Saturday, February 09, 2002

Hence the name

Environmentalism is an issue everybody ought to back. Nobody wants a bad environment, and we all drink the same water and breathe the same air. So how did it get politicized?

Thank the environmental activist organizations. They're generally run by left-wingers. And left-wingers from the time of Lenin have always infiltrated and taken over organizations like cancers, to twist their agendas to suit the left-wing agenda of the moment.

That's bad any time. But to poison the politics of environmentalism is a hanging crime. Nobody who really gives a damn about the environment should give the time of day to groups like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club or the other usual suspects who made things this way. They're "watermelons" - green on the outside and red on the inside.

So if you really want to see more progress on environmental issues, purge the left-wingers from the green groups. Don't give them any money until they change. Because until they do, their agenda will alwas be dictated by the needs of the left wing instead of those of the environment.

For consenting adults only...

Yes, I admire Natalija Radic inside (her brain of course) and out. But that doesn't mean that she, like me, can't also be spectacularly wrong sometimes. This time it's about conservatives and porn.

I won't deny the existence of people like she speaks of, who apparently abhor the very existence of porn. While she's at it, she says this:

One big trouble I have with so many conservatives is the implicit arrogance that underneath it all, people basically see the world the way they do and feel as they do.

There's nothing arrogant about assuming that if people start from the same beliefs and then apply some logic, they'll wind up reaching the same conclusions. What's arrogant is thinking that other people don't see the world the way they do. In fact, it borders on insanity.

In my case, I think it's important for children to be shielded from some things which for one reason or another they're not prepared to deal with. Is that controversial so far?

In reality most well adjusted people do not get porn and real life confused, keeping them in different boxes in their heads.

That's the precise problem with porn, both for the non-well adjusted adults and for kids. It seems that NR agrees that porn is not to be confused with real life, and that such confusion can be a problem. Growing up is largely about learning to deal with life as it is, and kids don't need any more obstacles.

I just wish those conservatives and their statist allies on the left would stop trying to use the force of law to impose peculiar world views on everyone else.

I'm with you about abuse of the force of law, but not with the peculiar world view. Protecting kids isn't exactly a new or unpopular idea (at least not before Bill Clinton started abusing it).

We don't sell booze and cigarettes to kids. We don't let them sign contracts or take part in other things where adults might take advantage of them. These prohibitions are not controversial. I hereby challenge Natalija and the libertarians of Samizdata to show me how the benefits of such prohibitions could be realized in a libertarian context, or alternatively to show that these benefits are not worth having.

Google and me

I've been discovered! Yes, I'm starting to get hits from Google. Always for names so far.

Other than my own, that is. But if they did, they must be looking for the insurance agent, or the TV personality in the UK. Yeah, I've done it too.

Of course I don't know how often the searchers were seeking themselves. Natalija Radic could have looked for herself several times, but she can look in a mirror any time from any angle. Yes, I respect her mind, not in the least for seeing the power of promoting herself graphically. As for her theories on porn, that's another post later.

I haven't mentioned Britney Spears because that's Oliver Willis turf (dream on pal, she's a virgin. Trust me. And Gore did lose fair and square).

What other keywords do I need? How about 'nude'? 'Webcam'? I've already mentioned 'sex', 'chicken' and 'Larry Flynt' (and I've learned to link to my own stuff too), but you'll have to look elsewhere for details of his alleged affair. I still have some integrity, dammit.

Friday, February 08, 2002

No comment

It was the early 80's and I was ordering a sandwich at a Subway on the north side of Atlanta. A young black woman behind the counter seemed awfully happy, so I asked her why. She said "they shot Ray". Ray?

Then I saw the news. John Hinckley had just shot President Ronald Reagan.


You can't always tell a jerk, but there are some pretty good clues sometimes. One of them is the perversion of a Christian symbol that some people seem to think is cute.

Yes, I'm talking about the fish. It's one thing if you're a band called Phish, like on the one I saw just today. But when you put legs on it and inscribe "Darwin" in it, what is the point other than to mock Christians?

Do we promote other scientific theories? Should we, say, have icons of Rosie O'Donnell inscribed with the word "gravity"?

