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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Amusing Photo

Here, via Bob Park's 'Black & Right' blog, is an amusing photo of 'The Won'

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James Taranto (in the WSJ): Oikophobia Why the liberal elite finds Americans revolting.

So [summarizing Richard Reich's, late of the Clinton administration, analysis of opposition to the "Ground Zero Mosque"] if some Americans are afraid of people "who have what seem to be strange religions," it must be a totally irrational reaction to "economic insecurity." It couldn't possibly have anything to do with an act of mass murder committed in the name of the religion in question.

And Reich doesn't just fail to see the obvious. He dehumanizes his fellow Americans by treating their values, feelings and opinions as no more than reflexive reactions to material conditions. Americans in fact are a very tolerant people. Even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, there was no serious backlash against Muslims. What makes them angry--what makes us angry--is the bigotry of the elites.

The Ground Zero mosque is an affront to the sensibilities of ordinary Americans. "The center's association with 9/11 is intentional and its location is no geographic coincidence," as the Associated Press has reported. That Americans would find this offensive is a matter of simple common sense. The liberal elites cannot comprehend common sense, and, incredibly, they think that's a virtue. After all, common sense is so common.

The British philosopher Roger Scruton has coined a term to describe this attitude: oikophobia. Xenophobia is fear of the alien; oikophobia is fear of the familiar: "the disposition, in any conflict, to side with 'them' against 'us', and the felt need to denigrate the customs, culture and institutions that are identifiably 'ours.' " What a perfect description of the pro-mosque left.
Gentle Reader will, of course, wish to read the whole thing.

"The liberal elites cannot comprehend common sense, and, incredibly, they think that's a virtue. After all, common sense is so common." -- that is the heart and soul of 'oikophobia.'

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Friday, August 13, 2010

A Conversation with David

Recently, I received an email from 'David,' asking whether I'd be open to continuing a small discussion we'd had in a thread on Edward Feser's blog. So, this thread is intended to facilitate that. If Gentle Reader has a pertinent question or comment, I have no objection the posting of them.

The converstaion with David was about "wholes" and "parts" and the relationships thereof ... and thus, indirectly, about the concept of 'emergence, belovéd of materialists ... and about "scientific explanations" ... and thus, indirectly about reason and logic and intentionality and rationality.

The first two (lengthy) posts I duplicate below are my comments directed to Mr Feser's original post. I think they're indirectly applicable to the conversation with David.

Ilíon wrote (commenting on E.Feser's post) --
On 'the problem of intentionality' and concepts and symbols --

'Symbols' are inherently meaningless entities (a physical or a non-physical "object") which minds use to stand for (i.e. symbolize) other entities. Among the entities for which a 'symbol' may stand are:
1) other symbols;
2) numbers;
3) logical operations;
4) concepts;
5) states (physical or otherwise);
6) objects (physical or otherwise);
7) pretty much anything at all.

A symbol's meaning is entirely ascribed; a symbol has no meaning apart from that which one or more minds have determined to conventionally attribute or impute to it. A symbol's "meaning" is a pretense by one or more minds; the "pointing to" of a symbol is not in the symbol, it is rather in the mind or minds which are agreed to use that symbol to point to that other entity (which may itself be meaningless).

Thus, two Summerian merchants may use cross-hatchings pressed into clay to symbolize how many sacks of grain the one shall trade to the other for how many goats. Thus, two modern businessmen may use electro-magnetic patterns to represent how many dollars (which are themselves merely symbols) the one shall trade to the other for how many machine parts, and which precise type(s) those machine part are to be.

"As John Searle has put it, the robot’s symbolic representations - like words, sentences, and symbols in general - have only derived intentionality, while human thought has original or intrinsic intentionality."

To say that symbols have "derived intentionality" is imprecise and easily misleading; symbols have "ascribed (or imputed) intentionality" -- all intentionality of a symbol is extrinsically ascribed or imputed to it. By a mind.

