U.S. interests, insisting that Davis be released to U.S. custody and threatening to cut-off aid if he is not. There should be no compromise on this issue.
In my opinion, if news reports are correct, this case is clear. Davis was the subject of an attempted robbery. The robbers picked the wrong person and he responded with deadly force in self-defense. The number of shots fired, and where the criminals were struck is irrelevant. I have to laugh when I see read the ridiculous justification given by Pakistani police for charging Davis with murder. It sounds just like something you'd hear from some pro-criminal liberal in the West.
Police believe the shootings were unjustified because, although both men were armed with loaded guns, their pistols did not contain a bullet in the chamber. Also, both men had been shot in the back. "If the accused really acted in self-defense, he could have fired one or two shots to the lower limbs of the victims, particularly since he is an expert in using weapons,"Yeah right. So Davis, alone in a foreign country and accosted by multiple armed men is supposed to know whether or not they have rounds chambered. Let's just ignore the rest of the situation entirely, such as the fact that he was driving and the attackers were on motorcycles. Let's pretend that he could selectively pick shot locations in that type of chaotic situation, and ignore the fact that bullets could strike any part of the body. Had Davis been a Pakistani businessman, police would probably have quickly released him after congratulating him on ridding the streets of a couple of criminal gang members. Davis was charged with murder only because he's an American who killed Pakistanis. The U.S. cannot and should not tolerate trumped up charges against any American, let alone someone with diplomatic immunity. That goes double for a country that is receiving massive amounts of both military and humanitarian aid from the U.S.
1. "Transparent Baloney" That about covers it.
Representative Sample: he $60 billion Republicans want to cut still constitutes less than 10% of "discretionary non-security" spending alone. Evidently, even that's far more than the Left can tolerate.
2. "Yusuf al-Qaradawi Raises Danger of Islamist Regime in Egypt" A good run-down. Hopefully the military can keep a lid on things.
Representative Sample: This is exactly what the Israeli government feared, and possible developments like this were discounted by the most euphoric advocates of regime change.
3. "The Language of God: Questions for Atheists" Good points.
Representative Sample: The first path is arguing that absence of evidence is evidence of absence. I know that apologists like William Lane Craig have argued that this is incorrect thinking. However, I think it is valid when applied correctly, in the same way that the professional exterminator who does a thorough investigation, looking everywhere where evidence might be found, concludes that the absence of evidence of termite damage most probably (almost certainly) means an absence of termites.
4. "The Marine Corps Today, Tonight, and Tomorrow" Why we need a strong Marine Corps.
Representative Sample: The USMC’s future lies its creative intellect, professionalism in the study and application of maneuver warfare, and delivering what the Nation needs post in a crisis be it humanitarian relief for disasters or launching forcible maritime operations from sea to attack in the littorals or several hundred miles in land to rescue civilians.
5. "City Journal: Why Not A Negative Income Tax With Cash Subsidies To The Poor?" I haven't seen any discussion of this idea in quite awhile.
Representative Sample: In his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman acknowledged that some form of welfare was necessary in capitalist societies and that the state would likely play a role in its provision. The trick was to imagine a very different, radically improved, and more efficient form of welfare
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
1. "The Paranoid Style Is Alive and Well in Some Conservative Quarters" A good critique of Obama Derangement Syndrome.
Representative Sample: One of the most confounding critiques of President Obama from the right has been the expressed belief that the president of the United States has deliberately initiated policies that he knew would injure the economy and the country. In short, Barack Obama wants to destroy America.
2. "Praying Like It's 1399" Excellent points.
Representative Sample: I maintain that the chasm between the Muslim and Western worlds is not so much geographical as it is a distance of time and social evolution.
3. "Iraqi General Turns Down JREF Challenge, Gets Arrested for Bomb Detector Scam" A scam the U.S. spent millions on.
Representative Sample: police finally got around to wondering how a series of blasts had killed hundreds in recent years despite the use of the ADE561. Militants had gotten trucks, buses and cars packed with explosives through Baghdad’s numerous checkpoints, with no trouble – and those checkpoints had been “protected” by the fake device!
4. "Public Sector Unions Have No Right to Collective Bargaining" They aren't bargaining with their actual employers.
Representative Sample: when the teacher’s union in Wisconsin negotiates it is not with the people who pay their salaries, the taxpayers. Instead they bargain with people who are beholden to the unions for funding, campaign workers, and votes.
5. "Canadian court rules baby must die as it decides, not as the parents request" Another example of state control of healthcare.
