Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Catholicism as True Enough

 Couldn't agree more with the Maverick Philosopher.  Choose your religion or denomination according to whether you think it is true that it will lead you and those in your care on the path of salvation.  His latest post verbatim:

Catholicism is true enough to provide moral guidance and spiritual sustenance for many, many people.  So if you are a lapsed Catholic, you could do far worse than to return to the arms of Holy Mother the Church. And this despite the deep post-Vatican II corruption. Better such a reversion than to persist in one's worldly ways like St. Augustine who, at age 30, confessed that he was "still caught fast in the same mire by a greed for enjoying present things that both fled me and debased me." (Confessions, Bk. 6, Ch. 11, Ryan tr., p. 149)
 But if you are a Protestant like Tim McGrew or James Anderson, should you 'swim the Tiber'?  Some branches of Protestantism are also good enough and true enough to provide moral guidance and spiritual sustenance.  And this despite the problems of Protestantism.
I should think that practice is more important than doctrine.  Better to remove the lust from your heart than to write an erudite blog entry about it.  The doctrines will always be debated and contested.  Does the Incarnation make logical sense?  Is it perhaps true whether or not it makes sense to the discursive intellect?  We will never know here below.  
Would it not be folly to postpone the reform of one's life until one had solved intellectual difficulties that we have good reason to believe cannot be solved in our present state?  Orthopraxy trumps orthodoxy.  Three elements of Christian orthopraxy: follow the Ten Commandments; avoid the Seven Deadly Sins; observe the Two greatest Commandments.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Explanation for the Political Divide?

Perhaps a partial explanation (though I don't know how scientific)

In r/K Selection Theory in Evolutionary Ecology, if you provide a population with free resources, those who will come to dominate the population will exhibit five basic traits, called an r-selected Reproductive Strategy. These traits are all designed to best exploit the free resource availability. In nature, the r-selected strategy is best seen in the rabbit, which lives in fields of grass it will never fully consume. The five traits are, competition and risk avoidance, promiscuity, low-investment single parenting, earlier age of sexualization of young, and no loyalty to in-group. These traits are ultimately designed to selfishly maximize the numbers of offspring produced. Each of these offspring, though of lesser fitness, will be able to survive and reproduce freely themselves, due to the free resource availability. In r-selection nobody ends up dead, and killing or being killed is not a concern.

In r/K Theory, there is also a strategy exactly opposite to the rabbit's, which emerges under conditions of resource scarcity. It is called the K-selected Reproductive Strategy. There, where resources are scarce, competition for resources is everywhere, and some individuals will die due to failure in competition, and the resultant resource denial that this produces. This produces the K-strategy, which is best seen in the wolf. This strategy also has five psychological traits - competitiveness/aggressiveness/protectiveness, mate monopolization/monogamy, high-investment two-parent child-rearing, later age of sexualization of young, and high loyalty to in-group. This psychology is designed to form highly fit and competitive groups that succeed in group competition, all while capturing and monopolizing the fittest mate possible, as a means of making their offspring genetically fitter than those of competitors. Here, the goal is not to simply consume as much as possible yourself and produce as many baby-making machines as you can, with little regard to their fitness. Here, the goal is to help your group succeed in its competition for the scarce resources, and then produce offspring of as high a fitness as possible, so they may carry your genes forward by succeeding in competition themselves. It is obvious why every r-strategy ideal would act as a repellent to a K-strategist, since each ideal would guarantee failure in the K-selected environment.

The premise of this highly substantiated scientific work is that all of politics is really a battle between the K-strategist wolves within our society, designed to battle in a world of scarce resources and fierce competition, and the r-strategist rabbits, designed to freely graze the bounty of a sudden resource glut and rapidly explode in numbers to exploit such a glut.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Trans Man Gives Birth to Own Baby

Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”

New Conversative Philosophy Blog!

Here it is.  Looks promising.  I hope they succeed in beating back the leftist hegemony in academia; or at least going down gloriously in battle.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Colin Kaepernick and the Pledge of Allegiance

Government educators against allegiance to the nation and government.  More evidence for vouchers.

In the link below, the author asks whether Christians can learn anything from Colin Kaepernick?  Yes, they can.  They can learn that being a millionaire and living in a Constitutional Democracy affords one the privilege to protest one's country based on trumped up charges about cops unsupported by anything resembling a decent argument.  Much more beyond that, I can't say.

But here is more. Christians can learn that Kaepernick is just acting like the first century church in not pledging his allegiance to the modern day Rome. Give it a read and see what you think.  I don't want to linger on the obvious fact that pledging allegiance to Rome and the U.S. are disanalogous in several salient ways, one way being that pledging allegiance to Caesar was also an acknowledgment of him as divine.  Instead, I wish to comment briefly on the following:

"[T]o pledge allegiance is a profoundly religious act."*

This strikes me as not only false, but fairly obviously so.  The Pledge of Allegiance has been in public schools for decades and in one form or another in existence for over a century, and I know of no Supreme Court challenge to it per se as violating the Second Amendment's Establishment Clause.  There have been arguments against it on the basis of its inclusion of "under God," but not on the basis of the act of pledging allegiance itself. (These arguments, I might add, are specious, since "under God" affirms theism in general and no particular religion.  Judges would do well to dwell for a moment on this fact).  If pledging allegiance to the U.S. were a religious act, government officials would be in violation of the Establishment Clause all the time.  In fact, any distinction between the secular and the religious in most public affairs would be impossible in the United States of America.  The plain fact that such a distinction is not only possible, but actual, gives the lie to the claim that pledging allegiance is a religious act, let alone a profound one.

A pledge is a promise, allegiance a loyal commitment. We make and pledge allegiance all throughout life to various people and causes.  I promise a loyal commitment to my family, friends, church, city, state, and country.  I'm religious, but non-religious people do the same.  But there are few who think that all pledges are absolute and inviolable.  Such pledges come with the tacit acknowledged that the pledges are conditional.  No one thinks that if the United States were to turn into a Stalinist regime--violating objective norms of justice on a grand scale--that all who have pledged to her obedience remain duty bound.  And few think that if your spouse is found out to be engaged in sex-trafficking, that a pledge of allegiance requires being an accomplice.

So too the pledges are hierarchical.  God-family-friends-local community-state-country (or at least this is the order of a right thinking conservative).  Such a hierarchical acknowledgment is perhaps implied in the Pledge of Allegiance itself--at least in its most popular form today.  "I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the United States of America....One nation under God...."  The nation is under GodWhat does this mean?  The phrase is ambiguous.  It could mean that God is high above in the heavens. It could mean that the nation is divinely favored by God.  According to the previous link, Congressional testimony suggests instead that it points to the fact that belief in God has been a significant part of the nation's heritage and foundation.  The phrase arose because of opposition to the U.S.S.R.which was communist and Marxists, and therefore atheistic.  If there is anyone whose pledge of allegiance to the state is a pseudo-religious act, it is the Marxist-communist; for him, the material world is all that there is and the state the closest thing to an omnipotent agent.

