Email From a Nephew

I've been doing email since all I had to do it with was a command-line Compuserve account in 1992. Then Prodigy; then Compuserve went graphical with a release for Windows 3.0; I tried AOL. Then I discovered the Internet under the "internet," as served up by all these services and used whatever email client and USENET newsreader I wanted -- and later a web browser. But I'd been writing in journals, writing long letters to people, and then writing in a word-processor after I acquired my first computer in 1990. One friend (see previous blog entry) once received a 13-page, single-spaced letter written in Word 1.0, in 1991 -- in response to his one-pager written on some Mac thingy. That's how long that discussion has been going on. I just like to write. And when I think about that, I always think of two power-company engineers who went to our church when I was a kid; I looked up to them both. They both had advanced engineering degrees and important jobs. One was clearly smarter than the other in technical terms. As a hobby, he built HAM radios and all sorts of other things. He was the kind of guy...


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

Differentiation, Not Separation; Integration, Not Dichotomization

[An email out. Just another in a discussion going back years.] P: > "They are simply abstracts of reality that you and others have > come up with." This is the post-modern idea that there is no truth. On the contrary. Truth is real and absolute. Nonetheless, all concepts are abstractions. You understand this; recall the "dissecting a brain to find ideas" analogy. You can't dissect it and find truth, either. I'm not saying there's no truth. I'm saying that an integrated abstract model of reality (existence / body / mind / consciousness) is closer to the truth than a dualist abstract model (two sides of reality). The truth is that if you are looking for a philosophy in which to live life as a natural human being, then it ought to integrate body and mind, not separate it. In my view, this is the primary source of your frustration (and your book is filled with frustration and hand-wringing). In the hierarchical, authoritarian civilization in which humanity arose, the dualist approach was probably reasonably suited. But today's technology -- a natural outgrowth of man acting naturally -- is ushering in decentralization, rejection of say-so authority, individualism, free agency. In short,...


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

Never Going Back

Warren Meyer puts a finger on something I've been thinking about a lot, lately. Unfortunately, Mr. Gore's only goal last night was not just to rally the TV audience to change its lifestyle. The more important goal was to increase the likelihood that government will compel Americans to do what Mr. Gore wants. And this is what makes me cringe nowadays when I hear the term "activist." I don't want to cringe, because passionately advocating for you cause, even if I disagree with it, should be part of the rich fabric of a free society. Unfortunately, though, at the heart of nearly every modern activist's agenda is compulsion -- the desire to use the coercive power of the government to force you to do something you would not otherwise choose to do. It is the very unusual activist today who is not trying, whether they admit it or not, to chisel away at individual freedom for some "higher cause." Exactly. In just about everything I read, see, hear, discuss...there is at root an undercurrent centering on whose will gets to be imposed. The issue is very nearly never whether the will of one person or group ought to be prescribed...


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

“Liberty” vs. Liberty

Got it? It was less than a year ago that Virginia lawmakers admirably outlawed red light cameras, citing--believe it or not--"liberty" as their reason. How fleeting liberty can be. Yesterday, the state senate gave the okay to traffic cameras. This is the sort "liberty" most everyone deals with. This is the sort of "liberty" you exercise, dear voter, every time you cast. Your "liberty" goes only so far as the next election cycle or legislative session, where it is thereby held for ransom. Real liberty is a recognition of a natural human condition which no man, majority of voters, legislature or executive has a moral right to mess with. It is for this basic and simple reason that governments are immoral at all levels -- and so are most of its voting subjects.


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

Kill the Dog

Get your kicks. We'll, I can't argue that it's the same as murdering a human being. It's not. On the other hand, what it is is the destruction of a highly prized value; a value that someone has pursued, acquired, nurtured, loved, admired, enjoyed, and reflected upon countless times. We don't have kids. We have dogs, and I'd not presume in a million years to assert to someone that our dogs are on any level commensurate with their children. Still, such logic doesn't begin to penetrate the wall of loss and rage I would personally feel if my values were dealt with in such a cavalier manner -- just so that someone of G.I. fashion can get their jollies. Fuck them all to hell. My hate and loathing for such "people" -- every single one -- knows no bounds.