Representative Sample: This is sure to revive talk of death panels. And I’m afraid I simply don’t understand the reasoning here. But it is a stark example of the state making decisions that should be left to the people involved – in a free country, that is
Friday, February 18, 2011
1. "This is The Week that Should End Public Sector Unions" If only.
Representative Sample: the teachers’ union and their Democratic supporters have conceded the argument. They could not defend their refusal of Governor Walker’s relatively small demands and so they launched into ridiculous ad hominem, violent rhetoric (shudder!), and, eventually, cowardly flight. We should take instruction from what has happened in Wisconsin over the past two days. Public sector unions are, as I have said before, a blight on our states and nation.
2. "Disenfranchised Over There (Again)" And Democrats want to keep it that way.
Representative Sample: the Federal government passed a law that set mandatory deadlines for the mailing of absentee ballots to overseas military personnel. Additionally, some states and localities extended the deadline for receiving absentee ballots and kept counting past the usual cut-off date. But other states and municipalities refused to follow those reforms, guaranteeing that absentee ballots from many members of the armed forces would go uncounted.
3. ""Saudi Arabia is very, very scared now"" It's rulers should be scared. And no doubt they are wondering if the U.S. will turn on them.
Representative Sample: Despite denials from sources close to the Bahraini government, credible rumors of Saudi tanks and troops on the ground in Bahrain are widespread, as the ruling Bahraini House of Khalifa desperately reasserts control in the capital after initially ceding the central Pearl Square to tens of thousands of anti-government protesters.
4. "If He Was Going To Lead, Wouldn't He Have Done It By Now?" Obama isn't a leader, he's a talker.
Representative Sample: Why is his latest budget a surprise? Stop expecting this guy to lead, have a plan, or make anything resembling a hard decision. He's just winging the whole thing, except for the speeches.
5. "Somali Pirates- An Asian Concern?" It's amazing the the pirate threat has been allowed to continue to grow. It's a prime example of the crippling effects of blind legalism.
Representative Sample: Admiral Willard, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command says Somali pirates threaten Asia. Reported as Somali pirates heading to Asia
Thursday, February 17, 2011
1. "THE VIRTUE OF INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM" An excellent article on the difference between freedom and democracy, two things some tend to conflate.
Representative Sample: This reality must be understood and the mindless worship of "democracy", which is no guarantee that liberty and freedom for all will prevail, must cease. Unless the power of government, even a "democratically elected" government, is constitutionally limited so that the freedoms of even the smallest minorities (i.e., individuals) are protected from the majority, tyranny is likely the only thing that will prevail.
2. "Egypt's Chance" Pipe's is surprisingly optimistic on Egypt.
Representative Sample: A leaderless mass movement galvanized large numbers of ordinary citizens, as in Tunisia days earlier. It did not rage against foreigners, scapegoat minority Egyptians, nor endorse a radical ideology; instead, it demanded accountability, liberty, and prosperity. Reports reaching me from Cairo suggest a historic turn toward patriotism, inclusion, secularism, and personal responsibility.
3. "Rational Debating" An outstanding guide.
Representative Sample: It's a flow chart.
4. "Republicans: Go Boldly" Good advice.
Representative Sample: Republicans seem hesitant to take the President on–he’s still popular enough and he has the bully pulpit and he’s already shown a willingness to cynically invoke the trauma to women, children and the elderly.
5. "Iranian Navy Exposes a US Navy Weakness" Pitifully weak Iranian ships somehow cause a rise in oil prices despite the influence and presence of mighty U.S. naval forces in the region.
Representative Sample: How do we reconcile the ability of an Iranian corvette half way around the world to influence a US economic market with the rhetoric by the United States Navy leadership who attempts to link US naval power with US economy? How can observers not draw the conclusion that investors in this country have lost all association with American naval power and the sustainability of regional peace when an Iranian corvette can make this kind of economic impact while operating right next to a US aircraft carrier strike group?
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Although I'm pro-choice, one of my pet peeves is when fellow supporters of abortion rights try to pretend that being labelled "pro-abortion" is somehow incorrect. If you describe yourself as pro-choice you are in favor of keeping abortion procedures legal and available. It doesn't mean you love abortions or want to see more of them, but it certainly does mean you are "pro-abortion," as opposed to anti-abortion. It should be obvious, but when you support the right of a woman to choose, the primary thing you support is her right to choose an abortion. That makes you and I pro-abortion. If you pretend otherwise that makes you logically-challenged.
