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Ether Mind

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Monday, October 31, 2005

Some days, I'm glad I'm not a fetus

It's too bad that Scalito has ruled on abortion cases in the past, but, hey, we need a good political fight to prepare ourselves for the 2006 primaries. This nomination has the potential to become an all-out political mudstorm, the likes of which haven't been seen since.. Um, last year at this time.

Here John Henke of QandO.net rebuts the talking points of the Left. I would like to think that they will come up with logical, or at least reasonable, arguments before the floor vote. I know that they won't; the arguments made today off the top of Howard Dean's head will be the ones parroted for the next month.

Ya know, the very fact that these are the first arguments to come to mind would make a logical person consider them critically. The whole point of rational thought is to reach better conclusions that the ones tossed off by the schizophrenic firing of neurons on an hour's notice. Since the Disloyal Opposition has been incapable of rational thought since 2003, I don't reckon they'll refine their ideas none before then.

So for the next month, we will be subjected to the raving of B students as they one by one come to reach the conclusions that were already disproved on day one. I prefer to move on to a discussion of the libertarian position on abortion, as it is mare interesting than a DC hackfest.

There is not, of course, a unified libertarian position on abortion, so I'll discuss my own. It involves quite a bit of cognitive dissonance, so you may want to partake of your drug of choice first.

The point at which a fetus becomes a human being is a secondary issue, which I believe I have dissected before (pun intentional). Before this point, abortion is dandy; afterwards, it is murder. This may occur during the first intertwining of DNA, when the fetus is a unicellular organism. It may occur when brain waves allow it to decide "I think, therefore I am."

Scientific evidence, I think, is closing in on late term abortions. Of course, even if they are considered living humans at that stage, killing is not always murder and is subject to fine print and loopholes provided by your rabbi/priest/pastor/guru/man on a flaming pie.

In cases where science cannot really say, "this thing has rights," we must use informed judgement.

However, informed judgement is not absolute certainty, and we cannot legislate on informed judgement. Oh, we do so today. It's a bad idea to pollute, so anyone with an error code in their car's computer cannot recieve a sticker that allows them to drive on highways built with funds stolen from said driver.

But in the libertarian view, such needless mucking with the lives of others is akin to slavery. So we cannot base laws on our own opinions. In the ideal state, we would not make laws at all, but that is not useful for this discussion.

"But abortion is MURDER! We cannot allow it!"

Yes, we can allow murder. Doing nothing is not an escape. The easy way out is to ban abortion and feel good about ourselves. The hard decision is to give other people the benefit of the doubt, to allow them to do utterly insane, reprehensible things no matter what our personal feelings. This is not a just a philosophical position; it is a moral absolute.

We (Christians) may be morally obligated to stop murder, rape, theft, and slavery wherever we find them, but inflicting our beliefs on others IS slavery whereas first-trimester abortion MIGHT BE murder.

"It IS MURDER!!!!"

Yes, BUT we do not know that with the certainty required to use force. We can use guilt, logic, emotional appeals, sonograms, scientific data, and every non-dirty trick in the book, but we cannot use force in this situation.

I am very interested in hearing any comments.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Taylor Rain Has Nice Eyes

I was just wondering what the target market for massages is. Obviously, there is the nerd-in-desparate-need-of-human-contact market. Then there is the ludicrously-wealthy-so-why-not-get-a-massage-after-the-18th-hole market. There is the sybarite market, which probably fluctuates seasonally, as they will only shell out the money when they don't have a mate to do the job. And of course there are the vacillations of logic that snare all mankind, leading to the misconception that a massage would be a "good idea."

Of course, as we all know, the sole purpose of existence is pleasure, so if stimulating nerves and blood flow is what accomplishes that...

As I sit her and type I realize how uncomfortable I am physically sometimes. My feet are cold, I am propped up on hard surfaces, my muscles are stiff and my neck is sore. I think back on times that I have stood for hours or sat in the blazing sun, while others search desperately for a chair or shade. I once froze my fingertips because I was carrying a Slurpee(TM) in each hand. Is my entire ascetic philosophy based on a lack of pain receptors? Are all human souls identical, with beliefs entirely dictated by the whims of our DNA?

