Friday, December 12, 2008

Domain problems

If you're seeing this some way other than directly going to, congratulations. You get to know that my domain is having DNS problems. Don't try to send me Email, it probably won't work either.

The grand joys of outsourcing....

Update: We just got it fixed. Thanks for sticking with me, and if you sent me Email, please resend it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Playing in the WBCOOP again in 2008

As I've mentioned before here, I do play online poker occasionally. Since I'm a parent with no free cash (is that redundant? :) ), I have to play freerolls. is doing their freeroll for blogs again, and I've applied yet again. Here's the proof they ask us to post:

Online Poker
I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!
The WBCOOP is an online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers.
Registration code: 751230

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mark Perry made me laugh

From Carpe Diem :

You should definitely add Carpe Diem to your RSS reader.

(I won't link to because they aren't family-friendly, and I don't want to contribute to that. Also, this is certainly the funniest thing that I saw on their site.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Obama Starts the Selling

Melinda Henneberger over at Slate notes that the Catholic Bishops don't want to own hospitals that perform abortions. Ms. Henneberger is surprised that Mr. Obama might be willing to sell out on his pro-life Christian supporters. (The ilk at Vox Populi (including myself) are commenting on this surprise. I'm posting too.) This is after Mr. Obama has picked pro-war people like Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton for his Cabinet, making the anti-war moonbats start melting down. The rich people tax hikes and healthcare for all have disappeared too. I'd even mention the no free puppy, but that would be piling on....

I had no doubt that many would get sold out by Mr. Obama, because you had too many groups getting too many implied (or explicit) promises. Since there's no way the hard left fringe will turn Republican in 2012, they're going to get tokens, just like the small-government Republicans under Bush. At least as a rightist libertarian, Mr. Obama will tend to sell out in my direction... :)

If Mr. Obama manages 8 years, the hard-core left will have the Battered Voter syndrome feeling that the libertarian/small government wings of the Republican party has felt since Reagan's second term (and some would argue first term).

Friday, November 21, 2008

I am getting too cynical in my old age

I just read on Yahoo News that the Dow and S&P 500 are both up because Mr. Obama will supposedly nominate Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary in the next administration. Since Mr. Geithner is currently president of the New York Bank of the Federal Reserve, that makes him one of the foxes that caused this current crisis. I feel like a hen stuck outside of the shed....

If it weren't already past the closing bell, I would have sold this rally. There is NO way Mr. Geithner (or for that matter, Mr. Obama) has a magic wand to make things better.

My magic market prediction: the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 5000 at least, and possibly as low as 1 "share" of the DJIA equaling the cost of 1 ounce of gold on the physical delivery market (not the polite fiction of the spot commodities markets). Since I've now made a prediction, it's important to understand that I am best at saying what the market should do and what it might do eventually, and usually 100% wrong about what it'll do in the short term.

More cost-cutting for Information Technology

As I mentioned last month, we turned off almost every computer at home, and moved our email and such over to Google Apps. I have been completely happy with them, and as best I can tell, we've dropped our electricity bill between $20 and $30 dollars. Turning off the big server helped, and I was also able to discover how to turn the Speedstream 4200 my ISP provided into a firewall (and turn off our current one).

Even so, we were still paying over $160 a month on TV, Internet, and phone. Our biggest problem was phone and TV. Windstream started charging us $6 for an equipment maintenance charge, and our plan was $55 a month. We looked really close at our usages, and we were paying almost $25 a month for effectively 4 channels - Boomerang, BBC America, Toon Disney, and History International. We agreed to compensate with Netflix, so it wasn't too bad a trade. Now TV is $40 (before a $5 package discount)

The big savings was in the phone part. We got suckered into switching to a plan with Caller ID and 100 minutes of long distance. That ran our phone and Internet up to $85 a month plus taxes. Then I discovered Greenstreak . "Naked" DSL is DSL that doesn't include a regular phone line. Windstream coudn't do naked DSL, but they can go "topless": the phone line can do incoming calls, 911, and 800 numbers, but no long distance at all and outgoing local calls are $0.10 per minute (i.e. don't do them). We will have 3M download speed, which is effectively equivalent to a 10M cable link (the cable bandwidth is shared in the neighborhood).  Total costs: around $35.

