Thursday, November 30, 2006

Jury Duty

There won't be any bloging Friday Dec. 1st and maybe a lot longer if I'm unlucky.
I have to report for jury duty at the local courthouse in the am. My notice said I should bring a book as it might be a long uneventful day. I've been re-reading "Introduction to Objectivist Epistomology" so I'll be taking that one.

Who knows, maybe the lawyers will see me reading it and decide "I don't want him on my jury." On the other hand, maybe they will think epistomology is the study of epistles and I'm some kind of religious nut. Oh well, I really don't care what they think. My biggest fear is that I will be picked for a long, drawn out murder trial and get sequestered out of existence for months and months.

Mrs. Eyes has been helpful though. She did jury duty about 20 years ago but things were different then. She had to go every day for two weeks. I only have to show up on the 1st and the 15th of Dec. if I don't get picked for a trial. That's it and thank goodness. Mrs. Eyes was picked to serve on three juries. The first was a stolen purse case. The second was a paternaty case and the third was a murder case. This started out like it was going to be a lengthy affair but because of some legal screw up, the case was dismissed and a new trial ordered, which meant a new jury.

So, if you don't see any posts for awhile you'll at least know why.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Nov 28th Roundup

Andy at the Charlotte Capitalist posts an article from George Reisman titled "Globalization: What Philosophies are appropriate? Shinto?" about the possible re-emergence of the Shinto religion in Japan. He asks a good question: If this religion is growing again, can we trust them with nukes?

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Kevin Baker at The Smallest Minority posts on a liberal who doesn't trust himself with guns and is glad he doesn't have one. Mentioned is the phenomenon of psychological projection. I for one believe many gun control advocates project their own weaknesses onto others in calling for restrictions. This makes sense because most gun controlers are liberals and they gave up on reason back when Kant told them to. So, with nothing but their feelings to guide them, they know (or believe) others are only guided by their feelings also. They sense that feelings--even their own--can't be trusted so they want government controls over themselves and their neighbors. They pretend that the government is populated by people who don't have the same untrustworthy feelings. Is that irrational or what?

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David Veksler at Truth, Justice and the American Way has a post on Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" turning out to be not so unanimous.

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Diana at Noodle Food has a video about a blind 14 yr old boy who echolocates. It's pretty awesome really. I left a comment about how my blind uncle could do something similiar.

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Sarita at The Kalamazoo Objectivist reports on how much oil and gas we really have.

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Rich at Uncommon Sense has a video of a Penn and Teller show on recycling. It's not bad if you don't mind their usual profanity.

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We know that Darwin didn't invent the theory of evolution but rather discovered the process by which it works--natural selection. A closer look at that, at least as it pertains to Evlolutionary Developmental Biology, is provided by Brett Keller as he previews a book called "Endless Forms Most Beautiful."
My thoughts:
No doubt there was once a primative savage who plunged a stick into water and saw that it looked bent but was straight when he pulled it out. He then attributed this phenomenon to spirits in the water (or stick or both) who made it appear bent. But man's mind eventually explained how it was due to the way water bends light rays. Today we still have primatives telling us that the extreme complexity we see in the nature of genes can only be explained by a super spirit called god. Yet man's mind is discovering these secrets daily.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sustainable Development of Fear

Steven Milloy at Junk Science.com links to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about a new movie opening there in Australia that I would like to see played here in America.

"Mine Your Own Business, which opens this week, shows that the "powerful group telling the world's poor how to live, how to work, even how to think" are not the world leaders gathered in Melbourne. They're not even wealthy multinational corporations, but wealthy multinational environment groups such as Greenpeace.

"Upper-class Western environmentalists" are the greatest enemy of the world's poor, says the documentary's maker, self-described left-wing journalist Phelim McAleer, from Northern Ireland."

In part, I blame thousands of businessmen and otherwise wealthy people who have been donating large sums of money to Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) like Greenpeace, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund and others under the illusion they are doing something good for nature which they wrongly understand to mean the environment.

