Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Friday, 2017.12.15
A pat on the back is only a few inches from a kick in the pants.

		Murphy

2006.10.10

Blog Haiku #3

Such a beautiful rant
To this tired mind.
A lonely Publish button.

2006.10.09

Nuclear Short Man Syndrome

I have to wonder, just how many phone books was Kim Jong Il standing on in order to tower over former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright? Even accounting for the retro hair fluff, he’s got the “steely eyes staring down upon you” advantage:

Madeleine Albright - Kim Jong Il

Oh, and I’d just like to join in with the hearty “Cheers!” for Albright and team. Thanks for the fine, fine work back in the day. Without it, we wouldn’t be where were are now. Shinny!

2006.10.08

Heartland

A few pictures from a walk several weeks back. I’d meant to post them, but forgot about them until I happened across the digital camera this morning.

dsc00396_50.JPG

Janet and I called this cottonwood tree “Quasimodo.” Out in a field all by itself, it has been struck by lightning more times than I can count. The bark on one side is all black, the after effects of its most recent brush with primal forces. As gnarly as it looks, it has always been an inspiration for persevering and getting through our own tough times.

dsc00404_50.JPG

It used to be I could point a camera in any direction on my walks and end up with a cool picture like this. Now, there is so much mega-house building going on I have to frame my subject as best I can. On this walk, it was quiet, warm, fragrant and tranquil. Just like old times. I stood on this bridge soaking in the sunlight and comforting smells of Fall for a good long time. I want a strong memory of this place before it is gone forever.

2006.10.07

Foley’s Follies

In building my Bloggers League baseball team, I want Ann Althouse on the roster for a power hitter position in the rotation. She hits another one out of the park:

Like many from my generation, I am very strongly dedicated to the ethic of individual expression. That does not, however, in any way make it hard for me to acknowledge the absolute rule against adults doing anything sexual with children. I think you can flatly reject what Foley did and still believe in the value of individuals finding their own way around conventional morality and making their own rules about what is good. Obviously, social conservatives are the big champions of the moral order, but that doesn’t mean that to oppose what Foley did requires you to become an all-out social conservative. A responsible, freely expressive individual recognizes the need for some rules. (Emphasis added)

While individuals go about the process of “finding their own way around conventional morality and making their own rules,” in my observation, quite a few seem to drop the bit about being responsible for the consequences of their decisions and actions on other people. I’m sure it’s a complex problem, but it appears as if in the process of expanding the expression of their individuality they come to believe that the only way to “really” manifest their complete individuality is to drop the idea of limits entirely. Rules set limits. By extension, so does the concept of responsibility. Rules and responsibility become bad things on the path toward absolute individualism.

Abandoning limits on individual expression, and therefore abandoning responsibility for however that expression may manifest, imposes greater limits on those around such a person. Someone expressing themselves with an extended vocal outburst of profanity in a public coffee house will cause those within earshot to place additional limits on their own expression by reducing the number of coffee houses to which they may frequent by one (assuming the don’t want to hear extemporaneous profanity à fortissimo, of course.) This is but a trivial example.

On a larger stage, the effects are more pervasive and less easily remedied. The effects from the Law of Unintended Consequences begin to manifest as the spin goes out of control. This is what I see happening with the events surrounding the Foley scandal. Things get recursive and bizarre (Gays asserting “traditional values” to out other gays for the purposes of advancing a liberal party agenda? What’s up with that?) The hyperbole is enough to make one dizzy. People who’s experience with taking responsibility for their own actions is, shall we say, a bit rusty, are all gung ho to dust off what ever “moral code” seems to serve their agenda and apply it to the object of their moral outrage.

There are many other current events which illustrate this principle. Declaring “freedom” from the shackles of responsibility reveals all manner of contradictory outrage in individuals as well as larger collections of individuals. Their actions become decreasingly rational and increasingly emotional. In classic ends-justify-the-means style, behaving from such a frame leads to actions devoid of any need for explanation or justification and the consequence to others is of no concern. So, for example, we see soldiers hiding behind women and children in Lebanon (applying the apposing side’s moral code of not killing women and children) for the benefit of fulfilling their own individual expression (saving their own ass) with zero regard for the consequences (women and children caught in the crossfire.)

[Edit History]

2006.10.07

A manager’s dilemma. My Bloggers League baseball team isn’t even a post old and I can’t decide if Althouse should go in the rotation as a power or clean-up hitter. I see she has a post today that beautifully illustrates my point about adherents to the Church of Individualism loosing track of the consequences of their actions.