Friday, October 28, 2005

SCOOTERGATE EXPLODES!

EtherMedia (28OCT2005)

Washington - the wet dreams of a thousand frothing college students were fulfilled Friday as a high-ranking member of the Bush Administration was indicted. The charges against Lewis 'Scooter' Libby include perjury, obstruction of justice, and other reiterations of the main point.

For years, the Democrats have been known as the party of truth and "principle before profit." Since it is ludicrous to imagine a Democratic administration in this situation, the DNC is pulling out all the stops to score political points.

"We respectfully disagree with the Republicans on many issues, but lying under oath is an apalling, apalling offense," said a former president who wished to remain anonymous.

His assistant added, "MMf, mmmhmm-mg."

President Bush has yet to hold a press conference, leaving media and Senators like John F. Kerry in the lurch. According to Senator Kerry (D-MA), "The president should already have spoken to the nation to explain this outrage. I have no doubt that when he does speak, it will be characteristically premature."

Sources close to the White House say that all of the shades have been drawn shut.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Our children are our future. Sorry to be such a pessimist.

ASU police reported the following incident Monday:

An 18-year-old male ASU student was arrested near the intersection of Sixth Street and Veterans Way and charged with criminal damage and having alcohol in his body. Another 18-year-old male student and an 18-year-old female student were also arrested and charged with having alcohol in their bodies. One of the men was reportedly seen removing a sign from a fence and attempting to tear a "no parking" sign from a light pole. When a police aide asked the students to stop, that man allegedly threw a "Rent a Fence" sign under a parked vehicle. An officer reportedly smelled the odor of an intoxicating beverage coming from the students' breaths and asked each student how much alcohol they had consumed. "[The woman] said 'some,' [one of the men] said 'a lot' and [the man also charged with criminal damage] said 'not as much as him,'" police reported.

That's hilarious.

Mengele is a creepy name

There've been a rash of articles lately about abortion as a a form of euthanasia for the disabled. Here's one that also has some good comments following. I may post more tomorrow.

The only thing wrong with euthanasia is that it's immoral. By definition, you're killing people who are better off dead, so if it's not beneficial, it's not euthanasia. Of course, by definition, you're killing people. I think there was a book about that... Oh, yeah, it was called Genesis. The whole series was good, although I think they went overboard with the family trees. My favorite part was where Job's friends got rebuked. Zing!

But I digress.

Lynx are mean and they bite hard

I've added a link to The New Libertarian, which is sort of like The Weekly Standard, but better. It's an online magazine affiliated with the Neolibertarian Network. They have a good article on President Bush's Spending that slices and dices the numbers to show that he's been relatively benign, fiscally.

I'd also like to throw in my tired canard: Pork is not a serious problem compared to entitlement spending.

I've also de-listed A Physicist's Perspective because the link don't work no more.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

How to tell when your children are getting high

"Baxter-Jones and colleagues came up with a link between biological maturity and current height that can be used to predict adult height... On the other hand, the researchers noted, almost all of the children in the three studies were Caucasian. So the study will need to be replicated in other ethnic groups before it can be widely used, they said." - "Simple Noninvasive Test Predicts Kids' Adult Height", By Michael Smith, MedPage Today Staff Writer

My lord, these scientists are flaming racists. They're implying that height and human growth are different for minorities. I can practically see the n-word dripping from these crackers' report.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Just a minute, man

Check out this National Ammo Day event. Basically, a lot of people are going to Wal-Mart to buy large quantities of ammunition at a certain time. I would myself, but my rifle is in Losianna.

SECRET WHITE HOUSE TRANSCRIPT!

For those of you who were wondering why Harriet Miers was nominated to the Supreme Court, this will scratch the unreachable itch of curiosity. My sources inside the government monitor many activities, and for national security reasons, some rooms of the White House are under security surveillance. There are a couple of SS guys in the basement watching a bank of monitors 24/7.

This transcript was made by one of the teams, and in the course of being passed around the intelligence community, I got ahold of it. I've reformatted it and removed the annoying timestamps and miscellaneous noises.

