Apparently, Australia thinks that China is the country to model and doesn't think that its citizens have the moral or intellectual capacity to judge what they want to see on the internet. Consequently, in order to block "illegal material," that are going to institute a China-esque firewall that will block any material they deem objectionable. This, of course, is ostensibly all being done in order to "protect children" through attempting to ban child pornography. However, in fact, as the article notes, "the plan was first created as a way to combat child pornography and adult content, but could be extended to include controversial websites on euthanasia or anorexia." [Emphasis mine.]
The world seems to be descending to an ever lower rung of hell as the politicians, who know all, take our freedoms from us in order to "make us safe." Well, I, for one, would rather be free than be safe!
...The reason we continue to move toward socialized medicine is that everyone -- including the opponents of socialized medicine -- grants its basic moral premise: that need generates an entitlement.
So long as that principle goes unchallenged, government intervention in medicine will continue growing, as each new pressure group asserts its need and lobbies for its entitlement, until finally the government takes responsibility for fulfilling everyone's medical needs by socializing the health care system outright.
They also note:
...The only way to effectively oppose socialized health care is to reject the morality of need in favor of a genuinely American alternative. According to the American ideal, men are not their brother's keeper -- we are independent individuals with inalienable rights to support our own lives and happiness by our own efforts.
That means taking responsibility for your own medical needs, just as you take responsibility for your grocery shopping and car payments. It means no one can claim that his need entitles him to your time, effort, or wealth.
Where is the willingness to defend this ideal by saying, "Your health care is your responsibility -- and if you truly cannot afford the care you need, then you must ask for private charity -- not pick your neighbor's pocket to pay for it"?
Watkins and Brook also note that the Republicans are failing to make this kind of principled moral opposition to the Democrats' plan, instead relying predominantly on more derivative economic arguments.
America will likely soon learn the consequences of this failure.
By email@example.com (Edward Cline) from The Rule of Reason,cross-posted by MetaBlog
No better justice to President Barack Hussein Obama’s boast in the Washington Post of his political achievements can be done than to adapt portions of the Declaration of Independence to the subject of his accomplishments. Not all of the charges against George III in 1776 listed in Jefferson’s masterpiece are applicable. This charge sheet can also be leveled at Congress. I include only those offences which can be annotated. Call it not a parody, but a serious, appropriate, and well-deserved iteration.
The history of the present President of the United States is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
With artful disingenuousness, he promised Marxist tyranny during his campaign. Few believed him. Others were dumb-founded. Many applauded him, and voted for him. And the collectivists in Congress encouraged him, at the same time counseling him to soften his rhetoric so that it would seduce the impressionable and confuse but not frighten Americans. And, with the cooperation of his allies in Congress, he is delivering Tyranny. No one should be confused now. His politics are exclusively and demonstrably Marxist in theory and practice. Marx advocated dictatorship.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
Notwithstanding his professed concern for the “public good,” Obama has not advanced it by refusing to recommend the repeal of all fiat regulatory law. Instead, he has acted to expand the scope of such law over virtually every private and public action of American citizens, injuring the “public good” while benefiting those who have a vested interest in such expansion.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
What else to call his many czars? How many committees will be created by the health care bill recently passed by the Senate, after it is merged with the House version next month? Their purpose is to harass Americans and eat out not only their wealth, but their rights, to make Americans deferential and dependent on their wishes and commands. Defenders and advocates of the health care bills assert that they have been created from the best of intentions. But any intention that relies on force, compulsion, extortion, fraud, lies, and the confiscation of wealth and property necessarily results in evil.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
What are those “standing armies” today? The Internal Revenue Service and the Department of the Treasury. The Federal Reserve system. The DEA, the SEC, the ATF, the TSA, the FCC, Homeland Security, and the rest of the alphabet soup of federal power wielders. Not one of which was created with the consent of the governed or of any state legislature. Are they not indemnified against responsibility for their destructive intrusions, powers, and actions? Are they not independent of and superior to what remains of legitimate civil power?
Is not the health care legislation “pretended,” that is, beyond the clearly worded constraints on government power in the Constitution? In point of fact, is not all welfare and regulatory legislation -- whether acts of Congress or recent amendments to the Constitution -- merely “pretended” legislation, assented to by Obama and all his statist predecessors in office?
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
Has Obama not recently signed a law exempting Interpol from American law, thus subjecting Americans to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution? Was not one of the ends of the Copenhagen climate change conference this month to nullify American sovereignty in favor “global” law and to make Americans subject to alien and especially European jurisdiction? Was not Obama willing to surrender American sovereignty in the name of “global governance”?
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
This goes without saying. A “governed” people has no power or right of consent.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
Obama has become the Government, and, as with any ambitious dictator or tyrant, any and every person who opposes his powers and policies would necessarily be outside of his protection, because he has implicitly or actively waged war against such Americans. The Constitution was created to protect individuals from arbitrary power, wielded by either the president or Congress. Obama is acting in an extra-legal and extra-constitutional capacity.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Obama has excited class warfare amongst Americans -- the poor against the rich, the claimers of entitlements against those in the productive sector who must pay for them, the retired elderly against the working young, the incompetent and lazy against the able and the ambitious -- and has endeavored to perpetuate this warfare by stealthily conscripting members of ACORN, the Service Employees International Union, and affiliated organizations such as MoveOn, in addition to his swarm of czars, as the enforcers to harass and intimidate the middle class and the rich.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
On the “high seas” of the Internet, Obama encouraged Americans to report to him “fishy” information or rumors about health care reform expressed or repeated by other Americans, and asked them inform on their friends, brethren, and fellow citizens.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.
Through the summer and fall of 2009, hundreds of thousands of concerned and outraged Americans participated in dozens of massive “tea parties”; packed the “town halls” to express their displeasure with and opposition to health care legislation and other government invasions of their rights; caused dozens to Congressmen to sputter incoherently in reply to frank questions, or even to flee the confrontation; signed countless petitions to Obama and members of Congress to stop spending, legislating, and destroying their lives, livelihoods, and children’s futures; sent hundreds of thousands of faxes and made hundreds of thousands of phone calls to their senators and representatives, and even to the White House, to express their opposition -- but their efforts were answered with indifference, insouciance and repeated injury, by Obama and by members of Congress.
Obama himself has not dared to face Americans or the press without “papering the hall” with friendly cliques, courtiers, and shills, in rigged and contrived “town hall meetings” and press conferences, and allowed no questions to be asked of him that would require honest, forthright, and revealing answers. His vaunted policy of “transparency,” given the facts of his means and ends, has necessarily been one of habitual obfuscation and brazen dissemblance.
A President, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Need any more be said about the character and agenda of Barack Hussein Obama? A free people does not need, nor does it seek, a ruler. Which are Americans to be in the coming years? A free people confident that their president is acting in their interests as free men? Or a people that needs a ruler?
By Kendall J from The Crucible,cross-posted by MetaBlog
I’m sitting back after a wonderful Christmas spent with my sister, and feeling generally radiant about life. So rather than a heavy post on some intellectual topic I thought I’d pull something a little bit more personal out. This story is from almost twenty years ago, but I posted it to a private blog a year or so ago (original post date: 1/11/08) after pulling out my journal from the experience and reliving it through those words. I’m not too sure what it has to do with Christmas other than I think this time is a time to sit back and reflect on one’s life; to savor it. You’ll see how this ties into it if you keep reading.
+ + +
It was 1992, and I'd decided to go on a backpacking expedition. I'd graduated college a year earlier and taken a two week trip to Colorado with Lori. Before that, the last packing trip I'd taken was as a Boy Scout in my teens. So I decided that I was going to do a solo trip and had chosen Maine's Hundred Mile Wilderness, based upon a review I'd read in Backpacker magazine. The Wilderness is the last 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail, ending at it's northern terminus, Mt. Katahdin. It is a contiguous, uninterrupted, rugged, foreboding hundred miles buried deep in the northern Maine woods. Once you start, there is really no way out but to finish, and for most of the trip one will be at least 50 miles from help. The idea of such a trip might seem like biting off more than one could chew, but for some reason I was drawn to it. Maybe it was a testosterone-laced sense of bravado, the need to prove something to myself after my breakup with Lori, or just plain stupidity. It was probably a mix of all those and more. So the decision was made.
After arriving in Maine at midnight after a marathon drive out from Michigan, a brief sleep, and huge breakfast, I set out, with a 60 lb pack on my back filled with 2 weeks of provisions. The trip started horribly. I was carrying so much weight, that I was slow, and on my first day, I stopped several miles short of my planned camp site. Rain set in. Day 2 saw me still hiking at 10 pm, exhausted, headlamp lighting the way, stumbling along the trail, arriving in camp after most other hikers had gone to sleep. Also unknown to me, my pack frame had cracked and the weight of my pack was poorly distributed causing chafing that by week's end would have me plastering duct tape to my hips to hold together the patches of blistered skin. Day 3, the third day of constant rain. I was losing feeling in my feet as they had been wet and cold for a solid three days, and I was behind my hike schedule by almost a full day. The weight of the pack was wearing me out by lunchtime. I was cold and wet, and demoralized, and at times scared. Suddenly this trip had become a daunting demon staring me down, and I was quickly crumbling under its constant stare.
I was considering quitting. There was one escape route about half way in that involved hiking out 15 miles on a logging road and then hitching a ride back to the start, and I was now considering taking it. But that was only one week of hiking and so I was also replotting my route to shorten each day so that I could stretch out the hike to a more respectable length. I hated doing it. I was ashamed. I was trying to grit every day out, and quickly crumbling and I had told everyone at home about my trip and they had been impressed. And now I was faltering. The trail was incredibly tough with wind-sucking, quad-burning climbs and root-littered, muddy trails. Several times I'd lost the trail and almost panicked at the thought of being lost in the woods. I felt alone and I felt like a failure, and worried about how I'd explain it all.
There were hikers all over the trial of course, "thru-hikers" mostly, walking the entire AT for the last 5 months from Georgia to Maine, all with colorful handles (e.g. "Cotton Patch," "Silverback," "Seabear," "Wild Bill," "The April Fools,"), forming a little trail micro-culture. And there were others as well, people doing just The Wilderness. By the fourth day I'd seen many of them a couple of times and was starting to learn their names. They were all friendly, but I was despondent and not in much mood to talk. On night 4 I stayed in a shelter about 5 miles shy of a creek. My plan was to camp at the creek the next night, and then the next day to the jump off point. With me in the shelter that night were two hikers, one a chemist who'd recently been laid off from a pharmaceutical firm and was thru-hiking the AT before starting a new job, and the other a French Canadian named (of all things) Pierre. Pierre was hiking the wilderness only, and I'd already spent a night or two with him at other shelters. His english was poor and we'd spoken very little, but he was a friendly, calm, quiet type. That night the three of us talked over dinner. I confessed to them that I was changing my plans and that I'd not go all the way through the wilderness. I talked a little bit about my frustration and disappointment. The next day's hike would mean that even if I changed my mind, I had lost enough distance that I probably had no way of making Katahdin. I'd "lost the moon" as Tom Hanks would say in Apollo 13.
The next day I was the last one out of the shelter and onto the trail, maybe trying to stretch my time since I only had a few miles to go before I camped. I reached the creek at about noon. Pierre was on the other side. He'd arrived a couple of hours before, and had taken a lazy lunch while he waited for his boots to dry out. I forded the stream and sat next to him and ate my own lunch quietly. I was through for the day. Half way through, Pierre got up, loaded up and turned to continue on the trail. I wished him well. He turned to me and said in broken english, "I see you at the shelter tonight." He didn't ask me; he just said it calmly as if it was simply the truth. And in those words he laid bare my options, my decision. He knew I wasn't planning on going to the shelter tonight, but he'd said it anyway.
And as I finished my lunch alone I weighed it. In my fear and concern at what others would think, and my depression and my efforts to quickly make my journey easier for myself at the least trifle, I'd somehow overlooked what I was giving up. I had 60 miles to go. And I realized that those 60 miles were looming up at me as an impenetrable fortress. They intimidated me. I considered the pain in my legs and my back and my hips, and my fatigue, and 60 miles seemed impossible. But it was only 5 miles to the next shelter. If I continued on I was committed. I'd have to go the distance, there was no turning back. And at that moment, what other people would think ceased to matter; no one was there with me. I asked myself if I could go 5 more miles, and I asked myself if I was prepared to go the full distance. It was not the next step that was daunting. It was thedecision to take the next step. It was somehow finding the will to begin, knowing the journey I had in front of me. I'm not sure what broke then, but I thought of Pierre and what he had said so calmly, and in that instant I was the person he was referring to. I simply saw myself making it. I finished my lunch, and I put my boots back on deliberately, and I loaded up, and I started off.
The trail was still as difficult, and although the rain had stopped, it was still wet and slippery. But I didn't falter. I was going to do this. The "escape plan" had evaporated and I was replotting camps and hikes in my mind order to make up time. My feet were still numb, but they carefully and deliberately put themselves one in front of the other for the next five miles until I reached the shelter just before sundown. Pierre was there cooking his dinner and he smiled and greeted me calmly as if he'd been expecting me. My trip changed that day as did my life. I learned that the way to conquer the seemingly insurmountable is not through strength, but through will, the courage to take the first step. That insurmountability is an illusion; a function only of your perspective. I learned where will comes from, from deep inside, motivated by self. The external does not motivate it, it must spark itself. And I learned what that spark feels like and what it takes to light it.
But that was not the only lesson I was to learn on this trip.
I continued on, the next three days, with daunting hikes each day. The first 60 miles of The Wilderness crosses 2 ranges of mountains. After that it spends 40 miles in the lowlands until coming upon Katahdin and the end of the AT. I spent the next 3 days finishing those first 60 miles. I gutted out each day. I saw many hikers during that time as well, and was moderately cordial to them. I was focused on the goal, and I was determined, and I had a schedule to keep. I took pictures during the first part of the trip but I can't say that I remember appreciating the scenery much. Even now that I had committed to Katahdin, I wasn't focused on it as much as the trail and my goals. The final peak in this segment was Whitecap mountain and as I crested it's summit, I was proud and happy. I could see Katahdin in the distance from the peak and I even though the path between here and there seemed incredibly long I knew that I would make it, one step at at time. I took a few pictures and descended to the next shelter at the base of Whitecap to camp for the night.
I grabbed a spot in the shelter, and began unpacking my pack to make dinner and go to sleep. Several other hikers had already picked out their spots in the shelter and were doing the same. I heard a noise from the trail and looked up to see two women arriving from the trail headed in the opposite direction as I was. I was a bit amazed when I saw them, as one of them looked to be in her mid 60's and the other was more frail and seemed to be more like 70. They were walking slowly and chatting happily together. They came up to the shelter and stopped and said hi to every hiker in the shelter, asking their name and where they were from. Through those various conversations I pieced together their story.
Aurelia Kennedy and Kakii Haudley were two retirees and best friends from North Carolina. They'd come from Katahdin!! I couldn't believe it. I then figured they'd be jumping off at the same mid-point I was planning on or that they were taking 3 weeks. No, they were doing the entire 100 Mile Wilderness in the same 10 days I planned! They backpacked regularly, and had the lightest equipment, in order to keep their packs under 25 lbs. In the spirit of thru-hikers they'd taken the handle of "The Carolina Blue Belles". They were friendly and bubbly, and infectious. After a while Aurelia unpacked her stove and began heating water for a late afternoon snack, while Kakii began scouting out a spot to pitch their tent. She decided on a spot next to the nearby brook after calling back and commenting to Aurelia how lovely the spot looked and how she loved to sleep next to a babbling brook.
Their snack consisted of tea and reconstituted vegetables that Kakii had grown in her own garden and then dried for the trip. And they talked to each other and the other hikers, asking each about their travels. I asked them about the trail they'd just come on from Katahdin, and they went one about how lovely it was, and how their climb of Katahdin had been gorgeous and such a sunny day. They spoke about the lakes and rivers they'd seen and the various thru-hikers they'd met, some of which I'd also met earlier in my hike. I asked how they got along on the trail and they said it was fine. They packed light, started early each day, walked at a leisurely pace and made good time as a result.
By this time I'd finished my dinner, and the sun was setting. I'd laid out my sleeping bag, and was talking to them tucked in my bag while they finished fixing their own dinner. I was amazed by these women. They were on a different kind of trip that I was. Not different in content for that was identical, but worlds apart in perspective. They had the same goals, the same "one foot in front of the other" perspective, for at their age they had to. But they were happy! They were living in this moment, soaking everything up, and appreciating every little thing they could. And they were infectious. They seemed to genuinely care about the other people they met, and take interest in their stories, enriching their own travels through their interaction with others. I on the other had, though having conquered my fear and set my sights on the goal, was "gutting" it out, stoic, focused.
Aurelia then spotted a book under my sleeping bag, and asked what I was reading. I pulled it out and showed it to her. It was a book of poems by Robert Frost. I'd brought it with me from Michigan somehow thinking that my favorite poet at the time and the Maine woods would go together. Truth was, I had been too preoccupied and too exhausted to enjoy it, even though I dutifully pulled it out and tried every night. Upon seeing it Aurelia gasped and asked if I wouldn't please regale them with a reading of some poetry. She asked so sweetly, and in that wonderful genteel Southern lilt found in the Southeastern coastal states, that I couldn't refuse. They had infected me by that time and I was having the first good night of my trip, one not focused on sleep and pain, and planning out the next day's trip. So I read to them. They each had a favorite and I found it for them and when I asked them to read they said no, they wanted me to do it, and so I did. "The Road Not Taken..," "My November Guest," "Fire and Ice," "Stopping by Woods," "Mending Wall" and on. At the end of each one, they would say "Oh, how lovely," and ask me what I thought of it, and talk of which images they liked the best and recall some memory from their own lives that was similar. And we talked like that for an hour or more. I made hot chocolate, and they had tea, and it was wonderful. Then they packed up their gear and thanked me ever so graciously for reading to them and headed off to their tent.
I sat and read Frost for another hour by the light of my headlamp and I loved it. I took in every poem I read and paused and considered it as they had, and the words seeped into my exhausted body until it finally reminded me that I needed sleep too. They awoke in the morning and made breakfast by their tent and broke camp. Before they left, they came over to the shelter where I was also packing up to head out. They thanked me again for the evening of poetry, and wished me well on my travel and ascent of Katahdin. Then Aurelia asked if I wouldn't like to read them one more poem before they left. They thought it would be a wonderful way to start the day. They asked if I had a favorite and I said I did, and they asked me to read it, and I did. They paused when I finished and said, "Oh my, that is a beautiful poem." And they thanked me again and I hugged them, and then they started off.
When I finally donned my pack that day it felt lighter, and I knew that the reason was not that it was lighter than the day before. My back still ached, and my legs did too, but not as much it seemed. That day, I was in the moment too, and it was as if I was floating over the terrain I was so light. And instead of looking down at the trail in front of me, I looked up, and I finally saw the forest and the beautiful colors, the streams, and the ponds and lakes with moose grazing in them. The air was clear and sunny and fresh and I felt alive. It had all been burned away, all the inessentials and I was here, with myself, for myself. It was not about the goal now. I was the goal. And Katahdin was merely a means of expressing myself. It was not that I seemed insignificant to the world. It was that I was more significant than anything. The world seemed smaller and I seemed larger, and everything was calm and effortless.
