Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One of the single most useful things I use: http://tinyurl.com/getdbox

This is a free storage solution. You get like 2 GB, but it syncs with folders on your computer. So anything you put in those folders is backed up online and can be accessed online by you. Their security standards are high, it is efficient (not a drain on your computer at all), and you have access to all kinds of sharing preferences as well. You can sync it to other computers, add users, whatever. It's really easy and really nice.

Friday, March 27, 2009

On Guns and Governments

I was wondering the other day about guns and government.

The 2004 Democratic National Platform for America's strategy for keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists goes like this:

• lock away existing nuclear weapons and material
• stop the creation of new nuclear material for nuclear weapons
• lead international efforts to shut down nuclear efforts in North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere

I could be wrong, but the principle underlying these steps seems to be something like "make it difficult to access things that have massive destructive power".

What I, at face value, interpret to be the principle of the matter also seems to me like it could be the basic motivation behind some of the gun control policies that DNC members advocate.

And to me, details about gun policy aside, the principle seems basic and intuitive enough.

I personally intend to keep any firearms present in my house at any given time secure. It just seems foolish to leave things that have massive destructive power lying around, easy to access, and easy to operate.

I began wondering the other day whether, in addition to nuclear weapons and personal firearms, there are other things this principle might apply to.

What's even more destructive than guns or tanks, and gosh, what could be more destructive than nuclear weapons?

The old adage "guns don't kill people, people kill people" came to mind. But instead of reflecting on it and drawing the conclusion that guns are therefore harmless and shouldn't be controlled, I reflected on the fact that people are the ones who have manufactured guns, tanks, and nuclear weapons, and it is only by human beings that those things are used to destruct. Humans are responsible for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and all the other historical nuclear detonations and accidents. Humans are responsible for every armed robbery, every homicide, and even every accidental injury resulting from a firearm. Guns, tanks, and nuclear weapons are all pretty destructive, but human beings are the most powerful things on this planet, and are therefore the most capable of destruction.

"Yes, the DNC is right about nuclear weapons" I thought. But I went on to reflect on just how much more destructive large powerful human organizations can be.

So what would it look like to apply this principle to organizations of people?

I'm not talking about organizations that are currently oppressive, just like the DNC isn't talking about nuclear weapons that have already been fired. I'm talking about preventing organizations from being big, powerful, and easy to operate just like the DNC is talking about preventing nuclear weapons from being common, powerful, and easy to operate. And just like the DNC wants to lock away nuclear material and prevent more weapons from being made, should we too want to prevent larger organizations from being constructed?

So which organizations are the biggest and most powerful? Which, even though they might be docile now, are the most capable of destruction? How can we mitigate against their growth in size, and most importantly, power? How can we keep them from becoming easier to operate, and swifter to act?

Do you have any ideas? What do you think?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Might as well have been addressed to the US President

I wish our Senators would speak so directly.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Oi! Show me the freak!

How do you pay for welfare for the lower class, tax cuts for the middle class, and multiple big corporate (and abortion industry) bailouts? With a $1.4 trillion tax increase, which, aside from being astronomically greater than a "big" increase, still won't be enough to balance the budget, leaving Americans with a possible $9.3 trillion in deficits.

How much is just one trillion? Well, if you lived out 80 full years, spending $100 for every second of your life, including your infancy, you would still have spent less than a third of your money. You need to spend $396 per second for 80 years.

Let's say though, you inherited your funds on your 18 birthday. You would have to spend $511 for every second of your life.

In the average time you'd spend watching a single movie, you would have to spend over $3.6 million dollars.

Still need perspective? This might help.

Don't worry though, despite heavy domestic criticism, communist China will continue to lend to (pay installments on?) America.

Doesn't it seem sort of weird though, that our government can't get enough Americans to fund their expenditures, either through voluntary things like bonds or through mandatory things like taxes, so they get another national government to do so by selling them pieces of America itself?

The Republican party is no better. Think about it: Republican-controlled America borrowed from rival power communist China to militarily enforce "democracy" in Iraq.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What do you think of Obama's stated intentions to reverse the "Conscience Clause"?

When I got married, over four years ago (!), I wanted the program handout for our ceremony to be symmetrical, and so opposite "Maid of Honor", I wanted "Best of Man" to be listed. My wife vetoed the idea.

Speaking of vetoes (or the lack thereof), my Best of Man, David, recently sent me the URL whose landing page includes the following:
You have strong convictions, but President Obama says that doesn’t matter. He’s ready to rescind the Conscience Clause.

