Saturday, January 30, 2010
Harkening Unto Authorities
Where demanding references seems to be non-productive!
Why not let ideas stand on data gathering, analysis, logic and satisfactory presentation rather than citing authorities ad nauseam? Authorities come in numerous stripes---ethereal; practical; heavily biased ideologues; narrow expertise; untested by reality; tested and rejected by reality but still used; untestable at all, and so on.
Interjecting an "authority" into an argument merely moves the issue a full step backwards, since now the given authority must be validated and incorporated as well. This often leads to a seeming infinite regression, where either parallel or ever earlier authorities are cited on the subject, till the trail is lost in the foggy past, somewhere around Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, or, sometimes, back into much older Grecian philosophers. Then, too, for each "authority" named, from two to ten others spring up to refute him, causing others to rise in defense, thereby creating a voting atmosphere not unlike the Supreme Court on a Constitutional issue.
This denial of references does not apply to specific facts, of course, just to the opinions of so-called experts or intellectual authorities whose basis for their opinions can be seriously questioned to begin with.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Our Changing Constitution
The Constitution: Structure Survives, Does its Functions?
The constitutional structure of our government has endured since 1787. All of its basic parts are still there for all to see. But, today, this government functions in quite different ways than was conceived by the founders. Indeed, the familiar structure and residual functioning of the Constitution provides a cover for all manner of blatant subversions of the original intent of the Fathers.
Point: Virtually every piece of legislation passed into law since 1900 has no basis in the Constitution.
Point: Judicial activists interpret the legal issues and legislation put before it in a manner that violates the intent of the Constitution. The Courts practice “New law for a new day”.
Point: The Presidents have amassed far-reaching powers that were never intended to be vested in that office. War and Emergency powers represent a specific example, as do Executive Orders, and Signing Statements.
Point: The phrase …”provide for the general welfare” in the Constitution has been used as an open door for any social engineering whatsoever dreamed up by the triumvirate in power—Congress, President, and Courts.
Point: The government has expropriated over 65% to 70% of its revenue per year for entitlements, and the percentage is growing each year. Most, of not all, of these entitlements are beyond Constitutional validation.
Point: Congress attaches earmarks to bills that amount to billions of dollars for the home districts of congressmen. These earmarks have no relation to the bill’s content; the bill is merely a carrier for this largess that is not voted upon specifically and openly by the people’s representatives.
Point: Perhaps the most visible social engineering by activist Judges was the Brown versus Board anti-discrimination decision, followed by the Bussing decision to reach racial balance in the schools.
These and dozens of other cases in point seem to indicate that we have almost divorced ourselves officially from the original intent of the Constitution, and are now flying on the whims of the five-man majority on the Supreme Court, the party in power today and the parties of the future, under the cover of the familiar structure of the Constitution. The Constitutionality of a law and the many precedents in law are no longer yardsticks, it seems.
When does this affect each of us directly and horribly?
Constitutional Chaos, by Andrew Nepolitano, 2004
Men in Black, by Mark R. Levin, 2005
Who Killed the Constitution, by Thomas E. Woods and Kevin Gutzman, 2008.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
FOR THE RECORD, SCIENCE IS NEVER SETTLED!
Anthropogenic Global Warming or AGW theory is not settled science.
Darwinism, or the descent with modification theory, is not settled science.
The Big Bang theory is not settled science.
The Multiple Universe theory is not settled science.
String Theory is not settled science.
Etc. Etc. ad nauseam!
Science is a collection of working theories that are useful and lasting to the degree that they accurately describe and predict behaviors in the material universe. When their predictive powers, either forward or reverse, are in question, it is apparent that the "science" is not settled, although scientists find it highly useful to work AS IF they are true and to follow the consequences as far as possible--until they fail to work well, predict well, or even show correspondence with past data. That many scientists sign up to a given theory is no real indication that the theory is correct. Alfred N. Whitehead remarked once, in effect, that the surest indicator that a theory is wrong is the number of scientists that sign up to it.
Perhaps the most egregious example of false science applied in the real world was Eugenics, where tens of thousands of people were neutered by law back in the 1930's, before it was stopped. This is a story that should be an object lesson for us all, especially since we are being sold by many that AGW is a critical threat to mankind, without sufficient scientific validation. Let us see the true scientific validation reports before we pour trillions of dollars into various enterprises that tout a solution to AGW.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Where I fail to grasp why some are denigrating Conservatism
Perhaps I need to turn the crank much slower to recognize where some people declare that conservatism is “unhinged”. It seems to me that most of the criticism is about fringe groups and the strange positions a few that call themselves conservative take that are simply wrong, just as you will find in every movement of any size.
