Thursday, June 30, 2005

Daily Nonsense!

Germany never attacked us.

Germany has no connection to Pearl Harbor.

FDR is a warmonger.

Reverse Race-Baiting? I'll Pass.

Attention Michelle Malkin: leave the race-baiting to the libs.

Can we overreact just a little more, please? The facts: the representation of blacks in visual media in the early 20th century exaggerated some facial features for comic effect. It's called caricature. Generally such representations are considered offensive today, and no one (well, except liberal cartoonists, themselves somehow exempt from being civilized) would dare to draw them. Of course, I'm still unsure what's so racist about the images themselves - if we want to talk about racist exaggeration, the stereotypical portrayal of the speech of blacks was about three thousand times more offensive than these stupid caricatures.

So, anyway, blacks used to be drawn in offensive ways. It's a historical fact. And some really entertaining things were drawn in decades when people did not have our enlightened racial attitudes. To suggest that the commemoration of this comic book's history is intended as a racial insult is pretty...well, moonbat. In fact, aren't the libs supposed to have a near-monopoly on PC policing? How about we acknowledge that things were different, this stamp is intended not to perpetuate racial stereotypes but to celebrate some comic book (I bet it sucks but does that matter? It's Mexico! [hehe]), and stop trying to take over the Left's worst character traits?


Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Court's Image Coup

The Supreme Court of the United States has a great advantage that deflects some criticism of its excesses. To explain what I mean by that, I'll explain a bit about the Constitution.

The Founding Fathers never had any taste for democracy. That is, the direct rule of the people without any restrictions was not an ideal to be achieved or striven for but a state of majoritarian tyranny to be avoided if at all possible. When the people have the power to enact any legislation or to annul any previous act at each legislative session, the people have free rein to do whatever they will. Now if this body of citizenry can be counted on always to keep in mind principles of equality and justice, there is no danger in allowing absolute power to be wielded by the people at all times. The fact that this power is absolute ought to sound a warning to the careful reader already. The fascist and Communist dictatorships of the 20th century still stick in our memories, and we are quite ready to condemn absolute power when it is held by a single dictator, or a small council of oligarchs. What many of us may not realize is that the possession of absolute power by any group, even if that group constitutes a majority, is dangerous. Direct democracy without any restriction is as potentially dangerous as any fascist dictatorship.

Now what I have shown is that the Founders feared democracy not because they feared allowing the people to be sovereign. On the contrary, the idea of the American Revolution was to return sovereignty to the people and to allow them to govern their own lives. The Founders simply realized the wisdom of restricting the power of the people so as to ensure that a majority could not decide to restrict the freedoms of the minority. The mediation of popular sovereignty through a representative (republican) form of government instead of the direct rule of a pure democracy was one method of limiting the power of the people - but for my purposes here, that aspect is not so important. What is important was the adoption of a Constitution.

The Constitution of the United States was a document embodying rigid principles for regulating the operations of American republican rule so as always to defer popular rule to the rule of law. This method makes sure that justice and not the sometimes-fickle will of the people would be (ideally, if not always practically) the standard of government. The Constitution is rightly revered because without it, our government is susceptible of all the injustices of majoritarian tyranny.

The Supreme Court has taken it upon itself to be the final interpreter of this Constitution. The Supreme Court therefore has set itself up as the embodiment of justice and law-governedness against the whims of majority rule, when majority rule becomes oppressive and unjust. Whether or not the Court consciously adopted this reputation throughout its history so as to bolster its legitimacy is irrelevant. Whatever the origins of the view, the image of the Court is as a champion of justice and equality, disinterestedly deciding cases based on principles of law indifferent to particular interests.

However, when the Court becomes activist, as it has been for decades, then it is no longer offering interpretation of a rigid body of agreed-upon principles but reading the private interests of its members into the Constitution. Those political views are superior to the law of the land, and the Court thereby becomes an oligarchical body deciding cases and striking down laws based not on law but on preference. The Court's members may be more well-educated than most citizens, but in this country at least I do not think that entitles them to possess such a large share of sovereignty entirely on their own, without any higher recourse if they are unjust in their decisions.

But the Court's image is not one of a body of aristocrats deciding what is best for their subjects regardless of the expressed interests of those subjects. Rather, the Court is still viewed, as I mentioned before, as a neutral arbiter of law. This is because the Court insists on finding Constitutional interpretations that will fit with whatever view the Court happens to wish to take.

In summation: the Court is not neutral, and has robbed the people of much of their sovereignty, and is acting as an unaccountable body of oligarchs - yet for all this, the line we hear from high school teachers, college professors, and the media makes us think the Court is simply the humble servant of the Constitution.

Maybe the fact that they took away your right to own property will indicate otherwise?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Why's it Always "Ultimate" when it's Man v. Machine?

Sigh. Chessbase is excitedly bleating about Accoona's Ultimate “Man vs. Machine” Chess Match. Let's run down this title, shall we?

Accoona: What exactly is Accoona, you are wondering? Well, it looks to be a cheap Google knockoff. They even go after the same style, though on the few experimental searches I did, Accoona disappointed greatly. So a second-rate search engine company with no original formatting at all is going to sponsor the Ultimate “Man vs. Machine” Chess Match? Yeah, I thought it sounded dumb too.

Ultimate: Words do mean things, and the word "ultimate" conveys a sense of finality, an unconquerable bastion of quality and savagery mixed into one in such a way nothing else could ever come close. Since this is a so-called "Man v. Machine" match -- the Ultimate one at that -- you would reasonably expect the best of the best humans to take on the best of the best computers. We all know that computers don't really play chess, but that's neither here nor there.

Man: So, who's the "man"? Is it Kasparov? Anand? That could make this match "Ultimate." Is it Topalov? Leko? Kramnik? Anyone in the FIDE top ten? Top 15? Top 20? How about the top 30? ...ummm... no. You need to go to number 33 on the FIDE rating list to find the former so-called FIDE bullshit blitz champion, Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

Machine: And who is this decidedly NOT-ultimate man playing? The Accoona Toolbar. This, of course, isn't a machine at all. Granted, it's powered by Fritz 9, but we couldn't just say that, could we? Especially as the top grandmasters continue to prove they are better than this software, and the also-rans like Kasimdzhanov keep acting like they have something to prove.

