Archive for January, 2011

Christian does not mean wimp

Doug Giles offers a reminder from Matthew 7:6 and suggests taking a close look at some the heroes of the Bible.

when you read the Scripture, pay close attention when you land on a
chunk of text in which Moses, Joshua, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel,
John the Baptist, Paul or Jesus is engaged in dialogue with an
impenitent idolater, a pompous Pharisee, a preening politician, a
Jezebel control freak chick, or a disciple who just won’t get it.

Here’s what you won’t find: You won’t find these searing saints going
Mr. Rogers with the willfully wanton. What you will see the prophets
and apostles doing is challenging, ofttimes ridiculing, the very ground
the impenitent unbeliever or the feigned adherent stands on. Not only
that, you will rarely see God’s holy ones repenting of the verbal
invectives they have aimed at their audience’s stubborn blindness. 

There are certainly enough of those idolaters and Jezebels and so on parading up and down the street these days, too.

One of the chief signs of the Church’s backslidden condition is its
refusal to call a spade a spade, both inside and outside the Church,
while having a sidesplitting, obedient, good time doing it.

What Doug suggests is that you might be on a mission from God if you put the truth in front of the haughty know-it-alls full of hubris and quite at distance from reality. Your real challenge is going to be that you aren’t one of them without knowing it.

That “sidesplitting, obedient, good time doing it” is the real challenge. Obedient, of course, is obedient to God. Sometimes that can be rather painful which makes the sidesplitting and good time parts rather difficult. That is also in the Bible.

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Net neutrality possibly an over hasty reaction

Jim Gettys has been investigating an interesting technical I’net problem he calls bufferbloat. It is a result of technology advances being out of step where one aspect advances and reveals problems in another that is then tackled so it can keep up. The net neutrality issue immediate stimulus was the emergence of high volume traffic on the I’net which increased traffic flow demands by orders of magnitude. That highlighted technical problems that had not been very visible with lower traffic flow requirements.

We should not set public policy going forward without understanding what may actually have happened, rather than a possibly flawed understanding of technical problems.

Unfortunately, everyone has taken now very public positions based on a probably a flawed analysis of the very real, painful problems they have experienced. Getting everyone to stop and revisit their presumptions, and rethink and possibly change their positions is going to be hard. Please help!

Gettys takes it back to 2004 and Bittorrent when Comcast solved its problems there, until consumer outcry raised its head, by inhibiting that service. Since then, such I’net services as YouTube and cloud backup services have put a strain on the traditional protocol assumptions. The solutions to the resulting ‘growing pains’ problem is not likely to come out of government but they will create customer pain, involve a few false steps, and take some time. The stimulus is there:

many ISP’s with limited uplink bandwidth with bufferbloated infrastructure started to see a serious rise where it hurts them in the pocket book most: in service calls from customers … They mis-diagnosed the root cause of their pain, and shot the messenger of the broken network (bittorrent) rather than fixing the network.

In addition to trying to control traffic by limiting problem services, bandwidth was increased and that reduced the problem somewhat as well.

The crux of the issue gets back to one of the arguments against the FCC actions: the absence of a problem addressed by their actions. This bufferbloat idea is an indication that the problem such FCC action was trying to solve was not only absent but was misdirected. As Gettys describes, innovation in use of the I’net will require that innovators have the ability to define network parameters they need and that the I’net carriers have the ability to provide those services at a reasonable cost.

Net neutrality regulation does not solve the bufferbloat technical problem that can make teleconferencing and other latency critical services difficult. Rather, it assumes an ideal I’net without such technical difficulties and assumes that it is greedy, evil corporations intentionally preventing that ideology from being reality.

As the guy once said ‘it is really difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.’ Government regulation tends to put a lid on it so prediction is easier. That may or may not be a good thing,

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A gross measure of vitality: energy consumption

It is almost axiomatic but nice that someone actually measures it. PhysOrg (as might be expected considering their political leanings) uses a negative view headline: Study finds energy limits global economic growth. What the study underscores is the need for energy to support the health and well being of the planet’s human population. This is why the discussion about energy sources and implications (e.g. global warming) is so important to get right.

The team found the same sort of relationship between energy consumption per person and gross domestic product per person as is found between metabolism and body weight in animals.

Where it goes wacky is when they leave measurement and proceed to implications.

