Thursday, July 29, 2010

Threeper versus Threeper?

Over at Sipsey Street in the comments to the entry entitled The messy interface of church, state and the First Amendment in NM an anonymous reader writes at 3:43 PM:
Not to worry. We know how to deal with atheists.
I have little doubt that a lot of christians would happily see every atheist and probably more than a few of their fellow believers who do it "wrong" dead and "sardine packed". Twice in my life I've been threatened by christians who mistook "atheist" to mean "pacifist" or "unarmed". In both cases the appearance of Messrs. Smith and Wesson convinced them they were wrong on both counts,

Maybe they weren't quite ready to meet Jeebus.

Assuming some JBT doesn't do the job for you, any believers tempted to simplify things for your god by ridding the planet of this pesky atheist had better plan on backshooting or bushwacking me. Otherwise bring lots of friends and plenty of ammunition because -- win, lose or draw -- it will be a long fucking day. I'm already planning to hold a few cases of ammo in reserve just in case you go as stupid as the shit some of you talk.

Mike Vanderboegh writing as Dutchman6 ofers:
Anonymous said:"Not to worry. We know how to deal with atheists."

Mac Bigelow sez:

"What? Force them to love God or kill them? Sounds a lot like your in the same boat as the Muslims to me. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is only for devout christians or more to the point catholics?"

My preference is to annoy them to distraction until they come to Jesus. Tickling is sometimes permitted. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. -- Mike
I hope you're right, Mr. Vanderboegh, and your fellow believers will not indulge in a bit of cleansing. In which happy case I remind you that, "One man's theology is another man's belly laugh." Tickling will not be required.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Armed Citizen Suspends Operation

According to this posting, The Armed Citizen is suspending operation.
On July 21st, The Armed Citizen received an indirect and informal notice of a lawsuit against this website and its owners, David Burnett and Clayton Cramer.

The suit, reportedly filed in US District Court on July 20th, alleges that The Armed Citizen and its owners “willfully copied” and infringed on original source content from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

According to news reports, Righthaven LLC has filed lawsuits against no less than 80 other political websites and individual blogs for “infringement.”

The Armed Citizen website has helped publicize reports of law-abiding people using guns in self defense. Thousands of brief snippets from news reports, with proper attribution, have been posted there.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Instant Hitman

This obviously a joke and in very poor taste but I still found it funny.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Melancholy Mathematics

In a thread over on the Free Keene Forum Bill St Clair comments on the Spider Robinson short story entitled Melancholy Elephants
Interesting Spider Robinson story. But let's do the math. Most popular melodies are only about 8 bars long. Assuming all 8th notes in 4/4, we have 64 notes. It's a rare melody that takes more than two octaves. That's 24 possible pitches in the standard well-tempered scale for each note. But in reality, songs are usually in a major or minor key, so that's 16 possible pitches for each of major and minor. Total 16**24 + 16**24 = 1.6E29. That's a bit less than 3E19 melodies for each of the earth's 6 billion (6E9) souls. That's 30 billion billion songs per soul. Yes, many of those will not be pleasant tunes, but I still think there are enough to last us for at least the expected lifetime of our sun.
(He corrects the obvious error in the above here)

The biggest problem with the above anaysis is I don't have to copy an entire work to commit plagarism but only reconizable parts of it.

Remember the plagarism lawsuit over My Sweet Lord and He's So Fine? (If not here is a quick overview) The suit was based on two musical motifs used together in almost identical ways in both compositions.

A musical motif is a short bit of the entire composition. It may be of any size, and is the shortest subdivision of a theme or phrase that still maintains a recognizable identity.

Think of the first four notes from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

A motif must be at least two notes but there is no maximum length. The longest I can think of offhand is the descending eight-note sequence in Dies irae (Day of wrath), a chant later incorporated into the Catholic requiem mass. There may be longer ones.

If I double eight and use sixteen as a working limit then the total number of possible phrases spanning two octaves on a 12 note scale becomes:

24^2 + 24^3 + ... + 24^16 = 1.968e+19

That is not a small number but no means is it an impossible one. If each note is represented by a single octet on a hard drive, the entire possible phrase space represents about four exabytes -- much less with some basic compression.

If plagarism requires at least two phrases be copied then the total is the above number taken two at a time without duplication but without regard to order (combination) which is calculated by:

1.968e+19*(1.968e+19-1)/2 = 1.937e+38

Still several order of magnitude less than Mr. St. Claire's estimate.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bellesiles Gets Caught -- Again.

While not nearly as bad as the last time when he fabricated evidence to support his thesis, Michael Bellesiles had been caught spreading a false story (Scroll down to the "Editor's note").

