Monday, October 06, 2014

Ew, Christians

Douthat is right;
Palmer’s secular and scientistic worldview, of course, is not the worldview of the classical world, which was far more inegalitarian and cruel than the still-Christian-influenced secular humanism of our own era.
Read the rest, then with that in mind, read Palmer's loathsome article for Slate.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kill or Be Killed

Last night, because I wanted to understand the salient points of Idaho's self-defense statutes, I decided to take the course by the Ada County Sheriff's Office. It was three hours long and mostly worth it. However, there were a few glaring errors--maybe it would be better to call it let-downs than errors; I'm going to describe them, for the hell of it. There were two instructors, one behemoth deputy with each arm the size of three baseball bats taped together with bungee cords, Deputy Muscles. This is a guy you wouldn't want to tangle with without the aid of a meth/8-ball cocktail. The other instructor was a typical Idahoan male of a certain persuasion: funny, meek, untraveled, provincial, 6 children, all homeschooled. I liked him immediately. He was a Sergeant, Muscles a Corporal. After a few corny jokes that the universe could have done without, we got into it, wading ankle-deep into what was surely a wide and deep ocean of self-defense law. We were made to understand that our fine state had laws essentially unchanged since the 1800s when they were first drafted. The Deputies tried and laughably failed to show that the laws had been updated to “the present day” through the accumulation of case law. Now, I knew this, but from the vacant looks on the faces of the approximately 30 people in the class, I could tell they didn’t understand the concept. Is it slightly gauche to point out at this point that more than half the class was female? Maybe sexist. Maybe. And I’m not kidding about the Idaho Statutes! There’s mention of a justifiable homicide in defense of the life of one’s wife, husband, etc. and one’s “master or mistress or servant.” Nice. What was missing--but kept getting hinted at--was the fact that it would be necessary, on shooting in self-defense, to articulate the reason. Muscles made it seem as if you would be so doing to the Police. He did, naturally, point out that it was up to you whether or not you chose to speak to the Police and that, of course!, you had a right to shut up and request an attorney. But, it would still be necessary to “articulate” your reasons. Yes, Muscles, I must be able to articulate clearly the reasoning that went into my decision to shoot and possibly kill in self-defense. But it wouldn’t be to you, or any other Law Enforcement official: in the immortal ebonics of Tupac, only God can judge me. Well, Him and a jury of my peers. What they left out was that the articulation would be to that jury. While one’s first contact would certainly be with Law Enforcement, none of those yahoos had the power to pronounce guilt or innocence. With that in mind, Muscles really ought to have instructed class takers that in addition to the archaic-sounding statutes, it was necessary to find and read the Idaho Criminal Jury Instructions. This is really the standard to which one would be held. It should also have been mentioned that the standard for judging an action of self-defense involves what a third person, a so-called “reasonable person,” would have done in the same circumstances. That this wasn’t discussed by Muscles is slightly alarming. The other surprising thing I noticed: Muscles came to a slide in his pitiful Powerpoint deck that he skipped outright, mentioning insouciantly that it dealt only with Law Enforcement. By the way, these atrocious Powerpoint slides featured the usual “presentation sins”: text-heavy, shitty default templates, ponderous animation; in other words, something these cops were probably very proud of creating. Back to the slide in question: it dealt with Idaho’s “fleeing felon” law. 4. When necessarily committed in attempting, by lawful ways and means, to apprehend any person for any felony committed, or in lawfully suppressing any riot, or in lawfully keeping and preserving the peace. I can understand why Deputy Muscles didn’t want to discuss it, because it essentially gives citizens the right to pursue and possibly kill a felon. He preferred to lie instead. For shame. Yes, that Statute gives the everyday man and woman the right to claiming that killing a fleeing felon was a justifiable homicide. I know you don’t like it, Muscles, but that does not mean you get to lie about it. It does not only cover Law Enforcement, it covers everyone. The hint is in the title of the Statute itself: 18-4009. JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE BY ANY PERSON. I’ll save you the time and simply give you the answer: “any person” includes you, me, and yes, Deputy Muscles. Is it a good idea to pursue a fleeing felon and possibly kill him or her? No. The cold and unwavering eyes of the modern Justice system would probably not look with any mercy if you did. But that statute exists and can be claimed by, yes, any person. Another faux pas was his mentioning the fact that, by law, you needed to aid the now-stopped threat/assailant. I don’t see this anywhere in the books. It does indeed look good that you attempted to give aid and succor to the jerkoff you just shot--after all, one is shooting to stop a threat, not to kill but to say it was required by law without reference to any law is, again, a bit disconcerting. In all, I enjoyed the class. It needs a bit of a retouching, some highlighting, a spiff-up here and there and definitely losing a bit of shitty information. In his defense (no pun intended), Deputy Muscles did take the effort to point out that this class was just the beginning. More study was necessary. Roger wilco.