"The electrical processes and physical parts of the system [i.e. of the robot] would have had no meaning at all otherwise [than by the design of its builders]. By contrast, the thoughts of the designers themselves have meaning without anyone having to impart it to them. As John Searle has put it, the robot’s symbolic representations - like words, sentences, and symbols in general - have only derived intentionality, while human thought has original or intrinsic intentionality."

A robot may be designed to be a symbol manipulating machine (*), but that's the most it can do: manipulate inherently meaningless objects -- and only so long as the rules by which the manipulations are to be performed can *also* be represented symbolically.

And, every symbol which the robot is capabale of manipulating may itself but symbolize some other symbol. That is, there is no requirement that a robot's symbols symbolize ("point to") any actual meaning or even any actual physical object. There is no meaning in the robot, anywhere -- and the robot understands nothing, and never can understand anything.

In contrast, a thought or concept is not a symbol, but rather is intrinsically meaningful, and cannot by used as a symbol (**).

Now, we obligately use symbols to communicate our concepts/thoughts one to another. This is probably at the root of the difficulty so many have with fully grasping the truth that symbols are utterly meaningless.

(*) And, it seems to me, a machine which cannot manipulate symbols cannot rightly be called a 'robot.'

(**) One may choose to use the symbols one normally uses to stand for some concept to stand for some other concept, but the one concept itself is not standing for the other concept.

Ilíon wrote (commenting on E.Feser's post) --
On 'the problem of rationality' --

"Rather, we are able to go from one thought to another in accordance with the laws of logic. Now, it might seem that the robot of our example, and computers generally, can do the same thing insofar as we can program them to carry out mathematical operations and the like. But of course, we have had to program them to do this. We have had to assign a certain interpretation to the otherwise meaningless symbolic representations we have decided to count as the “premises” and “conclusion” of a given inference the machine is to carry out, and we have had to design its internal processes in such a way that there is an isomorphism between them and the patterns of reasoning studied by logicians. But no one has to assign meaning to our mental processes in order for them to count as logical."

The reason we can design and program a robot/computer such that we can use it to simulate a logical inference is because we can use meaningless symbols to represent not only objects or states or concepts but also to represent logical operations. If the last were impossible, then computers would be impossible.

Yet, the computer is always and only a machine designed for the manipulation of utterly meaningless symbols. The computer does not, and cannot, ratiocinate; it manipulates symbols.

A computer is but a glorified abacus, and symbol manipulation is not thought -- the difference between a robot or computer (which is to say, in both cases, a computer program) and a mind is not a difference of degree, but of kind. Symbol manipulation may be (and frequently is) used by human minds as an aid to clarity of thought, but it is not itself thought.

A computer is but a glorified abacus -- and no one in his right mind ever imagines that an abacus could ever think, or that one could ever be a mind.

Why then does anyone (asserting himself to be thinking clearly) imagine that a computer program could think or could be a mind, if only it were complex enough and/or running on a fast enough machine? Does the design of the physical machine, such that electro-magnetic patterns are used to represent the material beads of an abacus change the nature of symbol manipulation? Does the design of the physical machine, such that no person must be detailed to manually flip the virtual beads change the nature of symbol manipulation? Does the design of the physical machine, such that the sub-machine which flips the virtual beads can do so millions of times per second change the nature of symbol manipulation?

"Of the three, the problem of rationality seems to get the least attention from contemporary philosophers. Fodor himself thinks that this problem is the one contemporary philosophers have most plausibly been able to solve in a way that vindicates materialism, and that they have done so (contrary to what my statement of the problem suggests) precisely by thinking of rational thought processes as computational processes over formal symbols encoded in the brain."

They "solve" the problem with respect to materialism, and in materialism's favor, by wholly misrepresenting the problem, and generally by improperly/falsely conflating symbol manipulation with thought.

Flipping physical beads on an abacus, or flipping virtual beads in a computer's CPU, or the changing of electro-chemical states in the brains of human beings or other animals is not itself thought and cannot "give rise" to thought. But, such physical/material state change is all that materialism has to work with to "explain" all that exists, including thought and concepts.