To support the expected world population in 2050 in the current US lifestyle would require 16 times the current global energy use, for example. Noting that 85 percent of humankind’s energy now comes from fossil fuels, the BioScience authors point out that efforts to develop alternative energy sources face economic problems of diminishing returns, and reject the view of many economists that technological innovation can circumvent resource shortages.

They “reject the view” that innovation “can circumvent resource shortages”? That is a denial of history which has repeatedly shown that humans can solve such problems if given the chance, but only if they are not hindered by governmental controls and direction. This rejection of the capabilities of human innovation is one of the fundamental philosophical disagreements of our time. Its adherents in the modern form go back Ehrlich’s Population Bomb published in 1968 and shown since to be way off base.

The issue is now, and has always been, what can we create. Look at agriculture as an example. We not only aren’t starving but the world is producing more food (in the aggregate) for each person than ever before with less labor and hence, less cost. Those who do not like the association of such wealth with the populations (countries) that have most of it, for whatever reason, attack how it is done. The war against DDT is an example that has been shown to be irrational and responsible for much human suffering.

The current war on energy is another example of irrational excess. Fossil fuel burning plants have been subject to very expensive requirements to clean exhausts and now are under attack for even producing exhaust. Nuclear energy sources have been subject to constantly changing and more restrictive regulation and litigation. Meanwhile, China has discovered what others have learned and claims to be able to produce a 60 fold increase in the efficiency of nuclear material. Japan is looking at mining uranium from the ocean to solve its energy needs. Meanwhile, in the US the opposition to the Yucca Mountain waste depository is a case study as well as the rationale that the valuable resource must be trashed due to fears about misuse.

PhysOrg had another item where some ed Professor was concerned about science education because students didn’t understand the implications of such basic concepts as conservation of mass, especially in biologic processes. That item, too, ended up with a complaint that they just don’t understand why humans have to stop producing carbon dioxide, which indicates that the concern about science education needs to go much farther than learning concepts that fit only a particular political agenda. (that last gets interesting in light of Lord Mockton’s recent testimony that CO2 is plant food that got ridiculed).

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The reaction to the reading of the U.S.Constitution in Congress has been telling. The latest is outrage that it is being read as amended and the parts that have been superseded and are no longer a part of law were not read. That means the clauses about slavery, for instance, were not put up so the U.S. is evil group could crow about it. Krauthammer has his take on this at the Washington Post.

the cynics had best tread carefully. Some liberals are already
disdaining the new constitutionalism, denigrating the document’s
relevance and sneering at its public recitation. They sneer at their
political peril. In choosing to focus on a majestic document that bears
both study and recitation, the reformed conservatism of the Obama era
has found itself not just a symbol but an anchor.

The reading, and the rule requiring legislation to have written Constitutional rationale, may be symbolic but the importance of symbols cannot be denied. Krauthammer cites the trashing of the flag as an example. The flag is one thing, it is a symbol first and foremost. The Constitution is another matter entirely. It is first and foremost the governing law of the land that describes how the people envisioned the limitations on their government. That it is brought to prominence now is telling those who think it is old, out of date, hard to read, and can be interpreted as suits convenience that they are pushing a bit too much. It is a pushback that is, for now, polite and restrained. Let us hope the message is received.

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Evidence be damned

CNN says Few swayed by fraud finding in autism study. It has been a long road since the vaccination scare about autism was created. It hits the news because of a report recently published that concludes that the single study supporting the scare was fraudulent.

The core of the issue is the correlation between the age at which early childhood vaccinations are given and the age at which autism becomes evident. That was the opportunity to find blame for the disability that was leveraged by the fraudulent research.

In spite of all the ways you think logically, when it comes to your child, all that logic goes out of the door. Sometimes you are swayed by emotions, by what people preach.”

This is why there were efforts to try to find the mechanism and that resulted in mercury, used as a preservative, being removed from the vaccines. Despite these efforts, the findings of a link were never supportable. But that was not enough. Such evidence be damned as some folks knew better. The result was the sort of rationalization you can see in many issues.

Supporters of the discredited theory echoed Wakefield’s assertion that he is a target of a “ruthless, pragmatic attempt” to crush vaccine safety concerns. … “No news story is going to convince them of anything. When you have that much anger and frustration, it’s passion. They’re fighting for their children.”

This gets to the common phenomena identified by Dr. Paul Offit that you can see at the core of many science related issues.

there are residual damages. … It’s hard to un-scare people. It’s very easy to scare them, but hard to reassure them.”