I've been indoctrinated with evolution from an early age. In my experience it has always been presented as contradicting Christian creation beliefs, and people who don't like religion brandish it like a club attempting to deprive religious believers of intellectual respect.

I have a hard time swallowing literal interpretations of Genesis for creation or countless other things in the Bible. But we don't prove scientific theories just by believing that a particular alternative is BS. Evolution must be established on its own merits. And there are fewer of these than you might have been led to believe.

Is there "microevolution"? Sure. Are humans descended from apes? That would help explain some people I know, but really, the picture is incomplete. Can you trace the development of life from the hypothetical big bang to today? Dream on - until you can demonstrate a big bang in a laboratory it can't be done. There's still room for God.

Science is a tool. It cannot become a religion without ceasing to be science. And my bet is that the people who flaunt the Darwin fish aren't as clever as they probably think they are.

Thursday, February 07, 2002

Force is immoral?

I saw this link from Daily Pundit and thought "what can be wrong with someone who's both a Christian and a libertarian?"


I'll confess that I didn't read it all. But I did read this:
Once Linda exercised her right to decide by refusing to give Bill water, the only way Bill or I or anyone else can get Bill the water he needs to maintain his life is to use force against Linda. And libertarians abhor the initiation of force even more than they abhor Bill's death. Let there be no mistake: force can and does overcome rights. But, force should never be initiated to implement rights.

That seems pretty clear.

Life is too short for me to get into a discussion of libertarianism. I'm sympathetic, but I'm not going to argue about how many libertarian angels would dance on the head of a pin if the government got off their backs.

But I'll say it's not a suicide pact. You only have the rights you defend. And if you're not willing to defend your rights you don't deserve them.

Most pacifists are just wimps with high self-esteem. They live by the sufferance and forebearance of others. Far from being paragons, they are free riders if not out-and-out parasites.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

The press vs. Kansas

You may have heard about the now-repealed change in standards for teaching in Kansas. It was billed as a second Scopes-Monkey Trial, eliminating requirements to teach evolution. I got to watch it fairly closely because I was in Kansas City at the time the original bill was passed.

The national press had it wrong - surprise! See this link for more.

But the sun will rise tomorrow

Tho' the Teeming Millions (sorry Cecil) should wail and gnash their teeth, tonight I won't be posting any more than this. Be comforted knowing that I have a nice long list of blog item concepts waiting on sundry pet peeves.

Of course we must all know our customers and cater to them. So by popular demand I'm writing a bit about the direction of this blog. After all, the hits are in the triple digits now.

If you've read Harry Stein's How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (And Found Inner Peace) you have some idea of where I'm coming from. By all rights I ought to be at least a Democrat if not farther left. But as I gradually became more politically aware I noticed how much unadulterated horse manure was coming from that side, and how utterly intolerant they were. That probably started with Jimmy Carter, progressed through the Bakke case, the Borking, and finally the Clarence Thomas hearings sent me over the top. After that I could no longer sustain the idea that one party was as bad as the other.

Then there's Slick Willie. I was no big fan of Bush I, and Clinton was nothing if not a great talker. I was more than willing to give him a listen until he claimed that he didn't inhale.

Since then it's been Tawana Brawley, Waco, OJ, the screwing of Newt Gingrich, Clinton blaming talk radio for the OKC explosion, Democrats defending the indefensible with Clinton time after time, and the media providing cover for it all. How could a politically aware reasonably moral person continue to stand the stench of the Democrats and the Left? Yet how could the Republicans fail to capitalize on it? Did we have the politicians, public morality and govt we deserved?

So I wind up with tension between a naif and a cynic, an idealist and a techie, blue collar background vs. white collar education, urban vs. rural, tradition vs. cutting edge technology and social evolution, immigrant vs. native (one of my parents wasn't born in the USA), libertarian vs. conservative and outsider vs. status quo. In the eyes of the press I must be a rabid conservative, but I honestly believe that I'm nonideological - if something doesn't work I ditch it, no matter how pretty it sounds.

And I think religion works. Don't bother looking for me in a church, and my Bible won't wear out any time soon. But I'm not going to throw out the baby with the bathwater. I might not practice it myself, but I wouldn't be without it. I respect the immense contribution of Christianity to our culture, and admire its restraint in the face of endless, often gratuitous provocations.