The conservatives that I know closely hold to what I consider to be classical beliefs of conservatism, but those are rather nicely ameliorated by their understanding of today’s political scene and the state of the union.
One criticism that I have heard a number of times is that of some conservatives insisting on smaller government. What they mean, I believe, is less government intrusion into our private lives, and more government concentration on its constitutional obligations.
We do have far more agencies and such than anyone can understand, and they all vie to make their ideas of governance take hold, with ever bigger budgets and mission creep to match. This is quite often at cross purposes with one or more other government agencies, and the people are caught in between. So there is a need to examine very carefully each and every government organization in order to remove duplication of functions and decision powers, and to insist upon a valid and stable mission, while saving the taxpayer some money.
It is a sad fact that much of the legislation of the past century carries the government beyond its mandated Constitutional functions and areas of responsibility, in order to meet what some insist is a crying need or even right. This creeping evolution of our government towards socialism or totalitarianism is not what our Fathers had in mind, and it is not what our middle of the road conservatives have in mind for “right-sized” government.
There is little reason to insist that as our population grows and diversifies, the government should grow proportionately as well.
There is a right size for government that can cope with even a much larger population, especially when they employ modern tools of IT and automation.
There is also a right set of government responsibilities and duties, beyond which it is the states, the localities and the citizenry that must stand up and cope for themselves, and not turn to the federal government in every instance. This right set is first outlined in our Constitution, and that set is amplified by existing legislation and laws in force at several levels---federal, state and local—which should be examined for savings as well by their respective legislators and administrations.
Each state has its own Constitution and laws that parallels the national set, but with some significant differences. There seems to be a movement to centralize all lawmaking in the federal government, and to downplay state and local legal preferences. This is not what the Constitution specifies, but it is what liberals appear to want, because it makes it easier to impose their kind of thinking on the entire nation and every person in it through congressional legislation or from legislation from the bench. This direction most conservatives object to very strongly.
What are the guidelines that most conservatives sign up to? It is a simple set to write down, but far from simple to live by:
1. Follow Natural Law and all of the moral obligations, duties and responsibilities that are inferred from this law, both for government and for citizens.
2. Uphold the Constitution and the civil laws derived from it, from both inside and outside threats to its sanctity. Show faith in these prescriptions.
3. Uphold State and Local Laws, but resist the temptation to legislate every aspect of society, which would create massively more difficulties than it would solve.
4. Maintain Traditions, Customs, Conventions and Institutions that have been established over the 230-odd years of the nation’s existence, and not change them without just cause, and due deliberation by all concerned.
5. Cope with Change, since change is inevitable, but truly needed changes must be carefully controlled and implemented so as to minimize later unpleasant and unforeseen effects on the people, the society, and the nation.
6. Defense of the Nation, a strong defense is most necessary. It must be maintained to keep our sovereignty, and to survive and prosper in this imperfect world, populated as it is by imperfect men.
7. Maintain Law and Order, both nationally (such as for our borders), state-wise, and locally. Apply our laws evenly and fully.
8. Promote Mixed Capitalism, largely free market based, but carefully and minimally regulated by the government to ensure fair play. It is apparent that the government must not be in competition with the private sector for business and profit.
9. Fair Taxation, where every citizen makes a contribution. The definition of what is “fair” for all is not a simple challenge, but it is one that must be answered satisfactorily. Excessive taxation demotes business and promotes spending for pork projects.
10. Maintain the Right to Private Property, since it has been shown that freedom and liberty are tremendously enhanced by private ownership.
11. Fiscal Responsibility, which means careful budgeting, living within our means, control of spending, and fiscally responsible legislation to name a few aspects. This is needed more than ever to rein in the spending that is killing our economy. We must return to fiscal responsibility.
12. Promote Science, Technology and Engineering, since our modern world is massively dependent upon these efforts to maintain and better our way of life. Conversely, we must reject fantasy science and unproven assertions from pseudo-scientists bent upon their own gain, either alone or in collusion with others.
13. Assure American Cultural Goals, which must include assimilation of diverse cultures into our American society, integration by means of a common language--English--non-discrimination before the law, and proper education of all our people to assume their roles and responsibilities in the American Republic. Support to families and their values should be integral to our governance.
14. Freedom Must be Preferred over Equality, because we must not legislate for equality, only to find that we have legislated against freedom and liberty, and thus have seriously damaged or destroyed our republic.
Given the above tenets, which I believe most conservatives sign up to, just where is conservatism going astray?
