Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chicken Queen

Gay rights groups are becoming very creative, in a galline kind of way. They have come up with an alternative to Chick-fil-A called "Fair Filet."

At "Fair Filet," gays can walk in and buy a chicken meal and eat it at your leisure. However, if you are heterosexual, believe in traditional marriage, and happen to be walking in the near vicinity of the restaurant, large "Fair Filet" security guards in uniforms and brown shorts are allowed to drag you into the restaurant and force you to eat their chicken while you watch sensitivity training videos on the restaurant monitors that explain that you are an intolerant bigot who, despite the fact that you were minding your own business just a few minutes before, needs to repudiate your traditional religious beliefs in favor of  ...

... Uh oh. Wait a minute. Let me study this for just a second ...

Shoot. Turns out it's just a fake publicity campaign that lies about what Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy said and is supporting a hate campaign against traditional values.


Press Release: Family Foundation suggest U of L campus makeover

LEXINGTON, KY--The Family Foundation today called for a campus makeover at the University of Louisville in the wake of reports that the university was considering ejecting Chick-fil-A from its campus cafeteria because of the views of the restaurant chain's president who thinks marriage is between a man and a woman.

"We think U of L should rename Grawemeyer Hall, its administration building, 'The Ministry of Truth," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for The Family Foundation of Kentucky. "If President James Ramsey and Provost Shirley Willilnganz really want to create an environment of intolerance and ideological uniformity, then we think a more pronounced Orwellian theme would be appropriate for campus buildings."

Cothran wondered whether Ramsey and Willinganz might arrange for an inscription on the building, similar to that in George Orwell's book, 1984. In 1984, the inscription on the front edifice of the Ministry of Truth read, "WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. "We think something along the lines of 'DIVERSITY IS UNIFORMITY, EQUALITY IS FAVORITISM, TOLERANCE IS BIGOTRY' would fit the new ideological regime that is being established on U of L's campus."

"Then, anyone found eating politically incorrect chicken, could be hauled to the building and into Ms. Willinganz's office in the Ministry of Love--which, by the way, we think should be called 'Room 101.'"

Cothran suggested other changes as well, such as changing the university's fight song to "Oceana 'tis of Thee."

Courier-Journal takes U of L's Ramsey and Willinganz to task

Omigosh. The Louisville Courier-Journal wrote an editorial yesterday that actually got it right. And when Courier-Journal editorials start making sense, you know something's up.

The CJ yesterday editorialized against what the University of Louisville provost Shirley Willinganz is clearly trying to find a way to do: kick Chick-fil-A off its campus.

Here it is:
Why stop there? A directory of local restaurants shows at least six Chick-fil-A outlets in the Louisville area. Should we pull their business licenses? Change Health Department ratings to D for discriminatory?  
Of course not.  
... But calling for the ouster of the restaurant — or even a boycott — is extreme, especially on a college campus. Should we demand ideological purity tests of all on-campus vendors, not to mention professors who count a number of conservative voices in their midst?
In fact, the editorial explicitly agreed with Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy in his statement about his and his company's right to say what they want to say because, you know, it's like a free country.

And then there was this:
If U of L officials and students don’t back off, they are easy targets for the rhetoric of reflexive groups such as Kentucky’s Family Foundation, which fired off a press release Monday blaming the “tolerance police” for ferreting out “thought crime” on campus.
So the Family Foundation is no longer a "religious right wing group" in CJ editorials? They're now just "reflexive"? Is that a promotion or something? Now there's some news.

Monday, July 30, 2012

New University of Louisville Fight song

We mentioned this morning that the University of Louisville's Ministry of Truth was celebrating Hateweek by considering the possibility of expelling Chick-fil-A from its student cafeteria for its doubleplus ungood views on marriage, which consisted of supporting the idea of the traditional family.

Both UofL President James Ramsey and Provost Shirley Willinganz, chief members of the university's Inner Party, upset with the Oldthink expressed by the company's Dan Cathy, have decided to use their official positions to enforce their personal left-wing political views on campus and to expel any Chick-fil-A for possible Thoughtcrimes.

Our comments on the Intolerance Eruption at the university were carried in the Lexington Herald-Leader and on public radio.

