Archive for the 'Morality and Philosphy' Category
Posted by David Foster on 18th April 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
Most readers will have at least heard of the anti-Nazi resistance movement known as The White Rose, which was centered around the University of Munich.
On February 22, 1943, three leading members of the group–Hans Scholl, his sister Sophie Scholl, and their friend Christoph Probst–were tried by a “People’s Court” and sentenced to death. The sentences were carried out that same day.
The transcript of the People’s Court’s verdict provides useful insight into the totalitarian mind. It can be found here.
I have some comments on this document, but before posting them I’ll wait to see what others have to say.
What, if anything, particularly strikes you about the transcript?
Posted in Civil Liberties, Germany, History, Morality and Philosphy | 27 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 30th March 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I have been kind of neutral on the whole gay marriage issue. I think it began as an artifact of the AIDS epidemic and an attempt to curb the promiscuity of male gay life. In the early days of the epidemic, I had to inform a very nice nuclear engineer that he was HIV positive. This was well before treatment had developed and it was a death sentence. He told me it was impossible because he had been in a monogamous relationship with his partner for ten years. What could I say ? I once had to inform a nice lady who was a Christian Scientist that she had breast cancer. Her response was that she was losing her breast and her religion at the same time.
It has been taken over by activists who are determined to validate their life style and to force conventional society to accept it as equivalent to heterosexual family life, which it is not. It is surprising the success they have had with the young who seem to accept the argument that it is a “civil rights” issue, which is, of course, nonsense. Mark Steyn usually has something worthwhile to say on most subjects and this time is no exception.
Gays will now be as drearily suburban as the rest of us. A couple of years back, I saw a picture in the paper of two chubby old queens tying the knot at City Hall in Vancouver, and the thought occurred that Western liberalism had finally succeeded in boring all the fun out of homosexuality.
He does have a sense of humor amid reflections on a dying culture.
In the upper echelons of society, our elites practice what they don’t preach. Scrupulously nonjudgmental about everything except traditional Christian morality, they nevertheless lead lives in which, as Charles Murray documents in his book Coming Apart, marriage is still expected to be a lifelong commitment. It is easy to see moneyed gay newlyweds moving into such enclaves, and making a go of it. As the Most Reverend Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, said just before his enthronement the other day, “You see gay relationships that are just stunning in the quality of the relationship.” “Stunning”: What a fabulous endorsement! But, amongst the type of gay couple that gets to dine with the Archbishop of Canterbury, he’s probably right.
The problem, as pointed out years ago by Vice President Dan Quayle, is that the elites set the pattern for those whose lives cannot succeed without the structures of traditional society. They set the pattern, unfortunately, by what they say, not what they do.
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Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Civil Society, Education, Human Behavior, Morality and Philosphy, Politics | 16 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 6th March 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
…since we lost Neptunus Lex
Here again are some of my favorite Lex posts, most but not all of which I linked last year at this time. All are very much worth reading.
The captain wakes before dawn…with a feeling that all is not well with the ship
Reading Solzhenitsyn at the US Naval Academy
Movie vs reality. Lex, who served as executive officer of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), answers some question’s from his daughter’s friend about the movie.
Hornets, Tomcats, Scooters, Girls & Guys, Oh My!
Lex, in a pensive mood
Some reflections on a less-than-perfect carrier landing, a verbal interchange that probably shouldn’t have happened, and the nature of leadership
Have you ever killed anyone? asked the massage therapist, after learning that Lex had been in the Navy.
You’re having a dinner party and have the magical ability to invite 10 people–5 men and 5 women–from all of history. Who would you pick?
A troubled pilot and an F-18: Maybe they saved each other.
Colors and continuity.
Tennyson’s Ulysses, personalized and hyperlinked. Created by Lex to mark his retirement from the Navy. Perhaps my favorite of all of Lex’s posts, and particularly appropriate today.
Bill Brandt, a frequent Chicago Boyz commenter, has a tribute to the Captain at The Lexicans.
Posted in Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, Obits, Poetry, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 19th January 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Bill Kristol (corrected thanks to Joe) has an excellent column today on where Republicans could go in the next four years. I have little confidence that the House GOP can bend Obama to their will on the deficit or spending. He is riding high with the aid of the mainstream press and TV. The public does not understand the spending issue, or at least not enough of us do. The Republicans represent the “Eat your vegetables or there will be no dessert” philosophy and that is not popular right now. What do we do ? Here is one suggestion.