I walked 20 miles that day, if you can believe it. I scarce can. I hit my planned campsite at the 13 mile mark by 2 in the afternoon, and decided to press on another 7 miles to the next. The world was in technicolor, and I took it in, and I talked to everyone I met, and asked them at least one question about themselves, and I smiled when I left each of them and wished them well.
Another 4 days to Katahdin, and there were some rough patches, but I carried those lessons with me, and the trials never seemed quite so hard as a result. I climbed Katahdin on October 1st, along with several thru-hiker friends I'd met in the last 4 days, and even witnessed a wedding of two thru-hikers at the summit. I was elated at the summit and so was everyone else. It was a wonderful feeling, pure and rich and floating.
I have a difficult verbalizing how that trip changed my life. I'm certainly not in those perfect states all the time, but much more of the time now. When I came back I had this sort of calmness as someone coming back from war, who sees the trials of everyday life and realizes that they are insignificant compared to the past experience, and who handles themselves calmly and matter of factly. I look back among the posts I've written in the last few months and realize that these two lessons, the lessons of will and savoring the moment litter everything I've written about. For me they are two of the pillars of egoism, and I would see those characteristics purely expressed in the heroes of The Fountainhead, which I was to begin reading shortly after returning home. One cannot coexist one without the other, for it is value and purpose that give life it's meaning, that allow one to sit back and savor the accomplishment. Without value savoring is simply idleness, and without the savoring value is simply stoicism. Together they are pure joy.
At the link, Ilya Somin discusses an Indiana Jones-esque government repository of gifts from foreign governments to U.S. officials, who are not allowed to keep them by law. He quotes a story from the Washington Post that indicates that foreign governments almost certainly know that the nominal recipients are barred from keeping the gifts.
Somin then sensibly recommends auctioning the items off -- but in an update, he caves in when some of his commenters plead that doing so would "offend foreign governments."
Still, it's possible that the gifts should only be auctioned off some years after they are given, by which time foreign officials are less likely to keep track of them. Alternatively, the gifts can be donated to charities that can then use the proceeds to help the poor; it would be difficult for foreign opinion to take offense at that. [bold added]
So we're supposed to treat with kid gloves a foreign government that ignored our laws (and possibly even attempted to bribe an official) and, when we act on knowledge that all parties have (that these expensive items are gathering dust), we are supposed to pretend that having these gifts do as much good as possible for the American people (the real sovereigns in this country, anyway) is somehow an ignoble enterprise.
I would feel safe betting that Somin, as a libertarian, sees no need to consider making a moral case for capitalism, and yet here he is making what he regards as an unassailable moral argument. Is this a cynical exercise in pragmatism or is he a committed altruist? In either case, he plainly sees defending freedom on moral grounds as less "practical," else he would advocate capitalism on moral grounds. Seeing that he posits altruism -- a type of morality -- as incontestable, indicates to me that he knows on some level that the purpose of our government, the protection of individual rights, is in some way incompatible with altruism.
This blindness to or evasion of the importance of grasping the proper moral principles underlying capitalism causes him not only to fold like a cheap lawn chair when his (good) gut reaction to this example of government waste came into question, but it causes him to miss a lesson our leaders have badly needed for some time.
Our leaders should auction off these gifts and, if questioned about it, proudly explain that these gifts properly belong to the American people, that they accepted these symbolic gifts as servants of their people, and that they auctioned them off as the best way to serve their people -- by becoming better able to protect their individual rights through the funds.
American leaders, at least before Barack Obama, did not bow to foreign dignitaries, and we had no trouble explaining (nor foreign governments accepting) that this was because we hold all men as equal. Why not also make the case that we regard all men as morally entitled to the pursuit of their own self-interest -- and our government obligated to protect them from coercion as they do so? Why not say something like, "I thank you for this generous gift on behalf of the American people whom I am sworn to protect," and auction it off for that purpose at some later date? If pressed on the sale later, thank the donor again for generously making more funds available for the protection of the American people.
I am sure that since his gift was really intended as an act of goodwill towards the sovereigns of this country, that the donor will take no offense.
I mourn the obsolescence of Item 6 (maps) and am holding out against GPS, even in Boston. Also I haven't taken to buying my music off the Internet yet, so Item 15 (CDs) bothers me slightly.
Our Blind Left-Wing Establishment
Commit vandalism as a one-time supporter of an unnamed Democrat and you're an "activist."
Oppose physician slavery as a Senator and not only are you in league with "[t]he birthers, the fanatics, the people running around in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups," but you're marching "in lockstep." (Never mind that the Democrats there had to march in lockstep to the tune of sixty votes.)
In the meantime, Hugo Chavez has announced that he will implement the supermarket version of Barack Obama's public "option" with nary a peep about how similar this is to what is being considered in the Senate.
The blind cannot hold power forever: Either those who can see take power from them or we all collapse into barbarity. We're living Atlas Shruggedhere in the United States, but they're getting ready to pick up We the Living and Anthem in Venezuela.
A Deep Fried List
This Southerner enjoys Item 12 (deep fried pickles) once in a blue moon, but he has his limits, and most of the items on this very amusing list fall beyond them.
Just a few off-the-cuff comments: (1) That pop-tart looks like a beignet. (2) Deep fried bacon? Why tamper with perfection? This strikes me as the culinary equivalent of gilding the lily. (3) Someone seems to have missed the lettuce and buns of the "deep fried" hamburger -- not that also frying those would sweeten the deal for me. (4) How do you deep fry coke?
Obama: Putting off Physician Slavery?
According to Hot Air, Barack Obama has suddenly decided to wait until February to attempt to take over the medical sector. That's the good news, such as it is, if it is. The bad news is that now he's going to focus on job creation, which the government is also inherently incapable of.
By from The Ayn Rand Institute Media Releases,cross-posted by MetaBlog
Shrugged” Now Available on Kindle!
Calif.--Ayn Rand’s classic novels “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” are
now available on Kindle through Amazon.com. The electronic books can be
purchased for $9.99, a discount from the suggested retail price of $16.00.
Rand’s novels as well as her nonfiction titles, such as “The Virtue of
Selfishness” and “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal,” can also be purchased in
various e-book formats such as Adobe Reader, Microsoft Reader and eReader in
addition to Kindle.
I'm an atheist, and I love Christmas. If you think that's a contradiction, think again.
Do you remember as a child composing wish lists of things you genuinely valued, thought you deserved, and knew would bring you pleasure? Do you remember eagerly awaiting the arrival of Christmas morning and the new bike, book, or chemistry set you were hoping for? That childhood feeling captures the spirit of Christmas and explains why so many of us look forward to the season each year.
That joyful spirit of Christmas, Ghate argues, is part and parcel of a commercial Christmas. It's nowhere to be found in a truly Christian Christmas.
As someone who felt rather overwhelmed this holiday season, I appreciated Ghate's explicit rejection of the all-too-common duty-based approach to Christmas toward the end of his essay:
It's not uncommon today to hear people say Christmas is their most stressful period. Pressed for time (and this year probably for money, too), they feel there are just too many lights to put up, meals to cook, and gifts to buy. Seeking something to blame, they blame the commercialism of the season. But there is no commandment, "Thou shall buy a present for everyone you know." This is the religious mentality of duty rearing its ugly head again. Do and buy only that which you can truly afford and enjoy; there are myriad ways to celebrate with loved ones without spending a cent.
Take some time to enjoy a mug of hot cocoa while staring at the pretty lights and decorations on your Christmas tree. Enjoy time with beloved family members and friends. Reflect on your accomplishments for the year. Look forward to 2010. Most of all, take a deep breath and enjoy your holidays in the most selfish way you can!
By firstname.lastname@example.org (Jason) from Erosophia,cross-posted by MetaBlog
[Today's words are from Etymonline.com and not Chambers, since Chambers didn't have these words listed]
Today's words are the technical names for "blow job" (fellatio) and "eating out" (cunnilingus).
Fellatio: 1887, from Latin fellatus, pp. of fellare "to suck," from PIE base *dhe- (see fecund). The sexual partner performing fellatio is a fellator; if female, a fellatrice or fellatrix.
Cunnilingus: 1887, from modern Latin cunnus "vulva" (see cunt) + lingere "to lick" . The Latin properly would mean "one who licks a vulva," but it is used in English in reference to the action, not the actor. The verb ought to be cunnilingue.
One thing I find interesting about the words we use for oral sex is that both of our current terms (blowjob and eat out) are very metaphorical in nature and very imprecise, whereas the latin is very literal and direct. Compare the term "blow job" (who wants someone just to blow on their penis?) with fellatio, which is literally to suck (which is what one is actually desiring). Or the term "eating out" (which is so purposefully ambiguous to be nonsensical) with cunnilingus, which is literally to lick the vulva (which is what one actually desires - or at least to lick the clit, but that the clit was distinct from the vulva may not have been entirely understood at the time).
I think these two Latin words are much better than the current words we employ and I try to use them in my writing, instead of the more confused words that are currently in vogue. Although, I'm not suggesting that you start using Latin in bed, but consider asking for an action directly (suck my penis) as opposed to asking for something that you don't actually want (blow on my penis).
I'm still taking suggestions for next week's edition of Sexual Etymology, on the list still are:
By email@example.com (Jason) from Erosophia,cross-posted by MetaBlog
Unequivocally, the greatest and most harmful result of the irrationality of religion is its hatred, absolute and unmitigated, of sex. There is nothing religion hates more than our human nature, especially our sexual nature.
Religion arises as an answer to fundamental psychological needs; among these needs are those for psychological continuity and an answer to death. However, it does so as a perversion. Instead of seeking real answers to these questions, it makes up the answers it wishes were true and then believes them to be true because it wishes them to be true (they call this epistemic perversion "faith"). The religious answer to our fear of death and attempt to understand it is this: death is an illusion, it's not real. The "real" you is a magical, eternal, thing we call the "soul" and this soul thing cannot die (immortality of soul), so therefore you cannot die either (identification of self with soul). Unfortunately for you, though, your magical soul thing is trapped in your body (mind/body dualism) and therefore it can't get to the magic realm of souls (heaven). However, you cannot just kill yourself! (Although it'd be reasonable if you actually believed this.) Because this would offend the maker of magical souls, who is himself a perfect uber-soul thing (god). The absurdity of it is apparent to everyone, except those blinded by faith - those who need it most.
Imagine that if you really believed that you were just your soul and that your body had trapped you here on Earth, you would justifiably hate your body and the needs it imposes on your soul. And we see that, indeed, this is the case. All religions that have a dualist doctrine hate the body and sexuality; perhaps more properly they feel it is shameful and therefore they hate it.
This hatred leads the religious to lash out at those who seem to be enjoying their bodies and so attacks them from the outside. Worse, though, is that the religious doctrine makes them ashamed of their enjoyment of their bodies and so shame and guilt attacks them from the inside. This dual attack on sexuality can be devastating to those who can't see past the illusions of religion.
In March of this year, a young girl named Jessica Logan killed herself in Cincinnati Ohio after she sent nude pictures of herself to a boy she liked, he spread them around the school, and then the students harassed her until she killed herself. I said then that morality has real consequences: people are motivated by the ideas they hold. In this case the religious ideals motivated the students to attack Jessica for enjoying her body and her shame over her enjoyment led her to kill herself.
Now, religion has killed again: this time in Florida. Her name was Hope Witsell and she was only 13 years old. She sent nude pictures of herself to a boy she liked and according to the story, a rival girl found them and sent them to other people and the pictures went viral around the school. Of course, since sex is shameful to christians, the students viciously attacked her and made her life miserable. Worse, her internal shame led her to start cutting herself. What was her parents response? To send her to a christian counselor. Of course, this only exacerbated the problem, since christianity was the problem to begin with, and she killed herself.
The paper notes that she was only 13 and that her parents "took her to church every Sunday." This is, of course, to assure us that she was a good christian girl (which was precisely the problem). Further, everyone acts surprised that a 13 year old could actually be sexual. This is patently absurd and only comes from the religious denial of sexuality and there refusal to want to think about it. Humans are naturally sexual beings and our bodies are sexual from the day we are born. In her case, it's likely that Hope was already in puberty and her body was sexually maturing. I'm sure her parents were incapable of seeing her as a sexual being and probably never gave her any advice about her burgeoning sexuality.
What is most heart wrenching to me is that Hope considered herself to be be completely at fault, according to one of her friends. At fault for what? For being human in a society tainted by religion. She was too young to be able to see past all of the religious lies and propaganda and just assert her right to her own life and sexuality.
And so, Hope Wisell is dead; killed by religion. For those who think ideas do not matter in life, look here! Here is an example of ideas mattering!
Although I'd like to think that things will start to get better, I know they will only get worse because of this. In order to "help stop it from happening again," legislatures and prosecutors will step up cases against the practice of sexting and start trying these kids for possessing nudes pictures of children. They will prosecute children for possessing pictures of other children, who took them consensually, and register them as "sex offenders." Especially the poor young girls who actually take the pictures of themselves: these girls are not only distributing felonious images, but creating them! This, of course, will cause more girls to kill themselves instead of facing a court for their "crime." All reason has gone out of the law on this. Thankfully the ACLU is starting to defend some of these cases, but they won't be able to stem the tide of it until people stop thinking of children as asexual and start recognizing that they are sexual beings too.
We cannot hope to have reason in our culture until we can rid it of faith.
A number of recent incidents suggest that our long-standing commitment to the free exchange of ideas is in peril of falling victim to a spreading fear of violence. Not only have exhibitions been closed and performances cancelled in response to real threats, but the mere possibility that someone, somewhere, might respond with violence has been advanced to justify suppressing words and images, as in the recent decision of Yale University to remove all images of Muhammad from Jytte Klausen's book, The Cartoons that Shook the World.
Violence against those who create and disseminate controversial words and images is a staple of human history. But in the recent past, at least in Western liberal democracies, commitment to free speech has usually trumped fears of violence. Indeed, as late as 1989, Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses continued to be published, sold, and read in the face of a fatwa against its author and in the face of the murder and attempted murder of its translators and publishers. In 1998, the Manhattan Theater Club received threats protesting the production of Terrence McNally's play Corpus Christi, on the ground that it was offensive to Catholics. After initially canceling the play, MTC reversed its decision in response to widespread concerns about free speech, and the play was performed without incident.
There are signs, however, that the commitment to free speech has become eroded by fears of violence. Historical events, especially the attacks of September 2001 and subsequent bombings in Madrid and London, have contributed to this process by bringing terrorist violence to the heart of liberal democracies. Other events, like the 2004 murder of Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh in apparent protest against his film Submission, and the threats against Hirsi Ali, who wrote the script and provided the voice-over for the film, demonstrated how vulnerable artists and intellectuals can be just for voicing controversial ideas. Under such threats, the resolve to uphold freedom of speech has proved to be lamentably weak: in the same year as Van Gogh's murder, Behzti, a play written by a British Sikh playwright, was cancelled days after violence erupted among protesters in Birmingham, England on opening night.
In response to rising concerns about fear-induced self-censorship, in 2005 the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published an article, "The Face of Muhammad," which included twelve cartoon images. The cartoons became the focus of a series of violent political rallies in the Middle East in February 2006 and a subject of worldwide debate pitching free speech against "cultural sensitivity."
For all the prominence of Islam in such debates, threats of violence against words and images are not the sole province of religious extremists. In 2005, a politically controversial professor's scheduled speech at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY was cancelled in response to alleged threats of violence. In 2008, the San Francisco Art Institute closed a controversial video exhibition in response to threats of violence against faculty members by animal rights activists. Later that year, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln canceled a speech by former Weatherman and education theorist William Ayers, citing security concerns.
The possibility of giving offense and provoking violence has entered the imagination of curators, publishers and the public at large, generating more and more incidents of preemptive self-censorship: in 2006, for instance, London's Whitechapel Gallery declared twelve works by Surrealist master Hans Bellmer too dangerous to exhibit because of fears that the sexual overtones would be offensive to the large Muslim population in the area; and publisher Random House canceled the 2008 publication of Sherry Jones' The Jewel of Medina because "it could incite acts of violence." The suppression of images in Jytte Klausen's book is the latest, but not likely to be the last in the series of such incidents.
Words and images exist in complex socio-political contexts. Suppressing controversial expression cannot erase the underlying social tensions that create the conditions for violence to begin with, but it does create a climate that chills and eventually corrupts the fundamental values of liberal democracy.
A Call to Action
The incident at Yale provides an opportunity to re-examine our commitment to free expression. When an academic institution of such standing asserts the need to suppress scholarly work because of a theoretical possibility of violence somewhere in the world, it grants legitimacy to censorship and casts serious doubt on their, and our, commitment to freedom of expression in general, and academic freedom in particular.
The failure to stand up for free expression emboldens those who would attack and undermine it. It is time for colleges and universities in particular to exercise moral and intellectual leadership. It is incumbent on those responsible for the education of the next generation of leaders to stand up for certain basic principles: that the free exchange of ideas is essential to liberal democracy; that each person is entitled to hold and express his or her own views without fear of bodily harm; and that the suppression of ideas is a form of repression used by authoritarian regimes around the world to control and dehumanize their citizens and squelch opposition.
To paraphrase Ben Franklin, those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, will get neither liberty nor safety.
Although I haven't read the book yet, I heartily endorse it based on their statement of principle and what I know of Gary Hull.
----------- Since the FTC's draconian rules have gone into effect, you should be aware that if you click the Amazon link and buy the book, I will get some small amount of money.
By firstname.lastname@example.org (Jason) from Erosophia,cross-posted by MetaBlog
The Telegraph (UK) is reporting on a new study done with mice that could alter the way we think about the fixedness of our sex and our idea of sexual development.
The idea used to be that babies were of an undifferentiated sex until chromosomal activity caused the developing baby to head towards being male or female. Then, we found out that all early developing babies are female and that they only become male when the Y chromosome activates and causes the baby to start developing male characteristics. The baby then develops and is either a boy or a girl for the rest of it's life.
The new research, however, suggests that our static conception of sex is perhaps mistaken. Using gene manipulation in mice, they were able to cause a mature female mouse to lose her ovaries and develop testicles. This implies that sex is not static and has to be maintained by the body throughout the life of the organism.
This completely upsets the way that we currently think about our sex and it will be interesting to see where this research leads.
By email@example.com (Jason) from Erosophia,cross-posted by MetaBlog
In “On Pegging”I wanted to examine the activity of pegging by itself. Consequently, I said that: “The point of pegging, then, is to stimulate a man’s prostate in order to give him intense orgasms.” I did this in order to provide an analysis of pegging stripped of the commonly attendant “gender play” that frequently goes with it and show that there is no necessary connection between pegging and gender play. On this point, I think I succeeded. Now, however, I want to reintroduce gender play into the discussion and analysis of pegging. It is certainly true that pegging can provide a great avenue for gender play and some people only do it for this reason.