Laura: Could you pass the red sauce?
George?: Mm.
(pause)
Harriet: This is really good. It tastes fresh.
Laura: Well, that's the nice thing about being the president, you can get fresh seafood in Utah if you really want it.
George: Did Fernando make this?
Laura: I don't know.
Unknown voice, muffled: ... ... even... daughter.
Laura: Really? George, we should send her a card with some money in it.
George: Did he get his green card yet?
Laura: George! He's kidding. So, have you two found the next Justice yet?
Harriet: No, it's so stupid. John was really a stroke of genius. It's going to be hard to top that.
Laura: What about that, oh shoot, the DC circuit lady?
George: She drinks too much. And I would know.
Harriet: Ooh, George, you weren't supposed to tell anyone! It's hard to find anyone anonymous and qualified.
George: Well, maybe I should nominate you then.
(George and Laura laugh)
Harriet: Really???
(uncomfortable silence)
George: Well, uh, uh-
Harriet: Oh my goodness, I don't know what to say. Thank you!
Laura: Ah, Harriet-
Harriet: Ever since I was a little girl, I've dreamed of sitting on the Supreme Court, making up new laws, ruling with an iron fist... I use to dress up my dolls in black washcloths and play SCOTUS on rainy days.
(Unknown voice snickers)
Harriet: Oh, George, this is the best thing that's ever happened to me! I accept your nomination!
George: Uhhhh....

That's the end of what I got. I don't know if the rest would be any more enlightening.

Rich White Capitalists Make Baby Jesus Cry

I've been bemoaning Josh Marshall's asinine attempts to rally support against the prevailing wage law thingy. Ya know, Bush suspended the law (on the Gulf Coast) requiring federal contractors to pay prevailing wages to workers? I mean, due to various forces of economics, the law actually hurts the poor, overcharges the government, and helps cement the racial stratification in income groups all at the same time. J.D. Rockefeller couldn't have done better. And Marshall, in his total ignorance of all things relating to mathematics, thinks that he is on the side of the poor black workers.

Then I realised, I'm a Republican. I don't give a damn about the poor workers, and I'm not in a position to make real estate deals in that part of the country now. So Josh, good luck keeping those [epithet deleted]s in their place.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Pshuh, no.

"Meanwhile, we conservatives will continue to focus on making history." - Rush Limbaugh

Uhhhhh, make history? by reverting to late 18th century laissez faire capitalism? It's not so much 'making' history as it is 'retreading' history.

That was the time period that saw us go from wartorn wilderness to world power, though.

F = ma Files

"..our understanding of the liberal conception of [energy independence] is as follows:

The government should establish policies aimed at reducing the use of oil (fuel-economy standards, higher gasoline taxes, incentives or coercive measures to encourage use of public transit, etc.).

This in turn is would reduce our dependence on foreign oil, helping to starve the Arabs and thus reduce terrorism.

For the sake of argument, let's take the first part of this argument--that the government could reduce oil consumption, effectively a reduction in demand--as a given. Basic economics tells us that a reduction in the demand for a commodity will lower the price. What happens when the price of oil goes down? High-cost oil production becomes uneconomical, which means that low-cost producers end up accounting for a greater share of the market. The lowest-cost producer of all is our friends the Saudis. Thus "energy independence," if effective at all, would actually make America more dependent on "foreign" (Arab) oil." - Jas. Taranto, BOTWT 19OCT05

Unlike the pop-conservatives at the Federalist [sic] Patriot, I don't intend to get all of my material from Taranto. This one, though, deserves to be put in the F = ma files.

The other problem with reducing demand for oil is that the demand curve for gasoline has varying elasticity. Unless a total moron tried to implement some rationing scheme, the way to lower demand for oil is to institute taxes on every barrel of oil or gallon of gasoline. The latter would likely be more effective.

This would quickly cut down the number of trips to the convenience store and to the beach, although it would also reduce consumer spending in other areas (The total amount spent on recreational gas usage would almost certainly rise). In order to avoid destroying our economy, income taxes would have to be cut by an amount equal to the gas tax. Since Miles driven are less dependent on income than, say, the income tax, this would in effect be a regressive tax that soaks the poor. The other option is to give non-taxpayers a rebate, which would itself cause problems.