But there may be good news. UofL has not made a decision yet on whether they are going to kick Chick-fil-A off the campus:
Mark Hebert, a spokesman for U of L, said Monday the university has not made any decisions yet on whether it will or can terminate Chik-fil-A's contract. Willihnganz is meeting with student groups this week to determine their views on the issue, Hebert said.
That's encouraging: U of L isn't being intolerant and discriminatory yet; they're just considering whether they can be intolerant and discriminatory.

Our next step is to publicly call on the university to dump its current fight song in favor of the following:

At the University of Louisville, it's the year 1984

LEXINGTON, KY—A state family advocacy group today charged that University of Louisville officials were using their positions for personal political purposes in the wake of reports that the university is considering expelling Chick-fil-A from its student food services for its position in favor of traditional marriage. “We don’t need people running our universities who think they can use their positions to pursue their own personal special interest political agendas,” said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation.

The group said the university was turning its nose up at the very taxpayers who support it. “If James Ramsey and U of L have no use for a private business that supports traditional marriage,” said Cothran, “then they have no business asking for funds from taxpayers in a state whose voters approved, by a 75 percent margin, a 2004 constitutional amendment saying virtually the same thing.”

Cothran’s comments came on the heels of reports that UofL President James Ramsey and University Provost Shirley Willinganz had personally pledged to boycott the restaurant chain for its views on traditional marriage and that Willinganz was looking into ways of preventing them from serving as a food vendor on campus. “Maybe it’s good that UofL leadership has come out of the closet about their contempt for the views of a majority of Kentuckians, but to even consider using their positions to persecute individuals or organizations they personally disagree with is simply Orwellian.”

“It’s 2012 almost everywhere else,” said Martin Cothran, “but at UofL it seems to be 1984.”

Cothran has criticized the university for a lack of intellectual diversity on its campus several times in recent years. “This just proves our point,” said Cothran. “The administration at UofL seems to be under one party martial law when it comes to the viewpoints it is willing to tolerate on campus.”

Cothran said the university’s position is at odds with its stated opposition to intolerance and its support of inclusion of all viewpoints. “That the university is even considering kicking Chick-fil-A off campus is a measure of just how intolerant the Tolerance Police who now run such institutions have become. If there was any doubt before that the university’s rhetoric on tolerance and diversity was empty, it has now been removed. UofL seems to be becoming a place where divergence from the party line on social issues is considered a Thought Crime.”

Cothran added that it is ironic that just as many opponents of traditional marriage are backing off efforts to crack down on Chick-fil-A, UofL would have chosen to announce the move. “It’s not exactly great timing,” he said.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Materialists who didn't get the quantum mechanics memo

Stephen Barr is a physicist at the University of Delaware, and isn't having any of this nonsense about science supporting materialism:
Materialism is an atheistic philosophy that says that all of reality is reducible to matter and its interactions. It has gained ground because many people think that it’s supported by science. They think that physics has shown the material world to be a closed system of cause and effect, sealed off from the influence of any non-physical realities --- if any there be. Since our minds and thoughts obviously do affect the physical world, it would follow that they are themselves merely physical phenomena. No room for a spiritual soul or free will: for materialists we are just “machines made of meat.”
Quantum mechanics, however, throws a monkey wrench into this simple mechanical view of things. No less a figure than Eugene Wigner, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, claimed that materialism --- at least with regard to the human mind --- is not “logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.” And on the basis of quantum mechanics, Sir Rudolf Peierls, another great 20th-century physicist, said, “the premise that you can describe in terms of physics the whole function of a human being ... including [his] knowledge, and [his] consciousness, is untenable. There is still something missing.”
It's a point made in a more extended form by physicist Paul Davies in his book, The Matter Myth. But some apparently never got the quantum mechanics memo: If you listen to those in the natural sciences, like biology, they still talk as if quantum mechanics never happened.

Read more here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Remember when liberals used to be tolerant?

Remember when liberals used to say things like:
  • Groups shouldn't try to use the government to impose their own morality on other people. 
  • If you don't like pornography then don't buy it.
  • No one has the right to limit your First Amendment right of freedom of expression
Not any more.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Eat More Chikin: Tolerance Police brandishing their truncheons against Chick-fil-A

Just in case you're wondering where that sound of goose-stepping is coming from, you might check out the news from Chicago, where an alderman (and now, apparently the mayor) is trying to prevent Chick-fil-A from building a second store in town because of its president's position on gay "marriage."

And then there's Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who revealed himself this week as a stürmfuhrer in the Brown Shorts, and who has declared that Chick-fil-A "doesn't belong in Boston."