Pegging Qua Gender Play
The primary difference between pegging itself, as we discussed in the last essay, and pegging as gender play, is how the partners handle it. That is, a couple could choose to engage in pegging in a way that challenges gender conceptions and roles, or not. This can be done from the way the partners approach each other, from the way they talk to each other, or just their beliefs about the nature of pegging itself (if they think that pegging is necessarily about role reversal). For example, if the female partner uses the words and phrases that are usually used to describe her in a sexual situation on her partner, this will challenge the gender roles: if her partner frequently tells her to “take my cock” and she uses the same phrase on him, then this will challenge both their genders in their minds as they are used to having that phrase be something that is said by a male to a female and now this is being inverted. Gender play can be very important in our sexual development as it helps us to understand not only masculinity and femininity, but also our own sexual desires and pleasure.
There are two primary kinds of gender play. The first is role reversal, where one accepts the boundaries of one’s own sexual essence, while still wanting to experience some aspect of the other sexual essence. Consequently, one assumes the role of the other sexual essence in order to fulfill one’s desires. The second is challenging the boundaries of the sexual essences. This means that one desires some aspect of what he currently considers in the province of the other sexual essence, but instead of reversing roles in order to satisfy his desire, he challenges his current conception of his gender role and attempts to expand it to include the aspect that he desires.
In pegging, the penetrative partner is necessarily inverted: the female partner is penetrating the male partner with a strap-on. However, this does not mean that there is role reversal taking place, unless one’s conception of masculinity and femininity are rigidly and restrictively defined. If one thinks that enjoyment of anal stimulation is outside the boundary of masculinity and is entirely in the province of the feminine, then a man enjoying anal stimulation is engaging in a feminine activity: they have reversed roles. However, this is dependent on how you define the boundaries of masculinity and femininity. Most people’s conceptions of their sexual essences are very culturally influenced. Realistically, most people have never thought about what it means to be masculine or feminine and to the extent they can even articulate their thoughts on the matter, they will adhere to the traditional conception of their culture as this is all they know of the sexual essences.
This failure to form independent conceptions of the sexual essences, leads one to have restrictive and rigid conceptions of the boundaries of the sexual essences. In fact, because one has never thought about the boundaries of the sexual essences, one cannot challenge these boundaries. Consequently, if one wants to experience a particular activity or manner of behavior that one considers to be of the other sexual essence, one has no option but to assume the other essence in order to experience the thing that one wants. If, for example, a woman thinks that only men can be sexually aggressive and, yet, she desires to be sexually aggressive, then she will have to assume a male sexual essence in order to be sexually aggressive. Since her conception of the sexual essences is rigid, restrictive, and unarticulated, she has no choice but to engage in role reversal in order to have the experience she desires. To the extent to which she fails to think about the nature of femininity, is the extent to which she will feel trapped inside her conception of femininity and desire to reverse roles in order to experience more of her sexuality. Were she to consciously think about her conceptions of the sexual essences, then she could attempt to test the boundaries of it and challenge its restrictiveness.
On the other hand, some people gain a perverse pleasure from role reversal and do not want to challenge their rigid and restrictive conceptions of the sexual essences. For example, if you’re a man that’s convinced that men should never be penetrated, that only homosexual men could want to be penetrated, then you might want to act feminine in order to not “be gay.” This fear of being gay, or of having a “gay pleasure,” leads to you more strongly embrace the rigid categories in order to utilize acting feminine as a way around having to think about yourself as gay. After all, it’s perfectly within the realm of the feminine to be penetrated and as long as you are acting feminine, then you’re not gay. This line of reasoning is, of course, completely absurd. However, it is a logical consequence of a cultural conception of masculinity that completely excludes any sort of anal pleasure, branding it all as homosexual. The solution is obviously to challenge the prevailing ideas about what masculinity is and is not, but if your conception of this is inarticulate, then you will not be able to challenge it.
In order to test the boundaries of the sexual essences, one must first attempt to consciously understand the sexual essences: one must be able to articulate one’s conceptions of the sexual essences. Once one is able to articulate his conception of the sexual essences, then he will be able to identify the boundaries of the sexual essences. This step is crucial as until one can understand the boundaries of the sexual essences, one is trapped inside his conception of his sexual essence. This ability to articulate one’s conception of the sexual essences involves much introspection and thinking about not only what one thinks that the sexual essences are, but also about what one thinks that the sexual essences should be. This articulation of the sexual essences is the first step away from restrictive and rigid conceptions of the sexual essences. Until we can consciously examine our conceptions of the sexual essences, we cannot challenge them.
Testing the boundaries of the sexual essences is much like the case of role reversal, where one has a desire for an action or activity that one thinks is characteristic of the other sexual essence. However, instead of being locked in a rigid and restrictive conception of one’s sexual essence, one now has a conscious grasp on it and is able to examine it. This leads one to ask why certain actions or activities are only for one of the sexual essences and not for the other. Consequently, instead of reversing roles in order to fulfill one’s desires, one challenges the boundaries of one’s own sexual essences to see if they are able to include the thing that one desires. For example, if a man wants to be sexually passive in a sexual encounter and is unwilling or unable to challenge the boundaries of the sexual essences, then he will have to assume the feminine sexual essence and reverse roles. However, if he is able to challenge the boundaries of the sexual essences, then he can try being sexually passive while still retaining his masculinity. This could be done by finding a partner who enjoys being dominant or a partner who is willing to change roles with him and be sexually active sometimes and passive others. This means that he could still be masculine, that is experience himself as an embodied sexual man, while being passive in a sexual situation.
Once we begin the process of testing the boundaries of our sexual essences, we are better able to examine the boundaries of our own personal sexual desires. Whereas formerly we might have thought that a particular action or activity was closed off to us, or at least without assuming the other sexual essence through role reversal, we are now free to explore what we actually want through exploring the boundaries of our sexual essence.
In “On Pegging,” I noted that our cultural conception of masculinity is based on domination of the feminine, while our conception of femininity is based on submission to the masculine. Furthermore, I noted that it makes more sense to understand masculinity as rooted in the unique experience of being an embodied man in a sexual situation and to understand femininity as rooted in the unique experience of being an embodied woman in a sexual situation. In order to understand how these two different ideas of the sexual essences interact, we have to understand that our experience of our sexual essence is structured by our cultural conceptions of our sexual essences. These structures create boundaries for our sexual essences, based on the cultural conceptions. Thus, if we allow our personal conception of our sexual essence to be structured by the cultural conception of it, then we will find boundaries on our sexuality corresponding to the cultural conceptions. To be somewhat more concrete, if I allow my conception of my masculinity to be structured by the cultural conceptions, then I will not simply experience my masculinity as being an embodied male in a sexual context, but rather experience it as structured through the idea of domination, and bounded by the idea of appropriateness for domination.
Pegging, when used as a form of gender play, is great for helping us to challenge these boundaries in our conceptions of the nature of masculinity and femininity. A woman who does not engage in role reversal when she engages in pegging, necessarily challenges her conception of femininity as submission to the masculine, if she still maintains such a view, since the idea of submission and penetrating her male partner with a strap-on are completely incompatible. Now, one might think that a woman would not necessarily understand that this challenges her rigid conception of her femininity, but she would be unable not to understand this. We all, to the extent that we have thought about it, understand masculinity and femininity to be sexual concepts. It is impossible to think of a woman, who is engaging in pegging without engaging in role reversal, who understands that she is in a sexual situation, who is doing something that is blatantly contradictory to the cultural conception of her sexual essence, and to think that this would not challenge her idea of her femininity. The only way that it could not is if she were to purposefully evade all knowledge of what she is doing, but that does not seem possible to maintain: especially while one is doing it.
Obviously, the biggest challenge from pegging is to a man’s conception of his masculinity: it is difficult to combine the ideas of being anally penetrated by a woman with a strap-on with the idea of concurrently dominating her. As we noted earlier, the only way around this is to think that this means that the man is acting feminine (role reversal) or to challenge how he thinks of masculinity in order to accommodate anal pleasure. If he does not engage in role reversal, then he will experience pegging as a challenge to his masculinity, as long as he maintains the rigid and narrow conception of it. However, if he were to challenge his conception of his masculinity, then he will be able to accommodate anal pleasure into his conception of masculinity. It is simply impossible to try to combine the ideas of masculinity as domination and being anally penetrated together. The man who engages in pegging, without engaging in role reversal, will necessarily come to redefine his idea of masculinity.
Pegging as Perversion
Unfortunately, some men are so afraid of being considered gay, that they cannot accept the possibility of anal pleasure as part of masculinity. These men, as I noted earlier, cling to their rigid and narrow conceptions of the sexual essences, instead of trying to think about them openly or challenge them. Consequently, they take refuge in role reversal for psychologically unhealthy reasons: to escape from the contradiction between their desire for pegging and their conception of masculinity as domination and to escape their responsibility to think about it. They shield themselves in role reversal in order to enjoy anal pleasures without the fear of being gay.
However, this is even more inane than it appears prima facie. The strongest and most cogent denouncements of homosexuality come from arguments about the nature of masculinity and femininity and how homosexuality is a perversion of one’s natural sexual essence. This is obviously based on the idea that the natural ordering is between the masculine and the feminine, since the nature of the masculine is to dominate the feminine and the nature of the feminine is to submit to the masculine. So, the denouncement is contingent upon the conception of the sexual essences that would be challenged by openly thinking about the sexual essences. Thus, the more he hides in role reversal from his fear of homosexuality, the more he is bound into the conception of the sexual essences that creates his fear in the first place! There is, in fact, nothing unnatural about homosexuality and this is obvious once we abandon the impoverished conceptions of the sexual essences that are so culturally prominent.
However, while pegging used for role reversal is perverse if one is using it to evade the responsibility of thought, pegging as role reversal is not necessarily perverse. If a man wanted to assume the role of the woman, or a woman wanted to assume the role of the man, so that they could experience a little of what it was like to be the other sex in order to better understand their partner, or even the other sex in general, this would be legitimate. The perversity of using pegging as role reversal comes from trying to escape the responsibility of thought and from this being a denial of reality. In cases where pegging as role reversal do not involve evasion, they are not perverse.
Stages of Gender Play
From the way I have presented pegging as a form of gender play, it may seem that I am advocating the position that pegging as gender play goes through a definite series of discrete steps as a person begins pegging and gradually changes how they think about the sexual essences. To some extent I am putting forth this position, however I am not strictly advocating that this process is necessary. Indeed, a person may have been very conscientious and have introspected carefully throughout his life so that he never held an inarticulate view of the sexual essences. This person will obviously not proceed through the process, as he will never be at step one (he might have progressed to a proper conception of the sexual essences before he ever tried pegging).
In general, though, I do think that this is the way that most people will progress through their conception of their sexual essence as they utilize pegging as a form of gender play. They begin with an inarticulate conception of the nature of the sexual essences and they are slowly forced to consider the nature of these as they being pegging. The only exception to this, as I noted earlier, is the perverse case of pegging that is born of the fear of homosexuality.
So, as we have seen, pegging is not just about prostate pleasure for men. While pegging as a form of gender play can be perverse, it can also help us to come to understand ourselves and our sexuality better. Through pegging, people can challenge their inarticulate ideas about the sexual essences and come to have clearer conceptions of these that are devoid of metaphysically dubious baggage. Pegging can help us to understand our sexuality at the most basic of levels and help us to realize our sexual desires authentically.
By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog
I am glad to see a widely-read columnist like Thomas Sowell making the points he does about the the global warming debate without reading too much into what the ClimateGate revelations might specifically mean to the scientific arguments over whether the climate is warming and, if so, whether human activity might be the cause. This is precisely the right angle in discussing the "hysteria" (i.e., the push for global coercion), which is distinct from the actual scientific question being used to confuse or preempt debate by the general public.
"Global warming" hysteria is only the latest in this long line of notions, whose main argument is that there is no argument, because it is "science." ...
Factual data are crucial in real science. Einstein himself urged that his own theory of relativity not be accepted until it could be empirically verified. This verification came when scientists around the world observed an eclipse of the sun and discovered that light behaved as Einstein's theory said it would behave, however implausible that might have seemed beforehand.
Today, politicized "science" has too big a stake in the global warming hysteria to let the facts speak for themselves and let the chips fall where they may. ...
People who talk about the corrupting influence of money seem to automatically assume that it is only private money that is corrupting. But, when governments have billions of dollars invested in the global warming crusade, massive programs underway and whole political careers at risk if that crusade gets undermined, do not expect the disinterested search for truth.
Among the intelligentsia, there have always been many who are ready to jump on virtually any bandwagon that will take them to the promised land, where the wise and noble few-- like themselves-- can take the rest of us poor dummies in hand and tell us how we had better change the way we live our lives.
I would have liked to see Sowell standing up for private funding of science, as well as a sentence or two to the effect that government control of the economy is immoral. (The latter is precisely how the leftist intelligentsia intend to take us dummies into the promised land: by force.) Nevertheless, Sowell has succeeded in bringing up several crucial points: that high-pressure salesmanship by a scientist is a red flag, that government money does not somehow ritualistically purify those on whom it falls, and that scientists should not be treated as if they are our philosopher-kings.
...Many climate-change deniers and even some who accept global warming as a fact, like the authors of Superfreakonomics, have attacked what they call the "religion of climate change." Al Gore is often singled out for raising the discourse on the issue to a supernatural level, thus taking it out of the realm of human questioning.
Though Gore's books, speeches, and Oscar-winning film on the issue are chock full of secular scientific information, they are also laced with biblical references. And Gore himself has said that climate change is "ultimately a moral and spiritual issue."
Gore recently told Newsweek that since the publication of An Inconvenient Truth, he has trained Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu clergy to spread his message.
He admitted that he uses a version of the "Inconvenient Truth" slide show that is "filled with scriptural references." Moreover, "It's probably my favorite version, but I don't use it very often because it can come off as proselytizing."
Asked how he reconciles that realization with the wonkish content of the book, Gore at first seems stymied. But then, when I prompt him, he points to pages on the spiritual dimension of climate change, the idea that God gave man stewardship over the earth, and that preserving it for future generations is a sacred obligation. Then he opens his laptop to show a commercial by his Alliance for Climate Protection, in which the Revs. Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson make an odd-couple plea for "taking care of the planet."
Gore allows that he's been tailoring the slide-show training he gives to faith-based volunteer groups. "I've done a Christian [-based] training program; I have a Muslim training program and a Jewish training program coming up, also a Hindu program coming up. I trained 200 Christian ministers and lay leaders here in Nashville in a version of the slide show that is filled with scriptural references. It's probably my favorite version, but I don't use it very often because it can come off as proselytizing."
In the Newsweek interview, Gore cites reason and the Enlightenment (!) as two of his major influences:
So, if efficiency is so great and saves so much money (leave aside the CO2 part), I ask, why don't businesses do it? "You know, I was raised in an Enlightenment-influenced family," Gore says. "Both my parents were such believers in the preeminence of reason, and I still believe all that."
Al Gore is as much a defender of the Enlightment as President Obama is a defender of capitalism.
The essence of a dictator's method is not to write harsh laws and enforce them rigidly. The world's most destructive thugs have wanted something different. They have wanted to impose their wills on a compliant populace using arbitrary power -- power not limited by laws or constitution, but power that was open-ended, ill-defined, and could be expanded based on the whims of the moment.
Well-written laws are the enemy of the dictator. As philosopher Ayn Rand put it, "When men are united by ideas, i.e., by explicit principles, there is no room for favors, whims, or arbitrary power: the principles serve as an objective criterion for determining actions and for judging men, whether leaders or members." Laws, properly formulated, are based on principles, and serve to translate those principles into firm criteria for judging particular cases. What a dictator wants is to be free of such principles and to use his power as he wishes.
Professor Lewis then proceeds to show how the current ObamaCare health bill gives an unprecedented degree of arbitrary power to bureaucrats to determine what sort of health insurance you may buy and what sort of health care you may receive.
If you are an employer, you will not escape punishment if a bureaucrat decides that your health plan is not "acceptable" and that you must be fined for your failure to meet his decision. If you are an individual who does not want to purchase full-coverage health insurance, but would rather buy catastrophic insurance that covers hospitalization only, your decision will not be "acceptable" and you may face a government audit and a new tax.
Do you have a serious disease? Does your doctor wish to readmit you to the hospital? A bureaucrat will decide whether or not you get treatment, based on a statistical analysis of the number of such readmissions by the bureaucrats: "excess readmissions shall not include readmissions for an applicable condition for which there are fewer than a minimum number (as determined by the secretary) of discharges for such applicable condition for the applicable period and such hospital" (Sec. 1151).
Delivering his festive lesson, Father [Tim] Jones told the congregation: 'My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift. I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.
'I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.
'I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need.'
Color me unsurprised, but hardly jaded. It is an outrage that someone to whom others look for moral guidance could condone theft under any circumstance. Father Jones is as morally bankrupt as they come.
What is perhaps less apparent, but no less remarkable is the declaration of spiritual bankruptcy also evident in his sermon. Consider the notion that theft from a big corporation is somehow better than theft from a mom-and-pop store. Is a shareholder or a customer of such a corporation any less violated simply because the impact of such a theft might seem to be proportionally less, or because it is impossible to say precisely who suffers from such crime? Of course not.
Indeed, big corporations, due to their size, are often among our greatest benefactors as measured by their ability to bring large numbers of paying customers excellent value. Should their owners, invisible or not, have a pack of shoplifters as their reward? According to Father Jones, they should.
It is common today for people to regard theft from big, "faceless" corporations as somehow not really stealing. Many such people do not think in abstractions well enough to see that they are, in fact, violating fellow human beings when they do, or the abstraction of a corporation makes it easier for them to evade the fact that they are stealing. Father Jones quite obviously doesn't see the owners or customers of large corporations as human beings. He furthermore doesn't see the "haves" as having rights.
The inexorable logic of Father Jones's altruism thus blinds him to achievers as human beings. If you are able, particularly is you are "big" (i.e., successful), you are fair game to legions of people down on their luck. Perhaps, if you're driven out of business as a result, he'll spare you some sympathy and tell you whose pocket you can pick.
It says something about a man -- something not good -- when what it takes to get his notice is your misery.
I cannot recall exactly where I read it, but I have encountered the idea more than once that great historical atrocities against one group or the other were often preceded by depersonalization, by people in a society coming to regard such a group as less-than-human, and thus not worthy of moral consideration or political protection.
Altruism has long goaded people into persecuting businessmen, usually through government regulations and the like. Not that persecuting businessmen through a government intermediary is any less immoral, but this telling people individually to do so is a new low. Whatever debt the idea of individualism might have to Christianity, the ethics of that religion is plainly at odds with it.
We are, it seems, permitted by its light to be wretched, stunted versions of what we potentially could become.
Congress' plan to cut the deficit by raising the debt limit now, then reducing spending later, is like trying to lose weight by eating a box of chocolate chip cookies now, then promising to exercise next week.
Paul Hsieh, Sedalia
(The Denver Post has a dedicated LTE section called "To The Point" for short LTEs. This one came in at 37 words.)