David wrote --
I enjoyed reading the post. For an average guy, there is much to ponder. Hope you take questions from average guys. If not Ilion (“Troy?” Or “ I the Lion?”) seems like a smart guy.

I can bring images to my mind. I can literally see in my mind’s eye my wife when she is not here. I can see her fair skin, blonde hair, her blue eyes, and can concentrate on her high Nordic cheek bones. I can willfully change the image of her from 19 when I married her to today at 41. I can purposefully make the picture of her sitting and reading her Bible or laughing at the stories of my day in business.

What is that image and how does it fit into the categories you mentioned? I’m not asking how the image is produced, but what is that image itself? It seems beyond material, even though I need my physical brain to produce the image.

Edward Feser wrote --
Hello David,

What exactly the image is is a big topic. My only point was that while it seems obviously immaterial on a modern, mechanistic conception of matter -- it doesn't seem like a complex arrangement of colorless, odorless, tasteless particles; we don't observe anything like that when we look in a guy's brain; etc. -- when we reject that conception of matter and think in hylemorphic terms the issue just isn't so clear.

Part of the problem here is that we moderns have a natural tendency to think of a material substance as a collection of basic parts and to think of everything true of it as somehow a truth about the arrangement of those parts. Hence we think: "I don't see how the atoms, or molecules, or neurons, or whatever all add up to a mental image." But that's just the wrong way to think about the issue from the get go. Part of the point of hylemorphism is that we need to break free of this "how does the whole arise out of the parts?" way of thinking.

Related to this, I suspect that many people symathetically encountering A-T for the first time unreflectively tend to maintain an essentially atomist understanding of matter and then think of a "substantial form" as something that gets added to the atoms or whatever. The atoms (or whatever we think of the smallest elements as being) are somehow the most fundamental thing about a material substance ontologically speaking, and anything else ahs to be either constrcuted out of them or added on from outside. But that too completely misses the point. From a hylmorphic point of view, my having a mental image, like my having a stomach and eyeballs, is no less ontologically fundamental than my being made up of atoms. Hence however we characterize "matter," it has to be consistent with that fact.

The bottom line is: Materialists are not only wrong to say that amtter is all that exists. They also don't even understand what matter itself is in the first place. Unfortunately, most moderns work with an essentially materialist cocneption of matter, which means most modern dualists don't understand what matter is either. If we don't see that hylemorphism is a radical challenge to what moderns tend to take for granted, we haven't understood it.

David wrote --
Thanks Prof. Feser for taking the time to answer my question. Thanks also to Ilion (given name or fan of Homer?) for the dry humor and honest response.

I must admit I have a hard time seeing the world as not the sum of its parts. I worked my way through a BS in Chemistry at the CSUF (an average student) because I thought that was a good way to understand the world and a promising way to make a living. When I fix my car or repair my leaking plumbing I think in terms of parts. I think also about this in terms of my theology--God as a Trinity and having certain characteristics.

Can you give me some examples of systems that can't be understood best as the sum of its parts or are best understood without thinking about the parts that make them up?

Forgive me if I sound simple.

Ilíon wrote --
David: "I must admit I have a hard time seeing the world as not the sum of its parts. ..."

One of the parts of a thing -- and which nearly everyone seems to go out of his way to overlook -- is the design or plan or "organizing principle" of the thing. In more A-T terms, this would be its 'form.'

Relatedly, another ignored or overlooked part of a thing is the process (or 'work') by which the various component parts of the thing came to be organized in the particular relationships which hold between them. In more A-T terms, this would probably be its 'efficient cause.'

I think that that silly aphorism, "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts" is both a reflection of and a cause of or contributor to this habit of (and sometimes insistence upon) not seeing the immaterial parts of a physical thing.

For example, one may have all the material parts which might comprise a house or a car (or a single brick of that hypothetical house) and still not have a whole house or car (or brick). Or, one may have all the chemicals (down to the level of the exact individual atoms and molecules) which might (or formerly did) comprise an organism and still not have an organism, but rather herely a goo of chemicals (or a corpse).