As if we needed further proof of the increasing intolerance of the gay rights movement.

The Tolerance Police apparently don't see any inconsistency in preaching tolerance on one day, and then getting out their political truncheons to intimidate a private company because of its president's religiously-based belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman on the other.

Apparently one of the rights the gay rights movement wants is the right to infringe on the rights of conscience of others. [Click heels here]

HT: The Volokh Conspiracy, Michelle Malkin

What's that you say about grammar not being important any more?

This just in from the Eastern language front: Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit and founder of Dozuki:
“I am a grammar “stickler.” I have a “zero tolerance approach” to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid. Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. If job hopefuls can’t distinguish between “to” and “too,” their applications go into the bin. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.
Oh, and try making a mistake--I mean the least little typo--on an application for a legal internship.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My introduction to Wendell Berry at the Paideia Prize banquet last night

I have been to almost every CiRCE conference. I think I may have missed two. And what I have found over the years is that there is one author who is referred to by participants more than any other, and that is Wendell Berry. If you don’t know of him before you get here, you are sent home thinking that something is missing in your life and that you probably ought to do something about it.
He is here with us tonight. I had heard that Wendell gets a lot of invitations to speak. And I think I asked him one time how he decided which ones to accept. As I recall, he said something like, “The easiest thing is to just say “No.” And I understand that he employs that option liberally. And so I first want to thank him on behalf of the CiRCE Institute for accepting our invitationand our award.
Secondly, I want to say why it is that I appreciate Wendell Berry. I met Wendell before I had ever read any of his books. He had come to teach a class at Highlands Latin School. I had heard that his books were pretty good. And soon I fell to reading his novels. It was a bit like going through the wardrobe and entering another world.
The world I entered was a world of life, and death, and joy, and sorrow, and peace, and far-off war, and laughter, and weeping, and charity, and violence; it was a world of work, and play, and friendship, and love. There was something striking about this world, and for a long time I couldn’t put my finger on it. And then one day I realized what it was: It was not another world that I had entered. The world that I had entered was this world.
All roads lead to Port William.
I told my wife one time that Wendell Berry’s stories were the one thing I read for no reason whatsoever. They were the only books that I read for no other end than themselves.
His novels and short stories had the great virtue of being not just good, but true. But his essays had another quality that it took me a little while to identify. One of his collections of short stories is titled Fidelity. But any collection of his essays could easily have bourn that title. They were faithful: not only in the sense of being true, and therefore faithful to the world, but in the sense of being faithful to the Word.
There is a sense of integrity that leaps from every line. There is a word that is very seldom used, although examples are everywhere: the word "cant." It means insincere, hypocritical, platitudinous speech. I find myself falling into it on occasion. But I can’t remember ever encountering a word of cant in anything of his I have ever read.
And there’s one more thing.
I was teaching class one day, and—I don’t know how we got on the subject—but Emily, his granddaughter mentioned that on Saturday mornings, “Granddaddy takes us out and teaches us how to to horse farm.” The “us” included her brother Marshall. “And when the weather's bad,” she continued, “he takes us up to the cabin and teaches us how to write. Granddaddy’s got boxes this high with the stuff I’ve written.”
I’ve thought about those remarks from time to time, and I’ve thought about the fact that his son Den farms too, and I’ve seen a few things Mary, his daughter, has written, and how he has devoted so much time to passing on the things that he loves to his children and to his grandchildren.
“Fidelity” is not just the title of one of his books.
Ladies and gentlemen, would you please welcome Wendell Berry ...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What could possibly go wrong with Obamacare?

HT: Carpe Diem:

The gay rights movements' Two Minute Hate against Mark Regnerus


As any one who frequents this blog knows, my regard for social science as it is perpetrated by the media is not high. The expression "a study has shown ..." is now used like some kind of incantation, imputing to the thing on behalf of which it is uttered a kind of magical legitimacy.

It may be the most abused phrase in the English language.

I have also argued that whenever you hear gay rights advocates make what sound like scientific statements, you should immediately dismiss them as political statements until it has conclusively been shown otherwise. These are the same people, after all, who can still be found appealing to the Kinsey studies as scientifically authoritative.

In recent years studies have been trotted out to show that gender doesn't matter in the rearing of children and that children raised by gay parents are just as well-adjusted as those raised by a biological mother and father. When these studies come out, gay rights activists shake their pom-poms and shout, "Go team!" while the academics who cooked them up do their end zone dances.