Critiquing Philly Kendall's Deep Thoughts on Relationships
By firstname.lastname@example.org (Dan Edge) from The Edge of Reason,cross-posted by MetaBlog
On my last trip to New York City, I had the pleasure of meeting fellow blogger Kendall J for lunch as I was passing through Philadelphia. Kendall and I used to kick around ideas quite a bit over at Objectivism Online Forum, and I’ve been a fan of his blog for several years. I was very much looking forward to meeting him, and he did not disappoint. The greater part of our enjoyable lunch was consumed by a discussion of an upcoming post he was planning on relationships. He wrote that very interesting post soon thereafter, and I’m finally getting around to responding to it, as promised.
Kendall’s post, titled How I’ve Changed – Part 1, Personal Relationships, reads at first like a public journal entry. He takes a bird’s eye view of how his perspective on relationships has changed over the years, and attempts to analyze the data of his experiences. The best summary of Kendall’s conclusions can be found at the end of the post, in his effort to “operationalize the principles” he’s learned about relationships. Here are his shorthand “operationlized principles”:
1. Find people of the highest character you can. 2. Know why you like them. 3. Seek to understand them. 4. Act to express your admiration, respect, and love.
This essentialized advice is accurate and powerful in more ways than Kendall covers in his post. I want to focus on one of Kendall’s points that particularly hits home with me: that a great relationship, whether a friendship or romance, is a value that one must act to gain and sustain. (I found it very cool that Kendall and I raised this same point in different contexts in two different articles that were posted around the same time.)
Kendall’s operationalized principles are in fact principles of action. To put Kendall’s principles into my own words: 1) People of high character do not just appear in your life – you must seek them out. 2) For those individuals with whom you already have an emotional connection, work to understand the nature and cause of that emotional connection. 3) Continually evaluate your relationships to more fully understand the nature of the values you have gained. 4) Using this greater understanding of your relationships, creatively express the admiration and love that naturally grows from a properly valued friend/lover.
Not only are these principles of action true, they are interrelated and reciprocal. In order to find people of high character, it is necessary actively to evaluate new people that you meet. When meeting new people, one evaluates both the potential value of the new person (are they of high moral character?), and he evaluates his own psychology (what aspects of this new person are my emotions responding to, and why?). If one actively and continually evaluates his relationships, then he will find many attributes of his friend/lover that are worthy of praise and admiration, which he then can express in a variety of ways. Expressing praise to a friend/lover concretizes that person’s value in your life, which can further cement your emotional connection to another. The relationship grows stronger, both emotionally and in terms of explicitly shared values. All this takes work! And that is exactly Kendall’s point. I very much agree.
On an entirely different note, I’d like to issue a challenge to Kendall for any follow-up to his article: to concretize his operational principle regarding chemistry. (I preliminarily define good chemistry as “the existence of complimentary differences and complementary similarities in optional value judgments between two people, and the positive emotional response generated from these factors.”) In his article, Kendall argues that, “Where chemistry is concerned, it’s ok to seek more optional factors, but seek out those that ultimately stem from character…” I challenge Kendall to explain, by means of examples, what exactly it means for an optional factor to “ultimately stem from character?” It’s not that I disagree with Kendall on this point, in fact I generally agree with him. But this issue remains the biggest gap in his article.
Kendall is writing here about optional value judgments -- individual choices regarding career, hobbies, humor, artistic tastes, etc. He uses the example of meeting a woman who loves the Philadelphia Phillies. Assuming that one is also a huge Phillies fan, how much weight ought that shared optional value have in evaluating the potential of a relationship? I’m assuming that Kendall uses the Phillies fan as an example of an optional attribute that does not “ultimately stem from character.” But why, Kendall? Why is being a Phillies fan not an expression of philosophical values? And what would qualify as an attribute stemming from character? Being an avid chess player? Loving Bach over Beethoven? Choosing a career as a chef over a career as a painter?
In my view, any legitimate optional value judgment ultimately stems from character. By definition, an optional value judgment is an individual choice one makes which is fully moral within a range. For instance, when choosing a career, one may ethically choose to be a banker, a chemist, a teacher, etc., but not a bank-robber, terrorist bomb maker, or televangelist. This includes one’s choice of hobbies, favorite baseball team, taste in jokes, etc. Morally optional choices that individuate elements of one’s character have value by virtue of the fact that they make one unique. (I argue this point more extensively in Part II of my essay The Psycho-epistemology of Sexuality).
For this reason, I would place a higher emphasis on the importance of chemistry. Kendall and I agree on the importance of finding individuals of high moral character, but I don’t think that this diminishes the importance of having good chemistry with people in one’s life, especially with lovers.
Kendall and I hit it off from the beginning when we met in Philly. Honestly, I expected him to be a little dorkier based on his online writing. But in person, Kendall is actually a very cool dude. I mean: he’s not only cool, he’s a dude. He’s friendly, funny, and intelligent, but it wasn’t foregone conclusion that I could quickly wrestle him to the ground using only my left hand (a very positive characteristic in male friends and Spanish swordsmen). I look forward to Kendall’s next post in this series, and I hope to meet him again the next time I travel to Yankee-ville.
By from The Ayn Rand Institute Media Releases,cross-posted by MetaBlog
“Voices for Reason” Now on Kindle
December 18, 2009
WASHINGTON--The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights is pleased to announce that its daily blog Voices for Reason is now available for download onto the Kindle reader. The blog delivery service can be purchased through Amazon.com for $1.99 per month.
From Amazon: “Kindle Blogs are auto-delivered wirelessly to your Kindle and updated throughout the day so you can stay current.
“It’s risk free--all Kindle Blog subscriptions start with a 14-day free trial. You can cancel at any time during the free trial period. If you enjoy your subscription, do nothing and it will automatically continue at the regular monthly price.”
On a daily basis, Voices for Reason analyzes and comments on current events from the perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of reason, individualism, and capitalism.
Ayn Rand’s classic novel “Atlas Shrugged” is also available for Kindle, along with 18 other Ayn Rand titles.
By email@example.com (Edward Cline) from The Rule of Reason,cross-posted by MetaBlog
If one ever wondered what it might have been like to be a well-read, rational, outspoken, and angry Roman before the barbarian hordes rode in to sack the city, perhaps living in the present would come closest to the trepidation.
Few of your countrymen assemble with you in the Temple of Minerva, goddess of wisdom, to discuss how best to throw back the approaching barbarians and to persuade an oblivious and indifferent Senate to stop its costly, spendthrift and foolish policy of bread and circuses for the populace. The Senate is deaf to wisdom, divided as it is into two camps: those who conduct pray-ins and make offerings to Jupiter, king of the gods, and who claim that Rome is in peril because the people have abandoned him and lost faith in him; and those who worship at the Temple of Ceres, goddess of the earth, whom they claim has told them that bountiful harvests can be had year-round by seeding the soil with confiscated salt. They assure themselves and an anxious populace that this way everyone can be fed and the barbarians bought off with endless cartloads of consumables.
America -- and by implication, Western civilization -- is the object of assault by three of its chief enemies, two of them alien to its shores, and one domestic: the Islamic jihad, European and international malice, and an administration and Congress determined to eradicate freedom. All three are bent on the conquest of this country. America is not to be hunted, caught and dismembered by anything as fierce as a lion or tiger -- or even by a barbarian. Rather, all three of its enemies resemble snarling jackals and hyenas vying for possession of the cadaver.
If an animal fable does not succeed in conjuring up an image of the scenario, imagine it in terms of Vlad the Impaler’s blood-drenched contest with the butchering Ottomans over who would rule the peasants.
In Copenhagen, the apparent enmity between prospective looters was such that they could not agree on how to “fairly” divide the carcass, even though the carcass’s representatives were there to surrender it. Instead of a binding “communiqué,” the conference produced a “note” or an “accord.” A Daily Telegraph article describes the degrading contest between the looters and the to-be-looted over drafts of the document:
There was one called "Outline." Then there was a version called "Copenhagen Accord" with major changes. Then another, with a note saying "Take 2" on it, then another with the same title. Some were handwritten.
Key demands of the environmentalists were off the table. Then they were back on again. And then finally, as the day, for some delegates, entered its 35th hour, there was what President Barack Obama's spokesman called a "meaningful deal".
The deal contained almost nothing that environmentalists had hoped for and did not even meet the modest goals that world leaders set themselves at the beginning of the fortnight. Before the summit started, they had already abandoned their original hope of a legally-binding treaty at Copenhagen.
In the end, the only substantial thing the looters got for their pains was a $100 billion commitment from the U.S. to help “developing” (read perpetually, never-to be-"developed" poor) nations control their greenhouse gas emissions, first announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and then by Obama, who had to leave the conference early because the winter in Copenhagen was so severe. Appropriately, he flew straight into a blizzard that ground Washington D.C. to a halt. Blame it on “global-warming” and the two-degree Celsius rise in temperatures. That is also the non-binding limit pledged by “developed” nations.
Liberal columnist Janet Daley in the Daily Telegraph “sort of “ gets Lord Christopher Monckton’s point about a Copenhagen climate treaty serving as the establishment of a world government (read United Nations) that trumps national sovereignty. She agrees that such a treaty requires the surrender of national sovereignty. But she won’t let go of the necessity to “do something” about “climate change,” so she wanders around in a fog of imponderables exuded by unexamined fallacies and premises, and wonders what’s next. She writes:
Except in the United States, where it became a very contentious talking point, the US still holding firmly to the 18th-century idea that power should lie with the will of the people.
The mere utterance of it was assumed to sweep away any consideration of what was once assumed to be the most basic principle of modern democracy: that elected national governments are responsible to their own people – that the right to govern derives from the consent of the electorate.
Of course. But consent is not in his lexicon. President Barack Obama doesn’t believe in the “will of the people,” but in the triumph of his own “will.” He will concede the “will of the people” only if it reflects a tolerance by the people for being indentured servants of the state to serve collectivist ends. Then it would be in concurrence with his own “will.”
This is also the policy adhered to by the Democrats in Congress. Never mind the will of the people, so massively demonstrated this year in Washington and in all the major cities: the people shall have government-mandated health insurance, whether or not they want it. Besides, constitutional scholars, such as Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, say that Congress can act to preserve and promote the “health” and “well-being” of Americans, because she and other delusional Congressional interpreters of the Constitution can read the invisible ink in the document. She is of the “elect,” and has that special sight not shared by the peasants.
Another major contributing problem is the idea of “democracy.” Some of the brightest critics of the American political system employ this term haphazardly and loosely. Democracy means: mob or majority rule. It is not synonymous with republic, which is what the Founders created to promote liberty and restrain government power. They recognized the principle of individual rights to life and property, to freedom of speech, and the right to defend those rights against violators foreign and domestic, with arms, if necessary.
The only principle recognized in mob rule is that there are no principles to uphold, defend or preserve. If the majority develops a dislike for “excessive incomes,” or smoking, or obesity or “global warming,” or whatever other bugbear some rabble-rousing fraudster or demagogue manages to work the people into a lather about, then the name of democracy is invoked and legislative action can be taken. Too often, however, the “majority” is fictive and represented by noisy, hired mobs or by big-budget lobbies on a campaign to punish the objects of their hatred in the name of humanitarianism.
Central and South American and African delegates to the Copenhagen conference, speaking as poor losers for their slave-driving dictator bosses, dismissed the whole affair and its non-binding "accord” as “undemocratic.”
On the anti-climatic climate conference, Daley notes that:
Nor was much consideration given to the logical conclusion of all this grandiose talk of global consensus as unquestionably desirable: if there was no popular choice about approving supranational "legally binding agreements", what would happen to dissenters who did not accept their premises (on climate change, for example) when there was no possibility of fleeing to another country in protest? Was this to be regarded as the emergence of world government? And would it have powers of policing and enforcement that would supersede the authority of elected national governments? In effect, this was the infamous "democratic deficit" of the European Union elevated on to a planetary scale. And if the EU model is anything to go by, then the agencies of global authority will involve vast tracts of power being handed to unelected officials. Forget the relatively petty irritations of Euro-bureaucracy: welcome to the era of Earth-bureaucracy, when there will be literally nowhere to run.
Nowhere to run -- except into the custody of the Green Gestapo.
The option of simply “going Galt” is looking more and more attractive as a means of withdrawing one’s consent. Either that, or a genuine revolt or revolution -- not just against a vulpine Congress and carnivorous international looters, but against the whole notion of “democracy” in the name of reason and individual rights.
It would be ironic, in contrast to the Southern states seceding from the Union in the name of a state’s right to countenance slavery, if America seceded from the United Nations and a world government in the name of freedom and in the cause of abolishing it. And saw removed from office every conniving, corrupt, oath-violating politician, and replaced them all with individuals who valued freedom and acted to defend and uphold life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.
In 2010, no matter what Congress and Obama do or fail to do to subject this nation to their “will,” Americans will be thronging again inside and outside the Temple of Minerva, as they did in 2009. They will be exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and to freedom of speech.
Nothing can stop them except the totalitarians in our midst and beyond our borders. Nothing can stop them except the initiation of force by our government, and the collectivists in the current administration are just itching to act. If armed goons and thugs break up these new “town halls” and arrest or punish their organizers, we can only hope that perhaps Americans will get the point better than did Janet Daley. Or Obama, or Harry Reid, or Nancy Pelosi.
By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog
My favorite televison show by far is NCIS, which I was delighted to see covered recently by The Wall Street Journal. The below quote nicely captures why I like the show, along with why I think its success confounds so many in the media establishment including, perhaps, reporter Amy Chozick:
"NCIS" is proof that even if the economics of the business are in upheaval, large swathes of the audience still want traditional storytelling, righteous heroes, and reality that's not offensively gritty.
CBS executives say the success of "NCIS," which stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service, rests in the show's levity. In between solving crimes related to the military, "NCIS" star Mark Harmon's Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs and his cohorts exchange witty guy banter and crack jokes, even as they stand over a dismembered corpse.
Yes. I'll take a show with a solid plot and actual moral conflict any day. But as for "reality that's not offensively gritty," I beg to differ, because reality isn't fundamentally gritty.
Commenting on the nature of art, Ayn Rand once said something quite profound that pertains to the offensive grittiness of most modern art. She was speaking of sculpture, but her comments apply equally well to television drama (and I include "'reality' TV" in the genre as naturalist drama):
[C]onsider two statues of man: one as a Greek god, the other as a deformed medieval monstrosity. Both are metaphysical estimates of man; both are projections of the artist's view of man's nature; both are concretized representations of the philosophy of their respective cultures. ("The Psycho-Epistemology of Art," in The Romantic Manifesto, 19.)
The "offensive grittiness" in many television shows isn't reality per se, but the artists' general impression of its essential malevolence. This negative assessment of reality in offensively gritty art both offends me and, because it contradicts mountains of evidence from my own learning and experience to the contrary, it also strikes me as foolishness. The "grittiness" of so many modern artists and entertainers is a pose calculated to distract one from the fundamental sort of ignorance that comes from failing to engage in (actual) reality and, which, in turn, leads to despair. Who needs a gritty-acting Chicken Little as an artist? I don't.
I agree with and prefer the benevolent assessment of reality offered by NCIS, with its engaging and sympathetic protagonists, its captivating stories, and its brand of light humor . Special Agent Jethro Gibbs is motivated by a strong sense of justice, and he leads a highly capable team in its pursuit. I enjoy and highly recommend the show.
For example, consider the views of Tyler Edgar, the assistant director for the environmental arm of the National Council of Churches:
Edgar, who also is traveling to Copenhagen, sees things differently [than the religious global warming skeptics]. Broadly speaking, America's religious communities have shed their long-standing suspicion of the environmental cause "as that hippie, tree-hugging thing," she says. In the past three years or so, many have rallied behind the belief that "we are all called upon to protect God's creation and God's people" by acting to stop climate change, Edgar says.
This site is to serve pastors who are interested in a growing emphasis within the Christian community called "Creation Care": applying biblical principles of stewardship to the environment we share with all living things. We like the word "creation" even better than the word "environment" because it includes all that makes the earth a wonderful place, and it reminds us it's all a gift, a sacred trust from the hands of the Creator.
From a biblical perspective, "the environment" is God's creation. Creation care does not just mean caring for "nature," apart from humanity. It means caring for the entire creation: the environment and "all creatures great and small" including humanity. As those who confess Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord, our relationship with all of creation must be in keeping with Christ's relationship with all of creation. When we explore what the Bible says about creation, we interpret each text in light of our relationship to Christ and his relationship to all of creation. If the Bible teaches us that Christ has created the universe, gives it life and sustains it, and has reconciled everything to God, then our actions should participate in Christ's creating, sustaining, and reconciling work.
Here's another telling example from the USA Today article:
[Jim Ball, head of the Evangelical Environmental Network], who arrives in Copenhagen on Friday, says he plans to spend most of his time "hanging out in the hallways" of the Bella Center conference hall, where international delegates will be negotiating a deal. He'll be looking to speak with senior Obama administration officials and members of Congress.
Ball's pet cause is a proposal for rich countries, including the USA, to send poorer countries money -- at least $10 billion a year will be needed, the U.N.'s Ban says. The funds would help the countries overhaul their economies to pollute less, and cope with possible consequences of climate change such as lower agricultural yields, or rising seas that could devastate island nations.
"Our role is to remind (politicians) that this is a profound moral issue, and that the basic moral teachings of religion apply to these environmental problems," Ball says.
Particularly in light of the scientific scandal of ClimateGate, I believe that religion will bolster environmentalism with the faith-based moral fervor that it needs to survive -- just as faith-based altruism has kept socialism alive and kicking after the supposed science of central planning was demolished with the economic collapse of the Soviet empire.
By from The Ayn Rand Institute Media Releases,cross-posted by MetaBlog
“Atlas Shrugged” Winner Pockets $10,000!
December 16, 2009
IRVINE, CA--Elizabeth Hong, a med student at the University of Michigan, from Amherst, NY, is the first-place winner of the Ayn Rand Institute’s 2009 “Atlas Shrugged” essay contest, winning $10,000. With more than 4,000 submissions, 2009 was the most competitive year in the contest’s history, more than doubling entries received in 2008, the previous record.
Open to 12th graders and both undergraduate- and graduate-level college students, the “Atlas Shrugged” essay contest requires contestants to write on one of several topics dealing with the characters and themes in the novel. The contest is designed to promote critical thinking and writing skills. Essays are judged on both style and content.
Ms. Hong’s essay compares two characters from the novel, Dagny Taggart and Lillian Rearden, and their approach to life and their basic motivation.
The contest also awards three 2nd-place awards ($2,000), five 3rd-place awards ($1,000), 20 finalists ($100) and 20 semifinalists ($50), for a total of $24,000 in prize money. A complete list of winners and a copy of the first-prize essay can be read online at ARI’s Web site.
Since 1999 about 13,000 college and high school students from around the world have entered ARI’s “Atlas Shrugged” essay contest. For more information about the essay contests visit our website.