In other words, a crummy search engine hired a crummy grandmaster to play its crummy toolbar in a crummy attempt to drum up some publicity. And Chessbase falls for it, hook, line, and sinker. Thanks, Chessbase, for making yourself a tool once again.

Locke Rolled Back By Liberal "Justices"

You don't own your property. Ever.

O'Connor smacked down the logic of the majority pretty handily:
Justice O'Connor said "under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be ... given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public."
I hope you never get too attached to your property, since your local government (what's to stop the extension of this principle to other levels of government, by the way? Oh, right, nothing! YAY!!!) can force you to sell it for fair (riiiight) market value at any time if it would be more beneficial to the community in other hands. Or more beneficial to the government who's forcing you to sell it. In fact, what's to stop the authorization of a bunch of seizures of houses to enrich big businesses who donate to politicians' campaigns? The Supreme Court certainly won't stop it, since the liberals have just announced that they favor the interests of the rich and powerful above the rights of middle-class and poor individuals.

It's not a surprising ruling. Liberal political ideology has always held that the individual is worth nothing, that what rights he has are all granted to him by the government, that he possesses no rights naturally, and that the sacrifice of one person for the good of the whole is entirely proper in civil society.

Locke has been repealed by the SCOTUS.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Conservative Hangup?

I happen, even as a conservative, to have some reservations about the amendment to prevent desecration of the American flag, the "anti-flag-burning amendment."

Now, it's not that I have any sympathy for the misguided, smelly, pot-smoking neohippies who burn American flags nowadays. I wonder, actually, how hippies in this day, four solid decades after the initial incarnation of those bath-deprived cretins graced us with their drug-addled discourses on the perceived injustices of American life, set fire to flag. Zippo lighters produced cheaply and efficiently through the power of industrial capitalism, purchased with the money these hippie-wannabes got as spoiled brats from their rich parents, who sent them off to expensive, elite colleges to make them successes, unaware of the liberal indoctrination they'd receive from their ivory-tower-dwelling professors? It's rather ironic, or something, that the overindulged little rich kids at top universities, people who experience most closely the benefits of capitalism and privilege, are the ones most vocal in decrying the evils of the very thing giving them the luxury and freedom to protest.

But, really, I digress. My point in that previous paragraph, in simplified form: I hate hippies of all generations and hate anyone who has the gall to burn the American flag.

However, I wonder if we really need an amendment to the Constitution to authorize Congress to pass legislation to prevent the desecration of the flag. As a practical matter, if you want Congress to be able to pass such legislation, you have to amend the Constitution, since judicial precedent has already made clear that the Supreme Court will strike down anti-flag-burning legislation. An amendment would essentially overturn all that precedent and allow Congress to make such laws. But, really, what's the harm in burning the American flag? So some hippies want to make a pathetic protest based on their ignorant and hypocritical political views - so what? I'm fairly wary of any government regulation, being that government is a violent and unpredictable beast that frankly cannot ever be depended on to protect my freedom and security, and this amendment is no exception. And I don't care that it's a pet cause of many conservatives to pass such an amendment, because it seems we have a lot better things to be considering, such as securing our Swiss-cheese borders, preventing the murder of innocent children (let's pass a partial-birth abortion ban, okay, guys?), &c.

All the previous rambling brings me back to the title of this post. Why are conservatives so insistent on banning flag burning? I don't mind sticking it to the hippies, but is this amendment and its concomitant restriction of free speech (even [ick!] symbolic free speech is speech, I guess) worth the pain and suffering it'll bring to liberals? It does seem rather to cede the Constitutional high ground when conservatives are willing to denigrate the sacrosanct First Amendment in favor of an ill-defined and controversial ideal...

What do I know? Maybe it gets votes. It's Machiavellian, but doing the wrong thing to get the right people in power isn't something I'm exactly willing to let become monopolized by the Left (Hillary, this means you)...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Fast Eddie Rides Again!

And he leaves us stuck with the bill. Again.

A seminar will be held in Altoona this morning for the leaders of local municipalities and their boards to discuss the implementation of the Commonwealth's Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy.

Its all part of the Governor's pledge to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay. In order for the clean-up to occur, there needs to be a reduction in the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment entering streams and ground waters that find their way to the bay.

The implementation of the program will cost significant amounts of money to local municipal entities because there is no funding mechanism from the state to pay for the cleanup. It will also require wastewater treatment plants to change their methods of operation.

In other words, Governor Rendell wants to make a more or less useless, albeit costly, gesture, and stick us with the bill. And a big bill it is:

Residents of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed will see sewer rates jump as municipalities attempt to comply with the Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy, experts said Tuesday.

More than half of Pennsylvania is within the watershed, including Blair and surrounding counties.

"Sewer rates will increase; that is a reality," said engineer Jodi L. Reese of CET Engineering Services, the Harrisburg-based firm that presented an informational seminar on the program Tuesday in Altoona. "They could increase by 50 to 80 percent."

Well great. I am moving at the end of this month to a new house, and therefore for the first time in my life will be responsible for sewer bills. (Sewer is included in my current lease.) And how am I greeted at this new place? With (hopefully, Rendell says) expanded bills and no increase in salary to compensate.

"But Auskunft," I hear you bleating, "Cleaning up the environment is a GOOD thing! We need clean water and yak yak yak yak..." Well, yes. True. Very true. But tell me, if you fracture your left arm, you don't go to the doctor with the intention of having a full body cast, do you? Do you want to have your appendix and tonsils removed along with a frostbite-afflicted toe? Of course not. You fix the problem only, right? Well, please, take a look at this map. As you can see, nearly the entire state of Pennsylvania is in the green or orange stages, which means that there is not enough so-called pollution to worry about (green) or that the water table itself is not susceptible to nitrogen waste. (Of course, the nitrogen itself is of no concern; the fear is that nitrogen could combine with other chemicals and form nitrates. If nitrogen itself was such a problem, well, ooops, the atmosphere is 78% or so nitrogen. Damn chemical scare tactics...).