Since we all already have cell phones, we don't need the home phone for calling, just for the Dish, security system, and the occasional incoming call.

Even picking up Netflix, we've saved $50 from the entertainment budget, and given ourselves a lot more options.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hello, my name is Tootsie Pop

Sorry for not posting. I was suffering pre-election traumatic syndrome. It was just too awful thinking of the election to post.

My voting record still holds: Milady and I have voted differently in every election I have been eligible to vote in. She voted for Obama, while I voted for Bob Barr. Ben Chandler won (1-2 for me), and so did Mitch McConnell (oops, 1 for 3). Most of the rest in my precinct were unopposed, so there weren't many choices. I did write Milady in for State Senator, but Kentucky doesn't count write-in votes unless you pre-register, so no one will know it but you.

Now, here's my new self portrait:

Why is that? Simple. I am a SUCKER! Milady and Little Miss walked up after I went to Wal-Mart and showed me this:

We now have an 8 week old Boston Terrier pup named "Queen Padme Amadala Packrat". Given my ever-growing dislike of the prequel trilogy, I tried lobbying for a change in name, but again, I'm a sucker. Padme it is.

Around 5AM this morning, I felt a little tongue licking my back. Milady had gotten suckered into getting her out of her cage and putting her in bed. At least she seems to be pad-training well, so she didn't wet the bed.

It's a good thing I don't think I'm in control of my family.... ;)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why is "When He Cheats" so good?

OK, she looks good in leathers and a baseball bat. If a guy destroys the girl's car, he would be a childish creep needing therapy. When the girl destroys a guy's truck, she's strong and catty. Sorry, I just don't buy it. I hear the song and think "Boy is she a baby".

I am so glad that that song is mostly gone....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vote the lot out -- except 1

Sorry for the light postings. My employer sent us to test our Disaster Recovery plan, and I'm still not fully caught up from the time off.

I have decided how I'm going to vote in all of the races open to me: the incumbent must go. All except one: Ben Chandler's race for the House. In general, I am not a Chandler fan. He is a "light socialist", and he votes with Pelosi and crew way too much for my tastes. Nonetheless, he voted against the bailout both times, and I have to reward that. I have no confidence his opponent is a small-government Republican, mainly because I haven't heard one word out of his opponent....

I am going to cover my reasoning for the other major candidates, including Obama/McCain, in future posts.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Joe the Plumber for President

To quote Bill Bennett, this is the most people have talked about plumbers since Nixon....

I thought Bob should leave and bring Joe onto the stage. He was the real third man on the stage.

I'm not impressed with the Socialists (aka the Republicans)

Work has had my nose to the grindstone (more as I can talk about it), so I've been ignoring the financial news as much as possible. Even so, the concept that the Fed is buying preferred stock in banks, even if they don't want it, is too much. Are these people really reading straight from the Communist Manifesto.

Furrfu, people! The Great Depression isn't a how-to guide! Let's see, prop up banks: check. Talk about protectionism, check.

What scares me is that it's the Republicans doing all this socialism, not the Democrats.

The whole world is turned upside down. It's a good thing I trust the Lord, because I sure don't trust my leaders.

I'm impressed with the Brick

I love the new MacBook and MacBook Pro. Apple has a video about how they mill the case for the MacBook (and by extension, the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air). You have to recycle about a half to two-thirds of the aluminum you have in the original block of aluminum, but you have a case that can then be built by any metal working factory in the world (even the US!), and is a lot greener than a slab of plastic.

I'd want one, but work lets me use a year-old MacBook Pro, and that's as much as I need. The family and I might squeeze enough out to buy a MacBook for Christmas next year for homeschool.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Let me get this straight

While the rest of us are watching  our 401ks, the legislators in Alaska have enough time on their hands to put out a report that's all things to all people. When you can't even get a single talking head on Anderson Cooper to think it's a serious issue, it's time to go back to the well.