Having said that, why do I use the term pro-choice instead of pro-abortion? I use it for two reasons. First, it's the widely accepted and used term for those supporting abortion rights. Another of my pet peeves is when people refuse to use commonly-accepted terms and instead substitute some sort of jargon preferred by their particular group. (I'll get back to that point shortly.) Second, pro-choice as a term accurately reflects the primary outlook of those supporting abortion rights. Most of us support abortion because we focus on a woman's right to control her own body. In other words, being pro-choice emphasizes that a woman should have the final choice in whether or not she gives birth.
On a related note, I use the term "pro-life" for exactly the same reasons that I employ pro-choice. It's the commonly-accepted and widely-used term for anti-abortion people, and it accurately conveys their emphasis, which is to protect the life of the unborn baby above all other consideration -- such as the wishes & rights of the mother. It is common in left-wing and feminist writings to shun the term pro-life and substitute "anti-choice." I find this incredibly silly. Whenever I see people using this substitution it automatically makes me take them much less seriously.
1. "The Miseducation of America" Outstanding analysis.
Representative Sample: Americans respect education, but have a limited tolerance for incompetence. Rather than demonstrating intelligence and competence, academia has ushered in intellectual cliques wedded to buzzwords who insist that the world should conform to their research papers, rather than the other way around.
2. "Culture differences matter (even within Islam)" Important points.
Representative Sample: it is very misleading for commentators to make an analogy between Turkish Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood. The two may both be Islamists, but that is just a term, whose utility and connotations are strongly locally contingent. Barack Obama and Pat Robertson are both Christians, but that means very different things.
3. "Knowing Which Future You Are Looking At" How intelligence models work.
Representative Sample: Since the 1970s, the United States intelligence community (mainly the Department of Defense and the CIA) has been trying to build computer simulations that will accurately predict wars, revolutions or, currently, terrorist attacks. Currently, the United States is spending about $40 million a year on this sort of thing.
4. "Human Rights Watch Appoints Terrorist (and “Human Rights Activist”) to Middle East Advisory Board" Terrorist rights group hires actual terrorist.
Representative Sample: Ken Roth, head of HRW, first denied that Jabarin was ever a member of PFLP, then claimed that if he was, it was ancient history, and then added that he had no such affiliation since he joined Al Haq in 1987, though Roth refused to comment on the Israeli Supreme Court ruling to the contrary.
5. "Another Black Conservative, Another Vile, Racist Attack From the Left" Racism is one of the many things that is ok with the left as long as it's directed at political opponents.
Representative Sample: If you decide to subject yourself to the whole article, you’ll note that not even once does the author attack Cain on his positions – the entire attack is upon him. He is considered not really black because he’s a black man who is conservative…and thus he’s just a Tom, playing up to the Honkey in hopes of getting some crumbs from his master’s table…the fact that Cain is a fabulously wealthy businessman who doesn’t need to get anything from anyone isn’t even mentioned.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
1. "Weaponizing the Poor" Good essay that links to another good essay.
Representative Sample: For nearly 300 years, leftists and their ideological predecessors have been urging the “poor”* to rise up and take from the “rich”. The intellectual justifications for why the poor have a moral and practical right to rise up continuously shift while the practical outcome of who actually ends up with the most benefit remains a constant.
2. "Is Atheist Unbelief 'Rational'?" An excellent response to the common Christian claim that atheism comes from psychological issues and a dislike of the "truth."
Representative Sample: the author gets into the meat of his hypothesis: he quotes the apostle Paul as saying that unbelievers "suppress the truth by their wickedness." In other words, it's a willful disbelief, a not wanting to face the facts of the matter.
3. "Why “Loving The Sinner But Hating The Sin” Is Not An Option When Dealing With Gay People" An argument worth reading.
Representative Sample: the puzzle is how in the world can someone hate a gay person’s sexual identity itself—which is what someone does when they hate the fact that the gay person loves a member of the same sex and has sex with at least one member of the same sex—and yet claim to love that person.
4. "Politician Wants Walmart Banned Because The Store Tempts Shoplifters" Walmart-haters grasping at straws to justify irrational dislike of a store.
Representative Sample: There have been a lot of silly justifications for policies aimed at preventing retail giant Walmart from expanding, but this one voiced by a Washington DC commissioner, takes the cake
5. "Earliest humans not so different from us, research suggests" Interesting.
Representative Sample: There are no such things as modern humans, Shea argues, just Homo sapiens populations with a wide range of behavioral variability. Whether this range is significantly different from that of earlier and other hominin species remains to be discovered.
Monday, February 14, 2011
The provisions in question give law enforcement access to troves of personal information, including business and library records, if a judge approves. They also permit roving wiretaps on terrorism suspects who change numbers, and allow surveillance of foreign terrorism suspects who appear unaffiliated with known groups such as al Qaeda.I have no problem at all with the last provision. Foreign suspects are not and should not be entitled to the same rights of Americans. In their case we should err on the side of protecting the U.S. That aspect of the Patriot Act should be permanent. But the first two provisions are problematic to say the least.