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

Kind of a Mess

If you can get through the maze of this post by Balko, here's really the only thing that comes close to the point. Medved is also misguided in stating that for one to subscribe to natural rights theory, one must believe those rights are conferred by a deity. Kant most famously arrived at natural rights theory without acknowledging a creator. But even Locke, while not a deist, showed that one could arrive at natural rights through reason, not religious faith in the idea that innate rights have to come from a divinity. It's simple. Really. You choose your own values, right? Stop and think about it. Right? Do you perceive that capacity in other people? You do, right? Well, if you do, and they do, then it's a natural attribute of the human condition, right? Note emphasis on natural. That's all there is to it. Really. The fact that you can't tread on others and they can't tread on you in pursuing your all's various values is simply a logical consequence of non-contradiction. We're done here.


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

Well. That’s Cool.

It seemed a bit uncharacteristic of him, so one morning when I opened my email to find this, I thought it might be in my interest to pay attention. So I did; and it was. You can see how nicely it fits in one hand, and all operation is with the thumb. Here's the Sanyo Digital Movie C40 roundup & specs. To sum it up, though, this shoots amazing 640x480 video at 30 frames per second. Still images are 4-5 mega-pixel, and it has 6x optical zoom. Best of all, no tape, no mini-DVD, and no HDD. It used an SD memory card; 2 gigs goes for about 40 bucks, and I believe they have 4 gig cards now. At max quality, it'll shoot better than an hour of video. Cool feature: it will shoot beautiful, hi-res stills while shooting video. Just press the button. Here's a photo taken this morning, using the built-in flash. Here's a video I uploaded to YouTube this morning, documenting our arrival in Arnold, CA, our second home, after a 500-mile, 8-hr-on-the-button (calculate my average speed) trip from the San Diego area yesterday. Now, the first thing I notice about that video is that the...


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

Good Doggie News

Since the fire and strife of New Year's day and since, we've been concerned not only about Dave & Nancy, but about their dogs. Especially Ruby, our Rotor's only offspring. There's a small "issue" with Ruby's stance, so Nancy decided she would not be shown or bred, and decided to find a good home. Very picky, these pros. Bea & I went to the Horseman's Association fund-raiser for Dave & Nancy the other night. I came prepared to write a check for Ruby in an amount substantially more than the actual price she was asking, and then we would be sure of finding a nice home -- especially one close to ours. But Nancy had already found someone, just over in Santa Cruz, and everything sounded good. That I was offering double the price had not the slightest thing to do with anything. First, Nancy had already made a deal, and second, she knew she had found a good home and was very comfortable about it. Well, I wrote the check anyway, talked Nancy into taking it for their general needs, and we carried on. So, now we have news; documented here, here, here, here, here, and here. Obviously, Ruby...


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

The Ethics of Omelet Making

I'm starting to think "how many more people have to die" is the wrong question. I fear that pondering how many of these deaths it will take to spur people into seeing the perversity of our drug laws and their enforcement, and demanding reform is the wrong way to look at it. I'm starting to think that we're now moving in the other direction -- that these stories fatigue people. Numb them. Each one gets a bit less outrageous than the one before. If that's true, how sad. How incredibly fucking sad if the idea of a 17-year-old kid getting gunned down in his own bed in the name of preventing people from getting high is no longer capable of making us angry. And how incredibly fucking scary. Radley's right, of course. Still, I don't know how to keep from wondering. It's a simple recognition of a manifest fact: a lot more innocent people are going to be murdered by their government in the "War on Drugs." And then one day, it'll stop, but only to be replaced by the next "social crisis" that's used to justify kicking down people's doors while they sleep, and murdering those who don't take...