As best I can tell, Palin's brother-in-law is a dangerous, somewhat unstable fellow. Mr. Palin likes her family, and saw an opportunity to try to help them out. The Public Service Commissioner was from another branch of the Republican party, didn't like Mrs. Palin, and saw an opportunity to tweak her "for free". That put him on her bad list. Then, \ she and the Public Service Commissioner butted heads again over hiring troopers. Maybe he thought too much of himself, maybe he just couldn't hire more troopers no matter what. Either way, he's on the list so it's time to go.

Sounds like office politics, not "high crimes and misdemeanors". To quote Carville, this dog doesn't hunt.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The office is quiet

For the first time in a decade, I am serverless at home.

A couple of weeks ago, we went over the budget, to see what we could cut. We're going to start looking at fluorescent PAR-30 lights for the downstairs, and we thought about turning off the phone and DSL to switch to cable. The one problem with this was that I had all my mail, this blog, etc. going to a server plugged in under my desk. A server that desperately needed both software and hardware upgrades (it is 4+ years old and was running a beta version of NetBSD). As best I could tell, I was spending almost $20 a month just powering the big rack-mount server.

That's when The Plan™ came together. I would move all of the home services to Google Apps. This blog moved to Blogger, mail went over to Gmail, and the web sites moved to Google Sites. Why should I spend valuable home time maintaining web pages when Google is happy to do so for free, or for $50 a year per mailbox if I end up needing more space.

We ended up keeping the phone line because the Cable Modem + Dish* isn't that much cheaper than Phone + DSL + ISP + Dish. Turning off the unneeded PCs will pay for that difference.

Now, I just have to get off Yahoo Domains. They've raised my domain costs to $35/year. Anyone know a decent cheap domain registrar (and no, I won't use GoDaddy. They're notorious for kidnapping domains for the flimsiest of excuses).

*For the channels we like, Dish's 250 channel plan (with Windstream discounts) is much cheaper than Insight's equivalent services.

Friday, October 3, 2008

They've passed the abomination

Of course Dub will sign it too.

I would spout some more, but I'm just too mad. I'll start cussing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More insanity for the bailout

From CNNMoney's report on the Senate version of the bailout:
The bill adds provisions to the House version - including temporarily raising the FDIC insurance cap to $250,000 from $100,000. It says the FDIC may not charge member banks more to cover the increase.... Instead, the bill allows the FDIC to borrow from the Treasury to cover any losses that might occur as a result of the higher insurance limit.

The Fed's already going to print 700B to cover the bailout, why not print a few billion more....

I think Congress has lost their minds.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another scraping from the back recesses of my brain

Again, a comment from Megan McArdle's, What am I so afraid of?, I post:
One thing that just hit me at lunchtime: Where is the government going to get this magical $700 billion? The Treasury doesn't have it laying around in a sack under Mr. Paulson's office. The government only has 2 ways to get that $700b:
  • Sell Treasury paper on the open market (or more likely straight to sovereign funds and central banks). M2 right now is around 7.7 trillion dollars (US style). 700B is around 9% of that. If you believe Shadow Stats, M3 is around 14 trillion. $700b is 5% of that. How are the money markets supposed to react to 5% of the total supply of dollars suddenly being pulled into Treasuries?
  • Have the Fed "buy" the Treasury paper with new money. How exactly is inflation supposed to react if we magically increase M2 by 9%? Fed-printed money is supposedly M3 (i.e. doesn't really count), so the whole justification in inflating the crap out of M3 was that it didn't leak into M2. Making M2 jump 10% in a matter of days just can't be healthy. Sounds a lot like Weimar Germany to this Packrat.

Neither option makes a lot of sense to me, and the latter sounds downright painful. I'm almost suspecting that a natural deflationary recession would be better for us all.

The money system is a zero-sum game. If you spend $50, you had to get it from somewhere. If you try to get it from nowhere (fiat money creation), you end up taking it from everyone.

The American People aren't THAT dumb

Tell me ONE way that the Paulson bailout plan (or the House version of it) will fix the systemic damage in the financial market, and I'll support it. Yes, it will inject up to $700 billion into the financial industry. That's nice. (Of course, no one mentions the $700b+ it'll take out of the financial industry in treasury paper....) That would help a bit, but it won't fix anything!

If I'm supposed to part with my part of $700b, what will it do to keep this from happening again?