Back to the map: as you can see, the only area of Pennsylvania at the highest risk is the region surrounding... Philadelphia! You guessed it! And, of course, you're not really surprised, right? This only begs the question why Ed Rendell won't expend all this energy (and increase the financial burden) on the counties actually responsible for hurting the watershed the most, rather than going after us out here in some of the most rural (and clean!) sections of the state. But you don't need me to tell you the answer, do you? Fast Eddie Rendell was mayor of Filth-adelphia, and because of that and only that city was he elected Governor of the state. And ever since then, he has done his very best to ensure that Philly gets every kickback possible; the rest of the state, who didn't vote for him, can screw ourselves.

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if this entire maneuver was a lashing out by the Governor for so many schools refusing to opt-in to his Act 72 nonsense and the General Assembly refusing his minimum wage garbage. After so many rather humiliating defeats (of which Rendell has had a great share) Fast Eddie found a way to stick it to all of us in return. And since it is in the name of conserving the watershed and bay and whatever else he says, it is difficult to effectively argue against it. Language is hijacked again by the liberals, right on the heels of de facto taxes.

Friday, June 17, 2005

My First Meta-Post

I have been asked more than once so far why I wrote that article about PBS so long after the story came out. My first reaction was "A week is so long after a news story, but in today's digital blog-licious atmosphere I guess it is. My reasoning was a news story from Penn State that the university sent to my e-mail:


Penn State Public Broadcasting joins other public broadcasting stations throughout the nation this week in a campaign to raise awareness of a 45-percent cut in federal funding proposed by a key subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives. ... The Penn State Public Broadcasting Board of Representatives, composed of volunteers within the viewing and listening areas, has mobilized a grassroots effort in response to the potential shortfall in funding. WPSX-TV and WPSU-FM are running announcements to encourage listeners and viewers to call their legislators to express where they stand on the issue -- for or against the proposed cuts.

I do have to say that this is a good idea; I will be sure to contact Senators Specter and Santorum as well as Representative Shuster to let them know I am in favor of slowing the handout of free money to essentially worthless so-called "public" TV and radio.

I guess what set me off was the fact that the university is whining about losing this free money, though Ford-forbid they go a week without starting to construct a new building on campus (at University Park, of course -- the branch campuses [campi?] don't really count). Please. Just jack up tuition more to cover it. Or jack up tuition anyway... cause it's cool to do so. But give this a rest already. To what end should these stations, or any, receive federal money? Remember that trendy (if misguided) liberal diatribe about balancing the budget? Here is a step in the right direction for a change.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Return of the Human Lampshade

I mean, after all, being forced to listen to music is essentially the same as murdering someone in cold blood, using a knife to remove their dead, lifeless, yet still bleeding skin, stretching it out, curing it with salt, suspending it to air dry, immersing it for at least a week in hydrated lime and then in lactic or acetic acid, and then cutting it and shaping it to fit your furniture of choice. Yes! That procedure there, making lamp shades out of the skin of what used to be your grandmother, your brother, maybe your husband or wife, or your son or daughter -- for the heinous crime of having an -itz at the end of their name! -- is equated by Dick Durbin with forcing someone intent on killing you and your family to listen to rap music.


This worthless excuse for a senator refuses to apologize. Anyone surprised? I hardly think an apology is appropriate anyway. This boor needs to be censured, removed from office, arrested for sedition, and spend a few years with a federal penitentiary. This behavior is inexcusable! Completely, totally, 100 percent inexcusable. The Republicans need to repeat these claims over and over and over again. Durbin should not be allowed to live down these horrible statements, ever. He should be able to be forced out of his so-called leadership position fairly easily and out of the Senate just as easily. Any Republican or Democrat should be able to beat him, even in Chicago, by reminding the people of these claims he made.

Letterman said it best last night: some of the terrorists locked up in Gitmo have experienced "mild, non-injurious physical contact." Quoth letterman: "It's just like going six rounds with Mike Tyson!"

Pee and BS

Well, everyone is atwitter about the House's plan to slash the free cash they give to so-called "Public" TV and radio stations. Oh the horror!

[These] funds are particularly important for small TV and radio stations and account for about 15 percent of the public broadcasting industry's total revenue.

Oh dear merciful Ford in Heaven! Fifteen percent!! The world as we know it will surely end now, what with the blatant bias and shoddy half-truth-embracing "news" and "cultural programming" being affected slightly. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe they could all figure out how to better run their stations and nothing will be affected at all -- save my taxes which will not be used to such an extent for this garbage anymore.

"Americans overwhelmingly see public broadcasting as an unbiased information source," Rep. David Obey (Wis.), the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, said in a statement. "Perhaps that's what the GOP finds so offensive about it. Republican leaders are trying to bring every facet of the federal government under their control. . . . Now they are trying to put their ideological stamp on public broadcasting."

Wow what a collection of nonsense, David. Thanks for giving my brain cancer with your ridiculous claims and non sequiturs. Americans do NOT believe that public broadcasting is bias-free; unlike you, however, I spent a few precious seconds of my time to find sources. Here is one example though I am quick to tell you a poll is a poll (and a roll is a roll, and...,). However, at least someone attempted to sort all this out, unlike Rep. disObey, who just makes crazy claims about the American people. This isn't, however, even the biggest issue I take with his statement; how is trying to prevent wasting as much money as possible by taking a little from the so-called public TV and radio tantamount to "trying to bring every facet of the federal government under their control"? Are the scary and evil Republicans trying to hog the remote now, too? Is that what this is all about? Because I can scarcely think that increasing the federal spending on TV stations, just not as much as the stations had hoped, is scarcely a usurpation of power. Prince John didn't suddenly take control of all of England by granting lavish funds to the puppeteers while not quite giving them everything they wanted and didn't earn. That whole sentence is ridiculous. Just like Obey and all this whining. All of you, grow up and earn a living.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


The New Skeptic is so named because the authors are skeptical of contemporary attitudes towards politics, philosophy, art, manners, &c. We are also committed to truly free thought, not the kind of self-styled open-mindedness and free-thinking that replaces one body of dogma with another. The dogmatic atheist, who simply believes in atheism, humanism, materialism, &c. without making his own beliefs susceptible to criticism and correction if they are proven untenable, is exactly as disgustingly dogmatic and closed-minded as the worst religious fanatic of the Middle Ages. Free thought and healthy skepticism are not functions of a different set of beliefs but of an attitude of humility before truth, of examination of all opinions and facts, especially one's own, and of a desire to match opinions with truth. Engaging in a sophistical tearing-down of beliefs and opposition to truth is not intellectually honest skepticism, but a kind of game played with philosophy, using thought to destroy thought, and unworthy of anyone but an errant schoolboy.

