Thursday, November 23, 2006

How many licks to get to the tootsie roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

533

And my daughter would like to say two things...

"My tongue went numb," and...

"It depends on the Tootsie Pop, for every Tootsie Pop is unique."

Happy Thanksgiving

The immegrant's holiday.

When we lived in California I asked the couple who owned our favorite Chinese take-out place if they were celebrating Thanksgiving and they said, No.

What a pity. Of all the holidays Thanksgiving seems to me to be all about coming to America and everything that America represents.

Traditionally we talk about pilgrims and turkeys and while the first Thanksgiving is important (and for the record, it was celebrated by a diverse community, the settlers together with the natives for a big feast) but in the end it was just a party.

New immegrants are actually CLOSER to the pilgrims than any of us.

They came from somewhere else to America for opportunities, for material blessings, for the freedom to worship or live without oppression. The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of freedom and, yes, wealth... the new settlers had finally gotten over that extremely fragile time when they weren't sure they'd make it through the next winter. They had enough extra for a party, to thank God for His blessings and share with others.

A pot luck. :-)

And forget the turkey. Turkey is traditional, but really, it's just a bird big enough to feed a crowd. Anything big enough to feed a crowd will do. People should make their own food, their own feast, the way they want with food they enjoy.

And be thankful. Thankful for freedom. Thankful for opportunity. Thankful for this new land, this new country, this new home.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Demanding Panic, Global Warming and Proper Motivation

When I was in school we were supposed to be in a panic about the hole in the o-zone layer. A decade later my sister was supposed to be in a panic about an oncoming ice age (I actually don’t remember this, I think I was reproducing at the time and suffering brain-death by hormones). A decade later (now) we’re supposed to be in a panic about global warming.

What I want to know about is how those environmental models (I’m not certain they *have* models, but...) deal with this…

Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday November 10, 2002
The Observer


Earth’s magnetic field - the force that protects us from deadly radiation bursts from outer space - is weakening dramatically.

Scientists have discovered that its strength has dropped precipitously over the past two centuries and could disappear over the next 1,000 years.

The effects could be catastrophic. Powerful radiation bursts, which normally never touch the atmosphere, would heat up its upper layers, triggering climatic disruption. Navigation and communication satellites, Earth’s eyes and ears, would be destroyed and migrating animals left unable to navigate.

‘Earth’s magnetic field has disappeared many times before - as a prelude to our magnetic poles flipping over, when north becomes south and vice versa,’ said Dr Alan Thomson of the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh.

***

More recent accounts speculate that it won’t be quite so bad, but it seems like it will be a huge disruption in any case and it IS and it WILL happen during OUR eyeblink of geogrphical time.

On a more practical note, concerning things we can do something about…

Why absolutely insist that everyone be in a panic? There are all sorts of non-histrionic reasons to encourage people to “live green” like clean air, water, and food. All without getting all het-up about impending doom.

People scoff at global warming alarmists for good reason, yet those alarmists, if they are so convinced of their rightness, would do far *far* better to suggest practical steps that will immediately improve people's lives.

I have to sort of assume that the answer to global warming is to pollute less, since as much as I hear I'm supposed to be fearful of this impending doom I don't hear much for a practical plan to "do something". People, for the most part, are on board for polluting less because they can see the benefit in their lives.

Is the insistance that people must Fear the Doom really an objection to an improper, selfish, motivation? Does it not count if behavior isn't changed for the right reasons?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Better Plans for Iraq

The most amazing thing to me...

Suppose America had made our plans taking into account the long history, the unfamiliarity of the Iraqi people with concepts of equal protection under the law (more important, actually, than democracy, which can still abuse minorities) and we made our plans differently.

Different than we did.

Are there any plans that would have transformed the assumptions and attitudes of the Iraqi people in three or four years?

Let's get some liberal social scientists on this one, okay? How long to tranform... given a "psychological program"... how long to transform attitudes? Consider the age of the population, quite young, flexible, how long until children have never really known any different?

Oh yeah, we screwed up because we didn't have a plan that would do all that in THREE FREAKING YEARS.

So let's give up... leave them to figure it out themselves, since it's ultimately up to them.

At the same time, let's explain why we have *any* social assistance program longer than three years and why we view our own disadvantaged groups and their learned cultures as requiring anything more than a stiff scolding and let them sink or swim on their own effort.

Hmm?

Anyone paying attention NEVER had any illusions about how long this process would take. Or else they are just lying.

DRAFT - The same old song.

Rangel is at it again, and like usual no one is taking him seriously.

He doesn't want a draft of course, he's just trying to make a point about social justice.

Anyhow, to the extent that poorer people join the military it's because they see it as an opportunity. JUST like anyone else. The Heritage Foundation numbers compared geographical demographic areas, by fifths, and found that only something like 13% come from the poorest area (20% of the population by definition). High school drop outs or anyone with police involvement or who can't pass a urine test... don't get in.

I think that the reason why blacks are killed in Iraq at lower than their numbers in the military is that, particularly in the Army, you get to chose your MOS and blacks don't chose combat specialties at an equal rate as they enlist. My guess... maybe there's numbers someplace to test it. If blacks are viewing military service as an opportunity it makes sense to chose something with more of a civilian application than infantry.

Which would go for all poorer people of any race who primarly join for civilian application of their training. Is it possible that the breakdown of those going into exclusively "military" jobs are from higher economic backgrounds, no matter their race? It would be an interesting question.

Rangel's draft and his reasoning are insulting to each person's right to make decisions about their own life. Unless blacks aren't qualified?

People with NO options, don't go... not of any race. Anyone who can get in the military does have other options... they've kept their nose clean and finished high school. If they decide that among the options they have that the military offers them the prefered opportunity, they should be able to make that choice without having someone like Rangel or people who think like him, try to tell them that he knows better than they do about what is good for their lives.