The first power appears to give the government almost unlimited power to go on a fishing expedition to hook anyone suspected of terrorism, with the sole check of a judge's approval. The second is also way too vague for my liking. How hard is it to define someone as a terrorism suspect and therefore get approval for a roving wiretap? Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin)wants to make all three provisions permanent, and argues that,
We can't let our guard down," ..."These are needed measures to keep our nation safe."Hopefully the Senate will take a hard look at the specifics of the first two provisions and try to determine if Sensenbrenner's assertion holds water.
I know the GOP is extremely pro-national security -- and that's a good thing -- but that doesn't mean it should support every single big government national security power without question. The Patriot Act, as I understand it, was meant as a series of temporary measures in the fight against Al Qaeda after 9/11. Giving the government permanent extensive surveillance powers over American citizens in the name of national security should raise many questions and not be done in haste.
1. "I'm Scared" A good illustration of why I laugh at people who are so worried that Sarah Palin could become president. Look at what we have running the country right now. It's a scary picture not even considering Obama himself.
Representative Sample: I don't know about you, but I'm scared. When you look at who's running the country, you can't be anything but scared. What's more, Obama should be scared every time he holds a cabinet meeting and looks around the room. First, there's that Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton who just days ago was telling us that Egypt was stable.
Representative Sample: Not so long ago a bill coming from Congress costing billions was reason for concern among those who take fiscal responsibility seriously. In the first two years of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi triumvirate trillion became the new billion. Even then there seemed little concern for spending.
3. "50 Awesome Atheistic/Agnostic Blogs" I actually got a mention second from the bottom.
Representative Sample: This list of blogs was created for individuals interested and learning more about atheists, agnostics, what they believe, and what they don't believe. The blogs included on this list provide great information while also offering a unique and interesting perspective.
4. "How Much Do We Know About Egypt?" Short post. Excellent point.
Representative Sample: One out of seven Egyptians cannot read. Half of them live on less than $2 a day. What do they think? What do they want?
5. "Iran Outlaws Valentine’s Day" Happy Valentine's Day, but not if you are Iranian.
Representative Sample: Continuing its quest to become a cartoonish stereotype of an evil empire, the Iranian government has decided to outlaw Valentine’s Day.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
1. "Egypt's revolution succeeds in removing Mubarak. A win for Democracy or Socialism?" Interesting perspective and analysis.
Representative Sample: Some estimates suggest that 40% of the economy is owned or run by the military. According to ZeroHedge, 70% of all Egyptians work for the Government. Therefore one can assume that a military takeover was the inevitable outcome.
Representative Sample: U.S. adversaries may view attacks on U.S. satellites as a high-payoff/low-risk strategy. By attacking U.S. satellites, an adversary could hobble U.S. military forces without the usual indications of warfare, at least in the public's perception. For example, without any images of explosions, burning buildings, or wounded civilians, U.S. policymakers might find it difficult to generate political and diplomatic support for a military response.
3. "“Toyota: The Media Owe You an Apology”" I wouldn't be holding my breath if I were Toyota.
Representative Sample: Ed Wallace at Bloomberg Business Week tells why the Toyota sudden-acceleration debacle merely replays a long and sad history
4. "Shocker--Men know (and care) more about what's going on in the world than women do" Not politically correct.
Representative Sample: Pew frequently conducts "News IQ" surveys, randomly quizzing 1,000 people on current events. The most recent results are from November 2010. As is always the case, men outperformed women by more than a full point on the 12-item test.
5. "Egypt: Uninstalling" Pretty good.
Representative Sample: It's a graphic.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Will the Egyptian military make good on its promises, release its hold on power and allow truly free elections? Maybe. But it's also possible that it will retain significant control over the country, allowing only a facade of democratic rule -- more than Mubarak, but less than most desire. If true democracy does take hold, all bets are off. I don't believe there is much the U.S. can or should do to influence the process in Egypt. It is far from clear that a democratic Egypt is in the U.S. interest, given many of the attitudes present among the population, and that fact that we are already strongly associated with the decades of authoritarian rule.
I understand the celebrations in Egypt. If I had to live under the Mubarak regime I'd be happy it was gone also. But that doesn't mean his fall is a good thing for the U.S. Maybe the wishful thinking of Obama and even many on the right will be proven correct, and a friendly, free and democratic Egypt will take the place of Mubarak. I'll believe it when I see it. Right now all we can really do is wait and see, and hope for the best.