* It is doubtful that when one sings the National Anthem that one is pledging allegiance to anything at all.  The act seems more of an expression of gratitude for the goods one has received from one's nation and a degree of solidarity rather than a promise of any sort.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Europe in a Nutshell

Or replace the caption with "I'm too busy smoking weed in my parents' basement."

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Charity vs. Taxation

I recommend this heuristic in getting people to think about requiring taxation for their favorite causes.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Why Should You Trust Philosophers?

A group of fifteen philosophers and bioethicists gathered in Switzerland and came up with this document outlining their public policy proposal to severely limit doctors being allowed to opt out of certain procedures and practices which violate their conscience (some among the group being notorious advocates of infanticide). The statement is called "Consensus Statement on Conscientious Objection in Healthcare."

My question is a simple one: why should we trust them?  The document does not outline any detailed arguments, it simply lists their recommendations and (implicitly) asks us to take their word for it--that is, the word of the consensus of fifteen philosophers.

But we shouldn't take their word for it without either knowing a lot more about each of them or their arguments.  Here is why:

1. Whatever expertise philosophers have is over matters wherein there is (a) rational disagreement, (b) no consensus among philosophers, or (c) both.  This follows from the nature of philosophy.
2. This being the case, if (e.g.) fifteen philosophers agree about some proposition p, there will be c.fifteen who disagree about p (or at least there will either be rational disagreement, no consensus, or both about p).
3. If 2 is the case, no one should take any fifteen philosophers' testimonies (without additional knowledge) as justification about something of which they claim to be experts. For that matter, one has reason for doubt about the testimonysince the philosophers have delusions of grandeur, (implicitly) asking the public to take their word for something about which there is rational disagreement, no consensus, or both.
4. ...therefore, etc., this document is rubbish as a matter of public evidence for shaping public policy.  At best it is simply a political document.

But don't take my word for it.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Canons of Conservatism

1. Belief that a divine intent rules society as well as conscience, forging an eternal chain of right and duty which links great and obscure, living and dead.  Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems.  A narrow rationality, what Coleridge calls the Understanding, cannot of itself satisfy human needs....Politics is the art of apprehending and applying the Justice which is above nature.
2. Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and equalitarianism and utilitarian aims of most radical systems....
3. Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes.  The only true equality is moral equality; all other attempts at levelling lead to despair, if enforced by positive legislation.  Society longs for leadership, and if a people destroy natural distinctions among men, presently Buonaparte fills the vacuum.
4. Persuasion that property and freedom are inseparably connected, and that economic levelling is not economic progress.  Separate property from private possession, and liberty is erased.  
5. Faith in prescription and distrust of "sophisters and calculators."  Man must put control upon his will and appetite, for conservatives know man to be governed more by emotion than by reason.  Tradition and sound prejudice provide checks upon man's anarchic impulse.
6. Recognition that change and reform are not identical, and that innovation is a devouring conflagration more often than it is a torch of progress.  Society must alter, for slow change is the means of its conservation, like the human body's perpetual renewal....
     ~Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind (BN Publishing, 2008: 7-8)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Bad Strategy Against Theological Voluntarism

Makes sense to me
Let's say that theological voluntarism is the view that God's will plays a significant role in matters moral.  (That's not very precise, but there aren't any great definitions in the offing and this is good enough for my purposes).

A common objection is what we might call the "anything goes" objection.  The idea is that if theological voluntarism were true, then God could make it the case that raping babies is morally permissible and good by commanding it, that punching your grandma in the face is a daily obligation, that microwaving cats (or better--dogs) is an act of justice, and so forth.  But of course such acts are wrong--and necessarily so, some think--thus there must be something wrong with theological voluntarism.

To see why this is a bad strategy for objecting to theological voluntarism consider the following propositions:

1. If theological voluntarism were true, then raping a baby might be permissible.
2. If Kant's Categorical Imperative were true, then raping a baby might be permissible.
3. If J.S. Mill's Greatest Happiness Principle were true, then raping a baby might be permissible.
4. If moral relativism were true, then raping a baby might be permissible.

Now consider the following argument against TV and a parity argument against Kant's CI:

1. If TV were true, then raping babies might be permissible.
2. But raping babies can't be permissible.
3. Thus TV is false.

Now consider this parallel:
4. If Kant's CI were true, then raping babies might be permissible.
5. But raping babies can't be permissible.
6. Thus Kant's CI is false.

The questions that need asking are which principle or normative theory is true in the first place and which are contradictory with raping babies being permissible?  (Is 1 true or is 4?)  What the objector to theological voluntarism needs to show is that God could or would will that babies be raped, just as the objector to Kant's CI needs to show that raping babies is inconsistent with the CI.  For it does not obviously follow that if morality is grounded in God's will that there's a possible world (or close possible world) where God wills the raping of babies.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

School: Don't Say "Boys" or "Girls"

"WSOC-TV is reporting a North Carolina school system presentation to principals and counselors is recommending that kids are not referred to as boys and girls, but instead as scholars and students."

Items of particular interest (I'm leaving out a lot):
Page 9: Gender Unicorn
Page 38: Official school records record the student's biological sex but administrators and teachers must use identity pronouns, though occasional slips might occur.  Intentional refusal not to refer to the students identified gender is a violation of the regulation.
Page 48: Don't address students as "boys" and "girls."  Don't line up students [e.g. bathroom breaks] by boys and girls.  Instead alphabetize or by birth month or favorite color.
Page 50: Remember the importance of indoctrinating helping all students to pretend that a student is what he/she/ze feels "feel inclusive"
Page 54: ...unless it's an athletic event in which case the student is not treated according to the gender on the birth certificate [!]

GSA: Genetic Sexual Attraction

Mother and adult son defend their monogamous, loving, incestuous relationship against discriminatory law.

“True love can do anything. This whole case is about whether I have the right to love somebody and I sure as hell have the right to love Monica. You can’t tell me who to love, who not to love.”

The mother and son said they hope their story will raise awareness of Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA).

Return of Ahmed the Clock Boy

He's back! Our old friend the "inventor" who took the guts out of a clock and put it in a case to look like a bomb (his "invention"), now seeking to earn 15 million (or thereabouts) the old fashioned way--by inventing a lawsuit.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

10 Ways You Can Reject Your White Privilege

From the United Church of Christ:
10.  Recognize that you're still racist.  No matter what.

 Okay, let's do it. 

 You go first.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Man's Opinion on Abortion

Just heard a guy say, "As a male, I believe that my opinion on abortion should not be weighed as heavily as a female's."

What he should have said: "As a former fetus, I believe that my opinion should be weighed as heavily as any other former fetus's--by the evidence supporting my opinion."

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

On Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils

Very good piece here by Ilya Somin.  I adamantly disagree with him that a Hillary presidency would be the lesser of two evils.  We know who she will appoint on the Supreme Court--baby butcher apologists who are there to vote and not interpret. 