One seemingly has all the parts comprising the thing -- to be precise, one has all the parts that are visible to a materialistic reductionist mindset -- and yet one does not have a whole house or car or brick or organism.

David wrote --
Thanks Ilion,

I think I understand your ideas. But, when I think of "parts" I also think of the properties they have. I put Sodium metal and Chlorine gas together in a flask and they order themselves as NaCl (table salt) because of the ionic properties of the atoms. So, the design principle was inherent in the properties that make the "parts."

This example doesn't work for a house which takes human forethought and effort to construct. Would you make a distinction between "natural" systems and "human" systems?

If I'm not using all the right terminology, just bear with me. I'm genuinely trying to understand.

Ilíon wrote --
David: "But, when I think of "parts" I also think of the properties they have. I put Sodium metal and Chlorine gas together in a flask and they order themselves as NaCl (table salt) because of the ionic properties of the atoms."

That's one explanation for the observed phenomenon; whether it's the truth of the matter ... well, God knows. We don't, and can't. Mind you, I'm not saying that it's not the truth of the matter, but only that we can't really know that it is the truth of the matter.

That's a weakness of scientific explanations; we rarely, if ever, know that a scientific explanation really is an explanation. And, we can't use science to separate the potentially true ones from the false ones.

Allow me an illustration --

I'm a computer programmer. I currently write PC programs using object-oriented languages; originally, I wrote mainframe programs using assembler. But, even then, there were multiple layers of abstraction between the work I did in writing programs (and in my understanding of what I was doing) and what *really* went on when one of my programs executed.

But, it's 2010 and I've moved on from those days. So, let us say that I have written some program you wish to use. I've given you a copy of it and I'm explaining to you how to use it.

So, I'll say something like, "When you click on this button, 'thus-and-such' will happen."

But, the truth of the matter is that that explanation has no relationship to what really happens, and it has little relationship or similarity to my own "internal" explanation of what happens. I, being the author of the program, and you, being the user of it, care about quite different abstractions or models of the program and what *really* goes on when it executes.

Suppose the buttons used in the program are instances of a button I custom wrote. There are a different ways I might have gone about doing this ... and you likely don't care. You likely don't care that I wrote the code for the button, and you're even less likely to care about the various ways I might have gone about doing so. But, suppose that you do care. How, merely by using the buttons, are you ever going to decide whether I created the button in this manner or that? The answer is, you can't differentiate unless you can swing some deeper level of analysis (say, getting a copy of the source code for the button).

Now, I didn't make a point of mentioning this to you ('cause I didn't deem it important to your use of the program), but you later notice that when you hover the mouse cursor over a button, its appearance changes; and, when you click a button, its appearance changes yet again.

Is this change of appearance of the buttons just "eye candy," or is it functional (and there are at least two modes in which this might be functional)? That is, is the change of appearance somehow necessary for the button to do what it does? Or, is it intended as a visual cue to the user, but strictly speaking is unnecessary to the program's functionality? Certainly, you might explain the behavior in any of these three ways, but which explanation is correct? And, how can you decide between them without, again, managing a deeper analysis than that available to you as a user of the program.

Now, in this program, some of the buttons perform one action when you click them and perform a different (though perhaps related) action when you hold down the shift-key and then click them.

Are these "shift-click" buttons instances of a second custom written button, or are they instances of the button I'd mentioned previously? From your perspective, they're a totally different type of button. But, are they really? And, how can you decide?

And, keep in mind, the descriptions I've been giving really have little, to no, relationship to what really goes on when the program is executed ... including something so basic as speaking of "clicking the button."

Scientific explanations of the world are analogous to the explanations of a program by its users. They may be descriptive, and they may be useful (one certainly hopes so), and some may be more useful than others. But, absent an ability to "get under the hood," so to speak, there is no way to know that they're the truth of the matter.

David: "This example doesn't work for a house which takes human forethought and effort to construct. Would you make a distinction between "natural" systems and "human" systems?"