By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog
My first scientific interest as a child was astronomy, after a flirtation with geology. Not surprisingly, a favorite Christmas gift of mine was a telescope. Both interests were kindled by children's books I'd received as holiday gifts. (The interest in rocks started with a copy of the very book pictured at right, which arrived one year in an Easter basket.) The astronomy book of the same Golden series soon followed. Not long after, my parents bought a set of World Book encyclopedias, which I would devour.
I recalled this today when I got a call from my youngest brother for advice on selecting a telescope for his older son for Christmas. That conversation brought back various formative memories, some pleasant like the ones above and others not so pleasant, but no less formative. All the experiences shaped my intellectual development.
No less important than the excitement of learning about the world was discovering the limitations of those in authority over me. Two products of my voracious reading were that I knew lots of things that many adults did not, and that I had a reputation as someone who did. Both led me early on to develop a highly skeptical view of anyone holding himself out as an authority, benevolent or not.
In sixth grade, our teacher posed us the question of how many moons Jupiter had. Some time between the poor girl's college education and my entering her care, several additional moons had been discovered. I gave the correct number -- at least according to the available knowledge at the time -- and was told that I was wrong. I stuck to my guns anyway, to the point that she looked it up. To her credit, she admitted I was right. From then on, I was acutely aware that a teacher can be mistaken about his material.
Around the same time, our parish priest, obviously trying to be friendly, unintentionally embarrassed me in front of my classmates by referring to me as someone who liked "astrology" -- which I thought even then to be silly. I now suspect that the man simply didn't know the difference between astronomy and astrology, but back then, I assumed that he did. I corrected him, but was perplexed by the fact that the correction seemed to make no difference one way or the other to him. Once again, an authority figure believed something I knew to be false. But it would take me a long time to realize that some adults did not care that they were wrong. That wouldn't come until high school.
During high school my other brother and I ran a paper route for spending money, and one of the more annoying duties was to collect unpaid monthly subscription fees door to door. Mostly, people had simply forgotten and would pay right away, but one time, a guy got several months behind. The possibility didn't occur to me at the time, but he was probably hammered when I showed up to collect. (It was my turn to do the rounds that month.)
The man gave me a hostile rant about all kinds of absurd deficiencies in our service. He rode a bicycle, but we lazily drove cars. He rolled the papers up, but we lazily folded them. Et cetera, et cetera. He refused to pay and eventually became so belligerent that I seized on the first opportunity to leave.
I ended his subscription without notice the next day, and thought that was the end of it until my supervisor mildly scolded me about a complaint from the man's address about a week's worth of "misses." I informed him of my decision and learned that it wasn't mine to make. The man was reinstated as a customer of the paper and I had to resume deliveries at his address, although at least my supervisor would collect from him from now on.
My father, probably because I did not adequately convey how rude and abusive this person was (or because the customer successfully made me look like a jerk), told me that I had been rude and that adults deserved respect. That was the first time I ever found myself disagreeing with my father about a matter of opinion. I kept it to myself, though, because I knew my father to be someone who was conscientious about learning whet he needed to know and forming his opinions. I differed with him, but still respected him -- but I still felt no respect for the deadbeat subscriber. I decided then that respect, or at least my respect, was something that had to be earned. (To be fair, I also suspect my father would agree with such a sentiment.)
And yet, I was hardly a rebellious kid. This was in large part due to the fact that my parents were a foil of honesty against which many other adults of my acquaintance came up short. But it was also due to the fact that I never allowed someone's say-so to override my knowledge, which I always noticed came from various sources, rather than from on high. I consider myself very privileged to have grown up in the kind of stable environment that allowed my mind to develop a normal relationship with reality, rather than atrophy from a constant barrage of such mental abuse as, "Do as I say!" or "What do you know, kid?" or "Who are you to judge?"
My theme is that some little-discussed provisions of the health care bill will increasingly limit the freedom of patients to seek (and doctors to deliver) medical services based on the patient's best interest. Instead, doctors will be increasingly forced to practice according to collectivist "cost-effectiveness" government criteria.
Here is the introduction:
The U.S. Senate is making increasingly Byzantine backroom deals in an attempt to pass some form of universal health care by the end of the year. But even though the final bill isn't settled yet, one fact is becoming increasingly clear. Any plan they pass will result in the government seizing an unprecedented degree of control over previously private health spending decisions.
Two of these proposed new controls are worth highlighting, because they are not often discussed in most mainstream media reports...
By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog
Glenn Reynolds points to a news story detailing the numerous conflicts of interest of one Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, an IPCC official. Reynolds rightly notes his abuse of government power as he quotes from the article:
In December 2007, [Pachauri] became a member of the Senior Advisory Board of Siderian ventures based in San Francisco. This is a venture capital business owned by the Dutch multinational business incubator and operator in sustainable technology, Tendris Holding, itself part-owned by electronics giant Philips. It acquired a minority interest in January 2009 in order to "explore new business opportunities in the area of sustainability." As a member of the Senior Advisory Board of Siderian, Dr Pachauri is expected to provide the Fund and its portfolio companies "with access, standing and industry exposure at the highest level."
I have no quarrel with Reynolds, but I do have a question.
If, as Wikipedia puts it at the start of its article on the subject, "A conflict of interest ... occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other," [formatting dropped] when will people stop taking for granted government funding and "supervision" of science, and start to ask whether and when one's involvement in both government and science can constitute a conflict of interest?
The answer to that question is possible only with a proper understanding of the nature (the only social institution that can legally wield retaliatory force) and proper role (to protect individual rights) of government.
The answer is not always, No. For example, a scientist working as a patent examiner is acting in a manner proper to both a scientist and a government official by bringing his expertise to bear on how to protect the rights of inventors. A scientist who performs research for the Department of Defense on how to make a smart bomb is being paid to perform a legitimate function of the government (national defense) that happens to coincide with his research interests. In each case, there are objective ways to detect, deter, and punish conflicts of interest.
But a scientist receiving government funding for climate research is -- in today's context of a government-controlled economy -- in a postition to "justify" vast new plundering and control by the government with his findings or even just a willingness to sew panic. He is paid by what is effectively a giant guild of thieves intent on finding a ready excuse to plunder even more.
As the nation speaks of "going Galt" regarding the Bush-Obama economic crisis, perhaps it should remember another figure from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged regarding Copenhagen, ClimateGate or not:
"Why did you refuse to work for Dr. Stadler?" she asked.
The hint of his smile grew harder and more stressed; this was as near as he came to showing an emotion; the emotion was anger. But he answered in his even, unhurried drawl, "You know, Dr. Stadler once said that the first word of 'Free, scientific inquiry' was redundant. He seems to have forgotten it. Well, I'll just say that 'Governmental scientific inquiry' is a contradiction in terms." (p. 355)
The second speaker and the name Copenhagen ought to bring to mind is Quentin Daniels: He refused to work for a once-great scientist who sold out by accepting state control of science.
Advocates of big government, including the vast majority of today's scientists, see state funding removing many financial constraints from their work, but they fail to recognize that this is inherently a devil's bargain. Many will object that private benefactors or corporate employers would exercise too much control over their work in the form of being interested in certain types of results -- while ignoring the fact that this will be true of any sponsor of scientific research. (Otherwise, why not just hand money out to any passer-by?)
To them, I pose the following question: What is a cleaner motive for funding research? The hope that valid results will lead to profit from free trade or the hope that spin will lead to plundered loot and coercive power?
By Scott Powell from Powell History Recommends,cross-posted by MetaBlog
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By Diana Hsieh from NoodleFood,cross-posted by MetaBlog
What will happen if gays are permitted to marry? Pundits disagree, but this pie chart seems pretty accurate to me:
Oh yes... Be afraid, be very afraid.
Sadly, religious bigotry against gays -- although absurd in itself -- has very real consequences for gay couples and their children, as this Miss Manners' column shows:
Dear Miss Manners:
My partner and I adopted a child three years ago. He has become a happy, silly, active, loving child.
When we were going through the adoption process, the topic of being a "conspicuous family" was discussed. As two men with a child, we fall into that category.
Several times over the last couple of years, we have been verbally attacked. Twice we have been in a grocery store when someone informed us that we were not a "real family." On one of these situations, we were even told that we were condemned to hell!
Another time, when I was having breakfast out with our son, I was discussing children with a woman who was there with two of her own. The conversation was casual and amiable. When I mentioned "my partner" in the conversation, she started shouting at me, "You're evil! You are doing that child a great injustice!"
Our son's birth mother was a heroin and cocaine user during her pregnancy. She had the presence of mind to realize she couldn't take care of him and chose us as his adoptive parents.
We didn't decide to adopt to "save" a child, but the fact is, we will probably be able to give our son a much better life than if he had stayed with his birth mother.
How do we react to these people?
Miss Manners' advice is good, as usual:
A gentleman of Miss Manners's acquaintance was once subjected to a barrage of unwarranted insults. Outraged on his behalf, she asked why he did not trouble to defend himself.
His reply (and please forgive the inelegance for the sake of vividness) was: "If someone is throwing up on you, you get out of the way. You do not stay around to examine what is coming up."
There is nothing you can say to people who, whatever they may think, see fit to hurl crude insults at you, even in front of your son.
A stiff "I'm sorry you feel that way" is all you can utter before turning your back.
Happily, time is on the side of gay couples -- provided that America doesn't become the "Christian nation" sought by so many conservatives.
By firstname.lastname@example.org (Edward Cline) from The Rule of Reason,cross-posted by MetaBlog
Search through any of President Barack Obama‘s speeches, and buried under the glittering, worthless excelsior of opaque platitudes, silicic bromides and anemic banalities, one will find a pair or more of statements that mean something. They will mean something if one parses the statements armed with a knowledge of the man and of the power of words.
Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech on December 10th in Oslo, Norway was an easy rummage. Of course, any one of his speeches on America’s role and place in history and in the world has been a combination of an arrogant but rehearsed apologetic humility and a verbal flagellation of his own country for simply existing. It is these little nuggets of opalescence that win him the most applause from his friends in the audience, the ones who love to see America defeated, humbled, and knocked down to their own size -- the better to feed off of it through foreign aid and taxation.
Following the formulaic speechmaking of, say, the High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the Royal Order of Raccoons Lodge, Obama, addressing the Nobel committee, softened up his audience with a self-deprecatory reference to “the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. (Laughter.) In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage.” Which was intended as a joke about his not having done anything in international affairs to have earned him the Prize. It was awarded him because the committee was smitten by his campaign rhetoric of “hope and change” -- hoping that they were right about Obama that he was serious about dismantling the United States as a free country and changing it to one of their liking.
They read him correctly. That is precisely what he is doing, although resistance and opposition to the realization of that hope and change in the American population must have the distinguished members of the committee biting their nails or wringing their hands.
Here is one of Obama’s nuggets:
The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty and self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.
“Billions” have been lifted from poverty? How? Only in free or semi-free countries. But, “billions” have also been kept in dependent penury through foreign aid from the West. A wall? Which wall? The Berlin Wall, which, when it fell, released millions from the kind of existence imposed on them by the kind of totalitarian, communist regime he wishes to implement here in the U.S. Note that he avoided the term “communist.“ There are several communists in his administration, along with creatures who are not communists but who have their own authoritarian agendas.
As for liberty, self-determination, equality and the rule of law, these are ideals which, in reality, Obama is haltingly obstructing or nullifying. The fortitude and foresight of presumably the Founders? To Obama, these are legacies to be frittered away or abandoned wholesale in the name of “social justice.”
Elan Journo of the Ayn Rand Institute focuses on Obama’s remarks about war and the use of force. Obama endorses, as did George W. Bush, the policy of “just wars”:
And over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers and clerics and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a "just war" emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when certain conditions were met: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.
And if the civilians sanction the invasion of another country? Are they not culpable? Do they not produce the weapons and materiel that enables their armies to act? Do they not abet the violence visited on another nation? If they work in an aggressor nation’s war industries, they are just as legitimate targets as the tanks, planes, ships and munitions they help to produce. Without them, the tanks, planes and ships come to a stop and their guns cease firing. Journo, however, discusses the absolutely perilous and wasteful futility of fighting a “just war” in Iraq and Afghanistan, a policy which has hamstrung American military might and caused thousands of American deaths.
I endorse the concept of “proportionate” force. If Somali pirates hijack a Western ship or yacht and hold its passengers and crew at gunpoint for ransom, then every Somali base should be reduced to rubble and every mother ship and speedboat turned into floating debris. “Collateral” casualties should not be a concern. If “home-grown” or foreign terrorists commit another murderous atrocity here or abroad that kills Americans, then Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia -- the fundraisers and enablers of terrorism -- should be reduced to rubble swiftly, without mercy, and without concern for “collateral“ casualties. Those are “proportionalities” that would ensure the security of this country, as well as Israel‘s. These countries have, after all, declared war on the United States. Retribution is long overdue.
Another nugget, allied to Obama’s remarks on war and force, bears examination. Quoting Martin Luther King Jr. on the occasion of his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize:
"Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there's nothing weak -- nothing passive -- nothing naïve -- in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.
King was wrong. War has resulted in a permanent peace between the U.S. and many nations that were the aggressors (e.g., Britain finally early in the 19th century, Mexico, Germany, Japan). Passive non-violence, however, in the face of the initiation of force by aggressors -- and especially when non-violence is adopted as a policy in hopes that capitulation and compromise will pacify an enemy -- is not moral. It is the abandonment of the morality and of the certainty that one has a right to exist and a right to oppose the initiation of force with retaliatory force.
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and I will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."
When Obama stated that “as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their [King’s and Gandhi’s] examples alone,” his reluctance and regret were palpable. He is not preserving, protecting, or defending the Constitution, and by implication, this nation. He is deliberately violating the Constitution as much as any foreign aggressor. He is violating the oath of office he took on the steps of the Capitol building; he had every intention of violating it before taking that oath. It explains his every action since assuming office, and the nearly three dozen “czars” (and counting) he has empowered to rule the country as Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and George W. Bush could never have imagined.
The violence Obama does not dwell on is the violence of government force, which is behind every act of his administration to date. He is not a “living testimony to the moral force of non-violence.” He is living testimony to the immorality of force directed against other Americans. Virtually every president since at least Woodrow Wilson’s time has proposed or endorsed employing force against his fellow Americans. Obama, however, if he is to stay the course of his intention of “transforming” America of a kinder, gentler, “socially just” America, must surpass FDR’s incursions into the economy and lives of its citizens.
So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths -- that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. "Let us focus," he said, "on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions." A gradual evolution of human institutions.
A “gradual evolution of human institutions” to ensure a “more practical, more attainable peace”? Such as the corrupt United Nations? Its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.N.’s front man and walking delegate for world governance? Obama has also asserted that a declaration of war by a government on its own citizens -- as he has declared since assuming office -- is necessary to reach the “attainable peace” of across the board statism in all matters.
Obama’s socialist (or communist) premises are more explicitly stated in this passage:
It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine and shelter they need to survive. It does not exist where children can't aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.
Food, water, medicine, shelter, and education provided how? By whom? By indentured servants working side by side in chain gangs for the good of all? Food prices have risen because farms once devoted to growing crops are now growing bio-fuels for the “green revolution.” Medicine Obama proposes to nationalize completely. Shelter has been subsidized by government programs since the end of WWII. Education has become the near monopoly of collectivist propagandists from kindergarten through college. That is the rot that has eaten away at the American ideals of individual rights and the separation of liberty from government force.
And that's why helping farmers feed their own people -- or nations educate their children and care for the sick -- is not mere charity. It's also why the world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, more famine, more mass displacement -- all of which will fuel more conflict for decades.
That is why, to Obama, pouring billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into primitive sinkholes is not “mere charity.” It is a moral imperative, not to be questioned or doubted by Americans. Otherwise, there will be “conflicts,“ in addition to droughts, famine, and mass displacement. Those who question or doubt it are less than human. And Obama has telegraphed his intentions when he attends the Copenhagen climate change conference. There is “little scientific dispute” that the global warming “science” is sound? That is a direct reference to Climategate, because believing in the discredited science -- never mind the fraudulent data and the conspiracy of scientists to suppress or destroy data which contradict the “science” -- will give Americans a chance to prostrate themselves in further selfless service to the world, as penance for existing and as a duty to those whom America has purportedly “harmed.”
Of course, Obama cannot concede that it is governments that are responsible for droughts, famines and mass displacement. He rejects the idea that only those nations which are free enough do not cause these events within their own borders. Stalin believed in the soundness of the total collectivization of agriculture. He believed in it so much that he was willing to murder or starve to death millions of Russian peasants who did not believe in it.
Everything else Obama has ever said about “defending my nation” is just so much dissembling rhetoric. It is glittering, worthless excelsior. Actions speak louder than words, and Obama’s actions belie every fog-bound, patriotic-sounding assertion he has ever uttered.
In 1925, H.L. Mencken wrote in defense of liberty:
I believe that any invasion of it is immensely dangerous to the commonweal -- especially when that invasion is alleged to have a moral purpose. No conceivable moral purpose is higher than the right of the citizen to think to think whatever he pleases to think, and to carry on his private life without interference by others. If that right is taken away, then no moral system remains; all we have is a prison system. This begins to prevail in the United States.*
Obama has made it clear that he intends to take away that right, and to institute a prison system. He is merely the heir presumptive of the political trends in this country dating back at least a century and a quarter. It is time for Americans to oppose his intentions with massive civil disobedience if, for example, the health-care and cap-and-trade bills are sent from Congress to his desk for his signature -- before they are obliged to become rioting inmates.
*From “Autobiographical Notes, 1925,” in Notes on Democracy, by H.L. Mencken (1926). New York: Dissident Books, 2009, p. 10.
By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog
"If you value X, then you have to agree with everything I say about Y."
Someone left the following very astute comment to a recent post of mine:
[T]he environmentalists have seized upon global warming as a flagship issue is precisely because it is hard to understand. The better to befuddle their opponents. [minor format edit]
I completely agree that this is the case. Understanding a complex piece of science like global warming is very difficult: There can be major (and perfectly honest) disagreements between experts in the field, mistakes on lower levels than the theoretical, outright fraud, and even whole areas that do not admit of ready investigation at the current level of technology.
Add to that the usual difficulties of making any political argument and the fact that laymen familiar enough with one side of such a scientific argument will often become all but unreachable because there is no way to know every detail of every nook and cranny of a scientific literature (and thus not look foolish to them). What better way could there be to cause one's opponents to waste valuable time and effort than to give them an endless reading assignment consisting of (often poorly-written) academic papers?
This is all true, but until I learned that Senator Harry Reid had "doubled down" on a particularly asinine comment likening opposition to Obamacare to opposition to the end of slavery, I felt like I was missing part of the exact method of argument, which I haven't fully conceptualized yet:
"At pivotal points in American history, the tactics of distortion and delay have certainly been present," Reid said. "They've certainly been used to stop progress. That's what we're talking about here. That's what's happening here. It's very clear. That's the point I made -- no more, no less. Anyone who willingly distorts my comments is only proving my point."
