Monday, May 31, 2004

Romantic Polytheism or Vague Theism

Unitl today, I had never heard of Richard Rorty.  But, due to rather inclement weather on this Monday, I’ve had some additional time on my hands to read a bit more than I usually do. 

When I stopped by Marginal Revolution, I read a post by Tyler Cowen titled “A new religion of mankind?,” which, natuarally, caught my eye, so I read Tyler’s comments and clicked over to the piece on Rorty.

Rorty is attemtping to unite some of the divergent views of various philosophers, something I have a tendency to think about myself, and I found the piece quite interesting, though not without incorrect conclusions.

The piece is titled “How Richard Rorty Found Religion,” and was written by Jason Boffetti.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/31 at 12:52 PM
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All Used Up

Sex.  Is it all about sex?  Is “free love,” that mantra from the hippy dippy days, the path to nirvana and individual freedom?  Should sex become just an everyday ho hum, hey it feels good, let me stop and get a quick BJ at the Five & Dime type thing?  Should kids be having sex, and if so, how young should individuals encourage their kids to start having sex?  Instead of slumber parties, should oral, coed orgies be encouraged, for the children?

Ally, at Who Moved My Truth, whose comments on this issue are titled “The Clinton Mentality,” links to an article from the NYT which peeps into the world of teen sex where kids say things like the following about sex.

“It’s equal,” she said. “Everyone is using each other. That’s fair.”

A comment which brought to mind the following Bill Withers tune.

“My friends feel it’s their appointed duty
They keep trying to tell me all you want to do is use me
But my answer yeah to all that use me stuff
Is I wanna spread the news that if it feels this good getting used
Oh you just keep on using me until you use me up
Until you use me up

My brother sit me right down and he talked to me
He told me that I ought not to let you just walk on me
And I’m sure he meant well yeah but when our talk was through
I said brother if you only knew you’d wish that you were in my shoes
You just keep on using me until you use me up
Until you use me up

Oh sometimes yeah it’s true you really do abuse me
You get in a crowd of high class people and then you act real rude to me
But oh baby baby baby baby when you love me I can’t get enough
I and I wanna spread the news that if it feels this good getting used
Oh you just keep on using me until you use me up
Until you use me up

Talking about you using me but it all depends on what you do
It ain’t too bad the way you’re using me
Cause I sure am using you to do the things you do
Ah ha to do the things you do”

What happens when they’re all used up?

Posted by John Venlet on 05/31 at 08:06 AM
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A Short Lesson in Libertarianism

“Other people are not your property.”

Some clarifying comments on the above lesson.

“In other words: They are not yours to boss around. Their lives are not yours to micromanage. The fruits of their labour are not yours to dispose of.

It doesn’t matter how wise or marvelous or useful it would be for other people to do whatever it is you’d like them to do. It is none of your business whether they wear their seatbelts, worship the right god, have sex with the wrong people, or engage in market transactions that irritate you. Their choices are not yours to direct. They are human beings like yourself, your equals under Natural Law. You possess no legitimate authority over them. As long as they do not themselves step over the line and start treating other people as their property, you have no moral basis for initiating violence against them – nor for authorising anyone else to do so on your behalf.”

For additional commentary, of a rather succinct nature, on this subject, click the link in this post.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/31 at 07:54 AM
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A Memorial Day Contribution

Memorial Day was designated to honor the dead who have served in the military.  Though most individuals look at Memorial Day as just another four day weekend.  The story I will link to in this post is not about a dead man, it is about a man who is still alive.  But this story, about a military man, who is still alive, is a living memorial to the military men and women who have served, and died honorably.  It is a story which, because it embodies positive virtues, is not in the news.

“SOMETHING THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE NEWS.”

Via PrestoPundit.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/31 at 07:43 AM
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Fat Blame Game

Who, or what, can individuals blame for being overweight, obese?