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

Journeys

We're outta here. Just about to load the X5 and split for SoCal, San Diego area, to visit the wife's parents for a few days. Then it's right back north, over the Grapevine and up 99 all the way to Stockton, heading east on 4 to finish out the week and next weekend at the cabin. But I'll be in the loop mosta the time.


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

PoP! Goes My Heart

Kicking and screaming. That's right; when my wife drug me out to see Music and Lyrics on Friday evening. Truthfully, other that those awful Bridget Jones roles, I like Hugh Grant. Yea, he's stuck in a genre, alright, but at least he pulls off the formula quite well and always manages a few lines that just crack me up. I really have no idea if others find them as funny as I do. So, he's this washed up 80's pop star (boy band) working the typical gigs for someone who didn't figure out how to parlay his money into something else before it was gone. Then comes the big break, and he has an opportunity to write the musical score for the then current pop super-star. And, so, in the unlikely scenario, he's working in his apartment with this "existentialist" lyricist when the "plant lady" (Dew Barrymore) starts humming out lyrics. Quite uncharacteristically for a film of this sort (ha-ha), before you know it, Hugh and Drew have teamed up and are writing the hoped-for new-big-hit together. But all this is laced through the story of Hugh's real life as a washed up 80's pop star, and so you get...


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

The God in the Machine is You

Without citing a bunch of past posts, I've been on a bit of a quest, lately, to investigate some of the Eastern religious traditions. I still am -- but increasingly as a skeptic and less as an honest inquirer. That's inevitable; once you're informed enough to begin making honest judgments, you do. There are still interesting aspects I haven't fleshed out, and this quest is driven by a couple of things. First, I see a lot of things I like from some of the new breed of businesspeople, many of whom cite interest in Eastern traditions, and second, I prefer to focus on what we can actually choose to do and accomplish, rather than on merely what is our right not to have done to us. That may perhaps just be a difference in perspective and attitude, but I think it's a big one. The following is an email out to this author, and concerns discussions over months and years centering on this page and proceeding forward through the chain of eight short pages, which should be read for background. Paul: I don't think that he, I, or any of us are "confusing consciousness with quantity." We're just saying --...


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

Tired

Well, that's a "fine title," after mulling over various alternatives all afternoon of what to call this latest apparent outrage. Daniel Castillo Sr. said his son, Daniel Jr., was awakened by pleas from the teen's sister asking officers not to shoot her in the Tuesday morning incident, during which law enforcement agencies were executing a narcotics search warrant. [...] The elder Castillo said his son was awakened by the pleas of his 20-year-old sister, Ashley. When the younger Castillo turned toward Falks, he said, the officer shot him in the face. "My son heard her say, 'Don't shoot.' He got up to see what was going on," the elder Castillo said. The teen's sister was with her 1-year-old when Falks burst into the bedroom, the elder Castillo said. Updates here, here, here, and here. I am immediately reminded of a simple, cut-to-the-bone truth from a different case, but with clear application here. The most important fact in the thing from where I sit is that Miss Johnston is dead, and she shouldn't be. What's left to say? Even if Castillo had drugs, or even if he had a gun at the ready, ought he be dead? Is that what you...


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

$7 Million Stolen from The Rolling Stones

That's really the whole essence of this story, via email from my brother Stacy. The Rolling Stones has taken advantage of the Netherlands tax structures for the past 20 years, with the help of Dutch accountant Johannes Favie, who runs Promogroup, a financial consulting firm. Promogroup has helped the Rolling Stones pay just over $7 million in taxes on earnings of $450 million over the past two decades. In 2005, the rockers paid a tax rate of 1.6 percent on earnings of $172 million. Anyone is welcome to slice it and dice it any way they may wish, but at the end of the day, you can't claim that the Stones were not compelled, by force -- by threat the destruction of their grand enterprise and loss of their freedom -- to pay that $7 million. That's a fact, and that fact has very clear implications. Oh, I'm quite sure they don't begrudge it at all. They're probably rather pleased about it. At U.S. corporate tax rates of 35%, they would have paid around $160 million in taxes most other places. In a sense, then, it could be argued that they paid the Netherlands $7 million dollars to protect them...