Her post addresses recent developments around an incident involving protesters at Columbia University who stormed a stage where Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the Minuteman Project, was giving a presentation (video here). It seems Columbia’s investigation involves looking at various Facebook profiles.

As of late Thursday night, 13 Columbia students and alumni had joined a Facebook group titled, “YES, I was there when Gilchrist was rushed faster than CUFT’s Quarterback.”

“I don’t [agree with the decision], but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Patric Prado, SEAS ’09 and creator of the group, said. “I was there, and it’s fine that they want to incriminate people who actually started violence. … Yes, we were stupid, but we got our message across that we weren’t going to accept this on campus.”

Universities, employers, and law enforcement agencies have widely contended that materials posted on Facebook-including posts, photos, and personal information-are admissible in investigations. Hornsby emphasized that screening Facebook was just one of several methods that the University would employ to conduct its investigation.

Student leaders expressed concerns Thursday night about the tactic.

“I was worried that that was going to happen,” Marcus Johnson, CC ’07 and co-chair of the University Senate’s student affairs committee, said. He later added in a statement, “As a University Senator and chair of the student affairs committee, I will do my best to make sure that all students are as safe as possible. On another note, everybody should quit Facebook right now.”

“On some level, I have to agree with the University,” Daniel Okin, SEAS ’07 and president of the Engineering Student Council, said. “That being said, it worries me that they would use the Facebook for that.”

The protesters did themselves in by not thinking about what might follow from their blunt protest (University launches investigation) and the subsequent posting of their involvement on a public web site (University collects evidence). But, Ann pushes the run home:

To use the material in an investigation is not to presume it is conclusive proof of something. What makes people think that if they do something in a place that makes them feel confessional it somehow doesn’t count? The students storming the stage also seemed to feel entitled to act out. That doesn’t make them not responsible for what they did. They can’t say oh, we were surrounded by friends who all thought this was just fine and we felt in charge of our own space. Really, these are intelligent college students. Why do they feel a special immunity from being observed in a public place?

Read the whole thing. She illustrates how the selective application of rules and responsibility exposes various agendas among the players involved.

2006.10.08

One example of the hyperbole around the Foley scandal. Gateway Pundit has a post related to the scandal in which he states:

Representative Jack Kingston and 10 fellow Republicans sent a letter to the Democratic leadership asking them to go before the Ethics Committee and disclose what they knew about Foley’s activities for the safty (sic) of America’s children.

I took issue with this in the comments to Gateway Pundit’s post, specifically, the “for the safety of America’s children” phrase:

I don’t think what Foley did, in context, was a threat to America’s children. Rather, a threat to a specific (yes, vulnerable) group.

To my knowledge, Foley didn’t have access to the entire nation’s children and the entire nation’s children were not somehow at greater risk from Foley’s behavior. Acceptance into the White House page program is a highly competitive process, not just any child/young adult can participate. As a result, it’s a select group of bright kids. What ever the result of the Ethics Committee’s inquiry, it would likely have little or no bearing on the safety of America’s children. It could, however, have a significant impact on how the White House page program is monitored and therefore the safety of the children/young adults in the program.

The more rigorously problems are defined, the higher the quality and durability of the solution. And in cases like Gateway Pundit’s post, the scope is too broadly defined to yield a meaningful solution to the actual problem at hand (i.e. the relationship between elected officials and their pages.)

This is but one example of what happens as scandals are sensationalized. There has been so much of this in the Foley scandal that the whole thing has spun off its axis. In this state, no one will be happy with the outcome as any proposed solution will not sufficiently cover each position’s definition of the problem space.

2006.10.06

Blog Haiku #2

Gentle Autumn RSS feed.
Tantalizing tidbits fall to the ground.
I tie my shoe.

2006.10.05

The View’s All Rosy From Rosie’s Rose Colored Glasses

What Rosie O’Donnell said (video here):

I think the horror of imagining 6 to 13 year old girls hand-cuffed together and shot execution style one by one is perhaps enough to awaken the nation that maybe we need some stricter gun control laws.

Yes. More laws. Stricter laws. THAT would have stopped the monster. Eeeeeeeeevvvvreeeeeybody knows if there is a law against committing some heinous crime, the criminal low life and predators will stop and control themselves. Ack. Now, now Rosie. We can talk. You don’t have to go yellow. You’re sounding a little yellow there. Rosie continues:

If the man did not have a gun. If the man had a knife. And he walked in there. And there are adult women there. The man said “I would like the women to leave because I’m gonna keep the girls.” I guarantee you if that man did not have a gun the mothers who were the teachers in that school would never have left those children alone in that room.