Now, having established what a free-thinker ought to be, I can show you the exemplar of the dishonest and immature "free-thinker." A few quotes, to establish the issue:
Critics contend that "Missing Heaven," the book chosen for the new Chester County reading program, has faith in God as a central theme. At least two groups have voiced concerns about the choice, and county commissioners -- who first endorsed the selection -- have apologized, saying they had not read it and were not fully versed on the story line.
The Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia and the Anti-Defamation League said that "Missing Heaven" and questions posed in an accompanying discussion guide have an inappropriately heavy focus on religion for a public library program.
The book may entangle (the county and the library) in a philosophical question that is best left in the family and the church.
Why is the "Freethought Society" so concerned with silencing any discussion of religion, and indeed trying to dissuade people from reading a book that uses religious themes? Are the "free-thinkers" frightened of opinions that do not match their own? Having rejected religion themselves (except, probably, an atheism so dogmatic as to count as a religion itself), they seek to interfere with others' coming to their own open-minded, freely-debated conclusions about religion.

How enlightened of them. Perhaps we should build a fire and burn these offensive books.

The final sin committed by the book might engage in a philosophical question! How very, very telling. The "free-thinkers" don't want anyone to debate a philosophical question, since it's best left to the family and the church...except, well, the "free-thinkers" themselves are becoming involved in the question already. They must know better, and they'll keep everyone else ignorant - for their own protection.

Is it clear who the real free-thinkers are?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Syria Doesn't Get It!

Syria thinks it's safe; shall we teach them a lesson?
Syria cannot imagine a scenario that would warrant moving its troops back to Lebanon, and will avoid giving the United States any such "pretext" to attack, Syria's ambassador to Washington said on Monday.
"If we send back our troops, this is a dream, a wish list for the Bush administration. ... We're not going to put ourselves in a confrontation with the tiger."
Sadly, Syria (aka Iraq Lite), there are some problems with your reasoning. Like, it's totally fallacious. The United States doesn't attack on mere "pretext," but when there is an overwhelming cause to start armed conflict. Iraq was a rogue state, supporting terrorism and possibly possessing WMDs (even the liberal New York Times said so!). Since Syria is just another Islamofascist state in the Iraqi model, and has supported terrorism, and may be holding those weapons that the Russians moved out of Iraq, I'd say we have more than "pretext" for attacking Syria. Perhaps, a moral imperative?

But I'm not sure - does Syria have lots of oil? If they do, French, German, and Russian oil companies may not want us attacking, since those greedy countries can't pass up a chance to make brown people suffer for the enrichment of Europe. "No Blood, For Oil!"

The second problem - going to war is not on Bush's wish list. Please, I know savage warmongering is familiar to those backward, militaristic states in your immediate area, Syria, but in the civilized world, that gave up such barbarism in...what, 1200?...war is an unfortunate last resort and not anything to be wished and hoped for.

I guess the only other problem is with the article itself. Is that Reuters betraying the interests of the civilized world in favor of obvious lies and propaganda? How about we imprison them in Gitmo with their terrorist buddies?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Not Guilty My Ass

That is all.

I Got Their "T" Right Here...

Wow. Check out this e-mail I just got:

The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity is pleased to offer all faculty and staff a workshop on transgender issues, Understanding the 'T' in LGBTA.
Everything from basic definitions to gender identity and expression and inter-sexuality will be covered in this informative and fun workshop. The workshop will include video, personal stories and informal discussion as well as resource information.

All emphasis original -- ed.

I am glad that this is what my job has come to: a workshop on basic definitions of sexual... ummm... whatever. I already know these definitions: men shoot DNA and women receive it. THAT'S ALL THERE IS.

If you want to be a deviant, that is your decision, but I don't see how we need to use money ripped from the students under the guise of "tuition" to fund a so-called "workshop" to celebrate this nonsense. If people's lifestyle choices are going to start impacting MY job, then by golly there is a bigger problem than understanding what a transsexual is.

Yet Another Glorious Twenty

John H. over at Right Wing News has issued another challenge to bloggers such as myself (and, I suppose, to the good ones as well). The Discovery Channel is running a show with a flawed premise: namely, they are going to order the hundred "greatest" Americans. So, yes, out of the billions of citizens that America has had over the past 229 or so years, the Discovery Channel of all people thinks they can come up with an ordered list of the best of the best of the best.

Of course, so do I.

I won't make nearly as pompous a claim as the Discovery Channel people, but I will give this activity my best shot. My method is to use quotas, as part of a legislatively judicially mandated affirmative action discrimination program. I will select four people from each of the following five categories: politics and government; science; military and safety; music, art, and popular culture; and other entrepreneurs.

Alexander Hamilton
James Madison
James K. Polk
George Washington

Albert Einstein
Enrico Fermi
Richard Feynman
J. Robert Oppenheimer

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Ulysses S. Grant
Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller
George Dewey

Aaron Copland
Glenn Miller
Paul Morphy
Wilhelm (William) Steinitz

Nolan Bushnell
Thomas Edison
Henry Ford
Steve Jobs

There you have it. I make no claim about this list being complete or anything like that; in fact, should I sit down to do this again, even in an hour or so, it would likely look vastly different. But still, it is difficult to argue that these twenty individuals did not have a great and positive impact on America.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Banning Punishment?