Considering his past fraudulent "scolarship", why is he even working in academia any more?

Other Links:

Big Journalism
Disgraced 'Historian' Michael Bellesiles' Fishy War Story

Volokh Conspiracy
Serious Questions About the Veracity of Michael Bellesiles's Latest Tale

Chronicle Review Admits Bellesiles’s Story is False — Blames Student, not Bellesiles.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Thing with One Eyebrow

Charles Krauthammer at the Washington Post and Richard Fernandez at the Belmont Club are duking it out over the significance of Omaba's falling approval numbers. Both make good points so read the essays. However, I think they are both missing the central threat.

Never forget that Hillary Clinton is still out there marking time in a high level post that allows contact with the players but lets her stay out of the political cauldron. The discontent with Obama is largely because he has not been leftwing enough and that will not get a conservative (which these days is synonymous with rightwing socialist, anyways) much less a libertarian elected. The Party apparatchiks have not forgotten about Hillary and, unless Obama pulls his head a rabbit from his arse hat, she may well be the Democratic candidate in 2012 and ride to victory on the votes of the discontented Obama supporters combined with the party faithful.

H/T to Western Rifle Shooters Association

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

From Your Lips to God's -- err...

Amy Alkon blogs about Heather Mac Donald On Glenn Beck's Faith. One responder calling himself "Donny Pauson" writes in his reply, "Atheists have just as much faith as 'believers'."

Amy responds with,
Um, no. I require evidence before I'll believe in something.

Because I haven't personally investigated a particular thing doesn't mean there's a lack of evidence for its existence.

If you show me that you've found evidence there's a god, I'd be happy to believe.

Do you believe that there's a giant purple gorilla on your roof right now eating your children? Because there's as much evidence for that as there is for god.

Science does not require faith. Science requires evidence, and scientists look to see where evidence is lacking -- it's the foundation of science, seeking the evidence-based truth.
Underlying this is a deeper epistimological question. Does theism use or require a different concept of evidence from atheism?

Theism is based on belief and belief defines what counts as evidence. For example, when confronted with the question of the origin of the universe the theist will take the lack of any definitive answer from science as evidence for a god. Usually his particular god. In contrast, as an atheist I do not use my lack of knowledge about how the universe got started as evidence that there is no god. In fact, I don’t use it as evidence for anything. It is just a puzzle to be solved.

This is more than an alternative set of assumptions. It is a whole different approach to evidence.

The user called "Crid" asks,
"How come the particular stupidity has become so popular on this blog in recent years?"
That's just a word game. The word "faith" has different meanings in different contexts. For example faith that the sun will come up tomorrow is a different thing than faith in an invisible, omnipotent entity that creates whole universes with a word and is intensely interested in my sex life.

The first is a result of experience combined with a belief that the universe is not perverse and the rules don't change arbitrarily. This is the faith that C.S Lewis (IIRC) referred to as the virtue by which a man holds to reasoned ideas even during moments of irrationality. The second is an example of a trusting belief in a transcendent reality and/or in a supreme being and what role She/He/It has in the order of things.

Between the extremes of the painfully obvious and the painfully theological there are categories that are less easily divided and it is in those gaps that someone can find a god.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Palin Years

A brief, satirical look at an alternate history of the United States after the landslide victory of McCain and Palin in 2008.

Be careful what your wish for. You Betcha!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fly the Thieving Skies?

Mike Vanderboegh commenting on this article:
A taxpayer funded criminal enterprise. The deal goes like this, or so I'm told by folks who have seen it in action:

TSA employees scanning bags turn up something they want to steal. In this case, Israeli pistols. They tag the bag with some mark that their confederate in the baggage process can easily identify out-of-sight of the cameras and public. After the items are removed from the bag, all routing marks are effaced from the bag and it is re-routed, in this case sent to LA -- a popular destination for NY TSA thievs' handiwork simply because it takes so long to get there. The thieves are never too greedy. Note that in this case the two "lost" bags both have weapons, but only one bag is pilfered -- the one with the most pistols, naturally. The merchandise is often handed off to a third-party at the airport, who sneaks it out in a personal bag. By the time the baggage arrives at the wrongly-forwarded airport, returned and the theft discovered, the merchandise is long gone from the airport. Who participates in scanning the bags originally? And who knows where all the security cameras, obvious and unobtrusive are?

You guessed it, the "transportation security" folks.
I don't know that Mr. Vanderboegh's scenario above is true but I do think it is plausible.