Liberals have always been in favor of taking from the poor and giving to the rich, e.g. the Poletown and Kelo and other property takings under Emminent Domain. And now the massive Green movement to keep the poor poor. The NGOs are now frantically trying to keep remaining poor people right where they are not only because it is allegedly better for them but because it's better for the environment.


With the spread of capitalism and the lifting of millions out of absolute poverty, and the collapse of the left's ideal, socialism, they have lost the altar on which they had hoped to sacrifice capitalism and individualism, the poor, and have now erected a new altar, enviromentalism.

It is not the rich that will be sacrificed to the gods of the wilderness. (They will be collecting the sacrifices) Nor is it the poor. (They are already where the enviromentalists want them--close to nature.) The real target of ecologists is the middle class. It is their air conditioners, lawn mowers, cars, electric appliances and other technological devices that must go. In other words, it is man's self-made environment that must be sacrificed to a non man made one, which means a natural environment, which means that a man made environment is not natural, which means that man is not borne of nature (or his actions would be natural), which means man is unnatural, which means man doesn't belong in nature.

Whoever buys into these notions is toast, but why are people buying into them? One big reason is fear. Ayn Rand said it best is her essay "The Left: Old and New" in her book The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution:

"Hatred of reason leads to fear of reality; since fear has always been the intense motivational emotion of the leftists, it is fear that they have always used as their chief psychological tool of propaganda, apparently in the belief that it has as irresistible a power in the consciousness of others as in their own.
With the destruction of capitalism as their unalterable goal, they tried, at first, to engender economic fear--by spreading the notion that capitalism leads to general impoverishment and the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands. This line was somewhat successful in Europe, but not in this country, where the factual evidence to the contrary was too obviously clear.
The next leftist line was fear of the atom bomb, accompanied by the suggestion that we should surrender to communism without a fight, in order to avoid universal destruction. Do you remember the slogan: "Better Red Than Dead"? This did not go over, either--not in this country, nor among any men or animals with a vestige of self-esteem.
If, after the failure of such accusations as: "Capitalism leads you to the poorhouse" and "Capitalism leads you to war," the New Left is left with nothing better than: "Capitalism defiles the beauty of your countryside," one may justifiably conclude that, as an intellectual power, the collectivist movement is through.
But the leftists may still have a chance--by default. A society cannot exist for long in an intellectual vacuum. Culturally, we are approaching the stage where anyone can take over, provided his doctrines are sufficiently irrational. A cultural vacuum produces its own varients of fishers in muddy waters--and, on such terms, whoever is the muddiest, wins."


The mud being flung at us today is "sustainable development" and the new fear is "Global Warming." But at the end of her essay, Ms. Rand urges her readers not to give up. I take this to mean that I will keep writing to my Reps in Congress and LTEs to the media and supporting ARI's efforts to get more rational professors into our colleges.

There are those who say that America won't last long enough for Objectivism to take hold. They might be right. But I am optimistic despite the fact that the pro-global warming Dems are about to take power. The Dems will support GW as long as doing so will get them re-elected. But to fully support GW the way the NGOs want, citizens will have to suffer. So the Dems will have to settle for doing their GW duties slowly, piecemeal and that will take time.

The NGOs should be reined in but I don't see that happening anytime soon. No sitting Senator is going to introduce any legislation to restrict the power of NGOs to use the courts as a hammer to get what they want. It would be the kiss of death. The only way that will happen is if someone campaigns on such a promise and then gets elected. But it would take more than just one such person. In the meantime, I for one am going to keep challenging bad ideas and promoting good ones by speaking out, writing and blogging.