1. "Failure of Analysis" Foreign policy/intelligence incompetence.
Representative Sample: the observations of the CIA Director and the DNI (likely) reflected the consensus of our intelligence community. That means that a lot of senior analysts got together and decided that Mubarak would resign (based on our intelligence), and the jihadist group that wants to replace him (the Brotherhood) is really a bunch of Jeffersonian Democrats in disguise.
Representative Sample: America to blame? Check. Fawning over our enemies while insulting our allies? Check. Childlike notions of “fairness” as a basis for national policy? Check.
3. "Was Lincoln the Father of Big Government?" A defense of Lincoln.
Representative Sample: In reality, big government is a Progressive invention, designed by Progressive thinkers such as Herbert Croly and John Dewey and perpetrated by Progressive presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. These men embraced big government, because they held certain principles opposed to the limited government framework set forth in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
4. "Stratfor on the Mexican Gun Canard" Links an excellent article debunking the common claim that U.S. guns are the main source of arms for the Mexican drug cartels.
Representative Sample: It has now become quite common to hear U.S. officials confidently assert that 90 percent of the weapons used by the Mexican drug cartels come from the United States. However, a close examination of the dynamics of the cartel wars in Mexico — and of how the oft-echoed 90 percent number was reached — clearly demonstrates that the number is more political rhetoric than empirical fact.
5. "California GOP: Walking Zombies" Ideas for reviving the GOP in California.
Representative Sample: The Republican brand has died in California. Many folks have been doing the post mortem. In the last election cycle, despite the Republican resurgence throughout the country, not a blip of hope was on the screen here.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
1. "Liberal Fascism Rising" Excerpts and links good article from David Harsanyi.
Representative Sample: All of these phenomenal success stories (thanks to Ira Stoll at The Future of Capitalism blog for pointing this out) also share, in one way or another, the privilege of feeding at gumit’s welfare trough. Oh yes, these exemplars of good corporate citizenry prove they can compete in a marketplace with taxpayer funds. Which will no doubt make them more compliant with the administration’s wishes.
2. "Egypt: With Ludicrous Lies The Muslim Brotherhood Shows Its Contempt for West" An excellent debunking of Islamist propagandist Tariq Ramadan's latest at the NYT.
Representative Sample: If Ramadan--who, let's remember, is no Muslim Brotherhood street tough but supposedly the most sophisticated Islamic intellectual in the world as well as being a professor at major universities--had produced a very clever item of disinformation, I would have been impressed. Yet the absurdity he wrote shows his contempt for the audience. I've never seen anything more thoroughly reveal his phoniness.
3. "I now pronounce the Archbishop of Canterbury officially insane" He's definitely out there.
Representative Sample: This is the man, after all, who is supposed to stand for the highest Christian traditions — traditions that include respect for the sanctity of life and law. For him to treat an axe murderer in precisely the same way he treats the shopkeeper on the street corner is a travesty of the notions of grace, decency and ethics.
4. "Arabs to uproot 3000 trees - because they are too Jewish" Speaking of insanity.
Representative Sample: Non-indigenous pine trees, he said "add insult to injury." "Rather than plant indigenous" trees, he added, "the tree saplings planted by the JNF in the area designated for the Rawabi projects are typically political-Zionist pinera (conifers).
5. "Obama's "tough budget cuts" in pictures" Look hard for them.
Representative Sample: The anticipated 2012 budget deficit will be $1,500,000 million ($1.5 trillion). This means we are borrowing that amount from our children to fund all of the Democrats' Utopian spending programs.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
In Hating God I go to some lengths to explain why atheists are not, and in fact cannot be, haters of God in any genuine sense of the word and that, conversely, those who really do hate God, cannot be atheists. A new term was needed, and so I revived a forgotten word—misotheismThe people who truly hate and reject God are those who believe in one.
There is absolutely nothing unusual about people expressing disgust and dislike of fictional characters, and that includes the atheists. What is more unusual and, indeed, highly paradoxical, is to encounter people who do believe in the existence of God (hence, for them God is not a fictional character) and yet to reject that God on moral grounds.The difference is significant.
If we refuse to make a distinction between the hatred of a fictional character and the hatred of, say, one’s mother-in-law, then we must refuse to make other kinds of distinctions as well. If hating a non-existing personage and hating an existing one are one and the same, then worshipping God and worshiping Harry Potter must also be considered on the same level.Although the article is a response to a specific book review by a Christian, it's worth reading even if you haven't read the book in question.
1. "Bad romance: ranking Obama's most difficult relationships" Pretty good list.