No Love of the Presidential Candidates in Congress

Milady and I were talking last night, and I said, "No one is talking about how much Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid hate Obama." "I was just sitting here thinking the same thing."

This was the moment for Obama to shine. President Bush threw out a plan that was little more than "Give Paulson $700b and stand back". Everyone in the country hated the plan because it threw money at the problem, not solutions. This was a moment that was ripe for a leader. All the Democrats had to do was compose a Democratic version of the bill that appealed to their base and the moderates, and stick Obama out in front of it. There are really smart Democratic economists; Robert Reich could come up with a better bailout than this. (N.B. After looking a bit, Robert Reich appears to have a blog, and he DID come up with a bailout plan that makes a lot of sense, even if he does like the more noxious idea of bankrupcy judges rewriting mortgages.) Then stick Obama in front of a teleprompter camera and have him tell the country why its such a good plan and how he is leading the Democrats in the House to pass the bill. They could then make it the Senate Republican's fault, and by extension John McCain's fault.

But no, Mr. Obama is AWOL. Neither Pelosi nor Reed will even mention his name, or get him involved in the action. I don't know if this is payback for defeating Clinton, or a strong measure of personal dislike, but they don't want him on that podium.

I don't have to post much about the Republican's inherent dislike of McCain. To quote the SNL skit (hat tip: Vox Day):
I have never supported President Bush. I have undermined President Bush, just ask any Republican! I have always been disloyal to this president, a disloyal, untrustworthy, unreliable renegade who has abandoned my party when it most needed me. The fact is, you simply can't count on John McCain. That's why on November 4th, the American people will elect me their next president.
The best satire is 99.9% true. The House Republicans KNOW that McCain would sell them down the river in a moment, and are completely unwilling to put one ounce of trust in him.

If either major party had a candidate with one ounce of leadership, he would have taken over that debate and stepped in on this bill and taken over. Instead we have an old warrior politician who's burned too many bridges and a younger man who's never taken the time to make any.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A comment on Carpe Diem

Over at Carpe Diem, in "New Banking Data", Anonymous asked:

How can interbank lending be frozen while other types of lending are ok?

Here's my opinion:

It's a sign of the CDS meltdown. The banks trust their customers to repay their debts more than they trust each other to stay solvent.

I think this credit crisis will spread some, especially if more banks closed. However, we don't need to patch over that debt; we need to burn it.

UPDATE: A Fox News talking head said "we're too much in debt. Let's give them more." Yeah, right....

An important comment

Megan McArdle has all but abandoned libertarianism to support the bailout. On the post So what happens now?, I noted:

On one side we have Japan: a 10+ year depression caused by the government bailing out every Tom, Dick, and Harry that got burned by lending money before a real estate market collapse.

On the other side, Nancy Pelosi and George Bush are telling us that there will be Hell On Earth (tm) if we don't bail out every Tom, Dick, and Harry who got burned by lending money before a real estate market collapse. Excuse me if I think we're going down the wrong road.

You don't cure a hangover by handing out vodka, and you don't cure too much bad loans by handing out more loans. You close the loans, and start over. The credit markets don't need quantity, they need quality.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It burns, it burns....

When I see a picture like this:

I have to resist the urge to grab my wallet and a gun. When Barney Franks is this happy, the rest of us should be very, very afraid.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Who won the debate?

So, who won the McCain-Obama debate? I think it's a draw. Mr. McCain certainly was on the attack, but he wasn't mean. He did rattle Mr. Obama, which surprised me some. OTOH, Mr. Obama certainly was able to give up his teleprompter and actualy speak. If there was one sound bite that conservative talk shows will run with, it's all of the "I agree with Senator McCain" type statements.

I could tell their ages and generations. McCain was all "Senator Obama" this and "Senator Obama" that, while it was "John" this and "John" that. My mother, Miss Manners that she is, would have had my hide for talking to an older man that way. I know it's more casual in life now, but I just can't help thinking that things didn't improve.

So, did you actually change your mind because of this debate? I didn't. I'm still voting for Bob Barr. Even if those square glasses of his look like old women's glasses....

Friday, September 26, 2008


I'm restoring my old posts. I might make some new ones too. Eventually.