One one level, Reid is not doing the same thing as the warmists. There is no package dealing of a scientific question with one of political philosophy. For example, this debate hasn't included massive reading of medical literature by both sides. Nevertheless, Reid is clearly -- like the warmists -- indulging in a species of the argument from intimidation. But he adds a twist similar to what we see from the global warming alarmists. Who wants slavery? Who doesn't value progress?
And who doesn't value the earth we live on? Reid and the alarmists are, as incredible as it might sound, using self-interest as a means of inducing unearned guilt, and they are doing it by attempting to make people doubt that they are being conscientious enough about what they value. In a culture where most people have poorly-defined values (and even senses of self) and are thus not used to thinking deeply about their own self-interest, such a tactic, I suspect, is highly effective.
To love is to value, which is to understand the full nature of that which one values. (And regarding "full nature," it is crucial to reject omniscience as the standard of knowledge.) In the case of global warming, the question everyone who tries to become a climatological expert will fail to get (along with omniscience) from the scientific literature is: "What is the earth for?" On a metaphysical level, it has no purpose, of course, but on the ethical level, it does: To help us live. And living, for rational animals, consists in much more than the "sustainable" subsistence-level existence (if that) promoted by global warming hysterics.
If we are dead (or physically alive, but miserable), we accomplish no good by adopting the warmists' recommendations. This is very interesting to note since we haven't even reached the level of politics in the philosophical hierarchy! On that level, the current proposed "solutions" to global warming are out the window on the grounds that they violate individual rights.
There is an important difference between agreeing on principles and agreeing on how to apply them. Both matters can involve honest mistakes or evasion. (And the latter, at the personal level can also involve matters of personal taste, but this is not important here.) For example, if we grant, arguendo, that Harry Reid favors progress, we would have to say at minimum that he misunderstands the nature of progress or is misapplying the concept in some way when he equates it with what is in fact physician slavery.
Fun with Gravity recently reviewed Jennifer Burns's Goddess of the Market, and The Objective Standard is making Robert Mayhew's Winter 2009 issue review of same publicly available from its web site.
I am also pleased to announce that my review of Ian Plimer's Heaven and Earth also appears in the print edition of the same issue of TOS.
More Government Corruption of Science
On the one hand, the simple fact that a scientist works for private industry as opposed to the government or academia (which is functionally almost the same thing as working for the government now) does not impugn his motives. Barring independent wealth, we all have to work for somebody, don't we?
That said, the common (and inverted) leftist premise that the government is somehow the guardian of scientific impartiality is -- finally -- being called into question by ClimateGate.
Might there now be a SwineGate to go along with ClimateGate?
World Health Organization scientists are suspected of accepting secret bribes from vaccine manufacturers to influence the U.N. organization's H1N1 pandemic declaration, according to Danish and Swedish newspapers.
Yes, but only if intellectual activists make the point whenever possible that the bribery was made possible by government interference in medicine in the first place.
In a truly free medical sector, there would probably be somethinglike WHO in its role of keeping an eye out for epidemics and the like, but that "something" would also be non-governmental, like a Consumers' Union. If it cried "wolf" enough, people would stop listening to it and be free to move to a more conscientious and reliable body of scientists for advice on such matters. Such an organization would have a financial incentive -- that WHO does not have -- to avoid bribery and it would lack the backing of government power that WHO does possess.
As things stand now, though, the pharmaceutical firms involved, though not innocent, are getting more than their share of the blame and innocent firms are unjustly suffering "guilt" by association.
Obama Warns of "Command and Control"
It's bad when President Obamawarns against too much government control, and worse that neither he nor anyone else has proposed abolishing or at least severely curtailing the powers of the EPA.
Or would that fall under "frightening" the American people too much?
What Obama is really doing instead is using the impending EPA rules to make whatever the Democrats can cook up instead seem reasonable -- as if nothing can be done about the EPA.
A Smooth Road in South Africa?
There are no excuses for the American national soccer team to fail to make a respectable showing in the 2010 World Cup: They drew an easy set of first round opponents:
U.S. national soccer coach Bob Bradley usually has a permanent scowl etched across his face, his lower lip scrunched into his upper lip like he just sucked on a lemon or got a bad meat pie from a Cape Town street vendor.
But yesterday he couldn’t help himself. He broke into a broad smile.
He caught himself, pursed his lips, furrowed his brow ... and lost the battle again. Another smile escaped.
Hard to fault him, though, after the draw for soccer's 2010 World Cup handed the Yanks one heavyweight (England) and two junior flyweights (Slovenia and Algeria) in Group C of the first round.
As an added bonus for me, anyway, England, the team I default to after when "the Yanks" get yanked, is almost certain to make it to the next round -- especially if our side blows it again.
The Senate debate on physician slavery continues, yesterday's events possibly setting one pressure group, anti-abortionists, against the bill.
The Senate narrowly rejected an amendment that would have restricted abortion coverage in the pending health-care bill, leaving in question whether Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) has the 60 votes needed to move the bill toward final passage.
This is what passes for good news in the barely-civil free-for-all that is pressure group warfare over loot stolen from productive men by a government turned against them. Anti-abortionists, most notably Roman Catholic bishops, who would otherwise support the bill, have said that they will not support a bill that provides tax money for abortions.
In being on the right side of this debate for the wrong reason, the anti-abortionists accidentally allude to a valid point. The real motive of the stance is, of course, abhorrent: The establishment of a theocratic welfare state. Nevertheless, I would hardly be surprised if some people with a mixture of philosophical premises that included many elements of individualism might sympathize with the stand (regardless of their personal views on abortion) for a reason on the order of, "Why should they -- or anyone else -- be forced to pay money for something to which they are morally opposed?" After all, this stand has to be premised in part on religious freedom, which stems from freedom of conscience.
Only in that context could I possibly sympathize with such a stand, and only if, after I indicate that I oppose being forced to put my money where the mouths of the altruists are, he concedes that I have a good point. "Indeed. Nobody should be forced to pay for someone else's abortion or perform one against his will, but I take things further: I oppose the idea that I should be forced to cover any of your medical expenses, or you mine. Should I be forced to pay for socialized medicine any more than a Catholic should be forced to participate in an abortion?"
I suspect that I will more likely get a nod of agreement, or at least provoke thought, from someone who sees abortion as a matter best left to the individual, at least on the political level.
The bishops oppose government funding only for some things, but they do not oppose it in principle. This inconsistency, necessitated by the war on reality that is their moral code, opens them up to inconvenient questions any time it comes up in the guise of them superficially agreeing with me. All one has to do is ask two questions ("Why do they want X? Why do I want X?), compare the answers, and then look for a chance to call their inherent bluff. Often, the context they have just dropped will supply such a chance.
This possibly convenient obstruction to efforts to establish physician slavery can only buy time. Use it wisely.
By Greg Perkins from NoodleFood,cross-posted by MetaBlog
Over at the anarchist-libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute, intellectual property lawyer Stephan Kinsella posted "An Objectivist Recants on IP." The posting describes how someone named Bala was mixing it up in their discussion threads and eventually came to conclude that "An Objectivist cannot and should not support the notion of Intellectual Property because it violates fundamental Objectivist principles."
Unsurprisingly, the culmination of Bala's odyssey and the central point that cemented the illegitimacy of intellectual property in his mind is a common one voiced by libertarians opposed to intellectual property: the notion that intellectual property rights inherently conflict with material property rights.
Ideas and patterns, on the other hand, presented a problem when I tried to treat them as "property". While there is no denying the value of ideas in human advancement, exclusion of other individuals from an idea or pattern necessarily involves the initiation of force. For instance, how else is A to prevent B from incorporating A's idea in his B's product other than to force himself upon B's property and coerce B to prevent him from doing so, thus violating B's Liberty? In effect, recognising ideas and patterns as property is tantamount to saying that A has a moral right to initiate force against B simply because he has coined an idea. Thus, as an Objectivist, classifying ideas and patterns as "property" takes me into dangerous territory where I am ready to label the initiation of force as legitimate.
This is ultimately based on confusion about which kinds of ideas do and don't properly count as intellectual property, as well as confusion about what does and doesn't constitute a rights-violation. I addressed this (and more) a few years back in "Don't Steal This Article!", an analysis of the strongest libertarian arguments I could find against the legitimacy of intellectual property:
The first thing to note is the plain fact that people are routinely prevented from using their material property when it would violate any right -- so the protection of intellectual property rights would not be unique in so "controlling" other people in their use of their material property. For example, my neighbor's person and property rights are not violated when he is not allowed to spontaneously whack me in the head with his fully-owned two-by-four. His rights are not violated in preventing him from using his tangible truck to pull up to my house and drive off with my entertainment center. We are all restricted from using our persons and property to violate the rights of others, and such restrictions do not themselves constitute an infringement of rights because nobody has the right to violate rights.
It is bad enough that these libertarian scholars ignore such an obvious point, but the evasion reaches full bloom in Kinsella's explanation of the alleged "taking" caused by the appearance of intellectual property. The charge is that, as intellectual property comes into existence, liberty is lost in a magical transfer of partial ownership from the owners of material property to an author or inventor, thereby unjustly preventing them from doing something they were otherwise free to do with their own property. But in no sense is any ability, permission, or liberty lost. Recall that intellectual property rights protect the manufacture of creations -- objects which did not and would not otherwise exist. Before a novel has been written, absolutely nobody has the power to publish it, so its being authored cannot remove any liberty previously enjoyed by printers. And before some better mousetrap is invented, nobody has the power to produce it -- so its being invented cannot deny manufacturers any previously enjoyed freedom.
Indeed, far from losing any power or liberty, the options available to owners of material property only increase with the appearance of intellectual property: they are presented with at least the potential to use their property in the production of new, life-serving objects in collaboration with an inventor or artist.
Bala's friends there at LvMI are definitely not helping him out. How many of the other issues with his account of Objectivism and IP can you see and (constructively) address?
By Diana Hsieh from NoodleFood,cross-posted by MetaBlog
Given that Christmas is just around the corner, I'd like to reiterate my recommendation for Ari Armstrong's excellent little book Values of Harry Potter. Here's my official endorsement of it.
I've read all the Harry Potter novels multiple times, discussed them at length with friends, read essays analyzing them, and even published an essay of my own. Yet Ari Armstrong's Values of Harry Potter offered me a delightful array of fresh insights into J. K. Rowling's works. It offers fans of Harry Potter a unique opportunity to explore the core values of the novels, to discover why we find them so captivating and so inspiring. Readers will develop a deeper appreciation for Rowling's achievement in portraying life-loving, courageous heroes. They will discover compelling answers to any half-formed questions and doubts about the significance of her Christian themes. When I re-read the Harry Potter series -- as I'm eager to do again -- I will gain far more insight and inspiration from them than ever before, thanks to Values of Harry Potter.
For a taste of Ari's writings on Harry Potter, you might check out these essays. You can also view the contents of the book and download a sample via this page.
I recommend the book to all fans of Harry Potter, but particularly to people interested in Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. You'll find much of interest in it -- much that you didn't notice on a first or second or third reading of the books. It's also an excellent gift for any teenage fan of the books. So go order a copy now!
I would ask that you order from the web site directly, rather than via Amazon, as Ari earns significantly more per copy that way. The price is the same. Given the quality of the book -- not to mention Ari's tireless and often-uncompensated efforts to promote free markets in Colorado and elsewhere -- he deserves every penny he can earn from sales of this book!
By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog
RealClear Politics posts a link to an article by George Monbiot in The Guardian in which the noted advocate of government controls premised on global warming moves from defense to offense in the aftermath of the breaking of the ClimateGate scandal. I had earlier noted here that I found that an earlier response of his to the leaked emails at least bore some resemblance to what that of a conscientious scientist would be like.
But the global warming debate is a confused mess of state-funded science and pressure group warfare, and Monbiot is firmly in the government coercion camp of the political debate. Today, we see how he reacts as the political activist he is. I must say that I find him much more disappointing on this level.
Monbiot's piece takes three observations as his point of departure. Here they are below, listed as bullet points directly from his piece. I follow each with my brief response in bold.
The first is the tendency of those who claim to be the champions of climate science to minimise [the] importance [of the leaked emails]. True.
The second observation is the tendency of those who don't give a fig about science to maximise their importance. Also true, and, moreover, even some who do care about the science might be jumping the gun.
The third observation is the contrast between the global scandal these emails have provoked and the muted response to 20 years of revelations about the propaganda planted by fossil fuel companies. This is where things get interesting.
The meat of this piece is the third point, in which Monbiot slams the "denial industry." Given the saturation of our culture with anti-capitalist sentiment, the very term is a smear and leads in almost predictably to Monbiot's rhetorical approach, which I will return to shortly.
But first, a word about the science. I am not a climatologist, but I am a scientist. I have recently started looking at the scientific side of this debate and find that the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis (or at least parts of it) to be reasonable, but I am still learning about the evidence pro and con. Although I am disinclined to accept the hypothesis, I am still weighing it.
At this point, I have to declare my official position to be agnostic on the scientific questions of (1) whether there is warming, (2) if so, whether it is due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; (3) if so, whether human activity has caused a substantial portion of said increase; and (4) what effects would accrue from such warming. Nevertheless, as an advocate of capitalism, I am completely opposed to the economic strangulation of the global economy that is being proposed as a "solution" to this alleged crisis and would be even if I regarded the most dire predictions to be likely.
With that in mind, I do have to take issue with one scientific point Monbiot makes.
Even if you were to exclude every line of evidence that could possibly be disputed -- the proxy records, the computer models, the complex science of clouds and ocean currents -- the evidence for man-made global warming would still be unequivocal. You can see it in the measured temperature record, which goes back to 1850; in the shrinkage of glaciers and the thinning of sea ice; in the responses of wild animals and plants and the rapidly changing crop zones.
No. I think you would see an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and an increase in global temperature for this time period. However, without proxies (for temperature, carbon dioxide, and any number of other things), you would have no way of discerning whether anything like what we're observing has also occurred before the Industrial Revolution or is within the normal range of variability of the global climate. Proxies are vital to evaluating this theory in the same way that we use historical evidence to evaluate political theories: We simply can't run experiments on the the entire planet, so information from the past is the next best thing.
Also, you would need climate models to integrate all the climate data with your theory to (a) discern whether your theory might indeed accurately describe what is going on now, (b) look into the past to see whether your theory still explains things without man's current output of carbon dioxide, and, thereby (c) determine whether there might be something your theory is still failing to account for. (And, yes, if everything holds up, you can reasonably attempt to forecast what might happen to earth's climate in the future.)
Ditto for "the complex science of clouds and ocean currents." For one thing, these (and many other factors that affect climate) would need to accounted for in anything as complex as a decent computer model of the climate. If correlation does not equal causation, it certainly doesn't equal "unequivocal" proof of the hypothesis that man is causing the earth to warm, and indeed "a novel and radical theory [might] be required."
Monbiot's third argument is something of a cross between, "May he who is without guilt cast the first stone," attempting to hide the elephant we have all just found in plain sight and right under our noses while we watch, and the argument from intimidation.
Predictably jumping straight for the throats of the wicked "energy companies," Monbiot screams payola and cites deliberate attempts by companies to plant "memes" with the help of "PR companies and hired experts." These "memes" are targeted at less educated and less intellectual demographics who are "more confident expressing opinions on others' motivations and tactics than they do expressing opinions on scientific issues." (Would you feel more confident arguing about the minute details of how a carburetor works with a mechanic or discussing his honesty? Some things simply are more accessible to more people.) The "memes" include such ideas as, "climate scientists are only in it for the money, or that environmentalists are trying to create a communist world government."
"Remember," Monbiot says, "these ideas were devised and broadcast by energy companies." Never mind that the measures being considered are worldwide economic controls that include massive redistribution of wealth. Never mind that the climate scientists' government patrons are busy spreading memes of global catastrophe of their own devising. Never mind that our government-controlled education system is so saturated with tenured radicals and global warming alarmists that the best chance at persuading someone that these measures are a bad idea might appear to be to reach out to those not subjected or susceptible to its constant ideological barrage. Never mind that pervasive government controls of the economy necessitate public relations campaigns targeted at voters by all kinds of corporations. And never mind whether these "memes" might actually be true: If you buy them, George Monbiot has just called you a fool or a tool.
I personally don't think that fighting mainly over the science is the best tactic for the embattled energy companies to take. Rather, they should start proudly standing up for themselves as producers on moral grounds and for everyone's freedom on the basis of the idea that a government's sole proper purpose is the protection of individual rights.
It has been the sheepish acceptance of altruism and state controls by the corporations that has caused them to cede the moral high ground to people like George Monbiot and Al Gore, and desperately fight them on the home turf of climate specialists, gambling that either they're wrong about the science or (worse) that they can wrongly convince most of the public that these scientists are wrong. The proper tactic, again, is this: Whatever the science says (yes, no, or maybe), admit it. And then argue from correct political principles that take into account man's nature and the proper role of government when engaging in the political debate about global warming legislation.
By Diana Hsieh from NoodleFood,cross-posted by MetaBlog
I have a love-hate relationship with my Kindle. I wasn't ready to buy one, but Paul gave me his smaller version when he upgraded to the larger version about two months ago.
I love having so many books at my fingertips, in a slim little device. I'm even going to be able to read some hard-to-find books -- like the complete works of Frances Hodgson Burnett. That's 35 books for a mere five dollars. (You can find free versions, but apparently these sets are nicely formatted.) It's easy to read on the Kindle, particularly with the adjustable font size.
However, its clunky interface leaves much to be desired, as does its lack of any easy software for managing files. For example, changing the meta-data in files requires something on the order of sacrificing a goat. (Yes, I'm fussy about that kind of thing.) Basically, I hate the fact that the Kindle is not a Mac. But once you get used to it, it's okay.
So far, I've mostly used the Kindle to read fiction. That works fine, although I'm a bit frustrated by my inability to determine (in some easy way) how far I have to finish a chapter. However, my first attempt to read something serious on it -- namely Tara Smith's Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics -- was an abject failure. We've just started the book in 1FROG, and I thought I'd try to re-read it on the Kindle.
It was a disaster -- not just for the discussion but also just for my own understanding. Without physical pages, I simply couldn't get a handle on the structure of the text. I felt lost in a Heraclitean stream of words. I couldn't remember what was where. The more that I flipped back and forth, the more confused I got. I could make notes in the text, but not useful notes. The keyboard is too tiny for substantive notes, and I can't implement my super-handy system of tiny little margin notes. My margin notes are a huge help to later skimming. (That's critical for group discussion.) And they help me retain the material as I read it, in that I pause to think and process in the course of making those notes.
In short, trying to read Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics on the Kindle felt like I was trying to remember the progression of a run done on the treadmill, where the scenery is always the same. In contrast, reading a physical book was like remembering a similar run done through some neighborhood, where the varying landscape cements memories.
I'll likely be able to use the Kindle for reading serious material -- provided that I'm just doing a survey, rather than a serious, intensive read. I'll have to read on the Kindle like I'd listen to an audiobook. Basically, I'll need to set lower expectations for retention and integration. That means that most of the time, when reading a serious work of non-fiction, I'll prefer a physical copy -- at least for now.