One of the residual damages goes under the name of herd immunity. Vaccinations are not just to protect one individual, they also protect a society. As long as enough individuals are vaccinated, outbreaks of disease can be minimized. The vaccination scares have resulted not only in the resurgence of some very dangerous childhood diseases but also in some near epidemics of those diseases.

Then there is the story of that bracelet that was supposed to help you keep your balance. Those guys were forced to remove some of their advertising claims that had no truthful foundation. It is an easy sell and that didn’t even involve children. Does evidence count for anything?

See Why We Believe Nonsense for a good rundown on the autism issue and the medical facts about the risks in avoiding vaccination.

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Decision Points under glass

The University of Virginia is suffering a bit in their selective transparency in the Mann climate research investigation and it is not the only case where the ideology of transparency meets the reality of events. WikiLeaks memos the mainstream media doesn’t want you to read is another.

While the Guardian and others have gone full tilt on all the revelations from the Wikileaks document dump, the result has been only of interest to voyeurs. The conspiracy advocates are having to really really stretch to find any support for their theses. Michael Laprarie describes their angst.

A few weeks after the huge WikiLeaks dump of diplomatic cables last November, Rush Limbaugh observed that the leaked documents contained virtually nothing to back up the various “vast right wing conspiracy” theories that continue to be favored among the Left. However, they contained a considerable amount of information that supports various claims made by conservatives, including (but not limited to) the extent that radical Islamic ideas have permeated the West, the fact that the international “global warming” agenda is built primarily around crippling the economies of First World nations, and the growing fear of nuclear proliferation due to our current foreign policy strategies.

The fundamental problem is a generic one: “Of course those who opposed the use of military force against Saddam Hussein will not be swayed one bit by this evidence. ” — Whether it is war in Iraq, climate change, vaccination, creationism, or even lead acid battery use in RV’s there are many who just refuse to deal with the evidence. That creates conflict.

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“We the People”

The U.S. Constitution that members of Congress swear to support and defend is being read at the start of the new session. That has some rather upset and expressing their views ranging from the cost to comments about its age and how it is hard to understand. See Wehner, Why the Constitution — and What It Means — Matters.

Drew takes off on this in Ancient Document Written In Foreign Language By Some Dead White Guys Being Read In House Of Representatives

Is this a stunt? Yes, of course. That’s the beauty of it. Stunts attract attention. This is attracting attention not just to the Constitution itself but the very different philosophies some in each party have when it comes to interpreting the Constitution and its role in our government.

When reading the qualifications for the office of President, someone in the gallery created a ruckus and Politico says they were arrested (see also “Except Obama, except Obama!”). The reason? That member of the public did not think the president met the residency requirements and was very upset about the Constitution being ignored or bypassed. This person, while on the extreme, does illustrate that there are many who are concerned about Government bypassing its charter in order to expand its power. That feeling was expressed in an appropriate fashion in the last elections and the new leadership in the House is showing that they heard what was said.

The fact that there is such very public ridicule of this stunt indicates both a difference in philosophy about government and also just how fearful many are about the views they hold dear being suppressed or ignored. That divergence may require pain to resolve constructively.

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It’s the big picture: distortion in the details

Creationism is the topic. Klinghoffer at the Discovery Institute tries to parlay controversy elsewhere into supporting his cause in ‘Science Says’ Is Now Just Another Special Interest Claim. It provides a good example of the need for critical reading.

The assumption is that doubting scientists’ claims means you have divorced yourself from reality. Yet steadily accumulating stories from the scientific community itself suggest grounds for doubting that scientists all pursue truth without fear or favor. Last year’s “Climategate” email leak from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit is the best-known case, but hardly the only one.

The first problem here is that doubt is not the same thing as skepticism. Second is claiming hold of a phenomena without showing its connection to the case at hand. A third problem is the conspiracy ethos.

Yet to what extent is that uniformity coerced — specifically, by employment pressure?

Then the obfuscation starts.

There is, in fact, a growing underground of Darwin-doubting biologists and other scientists, who believe that evidence from cell biology, cosmology and paleontology tells an increasingly complicated and contradictory story about life’s origin and evolution.

What happens here is that the issue is simplified to a straw man – a simplistic description of Darwin’s original ideas – that is deconstructed with the modern understanding of mechanisms and processes all the while ignoring the characteristics of the competing model.

