Thursday, January 15, 2004

An Interesting Read

Diana Mertz Hsieh posts an analysis of Positivism and Psychology which was written by Robert Campbell, a professor at Clemson University.  A short description of positivism from Diana’s post.

Positivism is a conception of science. Roughly, it is the view that science consists entirely collecting and analyzing empirical data. To put it another way, it is the view that the only questions that qualify as scientific are those that can be answered by collecting and analyzing data.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/15 at 09:00 AM
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“The Apprentice,” A Review

I’ve seen the adds for the latest drivel show, Trump’s “The Apprentice,” but, since I do not watch much television, I cannot review the show.  Fortunately, Rufus, a dog living in Alaska, has been left alone with his master’s remote and in the course of his channel surfing was drawn to view the show.  Although I thought a dog would much rather watch “Nature” or “Lassie” reruns.  Rufus’ review exhibits the intelligence of our canine friends.  Give that dog a bone.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/15 at 08:31 AM
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Tenuous Tie

The headline reads Jet Passenger Accused of Carrying Bullets.  Five of them to be exact.  Now, read the article.  Within, you will find that the man in question, from Sudan, flew from Dulles to Heathrow but was not arrested until he attempted to board a flight to Dubai.

A couple of things.  First, how, if he had five bullets, did he make it past the much vaunted TSA at Dulles.  Possibly, the TSA staff, following the example of their now defrocked TSA Chief, Charles Brady, were drunk.  Second, the article states the individual was arrested “on suspicion of possessing ammunition and involvement in terrorism.”  So, did he actually have five bullets or not?  And, does being in possession of five bullets qualify you as a terrorist or does being in possession of five bullets, in conjunction with being Sudanese, qualify you as a terrorist?

Posted by John Venlet on 01/15 at 08:06 AM
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“May I Kill It?”

In C.S. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce, in chapter 11, there is a ghost afflicted with a lizard which whispers biliously in the ghost’s ear.  The ghost is tormented by this lizard, but, all is not lost, as an angel offers to assist the ghost by killing the lizard.  The ghost hems and haws about this offer, even apologizing for the lizard, but finally yields and allows the angel to kill the lizard.

This is the first thought that came into my mind this morning as I read this.  This, is an article by Jonathon Rauch, published in The Atlantic Monthly, and titled “The Forgotten Millions.”  An introductory statement from Rauch’s article.

Communism is the deadliest fantasy in human history (but does anyone care?)

When I look around me today, I see the bloating of governmental entitlement programs, which is simply socialism, I see the Supreme Court allowing random police roadblocks and secret court proceedings, police state tactics used effectively in communism and facism, and, more dishearteningly, I see either an uncaring populace or a populace clamoring for the expansion of the state, for a socialist agenda.  Bah.

“May I kill it,” now?

Via Billy Beck, whose own comments on Rauch’s piece deserve your attention.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/15 at 07:18 AM
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Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Two from The Technoptimist

I hadn’t been stopping by Duncan Frissell’s blog, The Technoptimist, on a regular basis for some time.  Fortunately, I stopped by again today.  Two short posts caught my eye today.

First, this post, which I repost in its entirety.

Should you answer when Cops ask?

Here is a canned answer you can give when questioned by cops or anyone in (government) authority:

“Sorry, I’d like to help but if I answer you I could later be found liable for obstruction of justice whereas if I say nothing, I avoid all possible liability for obstruction of justice. I, therefore, choose to say nothing.”

Second, a comment from this post, where Duncan points us to a Jonah Goldberg piece on “The Homosexual Question.”  Duncan’s comment after reading Jonah’s piece.

It must take a truly bizarre and twisted soul to actively seek out interaction of some kind with a coercive bureaucracy. There are many worse things than neglect.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/14 at 06:44 PM
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Another Billion Dollar Boondoggle

So, the Bush administration wants to spend $1.5 billion dollars to promote marriage, according to this NYT article.  This is a not a promotion of marriage, it is a fatuous proposal to garner votes from the conservative base.  Try as they might, such as by stating that the proposal is especially geared to promote marriage among “low-income couples,” a mere feel good statement, the fact remains that the government has no business in the field of matrimony.

What is even more disturbing, to me, is this statement from the article.

The proposal is the type of relatively inexpensive but politically potent initiative that appeals to White House officials at a time when they are squeezed by growing federal budget deficits.

Relatively inexpensive?  What blather.  Why should coins be taken from my pocket, or your pocket, for such whimsy?  Why would any single person, bachelor, married couple, widow or widower want to pay for this?  Why should we pay for this?

Posted by John Venlet on 01/14 at 09:50 AM
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An American Muslim in the Middle East Wakes Up

I fled home the next week, leaving all my illusions of the Arab world in my Cairo flat. I couldn’t wait to be in America again.

From ‘Over There,’ written by Murad Kalam and published online by  The second link will also allow you to read additional ‘Over There’ essays penned by other American writers describing their impressions over there.

Via InstaPundit.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/14 at 09:16 AM
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Ralph Waldo Emerson

City Journal publishes online a treatment of Emerson that is well worth your time to read.  Written by Michael Knox Baren, the piece is titled Self-Reliance vs. Self-Esteem.  A salient statement from the piece.