Representative Sample: if there is one theme that runs through every corner of the Obama presidency it is that he has been forced into partnerships that are so complex, difficult, and undependable that it must leave him yearning for the relative simplicity of good old fashioned enmities. This was illustrated yesterday as the president made the short walk across Lafayette Park to visit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
2. "The Unseen Consequences of "Green Jobs"" Job-killing rather than job creation.
Representative Sample:many green job studies have no analyses of job losses. Clean energy costs more than conventional energy, which means consumers and businesses will have less income with which to buy and invest. This reduces their consumption of other goods and services, resulting in job losses in those sectors
3. "No, Atheists Don't Have to Show "Respect" for Religion" Not even liberal, ecumenical forms of religion.
Representative Sample: it's ridiculously hypocritical to engage in fervent political and cultural discourse -- as so many progressive ecumenical believers do -- and then expect religion to get a free pass. It's absurd to accept and even welcome vigorous public debate over politics, science, medicine, economics, gender, sexuality, education, the role of government, etc... and then get appalled and insulted when religion is treated as just another hypothesis about the world, one that can be debated and criticized like any other.
4. "All Aboard the T-Rex Express" We don't need high-speed rail, and we shouldn't be wasting taxpayer money on it.
Representative Sample: high-speed rail is exactly what we don’t need to spend money on, for reasons Robert J. Samuelson explained with his usual clarity a year and a half ago. The countries that have bullet trains also have: (1) high population density — Japan has 10 times the number of people per square mile as the U.S., and France three times; (2) very high gas prices; (3) unitary governments that don’t have to fear endless court battles over environmental issues, etc.; and (4) relatively small national territories. France, the largest country in Western Europe, is smaller than Texas.
5. "Why Small Business Wants Repeal of ObamaCare" Not working as advertised.
Representative Sample: If the law’s tax credits help small business owners, then why do these business owners favor repealing the law? The January 2011 Discover survey shows that 55 percent of owners favor repealing the healthcare law and 36 percent oppose repeal. Moreover, despite the availability of tax credits encouraging small business owners to provide health insurance, 46 percent of them feel that the new law will hurt their business, and only 27 percent think it will help.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
A 35-year-old Lamont man died Sunday after being stabbed in the leg by a sharp blade that was attached to a fighting bird, ... "I have never seen this type of incident," said Sgt. Martin King, a 24-year veteran who noted the major arteries that could have been severed. "People have been known to bleed out from those injuries if medical attention is not obtained immediately."According to the article, another man was killed by a rooster last month in India.
1. "The GOP Galaxy" Potential presidential candidates.
Representative Sample: It's a graphic.
2. "And The Sun Rises In The East" That was my reaction as well.
Representative Sample:If the administration were truly concerned with limiting drilling to where it is safer, then they would drop their ideologically-motivated opposition to drilling closer to shore. It would be a lot safer and recovery from accidents would be a lot easier.
3. "Creeping statism" Lightbulb edition.
Representative Sample: That is probably the most galling thing about our friends on the left. Deep down, I’m sure that most of them really want only the best for this country, even if we don’t always agree on what is best. But so many of them seem to think that, if something is good for us, why we ought to use the power of government to force everybody to do what’s good for us.
4. "Epic Fail" How not to counter negative stereotypes of Muslims.
Representative Sample: Muzzammil Hassan was a cable TV producer, who set up his own cable studio to broadcast shows that “promote[d] understanding of his Muslim culture”.
5. "Words help people form mathematical concepts" Interesting research.
Representative Sample: A study based on research on deaf people in Nicaragua who never learned formal sign language showed that people who communicate using self-developed gestures, called homesigns, were unable to comprehend the value of numbers greater than three because they had not learned a language containing symbols used for counting.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Over the last couple of years Switzerland has hosted, among others, both a Hamas official, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I don't recall any of these so-called human rights organizations that are after Bush for authorizing the waterboarding of a couple of terrorists being too concerned with those visits. An actual terrorist leader in Switzerland? No problem. How about the president of a country that brutally represses its own citizens and employs torture routinely? He's welcome anytime.
1. "Top 10 Reagan Achievements" Remembering Reagan.
Representative Sample: 9. Tax reform: Not only did he cut tax rates, but the Tax Reform Act of 1986 simplified the income-tax code by eliminating many tax shelters, reducing the number of deductions and tax brackets.
2. "China’s hostile space capabilities worry US" Expanding our space warfare capabilities should be a priority.
Representative Sample: China is developing "counterspace" weapons that could shoot down satellites or jam signals, a Pentagon official said Friday as the United States unveiled a 10-year strategy for security in space.