I wouldn’t be so sure the outcome would be as implied by Rosie, i.e. the mothers and teachers would have fought back against a knife. Consider this, as reported by ABC News:

The oldest of the five Amish girls shot dead in a Pennsylvania schoolhouse is said to have stepped forward and asked her killer to “Shoot me first,” in an apparent effort to buy time for her schoolmates.

Rita Rhoads, a midwife who delivered two of the victims, told ABC News’ Law and Justice Unit that she learned of 13-year-old Marian Fisher’s plea from Fisher’s family.

What’s more, Fisher’s younger sister, Barbie, who survived the shooting, allegedly asked the gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, to “Shoot me second,” Rhoads said.

“They were amazing,” Rhoads said, “absolutely amazing. There was a tremendous amount of calm and courage in that schoolroom.”

“Marian, the oldest one, did ask to be shot first,” Rhoads said. “The faith of their fathers really was embedded in them. … How many adults are willing to do that? Not many.”

And there’s Rosie, professing to know the mind of an Amish person. Actually guaranteeing for us exactly how an Amish person would respond. I can smell the stench of her hypocrisy right through the Internet. Keep those glasses on, Rosie. You can’t handle the truth.

2006.10.04

Law Enforcement As A For Profit Venture

Seems the city planners in Clive, Iowa, were banking on 1) catching lawbreakers 2) lawbreakers being plentiful and 3) lawbreakers not changing their ways – ever. (H/T State 29 via Instapundit)

Clive’s stoplight camera system fell well short of revenue expectations for the second consecutive month.

Based on preliminary estimates provided to city officials by the cameras’ operator, Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems, the system was expected to generate about $85,000 per month initially.

September’s revenue was less than $700, based on statistics compiled by the Clive Police Department. The number of citations issued was down about 10 percent from August, the first full month of operation.

Clive City Manager Dennis Henderson said glitches are still being corrected in the system, and that he’s been satisfied that area residents are driving more safely.

Ouch. That’s 0.8% of projections. Just a little off, don’t you think? Come on, you Clivers, get with it and start running those red lights! Your city needs you!

Actually, State 29 has it right: “Shouldn’t the revenue expectation be zero?

I’m left with uneasy feelings anytime I hear of governments employing this type of technology principally for the purpose of raising revenue. I say “principally” because, as it appears to be in this case, the argument in favor of using the technology is based on revenue expectations rather than the decreased violations. I’ve read other articles where this type of revenue expectation was actually included in annual budgets.

Bad idea, this. As technology improves and becomes less expensive, the full range of statutes become available for automatically issuing citations for violations. Because, you know, ignorance of the law is not a defence. Remember this little gem from Houston? Couple Chief Harold Hurtt’s attitude with micro-surveillance and you’ve got yourself a right profitable proposition. If Big Brother were only watching us, perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. Being pinned under the fat ass of a revenue hungry Big Brother is a bit more disconcerting.

[Edit History]

2006.10.05

I’ve been wondering. What are City Manager Dennis Henderson’s “glitches” to be “corrected”? Is the yellow light too long? Perhaps he should eliminate it all together? Or how about flashing from green to red for a few seconds right in the middle of the green cycle? Photograph vehicles as they drive away from the intersection just after the light turns red. After all, they almost ran a red light and they just might do it for real next time. They’re just building up the confidence to do it. There they go, fleeing the scene of a red light. That’s got to be good for some extra violation cash. Come on, guys. If the Clivers aren’t cooperating with Redflex Trafffic Systems’ sales pitch, you gotta think outside the box, or intersection in this case.

Several grammar changes.

2006.10.01

Dashboard Mohammed

Apparently, in high demand:

Dashboard Mohammed

A quote from the Daily News reads (H/T Michelle Malkin):

Frank Peters, a professor in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at NYU, warned that a bobblehead Muhammed was “a really bad idea.”

“Jews and Christians have gotten used to this kind of thing, but Muslims haven’t,” he said. “This may not be his intention, but these things have consequences.”

Well. I say let the desensitization begin. It might prevent the logical outcome of current trajectories.