Massachusetts mulls banning punishment. No, really:
A bill filed by an Arlington lawmaker and backed by more than 60 residents from communities including Waltham and Newton would make it illegal to inflict "the willful infliction of physical pain" -- including spanking -- on children under 18.
Well, all right, to be fair, punishment is defined as "the intentional infliction of physical pain as the just response to a moral crime." So, technically, this darling piece of legislation leaves the option open to abuse kids emotionally when they do bad things, leaving those internal scars we've always been told last far longer than physical ones.

Way to go! Alternatively, we can refrain from punishing kids at all and make sure they annoy others around them (here's a big thank you from me to all the neglectful parents out there not controlling your brats!) and grow up into deviants. Yeah. That's how to raise children.

Fallacy alert!
"We must recognize that corporal punishment is risky behavior thatcan lead to injury and death," Arlington's Susan Lawrence said in a written statement she gave to the Legislature's joint Judiciary Committee yesterday.
Why am I being called on to recognize something that's not true? Oops, shut up!
The measure is not about prosecuting parents for spanking but is about preventing abuse, Pollard said. In 41 percent of cases where a child is killed by parents, she said, the parents raised the defense they were using corporal punishment.
Yeah, it's too bad killing your kid isn't already illegal, since making anything illegal prevents its ever happening. Oh wait...
Spanking can cause damage to kids' spines, nerves and testes, according to a book on physical punishment Lawrence cited. Spanking can lead to emotional, social and learning problems, according to a report she referenced.
Let me just do your job for you, since you seem totally unable to deal with the task set before you. You have to prove to anyone with half a brain that making corporal punishment illegal will prevent these ill effects on children; otherwise, your bringing them up as an argument for the legislation has no basis other than as an emotional appeal to "think about the children!" In other words, this is what you must show: there is a correlation between the legality of corporal punishment and acts of punishment so frequent and/or severe as to cause serious physical and emotional problems. You must argue that those parents who, and let's stop the moral equivalence between beating and corporal punishment, beat their kids would stop doing it if corporal punishment were illegal. Wait, isn't beating your kids already illegal? Hey, problem solved!

Way to be a fallacy-spouting sack of hot air. I wish there were a difficult-to-refute argument somewhere in there, so that I might actually have to cause my brain to make some effort.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Media Continue to Dig Own Grave

Not long after these scumbags were arrested, even before I could Google the story (having heard a bit about it on the radio) we have the "pro-terrorist" side of the story! Thank you, MSM.
"They're regular people. They've never talked against their own country," said Usama Ismail, 19, Hamid Hayat's cousin. "They've never said 'I want to hurt anyone, I want to kill anyone.' They're not that kind of people. They're warm-hearted people."
It's a good thing they interview this entirely unbiased person with a neutral perspective...wait, did that say Hamid Hayat's cousin?!?! Why do I even have to read such obvious lies? The media aren't stupid, so they know this kid is full of it - why bother even reporting it? A pathetic attempt to instill doubt that only an idiot could fall for?

I have an idea. Since we've been told over and over that the mass media, being owned by large corporations, are merely tools of corporate interest, let's take that bizarre piece of conspiracy-mongering at face value. The media are out to make a buck. When, do you think, were the ratings for news channels at a sustained high? Perhaps, during and after the 9/11 attacks? So, according to this liberal-inspired logic (the idea that the media are Right-biased in favor of corporations being a standard liberal fantasy), the media would have great motivation to downplay all real terror threats so that another attack could happen, giving the news networks that much more market share. How else do you explain the fact that the ink isn't even dry on this story and already we have a blatantly anti-truth, anti-journalistic integrity, pro-terrorist version of it?

Rathergate, Korangate, this...hey, MSM, I think that coffin has enough nails.

Rendell Proposes Ending Dollar Menu

...But not in so many words. Ever since Ed Rendell fast-talked his way into the Pennsylvania Governor's mansion, he has been trying to destroy Pennsylvania businesses and make the state even poorer at encouraging new companies to start up. What a good little socialist. The sad thing is, he may have finally found a way to succeed, by hitting the state lawmakers at their most vulnerable spot: their own wallets.

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Gov. Ed Rendell said Tuesday he favors increasing state judges' pay "no matter what," but would not approve a raise for state lawmakers unless they agreed to boost the state's minimum wage.
"If they're interested in revisiting the pay raise bill, they have to make it clear to me that they'd approve a minimum-wage increase," Rendell told reporters after speaking before about 2,000 AARP members outside the Capitol.

Well, that is just peachy. Nothing gets a socialist's rocks off like mandating ridiculous policies whose only purpose is to hurt successful businesses. Usually once a week I go to a nearby McDonald's for lunch, because I can fill myself up with three items from the Dollar Menu (which is $3.18 after our sales tax). The McDonald's here is staffed almost entirely by high school and maybe college students, with an adult manager running the place and babysitting them. Most of these kids earn minimum wage during their four hour shifts; even those who are above the minimum level likely do not earn the $7.15/hour Rendell is proposing demanding.

So, let's say that my local McDonald's increases everyone's pay to a minimum of $7.15/hour. Suddenly their expenses jump way up, and there is NO compensating surge in income or business to make up for it. Wow! Who didn't see that coming? I mean, it's great that the high school kids have a few more bucks each week for their weed and cell phones, and whatever other unnecessary and worthless pursuits in which they may engage, but McDonald's will need to do something to offset their new expenses. You can bet the items with the lowest profit margins will disappear pretty quickly; there goes the Dollar Menu. It takes little imagination to see similar scenarios play out all across the state in nearly every aspect of business.

Fortunately there is one state lawmaker who calls Fast Eddie on this garbage.

But House Majority Leader Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, said he wasn't interested in making such a trade-off.

"If we consider a pay raise, it'll be on the merits of a pay raise itself, and if we consider a minimum-wage bill, it'll be on the merits of minimum wage," Smith said. "I'm not linking them, and I think it's wrong for the governor to do so."

I just hope that Representative Smith can avoid Rendell's reeducation.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Nothing Sacred

This is enough to make me sick to my stomach a lot.