“Study: Driving longer means larger waistlines.”
“Gays Rights ‘Leads To Obesity’.”  Thanks to Jason Kuznicki for that link.
“Urban sprawl linked to high obesity rates.”
“Study says big pregnancy weight gain leads to obesity.”
“Woolly policies to blame for big rise in obesity, says MPs’ report.”
“Inequality is fattening.”  Thanks to Radley Balko for this link.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/31 at 07:15 AM
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An National ID Card Will Not Make You Safer

This morning, in an op-ed piece, The New York Times is banging the drum for a national ID card.  Surprisingly, the piece makes no mention of doing this for the children, but the piece does state that a national ID card will make individuals more secure.  What, if I flash a national ID card terrorists and other bad guys are going to turn tail and run?  I don’t think so.  But the weakest reason the NYT presents as a reason for a national ID card is included in the following sentence.

“A card might help Americans move through airports more easily or even cash checks more rapidly.”

Yep, that ability to cash checks “more rapidly” is the key.  Sign me up.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/31 at 06:57 AM
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Sunday, May 30, 2004

Photos of Saturn

I’ve been enjoying viewing Saturn this year through my telescope.  With the right filter in place, I’ve been able to get some great definition on Saturn’s rings, and the planet itself.  But nothing like these photos from the Cassini-Huygens mission.  Great shots.

Via Brian Micklethwait.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/30 at 07:44 AM
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A New Market for Pizza Micrometers?

I purchase my pizzas, typically, from small mom and pop shops.  One of the reasons I purchase pizzas from mom and pop shops is because I enjoy watching dough get tossed around, kneaded, and slathered with ingredients in a generous manner.  No precise measuring required.  Each pie that comes out of the oven is unique, unlike say a Pizza Hut pizza which is a standardized product whether purchased in Michigan, or Nome, Alaska. 

Which brings us, interestingly enough, to Italy.  Italy has decided they must protect the Neapolitan pizza and has developed some state rules for what makes a Neapolitan pizza, Neapolitan.

“It decreed that a Neapolitan pizza must be round and no more than 35cm in diameter.

The centre should not be higher than 0.3cm and the crust cannot rise higher than 2cm.

The law specifies what kind of flour, salt, and yeast and tomatoes have to be used.

The subclauses go even further.”

So, I’m wondering, if the pizzas don’t pass micrometer muster, will they be collected and destroyed like counterfeit CD’s and DVD’s?

“Italian law on pizza purity a mouthful.”

Via Mike Silverman at Red Letter Day.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/30 at 07:13 AM
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Saturday, May 29, 2004

A Few Words on Seatbelts with a Nod Towards Civil Disobedience

I’ve been faithfully wearing my seatbelt since I was the age of twenty.  I did not adopt this habit because of a car crash or government nannying.  I adopted the seatbelt habit because I thought about the pros and cons of non-seatbelt use versus seatbelt use, and arrived at the conclusion that utilizing my seatbelt had more benefits than drawbacks.

When I adopted the seatbelt habit, there were no state imposed directives which required seatbelts to be used, and thus no fines could be levied if one was stopped for some other traffic infraction and you were found to be not wearing your seatbelt.  A police officer could only recommend that you wear a seatbelt, but could not force you to wear a seatbelt.

Over the past ten years, more and more states have enacted mandatory seatbelt use laws, and yesterday evening, I saw a teevee advertisement which was crowing about the fact that, now, every state in the U.S. requires seatbelts to be worn.  The ad also crowed about the fact that if you are not wearing a seatbelt, every single state can now pull you over, ticket, and fine you for not wearing a seatbelt.

Because of this, I have begun to not wear my seatbelt when making short local runs around town.  Though I must consciously think about this because my habit of automatically buckling up is so ingrained.  Do I run multiple risks by adopting this non-usage attitude?  Indeed I do.  I run the risk of being ticketed for the simple fact of not wearing my seatbelt.  I also run the increased risk of injury, if I am in an accident where wearing my seatbelt would be beneficial to the wholeness of my bodily health.  But damn it, I am not going to be TOLD to wear my seatbelt.