Still... if all that I ever do with the Kindle is read fiction (and lighter non-fiction) on it, I'll be pretty happy.
Of all the books that Amazon sells, what percentage are digital books?
For every 100 copies of a physical book we sell, where we have the Kindle edition, we will sell 48 copies of the Kindle edition. It won't be too long before we're selling more electronic books than we are physical books. It's astonishing.
Of course, most readers don't have my need for intensive reading of serious books. Yet still, WOW.
Oh, and this exchange is pretty funny:
What do you say to Kindle users who like to read in the bathtub?
I'll tell you what I do. I take a one-gallon Ziploc bag, and I put my Kindle in my one-gallon Ziploc bag, and it works beautifully. It's much better than a physical book, because obviously if you put your physical book in a Ziploc bag you can't turn the pages. But with Kindle, you can just push the buttons.
What if you dropped your Kindle in the bathtub?
If it's sealed in a one-gallon Ziploc bag? Why don't you try that experiment and let me know.
Just to be clear, I don't endorse Swiss-style mandatory military service. Nor do I believe that a proper government should require that citizens own firearms.
But I do admire a culture in which the citizens value their freedom highly enough that they are willing to defend it, with force if necessary. Any other approach makes one a ripe target for aggressors and tyrants. As the video notes, the logical end of such an unwillingness to defend one's freedom is the Holocaust.
The quiet, morally confident attitude towards armed self-defense expressed in the video by Mr. Heim used to also be fairly widespread amongst Americans, although it has declined in recent decades.
By email@example.com (Edward Cline) from The Rule of Reason,cross-posted by MetaBlog
Global warming is a religion, not a science. The prospect of governing every action of every individual on the planet in the name of staving off “catastrophic climate change,” and charging especially the U.S. a fee for impoverishing it, makes belief in global warming as tenacious and anti-reason as the literal interpretation of the Bible is to a fundamentalist or evangelical holly-roller. The fraudsters and reivers have come too close to their goal of “world governance” to concede not only error, but the lies that sustained that error, as well. They want to rule, or at least see men ruled by others.
Global warming advocates are “creationists” because, in their view, man is the exclusive “creator” of the potential -- nay, they say the inevitability -- of catastrophic climate change.
It would not be irrelevant, then, to preface comments on Climategate by relating another instance of a furor instigated by religious creationists over a scientific finding, in this instance, the unnecessary carping over the discovery of the Java Man. The following discussion is from the blog site Creationist Arguments: Java Man.
Many creationists have claimed that Java Man, discovered by Eugene Dubois in 1893, was "bad science". Gish (1985) says that Dubois found two human skulls at nearby Wadjak at about the same level and had kept them secret; that Dubois later decided Java Man was a giant gibbon; and that the bones do not come from the same individual. Most people would find Gish's meaning of "nearby" surprising: the Wadjak skulls were found 65 miles (104 km) of mountainous countryside away from Java Man.
Similarly for "at approximately the same level": the Wadjak skulls were found in cave deposits in the mountains, while Java Man was found in river deposits in a flood plain (Fezer 1993). Nor is it true, as is often claimed, that Dubois kept the existence of the Wadjak skulls secret because knowledge of them would have discredited Java Man. Dubois briefly reported the Wadjak skulls in three separate publications in 1890 and 1892. Despite being corrected on this in a debate in 1982 and in print (Brace, 1986), Gish has continued to make this claim, even stating, despite not having apparently read Dubois' reports, that they did not mention the Wadjak skulls (Fezer 1993).
Lubenow does acknowledge the existence of Dubois' papers, but argues that since they were bureaucratic reports not intended for the public or the scientific community, Dubois was still guilty of concealing the existence of the Wadjak skulls. This is also incorrect; the journals in which Dubois published, although obscure, were distributed in Europe and America, and are part of the scientific literature. They are available in major libraries and have often been referred to by later researchers..
Based on his own theories about how brains had evolved and wishful thinking, Dubois did claim that Java Man was “a gigantic genus allied to the gibbons,” but this was not, as creationists imply, a retraction of his earlier claims that it was an intermediate between apes and humans. Dubois also pointed out that it was bipedal and that its brain size was "very much too large for an anthropoid ape", and he never stopped believing that he had found an ancestor of modern man (Theunissen 1989; Gould 1993; Lubenow 1992). (The creationist organization Answers in Genesis has now abandoned the claim that Dubois dismissed Java Man as a gibbon, and now lists it in their “Arguments we think creationists should NOT use” web page.)
Briefly, Eugene Dubois was as confused about his finding as the religionists were determined that it either was fabricated or that it could be explained away to conform to a literal interpretation of the Bible. And the excerpt above is as tedious a read as pouring over the CRU emails. But, it is worth the effort. One might ask oneself: Why is the author of that excerpt going to the trouble of answering the claims of anti-evidence, anti-reason creationists? Why would any scientist feel compelled to attempt to rebut the absurd claims of mystics? Briefly, because religion is still the default moral code of our time.
Incidentally, the “Arguments we think creationists should NOT use” web page bears reading, if not for laughs, then for a glimpse into the art of prevarication that has been employed by Bible thumpers and climate creationists alike.
Religion rears its ugly head here in today’s San Francisco Gate article in its defense of “bad science“ exposed. The article is slanted in favor of the believers of anthropogenic global warming.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said "the documents show systematic suppression of dissenting opinion."
True enough. But:
Joseph Romm, a physicist and senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress, said the evidence of warming is getting clearer while opponents are "redoubling their disinformation campaign."
Read the email exchanges. Are or are not Phil Jones and his colleagues working to suppress data that don’t fit their a priori conclusion that the climate is warming? Does that or does not that constitute a systematic suppression of dissenting opinion, a suppression that included mocking dissenters, denigrating their findings, and even dumping all the raw data? Was it or was not the omission and/or distortion of data an instance of “cherry-picking,” something the new deniers are accusing the skeptics of in regards to the emails themselves? In the face of incontrovertible evidence of doctoring the data to fit a political agenda, are or are not Romm and his allies launching their own disinformation campaign?
The scientists from two major research centers, a national think tank and NASA, claimed during a telephone news conference that the e-mail exchanges were taken out of context in an attempt to influence pending greenhouse gas emissions policies….It is, they said, a cynical, blatantly dishonest effort to cloud the fact that the world is now confronting a huge, potentially disastrous climactic shift…."There is so much information that tells us the planet has been warming," said Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeler at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "No independent study is going to come up with anything other than what we've already concluded."
Let’s see: Phil Jones recommending that A should be made to look like B, and if anyone questions the validity of that “trick,” tell him to go fly a kite -- this is a statement “taken out of context” by his critics to prove that he is committing fraud and so it shouldn’t be held against him? Aren’t such “tricks” calculated to “influence pending greenhouse gas emission policies”? Charging Jones with manipulating data to suit his bias for “global warming” is not an instance of “cynical, blatant” dishonesty? Instead of examining the surviving, adulterated data or even the statements in the emails, the “climate creationist” establishment resorts to casting aspersions on the motives of anyone who questions that establishment.
Then there is this gem:
The scientists dismissed the criticisms Friday as intellectually dishonest distortions by those who seek to discredit global warming for political or business reasons. When scientists talk about "tricks," pointed out several academics, they are often using colloquial jargon that means a method of dealing with a problem.
And these “2,500” scientists are not working to advance their own political agenda? They are not intellectually dishonest? They stand to have perpetuated their lucrative research grants, paid for by tax revenues, and that‘s all right? And, the term trick means what it means: a sleight of hand, a work of magic, a cunning action; the meanings are many, but they are all founded on the root concept of deception. Who has been caught distorting the data? Who has been caught deceiving others? Phil Jones and his friends in the CRU. As well as NASA and GISS. And there’s the EPA standing by to enforce the dictates of the Copenhagen Communiqué.
We believe in global warming. Ergo, it must be true. Now that’s religion!
If it were not for the projected astronomical costs of “combating” global warming, now “climate change” -- neither of which could be “combated” anyway, has anyone ever successfully “combated” a tsunami or a volcanic eruption? -- and the prospect of a massive government expropriation of the economy, this kind of unmitigated dishonesty on the part of politically correct “scientists” would not merit front page news.
The “climate creationists” protest too much. They would do themselves a service by taking the Fifth, as their crime boss predecessors did during the Senate organized crime hearings. They should be smart enough to know that anything they say from now on can incriminate them and be used against them.
By Paul Hsieh from NoodleFood,cross-posted by MetaBlog
In Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead, there's a scene where villain Ellsworth Toohey looks at the New York City skyline and muses about modern civilization:
...Look at it. A sublime achievement, isn't it? A heroic achievement. Think of the thousands who worked to create this and of the millions who profit by it. And it is said that but for the spirit of a dozen men, here and there down the ages, but for a dozen men -- less, perhaps -- none of this would have been possible. And that might be true.
(Part 2, Chapter 8)
When I first read that passage, I wasn't sure whether it was historically accurate or not.
But as it turns out, there a number of crucial innovations that some claim to have only been invented and/or discovered once in history, then spread to the rest of humanity from that single source.
I can't vouch for the accuracy of all of the following, but some purported examples include:
If these claims are true, then it may indeed be the case that our modern technological society (including my ability to compose this blog post on a MacBook Pro and upload it onto a remote web server where it can then be read by people around the world) would not exist were it not for a half-dozen mostly-anonymous innovators.
By Paul Hsieh from NoodleFood,cross-posted by MetaBlog
One of the big stories to hit the science blogosphere last week was about Rom Houben, a man who reportedly was (erroneously) believed by his physicians to be in a coma for 23 years after an accident whereas in reality he was conscious all along but paralyzed and unable to communicate this fact to the outside world.
As reported, the fact of his consciousness was only recently discovered with advanced brain scanning techniques not available to physicians at the time of his accident in 1983.
Some follow-up stories have raised the question about the accuracy of the details of his account, especially because it uses "facilitated communication". James Randi raises similar concerns.
But leaving aside the debate over that particular question, I'd like to pose a broader mixed question about scientific testing for consciousness.
From a scientific and medical standpoint, it would clearly be valuable to know if there were a specific test that could determine if a person was truly comatose vs. "conscious but unable to communicate". In other words, it would be extremely valuable to be able to test a seemingly comatose patient and determine whether there was "anybody home", or there were only the bodily shell of what used to be a person.
It's certainly plausible that some sort of scientific test might currently (or some day in the future) answer that question. But I'm not asking whether or not some particular current brain scanning technology actually answers this question.
Instead, suppose that some day a neuroscientist claims, "I've invented a machine that will reliably predict the presence or absence of consciousness. If such-and-such pattern of brain activity is present, then the patient is conscious. If that pattern is not present, then the patient is not conscious."
My questions are as follows:
1) Would it be possible for a scientist to ever prove such a claim?
After all, consciousness is a subjective phenomenon that one experiences "from the inside". In contrast, scientists can detect and measure brain activities which may be correlated with consciousness (such as a certain pattern of firing of neurons or a certain pattern of metabolic activity within the brain), but that's that the same as detecting consciousness.
There are some schools of modern philosophical thought which claim that consciousness is equivalent to (and nothing more than) a specific type of brain activity. If one believes that, then the answer would presumably be "yes", and the question would become purely an issue of science.
But in contrast, if one believes that consciousness is not equivalent to a specific pattern of brain activity (although related to the actions of the human brain in a still-not-fully-understood fashion), then the issue becomes murkier, leading to my next two questions:
2) Would a rational philosophy have anything to say about what would or would not be possible for scientists to claim? And would philosophers be able to give guidance as to what would constitute a proper standard of proof?
3) Or would no such claim by the neuroscientist possible? In other words, would a scientist only be able to claim that he is measuring an objective process that is highly probable to be correlated with a subjective sensation of consciousness -- and that's all anyone can ever do?
Or more colloquially:
1) Can you know if someone is home? 2) Can you know that you know it? 3) Or can you never really know it?
I freely admit that I don't know the answers to these questions. But I'd be interested in hearing from others who might be able to shed some light -- either scientific or philosophical.
By firstname.lastname@example.org (Nicholas Provenzo) from The Rule of Reason,cross-posted by MetaBlog
Welcome to the December 3rd, 2009 edition of the Objectivist Round-Up. This week presents insight and analyses written by authors who are animated by Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. According to Ayn Rand:
My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
So without any further delay (and in no particular order), here's this week's round-up:
Burgess Laughlin presents BkRev: Edwin Locke's Study Methods & Motivation posted at Making Progress saying "The theme of this review of Dr. Edwin Locke's book, Study Methods & Motivation, is that everyone -- not only students in formal schools -- who learns through reading or through listening to lectures can improve their results by acquiring more objective methods and stronger motivation in all phases of the learning process."
Beth Haynes presents Mammograms: The Road to Rationing? posted at Wealth is not the Problem saying "With the recent uproar over one government commission's new recommendations on breast cancer screening, I decided to go to the source. Unsurprisingly, their own report offers no hard evidence which would lead to their conclusions. It all commons down to "Cui bono?""
By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog
California Energy Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld would have impressed me much more had he simply allowed a long string of drool to leave his mouth instead of the above quote about his state's brilliant move to outlaw 75% of the television sets currently on the market. I don't live there, but California's role as a trendsetter for foolish ideas in government, along with the impact the size of its market share has on manufacturing practices means that this lunacy will probably eventually affect me in some way.
Not too long ago, I noted of cost-benefit analyses of state economic controls that they had this disturbing tendency to ignore a really big cost to the individual citizen: freedom.
[A]ny time the government does anything but protect individual rights, someone's freedom has been infringed upon. Indeed, such analyses fail to object to the fact that the government has no right to force citizens take the risks of such involuntary "investments" [or avoid risks of their own choosing --ed]... [T]he real failure of such analyses is that a longstanding, and very bad precedent is being allowed to become more firmly entrenched in our cultural milieu when we desperately need to destroy it root and branch.
The silver lining to this idiocy is, I suppose, that just in case the idea of freedom is a little too abstract for some people, the implications of these regulations on our daily life won't be lost on anyone. As Max Schulz of City Journal explains in his title, "Say Goodbye to Big-Screen TVs."
I don't watch that much television myself, but I am outraged. Let me explore this a little bit by looking at Rosenfeld's rationale:
"It looks like a very good deal for society," says commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld. By the commission's estimates, consumers will save anywhere from $18 to $30 per year in electricity costs as a result of the new rules. If every one of the state's 35 million TVs were replaced with a more efficient set, say proponents, the measure would save more than $8 billion over ten years. Says a commission spokesman: "I don't know anyone who doesn't like to save money."
This is the height of presumption. Society, as Ayn Rand once pointed out, is simply, "a large number of men who live together in the same country, and who deal with one another." Arthur Rosenfeld has thus presumed to speak on my behalf, whether he chooses to admit it or not. Let me correct this pencil necked piece of officialdom right now.
What difference does saving money make -- even if it were far more than the pitiful two fifty a month I'm supposed to be so excited about -- if some jackass like Rosenfeld gets to tell me how to spend it? Saving money is not an end in itself: The whole reason that saving money can be a good thing to me is because doing so would leave me more money to spend on something else I would want.
What this means is that if I consider my priorities and decide that the financial outlay is less important than being able to enjoy the large, crisp picture of a big screen television set, then forgoing the television set is actually not a good thing, and therefore not something that I'd want in that context.
Arthur Rosenfeld, to put it in the most polite terms I can muster, has no fucking idea what my priorities are. He does not know my financial situation. He does not understand my hopes and dreams. He does not know what I like to do in my free time. He does not know what I consider important or why.
The only thing Rosenfeld does know is that he has the illegitimate power to affect my decisions at the point of a government gun while he hides behind a stack of paper and pats himself on the back for forcing me to save not even enough money to buy a beer at happy hour at a pub each month -- as if some soul-mate of his somewhere else isn't already plotting to make that illegal for "society's" health or productivity while another devises new ways to extract far more money from "society's" wallet than he has "saved" on "society's" behalf.
Any time you hear someone talking about what is best for "society" aside from protection of individual rights, you should ask yourself how the hell that person knows what is good for you, individually, and you should urge anyone else to do the same. That person is forgetting that human beings exist as individuals and even if he really thinks he's helping you out, he isn't because he can't.
To live, one must apply his individual reasoning mind to the question of his individual survival and the enjoyment of his individual life. Nobody can do that for anyone else, and the idea that some people want to use government power to do it should offend and alarm the bejeezus out of many more people than it apparently does.
William Doherty won't be among the throngs in the shopping malls Friday morning. He will be in church.
Doherty, a professor in the Family Social Science Department at the University of Minnesota, is part of a growing backlash against the commercialization of Christmas. Last year, he helped his church, Unity Church Unitarian in St. Paul, hold a worship service on what has become known as Black Friday, the official kickoff of the holiday gift-buying bonanza and biggest retail shopping day of the year.
This rejection of the commercialism of Black Friday seems somewhat different from the push to "Put Christ Back in Christmas." That movement originates with more conservative, "family values," evangelical Christianity. This opposition to Black Friday seems to reflect more progressive opposition to commerce and consumption. (That's an assumption on my part, but conservative evangelicals are not often found in Unitarian churches -- or in universities.)
Importantly, the two movements are united in their basic aim of stripping the supposed stench of commerce from Christmas. Ultimately, that means replacing the cheerful tradition of exchanging gifts with loved ones with the dull duty of serving the poor, the needy, and the unworthy. That's the operative moral ideal -- explicitly:
At New Hope Baptist, the Rev. Runney Patterson Sr. was excited by Unity's experience. It meshed perfectly with his concept of giving. "Most of what we consider holiday gift-giving isn't giving at all, it's swapping," he said. "We're just trading gifts. True giving is when you find an individual or a family that is not able to give back to you." [Emphasis added.]
Notice, the goal is not to help some worthy person, struggling to make ends meet due to hardships beyond his control. The goal is to prevent you from trading with others: you must not benefit! That's truly the moral imperative of altruism: it's not that you help others, but that you don't help yourself.
By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog
Some time ago, I noted with some bemusement the flurry of excitement over an announcement that the remains of the historical Jesus Christ had been found:
Even if we were to sweep aside the difficulties [of] making a definitive identification, my reaction to all this is: Interesting, but so what?
[A]ny arbitrary claim, by its nature, has no evidence for or against it. Whether we have found the skull of Jesus or not makes precisely zero difference in our evaluation of him as divine, on the question of whether he turned water into wine, or whether he rose from the dead. Whenever something earthly is taken as "evidence" for or against such claims, one will find that the person is guilty of perpetuating, or has fallen for, a package deal, an indiscriminate lumping-together of things that differ essentially in some way.
It is thus with similar bemusement that I watched this PajamasTV interview (HT: Glenn Reynolds) with several individuals heavily invested in the political agenda associated with the premise that the climate is warming. To a man, the ones who did not decline to speak at all were dismissive of the need to learn what all the fuss was about, much less address the serious questions about the soundness of the science that the exposed emails and computer code of what has become known as "ClimateGate" have raised.