If only we laymen could simply trust our scientists, without thinking critically for ourselves, as we once trusted priests and rabbis. Alas, those days are gone too. Recognizing such things does not make you ignorant. It makes you a realist.

Thinking critically is always necessary. The basis of Christianity is exactly this, contrary to the assertion about who we supposedly once trusted. Ignorance is not the process of doubting or even having a lack of trust, ignorance is the outcome of what you do with what you learn.

In this case, as in many, the big picture is revealing. With climate change that means considering the implications of a one degree change over one’s lifetime compared to the forecasts of doom and gloom, With creationism, that means keeping mind such basic things as animal breeding, the geologic record, basic astronomy, and inherited characteristics in our children.

Arguments that point out such things as “increasingly complicated and contradictory” to favor and exceedingly simplistic view, which is not clearly identified, needs consideration. The idea behind science is to try to figure out how those “increasingly complicated and contradictory” things work in ways that fit together and allow prediction. That is what has been happening ever since (and really since before) Darwin in regards to trying to understand changes and phenomena we see laid out before us. What Klinghoffer is doing is not logically consistent in that is depends upon the ‘reduce to absurd,’ ‘straw man,’ and false authority logical fallacies. These are the kinds of things that can be seen in manner of argument, as in this example, that should be used to help guide critical assessment of what you are told – including this blog.

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Where understanding is nigh impossible

There are those who say something is wrong with us because the prison population is too high or those incarcerated belong to the wrong minority. A general surgeon working in the notorious South African province of Mpumalanga let loose on one of them.

recently i was involved in a discussion with a guy that was explaining how we should understand criminals. the emphasis was on farm murders but we touched on murderers in general, rapists and child molesters. my point of view was that i did not understand them and felt that he was justifying their actions. in the end i was informed that i was smug. apparently that is the word for people that couldn’t see the point of view of the poor misunderstood murderers and rapists and molesters.

so smug is what i am, it seems. you see the fact is i can’t understand his beloved murderers. i just can’t. i also in my smugness wonder how he can, but i think i know.

it has to do with not being in the trenches. it has to do with not being faced with the blood and the tears and the guts and the screams…mostly the screams. it is probably easy to be nice and philosophical sitting snugly (not smugly apparently) in a nice air-conditioned office, philosophizing on the reasons people point a gun at people and pull the trigger. or worse…

What sets this surgeon apart is that he doesn’t blame the carnage he sees on the tools but instead puts his focus on the people who commit crimes and those who support them via sympathy. Part of that may be the story he tells starting with

“i remember the baby violated by her uncle.” … “the child did not scream anymore. i think it used up all its scream for its entire life during the deed. all that was left was a quiet constant moan. it is the ghostly moan of someone who has learned in her four month existence that there is no one who will come to her aid. there is no one to understand her. it will never leave me.”

A gun or knife was not needed for that and the case was so emotionally difficult that one pediatrician had to turn away and seek his own help. Read the story to see why it is that understanding is nigh impossible.

There is another story in the news that is quite related: “Piltdown” medicine: Andrew Wakefield’s scientific fraud was worse than previously thought. The tragedy there is a bit more distant so it doesn’t pull at the heart strings so much but the damage in terms of human life and suffering was still significant.

The problem in understanding seems to go both ways. Just look at how some of the climate alarmists try to rationalize those who question what they take as axiomatic. The real issue for all of us is to at least gain an understanding of our own perceptions and beliefs so that we can put them up against some reasonable referent. As can be seen in the courts deciding the cross that memorialized veterans in San Diego for years must now be removed. That referent, the Ten Commandments and its basis, is be ripped from us as it tends to remind some that, perhaps, what they want to believe is a sympathy in the wrong place.

Those who claim high ideals – save humanity and such – but are not in the trenches and tend more towards labeling those who have difficulty with their point of view as “smug” or “deniers” might do better to inspect their views and consider the moral referent and its implications.

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Why it is important

Viv Forbes says Stop Climate Industry Waste – Weather-proof our infrastructure instead. His view is that the money spent to attempt to abate potential human impact on climate change might better be spent on developing infrastructure to cope with it.

“Climate Change and extreme weather are always with us. The weather gods are blind to our sacrificial offerings – we will not change the weather by crucifying the public with carbon taxes and ration cards. What they really need is weather-proof transport, water and electricity infrastructure.