TYRONE (PA)- From the broken window of a Sunday school room to the blackened pulpit of Christ United Methodist Church, the two juveniles police allege set fire to the church left behind telling evidence of a thrill-fueled rampage that ended in arson.

The fate of the church, a fixture at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue since 1913, remains in question.

High above the sanctuary floor, littered with hymnals and debris, the fire's tremendous heat left ceiling fan blades twisted and smoke- blackened light fixtures.

Is this not amazing? Is nothing sacred? Having family living in Tyrone, I am privy to a few more details than the Altoona Mirror gives in this online snippet (oh, and by the way, Mirror, tell your webmaster to NOT use frames for crying-out-loud!). I have learned that the kids in question are 17 and 16, and the DA is on record saying that he wishes he could do more, but he has to charge the two of them as minors. The DA reportedly feels sick that the kids will get off with worthless sentences that will be expunged in a year or two, as the case may be. (When links to those statements become available I will post them.)

Usually I hate sounding so sinister, but there is perhaps one saving grace here. Tyrone is a very close-knit town, for starters, with people looking out for one another. It is also a fairly conservative, religious, working class town, and a good many of the people are hunters. Many residents of Tyrone are not willing to forgive the actions of these kids, and have different views on justice than the liberal laws provide. These kids very well cound have to move soon, because their names will get out, and many people will know them. Things will likely be unpleasant for them in the meantime.

As soon as I discover their identities, I will likely pass them on to other interested parties, perhaps. I just may be a bit of a gossip at the weekly bridge club... or something.

Update: Here are some more links to news on this heinous crime. More will be added as available.
State -- (This will probably scroll out of the news fairly soon, but you can still search for it.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Cult of Internationalism

Internationalism, an idealistic philosophy on global political relations that argues for global cooperation as the means to maintaining peace and security, is nothing new. Immanuel Kant, a favorite of mine, sketched a vision of international cooperation, diplomacy, and disarmament in To Perpetual Peace more than two hundred years ago. The irony apparent in a Prussian's adherence to such internationalism the century before his native land would defeat the Danes, Austrians, and French, unite the Germanic states, and form a militaristic state that, in the twentieth century, would take on the entire world twice, seems to me a testament to the futility of the internationalist vision. But I think there was at least something to be said for internationalism at the time of Kant. Kant grossly misunderstood international politics and the nature of the relations among states. He chose to believe that all men were essentially good, had the same values, and could be made to agree if given enough time to deliberate. Machiavelli, so long a whipping-boy of the Right, at least understood the inherent selfishness and cunning of mankind, and the enlightened self-interest that is required in promoting oneself on the national or international level. It is rather a testament to Machiavelli's understanding of human nature and his genius than a true reproach to Kant that Kant happened to be so misguided. After all, Kant did not have the experience of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to correct his judgment.

The current fervor with which internationalists express their vision reminds one very much of cultish devotion. I excuse the early internationalists, like Kant, from this characterization because they were merely hoping for a universally agreeable settlement among men that would end all strife. They thought their plan of an international cooperative body would be well suited to serving that end. But since the end of the First World War, we have seen the utter failure both of the League of Nations and of the United Nations, bodies created with the noble but naive goals of ensuring security, peace, and the enjoyment of human rights around the world. There are still many who choose to believe, against all evidence, as if they were the devotees of an outmoded faith, that the UN will solve all our problems, end all war, cure all diseases, and obsolete poverty. With decades of UN failure to sharpen our judgment, we can say nothing more of the UN that it was a charming fantasy, condemned before its inception by the deficiencies of human nature, and that the mature mind must go beyond this schoolboy's infatuation and deal with the obvious fact of inborn dissent and malice among the international players. The UN Cultists will not have any of this, will insist on "diplomacy" and "multilateralism" even as the people of Iraq are murdered by their ruthless dictator.

Internationalism's time is up. The adults must now have their say. The intellectual children without the courage and strength of will to manage foreign policy should remain silent, except to remind us of the folly of "collective security" and other empty phrases.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Editorial Insanity

For those of you who are still blissfully unaware, I live in the city of Altoona, Pennsylvania. The main news-radio station is 1240 AM WRTA. I like this station; in fact I linked them over there on the sidebar. They have a nice morning program followed by three hours of local talk divided between three hosts, with Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, and then Colmes to take you through the afternoon and evening. ABC News and Fox News keep you informed every half hour. All in all, it is a decent station.

WRTA reworked their website within the past year. It is now actually pretty nice, with classified ads and crosswords and local news links; all in all what you could expect from a respectable news station's web site.

The only drawback to this site is their "Letters to the Editor" section, which is routinely filled with garbage from barely literate people. Unlike newspapers, which will generally only print coherent and well-written letters, WRTA apparently posts everything they receive.

Take for instance this "letter" which is so incredibly bad I think it gave me cancer.

I first want to start off by asking this question to all those that read this editorial do you know that Altoona has a sweat shop? if you said no you didnt know that well than im gonna explain we have a sweat shop that is ran by an organization that says they are trying to help out those who are mentally challenged and have disabilities yet this organization does not even pay these mentally challenged people minimum wage so the companies that use this organization are using a sweat shop they get cheap labor from those people that can not defend themselves its time we the people stand up for those that can not defend themselves and protect them from those predators that seem to think they can get cheap labor in this country by skirting around the laws that say we have to have a minimum wage the Government is just as much as at fault as this organization is they help this organization by giving them funding to keep this sweat shop going its time America stops blasting other countries for sweat shops when we have a sweat shop right in the heart of our city.

Holy Ford Almighty! What kind of editorial staff would allow Joel Walters make such a complete ass of himself? Let's only hope that his case of the stupids isn't contagious. The best part of this whole assemblage of mostly words is that I, as a resident of Altoona, have nary a clue what the hell he is talking about. Seriously. Not a clue. Thanks, Joel, for telling us exactly what organization you are "writing" about.

Shame on WRTA for allowing this drivel to get through the system and infect my eyes and brain with its nauseating horror.