(The above mentioned essay can be found in the revised edition called Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution for sale here.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Democratic Happy Family

There has been a lot of talk about how the Republicans have some serious problems. But the Democrats have some of their own as well. For example, in Friday's 11/17/06 Detroit Free Press is a news article which reads "Hoyer wins top House job, but unity takes a hit." It's about the fact that Nancy Pelosi's favorite for number two person in the House, John Murtha, wasn't picked by the rest of her party. She's not happy.

That's problem #1. Right next to that column is another piece under the title "National Political Digest" which is headlined "Carville calls for ouster of Dean." Well whadda ya know! I wouldn't have thought it. "'I would describe his leadership as Rumsfeldian in its incompetence' Carville said Wednesday." The article says Carville thinks the Dems should have won more seats than they did.

Don't these liberals look the other way whenever one of them screws up in any way? Evidently, there is one screw up that is unpardonable--failing to gain or keep power. But is Carville really woried about the party as such?

"Some observers say Carville, former chief political advisor to the Clinton administration, is trying to regain party influence as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton eyes the 2008 presidential nomination.

Said John Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in California: "Howard Dean is a potential land mine on Sen. Clinton's road to the nomination. James Carville is the Marine who goes in and blows it up first.""

Hmmm. "Land mine"? "Blows [him] up first"? "Rumsfeldian"? Can't you just feel the love? And Dean is only a potential land mine! These people are vicious. Of course, that's not news to anyone. It is a pleasure though, to see the dorsel fins circling around one of their own.

(I couldn't find either of these two articles in the on-line version of the paper so I can't link to them.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

More Good News?

My last post was titled "Good News." Maybe this is good news also. Today's 11/17/06 Detroit News carries a New York Times article by Tamar Lewin titled "Math goes back to basics." The sub-title is "Lagging test scores prompt change in teaching strategy." It starts with:

"SEATTLE -- For the second time in a generation, education officials are rethinking the teaching of math in American schools.

The changes are being driven by students' lagging performance on international tests and mathematicians' warnings that more than a decade "reform" math -- critics call it "fuzzy" -- has crippled students with its downplaying of basic drills and memorization in favor of allowing children to find their own ways to solve problems."

It sure has crippled students' minds. That parents seem to see this after the fact tells a lot about the observationsl powers of teachers. It continues:

"At the same time, parental unease has prompted even more families to pay for outside tutoring. Shalimar Backman, who put pressure on officials here by starting a parents group, Where's the Math?, remembers the moment she became concerned.

"When my oldest child, an A+ stellar student, was in sixth grade, I realized he had no idea, no idea at all, how to do long division, so I went to school and talked to the teacher, who said, 'We don't teach long division; it stifles their creativity.'"

That this is even being admitted in a NYT article and carried in a number 2 newpaper in another major city like Detroit has to be a step in the right direction. I wonder how many other papers carried the NYT article. Objectivists have known for a long time that modern education is not about teaching childrens' minds but rather is about the destruction of teaching. Maybe now the general public will see it also.

The article points out how these education officials happen to be the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics who published a 1989 report "...that influenced a generation of teachers to let children explore their own solutions to problems, write and draw pictures about math and use tools like the calculator alongside of learning algorithms.

But this fall, the group changed course, recommending a tighter focus on basic math skills and an end to "mile wide, inch deep" standards that force schools to teach dozens of math topics in each grade."

So now we know who the culprits are, the NCTM. And who is behind the impetus to make these changes to the shotgun approach to teaching math?

"Grass-roots groups in many cities are agitating for a return to basics."

The point here is that it isn't the so-called concern of teachers but grass-roots efforts by the public that are demanding a return to a more rational method of teaching where the child understands instead of memorizing and guessing and where knowledge is taught in an hierarchical manner. I recommend reading the whole article.

As to why a hierarchical order is necessary I recommend Lisa Van Damme's article "How to teach your child: a necessary order to knowledge" at Capitalism Magazine.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Good News

Steven Milloy at Junkscience.com reports that longtime food, health and nutrition expert Sandy Szwarc now has her own blog called Junkfood Science. I recommend reading the "Introduction" and "About this blog" in the sidebar. She doesn't seem to be an objectivist but she brings to the table the same devotion to objective science as a Steven Milloy or John Brignell at Number Watch and Trevor Butterworth at STATS and Fred Singer at SEPP and many others.