It appears to us that natural systems or reactions (say, the formation of table salt, or the formation of ice crystals) "must happen" (or "just happen," as some materialists assert these days) given certain conditions. But, we can't know that to be the actual case; what we know is that we haven't observed otherwise and that it has been useful to us to assume it to be the case.

But, even if the reactions must happen ... why must they? Ultimately, is it really that the "rule" by which the reactions happen is itself something that just happened; or, ulimatly, is it that the "rule" really is a rule, that the rule was intended and was designed into the fabric of physical reality? That is, ultimately, are there only causes (as in cause-and-effect), or are there reasons (as in ground-and-consequent) for what happens?

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Homogamy and civilizational decline

Vox Day: Homogamy and civilizational decline
Douthat also inadvertantly mentions the source of the problem, as the supplementation of those later ideas, especially the fictional "equality" of the sexes has been far more destructive to Western civilization than homogamy will if the judicial activists are successful in imposing their antidemocratic will upon the people. In fact, I tend to see homogamy and its assorted ills as being much more a late-stage symptom than a causal factor when it comes to societal collapse.
Whether or not "homogamy" will be more or less destructive of our society than feminism has been, a rational person cannot but agree that it is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the on-going societal collapse.
But that doesn't change the easily observable fact that the forces pushing homogamy and open homosexuality are actively engaged in attempting to destroy one of the more successful civilizations in human history. As I showed in yesterday's WND column , there is no genuine "progress" being made here, social or moral, this is simply a return to the pagan decadence of a society that was in decline 18 centuries ago. The observations of one of the first historians of women, Alfred Brittain, made at the turn of the 20th century about Roman women, was an insightful harbinger of the subsequent success of the suffrage movement.
"Julia represented the prevalent social conditions of her time. Licentiousness, like a cancer, was eating into the heart of Roman society; and this was to grow still worse. It must be admitted also that female degeneracy kept pace with the increase of woman's influence in the political world. Livia and Agrippina the Elder were exceptions; but the rule was, and has been in all history, that the activity of women in State affairs was accompanied by an abundance of meretricious amatory intrigues. It is a remarkable fact that in the history of the Roman woman--and possibly this statement might be given a much wider application--there is no instance where any individual woman designedly helped to bring about the enactment of a law for the public weal. Female politics always had for their object the advancement of the female politician's own personal interests or those of some male favorite."
To be fair, there have been the occasional exceptions over the last 100 years, such as Margaret Thatcher, but then of course she was declared to be "not of the gender woman" by fellow members of her sex for her sin of deviating from the female political pattern.* ...

The collapse of federalism -- and thus, the ever-growing tyranny of the government in DC -- has its roots in the Civil War and after-effects and in the Marbury v. Madison Supreme Court decision of 1803. BUT, it was the passage of the 17th amendment, the direct election of US senators, which finally turned the several sovereign States of the United States into provinces of an empire (in the older sense of the word) ruled out of Washington, DC.

Similarly, it was the 19th amendment, women's suffrage, which put us definitively on the road to the societal collapse and ruin we are now trying to live through.

Certainly, there are individual women who have more to offer the body politic as voting citizens than many men do. In like wise, there are individual women who can kick the asses of many men. The proportions of both are likely similar.

I don't see the 19th amendment ever being repealed ... short of an Islamic takeover; and then we'd have far more immediately deadly things with which to concern ourselves. And, frankly, due to the very societal and cultural changes over the past century which make repeal unlikely, I'm not sure it would even be that desirable. Our men have become feminized (*) in their thinking; removing actual women from the voting rolls could well exacerbate that trend.

On the other hand, repeal of the 17th amendment is possible if enough of The People can be brought to understand what federalism is and what its purpose/intention is.

So many of the society-destroying effects of granting women the vote ... legalized abortion, for instance, or the explosive growth of "the welfare state" -- would have been difficult to enact, if not outright impossible, were federalism still a real force in national politics.

I think we can live with the 19th amendment; but the 17th amendment must destroy us in tyranny. This was the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic (and, of course, there were a multitude of cultural factors which worked together to destroy their Republic). Now, our culture, being based upon Christianity, is not so fragile as that of the Romans. Thus, we do not need to keep our women as prisoners of their menfolk to keep the society going. Nevertheless, we must restore patriarchy if we wish to survive.