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Rush and Sean are Commentators, not Leaders!
Do you really believe that Rush is our wise leader?
Most commentators from the Right are apparently looking for the sensational, the appalling, and the frightening to report on about our condition here in the US. Those stories build audiences. The unfortunate thing is, they find such true and frustrating stories day after day when observing the throes of liberal government and the antics of other political animals in the DC zoo. The Left feeds the sensationalism!
The picture they present is of a failing nation, and failing politicos, and then sometimes provide their version of a solution to this or that, which quite often does not ring true. Or, it rings true, but in the prevailing scene, their solution is virtually impossible to implement without a major revolution.
If you integrate over their years of pontification, and filter out the over-the-top comments, some sense of a real conservative attitude and direction emerges, but to take their instant prescriptions as gospel is a schoolboy mistake.
I claim that many, if not most, listeners use their common sense and their filters to come to rational conclusions about our problems, and I do not believe that all that many of them consider any of these commentators to be honest-to-God wise leaders of the conservative movement—merely entertaining spokesmen that do pinpoint quite well certain areas created by the Left that do need our serious attention. Thus leftist tempers rise!
The meme that Rush leads the movement is a typical Leftist attempt to trivialize the Right, and, to be honest, it is somewhat effective. But, his audience of millions have not validated this meme, because they know his real status all too well, and Rush himself has rejected the meme as silly.
Many that want to continue to trivialize the Right hammer away at Rush, Sean, and the other’s memes, for they believe it helps either the sensible Right, or the giddy Left to know the “truth”. Evidently, they resent the fact that these men have found an audience that listens avidly every day, even as these listeners readily discount in their minds that which is impossible and invalid from that which is possible and valid.
We should have more faith in the citizenry on the Right, and some independents, to think things through. Sorry, I cannot say the same for citizens on the left that have helped to push us to the edge of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi–fostered financial cliff–and probably over!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Every week I get magazines in the mail, including National Review, and The Weekly Standard. Every month I receive the National Geographic, The Economist, Smart Computing, PC World, Reader's Digest, and a number of club and association tomes. When Byte was popular some years ago, and was about an inch thick, it was perhaps the premiere sinner of the lot.
Sinner? Yes, they all have had the sickness since their inception, but my irritation level suddenly broke through when I had to spend what seemed to be a hour to make just one magazine readable. My complaint? Those damned cardboard inserts, either as a mailer size or even a full page, that makes it very difficult to riffle through the offerings with ease. In this instance, there were over 15 of these inserts--seemingly every other page--which is simply too much! In great dudgeon, I tore into that mag, and removed all of those cards and cardboard pages in one sitting.
I thought about writing a complaint to the mag, but I am sure my letter woud see File 13 before anyone important read it. While my dudgeon lasted, I attacked my entire pile of new mags, and ripped that crap out of them all! Just think of the stuff still sitting in my stacks of back copies, which, in some cases, reach back several years. I know I will get time to explore that 2001 article on Tasmania I saved real soon, but, meanwhile, the thought of having to attack all those cards in the stacks stops me cold.
I say down with the mailer cards!
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Invent a New Bomb
We need to neutralize tunnels and bunkers that hide weapons
With the Iranians and smugglers around the globe using tunnels and deep bunkers to carry on their illicit activities, we need a new counter weapon that goes far beyond the MOAB bunker busters.
One thought I have had is to create a bomb that uses some kind of white foam that is spread over a huge area by spraying it, and that then expands and hardens quickly once exposed to air. This foam should be dense enough to block entrances and air ducts to the tunnels and bunkers below, thus suffocating the residents.
Laying a carpet of these bombs to ensure coverage of the foam over the targets would be far easier that trying for multiple hits with MOAB's in virtually the same spot. In fact, the foam could well be carried and spread by our tomahawk missiles instead of manned aircraft to create the carpet.
If the residents try to break their way out, or to blow away the foam, we should be capable of observing them nicely against the white foam carpet background and to react accordingly.
Getting rid of the carpet of hardened foam just might be a serious problem for someone, depending upon the chemical makeup of the foam, and the degree of hardening it achieves.
Is this feasible? Let's say that a Tomahawk can carry 6 cubic feet of such a liquid precursor to the foam, and that the final layer of foam must be at least 1 foot thick. If our goal is to cover 1,000 square feet of ground per bomb that is 1 foot thick, the expansion factor must be 1,000/6= 166,7. A cursory scan of foam products did not turn up one with such an expansion ratio, but there were too many hits to scan them all. So, I cannot yet confirm the feasibility of this idea.
Labels: New Bomb