Ignoring that apocalypse for the moment, the recreational use of gasoline would be curtailed. However, at a certain point people have to use gasoline. Public transport runs on gas. Electric trolleys run on power generated by fossil fuel plants. There is a point where the demand curve for oil becomes so inelastic that you could raise the price of gas to, say, 3.00$US a gallon and people would still drive. Or 6$US. At around 15$US I think we'd see a fundamental change in the technological base of our civilization, but... I digress.

Let us say there is a more reasonable gas tax imposed. Demand decreases. Global oil prices stay constant because we're not the only ones buying oil. The Arabs are still making money, our economy is failing, and we no longer have leverage over them.

Or let us say that the global price of oil does fall. In a decade, this will result in less infrastructure and a return of oil prices to nearly the same level. If there is a supply disruption, people can't cut down on oil use, because all the fat has already been trimmed.

Until the Sierra club lets me build my nuclear car, they are responsible for global warming, terrorism, and taxes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Nut-cracking gorilla surprises scientists

That's some surprise.

Scientists aim to regrow human limbs.

It sounds like the stories are connected, but luckily, no. How long will it be before we start training chimps to do menial labor? Two weeks after the next minimum wage hike. (rimshot).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The tide has turned?

Here's a piece I wrote but never posted:

"But despite the Pennsylvania GOP's best efforts, a few actual citizens slipped through to question the Veep." - First Draft

Nice to see that Republicans aren't really citizens. Keep up the good work reaching out to voters, guys.

That article is referring to the tour Bush and Cheney have been on, trying to drum up support for SS tinkering. I support carved out accounts for the same reasons Bush does; squeezing a little more money out of the system, increasing capital for the private sector, and reducing capital for the public sector, thereby creating a fiscal crisis that will reign in spending.

They're not doing great, but when Josh Marshall says that Bush is doing slightly better in the first debate- whether SS is, in fact, in crisis- I begin to hope that Bush's amazing political skills may triumph again.

Actual support for priv- personal accounts seems low, but the best evidence that Bush's war of attrition is succeeding is that left-wing opposition is dropping off. They're tired. They're bored. TPM itself has moved on to other topics, from necessity, because nothing is happening.

Bush has no pressing need to pass a bill until this fall.

I wrote that in March, but decided I was probably wrong. So... It's the fall. Now would be a good time for a reform bill to be passed, but... it was never that popular to begin with, and now no one remembers it. The most politically expedient solution is to let SS continue to suck until the USA is overrun by jihadis in 2100.

I wonder what the issue of the year will be in 2006? Bush was planning radical tax reform, but he's not the most popular guy in the office anymore.

Real Estate

I'ma take you back, take take you back
See, cuz it's twisted..
In the future, scientists will prove that we never even existed
I got lectured once while eating breakfast for lunch
Said dad to me 'Reality is nothing but a collective hunch
Whatever you want the truth to be, simply fool the masses
Attack them mentally with tools of power like the Masters
Get em in elementary school and college classes
Eventually you'll overrule their cowardly asses
- Majority Rule, by Sage Francis

..whom I will probably see live soon.

The Democrats imploded in 2002, and the Republican base is on the verge of insurrection. This implies to me that we are on the brink of a new political order. Too bad there's not a party based on individual and collective freedom. It could attract corporate lobbyists, anti-government nuts, fiscal conservatives, and militant atheists, as well as some Christian sects and a number of the unwashed masses.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Positively

The sequel to Absolutely.

It takes a few thousand words to adequately define the various types of ethics, but a brief summary can be had here:

Rights ethics: Humans are possessed of inviolable rights. Evil consists of infringing those rights. Good consists of not infringing the rights of others, in spite of potential personal gain.

Duty ethics: Good consists of fulfilling one's duty, such as by feeding lepers.

Utilitarian ethics: Good consists of creating the greatest happiness for the greatest number.

The US was originally founded on the negative rights to Life and Liberty. Negative rights are the rights to not have something happen to the individual, such as murder or enslavement.