So what happens when a study finds the opposite?
Mark Regnerus is a hateful bigot. He’s an ultra-conservative with links to Opus Dei. His new research paper on same-sex parenting is “intentionally misleading” and “seeks to disparage lesbian and gay parents.” His “so-called study doesn’t match 30 years of scientific research that shows overwhelmingly that children raised by parents who are LGBT do equally as well.” His “junk science” and “pseudo-scientific misinformation,” pitted against statements from the American Psychological Association and “every major child welfare organization,” deserve no coverage or credence. 
That’s what four of the nation’s leading gay-rights groups—the Human Rights Campaign, the Family Equality Council, Freedom to Marry, and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation —declared in a joint statement this week. Flanked by a mob of bloggers, they’re out to attack Regnerus’ motives, destroy his credibility, and banish his study from the scientific record.
Have a nice day.

Regnerus, a University of Texas sociologist published a paper that studied the affects on adult children of same-sex parents and found that they were more likely to experience emotional and social problems.

You would have thought that he had just advocated the attempted revival of Adolf Hitler. The chorus of denunciation was deafening. When self-proclaimed gays like Simon Levay releases research that just happens to confirm his own clear prejudices, they are lauded as paragons of scientific rectitude. But release a finding that flies in the face of the Politically Correct establishment and you are ...


The University of Texas has now launched an investigation of Regnerus. Why? Because a gay blogger who doesn't even publish under his real name sent a letter to UT President Bill Powers. The blogger, Scott Rose (really Scott Rosensweig):
alleged that Regnerus had committed scientific misconduct because he had created "a study designed so as to be guaranteed to make gay people look bad, through means plainly fraudulent and defamatory." Rosensweig also pointed out that the study was funded by the conservative Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, writing that Regnerus had taken "money from an anti-gay political organization for his study."
We're absolutely positive that Rose(ensweig) gets this upset when similar research is done under the auspices of institutions or researchers who have a know pro-gay bias (insert index finger in mouth and pretend to gag here).

A university launches a professional investigation of one of its faculty because of the complaint of a partisan blogger? For real?

Just go to your friendly local university and you will find the equivalent of Orwell's Ministry of Truth, each devoted to the stamping out of thoughtcrime.

The message in the Regnerus case is plain: If you come up with findings that in any way militate against the prevailing PC view of human sexuality, keep it to yourself or you will be publicly savaged and your professional reputation will be destroyed. The standards by which other studies in the field finding opposite results will be dispensed with and new standards never before applied to anyone else will be applied to you.

If you want to communicate with Regnerus, do it now before they haul him off to Room 101 to convinced that 2 + 2 = 5.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

First prediction of the political season: Bain Capital is a loser for Mitt Romney

Okay folks, I am now mulling over potential predictions about the upcoming presidential election. I am ready to announce my first such prediction and it is this: the Bain Capital issue will go down as Mitt Romney's worst political miscalculation. It will be his biggest albatross around his political neck.

Now I think it is already becoming apparent that Obama is targeting this and so it's not exactly a longshot prediction, but there it is.

Obama is going to continue to exploit this as one of the things that gives concrete expression to Mitt Romney being out of touch with the common man and as favoring the middle class (the ones that get laid off in corporate takeovers) over the rich (the ones who do the laying off).

When the election is over, Romney will be sorry he ever even mentioned it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Are philosophy and theology just "hot air"?

Among the now 66 comments on my post about the so-called "God Particle," many were posted by members the Peanut Gallery here at Vital Remnants, and all of which completely avoided my point about science now operating culturally as a religion. Instead, we had to deal with all kinds of points only indirectly related to what I actually said (after which, of course, they blamed me for not addressing what they said).

But that's fine. I'm happy to talk about some of the subjects that were brought up, one of them by our beloved Singring, a German scientist whose incantation is "empiricism." He thinks if he repeats the term enough times, metaphysics will just go away and leave him alone.

Singring (and he is representative here of many in his scientistic tribe) has two basic problems: First, he mistakenly assumes that all philosophy and theology is non-empirical; and, second, he wrongly thinks there can be an empiricism free of metaphysics.

Let's concentrate on the first of these in this post: Are philosophy and theology non-empirical?

