Saturday, June 26, 2010

When the ACLU and prolife groups agree

You really know a bad law is in the works.

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 17, 2010 ( – Delayed, but not undaunted, the leadership of the Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress may force a Thursday vote on a new campaign finance bill, the Orwellian-named “Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act” that has pro-life, pro-family groups, and even the ACLU crying foul. Critics say the measure will have a chilling effect on political free speech, especially with mid-term elections just around the corner.

But if you're big, you don't have to comply with the law!

The NRA deal – since modified to cover organizations such as the Sierra Club – exempts 501(c)4 groups from having to report their donors if they have at least 500,000 members, over 10 years of existence, chapters in all 50 states, and receive no more than 15% of total contributions from corporations. The NRA has over 4 million members; the environmentalist Sierra Club has 750,000 members.

The deal leaves smaller and more numerous grassroots organizations, in particular the pro-life, pro-family movement and the decentralized conservative “Tea Party” movement, out in the cold.

That's nice. I think I'm going to read some Hayek now.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book review - The Party System

Belloc and GKC's younger brother describe the ins and outs of the British political system circa 1910, and all of the various abuses that come about from having an ossified party system. Also interestingly, they note that the legislature is beholden to the executive, which is beholden to no one. It seems to me that the whole system worked better when the King was at war with Parliament, though that is not a point that they directly address. Secret party slush funds are identified as a major sore point, as they allow the parties to spend their way to victory.

I wonder if anyone has perspective on how functional Parliament is now, and how beholden it is to the parties?

The introductions by Ron Paul and Prince Sforza Ruspoli are somewhat disturbing, but easily skimmed over.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Unger on Nat'l Identity Cards


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Discussing constitutional issues without being racist

Mr. Paul, meanwhile, found himself hurtling into the past when, responding to questions from Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, he expressed philosophical reservations about the 1964 Civil Rights Act, specifically the provision that forced private businesses to integrate. (Later, he amended that position, saying he would have supported the act anyway.)

The ensuing cries of racism probably made perfect sense to those who lived through the ’60s. After all, if a white Southerner in 1964 opposed integration on constitutional grounds, odds were pretty good that bigotry was a motivating factor. And yet the national conversation around racism and its remedies today is considerably more nuanced than it was 50 years ago — or even 10 years ago.

Now Tiger Woods plays annually at Augusta, historically an all-white club. The African-American president of the United States has said that his own relatively privileged daughters should not benefit from affirmative action programs when applying to college. Americans the president’s age and younger are inclined to assume that one can question the responsibilities of government and private entities when it comes to race without necessarily being dismissed as a racist — even if it does make them, as in the case of Mr. Paul, something of an ideological outlier.

Just because a policy achieves some good, doesn't mean that the policy is good, and it should be OK to discuss the means without being accused of disliking the ends.

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New use for floppies - data transfer

I've been receiving a lot of emails lately with uses for your old floppy disks. Well, I've discovered another use of my own, and it's quite unexpected I do say. Apparently you can use them to store data and transfer it between two computers!

Here's how it works.

1. First select a sturdy floppy. Color doesn't matter. I have chosen green.

A green floppy disk

2. Locate the floppy drive. It is a small door about the same size of the disk.

A floppy drive

3. Start inserting the disk with the shiny end towards the computer.

A partially inserted floppy disk

4. Insert until the disk clicks into place. No further.

A fully inserted floppy disk

5. Open My Computer or otherwise navigate to the floppy drive in your operating system of choice.

My Computer in Windows

6. Drag file the file that you want to transfer to the floppy drive. Not too big!
Dragging file to floppy drive

7. Wait for the transfer to finish. You may wish to get a cup of coffee.
My Computer in Windows

8. Locate and push eject button. It is usually on the upper right side of the floppy. It is circled in red below.

My Computer in Windows

9. Insert the disk into another computer, using the same procedure as above.

Inserting floppy disk into another computer

10. You can now view the files on the other computer using the method of your choice.
My Computer in Windows

Congratulations, you're done! Now in only ten simple steps you can put your old floppies to good use.


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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Science vs Accepted Science

Dr. Clancy figured she knew what she would find: “Everything I knew dictated that the abuse should be a horrible experience, that the child should be traumatized at the time it was happening — overwhelmed with fear, shock, horror.”