Other than that, I agree with about everything else.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Book I Just Finished: Silence

I just finished listening to this book.  The Audible version has an excellent narrator.  For anyone who enjoys listening to books, I'd certainly recommend the audio version.   It gives nothing away to say that it's a very powerful and interesting book on the silence of God, apostasy, and the figure of Judas (strong foreshadowing of all this at the beginning of the novel as well as in the forward by Martin Scorsese.)  But I'm not sure what to make of it and intend to read some reviews about it and talk to others who have read it.  Spoilers below the fold.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Napping and Sinning

"Daytime sleep is like the sin of the flesh: the more you have the more you want, and yet you feel unhappy, sated and unsated at the same time."  (Adso in Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose")


Discussed in the Washington Post of all places.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Nozick on LeBron James and Social "Justice"

...with minor qualifications
On the popular conception of social "justice," justice is equality of outcomes.  One can determine whether an economic arrangement is just simply by looking at the distribution of whatever commodity or good one is interested in and seeing whether the distribution is equal.  On the heals of last night's NBA championship, here is an updated selection from Robert Nozick's "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" (pp. 160-1) showing that this is false:

[Suppose that there is some just distribution of money, D1.] Now suppose that LeBron James is greatly in demand by basketball teams, being a great gate attraction.  (Also suppose contracts run only for a year, with players being free agents.)  He signs the following sort of contract with a team: In each home game, fifteen dollars from the price of each ticket of admission goes to him.  (We ignore the question of whether he is "gouging" the owners, letting them look out for themselves.)  The season starts, and people cheerfully attend his team's games; they buy their tickets, each time dropping a separate fifteen dollars of their admission price into a special box with James's name on it.  They are excited about seeing him play; it is worth the total admission price to them.  Let us suppose that in one season one million persons attend his home games, and LeBron James winds up with $15,000,000 a much larger sum than the average income and larger even than anyone else has.  Is he entitled to his income?  Is this new distribution D2, unjust?  If so, why?  There is no question about whether each of the people was entitled to the control over the resources they held in D1; because that was the distribution (your favorite) that (for the purposes of argument) we assumed was acceptable.  Each of these persons chose to give fifteen dollars of their money to James.  They could have spent it on going to the movies, or on candy bars, or in donations to the Huffington Post, or Salon or for a Hillary Clinton speech.  But they all, at least one million of them, converged on giving it to LeBron James in exchange for watching him play basketball.  If D1 was a just distribution, and people voluntarily moved from it to D2, transferring parts of their shares they were given under D1, isn't D2 also just?  If the people were entitled to dispose of the resources to which they were entitled (under D1), didn't this include their being entitled to give it to, or exchange it with, LeBron James?  Can anyone else complain on grounds of justice?  Each other person already has his legitimate share under D1.  Under D1, there is nothing that anyone has that anyone else has a claim of justice against. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Another Contradiction of the Left

...trying to make it illegal for law abiding citizens to own guns while at the same time advocating for porous open borders whereby criminal organizations can smuggle guns into the country from Mexico. 

"Why Naming Radical Islam Matters"

Excellent piece here by philosopher Jerry Walls.  I reproduce it in its entirety:

It is a ritual that has become all too familiar.   A gunman claiming to act on behalf of Islam, or ISIS, or simply shouting “Allahu Akbar” murders numerous people.  President Obama condemns the atrocity as workplace violence, extremist violence, or even terrorism, but studiously avoids using the terms “radical Islamic terrorism” or “jihad.”   It then becomes a deeply partisan issue as conservative politicians and other commentators point this out, and argue that his failure to name radical Islamic terrorism for what it is reflects a fundamental failure of his policy for dealing with it.  If he cannot even name it, he will never defeat it.  Indeed, the whole matter has played out most sharply in the recent exchanges between Obama, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton after the tragic shooting in Orlando.

But does it really matter?  Does this dispute identify a substantive issue, or is it useless wrangling over words or nothing more than a game of political ping-pong?

Let us think about this matter from the angle of a couple of analogies.   Consider a Dr. who comes to the unfortunate conclusion that his patient has cancer.   It is a serious case, but one that can be cured with the right treatment.  Now why does it matter whether the Dr. calls it cancer, a word that is emotionally loaded and no one wants to hear, or just a more generic name such as a “very severe illness”?   The answer is obvious.   The treatment required to treat cancer is altogether different than what it takes to heal other diseases.   The Dr. must give his patient an accurate diagnosis and let him know just what it will take to fight and defeat it.  It may require surgery and/or various forms of chemotherapy administered in an aggressive and prolonged fashion.  The patient needs to know what he is up against in order to embrace the required treatment and do everything necessary to be rid of it.  The Dr. does no one any favors to skirt the issue or be vague about the disease and what it will require to achieve a cure.

Or consider an analogy from psychotherapy.  A fundamental principle here is that healing cannot take place until the patient honestly names and owns the real issues at the heart of his struggles.  If the deepest issue that is plaguing his mental health is an unacknowledged anger toward his father, he will not resolve his problems so long as he talks in general terms about his angry feelings or evades the real issue by talking about the pain he felt the day his dog died.

The point here is that an honest diagnosis of what we are facing must come to terms with the Islamic roots and motivation of many of the acts of terror that continue to wreak havoc in our world today.   To be sure, the overwhelming majority of the world’s nearly two billion Muslims are not terrorists, and do not sympathize with ISIS and other radical groups.    We have been reminded of that over and over every time there is an act of terror and most Americans are quick to acknowledge, and even insist upon that.  We recognize that no religion should be defined in terms of its most radical adherents.

But here is the point.  The same honesty that requires us to make clear that the large majority of Muslims are not terrorists also requires us to acknowledge that radical Islamic terrorism is very much a reality in many parts of our world. It cannot be denied that these terrorists draw their inspiration and motivation from an interpretation of Islam, and one that has had some notable adherents in Islamic theology and tradition (see Jean Betjke Elshtain, Just War Against Terror).

One reason many people are reluctant to acknowledge the radical Islamic component of terrorism, despite the fact that many of these terrorists themselves insist upon it, is because modern and postmodern people are skeptical of any religious explanation of human behavior. They doubt that religion is ever the real motive that accounts for human action.  Post enlightenment skeptics are prone think the real explanation is political, or social, or economic, or psychological, or even broadly cultural, but never truly and distinctly religious.  Religious explanations thus reduce to categories that we enlightened people find more intelligible and easy to manage.  And no doubt there is some truth here.  Even if we don’t go the whole way with the reductionist line, we may acknowledge that some of these factors are part of the explanation, and indeed are often connected and intertwined with the religious motivation.

But here is the crucial point that has to be understood:  billions of people really do believe in God, and that includes Jews, Christians, Muslims, and many others.  And doing the will of God is for them the most important thing in life.  As hard as it is for many contemporary people to accept, for radical Islamic terrorists, doing the will of God involves killing “infidels” whether they be moderate Muslims, Christians, Jews, or secularists.