Singring says:
What Martin seems to forget is that philosophy and theology don't make the headlines because they don't do anything useful - they just produce hot air. When is the last time philosophy or theology cured a disease, invented a new material, increased crop yields? When is the last time philosophy came up with a truth that it can show is in fact true with a reliable, sturdy and transparent methodology? 
Hmmm. I guess I could ask when was the last time science proved the existence of God or answered the question how something could come from nothing (and, no, the equally philosophically naive Lawrence Krauss's completely incompetent handling of this question [in which he doesn't handle it at all, but pretends he does] doesn't count). To ask when the last time one discipline answered the questions of a completely different discipline is hardly a competent critique of that discipline and it's not a great way to inspire confidence in your ability to deal with these questions. But Singring has always been somewhat impervious to basic distinctions.

Nor does it help his case against philosophy when he admits he's not even familiar with any works of philosophy. There's no evidence that his knowledge of theology is even better. It kind of helps to actually know what you're talking about.

He takes the naive view that philosophers think deductively and scientists think empirically:
Scientists think differently. They look at empirical evidence (not 'intuitions', 'looks' or 'self-evident facts) and they see which hypothesis it supports. It's that simple.
No intellectually serious person who has looked into this question would ever say this, of course, but it has become a sort of New Atheist mantra anyway.

Oops. Did I use the expressions "intellectually serious" and "New Atheist" in the same sentence? I promise never to do it again.

Singring talks as if a scientist just makes an observation and goes out shopping for the appropriate hypothesis, which is just sitting out there somewhere, ready-made. Either that, or maybe, poof! A hypothesis just appears in the scientists mind! To say that intuition doesn't play a major role in scientific discovery and hypothesis formation is not only to fail to make sense, but to betray complete ignorance of the history of science, another field in which Singring is clearly out of his depth. And the thing is you don't even have to know much about it to see that these kinds of statements are ludicrous. In fact, you only need to know just a little bit about, say, Einstein to know just how great a role these things play.

As Lutheran theologian John Warwick Montgomery has pointed out:
Little more that superficial naiveté lies at the basis of the popular opinion that science and theology are in methodological conflict because the former "employs inductive reasoning" while the latter "operates deductive"! In point of fact, both generally proceed retroductively, and neither is less concerned than the other about the concrete verification of its inference.
Singring seems to have dispensed with his use of the specific term "induction." Maybe it had something to do with my pointing out to him that you can't champion David Hume's empiricism and then say that induction is a rationally justified procedure, seeing as Hume dispatched that belief so decisively that no one has ever been able to answer him. But that's what happens when you say things about philosophy without actually having read it.

Like many scientific inferences, the Higgs Boson "discovery" (if that's what it is--there seems to be some lingering doubt) is a prime example, not of anything even resembling strict empiricism. It is an example of "inference to the best explanation," or "abduction" (or "retroduction").

Scientists knew (in the tentative, scientific sense) the Higgs Boson particle was there before they found it. In the case of Peter Higgs (the "Higgs" of Higgs Boson), that was 1964. Why? Because they had empirical evidence of it? Absolutely not. They knew it existed because its existence was necessary in order for their theory of how other particles in an atom have mass. They knew it in the same way they knew Neptune existed before they had empirically observed it: because the positing of its existence was the only thing that could explain irregularities in Uranus's orbit.

Montgomery again:
The essential place of "imagination" in scientific theorizing has been greatly stressed by Einstein; and its role can perhaps best be seen by introducing, alongside induction and deduction—as, in fact, the connecting link between them-Peirce's concept of "retroduction" or "abduction," based upon Aristotle's type inference. "Abduction," writes Peirce, "consists in studying facts and devising a theory to explain them .... Deduction proves that something must be; induction shows that something actually is operative; abduction merely suggests that something may be."
"Physical theories provide patterns within which data appear intelligible," says N. R. Hansen (quoted by Montgomery):
They constitute a "conceptual Gestalt". A theory is not pieced together from observed phenomena; it is rather what makes it possible to observe phenomena as being of a certain sort, and as related to other phenomena. Theories put phenomena into systems. They are built up "in reverse" retroductively. A theory is a cluster of conclusions in search of a premise. From the observed properties of phenomena the physicist reasons his way towards a keystone idea from which the properties are explicable as a matter of course.
Induction, despite all its glamour (and despite that Hume showed that it is the last thing you can make sense of if you follow empiricism to its logical conclusion), doesn't play as big a role in science as people think it does, particularly in fields like physics, where abduction seems to be the preferred methodology.