A question, though. If no one is allowed to depict Mohammed, how do they know what he looks like? Maybe Mohammed doesn’t look like Dashboard Mohammed at all, which would mean all those symbols of rage (Danish cartoons, South Park episodes, etc.) are not offensive in the least because they actually don’t represent Mohammed.

Maybe he looks like this:

Circle

Or this:

Square

Or this:

Triangle

Would these images be representations of Mohammed if I said they were, or even simply claimed it was my intention that they were? In a rational mind, Dashboard Mohammed could be declared as not being The Mohammed rather just a Mohammed and all would be peachy. But rage blinds the rational mind like a hot iron to the eye.

If the radical Muslims could please provide a picture of what nobody is supposed to depict then all this nonsense can stop and we can all be respectful. But then, of course, they’d have to declare jihad on themselves. This reads like the Knights Who Say “Ni”. You know, the iron clad chaps from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Those fellows who can’t say that word…er…can’t think of it right now. Ooops! That’s it. Argh! I wrote it again! There, I’ve written it again! I can’t stop writing it! Help!

[Edit History]

2006.10.01

Sorry. The quote from Michelle Malkin is linked, just further up in her post. Link added to this post.

Also edited for clarity.

2006.09.30

Blog Haiku #1

Words gather.
Spell check.
That’s not what I meant.

2006.09.29

Dean Esmay Builds A Strawman

Most of his post is a waste of otherwise fine electrons. This is so because his opening premise is so ineptly crafted it would be laughable if it were part of a Three Stooges script. Lets start with what he wrote:

Recently, I noticed that some of Iran’s unelected and illegitimate leaders have said that Islam is incompatible with democracy.

This very statement–that Islam is incompatible with democracy–is why I fight so hard with many of my friends on the Right: accepting that statement means we have to declare war on the entire Muslim world if we’re to hope for human freedom to survive.

Um. No. “Incompatible with democracy” does not equal “have to declare war on the entire Muslim world.” That is, not to non-Muslim people. I would say there is mounting evidence (read “dead bodies”) to suggest the math works this way among radical Muslims, “incompatible with democracy” does equal “have to declare war on the entire non-Muslim world.”

Mr. Esmay continues:

To me it would be akin to, in World War II, declaring ourselves at war with “Germanic People,” “Latin People,” and “Southeast Asians.” Not Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy and Tojo’s Japan. No, we would have declared that we were at war with anyone of Germanic or Latin descent, and anyone who happened to be short, yellow, and slant-eyed (to put it rudely and crassly).

Ack. Here he attempts to directly equate religious beliefs with genetics. He builds a false bridge between what some people believe in their heads, “democracy” and “Islamism”, and what is expressed by everybody’s DNA. His use of the word “akin” is telling and the premise is tissue paper thin. Throughout my life, I can choose to believe in any number of epistemological systems, religious or otherwise. (Whether or not a person understands they have this choice is another matter.) Yet I could no more choose to be an Asian than I could choose to be honey bee. Isn’t going to happen.

Mr. Esmay’s propensity to generalize will forever blind him to the actual threat from radical Muslims toward all non-Muslims regardless their race. He is much more comfortable arguing about all Islam and all Muslims and all races. In World War II, we did go to war against Germans, not because they were German but because it happened to be the Germans who were holding to Nazi principals of government. Did Mr. Esmay not notice that distinction? And yes, Nazism was incompatible with democracy, too.

Not only is Mr. Esmay’s anorexic research in full view, but his math is bad. No sir. Two plus two does not equal seventeen. A person’s religious beliefs do not equal a person’s genetic composition. They are different. Fundamentally different. Problems in one domain cannot be solved with solutions derived from the other. Prayer will not cure cancer and neither eugenics or genocide will obliterate the infidels. That won’t prevent the radicals with the same cognitive dissonance from trying.

[Edit History]

2006.09.29

Some deeper thinking from Eric Scheie.

2006.10.01

More genetic vs cognitive confusion here (H/T: Tim Blair):

Almost chuckling with glee, [former President Bill Clinton] told how, when DNA was analysed, it showed 99.9 per cent of what makes us human turned out to be identical. How he gloried in this confirmation of his faith in the commonality of humanity.

He became an Arkansas preacher again as he urged the crowd to concentrate not on the 0.1 per cent which was different but on what was the same.

Our DNA may define us as human, but it does not define our humanity. No measure of genetic engineering, aimed at obliterating that pesky 0.1 percent, will resolve the problems of humanity. Rest assured, where it counts, myself and this dude…

Ahmadinejad

…and those like him, have vanishingly little in common, DNA notwithstanding.

