Category Archives: Blog Thoughts

A legal question of orthodoxy

Within the case West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, there is the following passage:

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

If I’m reading this correctly, that means that any school district or other government institution that requires you to sign or write a commitment to “diversity” is violating the law. Any legal-beagles out there who can confirm or reject my understanding? It would seem that so many school districts say this, and they to do otherwise would be “against their values,” but then they turn around and say preaching values would be unconstitutional, so you can’t push your biblical interpretation of anything. So… if the WVBoE case is right, then…. they can’t discriminate against you if you think one of their “values” is bull. could that make the basis of a class action lawsuit?

Indulgence

The latest cringe-worthy celebrity PSA is so awesome comments on youtube for it are closed. It is called “I take responsibility.” The write-up at the link is pretty good, so I’d encourage you to hit it. What occurred to me is that their encourage / extorting you to “give to BLM [or other racists / leftwing cause]” to prove your contrition has an exact parallel.

Exact.

The medieval practice of buying an indulgence from the Catholic church to have your sins forgiven. They are morally preening, virtue-signaling without any actual meaning, demanding that YOU must give money to approved donation-plates to be forgiven of your racism and bigotry.  Considering how messed up most of them are, the irony is so thick you could cast battleship armor from it.

Vote Fraud

It’s common in election years to have accusations of vote fraud thrown around. There is no question that it happens, some where, to some degree. The real question in the debates I have is how much is there, who is doing it, how organized is it, and does it actually have any significant effect on election outcomes? I’m talking the basic ballot-box stuffing, counting fraud, etc., not the back-room deals and pressure WRT who runs or not, and a partisan media giving free positive coverage to one side and negative coverage the other way. Just the actual vote casting and counting “irregularities.” So I put up a page, listed under “plague” on the menu (where I’ll put all “off-topic from writing” pages, I think), and just keep adding things there as I see the stories.

I believe it’s reasonable to assume that people who are partisan Dems in their other activities will commit fraud in favor of Dem candidates and causes, and in Dem strongholds pro-Dem fraud is much more likely to occur; similarly, long-time partisan Republicans will commit pro-R fraud.

How is this not fraud?

I built a new computer because my old one was ~10 years old, getting flaky, and slow. After a few hiccups it works fine, as near as I can tell. I have both Windows 10 (because they don’t sell Win7 any more, and I got a good deal on it) as well as dual-booting with Linux. In the interests of maintaining current on popular technology, and because I could not find my MS Office 2007 disks which I had installed on my old machine, I bought a license (again, a very good deal) for Office 2019. Continue reading How is this not fraud?

Computer systems

Long story short, I’m less than enchanted with MSFT these days, as a company, its operating systems, or it’s other products. There is a reason it is called by many “the Borg.”

In any case, I had an old laptop; very old – bought as a WOOT deal by a neighbor years ago, and given to me for free because the kids didn’t want it). It’s only got 2 GB of memory, and a 32GB HD, and the latest “update” to Win10 broke it, and with nothing on it but the OS it didn’t have enough room to update. So I bit the bullet, pulled out an old Linux Mint USB drive I picked up a while back, and tried it out. It worked faster running Mint off the USB drive than Windows did on the HDD. So I paved the windows disk and installed just Linux Mint, no residual Windoze10 at all. It found my network drivers, could surf the net, and do everything you need a small, cheap, expendable laptop to do. And it had ~20GB of disk space to spare for programs, data, whatever. Totally cool. Ran a few largely automated updates, and it all worked flawlessly. interface was windows-like and easy. Libre Office installed fine, so I can write or do normal modest “productivity” things.

If you have an older machine, and don’t like the MegaCorp Monopolies, support the alternatives, so that they can work on better, more moral AI warships :-).

Update – it works fine with an Ethernet cable plugged in, but doesn’t want to see the WiFi . Claims the drivers are installed, doesn’t see any WiFi anywhere, even though it used it two days ago after the initial install just fine.

Gell-Mann equivalent for politics?

To quote the originator of the term, Michael Crichton, The Gell-Mann Effect is:

“Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I refer to it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward–reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story–and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all.

But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.”

End quote. Is there an equivalent for politics? We are quite willing to believe the most horrible and devious behavior of THAT party, but while our own party may have a few flawed individuals, it’s not in any way systemic… all the evidence is simply individualized, atomized, anecdotal, and anomalous, not generalized. Even when the evidence is that the leadership of both sides is utterly corrupt and controlled is overwhelming.

Honor / Dishonorable

The concept of “honor”  – in the sense of ethical in conduct, meeting expectations of behavior, being an honorable person, etc. – is complex. The idea of “fairness” is pretty basic, one a couple of two year old’s being forced Mom to share a cookie understand can grasp; they know getting the smaller portion is unfair, regardless of the details. But “honor” comes in so many flavors – at least one for every culture and subculture – that defining it and explaining why it’s important is difficult. What is expected and honorable in one culture may be anathema, disgusting, and disgraceful in another. Continue reading Honor / Dishonorable