0. The House Is Not the Wood It Is Made of
The least foolish person in the Kingdom is the Fool. He is able to mock traditions and even the King. Picture the scene, the aristocrats are there, the King is there, food is being served, and the Court Jester is poking fun at all the traditions. What’s missing from this description? —who the Fool is. What’s not missing? The Fool’s costume. Continue reading
The US system for electing the President of the United States takes place every four years. In that system, each state has a number of electors allocated to it, one for every Congressional representative (Congress being the union of the House of Representatives and the Senate). This system has—at this time, as far as we can tell—elected Donald J Trump as the President of the United States. Some people have pointed out that the popular vote has shown the support of Hillary Clinton for President.
So what? Continue reading
I was saddened to hear that US Supreme Court Justice Scalia died today. Supreme Court Justices are some of the most powerful people in the US and I am constantly amazed at how well they do their job, even though they have little checks on their power and lifetime appointments. Reading court cases is a little hobby of mine that began about ten years ago and it has really made me respect the legal process in a way I don’t think would be possible otherwise. It has also made me grumpy about how terrible our legislators are that they leave such large gaps in the brickwork which must be filled with grout by our court system.
If you have never read an opinion of a high court, I can only say you really don’t know what you’re missing. They are very readable and I can say with absolute certainty that any prior opinions you had would likely be tempered by reading the cases and the dissents (if any).
For the record, I am not a fan of Justice Scalia, but I have always found him to be an extremely reasonable person (insofar as his opinions can reveal) and reasonable people can disagree. The world seems perpetually in dire need of reasonable people much more than it is in need of people that agree with me. I, for one, will miss his presence on the bench for this reason.
I thought I would take some time to go over a court case whose opinion was written by Scalia in his honor. This case, I think, shows Scalia’s commitment to the Constitution, while at the same time underscoring the fact that the man was aware of the kinds of conflicts present in society. That case is Kyllo v United States. Continue reading
When reading blogs, watching the news, or listening to friends, it is very easy to get railroaded into agreeing with a position that makes you uneasy. The most popular rhetorical trick is to argue a position in such a way that the average individual must yield to expert opinions; since no one is an expert in everything, this tactic is always successful if it is allowed to proceed. I will give a few heuristics that I have found helpful in avoiding rhetorical disaster. These are all meant to be used with an internal dialogue in your head, they are not meant for argumentation. You ask yourself these kinds of questions to get at a real question you might pose when faced with something that smells suspiciously like bullshit. Continue reading
The r/K view on politics takes very roughly the form that there is an underlying reason why conservatives and liberals take the positions that they do, and that the situation is more than analogous to r/K theories in the study of selective pressures organisms operate under. In broad strokes, liberals are r-strategists who shun competition, in-group identification, and heavy investment in offspring, while conservatives are K-strategists who relish competition, in-group identification, and heavy investment in offspring. To a logical analysis, conservatives and liberals do not have consistent positions; but, when viewed from the lens of selective pressures the differences more clearly resolve.
It’s not a bad theory and even though I consider myself center-left in most ways I didn’t particularly take offense at the implications of the theory. What concerns me instead is that it represents some kind of totalizing system.
I don’t think there’s any kind of official definition for a totalizing system but I know you’ve encountered them before in some guise or another. A totalizing system would be a framework in which everything is accounted for—I avoid the word “explained.” For instance, most religions are totalizing systems: one can always account for unknown or unexplained phenomena with “god did it” or “god works in mysterious ways” or somesuch. It spackles over everything and you don’t see any details. Modern feminism is certainly another such beast, able to chalk everything up to any number of underdefined ills like “patriarchy,” “sexism,” or “privilege.” When a person does something socially wrong in reality, we have some pretty specific crimes we name and we have some very specific evidence that is (ostensibly) given. Law is not a totalizing system. We move from the general to the specific in law. Totalizing systems always move in the other direction, brushing aside detail in faux revelation.
It’s fascinating to watch the American left in action, especially since until recently I counted myself among their supporters. Their political MO has been to take perceived flaws and elevate them to actual flaws of the opposite kind, in some sort of noise-cancelling effect on the level of the Ancients versus the Ori. But how can this actually work? Continue reading
A fascinating blog post was uploaded to the Huffington Post the other day that seems to be making a few little waves. You read about it by searching for the title, “Ethnic Minorities Deserve Safe Spaces without White People.” I think the blogger makes some good points, but I have to wonder a little bit about the overall message. Continue reading