Enough. I'll do better tomorrow.

Condoms send the wrong message

InstaPundit is terrific most of the time, but I think he blew this one. Here's a quote:

Condoms at least send the message that sex can have consequences, and that you'd better think about them first

Close. Condoms send the message that unprotected sex can have consequences.

Some of use want to send another message also, that sex with condoms can have consequences. As I noted in an earlier post, even with perfect and consistent usage, condom failure rates are such that 3% of women who depend on them will become pregnant each year. For typical couples it's 12%.

The failure rates simply would not be tolerable in a less politically correct product, whether you're talking about contraception or disease transmission. To achieve the best performance takes effort, and this performance isn't so good anyway.

I won't claim to speak for the writer of the post our professor was commenting on. But I suspect that this really boils down to what you think about abortion. If it's no big deal to have one once in a while, hey, the odds aren't so bad.

Do what thou wilt. But spare us this nonsense about "safe sex", or even "safer sex". You're sending the wrong message.

Hypocrite and proud of it

How did it happen that hypocrisy became such a big deal? It seems to me that many of our social problems arise because people are afraid they'll be called hypocrites.

Hypocrisy has been called "the tribute that vice pays to virtue". That is, you don't have to be ideal yourself as long as you recognize what the ideals are. So it's OK, say, to tell your kid not to smoke even if you smoke yourself.

Unless you're worried about being a hypocrite, that is. That's a Very Bad Thing.

How do you deal with charges of hypocrisy? Either you change your ways, or you lower your standards. In this case, you can quit smoking, or quit telling the kid not to smoke.

That it's hard to quit smoking is well documented. So the only way to avoid being a hypocrite is to lay off the kid. Give me hypocrisy any day, just keep upholding the standard.

Keep an eye on the ones who are hung up on hypocrisy. The alternative for us fallible human beings is the destruction of standards. You figure out where that leads.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Who are these people?

A while back Samizdata started posting pictures of the contributors, including Natalija Radic. Ha - next thing you know that server was shut down for too many hits, until they moved her picture elsewhere. If she starts contributing to the Unablogger, watch out.

Notice any changes?

Yeah, right. My hit counter is in the double figures, and guess who accounts for most of them. It would probably be too depressing to know how many of the rest were typos.

But I switched to Blogger Pro. Mostly it was a way to support Blogger, at first, but I'm starting to like it.

The major differences I have noticed so far are the tabbed dialogs for the settings and the blogging area. For the settings, many more things are configurable, you can add a title, and you can have a template for your posts so the edit window will already have certain text, HTML or whatever else you might want in your posts every time. One of the tabs is empty for now, but they're working on it.

If you turn on the title feature like I have done, you get a text box above the rest of the editing area for your title. The title on this entry shows you what it looks like by default. I'm assuming that it leaves the fonts alone but for boldfacing them.

Another feature that's handy is that you can mark a post as a draft, so you can keep a work in process inside it without publishing it. Of course you can do this with cut and paste and a text editor, but it is a handy feature.
GOOGLE AND IE6 This tweak to your Windows registry will cause IE6 to start Google automatically when you hit the Search icon on the toolbar. I like it, but after today's posts my tastes might be called into question.

Monday, February 04, 2002

AND IF YOU LIKED THE LIZARD THING... I remembered once upon a time reading an item about some of the world's worst jobs, and at the bottom of the list was "chicken sexer". It does sound like a job only Larry Flynt could love.

Then later I stumbled across more about it and learned that this job was performed by a very small tightly knit group of Asians. (EEOC, where are you?) It appears that this is a skill passed down from parent to child.

Well, why should you take my word for it? - I figured I ought to offer a link. So I hit Google with the keywords "chicken" and "sexing", and came up with this link. Don't even ask what else I found.
COMMON SENSE ON GUNS Thanks to Megan McArdle and Sven Svenson for a lot of good stuff on this topic from the last few days.