Who Says Crime Doesn't Pay?

Well, if this doesn't beat all:

Joan Felt, who played a pivotal role in unraveling the 30-year secret that her father was the mysterious "Deep Throat" source, says he is lucid and feels reassured that he made the right decision.

Well, the only thing that I am interested in is the fact that so-called Deep Throat is still alive and aware. After all, that means he is fit to be tried and sentenced for his actions. There cannot be any claim about mental stability or competence to stand trial now; not that a trial would be necessary, as he has already pleaded guilty to his crime.

As both praise and criticism of Joan Felt and her family swirled last week in the national media, she disclosed the family's motivations for coming forward now, why money was a family consideration and how her father remains a "sensible and wise" participant.

Let's consider this paragraph now. There were so-called "reasons" for coming forward, with so-called Deep Throat himself contributing to the family's internal dialog, and the only reason mentioned at all was money.

In other words, the family felt they were entitled to profit from silly ol' grampa's crimes.

"There were many reasons why we decided to do it. I won't deny that to make money is one of them," Felt said. "My son, Nick, is in law school and he'll owe $100,000 by the time he graduates. I'm still a single mom, still supporting them to one degree or another, and I am not ashamed of this," Felt said.

Oh! The irony! Let's pay for junior's law school with profits from grossly illegal activities. The sad thing is, this wouldn't be considered an ethical and moral dilemma today like it would have been a generation or two ago. Besides, wasn't this so-called Deep Throat supposed to be a hero of the people, a selfless crusader against the evil Administration? This "selflessness" sure evaporated when profits were more or less guaranteed.

I am simply fed up with this entire ordeal. I sure wish the libs would celebrate Linda Tripp the same way they do this so-called Deep Throat. Maybe if she had a disgusting sex name more Americans would have liked her.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Leko vs. Adams: Wake Me Up When It's Over

I was all set to mock Peter Leko, the loser (who drew his match!) against Kramnik for the BS Fake Chess World Championship (not to be confused with the FIDE tournament of the same name), when suddenly he went 3-0 after his 0-3 start. Now his match with Adams is tied. Instead of laughing at Leko for being a weak-sauce pathetic player, I have to laugh at both Adams and Leko (and who can resist mocking Kramnik for drawing with the latter loser?).

Oh boy!

Instead of critiquing the chess, and being all boring, like I usually am, I want you to look at something...

Leko's wife.

Darn! Way to go, Peter. She's not that hot in the face but she has a great rack. As a fellow nerd, I must say, you've chosen to settle wisely.

Irreverent? Yeah. Deal with it.

Unscientific Theories

As a blogger who happens to be conservative (rather than a conservative blogger), I hold some views that are not in the conservative canon, and I have no compunctions about making these views known, though since my audience is largely conservative I can expect to offend more than a few people with them. So, of the twenty-five people who seem to actually care about The New Skeptic, twenty of you (give or take) may be in for a shock!

Creationism is an unscientific, wrong-headed view and requires more faith to be believed than any sane person can muster.

Creationism simply has no evidence to back up its claims about the creation of life on this planet. Evolution has loads of evidence taken from the fossil record and rather plausible inferential jumps; by contrast, the inferential leaps required for Creationism are equivalent to skipping a stone clear across the Pacific Ocean, in a typhoon, to boot. The Creationism that claims the Earth is only roughly 6000 years old must discredit radiocarbon dating and make preposterous claims about the reliability of such dating, and the constancy of physical laws. Such radical creationists will actually say that radioactive decay has occured historically at a much higher rate than at present, and that the whole process is so flawed that dates cannot be told accurately.

Fair enough. This view is entirely self-consistent. It also makes science as a rigorous discipline impossible. If we cannot depend on a pattern holding between causes and effects in physics, a law-governedness that we never know perfectly but which we can reduce to rather rough, but usually accurate, formulae, then science is meaningless. No patterns exist. This would work fine for the Creationist, since in the absence of objective laws any subjective interpretation could be substituted. But that does not prove Creationism to be the one correct interpretation at all. To do so would require the reintroduction of laws, something the creationist has taken pains to eliminate. So, I might as well believe that Tiamat created the world out of old condoms wrappers - if I can make a consistent theory out of that, why not?

Creation is a unique event. That is, it cannot be compared to any other physical event and brought under similar laws. Therefore, creation cannot be scientific, since any theory dealing with it would not draw on any similar events in history or in the possible future. Creationism is not scientific because it does not seek to explain physics but rather the very possibility of physics, by explaining the creation of matter from nothing. If we move now to the creation of the universe, Creationism taken as a putative scientific theory explains what happened before science could even exist. It explains origins. Science does not seek to do this. It is just as wrong for a materialist to claim that he has developed a scientific theory of the purely material origin of the universe, for such a claim goes beyond the bounds of science and reaches metaphysics. By conceding that science can explain origins, the creationist probably does not realize that he is also authorizing the atheist to create his own theory of origins. But, luckily for philosophy, they are both wrong; or, better, not wrong but making meaningless noises about something they don't really understand and about which they cannot say anything scientific.

A couple links should do to acknowledge my indebtedness to some people:

John Derbyshire occasionally mentions "intelligent design" and how misguided and unscientific it is, though I think he's said all he wants and wishes his readers would just drop it.

Kant in "The Antinomy of Pure Reason" says that metaphysical claims about the beginning of the universe or the universe as a whole go beyond all possible experience and are thus full of contradiction and error. Seems relevant to me.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Hey Johnny Holmes!

Well, not like this is news anymore, but Deep Throat finally coughed something up (one can only guess what it could have been) and found his voice for the first time in 33 years.

W. Mark Felt, former deputy directory of the FBI, has come out and admitted leaking information on the Watergate ordeal to the Washington Post.

Read that again. An assistant director of the FBI, entrusted by the government and the society at large to uphold the federal laws, as a head of a federal law enforcement agency, consciously made the decision to disregard all these laws and improperly and illegally leak selected information to the Washington Post.