Update: I have all of my "new" posts up, and I was able to dig out the archive from my original blog. Right now, I'm going through them as fast as Blogger's spam filters let me work.

Friday, August 8, 2008

One of the "holy grails" of film have been found

I am so in awe that I can barely type. I've always loved Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Its influence on science fiction, cinema, and our culture, just can't be overestimated. It just hasn't been seen intact since 1927. The first showings of Metropolis were a critical and financial disaster, so Paramount cut almost a quarter of the movie (including most of the plot). The removed original footage was assumed lost. Experts debated what was even on the footage until details about the German language cards were found in the mid-90s.

Yesterday, ZEITmagazin announced that that was wrong. A copy of almost the entire movie was found in Argentina. It's a second or third-generation copy, and damaged, but it can be viewed, and we can see the story. Even better, the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau Foundation is dedicated to bring ing the new footage out to the public!

Time to break out my Kino copy of the last restoration, to tide me over until 2010 or whenever they get this version restored.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I hate home improvement activities

The house has been fixed up (with the exception of the kitchen phone line... oops) for around a year now. That's left the garage. The person door was rotting, the original Masonite car door was giving up the ghost, and the eaves had enough water damage to need some repair. A month or so ago, we went to Home Depot and buy a new garage door and new person door. I installed the person door myself, but the garage door was too much; they were going to have to do that themselves.

Last Thursday, Milady gets a phone call that the door is in, and will be ready to install Tuesday. OK, no problem. We spent all Saturday rearranging the garage, and pulling my old rustbucket (i.e. the Ford 1950 F-1) out onto the patio.

Tuesday rolls around, and Milady gets a call: not only is the garage door not there, it was never there. It seems that the garage door was backordered because the garage door opener was backordered. The lady who called said she'd get estimate on when the garage door open er would be available, and call us back.

Today, I had to call in and leave a message for their expeditor to see why we didn't have the promised door. I also mentioned my concerns about the lack of professionalism and a lack of confidence that they could deliver contractual obligations. Unfortunately, the expeditor didn't mention anything about those concerns when she called me back, and just said that they'd try to have the doors in by next Thursday.

This is where I need prayer for patience. :( I put a call into their manager, but of course they're in a meeting. (They're ALWAYS in a meeting.) If the manager can't assure me that they'll actually deliver the door in a reasonable amount of time, and possibly offer a discount for the month's delay, then I'm stuck going to another vendor.

Now I just need to plan fixing the eaves. Looks like I'm taking a week off in late October for that....

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Second try at talking to Bearded Spock

In response to a comment from Bearded Spock:

Am I to understand that you are claiming that there is insufficient evidence for free will, but that you accept its existence only because the truth was divinely revealed?

No. I reject the concept that free will separate from a creator God is axiomatic. Stephan's whole idea is that human beings are rational entities with free will, and who don't need the concept of a creator God to define "universal morality".

I believe that either there is "something else" (a soul, if you wish) involved with the mechanism of the mind, or there isn't. If there isn't a soul, then the mind is the biological computer.

I don't think you have a computer science background, because you don't understand how computer programs work. If I am the programmer, yes I can work around a bug in an old Pentium chip, but I am an independent agent from the program. A computer program can do no more and no less than what it was originally programmed to d o. Even current Artificial Intelligence study requires that the original program be written by someone. It then is given learning tools that allow them to "grow". Some people use deterministic tools (i.e. no randomness), and some use some non-deterministic approaches (i.e. some random "yes/no" factors are included).

If the mind is just a really sophisticated biological computer, then it either is deterministic or non-deterministic as well. Either there is something within our brains that sparks just a bit of randomness in our decisions ("I think I'll have mustard instead of mayo"), or there isn't. The only way we could know this at our current understanding of the mind is with a time machine which would let us "replay" someone's decisions multiple times.

From a moral point of view, this isn't a useless question. If we might make decisions based on randomness (even if just a little randomness), then we aren't rational, just rationalizing. There was an interesting study se veral years back that claimed that people are much more random than first thought, going back later to rationalize an essentially random decision.