2006.09.27

When Rational Thinking Prevails

Thank your lucky Stars and Stripes each day level heads walk the walls, regardless who’s side they’re on:

[A]t 40 minutes past midnight on [26th September 1983] [Colonel Stanislav Yefgrafovich] Petrov looked up and saw a missile launch from a United States silo had been detected by one of his satellites. Now you might expect panic at this point but missile command tends to attract the serious, sober type, probably the type of people who smoke a pipe and sew leather patches on their jackets, and Petrov kept his head.

He knew the satellite had been reported as suspect and decided to hold off on informing the high command. Then a second missile launch was picked up, and shortly after another, and another and another. Petrov knew that if he waited until he could confirm the launches with ground radar it would be too late for his country, he and his family would die and the Yankees would win the Cold War.

Thankfully for us he thought before acting. He reasoned that it was illogical for a surprise attack to launch missiles one after the other – instead you’d launch everything you had and hope to wipe out the enemy before they reacted. He left the launch button alone and thankfully the missiles proved to be ghosts.

Col. Petrov thought of his family. He also reasoned the “attack” did not follow a rational pattern and therefore likely to be an error reported by an already suspect satellite. In 1983, threats by enemies were still regarded as rational on some level. If rational, then predictable.

Contrast this to the already irrational perceptions carried by the Islamofanatics smugly prancing around our little global village. You know, the ones that use women and children as human shields and glorify violent death. What do you suppose would be the likely outcome of the scenario faced by Col. Petrov if the finger on the button, rather than being guided by reason and thoughts of family, was instead guided by hate and Allah’s will as dictated by the voices in his head and the words spewing forth from the likes of this cheery fellow:

Al Sadr

Or this happy nut:

Ahmadinejad

I fear somewhere out there the countdown to launch has already started.

2006.09.21

A Vast Supply Of Shortages

Of smart pills, that is. The Instapundit is keeping track.

The Tin Foil Brain

This from Swiss researchers, so you know it’s accurate:

Stimulating a certain area of the brain can produce a creepy feeling that someone is watching you when no one is, scientists said Wednesday.

Swiss researchers made the discovery while evaluating a young woman for surgery to treat epilepsy. They believe their finding could help explain feelings such as paranoia which afflict patients suffering from schizophrenia.

When they electrically stimulated the left temporoparietal junction in her brain, which is linked to self-other distinction and self-processing, she thought someone was standing behind her.

If they repeated the stimulus while she leaned forward and grabbed her knees she had an unpleasant sensation that the shadowy figure was embracing her.

“Our findings may be a step toward understanding the mechanisms behind psychiatric manifestations such as paranoia, persecution and alien control,” said Olaf Blanke, of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, in the journal Nature.

The left side of the brain. Hmmmmmmmm. We can only hope that someday appropriate medication will help.

[Edit History]

2006.09.23

Added link to original article.

2006.09.13

One Arab’s Apology For 9/11

Emilio Karim Dabul:

WELL, here it is, five years late, but here just the same: an apology from an Arab-American for 9/11. No, I didn’t help organize the killers or contribute in any way to their terrible cause. However, I was one of millions of Arab-Americans who did the unspeakable on 9/11: nothing.

The only time I raised my voice in protest against these men who killed thousands of innocents in the name of Allah was behind closed doors, among the safety of friends and family. I did at one point write a very vitriolic essay condemning their actions, but fear of becoming another Salman Rushdie kept me from ever trying to publish it.

Well, I’m sick of saying the truth only in private – that Arabs around the world, including Arab-Americans like myself, need to start holding our own culture accountable for the insane, violent actions that our extremists have perpetrated on the world at large.

Yes, our extremists and our culture.

I would like to thank Mr. Dabul for his apology. But more importantly, I would like to congratulate him for his courage. What he has done, is no small thing. I wish him peace and a long, happy life with his family.

2006.09.11

Bloggers and Main Stream Media – Get Ready To Rrrrrrrrrrumble!

In regards to the relationship between blogs and the Main Stream Media, David Carr writes in the New York Times:

The cliché about not arguing with people who buy ink by the barrelful is in the process of being replaced by another: best not to pick a fight with people who have gigabytes of text at their disposal unless you are interested in a duel on equal footing.

I think about it differently. Note to the Main Stream Media: It’s best not to bring a Thesaurus to a Dictionary fight.


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