But the more relevant point here is that the same methodology used by science (and one that Singring apparently never noticed) is used by philosophy and theology as well. Scientists uses it in the context of the investigation of nature; philosophers use it to determine whether their own metaphysical explanations best explain the known facts of the world; theologians use it to make the most sense of the revelatory truth they believe they have been given.

This fact puts the lie to the idea that Singring and Art (a University of Kentucky scientist) often repeat on this blog: that science has a reliable methodology to confirm its truth and philosophy and theology don't. In fact, in many cases they use the same methodology, only they apply it to different things.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Look, Dad: The Smithsonian is using a Creation Museum dinosaur to promote its IMAX theater"

There's something about a freckle-faced 8 year-old innocently embarrassing the atheist world that seems to bring the universe into balance.

As my friend Jay Wile points out, the Smithsonian is using a Creation Museum dinosaur in one of its major marketing campaigns. The image of a dinosaur, which is the centerpiece of the marketing campaign for the Smithsonian Museum's IMAX theater, turns out to have been taken from a dinosaur model designed and built at Ken Ham's Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.

The strange coincidence was discovered by eight year-old Hannah Lietha, who picked up a Smithsonian brochure in a Washington, D.C. hotel and pointed it out to her father, who was in the nation's capitol to man a creationist booth at a convention for public educators.

Employing the evolutionary principle that similarity implies common ancestry, the father confirmed that the image indeed derived from the Creation Museum.

It seems that atheists are just now finding out about it, and they are, as one would guess, not pleased. We wouldn't be either, if we were them. Which we aren't.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Julia vs. Ayn: Why neither of the two sides in American politics is conservative

James Kalb, whose wisdom on political matters, I'm beginning to think, is unsurpassed, has a new column in the Catholic World Report on the two kinds of liberalism, one of which calls itself conservatism.

Kalb, the author of the Tyranny of Liberalism, points out that both liberals and "conservatives" have the same false view of freedom: they just apply it differently. For liberal liberals and for liberal "conservatives," freedom means "freedom to choose freely." "Freedom is freedom to go after whatever it is you happen to want." In his book, Atheist Delusions, theologian David Bentley Hart describes this modern view of freedom as "the perfect, unconstrained spontaneity of individual will—is its own justification, its own highest standard, its own unquestionable truth."

It is higher, says Hart, even than reason:
Freedom for us today is something transcendent even of reason, and we no longer really feel that we must justify our liberties by recourse to some prior standard of responsible rationality.
Kalb points out that this view of freedom is accepted by both sides in our political culture:
Even the battle between liberals and conservatives is mostly a dispute between two groups of liberals. The two sides may differ in their interpretation of freedom, but they agree that it comes first, and that in essence it’s freedom to do whatever you want.
But there are differences between the two kinds of liberals in American politics today. For the progressive conservatives (the ones we commonly call "liberals") the idea of freedom is "a sort of Burger King 'Have It Your Way' vision of freedom":
... [I]t’s freedom to choose from a menu that’s as long as possible and available equally to everyone. For that kind of freedom to exist, the choices must be independent of the choices other people make. The menu therefore emphasizes choices that can be made individually and separately, like consumer goods and private lifestyle options. Freedom turns out to mean “access” and “tolerance”—a state of affairs in which people are given what they choose from a set list, and they have a right to have other people go along with their choices.
The Obama campaign has personified this in "Julia":
[Julia's] goals are completely private—even when she has a child it’s an entirely personal choice that has nothing to do with anyone else—and her concern as a voter is to have the government give her what she needs to attain her personal goals reliably and comfortably. The campaign makes her an Internet entrepreneur who creates jobs, and so gives her something of a public role, but the description is unpersuasive. 
A successful entrepreneur" Kalb slyly observes, "is not likely to be someone whose big political concern is whether other people pay for her birth control pills and provide her with a comfortable retirement."