But many carefully documented interviews revealed nothing of the sort. Commonly, the abuse had been confusing for the child but not traumatic in the usual sense of the word. Only when the child grew old enough to understand exactly what had happened — sometimes many years later — did the fear, shock and horror begin. And only at that point did the experience become traumatic and begin its well-known destructive process.

Dr. Clancy questioned her findings, reconfirmed them and was convinced. Her audience, when she made the data public, was outraged.

It can be dangerous to question the status quo, yes, yes. People get very upset if you have data that questions what they know, whether the issue at hand is religious or otherwise.

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Book Review: Teach Yourself Nietzsche

I've read many works of Nietzsche, but I was having some trouble keeping all of the different ideas in my head at once. This book provides a brief discussion of the main points of Nietzsche's life and several varying interpretations for each of his main ideas. It is not a substitute for reading the works themselves by any means, but it is a useful framework and refresher. I would have appreciated some more depth, but then it wouldn't have really been an introductory text anymore.


Book Review: War and Peace

Realistically, I will have nothing to say that hasn't already been said. However I do say that this is a very quick read, all things considered, and it has been a long while since I have read a work of such quality.

Also, when I was on a northbound Lexington Avenue express train, an elderly Russian gentleman gave me a lecture on how the title should be "War and Society", which sounds reasonable to me given that I don't know any Russian.

This particular translation supposedly has something of an imprimatur from Tolstoy himself. I don't know if that really matters - did he even know English?


Friday, June 18, 2010

An inconvenient truth about malaria

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

JFK is a myth!

What never occurs to liberal biblical scholars is that you could do exactly the same thing with the assassination of JFK and “prove” that JFK never existed and that the “assassination” of the Kennedy Event is a mythic construct cobbled together by later generations. Three shots? Four shots? From a dozen different directions? Kennedy said nothing? Kennedy said, “My God, I’m hit.”? And what about the Eucharistic significance of a supposed Harvard man announcing a year or two earlier “I am a jelly donut” to the crowds in Berlin? Why is there a doublet in the ancient records that announces the assassination of another “Kennedy” named “Robert”? at almost the same period of time. Clearly, we are looking at the convergence of two mythic tales from the Dallas and Los Angeles faith communities which later redactors smoothed into a single narrative.

On the silliness of much biblical criticism.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Like the other nations

I was reading the Declaration of Establishment of State of Israel and I came across an interesting phrase:

This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.

Which of course make me think of the passage in 1 Samuel where Israel is first established as a unified state.

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and they said, "No! but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles."

1 Sam 8 19-20

An interesting juxtaposition! I wonder if it was intentional? I hope not, that is sort of a grim bit of 1 Samuel.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Neither conservative nor liberal

We tend to assume, unconsciously, that our religion is fundamentally "boring" and bourgeois--and then we are foolish enough to wonder why people, both young and older, drift away. But the Man in the Gospels is certainly not that at all: itinerant, not tied to property, ironic, satirical, defiant, even, at times, angry and "fed up."

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Christians killing Christians

Copts come to protest the building of a mosque, and are attacked by a bunch of white dudes for being Muslims. Declarations of their common faith are ignored.

Memories of Irish bishops repressing Eastern Catholics come to mind.

Hat tip to LGF.

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

One treaty to rule them all

As ACTA grows to a monster.

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Daycare sexual abuse hysteria

I did not know about this, but apparently in the not too distant past many daycare workers were convicted of sexually abusing their charges under circumstances of extreme prosecutorial misconduct. Who needs witch trials?

And still ongoing:

“I believe I was possibly the victim of a perfect storm, as the children were as well,” Craft told Vieira. “One, there already were some friendships that were no longer friendships. Whenever there were certain situations between normal childhood behavior, pointing and touching, then my name immediately came up and got put into the mix. And then it turned into parental phone calls back and forth and even my name being brought up, ‘Did Miss Tonya do this?’ ”

In court, the children, whose stories were inconsistent, would admit that their parents had told them what had happened and they had repeated it.

It is quite scary that someone would use a personal vendetta to put someone in jail for child abuse. But such is man, I suppose.

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A lack of common sense

As William Gross, the managing director of the bond management company Pimco, put it in his last newsletter, “Firms such as Pimco with large credit staffs of their own can bypass, anticipate and front run all three [rating agencies], benefiting from their timidity and lack of common sense.”


Rosemary makes meat safer?

Apparently true. Amazing!


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Delight in the liturgy? Let us count the ways.

A post by my friend Rita Ferrone.

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