“That won’t change future climate either but it will allow us to cope better with whatever weather we get.

This is the debate as money that is spent, for instance, on reduction of industrial CO2 is money that is not spent on hardening the infrastructure. One result is seen in Ireland’s water delivery problems this winter. Another, cited by Forbes, is the current Queensland flooding. One can also see a correlation between infrastructure hardening and earthquake damage in various places (Columbia vs Haiti being an example).

One side is saying deal with what we have in hand. The other wants to put the priority on preventing what might be. Striking a good balance is an important problem.

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Denial projection

The meme these days seems to be to call those whose ideas you don’t like “deniers,” especially if you think you are a mainstream scientist who doesn’t like criticism of your views. Steven Novella falls into this at Science-Based Medicine.

It seems that for every established science there is an ideological group who is motivated to deny it. Denialism is a thriving pseudoscience and affects any issue with the slightest political or social implications. Sometimes, even easily verifiable facts can be denied, as people seem willing to make up their own facts as needed.

Denialists have an easy job – to spread doubt and confusion. It is far easier to muddy the waters with subtle distortions and logical fallacies than it is to set the record straight. Even when every bit of misinformation is countered, the general public is often left with the sense that the topic is controversial or uncertain. If denial is in line with a group’s ideology, then even the suggestion of doubt may be enough to reject solid science.

We see this when it comes to the effectiveness of vaccines, the evolution of life on earth, and anthropogenic global warming.

His particular plaint is about some cohort denying a growth in obesity. To illustrate this, he provides an example of exactly what he decries about distortions of evidence, straw men, and other such disingenuous practice. There are very few who deny that there is a growing problem with obesity much as there are very few who deny, for instance global warming. These two phenomena stand in contrast to the disagreements about vaccinations causing autism or creationism. If you cannot distinguish between phenomena that is off the wall and appropriate skepticism, you’ve got a problem much like Novella demonstrates. You’ve let your bias creep into your conclusions and distort your own thinking.

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US Bashing: manufacturing edition

One of the persistent expressions of US bashing is that its manufacturing is in decay and everything is made in China (it was Japan a few decades ago). Professor Williams brings up the numbers at

According to data assembled by Dr. Mark Perry, in his article in The American (12/23/2009) titled “Manufacturing’s Death Greatly Exaggerated,” “For the year 2008, the Federal Reserve estimates that the value of U.S. manufacturing output was about $3.7 trillion.” If the U.S. manufacturing sector were a separate economy, with its own GDP, it would be tied with Germany as the world’s fourth richest economy.

The 2008 GDPs were: U.S. ($14.2 trillion), Japan ($4.9 trillion), China ($4.3 trillion), U.S. manufacturing ($3.7 trillion), Germany ($3.7 trillion), France ($2.9 trillion) and the United Kingdom ($2.7 trillion).

Employment is another matter. That peaked in 1979.

Since 1979, the manufacturing workforce has shrunk by 40 percent, and there’s every indication that manufacturing employment will continue to shrink. Because of automation, the U.S. worker is now three times as productive as in 1980 and twice as productive as in 2000. It’s productivity gains, rather than outsourcing and imports, that explains most of our manufacturing job loss.

The same thing happened in agriculture. In 1790, agriculture was 90% of the US labor force. By 1990 is was down to about 41% and now it is less than 3%. Williams also notes that similar productivity gains can be seen just about everywhere you look.

In 1970, the telecommunications industry employed 421,000 workers, in good-paying jobs as switchboard operators, handling 9.8 billion long-distance calls yearly. Today, the telecommunications industry employs fewer than 60,000 operators, and they handle more than 100 billion long-distance calls yearly. That’s an 85 percent job loss. The spectacular advances in telecommunications, which raised productivity, made the cost of long-distance calls a tiny fraction of what they were.

What we’re witnessing in many of our industries is what economic historian Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction.” The adjustment to it can be painful, but to stand in its way will make us a poorer nation.

Poor indeed if we can’t think straight and stay ahead of the game.

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Modern metaphysics

Dr. Sanity has a lesson about Defects in epistemology — not to mention metaphysics — and other philosophical insanities.

Metaphysics and Epistemology are key branches of Philosophy. The first concerns itself with answering the question, “What is Existence?”; and the second with, “How do we know it?”

These are two of the most important questions in life; and almost all of the major controversies of our time boil down to one or the other.