She already has several post on the blog like "Can you really cleanse your way to better health? and "Weighty Issues."

I've read a number of her articles at Tech Central Station (TCS) and was impressed with all of them. My favorite was Bon Appetit. She has an interesting blogroll of links which I'll be checking out soon.

We desperately need more voices speaking out for rational science.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mini Round Up Nov.

Myrhaf has some good insights on the art of acting. I recommend reading his post.

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In a similar vein, Toiler comments on the New Naturalism in writing.

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Jim Woods has a post on how George Washington sought to conquer nature for profit, and how today's government has abandoned that policy.

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At Capitalism Magazine, Lisa VanDamme has part one and part two on "How to teach your child: What It Means To Learn" a four part series with a part coming out every week. Lisa also has other great articles here and here and here. If you like her essay on physics, you'll enjoy David Harriman's essay on that subject here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wondering

I was wondering, do you suppose Bush is angry at his party for what he thinks is a betrayal? I say this because Ankle Biting Pundits has a post titled "Newt rips GOP a new one" which says in part:

"He condemned Bush’s admission that in making last week’s statement about Rumsfeld, he had known he was being misleading.

“It’s inappropriate to cleverly come out the day after an election to do something we were told before the election would not be done,” Gingrich said. “I think the timing was exactly backwards and I hope the President will rethink how he engages the American people and how he communicates with candor.”"

Now why would Bush lie to his own party about Rumsfeld's dismissel if he wasn't really angry at them? I mean, look at the times Bush tried to get his pet programs through only to have the usual suspects, Arlin Spector, Hagel, Chaffee and Voinovich and others fight him all the way. Whether they were right or wrong on the merits of any given program is irrelevent here. What matters is how Bush percieved the support he was not getting from his own party. Does he blame his party for ruining his agenda and perhaps his presidency? Did he feel "Ok, if you're not going to support me, to hell with you"?

I've wondered why the Republicans didn't make an unofficial invitation to one or two of these guys to get out of the party the way the Dems did to Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman. It seems like the Dems really crack the whip when it comes to party loyalty but the Repubs don't seem to care. That's why I think Bush may very well be mad as hell and has decided in essence what good are they? "I might get more done with the Dems because at least I know where they stand."

Maybe I'm just imagining things but it does sound plausable to me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Anti-Intellectual Detroit Free Press

The liberal Detroit Free Press has an editorial attacking the ban on Michigan's affirmative action policy titled "Prop 2 Sends Divisive Message." It starts out with:

"The passage of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative on Tuesday leaves the state torn by hard and hardened feelings that will not be easily salved."

Noticed what concerns the Freep, not ideas or facts of reality but "feelings" and notice the veiled threat "that will not be easily salved." Then there's this:

"Although a ban on affirmative action might allow at least half the state to see Michigan as a place with a level playing field or some such cliche, enactment of MCRI paints the state as hostile to minorities."

First, I can't count the times when the Freep has advocated "a level playing field" over the years regarding many different issues. But now that that term is used to support the ban on AA, it is denigrated as "some such cliche." The two-faced hypocrisy of the Freep is astounding.

Secondly, the ban does not "paint the state as hostile to minorities." Racist policies like Affirmative Action are what are hostile to minorities by forever consigning them to the status of lesser beings who can't make it on their own and therefore need the aid of their great white benefactors. That is being hostile to minorities. It continues:

"Now that they've won, Proposal 2 supporters should not continue to pursue divisive challenges. When opponents raised concerns over the viability of gender-based health programs and domestic violence shelters that accommodate only women, MCRI leaders dismissed such arguments as red herrings. They must not now come back and challenge sensible programs."