The Conscience Clause was implemented by former President George W. Bush to give physicians and nurses the choice to act according to their conscience — to not participate in abortion procedures if it conflicts with their personal convictions. If President Obama makes this damaging move, if he reverses the Conscience Clause, pro-life doctors and nurses will be forced into performing abortion procedures, despite their individual beliefs.

The announcement was made Friday, March 6, 2009. Since the official announcement was made, the public now has 30 days to file comments with the White House ... so we’ve got 30 days to make our voices heard at the White House.

- Be Heard!
My immediate impulse is to be absolutely repulsed by the President. He reports that he doesn't "presume to know the answer" to the question of when personhood begins, yet he legislated as if he did.

And now, not only is he permitting the murder of the unborn, he is actually mandating that medical professionals carry it out at the whim of their mothers.

But my secondary impulse is to get both sides; to investigate the actual legislation being opposed.

I've already stated my opinion that Obama's abortion policies are morally wrong. But I wonder: should we or should we not oppose this particular act? Not every single thing he does is going to be 100% evil.

Surely an intelligent, educated, compassionate family man with a personal testimony of how he came to know and be saved by Jesus Christ will do some good while in Office - even if he is wrong about abortion generally.

Given what I know of some of the Bush Administration's actions, I have no reason to assume that whatever it is that they passed was perfect and shouldn't be reversed. Sometimes they craftily pushed legislation through, whose abstract sounded good, but whose content was polluted.

So, it turns out that "Conscience Clause" can mean a lot of different things. So what is the real, actual issue in question?

I looked for a relatively balanced, brief news article on this and saw one including the following:
"We recognize and understand that some providers have objections to providing abortions["], according to an official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The official declined to be identified because the policy change had not been announced. "We want to ensure that current law protects them.

"But we do not want to impose new limitations on services that would allow providers to refuse to provide to women and their families services like family planning and contraception that would actually help prevent the need for an abortion in the first place."

Many health-care organizations, including the American Medical Association, believe health-care providers have an obligation to their patients to advise them of the options despite their own beliefs. Critics of the current rule argue there are already laws on the books protecting health-care professionals when it comes to refusing care for personal reasons.

- By Saundra Young, CNN (updated February 27, 2009)
That sounds promisingly reasonable, actually.

So what I want to do is find out the exact wording of the legislation that the Obama Administration intends to reverse. Then I can see if there is anything in it that I think should in fact be reversed, and I can research whether any of the good things in it are legislatively redundant and whose reversal won't really matter. And I would like to find some actually clear, thorough, balanced, legal opinions or political commentaries on the thing. Then I will consider forming an opinion.

So, I looked through ConscienceLaws.org, US Code 42, and GovTrack.us a bit and couldn't figure out which exact text the "Provider Refusal Rule" is that Obama wants to reverse.

Do you know? How can I find out the details of this thing? Why is it so hard to find the actual text that we're all arguing over, but it's easy to find hearsay and opinion?

Do you have any thoughts on this?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Russell on Studying the Ancient Greeks

In Bertrand Russell's "A History of Western Philosophy", I found some insightful quotes.
To learn to conceive the universe according to each of [the various hypotheses as to the nature and structure of the world] is an imaginative delight and an antidote to dogmatism. Moreover, even if no one of the hypotheses can be demonstrated, there is genuine knowledge in the discovery of what is involved in making each of them consistent with itself and with known facts...

In studying a philosopher, the right attitude is neither reverence nor contempt, but first a kind of hypothetical sympathy, until it is possible to know what it feels like to believe in his theories, and only then a revival of the critical attitude, which should resemble, as far as possible, the state of mind of a person abandoning opinions which he has hitherto held. Contempt interferes with the first part of this process, and reverence with the second. Two things are to be remembered: that a man whose opinions and theories are worth studying may be presumed to have had some intelligence, but that no man is likely to have arrived at complete and final truth on any subject whatever. When an intelligent man expresses a view which seems to us obviously absurd we should not attempt to prove that it is somehow true, but we should try to understand how it ever came to seem true. This exercise of historical and psychological imagination at once enlarges the scope of our own thinking, and helps us to realize how foolish many of our own cherished prejudices will seem to an age which has a different temper of mind.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How to pay for bailouts, tax cuts, and welfare: Lessons from California

California controller to suspend tax refunds, welfare checks, student grants

...Chiang said he had no choice but to stop making some $3.7 billion in payments in the absence of action by the governor and lawmakers to close the state's nearly $42-billion budget deficit...

The controller said the suspended payments could be rolled into IOUs if California still lacks sufficient cash to pay its bills come March or April...

State officials have already designed an IOU template, Chiang said, and have been negotiating with banks over whether taxpayers could cash or deposit them if they are issued.

-LA Times