I remember a few years ago in Kansas City, some toddler managed to get hold of a gun and killed himself. It seems too much to point out that this couldn't have happened if there were a minimal amount of supervision of the child. But the anti-gun crowd had no such compunctions - all the Kansas City (Red) Star could see was the gun. I guess it would have been OK if the kid had been poisoned, or run over, or scalded, or had started a fire and burned the house down, or had fallen out of a window...
10 SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL VALENTINE'S DAY Don't forget, or you'll find that some things are worse than Federal crimes.
HOW TO SEX A LIZARD Oh admit it, you've always wanted to know. I don't know that it works with all kinds of lizards, and you're on your own with alligators. But it does work with the little green anoles ("chameleons") that run wild by the gazillions in Florida.

Just put a mirror in front of it. If it's a male, he'll start strutting his stuff. He'll raise his head and his dewlap (think jowls) will stick out and turn bright pink. The females allegedly ignore the mirror, but I haven't witnessed this directly. Anyway, the lizards don't seem to have any problems, and any further interest on my part would be prurient.

As long as we're not talking about certain Olympic swim teams, sexing humans is easier. But we haven't yet figured out a way to tell if someone is homosexual 100% of the time. Allegedly some don't know themselves. So we wind up with things like "don't ask, don't tell".

Gay rights activists are everlastingly pushing for antidiscrimination laws. But how can you discriminate against gays if you can't even know who they are?

Some crude thoughts just slithered through the gutters of my mind. Get thee behind me, Satan, and don't push. Anyway, being clueless really shouldn't be a crime.
SEZ WHO? With bated breath I clicked the link from Through the Looking Glass to find the evidence showing Dick Cheney to be a pawn of Enron. Try again. Some cuts from the article:

But a memo presented by Lay during an April meeting with Cheney shows how close the energy giant and the White House were. Lay put out a range of ideas on energy, deregulation and California's then-critical power crisis. His points either ended up in the Cheney energy report or became political stances for President Bush.
Don't stop now, let's see some examples. Oh, our professional journalist and/or editor didn't see fit to include any, lest we should be able to "fact check his ass". (I Googled and found what I believe is the right document, but beware - it's a 2.5MB pdf. I infer that this is a summary of the preceding.)

Perhaps Cheney, a former oil executive, would have adopted the same positions without Lay's lobbying. But the April meeting underscores the remarkable access that the Enron chairman enjoyed.
And just why wouldn't a company with Enron's size in Enron's businesses from Enron's state get a chance to talk to the administration, especially when they were alleged to have taken advantage of the situation in California? At least there is some acknowledgement that any overlap could have been coincidence.

The session took place during California's costly electricity crisis. While Lay had easy entree, California leaders got nowhere in seeking similar face- time with the White House.
The California leaders were Democrats and Bush is not, and California did not vote for Bush. It's no surprise that they didn't get ushered to the front of the line, especially when they were demagoguing as they pursued an asinine policy they called "deregulation". And the professionalism: California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said "I would love to personally escort Lay to an 8-by-10 cell that he could share with a tattooed dude who says, 'Hi, my name is Spike, honey,' " .

Why did he take advice from a prominent energy executive and not talk to California's elected representatives who had to explain to taxpayers how they got stuck with Enron's bills?
Because it would be so much fun watching the elected representatives explain what happened, when in fact their own policies had created the problem and forced their utilities into bankruptcy. And now, as a final raspberry, the ratepayers see that a company that allegedly was making so much profit out of their hides actually managed to go broke.

What other suggestions or favors came up during six meetings of the energy task force with Enron executives?
Well, we know that Enron was bucking for CO2 controls, and they didn't get them. We know that Enron wanted more solar and windpower, and they didn't get it. There may well be much more, but this at least shows they didn't get everything they asked for.

This is journalism? At least with me you get what you pay for...

Sunday, February 03, 2002

MUDVILLE LIVE If the Rams had to lose, it might as well be to a team called the Patriots. Adam Vinatieri won't have to buy his own drinks for a while.
BLOG ETIQUETTE I've been watching blogs for a couple of months but I'm still a newbie. What should we blogging greenhorns know? Or should it just be a free-for-all?
HOW DID ISLAM SPREAD? Charles Adams has a theory in For Good and Evil - The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization. Muslims offered a new way of governing with lower taxes. Non-Muslims did not have to convert, but if they did they would be relieved of a significant part of their tax burden. Yeah, gimme that old time religion.