For "conservative" liberals (those we still persist in calling conservatives, but who are really libertarians), freedom is "freedom of action rather than freedom to choose among private satisfactions":
They therefore favor a setting in which the rules of property and contract, along with public services like roads, schools, and national defense, allow people to form whatever goals they want and pursue them with whatever means they can put together. Everything’s open-ended, and the sky’s the limit, but it’s up to the individual to figure out where he wants to go and how to get there. The conservative version of Julia would therefore be more like an Ayn Rand heroine. Where Julia wants secure enjoyment of daily satisfactions, an Ayn Rand heroine wants adventure, struggle, and creativity. She is as single-mindedly interested in doing whatever it is she wants to do as Julia, but in a very different style.
The personification of this "conservative" libertarian Kalb designates "Ayn." Both Julian and Ayn, says Kalb, "are remarkably bad models to follow":
Both ignore the transcendent dimension of human life. Ayn Rand’s romantic capitalism is a fake transcendent if ever there was one, and the faith, hope, and (government-administered) charity the Obama campaign offers Julia have very little to do with the Christian virtues. Also, both are essentially unsocial. Progressive concern for those at the bottom doesn’t include taking them seriously as actors, and the conservative appeal to traditional morality is shaky because it’s not grounded in a serious understanding of the good life. Hence the depressing effects of the progressive welfare state on how people live, and hence the routine abandonment by conservative politicians of issues such as abortion when they become mildly inconvenient.
Read Kalb's article here.

Second thoughts on Steve Beshear

Gov. Steve Beshear rescinded his own decision to make state senator David Karem chairman of the State School Board.

Beshear just won reelection last fall. Can we do that with him too?

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The "God particle" and the new Religion of Science

Our prayers have been answered. The "God particle" has been discovered. What The New York Times is calling the "Holy Grail" of physics has finally been found.

Sort of.

Scientists at the "Large Haldron Collider" announced that they had finally discovered the "Higgs Boson" particle, a particle that gives the particles that make up atoms their mass (One of the things about being a "God particle" is that you have to go to mass). 

"The God particle has been found," blared the headlines, although the fine print revealed that they only "may have" discovered it. They definitely discovered it, only they really didn't. The particle was found "probably": They had "gathered enough evidence" to show that it "looks like" a Higgs Boson. It was "newly discovered" but scientists "stopped just shy" of "claiming outright that it is the Higgs Boson itself."

They "believed" they "gathered enough evidence" to demonstrate that they had "probably" discovered a particle whose "characteristics match" what "could be" the Higgs Boson with "99 percent certainty." Or was that "99.99 percent" certainty? Or maybe "99.9936 percent" certainty?

We're not certain.

The only thing that is certain, we are told, is that in order to get "5 sigma level" certainty (that's the certainty you must have in order to say your certainly certain), one must have 99.99995 percent certainty. Otherwise, your left at the 4 sigma level, which is sort of like .

So here we have a bunch of scientists making this big announcement and they've only got 4 sigma level certainty? Are you kidding?! We all got excited some 4 sigma level nonsense? What is this? Geraldo Rivera opening up Al Capone's safe?

Well, at least it's better than the original Holy Grail, which they never found, meaning it had a certainly level of only 1 sigma.

This whole thing is just the most recent example of the media going into a swoon over the latest pronouncement of what they implicitly view as the equivalent of a religious declaration. The only question involved here is whether the announcement of the quasi-discovery of the Higgs Boson particle is like, say, a Papal bull (which, would be, what? a 4 sigma?) or an ex cathedra Papal directive--definitely a 5 sigma.

I will stop just shy of saying outright that white laboratory smocks are the modern equivalent of horse hair robes. I think I have gathered enough evidence that men in materialist mitres now tell us things the vast majority of us have no way of confirming beyond just trusting them. The characteristics of science look a lot like what many of the people who practice it call "superstition." Science is now practically indistinguishable from magic, and mathematicians are our new magicians.

And I say this with 99.9994 percent certainty.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Anderson Cooper, Victim ... or, maybe not

Anderson Cooper has come out of the closet. That's right. Cooper is gay. And we all know what had to ensue. Cooper has been attacked from every quarter. Anti-gay voices chimed in from all over the country criticizing the CNN anchor for his homosexuality.

He had his masculinity called into question, had doubt cast on his competence as an news anchor, and had a multitude of personal epithets hurled at him from every direction. The approbation was withering, underscoring the need for anti-discrimination laws. Reports were that he feared for his ...

Oh, wait. Hang on. Let me check these stories again.

Well, shoot. I don't know how I read them wrong. It turns out that there was not a single negative story on a Google search of the terms "Anderson Cooper coming out." In fact, all of them were positive. Many of them were not only positive, they were gushing.

The only danger was that Cooper would be smothered under the accolades.