This is an obvious attempt to silence opposition by smearing it as "divisive." As far as calling certain arguements for Affirmative Action red herrings, they
were red herrings. The supporter of the ban have no intention of challenging other sensible programs. This is just an attempt by the Freep to invoke a sense of fear in their readers' minds. Then this:

"Michigan's playing field, especially in education, remains woefully uneven. {A few paragraphs ago the concept of a "level playing field" was just "some such cliche." But now is a serious and valid concept. Like I said, the hypocrisy of the Freep is astounding.--ME} It will take a fortitude and an investment -- and it's not clear this state has the capacity for either -- to fix the ills that beset poor, largely African-American schools here and give those students an equal chance at success."

The "ills that beset the poor" are the result of a mind crippling curriculum which some richer schools can overcome but poorer ones can't, and a total public school system that needs overhaul. (Preferably, privatization) Looking at peoples' minority status only insures these problems won't get addressed. Another ill beseting these minorities is the perception that they have not earned and cannot earn their own way. With Affirmative Action gone, future minorities will be seen as having earned their status and this will result in an earned respect. There is no other kind. On the other hand, the existence of affirmative action encourages more racist attitudes.

The editorial ends with:

"In the big picture, a ban on affirmative action sends an irreparably unfriendly message to minorities, as well as to the businesses Michigan needs to lure and that need to reach all audiences.

This is hardly progress."

The ban on affirmative action does not send an unfriendly message to minorities. It says in essence "welcome to our world." On the other hand, if guilt-ridden white liberals want to keep minorities in their place, they will try to convince those minorities that such programs as affirmative action are in their interest.

Affirmative Action is a progress killer.

This election has everybody talking about a new political direction. But what is really needed is a new intellectual direction based on reason.

With it's appeals to feelings, smear tactics, fear, and contradictory positions, the Free Press is failing to provide its readers with any intellectual leadership. It should have been editorializing on the real nature of racism--a form of collectivism--and its only true antidote--individualism, which in politics means individual rights. Unfortunately, I don't see the Freep changing its intellectual stripes anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Post Mortum

Well, it's going on 10:30 PM in Michigan and I see that Dem Governor Jennifer Granholm has retained that office and Dem Debbie Stabenow kept her Senate seat. These were not surprises. So far, just watching TV, it looks like the Republicans will lose the House and there's a good chance they'll could lose the Senate too. However, it's also pretty obvious there will be no landslide victory for the Democrats. Even if the Dems win both houses, it won't be by much. Despite that however I just know the Dems will claim a "Thundering mandate" as the NYT called Clinton's 43% plurality win in 92, (or was that 96?)

Traditionally, the party out of power picks up seats in both houses in off year elections. It didn't happen for the Dems in 2002. So it had better happen this year or they might as well jump into a casket and close the lid. But, it happened for them and they can give a big thank you to the Republican Party for making it happen.

I do like the idea of keeping the Republicans close to the Dems if for no other reason than as a reminder to the Dems of their possible replacements. Even though the Dems can't wait to bring total socialism to this country and do away with private enterprise, at least they are a little more open about it. The Repubs have been lying about being for private enterprise, small government, and property rights.

They are unwilling to defend individual rights--when was the last time you heard a Republican even pronounce the words individual rights? I don't expect the Dems to say those words. They abandoned that concept in the 30s.

It seems like the Repubs have decided that the Dems keep getting elected precisly because they have abandoned 'rights' in favor of 'needs' and they, the repubs, should do it too. When the elephants have power they hasten to implement all the plans of the Dems. They are no longer a viable option to the nihilistic, socialistic Democrats.

The future of course will be interesting.

P.S. I just found out that the proposal to ban afirmative action in Michigan passed. There is hope.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My Final Thoughts On The Election

This will probably be the last post I will do on the election until after the election. I just want to give my 2 cents on Dr. Piekoff's position. I do not purport to speak for him in any way but in one way I can see his point clearly.