3. "Are we owned by the state?" Big government types think so, whether in Australia or the U.S.
Representative Sample: there is a growing tendency both here and overseas to see tax collections as other than impositions on the public. In fact they are almost seen by the state as a benevolence they bestow on us
4. "Can Theists and Atheists Reasonably Disagree?" It depends on which theists and which atheists.
Representative Sample: The New Atheists say belief in God is irrational.1 Many theists have countered that atheism is irrational. Others think that both sides can reasonably disagree, just as rational and well-informed scientists can disagree about string theory or the social factors contributing to secularization.
5. "is the web changing how we think about sex?" I would say yes in certain ways.
Representative Sample: when told that the technology we use to simplify communication is changing the way we satisfy our biological urges, I tend to be a little skeptical. Sure, there are plenty of red light districts on the web and I’ve written about how and why just about every type of NSFW content will not just survive, but thrive in all iterations of the web, but we need to ask ourselves whether the web is creating new phenomena or if it just gives us an arena to discuss what has been around for a while.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
1. "More Smart Diplomacy " It's hard to believe even the Obama administration would do such a thing.
Representative Sample: Wikileaks cables reportedly indicate that, consistent with its policy of selling out friends in order to curry favor with enemies, the Obama administration betrayed British military secrets to Russia as part of the New Start treaty.
2. "Overcriminalization: Attacking a Dangerous Precedent" Another feature of the War on Drugs.
Representative Sample: The Florida legislature decided in 2002 to eliminate from almost every drug possession case one of the most essential safeguards that the rule of law provides to the innocent. In such cases, the State of Florida need no longer prove that the accused acted with any form of criminal intent. The government need not prove that the individual even knew that what he possessed was drugs in order to send him to decades in prison.
3. "Democrats Put Out “Call To Arms” To Special Interest Groups To Oppose Republican Spending Cuts" The party of tax & spend isn't going to stand by while their spending is cut.
Representative Sample: Once you’ve built the programs and subsidies and cronyism into government, whenever some group of reformers threatens the status quo you can call to all those who have been made dependent on such programs – or at least profit mightily from them – to grind said reformers into the dirt.
4. "New Helmet Blocks Rifle Shots" If this report is correct, this is a major advance in personal armor.
Representative Sample: "It's really a huge leap forward in terms of head protection capability," Cole added. "The data that we were getting from prototypes is even better than we'd hoped."
5. "Muslim Jihadists now targeting Bars and Taverns for attacks in Southern Russia" Another reminder that Russia has major Muslim terrorist problems.
Representative Sample: In largely Muslim provinces of southern Russia, militant Islamists are seeking to impose Sharia Law with a complete ban on alcohol. The terrorists are specifically targetting establishments that sell alcohol as a symbol of Western values.
Friday, February 4, 2011
1. "Who Will Be President in 2013?" A look at the new electoral breakdown.
Representative Sample: you need to forget just about everything you think you know about winning a presidential election because it is a whole new ballgame as a result of the change in electoral votes and therefore which states are battleground states. The answer to which party will control the White House comes down to a mere handful of states.
2. "Public Safety Or Revenue" Revenue. Causing people to either floor it or slam on the brakes at yellow lights is not conducive to safety.
Representative Sample: Whenever a red light or speed camera is installed the local government tells us it is for the safety of the driving public. The cameras will decrease accidents and will make people drive more safely. It is hard to say one way or the other if the cameras reduce accidents but one thing is clear, they increase revenue and that is the real reason for having them.
3. "NJ Cops Charge 7 Year Old For Bringing Toy Gun To Class" Many of our public schools are run by complete imbeciles.
Representative Sample: He not only brought it to class, the little terrorist actually shot it. Hammonton, New Jersey Police charged 7 year old for bringing the Nerf style toy gun to class and shooting it. No word on whether or not he was aiming at anyone.
4. "Senators call for NATO missile defense in Georgia" Department of really bad ideas. Hey, let's provoke Russia for no good reason and put our advanced technology in an insecure location.
Representative Sample: Four Republican senators are calling on the Obama administration to place a sensitive missile defense-related radar site in Georgia, rather than in Turkey, as is currently planned.
5. "Future of Main Battle Tank Looks Secure" Tanks are still tremendously useful weapon systems.
Representative Sample: for all the talk in recent years of the civilian population representing a center of gravity in COIN operations, and the corresponding need to cut back on air strikes, long-range artillery fires and other initiatives, one aspect of COIN has often been ignored—even with the outreach, local alliance-building and efforts to spare civilians from the ravages of war, the need remains to kill the enemy.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Boy, I really do hate these guys. You've got a discussion going, talking about why you're an atheist, or what atheism should mean to the community, or some such topic that is dealing with our ideas and society, and some smug wanker comes along and announces that "Atheism means you lack a belief in gods. Nothing more. Quit trying to add meaning to the term."Although Myers reluctantly admits that these people are technically correct, he appears to have created his own strawman to tear down.