Many modern states are now founded on positive rights to health care, free wi-fi, and nude beaches. While negative rights tend to form a coherent system by virtue of their inward focus, positive rights are focused outwards and a rational system is more difficult to achieve.

If a thousand men are in need of health care, and have the right to health care, how is it to be provided? There is only one doctor. The solution is to force some of the smarter men into slavery as registered nurses. They still get their health care- but the negative right to liberty is absent.

In practice, capitalisation allows us to force each of the thousand men into slavery for, say, twenty minutes a day, thus providing health care and making everyone feel good about the situation.

It is my position that the current system of positive rights is in fact utilitarianism enacted by morons; that communists could provide more efficient health care than the existing bureaucracies in most of the West; and that we are all going to hell in a handbasket.

Positive rights could be envisioned and enshrined in Rights ethics, but they are clearly not. Morons (those mentioned in the preceding bloc) were spoonfed socialist propaganda as babes and later adopted the pretty phrases of Liberalism to make it more palatable to others.

The socialists have done everyone a great disservice. Now we have the proletariat running amok, guided neither by the invisible hand nor by the iron fist.

Is a No Man's Land of idiots better than an actual socialist victory?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Disciple

Libertarianism is about self discipline. Sure, the end result of our philosophical wrangling is that marijuana should be legalized, but that is in no way an endorsement of drugs.

Particularly since manslaughter can be punishable by death. Drive drunk, hit some idiot teenagers in a VW, and I don't think there is a libertarian who would lift a finger for you.

The key idea here is that we want to reduce the power the robber baro- I mean the government has over us. If they don't keep people in line with endless regulation and suffocating enslavement of the mind, then who will?

Why, without the government to tell us which extension cords are safe to use and how to pay for insurance, we would be responsible for our own actions! The horror!

When you think of the early American frontier, do you think of dependent welfare mothers sitting in their log cabins waiting for government checks? No.

That is a tired stereotype, but I bring it up for a reason. One reason women have husbands is so that it is economical to have children. The government has taken away this incentive, so fewer women are married. Cause => effect. Ultimately, it is their responsibility to look out for their own moral/emotional/economic welfare, but really...

I'm not under the impression that the vast majority of them could understand the vocabulary in this post, let alone have any conception of supply's and demand's effects on their own lives. If they did, would it make a difference?

But self discipline is lacking. When not used, it atrophies. We no longer need to excercise caution with, ah, romantic interludes. Science has freed us of the need to pull out early. We no longer need to worry about wild animals, because they've been eliminated from our neighborhoods. We no longer need to spend wisely, because money is easy enough to come by.

Don't believe me? That is because opulence is built into the cost of living in the USA. Air conditioning, cable, internet access, and the requisite electronics, indoor plumbing in every home, personal service and fine dining, huge machines built of space-age composites that wisk us faster than any horse, in air conditioned comfort, to the local mall where we can buy humorous road signs for the back porch: this is the reality of those slightly above poverty level.

I'm not complaining about the glorious age we hedonise in daily. I'm just sayin', discipline serves almost no purpose. Unless you want to quit smoking. Though starting smoking, despite having a reason to quit later, is a lapse in discipline to begin with.

If I seem to ramble, it is because my points are ill defined.

1) No reason for discipline. See decay of society and easy standard of living.
2) Discipline decays with lack of use.
3) Discipline is needed for libertarian government to exist. -Otherwise, mass death results.
4) Government therefore perpetuates its own power by making us dependent.
5) Dependency breeds servitude.
6) Discipline results in freedom.

I suppose point 4 is not a strikingly original observation, but most people don't understand point 5 that well. I see it often with young adults. They bend to the every whim of their parents, because their parents provide for them. I speak of the 17-25 age bracket.

Oh, yes, they were once considered adults. In an age when even adults are taken care of by the state, is it any wonder that childhood lasts longer?

It is a very important concept that I feel I have difficulty getting across. When you rely on someone else, they have power over you. They buy your allegiance. Me, I prefer not to sell.