The practical problem here with failing to diagnose radical Islamic terrorism and correctly naming it is that we may think we can defeat it with the medicine of politics, or sociology or psychology or economics.  If we think of it only in criminal terms we may imagine that we can deal with it as with any other crime, by passing and enforcing better legislation, particularly gun control laws.  While all of these may be essential to a long term solution, any prescription that ignores the religious dimension or trivializes it has no hope of getting to the root of the matter.

Another reason it is sometimes suggested that we should not name radical Islamic terrorism is because it will only provoke moderate Muslims and inspire more of them to join the terrorists.  This suggestion also fails completely to come to terms with the truly religious motivation of radical Islamic terrorism.  Radical Islamic terrorists do not need our provocation to be motivated to engage in acts of terror.  Their interpretation of their religion and their hatred of Israel and the West is all the motivation they need.

Moreover, to avoid the term out of fear of provocation only feeds their sense that the West is weak, and that they have the power to terrorize our lives.  That is the sort of thing that attracts new recruits, and feeds the narrative that they are succeeding in their goal of global domination.

Even worse, the claim that calling radical Islam what it is will provoke moderate Muslims to radicalize is remarkably condescending to peaceful Muslims.   Is their commitment to Islam as a peaceful religion so fragile that they can be so easily turned into radicals?  Moderate Muslims themselves have a large interest in acknowledging radical Islam for what it is because that is essential to their concern to show that Islam is truly a religion of peace.

Radical Islamic terrorism is a particularly dangerous threat precisely because it is motivated by an interpretation of a major world religion, and this provides a far deeper and more powerful sort of true belief and zealous conviction than communism or Nazism could ever provide.   The most ambitious secular empires could not pretend that joining their cause was doing something of truly transcendent significance with eternal rewards for a job well done.

We may persist in denying the reality of radical Islamic terrorism and calling it something else, with the noblest and most charitable of intentions.   But we need clarity and honesty here, as well as good intentions.   And that requires both a correct diagnosis of what is wrong and a forthright naming of what it is.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

"The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations"

Bill Maher gets a lot of things wrong, but here he educates Charlie Rose on Islam vs. Christianity.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Empirical Support for the Postmillenial Mustard Seed

Committed Christians to Non-Christian (n/1)

"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:  Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." (Matthew 13:31-32) 
 I emphasize that this is empirical support, by no means it is it a demonstration of postmillennialism.

Still, there is some reason for optimism; I take postmillennialism to be the most optimistic of the Christian positions on eschatology.  Aside from spiritual virtues specific to Christianity not held by most others, here are some other positive effects that Christianity has arguably contributed to civilization (though I will not argue for this historical claim, and I'll ignore contributing causes):

The abolition of widespread slavery
The creation of the modern university and mass education
The elevation of subjugated women to equal status with men (including among other things in education)
The seeds for the Enlightenment, and with it, liberal democracies
The diminishing of mass poverty and starvation
Condemnation of racism and civil rights for the vulnerable

Empirical support for pessimism regarding postmillennialism: The World Wars and mass atrocities of the 20th Century.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Guns and Goldilocks

The left wants to ban so-called AR-15 "military style assault weapons" (to use the arbitrary PC term designed to scare fellow hoplophobes).  Here is mine.

I pose the following dilemma for the left:

1. Either so-called assault weapons in the hands of many citizens would have the desired effect of making the government seriously think twice about tyranny or not. 
2. If it would, then the legality of so-called assault weapons is justified for putting a check on tyranny.
3. If it would not, then there is no justification for banning so-called assault weapons (without also banning many other guns.)
4. So either way the legality of so-called assault weapons is justified.

What the left needs is that these so-called assault weapons are just right.  They are too lethal for self-defense but not lethal enough in the hands of many law abiding citizens to thwart tyrannical aggression.  But if they are military style assault weapons, they sure sound like they'd have the desired effect of (e.g.) checking the FBI from going door to door and confiscating everyone's guns.  No doubt the U.S. military could obliterate all citizens with its massive military might, but no government set on being tyrannical over its citizens would do so.

Ban on Alcohol

Alcohol is responsible for c.105,000 deaths in the U.S. each year (CDC). In about 1/2 of homicides, alcohol is a serious causal factor. I conclude that only the government should be permitted to have alcohol. Or, at best, that all purchasers of alcohol regularly have a universal background check for alcoholism and traffic violations involving alcohol, that only small amounts of alcohol can be purchased at any one time, that the content of alcohol in each distribution be <4%, that alcohol manufacturers can be sued if their alcohol is used in a traffic fatality regardless of the quality of its production....or, again, more simply that there should be no alcohol (except in the hands of the government).

'It is called wine,' said O'Brien with a faint smile. 'You will have read about it in books, no doubt. Not much of it gets to the Outer Party, I am afraid.' (Orwell, 1984)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Could Bill Clinton or George W. Bush be President Again?

Yes.  Both are still eligible for office (as are George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, each of whom only served one term).

The relevant section of the 22nd Amendment reads:
Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.
The key word is "elected" and the key phrase is "elected to the office of the President." No person shall be elected for President more than twice.  The text says nothing about whether a former two-term-elected President can serve as President.   Words matter.  If Congress had intended that no former President could serve more than two terms, the writers could have said that.  Or they could have said that no person shall be President for more than eight years.  That would have been clear enough.  Bill Clinton could be elected as VP and George W. Bush to Speaker of the House (or Secretary of ____, etc.). Both could then become President legitimately via lines of succession though neither could be elected again once he served out his term.

Why Xians are Becoming More LGBTQ Affirming

Benjamin Corey thinks he has the answers

More Christians are engaging with [poor, agenda driven] biblical scholarship than before.

More Christians are realizing that being gay isn’t a choice.

More Christians are aware of the harmful impact of non-affirming theology.

More Christians are seeing people instead of seeing an abstract issue.

More Christians are are [sic] siding with the message of hope– and there’s no hope in non-affirming theology. 

Well, Ben, you should have just come out and told us what you really think, namely that LGBTetc. sex is good, right, and true!  Get over it bigots!

The article is poor and the evidence paltry but go ahead and read it if you can stomach the tired clich├ęs.  But before you do that, I'll go ahead and tell you why western Xians are becoming more affirming (note that this phenomenon is not sweeping over Christians in Africa and the East).  It's the same reason that western culture is more affirming: Hollywood (and the media more generally) which have always attracted the far left (perhaps mostly due to self-selection) and pushed the issue in the last decade and a half. 