On the other hand, if there is no randomness, then the entire mind is just one big steady state machine. If you go back to my birth, and somehow replay my life with no changes, I'll make the exact same choices. You don't accuse a Coke machine of moral failing when it doesn't give you a Sprite. You just call the bottler and ask them to fix their stupid machine. If you or I are just a biological machine, there's nothing interesting in our moral choices; they're just a result in our programming. Again with the technical CS terms: Garbage in, garbage out. Perhaps "better" programming is better for our neighbors, but that's just preferences again.

To go back to your point, I reject Stephan's axiom because it's not an axiom. I believe in Christianity's version of free will, because it fits with, and is derived from, the rest of the system. It's not axiomatic there; it's a consequence of my view the system. (Some Christians reject free will, and their system still works too.) Since the rest of Christianity conflicts with Stephan's system, he can't use it to "prove" his axioms.

Stephan can't say "You're a Christian, so you believe X too" as a proof; that's philosophical freeloading. If Stephan wants me to believe in UPB as why we don't need God to be moral, he has to have a system that doesn't use Christianity to "prove" his axioms first. Like Dawkins et. al., Stephan doesn't know the "big battles" of philosophy, and as such thinks things are "inherently self-evident" that the philosophers have been rightly arguing over for centuries.

One aside: from what I've read so far about UPB, it's just retelling the first part of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, with a different conclusion.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dawn's conversion

away from gun-hater, at least:

I was so surprised about how calming shooting was. I always imagined guns to be weapons of furious anger. It’s how they’re portrayed in all the shoot em up movies, anyway. Someone pisses you off, you get your gun and you give them what for. But the real life thing is just the opposite. You’ve got to be perfectly still, your eye trained on your single spot in the distance, and you’ve somehow got to squeeze the trigger without moving an inch. Anger could never shoot straight.

One time, New York cops shot into a small truck 50+ times after a "bad guy", and never hit him. Since car doors are like tissue paper for the 9mm and/or .40 calibre pistols NY's finest carry (I forget which), this is telling. Most "hot-rage" killings occur with knives, because knives are close-up weapons.

I am a mediocre shot. Most guns don't fit these big hand s well, so I shoot erratically with them. I expect to get worse with age, and not better. That's why I've already switched from the 9mm as the home defense gun to the short-barreled Winchester 12 gauge.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Responding to Bearded Spock

One of the joys to owning a blog: I can post when answering comments. :)

For the most part, I was acting as "devil's advocate" on my "axiom busting" in the last post. I do want to make a second pass on two items.

If good just means preferable, then you're open to "you may prefer truth, but I prefer not to tell the truth sometimes".

untrue. All things being equal, you always prefer to tell the truth. So do I. So does everybody. It's when things aren't otherwise equal that our preferences diverge. This is observedly true. Pathological liars are acting irrationally. That's why it's a pathology and not a preference.

This is very close to a "no true Scotsman" fallacy. "Everyone prefers to tell the truth." "Liars don't." "They don't count, they're pathological." If morals are universal, then they have to apply to people who would be "pathological". If they're based on universal preferences, then why not include their preferences too?

First, it assumes free will. It is entirely possible for me to posit this argument without free will. My biological computer program, faced with an input set that drives it through a super-complex steady state tree, drives my hands to type out this post. I am no more "responsible" than the first Intel Pentium was "responsible" for rounding errors in the floating point unit.

Is a bacterium inanimate because it is composed of inanimate chemichals? Of course not. Is free will nonexistant because your mind might be a biological computer program, faced with an input set that drives it through a super-complex steady state tree? Of course not. UPB doesn't "assume" free will. It acknowledges free will, free will that is observed the same way the animation of of a bacterium is observed.

You are the one confusing the Pentium with the program it processes, a program that to some small but vitally important degree, writes (or at least alters) itself.

I disagree that free will is self-evident. Even Wikipedia has a decent summary of the philosophical debate on free will. It is not axiomatic that people act rationally or that they act via free will. Even Calvinists reject the concept of free will as it's commonly defined.

One more thought experiment: (axiom) humans are simply the result of undirected biological evolution. (axiom) The "mind" is nothing more than the results of the biological actions of the brain (i.e. no spirit). If there is a source of randomness within the brain, then the decision you make may be the result of randomness, not "rationality". If there is no randomness, then the brain is just a biological steady state machine of incredible complexity and there's no free will.