He quotes UN Ambassador Pat Moynihan in 1975.
The United States goes into opposition. This is our circumstance. We are a minority. We are outvoted. This is neither an unprecedented nor an intolerable situation. The question is what do we make of it. So far we have made little—nothing—of what is in fact an opportunity. We go about dazed that the world has changed. We toy with the idea of stopping it and getting off. We rebound with the thought that if only we are more reasonable perhaps “they” will be. . . . But “they” do not grow reasonable. Instead, we grow unreasonable. A sterile enterprise which awaits total redefinition.
I feel much the same way. I would have much preferred the GOP to have voted “present” when the “fiscal cliff” matter was before the House. I would like to see them do the same when the debt ceiling issue is voted on. Let Obama have his way but show that we do not agree.
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Posted in Big Government, Business, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Middle East, Morality and Philosphy, Politics, United Nations | 64 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st January 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I wish I were more enthusiastic but I still wish everyone a good year. The “fiscal cliff” talks have ended about as I expected. The Republicans have pretty much rolled over. The House has yet to vote and I wonder how that will go. If they all grew a spine (or some other anatomical parts) they would vote “present” and let the Democrats pass the bill by themselves. Drudge has a link to the Breitbart story.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the last-minute fiscal cliff deal reached by congressional leaders and President Barack Obama cuts only $15 billion in spending while increasing tax revenues by $620 billion—a 41:1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts.
When Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush increased taxes in return for spending cuts—cuts that never ultimately came—they did so at ratios of 1:3 and 1:2.
“In 1982, President Reagan was promised $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes,” Americans for Tax Reform says of those two incidents. “The tax hikes went through, but the spending cuts did not materialize. President Reagan later said that signing onto this deal was the biggest mistake of his presidency.
“In 1990, President George H.W. Bush agreed to $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. The tax hikes went through, and we are still paying them today. Not a single penny of the promised spending cuts actually happened.”
This will be another such fake compromise. However, The Gods of the Copybook Headings are coming.
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four –
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
It’s too long to post all of it and, for those who are unsure of the source of the title, copybooks were supplied for all school children in England, when it was still England. The copy books had traditional aphorisms on each page that children were expected to learn.
Another expression that relates to the books was someone “blotted his copybook.” This meant making an error that was difficult to correct.
The “copybook headings” to which the title refers were proverbs or maxims, extolling virtues such as honesty or fair dealing that were printed at the top of the pages of 19th-century British students’ special notebook pages, called copybooks. The school-children had to write them by hand repeatedly down the page.
The work has been described as “beautifully captur[ing] the thinking of Schumpeter and Keynes.” David Gilmour says that while topics of the work are the “usual subjects”, the commentary “sound better in verse” while Alice Ramos says that they are “far removed from Horace’s elegant succinctness” but do “make the same point with some force.”
I don’t think I would agree that Keynes is an example of the copybook headings’ wisdom although his recommendations have been wildly distorted by politicians.
We are coming to a period when math will be far more determinant than wishful thinking in terms of our lives.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man –
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began –
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire –
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
Hopefully, not this year. Happy New Year.
Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Education, Human Behavior, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Poetry, Public Finance | 5 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 3rd November 2012 (All posts by Shannon Love)
[Note: This post isn't really about abortion itself but instead about the exception Democrats make for the issue of abortion in their ideology. It didn't have to be abortion with all it's related moral and legal complexity. It could have been some other medical procedure or anything that affects the human body. Don't get distracted by the broader issues of abortion itself.]
The 2012 Democratic platform states:
The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.. [emp added]
The Democrats claim to support abortion, even to the extremes, because they believe that women own their own bodies and have the right to perfectly control anything that happens to those bodies. They argue that as long as any part of the fetus/infant remains inside the woman’s body, it directly affects her body and she has a right kill the fetus if she so chooses. Any interference in that choice is social and government violation of the principle of self-ownership and control.
That sounds good … but the Democrats are obviously lying. The Democrats don’t really believe that women own their own bodies nor that women have an innate right to control what happens to those bodies.