Ellen DeGeneres
The Good Wife
Anderson Cooper
The Daily Show
Late Night TV
Grey's Anatomy
Modern Family
2 1/2 Men
Reality Shows with outspoken homosexuals (Dancing with the Stars, Survivor, you name it)
Gay couples [always well adjusted and funny] featured on TV shows regularly

I could go on and on and on and on.  In fact, it's hard to find someone or some show or movie which does not overtly or subtly promote the LGBT issue and cram it down your throat.  What you won't see, are all the flamers and swingers at gay bars.   What you won't see is the bisexual issue pushed--threeways and fourways and "open marriages."  What you won't see are "genderfucks."  But what you will see is a concerted effort to make the LGBTQQIIGetc. persons-qua-queer normalized if not lionized and glorified. 
That is the primary reason, Mr. Corey.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

"Men Are Now Dwarfs"

In the past men were handsome and great (now they are children and dwarfs), but this is merely one of the many facts that demonstrate the disaster of an aging world.  The young no longer want to study anything, learning is in decline, the whole world walks on its head, blind men lead others equally blind and cause them to plunge into the abyss, birds leave the next before they can fly, the jackass plays the lyre, oxen dance.  Mary no longer loves the contemplative life and Martha no longer loves the active life, Leah is sterile, Rachel has a carnal eye, Cato visits brothels.  Everything is diverted from its proper course.          --Umberto Eco The Name of the Rose, p. 15

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Universe Doesn't Exist

If the universe did exist, it would be composed of you and I, trees, birds, rocks, planets, and whatever things exist in space more generally.  If it were composed of you and I, we would be parts of the universe.  But I am a substance--either a living organism that has parts or an immaterial soul.  Either way, since I am a substance, I am not a proper part of anything else.  This just follows from what it is to be a substance.   If we follow Aristotle in thinking that living things are substances, none is a part of the universe.  As well, if fundamental particles are substances, they are not a part of the universe either.  But then from the first statement above, the universe does not exist, since if it did, the things mentioned would be a part of it.

One could hold, alternatively, that there is only a single material substance, the universe, everything else being a part of it. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Tomb of Aristotle Discovered? I doubt it.

Several people have pointed me to the so-called "certainty" of Aristotle's tomb being discovered.  Given the evidence put forward so far, I don't think we can conclude with any certainty that Aristotle's tomb has been discovered.  It makes me even more skeptical since we've been told that it's "almost certain" by someone who has put forth circumstantial evidence compatible with any number of other explanations.

See Forbes and the Greek Reporter.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Book I Just Finished

I'd never read anything by Thomas Sowell other than popular pieces at online journals before this book.
In Wealth, Poverty, and Politics, Thomas Sowell, one of the foremost conservative public intellectuals in this country, argues that political and ideological struggles have led to dangerous confusion about income inequality in America. Pundits and politically motivated economists trumpet ambiguous statistics and sensational theories while ignoring the true determinant of income inequality: the production of wealth. We cannot properly understand inequality if we focus exclusively on the distribution of wealth and ignore wealth production factors such as geography, demography, and culture.
There are plenty of reviews online for anyone interested.  Sowell's main thesis is that economic inequalities result from a wide array of factors beyond the typical ones cited such as "systemic racism," public policy, a lack or abundance of natural resources, etc.  The chapter titles should give anyone interested an idea of Sowell's project:

Chapter 1: Issues
Chapter 2: Geographic Factors
Chapter 3: Cultural Factors
Chapter 4: Social Factors
Chapter 5: Political Factors
Chapter 6: Implications and Prospects

Sowell criticizes economic theories which are deterministic in favor of a more holistic approach which allows for causal influence short of determination.  Taking geographic factors as our example, some tend to explain the economic success of a nation in terms of its natural resources.  To demonstrate that this is false, Sowell gives historical examples to show that some countries low on natural resources have had excellent economies whereas some with plentiful natural resources have had poor economies.  The book contains a wealth of statistics.

A couple examples from Chapter 2:

Harbors.  Africa lacks a lot of natural harbors, thus throughout its relatively early history its geography was such that the mercantile industry largely avoided it.  Though it is sometimes cited as having many miles of navigable waterways, many are only navigable by canoe and others by larger ships only for part of the year during monsoon seasons.

Mountains.  People who live on mountains tend to be less intelligent and poorer.  Part of the explanation is that such people are isolated from trade and new ideas even from relatively nearby villages.  However people who live on the side of the mountain that gets rain have access to travel by waterways and agriculture due to a large amount of rainfall.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Trans Movement Trumps Feminism?

There are several corollary take-aways to the present moment. First, we have learned that the trans movement trumps feminism, just as Europe’s reaction to the mass Muslim sexual assaults this New Year’s Eve revealed that multiculturalism trumps feminism. Given the constant caterwauling about “rape culture” by campus feminists, one would have thought that feminists would have opposed males’ use of facilities frequented by unclothed or otherwise vulnerable females. But apparently the claim that college campuses are awash in serial rapists waxes and wanes in salience depending on context. It now becomes merely another sign of redneck bigotry to suggest that a heterosexual male (i.e., a rapist in waiting) or a sexual pervert may take advantage of the new trans rules. Wellesley and Smith colleges have twisted themselves into knots deciding whether the “trans” category trumps the favored status of females. They concluded that being trans cancels the disability of being male and in fact elevates the trans “female” to the highest rank on the victim totem pole.
Whether the trans movement actually trumps feminism of course depends on how "feminism" is defined.

Friday, May 13, 2016

More on Culture and Multiculturalism

Malcolm Pollack has an excellent piece on the error of multiculturalism here--a must read.  I reproduce most of it below.  I will add only this.  Some people conflate being against multiculturalism with advocating a society with a single race and with being against a "melting pot" with a total freeze on immigration.  That is a strawman.  One shouldn't confuse culture with race, ethnicity, and country of origin.  I say some things about that here.

The error of these [multicultural] beliefs [such faith in "human universalism"] is that they overlook both the origin and importance of culture. To be harmoniously embedded and contextualized in one’s own culture is, as everyone everywhere seems to have understood until the latter half of the last century, the foundation and bedrock of normal human experience, and is generally a precondition for individual happiness and flourishing. Furthermore, the variety of human cultures is not a superficial fact, nor is it a matter of contingent historical accident; cultures do not simply fall from the sky and land, haphazardly, upon whichever human population happens to be passing below. I believe they are best understood, instead, as what Richard Dawkins has called “extended phenotypes."

The idea is a simple one: a biological organism has both a genotype, which is the sum of its genetic information, and a phenotype, which is the physical result of the expression of the genotype — the term “phenotype” usually being understood to refer to the organism’s body. Dawkins’s fertile insight was that the phenotype extends beyond the body, into the wider world.

For example: a beaver has a beaver genome. This expresses itself in the usual beavery way: big front teeth, webby feet, and a broad, flat tail. But the “extended” phenotype is much more than that: it consists of felled trees, a dam, a lodge, and a pond. In this view, that pond is as much a part of the beaver’s gene-expression as its teeth. Bird’s nests, spiderwebs, and honeycombs — things in the world that themselves contain no genetic information — are as much a manifestation of genomes as wings and stingers.