All anti-recruiting is exactly that...I'll decide for you, what is best, because I know better than you.

It's insulting. It's controlling. It's not "liberal" in any real sense of the word.

From the earlier linked page:

Representative Rangel's theory is that if all citi­zens faced equal prospects of dying in a conflict, support for that conflict would have to pass a higher standard. This theory assumes that the priv­ileged classes would be less willing to commit the nation to war if that conflict involved personal, familial, or class bloodshed. It also assumes that the existing volunteers are either ignorant or lack other options—that is, they are involuntary participants. One way to test this thesis is to explore the demo­graphic patterns of enlisted recruits before and after the initiation of the global war on terrorism on September 11, 2001.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Demanding Loyalty

I don't know about you, but I find this really creepy.

It's creepy on two levels. First, what is said about Pelosi and the new Congress. Second, what it says about Eleanor Clift. Eleanor isn't my most favorite person ever, but I don't spend any effort whatsoever disliking her either. I do have to say though, that as she talks about Pelosi and demands of loyalty it does make me wonder about her assumptions.

Frankly, the idea that *anyone* should be *loyal* to the House Leader is just simply weird. I mean *any* House Leader from any party.

There's an element of compulsion in the language that I find disturbing, as though Pelosi has been installed as some sort of tin-pot dictator over her new little kingdom. This is something I'd expect coming from a conservative blogger who can express just about any negative opinion without repercussion... but it's Eleanor Clift, who isn't conservative, isn't a blogger, and doesn't appear to think that she's saying anything all that terribly negative.

That said, I think Eleanor wrote a good article and it's not loving Pelosi or hating Pelosi... the weirdness is between the lines... She begins...

With Nancy Pelosi, it’s all about loyalty.

And then...
After the election sweep and all the emphasis on solidarity, she had second thoughts, but Murtha, bull-headed and dogmatic, pressed ahead. Pelosi felt powerless to stop him.

Well of course she was. He's not her minion to command.
She owed him the letter of endorsement that was released last weekend, and that’s where it should have ended.

That gesture of loyalty would have been understood.

Exactly. Because that is showing her loyalty to others, rather than a desire to control them. Leadership is something very different from control. She could be warm and supportive of Murtha without making it a power issue.
Pelosi invited freshmen Democrats into her office, and her opening line, delivered with a steely smile, was, “Before we talk about your committee assignments, let’s talk about the leader’s race.” A Pelosi aide said if the leadership race had been an open ballot instead of conducted in secret, Murtha would have won because nobody would want to cross Pelosi.

Now *this* is too bizarre for words. Who is this Pelosi aide and why does she still work for Pelosi? Or, and this is where it gets creepy, does this Pelosi aide feel like this statement was *supportive* of the new House Leader? This is portraying Pelosi, not as a strong leader, but a tin pot dictator who will get her way because her minions fear retribution.
Pelosi allies put a brave face on the loss, saying it puts Hoyer on notice that she’s watching him for signs of disloyalty.

Aparently the Pelosi posse *does* feel that these sorts of statements are complementary. Me? My gawd, this is not leadership, people!
Loyalty is a good thing, but an overdeveloped sense of loyalty is a bad thing. We don’t have to look any farther than the White House to see the limits of staying true.

Firstly, this isn't over developed loyalty. This is demanding loyalty from others or else.

Bush is criticized for his loyalty but Pelosi would be well served to take a good look to see what people mean when they say the word. Loyalty isn't demanded, it's inspired. Bush put his own popularity second to supporting those who worked for him. It's a bit of a military dynamic, actually. The structure says loyalty goes *up* but the reality is that the demand for loyalty is almost entirely from the top down. You do your best to promote what your people need and you do *not* play favorites. You do *not* keep a tally and punish those who don't toe the line.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Education and Freedom vs. State Enforcement of Rightness

I homeschool. The other day on a forum on which I participate someone asked...

"Do you think you should have the freedom to not educate your children?"

Our local troll/expert in everything no matter what, added to that honest question...

"Or teach them pseudo-svioence creationism ionstead of real science?
Or bible myths instead of history?
Or Jesus Jingles instead of music?
Or God Ads instead of literature?
Or biblical maths (1 + 1+ 1 = 1) instead of real maths?"

My reply:

Yes.

Because I don't want to live in a world where thought is controlled.
I don't want to live in a world where someone decides what is best
for me and what I must know and what I am allowed to believe.

I don't desire the power to enforce others to teach or believe what
I know is true, the approved curriculum, a tyranny of experts and
those who qualify for ideological purity. It doesn't matter if those
tyrants are in agreement with me and if they implement everything
that I would implement if I had to decide, because the means and
the structure would be one of control and oppression. A test of
"Truth" can be perverted by those in power deciding that a different
truth will be enforced and the means and structure will be in place
to make that new truth the law.

I have two ways to ensure that I get my way.

I can make darned sure that *I* am the one in power and no one
can remove me. Despot, tyrant, dictator.

Or I can make sure that I have the freedom of my own thought
and own conscience by doing everything I can to make sure that
everyone has the same freedom, no matter how misguided they
are, no matter how differently from me they believe. No matter
if some of them are wrong.

I have to trust and believe that *most* people will be freely
persuaded by truth and facts and data. Most people will
carry on competently and nearly all of them will raise children
able to contribute constructively to the community, even if
they are idiologically very different from myself.

That trust is the basis of all freedom and tolerance.

...

The troll snipped everything after "Yes." and scoffed at how only a
Christian homeschooler could possibly say such a thing.

I don't care because I wasn't responding to him. I was talking in
general about freedom and how people just don't seem to think
about what it means or what freedom or liberty require.