This is the science that supposedly lies at the foundation of their entire political agenda, and which they constantly allege to be "settled" in order to browbeat anyone within earshot into accepting it as the only way forward for all of mankind. Given that they seem to think -- wrongly -- that how to run an economy is a matter of science, and not political philosophy, one would expect them to be intensely interested in making sure that they are on solid, factual ground.
Clearly, they are not. Instead, the activists babble about the science being "settled" (!), project their own denial onto the interviewers, and -- incredibly -- dismiss what could be evidence of an actual conspiracy as mere indulgence in conspiracy theories. (Just because the vast majority of conspiracy theories are bunk does not mean that people do not occasionally conspire. Also, the existence of a conspiracy should sometimes be viewed as the tip of a larger, non-conspiratorial iceberg best discovered by asking why the conspiracy occurred in the first place.)
Whatever you may think of George Monbiot, and setting aside his relentless attacks on "deniers," his reaction at least bears some resemblance to how an actual scientist ought to react, in terms of how he thinks the publication of the emails from the University of East Anglia should have been dealt with:
Pretending that this isn't a real crisis isn't going to make it go away. Nor is an attempt to justify the emails with technicalities. We'll be able to get past this only by grasping reality, apologising where appropriate and demonstrating that it cannot happen again.
One of the most damaging emails was sent by the head of the climatic research unit, Phil Jones. He wrote "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"
No one has been as badly let down by the revelations in these emails as those of us who have championed the science. We should be the first to demand that it is unimpeachable, not the last.
If you wonder why I am not so optimistic that Copenhagen will come to naught, this is why. Already in the video, this affair is being dismissed as "cherry-picking" and relegated to the personal faults of the scientists involved, in much the same way that leftists and pragmatists deny the role of Islam in motivating and Islamic theocracies in fomenting terrorism -- and instead treat individual attacks as if they are unrelated crimes. (If this incident helps blow the lid off scientific fraud or destroys the warmists' credibility enough, global warming legislation could well lose momentum, but I think that now could be too soon.)
I have not looked deeply into this matter yet, and for all I know, it could well be that only part of the evidence for global warming has been negated or even that none of it has. But if the peer-review process has been compromised, lots of the data is now suspect, as are the theories based on that data.
Monbiot seems still convinced of the existence of global warming, and laments that, "However good the detailed explanations may be, most people aren't going to follow or understand them. Jones's statement, on the other hand, is stark and easy to grasp." He fears that the damage has been done for his side, but just listen to the environmentalists in this video. Damage has already been done -- just not the kind Monbiot is worried about.
The environmentalists have an entire web of mental interconnections (whether they conform to reality or not) in favor of the idea that the climate is warming. Our recent cold winter and this scandal look like outliers to them. These emails could well be just like those old bones from a few years ago -- fighting an uphill battle against the deeply-held faith of large numbers of people. To the extent that that these people, for all their lip-service to science, have accepted global warming on faith, these emails will fulfill a similar role. The bones were never going to make Christians doubt the resurrection and these emails were never going to make such disciples of global warming doubt their article of faith, either.
To determine whether the emails mean anything requires an insistence that they be examined in a proper context, a willingness to admit whatever the findings and their ramifications ultimately are, and an assessment of whether and how those findings affect the credibility of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis, as well as how the ramifications might affect the theory itself. Except possibly from George Monbiot, I don't see any of this from the global warming camp so far.
Monbiot is right about one thing: Upholding the science is crucial. This goes equally well for those of us who oppose the current raft of proposed global warming legislation. Whatever the science says, making it up impugns those who do. Whatever the science says, admit it. And then argue from correct political principles that take into account man's nature and the proper role of government when engaging in the political debate about global warming legislation.
By Diana Hsieh from NoodleFood,cross-posted by MetaBlog
I'm a philosopher, not a psychologist. Yet often the moral advice I offer touches on matters of psychology. My policy is that I'll offer advice based on common sense psychology, albeit only in general terms. I don't wish to act as anyone's therapist; I'm neither qualified for nor interested in that.
Often, a person needs only moral advice, with a dash of common sense psychology. That's what I can offer. Yet sometimes, a person has deeper psychological problems: to live well, he needs therapy.
That raises a question: How can a person find a good therapist? That's a tricky question. A less-than-good therapist can be a waste of time and money, if not positively damaging.
Happily, psychologist Ellen Kenner offers some helpful on choosing a therapist in this article on her web site. If you're looking for a therapist, I recommend reading the whole article. Here, I'd just like to comment on some highlights.
Dr. Kenner recommends asking three preliminary questions:
What is your background and experience with my problem?
What are your credentials?
What type of therapy do you offer?
That's just the initial evaluation. Dr. Kenner emphasizes that the patient must continue to judge the therapist and his advice. She writes:
In the early stages of therapy, observe the following: Is your therapist goal oriented? Do you work on specific goals? Does your therapist focus on solving problems? Is he or she a careful listener... rather then jumping hastily in with an agenda that seems off base? In therapy, do you look back at your past purposefully... or do you spend oodles of time rehashing your past with very little application to present or to the future[?]
Again, as you start therapy with the person you choose... ask yourself -- "Does the therapist's advice make sense to me?" Are you becoming more hopeful that your life can improve -- not based on floating wishes, but based on facts and skills you are learning that help you cope better with your world? Do you regularly experience "ah-ha -- now I see the picture more clearly"? Or do you shake your head and wonder where therapy is headed? Always give yourself permission to ask your therapist his or her reasoning for any advice you are given. You want to grasp first hand why you should follow any advice.
That's very good advice! The critical point is not to lose your basic confidence in yourself as a rational, thinking person, just because you happen to be in therapy.
If you're seeking psychological help, you might feel very confused and burdened and uncertain due to your psychological problems. You're seeking help from a stranger. Your mind isn't working right, and you don't know how to fix the problem yourself. That's not going to bolster your confidence in your own judgment!
So you might be tempted to cede your authority to any half-way decent therapist you can find, on the assumption that he/she must know better than you. Or you might be reluctant to seek therapy at all, thinking that you'd have to cede your authority to that therapist.
That's a mistake. Unless you're delusional, you can judge whether your therapist seeks to help you live more rationally, more purposefully, more honestly, more independently, and so on. If not, then you need to seek a better therapist, using Dr. Kenner's advice. You can do that -- and you should do that.
In short, you should think of your therapist as you would think of a plumber, mechanic, or doctor. You're hiring the person because he/she has expertise that you lack -- not because you're a moron. You need to be sure to choose the person wisely, based on reasonable criteria. Then you need to judge the quality of their work, seeking someone better if you're not satisfied. If you do that, you can find yourself a good therapist.
By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog
Peggy Noonan makes some interesting points Barack Obama should heed about why an image can become shorthand for a Presidency:
In a presidency, a picture or photograph becomes iconic only when it seems to express something people already think. When Gerald Ford was spoofed for being physically clumsy, it took off. The picture of Ford losing his footing and tumbling as he came down the steps of Air Force One became a symbol. There was a reason, and it wasn't that he was physically clumsy. He was not only coordinated but graceful. He'd been a football star at the University of Michigan and was offered contracts by the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.
But the picture took off because it expressed the growing public view that Ford's policies were bumbling and stumbling. The picture was iconic of a growing political perception.
The Obama bowing pictures are becoming iconic, and they would not be if they weren't playing off a growing perception. If the pictures had been accompanied by headlines from Asia saying "Tough Talks Yield Big Progress" or "Obama Shows Muscle in China," the bowing pictures might be understood this way: "He Stoops to Conquer: Canny Obama shows elaborate deference while he subtly, toughly, quietly advances his nation's interests."
But that's not how the pictures were received or will be remembered.
I have to say that that picture is what comes to mind now when I think of Barack Obama, along with the fact that he's acting like a servant to everyone except the public whose servant he actually is.
But did he finally get one right?
Via Glenn Reynolds, I was thrilled to learn that Honduras has prevailed in its fight for freedom:
[L]eftist claims that Honduras could not hold fair elections flew in the face of the facts. First, the candidates were chosen in November 2008 primaries with observers from the OAS, which judged the process to be "transparent and participative." Second, all the presidential candidates--save one from a small party on the extreme left--wanted the elections to go forward. Third, though Mr. Insulza insisted on calling the removal of Mr. Zelaya a "military coup," the military had never taken charge of the government. And finally, the independent electoral tribunal, chosen by congress before Mr. Zelaya was removed, was continuing with the steps required to fulfill its constitutional mandate to conduct the vote. In the aftermath of the elections Mr. Insulza, who insisted that the group would not recognize the results, presides over a discredited OAS.
At least the Obama administration figured out, after four months, that it had blundered. It deserves credit for realizing that elections were the best way forward, and for promising to recognize the outcome despite enormous pressure from Brazil and Venezuela. President Obama came to office intent on a foreign policy of multilateralism. Perhaps this experience will teach him that freedom does indeed have enemies.
Here's hoping that Mary O'Grady isn't being too generous with Barack Obama--which is about as close to praying as you're ever going to see me get!
As the leaked messages, and especially the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file, found their way around technical circles, two things happened: first, programmers unaffiliated with East Anglia started taking a close look at the quality of the CRU's code, and second, they began to feel sympathetic for anyone who had to spend three years (including working weekends) trying to make sense of code that appeared to be undocumented and buggy, while representing the core of CRU's climate model.
Sadly, I expect that Reynolds' prognostication about the possible outcome of the Copenhagen conference is a rosy, best-case scenario, even were all of this to be conclusively proven.
Call Me Scrooge
I found this article (viaGeekPress) about the psychology behind the decision to buy extended warranties very interesting.
It's been shown experimentally that people--counterintuitively--become more risk averse the better a mood they're in. The reason appears to be that compared to a neutral mood, a good mood makes contemplating a potential loss feel worse. Basically, if you're in a good mood, you have more to lose: Contemplating a financial loss makes you think not only of the loss itself, but also of the loss of the good mood.
Also going into the equation are bad estimates of risk.
I pretty much hew to the following policy: "The only time to insure something is when replacing it would represent a real financial hit that you can’t afford to take."
By Diana Hsieh from NoodleFood,cross-posted by MetaBlog
Christopher Booker has a useful overview of the scandal of "Climategate" in a UK Telegraph column. The whole article is well worth reading, but I liked his identification of three basic points of scientific scandal:
Perhaps the most obvious ... is the highly disturbing series of emails which show how Dr Jones and his colleagues have for years been discussing the devious tactics whereby they could avoid releasing their data to outsiders under freedom of information laws.
The second and most shocking revelation of the leaked documents is how they show the scientists trying to manipulate data through their tortuous computer programmes, always to point in only the one desired direction -- to lower past temperatures and to "adjust" recent temperatures upwards, in order to convey the impression of an accelerated warming. ...
The third shocking revelation of these documents is the ruthless way in which these academics have been determined to silence any expert questioning of the findings they have arrived at by such dubious methods -- not just by refusing to disclose their basic data but by discrediting and freezing out any scientific journal which dares to publish their critics' work. ...
Also, Glenn Reynolds just published a column on the scandal in The Washington Examiner. (I was particularly interested to hear the views of independent programmers about the code used in the climate models.) I very much hope that Glenn's final prediction is right:
My prediction: The Copenhagen global warming conference will feature a lot of pretty words and promises, and no admission that things have changed. But we'll see little or no actual movement, as politicians around the world realize that there's no percentage in pushing these programs on an increasingly wary public.
By email@example.com (Edward Cline) from The Rule of Reason,cross-posted by MetaBlog
The mushrooming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)-University of East Anglia-Climate Research Unit email scandal, dubbed “ClimateGate,” invites satire first, then serious examination. We begin with an excerpt from the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007. Read it and weep. There have been three other assessments, in 1990, 1995, and 2001. A fifth assessment is being prepared for 2014. What sold the IPCC on the credibility of global warming was the “hockey stick” graph of Al Gore notoriety. The fifth assessment -- if it is ever collated and written -- doubtless will feature baseball bats, the better to knock some sense into a doubting and skeptical public.
Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (human) greenhouse gas concentrations.
Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries due to the timescales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilized, although the likely amount of temperature and sea level rise varies greatly depending on the fossil intensity of human activity during the next century (pages 13 and 18).
The probability that this is caused by natural climatic processes alone is less than 5%.
World temperatures could rise by between 1.1 and 6.4 °C (2.0 and 11.5 °F) during the 21st century (table 3) and that:
Sea levels will probably rise by 18 to 59 cm (7.08 to 23.22 in) [table 3]. There is a confidence level >90% that there will be more frequent warm spells, heat waves and heavy rainfall.
There is a confidence level >66% that there will be an increase in droughts, tropical cyclones and extreme high tides.
Both past and future anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions will continue to contribute to warming and sea level rise for more than a millennium.
Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values over the past 650,000 years.”
The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), both U.N. organizations. The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the IPCC and former vice president Al Gore. Well, we all know what the Nobel Peace Prize is worth. Ask President Barack Obama, this year’s recipient.
The 2007 IPCC report contains and incorporates data cooked up by the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU), headed by Phil Jones. The CRU bills itself as “widely recognized as one of the world's leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change.”
As one may see in the IPCC report above, not much global warming or climate change is attributed to natural causes. Less than five percent. The rest of it, according to the report, is all man’s doing. Our activities are warping those natural causes. The qualifier in the report, “natural climatic processes,” presumably exempts the sun from causing or contributing to those processes, provided one concedes that the processes are authentic and have happened or will happen.
The only value of any past and future IPCC report, to judge by the unearthed emails, is sensational material for doom-and-gloom science fiction movie producers, who would keep employed many special-effects graphic artists. However, the best source of news about ClimateGate is Climate Depot. Not the mainstream media, which, with Congress and the White House, is doing its best to ignore the scandal. After all, billions and billions of dollars are at stake if the cap-and-trade bill is not passed and if the Copenhagen climate change treaty implodes on its authors. Al Gore and his venal ilk stand to not profit if that happens.
Environmentalists, global warming advocates, and the government all have a vested interest in the “truth” of catastrophic climate change. Not to mention car manufacturers and other industries that have either retrofitted their plants or invested in “green” industries to comply with anticipated federal carbon legislation. Think of the billions spent on hybrid cars and florescent light bulbs and solar panels and wind turbines, all contrived to combat non-existent global warming. Poof! It will all have been for naught. So, the economic and political consequences of ClimateGate go far, far beyond the issue of the veracity of a handful of climate scientists.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a division of the National Weather Service, is stammering astonishment that CO2 levels are not only rising, but have nothing to do with global warming, which is not occurring. In fact, CO2 levels rise after temperature increases. The New York Times is “shocked, shocked” that fraud is taking place in climate science.
The New York Post ran an article on how school children are being indoctrinated (shall we say, “brainwashed”) about the “reality” of global warming. Asked about ClimateGate, White House “climate advisor” Carol Browner pretended that she had never heard the one about fifty million Frenchmen being as wrong as one.
"What am I going to do?" asked Browner. "Side with the couple of naysayers out there, or the 2,500 scientists?" -- who've drunk the Kool-Aid. "I'm sticking with the 2,500 scientists."
For a spot of sanity, listen to Lord Monckton, one of the original “skeptics” and “deniers.”
The chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, has more or less said that the lies, frauds, and cover-ups will not affect his or the IPCC’s conclusions about global warming.
Rajendra Pachauri defended the IPCC in the wake of apparent suggestions in emails between climate scientists at the University of East Anglia that they had prevented work they did not agree with from being included in the panel's fourth assessment report, which was published in 2007.…The emails were made public this month after a hacker illegally obtained them from servers at the university….Pachauri said the large number of contributors and rigorous peer review mechanism adopted by the IPCC meant that any bias would be rapidly uncovered.
What he did not mention is that the “peer review” process was as rigged as were the data. Papers, findings, and statements by global warming “skeptics” and “deniers” were excoriated and deep-sixed as a mater of covert policy, apparently encouraged by CRU director Phil Jones.
Pachauri is concerned with neither the truth nor the lies.
Some commentators, including the former chancellor Nigel Lawson and the environmental campaigner and Guardian writer George Monbiot, have called on Jones to resign but Pachauri said he did not agree. He said an independent inquiry into the emails would achieve little, but there should be a criminal investigation into how the emails came to light.
Pachauri’s first priority is to get the guy responsible for exposing the fraud and making him look like a fool. However, that “hacker” should be nominated for next year’s Nobel Peace Prize. He has done the world a service that cannot be matched by any Prize winner in the past. He has uncovered the near pathological obsession of the IPCC and its acolytes with establishing a “world governance” body that would ensure that the world’s population, and in particular that of the U.S., is reduced to the standard of living of men who lived in the Medieval Warm Period so neglected and blanked-out by the global warming harpies. That hacker properly invaded the “privacy” of men on government payrolls or who live off of looted taxes (e.g., Pachauri) who have advanced costly and elaborate junk science to attain a political agenda.
(One wishes that another hacker would raid the “private” emails of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Henry Waxman, and their health-care bill allies to see what they think of the trillion-dollar scam they wish to foist on this country.)
What is fascinating in a morbid sense is the almost hilarious evasive behavior of Phil Jones and his colleagues at the CRU as they try to fit square pegs into round holes. A Portuguese website, EcoTretas, contains many of the email exchanges between Jones and his co-conspirators as they scramble to counter the invasion of reality and truth-tellers. Many of the damning statements are highlighted by the site host. However, there are two un-highlighted statements that merit special scrutiny.
Under the heading, “Fixing the data,” Jones, as long ago as 2000, complains:
From: Phil Jones, Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2000 13:04:24+0000 As all our (Mike, Tom and CRU) all show that the first few centuries of the millennium were cooler than the 20th century, we will come in for some flak from the skeptics saying we’re wrong because everyone knows it was warmer in the Medieval period. We can show why we believe we are correct with independent data from glacial advances and even slower responding proxies, however, what are the chances of putting together a group of a very few borhole [sic] series that are deep enough to get the last 1000 years. Basically trying to head off criticisms of the IPCC chapter, but good science in that we will be rewriting people’s perceived wisdom about the course of temperature change over the past millennium.
“Everyone knows it was warmer in the Medieval period.” So, let’s forget it. Omit it from the picture altogether. More important is Jones’s wish to “rewrite people’s perceived wisdom.” Which means: changing reality, or trying to. Which means: committing fraud and deceit.
Under the heading, “Wrongdoing,” Jones, five years later, wishes again:
From: Phil Jones, Date: Tue Jul 5 15:15:55 2005 If anything, I would like to see the climate change happen, so the science could be proved right, regardless of the consequences. This isn't being political, it is being selfish.
But that damned climate just wouldn’t change for the worse. The data just wouldn’t conform to his wishes. How frustrating! It’s more important to be proved right, than to adhere to and respect the truth that all indicators pointed to global cooling. So, let’s just say that global warming is occurring anyway, that CO2 is running amok, and that we’re the cause, and it’s getting hotter and hotter. Maybe nobody will notice. Repeat it often enough, and it will become true. Lots of friends in the MSM who will chant with us.
So the IPCC, Phil Jones, and his fellow Chicken Littles are all learning the hard way that square pegs have never gotten along with round holes. And that skies will not fall on command.