In H. sapiens, the social animal par excellence, the extended phenotype quite naturally includes culture. And just as we see variation among subspecies for, say, bowerbird nests, we should expect to see that long-isolated human populations, whose genomes have been subject to widely varying selection pressures throughout their history, will create different, often very different, cultures — cultures as distinct as their physical appearance. And so we do.

In an earlier post, Culture and Metaculture, I quoted Lezek Kolakowski on the impossibility of genuine multicultural synthesis, which creates a problem that worsens in proportion both to the number of cultures to be blended, and their dissimilarity. An extended-phenotype model — which understands culture not as something contingently and exogenously grafted onto individuals and populations, but rather as an endogenous, organic, and wholly natural expression of the innate characteristics of a distinct subpopulation — should make even clearer why high levels of “diversity” lead so reliably to faction and strife.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

More Democratic Diversity

Time magazine: Satanist for state Senate.

"That's Not Science"

A Scientist Who Regularly Engages in Philosophy Without Realizing It
As I've written before, arguably some creation science is science.  But even if it's not, seldom is it heuristically a good move to label something as not science in borderline cases for two reasons: (1) It tends to be an argument stopper.  Instead of considering the evidence for the claims advanced, the debate ends.  (2) If the one claiming that the other side is not doing science is a scientist, the claim is philosophical and generally beyond the expertise of the scientist making the claim.

Consider two similar examples.  Imagine a Christian, instead of engaging with the arguments of a Buddhist or Astrologist saying, "That's not religion.  Religion is Christianity."  Or suppose a Democrat were to say to a Republican advancing an argument against national minimum wage laws: "Get off it.  What you're saying is not politics."

This is not to say that there aren't clear cases where something is or is not science.  Riding a bike ain't science nor is painting.  Though there is a demarcation problem regarding what counts as science, some particular areas of science such as biology, chemistry, and physics are well defined areas of inquiry.

Help End Sexually Transmitted Diseases!

Only have sex with one virgin.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Either Philosophy or Indoctrination

A teaching and learning environment is either philosophical or indoctrinational.  To be philosophical is to follow the argument wherever it leads, to be prepared to question and challenge one's basic assumptions and to have a spirit of unbridled inquiry.  Motto of the Philosopher: Question everything including that you should question everything!  (Or do you disagree?)

With indoctrination there is no serious debate. Many questions are off the table.  There is a received body of (at least alleged) knowledge or wisdom--the dogma--to be learned by repetition, rote memory, or unquestioned methodology.

A teacher can, of course, be both a philosopher and a dogmatist (in the sense of someone who indoctrinates) depending on the subject and the purpose of the discourse.  One can switch back and forth.  Some scientists, for instance, are more philosophical than others.  No one is purely philosophical though many are mostly dogmatic.

There's nothing wrong with dogmatism and indoctrination, per se.  We'd be lost without it.  Most disciplines at the university are dogmatic and most students learn by indoctrination.  Biology, Chemistry, Math, Greek, Latin, Computer Science---all are mostly dogmatic.  There's little to no serious debate in a course in how to read and write Latin.  You learn paradigms and memorize words.  A biology class might veer off into philosophical speculation on whether science is compatible with the book of Genesis, but biology qua the science of biology passes on a received body of knowledge through textbooks, lecture, and methods of tried and true experimentation.

Where there is a great deal of rational disagreement and uncertainty is where one typically finds philosophy; and where there is a topic of wide disagreement discussed in a university is where one should find philosophy.  Religion, politics, death, taxes, justice, (social "justice")...all should be approached philosophically, at least for part of the time, that is, if one thinks that where there is rational disagreement one should not treat the issue dogmatically.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Multiculturalism is SOCIETAL Suicide

Hillary Clinton@HillaryClinton 1 hour ago                     
Preguntamos a varios neoyorquinos sobre Donald Trump—y estas fueron sus reacciones.
Photo published for 12 neoyorquinos reaccionan ante la idea de Donald Trump como presidente
Hillary Clinton Tweet

No argument is promising that English is an intrinsically better language than Spanish or vice versa. And each seems to serve its purposes equally well.  Further, there is no reason why the U.S.'s main language for most of its history must have been English.  It is English because of the historically contingent events which lead to the nation's creation; the same is true of course with (e.g.) Spanish in Mexico.  But a common language helps promote a common culture, and a common culture facilitates economic transactions, political transactions, racial diversity in churches, and less strife and more commonality between people groups in a nation.  As one who embraces federalism, I would oppose a national law mandating a national language.  Nonetheless, it seems to me foolish of the Hillary Clintons not to encourage the use of English in political discourse in the United States.  Sending Tweets and other messages in Spanish only encourages the balkanization of people groups and the lack of a common culture (the same would be true of a politician in a Spanish speaking country not speaking in Spanish).  Without a common language, a common culture is very unlikely.  And without a common culture, a society is fragmented.  Unity in some diversity should be the motto, not unity by diversity which is one of the incoherent maxims of progressivism.  Diversity for diversity's sake is entirely worthless.

More on Multiculturalism:
[M]ulticulturalism takes people seeking a new start and, indirectly, tells them it’s okay to harbour old habits, beliefs and grudges from their homeland. Multiculturalism says it’s acceptable to live in ethnic and linguistic communities cut off from the mainstream. It gives official encouragement to ghettoization over integration. That’s because it is politically incorrect to suggest that our own culture is superior in anyway or has anything to offer newcomers.

If this is the case – that our [British] culture has no claim on superior political values – why is immigration largely a one-way street: from there (wherever there is) to here?

But increasingly, multiculturalism also encourages (and even funds) the formation of radical ideologies. While the Internet seems to be the #1 recruiter of Muslim youth into radical causes, the funding [in Britain] of Muslim centres, schools, newspapers and websites contributes.

Extremists will use our own tolerance against us. As a libertarian, I would not ban intolerant views from designated religious or cultural groups. But, like David Cameron, I see no reason to force taxpayers to subsidize radical groups and ideologies. If you are made to preach jihad and Sharia law on your own dime, you will find it very slow going, which is a good thing.

Read the rest on "Britain's Bold Stance Against Squishy Multiculturalism"

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Preston Sprinkle's Non-Violence Argument Summarized and Critiqued

Preston Sprinkle has a concluding blog post where he summarizes his pacifist argument.  It's a good, clear, summary, free from unnecessary polemics and distractions.  It gets to the heart of his Biblical case for pacifism.

Much of what he says is a summary of his book which I responded to and critiqued at great length in a series of posts already.  Anyone who hasn't read that series in its entirety might want to do so because I will not be repeating myself at length.  (I address almost all of his current arguments and others, including the Sermon on the Mount in the link above).

But I'll try to respond to some of the propositions he advances which go beyond the book or are central to his case.

Sprinkle: There is a certain logic to stuffing every murderer and pedophile and thief in a gas chamber, and this might lessen crime and make society a better place. But this doesn’t mean it’s the Christian thing to do. The whole “love your enemies” nonsense pretty much throws a wrench in that engine.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Why I Don't Use the Term "Social Justice"

[We have a new major on campus: social justice.  Here's a post from a couple years ago.]