I am also considering modifying the seatbelts in my old Jeep so that only the lap portion of my seatbelt functions.  I am considering this for the simple fact of testing the limits of the system.  Will I be pulled over because I don’t have a shoulder belt?  It’s possible.  Will I be ticketed?  I don’t think I could be, if I was wearing the lap belt, but I still could be, and it would be interesting to see just how far these “Click It or Ticket” enforcers would take their mandate.

Wearing your seatbelt only makes good sense, but I do not need, or want, the state telling me that I must wear my seatbelt.  It’s none of their damn business.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/29 at 10:09 AM
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This Is Odd

“Man Commits Suicide After Sex with Hen.”

Cock-a-doodle-doo.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/29 at 09:28 AM
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All Shook Up

Earthquakes are powerful, natural forces.  I’ve experienced three myself, while overseas, and I found the sensation of the earth quaking beneath my feet, while watching buildings rattle and cars dance, interesting, to say the least.

An article I read this morning, notes the distant effects the power a large magnitude quake can exert.

“A powerful earthquake that shook Alaska in 2002 affected geysers and hot springs at Yellowstone National Park nearly 2,000 miles away in Wyoming, scientists reported on Friday.

The magnitude 7.9 Denali fault earthquake in November 2002 was known to have triggered smaller quakes across much of the U.S. West, but its effect on geysers was previously unknown, a team at the University of Utah said.”

“Alaska Quake Affected Yellowstone Geysers - Study.”

Via Yahoo News.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/29 at 09:19 AM
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I’m Kind of Embarrassed

As a former submariner, attached to the USS LOS ANGELES (SSN688), an attack submarine, I’m kind of embarrassed that one of the newest attack submarines for the navy is being named the USS JIMMY CARTER (SSN23).

The name of the boat doesn’t quite fit.

Via PrestoPundit.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/29 at 06:23 AM
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A Water Note

The month of May has been a rainy one here in Michigan.  Especially West Michigan.  My only complaint, regarding the rain, is that river levels in Michigan have been so high, I haven’t been able to get in a trout stream for over three weeks.  Dang it! 

Here’s a note about all that rain, and all that water, that was posted at one of our local teevee stations today.

“The rise in the water level of Lake Michigan has been amazing. The level is up 3” in the last WEEK! It’s up 8” in the last month, and it’s 11” above the level of one year ago. Every inch of water added to the Lake Michigan represents 390 Billion Gallons of water. If you assume that it takes the average person 8 gallons of water to take a shower, and that there are 6.3 billion people in the world….then for the 3” rise…that amount of water would be enough to give every person on earth 23 showers!”

That’s a bunch of frickin’ water.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/29 at 06:15 AM
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State Meddlers Get Their Comeuppance

When the state interferes in your life, and when doesn’t it, the state rarely suffers any repurcusions.  There always seems to be some excuse, or statute, or whatever for the state to hide behind, a sort of get out of jail free card.  Well, here’s a story, where a state employee, who did not like the parenting style of her son’s girlfriend’s parents, leveraged the power of the state for, I’m not certain, her benefit, her son’s benefit, or the girlfriend’s benefit.  Anyway, the offending parents, who were put into a position where they had to defend themselves from the state, sued the state, in this case Kent County, Michigan, for putting their nose where it doesn’t belong.  The state has cried uncle, and paid off the harassed parents, but the state claims, of course, no wrongdoing.  They only paid off the harassed to save money.

”“We don’t admit any liability. We don’t believe there is liability,” Batzer said. “We’re paying a little now instead of having the potential for paying a lot later.”

Makes it sound like the state is liable, to me.

“Kent pays $115,000 to end parental rights case.”

Posted by John Venlet on 05/29 at 05:58 AM
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Friday, May 28, 2004

Nanny Naivete

“California adopts cell phone ‘bill of rights’.”

Sheesh.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/28 at 08:01 AM
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