An aside: I believe most of Stephan's axioms, but I reject that they're axioms. Instead, I believe then as a consequence of my Christian theology. That's why I'll reject the concept of free will separate from Christian theology, since I think the only way free will can occur is if there is more to us humans than just this bag of salty water.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An argument against Universally Preferable Behavior

Over at Vox Popoli, "Bearded Spock" keeps answering questions about the logical provability of his morals with "Read Universally Preferable Behavior by Stephan Molyneux". Being a glutton for punishment, I did, at least to page 34. When the author got to his axioms, I had to quit.

Most of his 8 axioms ("Premises") are fallacies, or at very least are parasitic off of the very religious moral systems the author claims to reject. Let's go through them.

  • Axiom 1: WE BOTH EXIST.
  • All he forgot was "I think, therefore I am". A Platonic philosopher would reject 2 out-of-hand, as would a Hindu. The concept of a rational universe fought over in pre-Christian philosophy, and became axiomatic only because of Christianity. Post-Christian philosophy is still lacking a good examination of this axiom.

  • If the author could quit using "better" in his axioms, I might be tempted to agree here. Seriously, this is an open problem in philosophy, but one I'll concede for expediency as well.

  • "If you correct me on an error that I have made, you are implicitly accepting the fact that it would be better for me to correct my error. Your preference for me to correct my error is not subjective, but objective, and universal." Essentially, the author is appealing to the reader for agreement. This is dangerous, since all an opponent has to do to reject your entire argument is say "In my belief system, I don't care if you're in error." Also, what is "better"? (I'll raise that again in a second.)

  • In the end, th is is just a restatement of axiom 2, with an addition of the concept of "Truth". To quote Pilate, "Quid est veritas?" Again, I have to accept axiom 5, but much philosophical debate of the last 5 millennia has been about trying to prove 5, and it's still up for debate.

  • There is a subtle fallacy of definition here. Better and best are just degrees of "good". What does the author mean by good/better/best? If it's moral, then you've begged the question again. If it's useful, then UPB is just another utilitarian system. If good just means preferable, then you're open to "you may prefer truth, but I prefer not to tell the truth sometimes".

  • This is a fallacy of definition, with two different meanings of "responsible" mashed together. First, it assumes free will. It is entirely possible for me to posit this argument without free will. My biological computer program, faced with an input set that drives it through a super-complex steady state tree, drives my hands to type out this post. I am no more "responsible" than the first Intel Pentium was "responsible" for rounding errors in the floating point unit.

    The second meaning is "morally liable". Again, why? I thought that this was what was to be proven...

The author is unconsciously talking to Christian moralists. Christians or atheists who have consciously or unconsciously accepted Judeo-Christian morals will accept all 8 axioms because they believe them already. People who reject Judeo-Christian morals will reject many, if not most, of these axioms. Fundamentally, axiom 0 is "there are morals", and that's what he's trying to prove.

And no, I'm not being a hypocrite at stopping at the axioms. Without the axioms, the rest of the argument can't hold, and I can s top now.

I am NOT impressed.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A public apology

Since I made the statement publically, I should also make the apology publically.

During this thread over at Little Green Footballs, I took exception to the way Charles has been presenting Intellegent Design and Creationism during several of the last posts. While I will stand by the principle that Charles was being unnecessarily bitter, it was not appropriate for me to use the language I did, and especially not in a public forum. If I didn't have a nice way of saying my thoughts, I should not have said so at all.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Comments will be slow

I've got most comments, and all trackbacks, on moderate due to the spam. If you leave a comment, don't worry if it takes a while to show up.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

In solidarity with the Dutch

The Captain has called upon all bloggers to express solidarity with the Dutch newspaper publishers targeted for assassination. This Packrat is more than happy to do so.

(Nothing follows)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why should I vote Republican?

A comment from The Anchoress's post about Republicans:

I am a non-Republican conservative libertarian. While I am too young to be a Reagan Republican, I have grown attracted to Reagan’s philosophy that the government doesn’t hold the solutions to our problem, the government IS our problem.