It was perhaps inevitable that so successful an intellectual entrepreneur would be vulgarized. Had his precepts been scrupulously followed, we might even now have a school curriculum that, in addition to teaching necessary skills, awakens students’ minds through techniques that implicate all the subterraneous operations of the psyche—techniques that touch the dream faculties, stimulate the formation of conscience, and rouse the mind to virtuous emulation. But in the last century Emerson’s ideas fell victim to distortion by progressive educators, who, like the philosopher John Dewey, sought to turn America’s prophet of self-reliance into an apologist for their own program of social reform.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/14 at 08:51 AM
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Understand Anarchy II

Anarchy is typically maligned by individuals when it is discussed, and I’m not just talking your everyday man on the street here.  Butler Shaffer, who teaches at the Southwestern University of Law, has penned a piece titled What is Anarchy that is a primer in understanding what anarchy actually means.  From Shaffer’s piece.

Because of the disingenuous manner in which this word has been employed, I endeavor to be as precise in my use of the term as possible. I employ the word “anarchy” not as a noun, but as a verb. I envision no utopian community, no “Galt’s Gulch” to which free men and women can repair. I prefer to think of anarchy as a way in which people deal with one another in a peaceful, cooperative manner; respectful of the inviolability of each other’s lives and property interests; resorting to contract and voluntary transactions rather than coercion and expropriation as a way of functioning in society.

Read, learn and apply even more diligently in your daily life.

Update:  I’ve previously linked to Anarchy: The American Way, written by Jim Shamlin.  It never hurts to read it again.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/14 at 08:07 AM
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Greg Ransom, over at PrestoPundit, links to Thomas Sowell’s Random Thoughts, by posting this quote from Sowell’s piece.

Politics is the art of making your selfish desires seem like the national interest.

A good quote.  I like the following even better, which I was pointed to by an astute individual.

The saddest life is that of a political aspirant under democracy.  His failure is ignominious and his success is disgraceful.

H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy, Government, “Note on a Cuff,” pg. 171

Posted by John Venlet on 01/14 at 07:23 AM
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Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Drooling Cretins

Jonathon Wilde, over at Catallarchy, in a post titled When the lights go out…, deftly sums up various treacly comments uttered by Gephardt, Kerry and Edwards with the following statement.

They’re not even trying to hide it anymore. This is simply full-blown socialism.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/13 at 07:49 PM
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Best Short Response to a Headline

No Sh** Sherlock.  Karen De Coster commenting on this article entitled Gun Control Hasn’t Helped Chicago, Group Says.  Karen also nails it with the following comment in regards to gun control.

Let’s admit it; it’s not about minimizing deaths and injuries. Gun control is about CONTROL. Period. Everything else shall be controlled, too, if all the useless tyrants have their way.


Posted by John Venlet on 01/13 at 07:39 PM
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Judicial Maleficence

In the state’s continuing quest to chain us in servitude, the Supreme Court, today, in a 6-3 decision, has ruled that police may use random road blocks to track down criminals.  You read that correctly, random roadblocks.  I am not talking about holiday drinking roadblocks, a travesty in and of themselves, I am talking about totally random roadblocks for the purported purpose of tracking down criminals.  Read it here.  Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg voted against.  Maleficence.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/13 at 04:47 PM
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The Taxman Cometh, Not

Good news for individuals who dislike the IRS.

Criminal enforcement of the nation’s tax laws by the IRS has plummeted to an all time low, according to an analysis of very timely Justice Department data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

Tax prosecutions brought as a result of IRS investigations currently are running at about half of what they were only ten years ago. (See graph.) This sharp decline has continued at the same time that the nation has been swept by a flood of reports about corporate crime studded with such names as Enron, Arthur Anderson, WorldCom, Adelphi Communications and Health South.

Via Duncan Frissell at The Technoptimist.  Duncan pulled the above quote from Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/13 at 03:01 PM
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Some Notions Are Just…

Kathryn Jean Lopez, of NRO, has been posting a number of comments in regards to a New York Times, piece titled Dean’s Wife Shuns Politics  In this posting, Lopez approvingly cites a statement by Dean’s wife which gives a nod to the show The West Wing as a model for the influentialness of First Ladies.  I don’t know about you, but any individual who cites a fictious character in a fictious teevee show as an example of behavior to follow seems to be lacking a bit of judgement.

In a separate post, Lopez cites a reader’s comment as making a good point.  The reader’s comment,

I think you missed commenting on the most disturbing part of that quote. “I just think she should do what she needs to do for her own happiness and satisfaction.” So, in light of these thoughts, how does Howard define marriage?

So, how is Dean’s statement, admirably supporting his wife’s individuality and pursuit of her own happiness and satisfaction, disturbing?  Do Lopez and the reader believe that Dr. Dean should kow tow to her husband’s goals and needs and deny her own?  Do Lopez and the reader think a patriarchal society is the way to go?  I’d wager that the Dean’s marriage is mutually beneficial to the both of them.  Neither sacrificing to other, but jointly sharing in the fruits of their individual successes.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/13 at 02:29 PM
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