Why would anyone be opposed to social justice?  Who doesn't want to live in a just society?  I certainly do.  It's not that I oppose social justice--or justice for that matter--it's that (a) it's not clear to me what "social justice" means and (b) I'm leery of adopting a phrase which now is significantly owned by the left.

To understand social justice we must first have a handle on justice simpliciter.  So what is justice?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Preston Sprinkle on the Killer at the Door

It's hard to follow the logical structure in this latest post.  It's not clear what the central issue is that is being debated between Sprinkle and Wilson.

Sprinkle says that his main problem is with militarism:

My main problem is with the underlying spirit, which believes that power and violence is the way that evil is overcome. A spirit which proclaims:
      Of course we should carpet bomb terrorists.
      Of course we should kill people on death row.
      Of course we should take out the bad guys with as much force as necessary.
      Of course Christians can kill other people if it’s in war. (American Christians, that is.       Christians in other countries don’t get the same pass.)
It’s not our reluctance to use violence as a lesser of two evils—which acknowledges that it’s still evil. Rather, it’s the eagerness with which we think that violence is the best way to deal with evil, which is exemplified in American Christianity’s fascination with military might. The bigger, the badder, the better. Military historian Andrew Bacevich recently said: “Were it not for the support offered by several tens of millions of evangelicals, militarism in this…country becomes inconceivable.” 
The issue is with militarism--the underlying spirit of militarism.  But it's not clear to me to whom Sprinkle is referring or his intended audience.  The series of "of course" statements suggests he's referring to people who are confident in the claims that follow.  I would be one of those (depending at least on how one disambiguates those somewhat ambiguous statements).  I'm confident, because I've thought about the issue a decent amount, and the evidence against doesn't outweigh the evidence for.  I've never seen a good argument for pacifism and not for lack of trying.  But what's wrong with being confident based on your evaluation of the evidence?  Sprinkle too seems pretty confident.  One can be confident that it's sometimes permissible to use violence while thinking that violence is a last resort; one can think that violence is to be used as a last resort only when one has good evidence that it would be worse not to use violence in the particular situation.

But perhaps it's not confidence with the issue but eagerness.  Eagerness to choose violence as the best way to deal with evil.  Here again I wonder who in particular he has in mind or how many in his audience thinks this way.  Of course we know hotheads who have a penchant for violence, but how many are reading his blog?  I don't know any politician on either side of the aisle who thinks that violence is always or even usually the best way to deal with evil.  (He occasionally talks about the death penalty--which I've discussed before--but the death penalty is rarely used).  Like most issues, it depends on the circumstances.  Very few think that it's better to use violence if an equally good non-violent solution is present.  The debate, then, is over the empirical facts and whether violence in such-and-such circumstances is the best, final option rather than alternatives.  For example, would it be better to let ISIS continue to implement its destructive will on its defenseless victims, or does justice call for military action by the U.S. and/or NATO?  If the latter, will airstrikes be enough to stop the spread of Isis combined with strategically places special forces units, or must there be another ground invasion?  Failure to act could result in at least as much destruction.  Reasonable people can disagree about the likely outcomes.  The answers aren't always obvious.

Then the discussion takes an odd turn:
You want to use violence to defend your family in the rare (yet real) case that someone breaks into your home preprogrammed solely to massacre your wife and kids? Fine. Heck, in the heat of the moment, maybe I would too. But this isn’t the main problem. [my emphasis]The problem is that our posture toward our enemies and method of dealing with evil looks no different than the world’s. How we think about taking care of the person busting down our front door is only the tip of the iceberg.

In any case, let’s go ahead and dive into the well-known scenario thrown at pacifists to see if its ethic is worth its salt. My friend Nicolas Richard Arndt will stand in for our questioner who wants to show that pacifism doesn’t work in the real world. His name is really long, so we’ll just go with his initials (NRA). 
What would Sprinkle do if someone attacked his family?  Maybe defend his family.  Okay, fair enough.  It's not always easy to say what you would do.  (Though, I know what I'd do--defend my wife and defenseless kids with whatever force is necessary).  Then he switches back to posture--matters of the heart so to speak.  So what's at issue?  What Preston would do or matters of the heart? Or the morality of pacifism?

What follows after that is a long hypothetical conversation between Sprinkle and an NRA friend where Sprinkle changes the scenario.  It's again about what Sprinkle would do.  He'd use nonviolence to stop the attacker.  He doesn't have a gun.  What if he did?  He's shoot the gun out of his hand (maybe).  He'd pray. And so forth.

What is the point of this dialogue?  Is it to help us see what Sprinkle would or would not do?  He already said he might use violence in the heat of the moment; I see no reason not to take him at his word.  So what's the point of the long dialogue?  It looks like an extremely long red-herring fallacy.  It appears to serve no purpose other than to distract the reader from the issue of what one should or should not do if a violent criminal invaded one's home and mortally threatened one's family.

Finally, he wraps up the discussion by saying:

I don’t live in a theoretical world; I live in a world turned upside down by a God who justifies the ungodly and calls us to love our enemies.

What would I do if someone tried to harm my family? I’ll disembowel him before I slit his throat with a dull knife. But the question isn’t what would I do, but what should I do. 

So he would use violence.  Or is this tongue-in-cheek?  At any rate, what he would do does not matter.  The question is what he should do.

I agree!  (Then what was the point of the long dialogue?)  What one needs to get clear on is what should be done.  That way if one does find oneself in a similar situation, or finds oneself drafted in the military, or finds one's kid inquiring into whether he should go into law enforcement, one isn't having to think about what one should do in the heat of the moment and one is mentally prepared to do what one thinks one should do or refrain from doing what one thinks one shouldn't.

Sprinkle says he doesn't live in the real world.  He doesn't like this hypothetical scenarios of unlikely situations.

Of course we all live in the real world--the actual world.  But we also think about hypothetical situations, many of which never become actual.  What should I do if I flunk out of college?  What should I do if I ask this girl to marry me and she says no?  Who should I vote for if it's Trump vs. Hillary?  What should I say to my son if he wants to enlist in the Army?

Most cops and military personnel never fire a single shot in combat.  But they prepare both mentally and physically to do what they should and avoid what they shouldn't in the event that they are called upon to do so.  The relative unlikelihood only makes a difference in how much thinking and training are to be invested.  If a situation is very unlikely and not very important, less thought and training is to be invested; the more likely and important, the more thinking and training should be invested.

Matters of life and death are important.  Some thinking and weighing of arguments is a worthy investment even if the situations being thought about are unlikely. The stakes are high whether you act or refrain from acting.