I have a simple (open) request: tell me how your Republican of choice believes in smaller government.

Mitt Romney wants to spend Federal dollars to revitalize Michigan’s economy. McCain wrote the biggest and most useless infringement on free speech since the Alien and Sedition Acts. Huckabee has a spending list longer than his arm, and wants to dip the government’s hand even deeper into health care. Even if you can get past the fact that Guiliani is a serial adulterer, he is in no way a “conservative” (the Federal government has little business in the health care industry or school choice).

The comptroller of the US currently estimates that, if the goverment worked under business accounting rules, the federal deficit wouldn’t be $9 trillion (the official number), but $58 trillion. By failing to put back cash to pay for Social Security and Medicare’s expected outflow, by 2040 the current government will be bankrupt. My children will have to spend the entire Gross National Product of the US paying for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicade.

I want a Supreme Court that includes strict constructionists. I am strictly anti-abortion. However, a strict constructionist SCOTUS doesn’t help if we’re broke. At most, we have the next 10-15 years to fix the problems, yet none of this crew has any desire to think that there is a problem. We are past the “cutting 50 million in taxes” stage. Our government is functionally bankrupt, and we need REAL fixes, not “portable health care” or small tax cuts that won†™t be backed by spending cuts.

This crew of Republicans differs from the Democrats at most by degrees. Where is the real difference?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Urgent request for prayer

My grandfather went into the hospital Monday to get a knee replaced. They had to put the surgery off until Wednesday

to check out a heart arythmia. Last night (Thursday night/Friday morning), he quit breating and his heart stopped for at least 13 minutes (I didn't find out it was that long or this severe until my mom called a few minutes ago). The doctors are pretty sure he has serious to severe brain damage, but they can't test to find out the extent of the damage until Monday.

I'd appreciate it if you and the class could pray for him, my grandmother, and my father. If you could also pray for our family, I'd appreciate it. As the saying goes, I trust God to not give us more than we can bear, but I just wish God didn't trust me quite so much....

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A comment I left on Captain's Quarters

In this article about Ron Paul over at Captain's Quarters, I posted this as my comment. In case the good Captain doesn't see fit to approve it, here's the whole thing:

I grew up Democrat, but I haven't ever voted for a Democrat for President. My first vote was for Bob Dole against Bill Clinton, solely on moral grounds. I voted independant versus Gore and W, but then voted for Bush versus Kerry because I thought the latter was a slimeball. In return, we almost got Harriett Miers. Government hasn't shrunk a bit, and we have a Federal Reserve and Congress Hell-bent on trashing the dollar and leaving us with a Social Security & Medicare bill that in 2040 will be bigger than the country's GDP. All of the good talk towards conservative Christians evaporated before W raised his hand the second time. And let's not even talk about No Child Left Behind.

Now we have a "compassionate conservative" (Huckabee) telling us how to spend even more money. We have a serial adulterer (Rudy) who's more Democrat than Republican. To paraphrase JibJab, Romney has more waffles than a House of Pancakes. I'd like McCain if he hadn't supported the biggest infringement on the First Amendment since the Alien and Sedition Acts. I might be convinced for Thompson, if he wasn't a big supporter of McCain-Feingold the first time around (and if he acted like he really cared). Hunter might do, but he's got less support than Ron Paul.

Why should I care about these Republicans at all? At least Clinton or Obama can sell out to me. This generation of Republicans have talked abortion and marriage, but have been too busy spending money and growing the Federal government to care. And please don't mention the Supreme Court. Let's play name association: Reagan, Kennedy. Bush 1: Souter. Bush 2: Miers. The Republican presidents don't have a good track record here .

I'm done with "trust me". I want to see results. How will the Republicans handle the bankrupcy of Social Security and Medicare? How will the Republicans deal with a government that owes $58 Trillion in current and future liabilities? What are the Republicans going to do to reduce the Federal government? "I'm not Hillary Clinton" isn't good enough any more. I expect a Democrat to differ in degrees from HRC, not a Republican.

Until this Republican crew can come up with someone other than Ron Paul who acts something like a real Reagan Republican, then we deserve HRC or Mr. Obama.