And, one way or another, patriarchy will be restored to the American and European societies; for matriarchy primitivizes and destroys societies. The question is, will it be a Christianity-based patriarchy or an Islamic?

(*) and when men take on typically feminine traits or characteristics, they nearly always over-do it into an obscene caricature.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

An Important Constitutional Point

In the linked piece, Alan Keyes discusses an important US Constitutional point which applies to both the federal court ruling against Arizona's law SB 1070 and to the federal court ruling against California's Proposition 8 amendment to its own Constitution (and, of course, applies to numerous other federal court rulings) -- namely, that both rulings are themselves in violation of the US Constitution, and thus, are void; for all such cases must be brought only before the US Supreme Court, and may not be brought before an inferior court.

Alan Keyes: Arizona cannot constitutionally be judged by inferior courts

This is the article Keyes references --
Publius Huldah (Canada Free Press): ONLY the US Supreme Court has Constitutional Authority to Conduct the Trial

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That Answers That Question -- Gauss and Series Summation

For years, I have mildly wondered what was the name of "a mathematical genius" (the teacher's words, not mine) to whom my 8th grade math teacher had accidentally or inadvertantly compared me.

Almost off-handedly, in a recent post by David Friedman, I learn that it was Gauss (as a child).

Here is Mr Friedman's comment:
... I am now imagining that instructor as the schoolteacher who tried to keep a class of children-among them the young Gauss-quiet by having them add up the numbers from one to a hundred.

And here is why I had been wondering at the name for so many years:

Early in the school-year of my 8th grade (it was private/religious school into which my siblings and I had just been enrolled), the math teacher instructed the class to sum the numbers 1 through 100 (inclusive). I turned in my answer within just a couple of minutes (most of which I'd spent verifying that I really had hit upon such a simple and time-saving way to get the correct answer). This prompted him to ask whether I'd already been taught about this before transfering to that school (I hadn't). Embarassingly to me, he referred to Gauss, whose name I didn't catch, as "a mathematical genius" ... you know, embarrassing because of that whole social structure of children-in-groups thingie: one is allowed to be smart, but not too smart; being "too smart" is almost worse than being "dumb."

I'd calculated the correct answer by modifying a method I'd invented years before to more quickly sum a column of numbers -- when presented with a column of numbers to sum, I mentally rearrange them so that I can count/add by 10s and 5s. At least one of my sisters also does this, but we don't know whether I taught it her (I'm 3.5 years older) or she independently hit upon it.

So, googling Gauss' name, I found this page, which says:
The formula, if you will, is to add 1 +100, 2+99, 3+98, ...48+53, 49+52, 50+51. So, we have the number 101 fifty times or 5050.
In my case, because it was my habit to mentally rearrange a series to be summed into multiples of 10s, the "formula" I came up with was (0+100) + (1+99) + (2+98) + (3+97) ... + (49+51) + 50 = 50 * 100 + 50 = 5050

In another recent post, Mr Friedman links to this excellent essay: 'Why nerds are unpopular,' which offerers a thoughtful analysis related to my comment about "that whole social structure of children-in-groups."

And, incidentally, a *huge* part of the problem of children-in-groups has to do with the fact that the educationists (that's a curse word, in case Gentle Reader isn't yet aware) have a fixation on consolidation, of herding their defenseless charges into larger and larger schools in larger and larger school districts -- so as to justify larger and larger bureaucracies of educationists.

In that religious school my siblings and I attended for three years (and it wasn't even my family's denomination), the problem of cliques just wasn't a problem ... for a clique with but two or three members simply isn't.

The school was grades 1 through 10 (with two grades in each classroom, both taught by the same teacher). With the four of us, the student population came to about 130, in a school originally intended for 100 pupils. My particular grade/class had 10 pupils, with two of us being "smart" enough to be "nerds" in a public school (the other guy would have been toast in a big public school) and one being "dumb" (he'd have been pushed by social pressure into being a real trouble-maker and ultimately a drop-out).