It seems to me that in Atlas Shrugged, America did indeed collapse. It collapsed into a chaos of primitivism. Yes there was an increase in religion and mysticism during the collapse but it was this chaos that allowed Galt and the producers to step back into society and reclaim it.

However, had there been a powerful, well organized religious right to step into the void and establish a new religious order, there would have been no producer reclaimation. Civilization would have died right there. Mankind would have to endure another dark ages until another Renaissance happened. To me, Piekoff is saying yes this will happen later but to prevent it, it needs to be nipped in the bud now, not later. If he is saying this, I agree.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Moral Minds(less)

In today's 11/02/06 edition of the Detroit News is a science report titled "Morality May Be Instinctive" by New York Times writer Nicholas Wade.

It looks to me like they are saying that human morality evolved from animal feelings.

"Primatologists like Frans de Waal have long argued that the roots of human morality are evident in social animals like apes and monkeys.

The animals' feelings of empathy and expectations of reciprocity are essential behaviors for mammalian group living and can be regarded as a counterpart of human morality."

So it's ok to equate the instincts of animals with the choices of humans? Nope. Choice isn't even mentioned.

"Marc D. Hauser, a Harvard biologist, has built on this idea to propose that people are born with a moral grammar wired into their neural circuits by evolution. In a new book, "Moral Minds" (HarperCollins 2006), he argues the grammar generates instant moral judgments which, in part because of the quick decisions that must be made in life-or-death situations, are inaccessible to the conscious mind."

What is moral grammar? My dictionary says grammar is the study of the structure of words and their usage within a language, but this report treats grammer as if it is not dependent on language. Also, how can grammar generate "instant moral judgements which"..."are inaccessible to the conscious mind"? The article continues:

"The proposal, if true, would have far-reaching consequences. It implies that parents and teachers are not teaching children the rules of correct behavior from scratch but are, at best, giving shape to an innate behavior. And it suggests that religions are not the source of moral codes but, rather, social enforcers of instinctive moral behavior."

Wow! Not only do these folks not understand human nature, they don't even understand instincts. Instincts don't need enforcers! The idea of innate behavior means that no one is born tabula rasa. Parents, teachers and religions are merely "enforcers" of a thing I suppose we could call original grammar. Anyway:

"Both atheists and people belonging to a wide range of faiths make the same moral judgments, Hauser writes, implying "that the system that unconsciously generates moral judgments is immune to religious doctrine." "

How does one go about making moral judgements unconsciously? Does this mean Muslims' moral judgement systems are immune to Islamic doctrine? Really? Where are these ideas coming from? Of course:

"Hauser argues the moral grammar operates in much the same way as the universal grammar proposed by the linguist Noam Chomsky as the innate neural machinery for language. The universal grammar is a system of rules to generate syntax and vocabulary but does not specify a particular language. That is supplied by the culture in which a child grows up.

The moral grammar too, in Hauser's view, is a system for generating moral behavior and not a specific rules list."

Reading this article you would think a thing like human free will just doesn't exist.
There is so much cognitive fog in this article it's intellectually tiring. I'll just close by adding that Mr. Hauser is probably causing Darwin to roll over in his grave.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Little LTE That Could

I had a slightly pleasant surprize today. I had written a short two sentence LTE and sent it to the Detroit News. It was actually the last two sentences from my post "Diversity, An Anti-concept." It said simply:

"Dr. King said he wanted his children to be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Diversity is the attempt to make sure that kind of judgement doesn't happen."

Well, the Detroit News printed it today (Wednesday). Later my son called me to say that it was read on air on the Drew and Mike Show on WRIF radio and that they said the LTE made a good point. They were talking about afirmative action and were reading a few LTEs of which mine was one. (Last time I checked, WRIF was the most popular radio morning show in Detroit.)

So, the moral is; keep speaking up. You never know when your words will be seen or heard by the right pair of eyes or ears.