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

Then, and Now

Then: Now: In the second one, that guy is holding a spin, which is what you have to do in a flex wing. Hold it. Relax, and they will auto-recover. The rest is a series of "wangs."


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

Adversity

It's said that it's only through adversity that we grow to new levels, learn new things, find and explore new opportunities; and I believe it. In fact, I would say that I can think of no other attribute of the human condition that I count as more true. "What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger." There are some kinds of adversity in life that one ought to be left to bear alone, especially in youth, where learning the responsibility of living as in independent human being is paramount. Yet there are other times, when adversity visits others, friends and loved ones, where we ourselves are presented with an opportunity to learn a thing or two about life. My wife Bea got the email hours after it happened on New Year's day. Dave's & Nacy's ranch house had burned to the ground. We were at the cabin (itself damaged in a fire three years ago), in Arnold, four hours away. Details were sketchy, of course, and that was principally due to the email coming from a friend, not Dave & Nancy themselves. They were OK; devastated, but OK. And the news: one of the dogs had been lost. This was...


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

Values

I would like to note that Obama is wrong, Malkin is wrong, and Balko is wrong. They're all wrong, and so are you, and everyone else pretentious enough to assert that the loss of a serviceman's life in Iraq, or anywhere else, is yours to value or disvalue in contradiction to that serviceman's own proclamation. Those lives aren't yours. What those servicemen do or do not themselves value may correspond in ways to what you value, or don't, but your values don't trump theirs when the manner in which they see to them doesn't jive with how you exercise yours. If a serviceman loses his life in a conflict he signed up for, and considers it a worthy pursuit of his values, or doesn't, then I believe him. So should you, and that ought to be the end if it. Likewise, if you're not over there yourself, but could be, I presume that it's not a value you wish to pursue at the risk of your own life. And I'm fine with that. You owe me nothing, either way. Neither do they.


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

Children At Play

Or, "Your Tax Dollars At Work;" take your pick. Or choose both. Dear [the mayor] shouted: "She hit her right in the eye! Stop that woman from leaving the room! She struck the woman. She should be arrested. This is unbelievable. ... We're going to call a doctor." Judge for yourself: Now, what part of that scene doesn't look like kiddies in a playground? And these are some of the same kinds of people you get all worked up about every two years as you can't get your ass to the voting booth fast enough. I guess I just expect too much from people who consider themselves subjects of a city, county, and state; citizens of a federal government; and children of a mythical Santa-Claus god. Ultimately, at some level, there's always someone for you to by a cryin' and a wailin' to, isn't there? (Balko)


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More

Moving Forward

Richard Dawkins has penned a no-pulled-punches Forward to Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation, UK edition. More importantly, the world’s only superpower is close to domination by electors who believe the entire universe began after the domestication of the dog, and believe that they will be personally ‘raptured’ up to heaven within their own lifetime, followed by an Armageddon welcomed as harbinger of the Second Coming. Even from this side of the Atlantic, Sam Harris’s phrase, ‘moral and intellectual emergency’ begins to look like an understatement. I began by saying that Sam Harris doesn’t mess about. One of his points is that none of us can afford to. Letter to a Christian Nation will stir you. Whether it stirs you to defensive or offensive action, it will not leave you unchanged. Read it if it is the last thing you do. And hope that it won’t be. If it's true, as I suspect, that the world is a changin', some of it even for the good, I'm at least glad to witness it. To be relatively sure, if we survive, the sort of fervent and literal religious belief that Dawkins and Harris are aggressively attacking will be seen, in...


Click below to gain access to the rest.

Or, upgrade today.

LoginGet Access
Read More