As if atheism can only be some platonic ideal floating in virtual space with no connections to anything else; as if atheists are people who have attained a zen-like ideal, their minds a void, containing nothing but atheism, which itself is nothing.This is a complete non-sequitur. How does pointing out that atheism is merely a lack of belief in gods imply that atheist minds are void of anything else? The dictionary definition is used often to counter those who want to pretend that atheism is a religion, and that atheists share common values and ideas beyond disbelief in gods. I find it difficult to believe that Myers isn't well-aware of how and why the dictionary definition is cited. It seems he is just being deliberately obtuse. It also appears from his word choice, that he, like many opponents of atheism, does see it as a sort of secular religion. For example,
if you protest when I say that there is more to the practice of atheism than that, insisting that there isn't just makes you dogmatic and blind.It's pretty funny that someone who dismisses those who disagree with him or define atheism in a different way as stupid is calling others dogmatic and blind. And he's obviously wrong. There is no "practice of atheism." Disbelief in something which you consider unbelievable requires no sort of practice.There are no rituals to be observed and no creed.
My atheism is not solely a negative claim about gods, but is based on a whole set of positive values that I will emphasize when talking about atheism. That denial of god thing? It's a consequence, not a cause.If you want to see atheism as your own sort of personal religion that's fine. But it has nothing to do with whether or not it is reasonable for others to point out the dictionary definition.
My point is that nobody becomes an atheist because of an absence of values, and no one becomes an atheist because the dictionary tells them they are.This is another strawman. Who makes either claim?
I think we also do a disservice to the movement when we pretend it's solely a mob of individuals who lack a belief, rather than an organization with positive goals and values.What movement and what organization? Atheists are in fact a mob of individuals united only by their lack of belief in gods. I'm not sure why Myers feels compelled to rage against reality and pretend that there is some sort of grand atheist movement we are all part of.
Tell me what virtues you bring, what experiences brought you here, why your values matter to society.Those things may be of interest, but they have nothing specific to do with atheism itself. There's more, but let's skip to his next section. Here he switches gears and goes after specific arguments commonly used by atheists that he finds lacking. These sections are better reasoned and I agree with some points.
Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings. The second sentence is false. Religion does not turn you into a terrorist. The overwhelming majority of religious people have similar values to yoursThat's true and worth pointing out.
I oppose religion because we can see its effects on even otherwise brilliant people: it short-circuits skepticism and leaves them open to dangerous and erroneous ideas.Yes, and it creates blind spots where religion conflicts with reason. For example, many people who would otherwise dismiss creationism and its ludicrous claims embrace it because of religious belief.
Myers goes on to criticize the use of "I just believe in one less god than you do," another common debating ploy used by atheists. I think he reads too much into this. The benefit of using that assertion is to point out to certain theists that they share the same skeptical attitude of atheists toward all other religions except their own. And Myers makes some dubious assertions of his own.
The theist you're arguing with did not go through a process where he analyzed his beliefs logically, and excluded 99% of all gods by reason and their lack of evidence; in fact, he probably never in his life seriously considered any of those other faithsSince when? There are theists who do just that. Part of my religious upbringing included looking at other religions and analyzing why they were false. This is not uncommon for people who are serious about their religious beliefs. Myers also applies this false assertion to atheists.
Similarly, you did not go through a list of religions, analysing each one, and ticking them off as unbelievable. I certainly didn't.I certainly did that, and so have other atheists. Myers doesn't know as much about atheists as he thinks he does.
He concludes by writing,
My main point is that one general flaw in many atheists is a lack of appreciation for why they find themselves comfortable with that label, and it always lies in a set of sometimes unexamined working metrics for how the world works.I don't think that's true at all, at least not in my experience. In my opinion most atheists have done an enormous amount of thinking about why they are atheists and how they define themselves.
You are an atheist — take pride in what you do believe, not what you deny.He repeats his fundamentally-flawed point. Atheism is not about belief. It's about disbelief.
learn to appreciate that the opposition hasn't arrived at their conclusions in a vacuum. There are actually deeper reasons that they so fervently endorse supernatural authorities, and they aren't always accounted for by stupidity.That's true, but also another strawman. Do most atheists believe that religious people are just stupid? I certainly don't, and I don't think that's some sort of standard atheist attitude either.