Unfortunately, I cannot find online the laws relating to Felt's criminal activity. I am at the moment sitting at a noisy hotel's continental breakfast, and their wireless connection isn't all that fast or stable. If I can eventually find the appropriate statutes (or someone finds them for me) I will post them post haste.

Ultimately I am interested in the statute of limitations on such criminal activity. Frankly, I don't care that Felt is a semi-senile senior citizen. What he needs to do is, law permitting, spend the rest of his life in a correctional institute. OOOPS!! Breaking the law has consequences, unless of course you are an illegal alien. Laws obviously don't apply to them, but since Felt is actually an American citizen, he needs to be punished for his actions. Neither he nor his family should profit from his illegal, immoral, and borderline-treasonous activity.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Slavery Exists

Despite the bizarre term used for it.

Really, I don't have much to say about this story. Marxists and Democrats and Democrats (whoops, twice redundant!) have so watered down the meaning of the term slavery, by applying it to labor conditions like Wal-Mart, where people work forty hours a week in safe conditions and make enough money for cable TV, food enough to keep them fat (they work at Wal-Mart, after all), rent, &c., that the real human rights issue of slavery is difficult to work up much indignation about. If everyone who works for a corporation is a slave, and we see that these apparent slaves actually have the right to leave work at any time, and are making plenty of money to keep themselves and their families alive, then the word's so weak and meaningless that it won't engender the approriate revulsion when it's used correctly.

Maybe that's the origin of this "human trafficking" phrase - since slavery's lost its meaning, we need to express the inhuman injustice of buying and selling people like property in different terms. I still think "slavery" is pretty loaded with meaning, if you aren't a self-important idiot of a Bolshevik, and "human trafficking" actually sounds rather...politically correct to me.

Owners and dealers of slaves don't deserve such semantic kid gloves.

Oh, and if you thought slavery was a thing white people invented to oppress blacks, yeah, you were way off base. Nor did the practice end in 1865. FYI, liberals.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Lawyer PR

Lawyers, those manipulators of the system and destroyers of lives who latch onto any affluent arm like a pack of ravenous leeches, are starting to get wise to their well-deserved reputations; now they're starting to fight back in their commercials.

You've heard people calling for tort reform, right? Especially in cases of medical malpractice, lawyers sue doctors so much (You didn't give my client a lollipop? I'll see you in court!) that it's a big risk to insure a doctor for malpractice. Such a risk that insurance companies, using such arcane tools as mathematics and cost-benefit analysis, have to charge extremely high rates, since their costs of insuring a doctor against malpractice now have to consider the great likelihood that, oh, just about everyone will get sued for malpractice, and the insurance companies will have to foot the bill.

I suppose you could see this from different perspectives. You could bemoan the quality of medical education that graduates doctors who are pretty much incompetent across the board. That would be the case if the lawyers were suing for, er, what's the word? Oh, right, non-frivolous reasons.

The other perspective is that lawyers are simply bleeding a nobler profession of its cash-rich blood. To hold this view, you'd have to entertain some crazy notions, like lawyers, having legal expertise and having entrenched themselves by making laws and contracts impossible to interpret by a layman, have a racket going where they go around suing people because they can. People are so fearful of these lawyers that they often settle just to avoid the risk of putting a case before a jury, where the plaintiff will trot out some sob story, the jury will shed a pair of tears each, and some rich defendant, a bad, evil person because he's rich (hooray socialism), will have to fork over way more than he has for doing nothing wrong.

It's interesting, isn't it, how lawyers have manipulated this game? I mean, if this is all about making rich people pay, why not go after the way-too-rich-for-the-measly-work-their-associates-do-anyway lawyers?! But it's not. It's about lawyers convincing you that some other group is evil and profiting off your misery, when it's the lawyers doing it. Way to be tools, I guess.

The idea came for this article while watching television, and seeing commercials for law firms where paid actors say, "Everyone always hears that lawyers are the problem. But when I had my accident, the insurance company wouldn't give me my money. They're the real problem!" Yeah, don't even consider the reason that insurance rates are so high or that insurance companies have to work their asses off to avoid paying claims, because lawsuits have driven their costs up and thinned their profit margins.

It's cool. Lawyers are the answer. It's like the lottery. If you win, you're happy, and screw everyone else. If you can get a big settlement from an insurance company, and everyone else has to suffer with higher rates, who cares? See, now you're thinking like a lawyer - I want the whole pie, and screw everyone who goes hungry because of it. I'll draft a brief showing how they were greedy and evil for wanting to eat anyway.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

TNS Res. 001

WHEREAS the latest Star Wars "prequel" was wrought with logical inconsistencies, such as the absolute phrase, "Only Sith deal in absolutes," and;

Whereas Lucas left glaring inconsistencies in the plot lines connecting the "prequels" with the original Star Wars movies, e.g. Kenobi's claim that Yoda was his personal instructor in The Empire Strikes Back, and;

Whereas the cavalier regard for physics and time issues in Lucas's works is finally too great to gloss over further, and;

Whereas characters from the original Star Wars trilogy were introduced in a simply gratuitous fashion in the "prequels" for reasons unknown, often in a manner that beckons a probability whose difference from zero is negligible (see Chewbacca), and;

Whereas the plot style of the "prequels" is expository in nature, contrasted with the action and implied story advances of the originals, and;

Whereas the effects style of the "prequels" is designed in such a way as to make the original movies look as dated as possible, and;

Whereas, through poor directing, the CGI creatures and characters in the "prequels" appear to be more life-like and believable than actual actors, and;

Whereas the dialog is poorly written, lines poorly delivered, and the writing in general is awful for reasons enumerated above and for other reasons, and;

Whereas this attack on the Star Wars series through these "prequels" serves to destroy much of the magic of innumerable people's childhoods; be it therefore

RESOLVED, that The New Skeptic:

1.) Decrees said "prequels" to be horribly inferior movies, and;

2.) Decrees said "prequels" to be poorly written "fanfic" worthy of being posted on AOL-hosted forums, and;

3.) Decrees that any voluntary adherents of "The Force" or Lucas or the "prequels" is to be held in contempt and face punishment until such time as reeducation may take place.