… western civilization–the bastion of reason and science– has become horribly infested with philosophical insanities that pervert the very concepts of reality, truth, and knowledge.

What is most amazing, however, is how those who most distort these concepts frequently resort to “science” and “scientific principles” to justify their political delusions about what is real and what is true.

… one of the important questions in epistemology is, “What does it mean to “know” something as opposed to merely having an opinion?” … Until it is answered, all other questions become unsolvable.

…Rationalism and empiricism are not conflicting philosophical concepts, so much as they are complementary ones. … it seems reasonable to conclude that optimally gathering knowledge of the real world requires the use of both capabilities.

… Certain very popular ideologies today subscribe to the notion that the human mind is incapable of knowing the real world because there is no world out there that exists separately from our senses.

A first step to finding solid ground is an accurate observation of what is happening. Dr. Sanity provides a start on that well worth the study.

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Moral equivalencing and detecting the difference

Trevor Thomas takes on the latest case study in trying to rationalize the ‘both sides do it, both sides are the same’ ethos in

Bush Derangement Syndrome vs. the Obama Hate Machine


The OHM, Corn claims, is “led by a wide-ranging collection of conservative media outfits, right-wing bloggers, and GOP partisans.” However, Bush Derangement Syndrome was not led by a wide-ranging collection of liberal media outfits, left-wing bloggers, and Democratic partisans, but, as evidenced above, by the very leaders of the Democratic Party.

It is beginning to appear that the ‘both sides the same’ approach is an escapist tactic – an attempt to escape from reality, a form of denial. It needs an appropriate examination. Trevor provides one look for this.

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Tactics in modern ideological pursuits

If You Can’t Beat Them, Shame Them describes how ideologues are pursuing shame and embarrassment as a means to their ends.

There are laws governing corporate malfeasance, just as there are democratic means of correcting political abuses. But activists like Assange apparently believe that they constitute a higher moral authority. By posting damaging material, they are short-circuiting the legal process.

For a long time now, even before WikiLeaks, animal rights groups have been posting personal information of “enemies” online so that supporters can harass or assail corporate officers.

As the list of potential offenses grows, corporations are hardly able to operate without running afoul of some interest group and having their reputation pilloried unless they accede to onerous conditions limiting their operations. For many companies, the result is lower profits and potential bankruptcy. For consumers, it is less supply and higher prices.

When the ends justify the means, all bets are off. Social constraints are weakened or eliminated. Those bonds that hold society together are what prevents anarchy. Those who think it is a good thing to remove all bonds of civility, lawful process, and respect for the person need to carefully consider the implications of what they seem to enjoy.

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The victim profession

Allegations of criminal behavior for personal profit or gain seems to be its own profession. Allegations of abuse or rape are some of the most visible but there is also the corruption of corruption prosecution that fits into this category as well. Today’s example is the clergy sex abuse scandal because of a ten page declaration recently submitted to the Los Angeles County Superior Court by attorney Donald H. Steier. Rick has the story as a [url=]”Vast fraud”[/url].

investigations into claims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have uncovered vast fraud and that his probes have revealed that many accusations are completely false.

The matters of stories changing over time coupled with the concept of learning false memories and a stimulus of monetary gain are all there. In addition, there is the interesting coincidence that most of the 700 psychiatric ‘Certificates of Merit’ required by California Code of Civil Procedure were all signed by the same therapist.

Matters of child abuse or rape are where the French style of justice is usually applied: the accused is considered guilty until he can prove himself innocent, if then. Being a victim of such a crime has many benefits, especially if there is no physical evidence (i.e. bodily harm) to be suffered. It is a means to garner sympathy and it may be a means towards fiscal restitution. The allegation, because of the presumption of guilt, is also a means to express revenge, hatred, or discomfort.

Social acceptance, as indicated by the presumption of guilt, is being misused. That damages both the individuals involved as well as society as a whole. Adjustments may be needed.

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The Gospel of Nice

It brings to mind Road House where Dalton says “I want you to be nice until it’s time to not be nice.” When it comes to some social religious behavior, it seems some think “nice” is a proper response to wife beatings, church bombings, and general bloodshed. “The modern Christian prefers the Gospel of Nice to the Gospel of Christ” (UPDATED) takes a look at this phenomena and provides links to further thinking.

Should the persecuted be recognized and prayed for at church? The current nice policy is to never mention the martyrs or the oppression of the Christians in Muslim countries.