I've flown exactly once in the last ten years and, while not a particularly pleasant experience, it was not as bad as I was prepared for. All of the TSA agents I had to deal with were minimally polite and the folks in Tennessee, as expected, were noticeably better than the ones in California. There was a subtle attitude on both ends that we, the passengers, were cattle and they, the TSA were herders. I certainly didn't like it but I learned years ago to play the step'n'fetchit game when dealing with the government.

People I know who do fly regularly tell me horror stories and I read about them on the web regularly. Even allowing for some exaggeration, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence the TSA is not the friendly skies they pretend to be. One lawyer told me her law firm no longer allows company laptops to be taken on passenger flights because of damage suffered at the hand of the TSA. They instead ship them by private courier at considerable extra expense.

By the way, the flight attendants I dealt with were unfailingly polite and did it without being obsequious.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Rights are not Subject to a Vote.

Thomas Sowell writes
Many people who are opposed to gun laws that place severe restrictions on ordinary citizens owning firearms have based them on the Second Amendment to the Constitution. But, while the Supreme Court must make the Second Amendment the basis of its rulings on gun control laws, there is no reason why the Second Amendment should be the last word for the voting public.

I wonder of Mr. Sowell -- for whom I have a great respect -- would be so calm and intellectual if it was the Thirteenth Amendment under fire.

The Second Amendment simply codifies rights that exist in nature. Even if there were no governments or constitutions, every man, woman and responsible child would still have a right to own (keep) and carry (bear) arms for personal protection. They would also still have the right to organize into groups (militias) in order to better defend their homes and community (hopefully a free state).

I never thought I'd have to say this about Thomas Sowell but, "Grow up, guy."

H/T to David Codrea

Can a Christian Serve on a Jury in California?

use Standard_Disclaimer;

I was recently summoned for jury duty in Los Angeles Superior Court. As I always do, I reviewed the history of juries and the reason they exist. I also researched as best I could the current law and precedents related to jury service. While I have never yet actually been allowed on a jury -- this time was no different -- I always do my best to arrive prepared.

One requirement in California that struck me as morally questionable was to ignore the sentence in deliberations. A few potential jurors asked the judge about this and were told that it was not the jury's concern. The jury must simply bring back a verdict and imposing sentence is the job of the judge. That started me thinking if the two can really be separated ethically.

For example, if I fire a gun at a box and the bullet strikes and injures a child that happens to be playing in it, I am responsible for that person's injury: I know that bullets are dangerous and that children play in boxes so the hypothetical injury was a reasonably foreseeable consequence. This make shooting at any box without first checking if it is safe an irresponsible act and if there is an injury it is a criminal act.

A person who believes in God would, I think, also believe that God will call me to account for the injury or any other foreseeable consequence of my actions. Even if I am never caught, in the Christian worldview God is still supposed to do something even if I have to wait until I am dead.


So how can it be different in a jury deliberation? If the juror agrees to not consider the possible sentences he is, effectively, divorcing the action of supporting a guilty verdict from the consequence of a sentence. It's not enough to just say, "Well I didn't know the sentence would be so harsh." He knows there will be some kind of sentence and to deliberately remain ignorant is no different than not bothering to check what's in that box before I shoot at it. Nor is it enough to say, "Well, the judge told me to do it." Last time I checked on the hierarchy of things, God is supposed to outrank a judge.

I'm not so egotistical to think that many Christians are eagerly flocking to read a blog entitled "Atheist with a Gun." At least that wouldn't fit my stereotype of Christians. However, if there are any out there, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Politic of Personal Destruction.

Anyone who remembers the confirmation hearings will know that Clarence Thomas is no stranger to the politics of personal destruction. This story combined with the criticism leveled at the Court by Obama in his last State of the Union address, looks to be another salvo in the same game. This time from the Administration and their lapdogs in the media.

This is not too surprising. Thomas is the most dangerous Justice on the court as far as Obama's agenda is concerned. Thomas seems to be a true originalist and recognize that the starting point in analysis of the Constitution is the text of the Constitution itself. From there he examines the historical evidence and looks to precedent only after a review of the primary material. Thus, he is willing to ignore precedent when he thinks it is wrong.

Scalia, arguably in the number two slot, is a conservative and, as such, can be trusted to put personal beliefs ahead of the Constitution in certain cases. This does not make him a friend of the Obama Administration but he can be expected to hold the line on any radical expansion of freedom. His hostility to Privileges or Immunities is well known and he seems to have little use for privacy rights. While not completely reliable from a collectivist point of view, Scalia is also quite friendly to the grossly expanded Commerce Clause a large part of the "progressive" agenda relies on.

If my suspicions are correct, I expect more attacks on Thomas. These may be followed by similar stories on Scalia, Roberts and, maybe, Alito but Thomas is the logical first target.

H/T to Sipsey Street Irregulars