Example: My transmission went out. I was stuck in northern California getting it fixed. I didn't ask anyone for money, but because I don't work for others people tend to assume I don't have any. So my sister's all like, 'Ask Grandpa (who can talk about the great depression from personal experience) to help you.'

My sister's Cajun, so I reckon that's where she gets this idea of family helping each other out. They're big on that. I'm a Texan, of course.

So I'm like, 'Nah, I'm not asking for money.' I'm thinking, I don't want to tell her how much I have, but I think she assumes I can't get 3 or 4 grand in cash on short notice. So she calls the old guy and I call him later and he's trying to influence my actions. 'It would be a good idea to...' 'You should go down to the transmission place and...'

I don't think automatics were invented when he learned to drive.

I think he was confused because I bowed to none of his well meaning suggestions. That must be unusual. Offer someone a lot of money, and they don't bow and scrape? Huh. Of course, the worst that coulda happened is no free money for Will.

The point is, self discipline leads to freedom. I did precisely what I wanted when I was 16, because I controlled myself. On the rare occasions when I serve some other entity, it is because I choose to. Financial freedom can be achieved through asceticism.

Most people can't quit their jobs. They have debt. They have children. Children are a rational reason to surrender control over your life; debt is not.

I suppose if you care nothing for freedom, honor, or human dignity, then it makes sense to trap yourself in the current asset cycle.

borrow, spend, Work, repay, borrow... There is no escape. Sad, sad.

Of course, most of these choices I lament are just that: choices. People are free to enter the rat race if they want, and become the flock that feeds the shepherd. I think many would want a little more control, though.

The shepherd eats rats in the above metaphor. Gross.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Mired

I'm still puzzled, like everyone else, over Harriet Miers. I am somewhat pessimistic, though, and rather than rehash the vague forebodings everywhere else, I'll say this:

Republican senators can vote against a nominee just as easily as Democrats.

If we don't like what we hear in the confirmation hearings, it will not be difficult to reject her in a floor vote and make Bush send someone else. Unlikely, I know- there are few politicians with the testicular fortitude to do something like that. It's nice to dream, though.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Adventures of ManiaC Provost - Like Humans Do

Me: if you want i can give you a rational basis either way, but rationality is only somewhat better than irrationality. it is never possible to prove logic is unflawed
This Chick: Go ahead.
Me: ok, wellll...

in the Torah it says if a man lies with a married woman or vice versa, that is bad
if two unmarried people kick it then they have to get married
the only way to overrule old testament laws is to know why they are made and why they have no basis
the problem is, we don't know for sure why half of them were made
for example, we eat pork, because we think the no pork restriction was put in place to protect the Hebrews from salmonella and worms
that is no longer a problem, so we eat pork. But what if there is another reason, still valid, we do not know?
this case is solved because John supposedly had a revelation in 40 AD or so saying we could eat any animal
in the case of monogamy, we can say the reason is to prevent STDs or unwanted pregancy or something
and by solving those problems, it is no longer a sin
however, we do not know if that reasoning is right, and there are no prophets excluding Kinsey
here is where i start wild speculation
if God has a purpose for the universe, it has probably not been achieved yet, or the universe would end
when we deal with a system with many random parts, we deal with the average
particles behave like waves and teleport around, but a baseball does not behave like a wave
same thing with chemical reactions and many other processes
so too God would deal with the average human behavior to achieve his goal
we cannot alter the behavior of chemicals, yet
God can alter our behavior and has done so quite drastically
in evolution, monogomous species and nonmonogomous species evolve quite differently
it's a huge difference, and i'm not an expert on it but from what i've seen the monogomous species tend to be more 'productive' in terms of evolution
because the nonmonogamous species are constantly fighting each other in zero-sum adaptational battles
even if STDs and pregnancy are eliminated, monogamy for life still produces a better result than polyamory
even if you are an atheist, this argument makes some sense

Contrariwise, you can argue that God created Man, God guided evolution, and the almost overwhelming urge to [Expletive Deleted] is his fault and should obviously be indulged
or that there is no God and it's all good, of course
but the first argument is the one i'll stick with. celibacy has other benefits for one with my aims, anyway