The observation is that many seem to be following a Gospel of Nice rather a Gospel of Christ – except, perhaps, the Pope.

For most, avoiding confrontation is preferred. That can be social and civil for incidental affairs. Patterns of behavior are another matter. Avoiding confrontation means backing into a corner and, after a while, there is nowhere left to go.

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Leading the police astray

It is all about good intentions and objectivity: posting speed limits and blood alcohol levels as thresholds for citation. The problem is that neither directly addresses public health and safety. They provide stimulus for abusive police behavior such as speed traps and roadblocks that process by artificial numbers rather than safe behavior. Balko (ht GR) takes on the idea that people should Abolish Drunk Driving Laws.

objections to the legal definition of intoxication highlight the absurdity of drawing an arbitrary, breathalyzer-based line between sobriety and criminal intoxication. But the right solution is not to push the artificial line back farther. Instead we should get rid of it entirely by repealing drunk driving laws. … every cop manning a sobriety checkpoint aimed at catching motorists violating the new law is a cop not on the highways looking for more seriously impaired motorists. … These constitutionally dubious checkpoints have become little more than revenue generators for local governments. When local newspapers inquire about specific roadblocks after the fact, they inevitably find lots of fines for minor infractions but few drunk drivers. … ever-expanding enforcement powers miss the point: The threat posed by drunk driving comes not from drinking per se but from the impairment drinking can cause. That fact has been lost in the rush to demonize people who have even a single drink before getting behind the wheel

If our ultimate goals are to reduce driver impairment and maximize highway safety, we should be punishing reckless driving more consistently. It shouldn’t matter if it’s caused by alcohol, sleep deprivation, prescription medication, text messaging, or road rage. If lawmakers want to stick it to dangerous drivers who threaten everyone else on the road, they can dial up the civil and criminal liability for reckless driving, especially in cases that result in injury or property damage.

The list of abusive police behavior based on misguided measures and other fears is growing. There is the photographer harassment, the CCW exposure law, the SWAT raids in the middle of the night, and the prosecutor misconduct in other areas that just adds to the problem. It pushes the idea of a nanny government and where that usually leads.

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Where’s the priority: rare fish or people?

This is the day when a lot of laws go into effect, more than 700 in California, for instance. The impact they have won’t be fully understood until after some time has passed. One result of federal regulation from a while back is now contributing to California’s problems. Ed has the story in California’s Central Valley: Zimbabwe West?.

Until recently, California’s Central Valley was one of the nation’s most productive agricultural regions. Not only did it feed itself, the state of California, and the entire country, it also produced exports to other nations. That kind of enterprise employed a lot of people in Central California, from farm hands to wholesalers, and created a high standard of living.

That continued right up to the moment that the federal government got more concerned over the Delta smelt, a small, inedible fish, than feeding people. A court order cut off water deliveries for seven months out of the year to the Central Valley at the same time a drought hit, and the combination turned a once-fertile breadbasket to the world into a Dust Bowl — or as Investors Business Daily suggests, a government-initiated agricultural disaster on the same order as Zimbabwe today or Ukraine in the 1930s.

It is all a matter of priorities and poor consideration of the implications of some well meaning ideas. There have been many lessons about what it takes to turn a state into a third world economy. It appears that some folks are having a tough time at that school of hard knocks.

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A self defense technique that “Any individual or group can use it, particularly when their worldview is falling apart.” Dr. Santy describes Internal rectification.

Projection is an elegantly simple defense mechanism. You simply take your own unacceptable thoughts, feelings, behaviors and impulses and put them into some other individual or group. That way, you don’t have to take responsibility for those thoughts, feelings or behaviors. Another payoff for utilization of this particular defense is that by eliminating these unacceptable items from your own psyche, you magically begin to feel morally superior to the object(s) of your projection. You become their victim, even as you victimize them! Amazing!

Complex delusional systems and conspiracies will serve to help keep a distance from reality–and that is necessary to maintain a crumbling worldview.

For the psychiatrist, the task at hand is to help the patient see his own behavior and recognize it for what it is. For the rest of us, the task is to be able to recognize what people are doing when they engage in political discourse, that is, when they seek to do things that will impact us via political means. When someone is pushing a political agenda and they are expressing self defense rather than rational argument, the results if they get their way can, and have been throughout history, disastrous.

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