Monday, June 16, 2014

To The Memory of Trim

An ode to a cat, by Matthew Flinders.
To the memory of Trim, the best and most illustrious of his Race,—the most affectionate of friends,—faithful of servants, and best of creatures.
He made the Tour of the Globe, and a voyage to Australia, which he circumnavigated; and was ever the delight and pleasure of his fellow voyagers. Returning to Europe in 1803, he was shipwrecked in the Great Equinoxial Ocean; This danger escaped, he sought refuge and assistance at the Isle of France, where he was made prisoner, contrary to the laws of Justice, of Humanity, and of French National Faith; and where, alas! he terminated his useful career by an untimely death, being devoured by the Catophagi of that island. Many a time have I beheld his little merriments with delight, and his superior intelligence with surprise: Never will his like be seen again!
Trim was born in the Southern Indian Ocean, in the year 1799, and perished as above at the Isle of France in 1804.
Peace be to his shade, and Honour to his memory.
 How lovely. RIP Trim.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Hark! There are not enough women in the sciences! Did you know? Well take it that there aren’t and that’s a problem. Listening to the usual suspects, it’s not just a problem, it’s a big problem.

I’m in science. I was in actual science more when I was in college studying electrical engineering. Now I’m just a systems administrator whose life is a storm-tossed sailboat on the large and angry Microsoft sea, but bear with me. I’m in science.

Once upon a time, your humble correspondent was good enough to be indoctrinated in the engineering honor society, Tau Beta Pi (hi guys!) At the risk of boring you—and it is mighty boring; except that one time when I threatened to kill a fellow “Tau Bate”. That was exciting—let me tell you how I got conferred this high honor: I busted my ass. I became an automaton. For every hour in class (with such scintillating titles as Control Systems 1), I was in the library studying, editing, highlighting, cramming, for 3 sometimes 4 hours. Finals saw me neglecting personal hygiene entirely.

In most of my classes with an average of 25 students, about 10 per cent were female. I’ll just say it’s a sight to behold a half-woman and leave it at that. I am no psychologist, just a patient, but I’ll tell you this: there are very few women who revel in neglecting personal hygiene for hours on end. It’s damned hard work and leaves the worker fried and friendless.

So what do you do to attract the female into such an exciting field as EE?

I read an article some time back that hinted that one perhaps subconscious reason some girls don’t want to enroll in these areas of study is the dearth of … how can I say this without hurting some of my former classmates’ feelings … real men. I cast my aching mind back and look around the classroom. Most of these guys were frumpy, desiccated specimens of manhood. Emaciated and pasty (even the black guys) from staying out of direct sunlight for weeks on end. If that wasn’t enough to deter the average female, the odious lack of hygiene often did the trick. Essentially, they (not me though) were brains dragged around in weak bodies. Not much prospect for a boyfriend much less a husband in that lot. That is, if the girl would like to be defended from actual physical harm anyway.

No sir, the girls were in the Social Sciences, where the Football demigods strutted their stuff. So there you have it, a course of study that didn’t involve killing off whatever social life she deems important (she is a girl) and the prospect of meeting and interacting with hawt boiz. What woman wants a halfling Asperger candidate capable of solving advanced difference calculus when healthy young, good-looking Adonises with all the right words roam the halls of PoliSci?

Game, set and match