Here's a real life situation, not a "theoretical" hypothetical (whatever that is): An impressionable student reads Sprinkle's book on nonviolence and pacifism.  He has a Christian father and relatives who are police officers.  They are sensible folk with no spirit of militarism.  They think that their calling is to bring salt and light into the police force.  They seem to be above average policemen.  The student, though, starts to question whether his relatives are Christians or at least good Christians.  Would the police force be better without them?  Should they find a new career?  Were they wrong about their calling?  How should he now relate to them?

These are questions worth thinking about.  Arguments for and against are worth weighing.  I find Sprinkle's discussion on the matter of police unclear.

For more on the issue see my post on Sprinkle's chapter on the attacker at the door.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Kids Should Have Guns

...if they're like this kid.  Nice job, Chris! 

Chris Gaither was home alone “petting the dogs” on Wednesday morning when he heard a noise upstairs.
The 11-year-old boy from Talladega, Ala., told NBC affiliate WVTM-TV that he was scared, so he grabbed a knife and steadied himself.  Chris said that a man appeared on the stairwell, but when confronted, he ran back up upstairs. When the man reappeared moments later, the boy told WVTM-TV, the individual was holding a gun.
“When he was coming down the stairs, that’s when he told me he was going to kill me, f-you and all that,” Chris said.
Instead of running, Chris told the station, he upgraded his weaponry, picking up a 9mm handgun that was in the home.

Read the rest.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Preston Sprinkle on Good Guys With Guns

The last time I wrote a critique of Preston Sprinkle's pacifist argument was a couple years ago, regarding his book on the issue.  Now Preston is taking on gun ownership and gun control, so perhaps it's time to dust off the old critical canon and fire off a blog post or two.

The latest is an exchange with Doug Wilson (I know nothing about Mr. Wilson other than what is posted in the exchange).  I think Sprinkle is on more solid ground than Wilson with respect to some of the Biblical passages discussed, e.g., the sword passage in the Bible described here, though I think Sprinkle ultimately has an unseemly dispensationalist view on killing and violence when dealing with the Old Testament.  At any rate, I don't have much to say about that post on Bible passages other than this. As with science, so with Biblical exegesis: theory is underdetermined by data.  What that means in science is that there is always more than one possible explanation for the data.  Determining the best explanation cannot be done solely by looking at the data.  The same is true with Scriptures.  Doctrine cannot simply be read off of Scripture.  Rather one has to take all of one's available evidence including evidence for how one ought to interpret Scripture.  Sprinkle does this in practice, in fact, appealing to law enforcement officers and FBI statistics elsewhere to make his case.  Yet he hasn't engaged in many philosophical critiques of pacifism.

I do have a few things to say on this post on good guys with guns stopping bad guys with guns which goes beyond the Biblical data.  It's short, so the interested reader should read the whole thing first.  Commentary below the fold.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Desiring Young Les(bi)an Visionaries in the Archive"

Feminists get turned on in archive and write a paper about it:

This paper presents a critically reflexive account of the experiences of a group of researchers at the Canadian Women's Movement Archives. Drawing on the work of Sara Ahmed, Claire Colebrook, and Victoria Hesford, it argues that the researchers shared intensely embodied and emotional encounters with the archival record of lesbians’ struggles to create and define community. These encounters encouraged the researchers to explore the potential of their own sexual subjectivities. Their deepened understanding of the complex lesbian and feminist past provided them with the desire to reconsider the collective promise of ‘lesbian’ and ‘bisexual’ for their own future community.

Read the whole thing for $41.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Why I Don't Care As Much About Immigration and The Wall

A few weeks ago I talked with a federal prosecutor, a former Democrat turned Republican because of this issue.  Without getting into too many details, things are worse than I thought.

Still, what occurred to me is that there is no long term solution to illegal immigration, in part because there is no long term solution to most anything in politics.  This is why I care about Supreme Court justice appointments more than most issues.  A court packed with conservatives does offer longer term solutions.  Those for whom immigration is the number one issue and think Trump building a wall offers a long term solution are misguided.

Why?  Because any future president can opt to apply a "catch and release" mandate to border control officials just as Obama has done.  According to the federal prosecutor with whom I talked, most of the illegals now simply walk up to the border entrance, claim amnesty (which, in order to thoroughly vet takes months of investigation and plenty of money) and walk right in.  Most, that is, walk through the open door.  What is a wall going to do if one can walk in simply by claiming amnesty?

So any longer term solution will take Supreme Court action or a large groundswell of ideological change.  In that case, if a long term solution to immigration is what you are hankering for, Cruz and not Trump is your man.

More on Trump's wall

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Opium of Redistributionists

The Maverick reproduced in toto:

If religion is the opium of the masses, then OPM is the opium of the redistributionist.

Bernie Sanders, the superannuated socialist, "and his wife, Jane, paid an effective tax rate of 13.5 percent, or $27,653 in federal taxes on an adjusted gross income of $205,271." This is for 2014.  That is less than Mitt Romney paid, percentage-wise, in 2011.  But Romney paid more dollars and thus did more good than Bernie, if you assume that Federal taxes do good for 'the people' and not just for state apparatchiki.

For Sanders, a legitimate function of government is wealth redistribution so that the government can do good with other people's money (OPM).  So why did Bernie take so many (legal) deductions?  Why didn't he pay his 'fair share,' say, 28% of his AGI? Why didn't he fork over 50%?  Surely an old man and his wife can live on 100K a year!  Why doesn't Bernie practice what he preaches?

Because he smokes the opium of OPM: it is the other guy's money that is to be confiscated, not his.  By any reasonable standard, Sanders is a 'fat cat.'  But he doesn't see himself as one.  And no doubt he thinks he earned his high senatorial salary when he produced nothing, but merely spouted a lot of socialist nonsense while acting the pied piper to foolish and impressionable youth.

Monday, April 18, 2016

On Gender, Chinese, Grade, Height IDENTITY

"If I wanted to enroll in a first grade class, should I be able to?"

College Student #1: "Uhhh...ummm.......proooobbably not....I guess..."
College Student #2: "If that's where you feel like, mentally, you should be, I feel like there are communities that would accept you."

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. So I'll do as a good free-thinking Stoic would do when faced with such options.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

A YUUUGE Reason Not to Vote for Trump

There are many reasons why Trump would make a terrible Republican nominee.  But here is another.  Trump has promised again and again that he will appoint the best and the brightest to solve all of the problems in the U.S. (another area where he proves his Democratic credentials)  Yet against this we have some very good inductive evidence that he will not: ge has failed miserably and embarrassingly in appointing people to ensure that he has loyal delegates voting for him after a first vote in the convention.  On this score Cruz has proved his political brilliance far surpasses Trump's arrogant bravado.  Yet another example of the aphorism that actions speak louder than words.

Arkansas is the latest.

73% of Felons Vote Democratic

Based on a study of three states, but who doubts that these numbers don't hold steady across the U.S.  The Democrats own the felon and dead person vote.

NY: 61% Democrat, 9% Republican
NM: 52% Democrat, 10% Republican
NC: 55% Democrat, 10% Republican

Obviously what we have here is a case of political profiling by the police....