In that scool, including the principal (who was also a teacher, and the paddler-in-chief), the cook, and the (part-time) custodian, there were 8 adults supervising the 130 children.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

On the Prop 8 decision

This an excellent essay by Edward Feser: Some thoughts on the Prop 8 decision

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Rarely put so bluntly

I suspect that most of us have encountered the following (ahem) argument before, though rarely put forth so bluntly:

"It's my personal opinion that if you don't have a uterus, you don't have a right to express an opinion about abortion," Olson snapped.
Yet, do we not all know that the "liberals" who make (ahem) arguments of this sort (and it's always "liberals," isn't it?) will reject the form of the (ahem) argument if its terms are substituted.

For instance, we all know that a human person can have a uterus 24/7 for years and years on end and still never have call even to consider exercising "a woman's right to choose" ... unless a different human person possessing functional testes chooses to grace the uterus-person.

So, with that in mind, how does this strike you?
"It's my personal opinion that if you don't have functional testes (and requisite delivery apparatus), then you don't have a right to express any opinion about conception or contraception … or about the disposition of any ‘product of conception’ which might arise following deployment of said delivery apparatus," he quipped.
This argument has the same form as that snappily asserted by Ms Olson; the difference is only that some of its terms have been changed. Does anyone seriously believe that she'd accept anything about it as being valid? Even though it *is* her argument?

If there isn't already, there ought to be a name for what we all know Ms Olson will do should she encounter her own argument with these new terms. [Just in case the sarcasm wasn't clear, there are names for this: hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty]

At the same time, what do you think are the odds that the snappy Ms Olson grants, say, Sarah Palin, or Tim Tebow's mother, both of whom who surely do possess a uterus, the right to express an opinion about abortion?

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Coming soon ...

Coming soon to a socialized hospital and/or clinic near you -- [Swedish man] sewed up his own leg after ER wait. That the man finally took it upon himself to sew up the gash in his leg is the least of it. Please, read it; it's a very short story, and Gentle Reader's reaction will probably be something like, "You have *got* to be kidding!"

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I have always thought Anglo-Saxon was so cool ... not, mind you, that I've ever tried to actually learn more than a few words of it.

This is a performance of the opening lines of 'Beowulf' --

The Lord's Prayer in Old English (spoken); the page says there are three OE versions of the Lord's Prayer. While the text is not given on the page (and thus I am quickly lost), I can tell that this isn't the one I had, at one time, almost memorized.

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Can one 'out-fundy' the 'fundies'?

In a post titled The Bible God Should Have Written: Randal Rauser responds to Babinski (which points to this), Victor Reppert asks: "Why do skeptics like to out-fundy the fundies?"

My answer is: "Perhaps because, for the most part, 'fundies' are mythological beings." So, just perhaps, much of the mythology about 'fundies' is a simple matter of Freudian "projection."

I mean, really! I am one of those 'fundies' everyone is always either warning about or being warned about, and Gentle Reader can surely see that I bear no more resemblance to that favoréd cliché than Mr Reppert himself does.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

ObamaNation, the Musical

on 'Gateway Pundit' at 'First Things:' American Singer Receive[d] Death Threats After Recording Anti-Obama Song

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Not 'a nation of immigrants'

Mainly, I want to share with Gentle Reader this observation:
Lazy thinkers tell us that America is a nation of immigrants. Actually, it isn’t. It is a nation of settlers. Succeeding generations of American immigrants have been required, in essence, to sign up to the original dream.
Exactly. America (the nation) is *not* 'a nation of immigrants,' and the United States (the federal government) has no business, nor right nor authority, to try to make it into one.

Or, as Kathy Shaidle points out: "A bad poem on an old French statue is not an immigration policy"

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William Lane Craig on five arguments that God is

William Lane Craig: Five arguments for God (a 30 page .PDF file), and touching upon how the "New Atheists" tend to ignore (or misrepresent) such arguments.

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