I state that with perfect confidence because once you stop to think about it, it becomes obvious that the Democrats commitment to “Our bodies, our choice,” begins and ends with abortion.
Far from being the natural outgrowth of a broad philosophical commitment to the idea of self-ownership and control of our own bodies, the Democrats stance on the right to abortion is the sole and glaring exception to an ideology that otherwise treats the bodies of women like the bodies of government owned cattle.
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Posted in Civil Liberties, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Political Philosophy, Religion | 7 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 1st November 2012 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
The Human trafficking scandal involving Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) raises further questions about the Obama Administration’s troubling record of selectively enforcing American law for political gain, and the Main Stream Media’s active cooperation with that agenda.
The Drudge Report broke a scandal involving Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) going to a tier 3 Human Trafficking nation — the Dominican Republic — to visit prostitutes. According to the State Department here These are the following U.S. Laws on Trafficking in Persons that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is in jeopardy from —
1. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 (P.L. 106-386),
2. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 (H.R. 2620),
3. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (H.R. 972), and
4. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 7311), also known as the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.
The TVPA laws are set up for easy extra-territorial law enforcement as they are laws where guilt is a matter of fact and not intent.
Statutory Rape Laws are an example of a law of fact. It does not matter if you didn’t know the person you were sleeping with was under age. If you slept with him or her, you are guilty. Being drunk or any other excuse only applies to the penalty phase, not the guilt or innocence of a felony sex offender conviction.
Similarly, under the TVPA, if you are an American citizen and sleep with a 15-year old prostitute in a Tier 3 nation like Thailand or the Dominican Republic. You are going to be in jeopardy not just for sleeping with a prostitute, but the American age of consent applied to you over seas. Even if the local age of consent is very much under that of the American state the visiting American is legal resident of. [Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) is subject to age provisions of New Jersey Permanent Statues, Title 2C, Chapter 14, Section 2]
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Posted in Americas, Anglosphere, Crime and Punishment, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Politics | 17 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 22nd September 2012 (All posts by Shannon Love)
Mitt Romney gave 29.65% of his income last year to charity and gave an average of 13.5% over the last 20 years. No surprise. He’s a Mormon. That’s what they do along with wacky things like staying married, paying attention to their children, being involved in their communities and other things that Leftists find strange and disturbing. The people we should really be surprised to find generous are the only notionally religious Leftists like Kerry, Edwards, Biden and Obama.
Surprise! The ironclad faith of Secular-Leftists in themselves as vastly more compassionate than anyone else, is, according to the best research, nothing but self-righteous, egomaniacal, self-aggrandizement. Leftists make the Pharisees of New Testament parable look pretty good in comparison. At least when the Pharisees bragged about their piety and how much they gave to the Temple, they actually performed the rituals and gave money. Leftists brag about how compassionate they are and then don’t give much from their own time and pocket books.
This would be a good time to mention again Arthur C. Brooks’ Who Really Cares, which, as near as I can tell, is the only scientific (as much as sociology can be scientific) study of charitable giving in the US. Brooks was very careful in methodology correcting for variables of income, race, etc as well as breaking apart giving to religious versus secular charities.
I found a summary online [PDF] that covers most of the findings of the book in condensed form.. It makes an eye opening read if you’ve always taken the Left’s self-mythology for granted.
Some choice bits:
Conservatives are more likely to give to charity than liberals, but only by a percentage point or two. Liberals, on the other hand, are more likely to volunteer their time than conservatives, but only by a percentage point or two. This might make it seem as if there really isn’t that much difference between the two groups when it comes to giving. However, when factors like average dollar amounts donated are examined, the differences become striking: “In 2000, households headed by a conservative gave, on average, 30 percent more money than a household headed by a liberal.” This, despite the fact that families headed by liberals earned more on average than conservative families.
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Posted in Book Notes, Leftism, Libertarianism, Morality and Philosphy, Political Philosophy, Religion, Society | 14 Comments »
Posted by Zenpundit on 1st September 2012 (All posts by Zenpundit)
Cross-posted from zenpundit.com
Professor Harvey C. Mansfield of Harvard University and a fellow at the Hoover Institution is famous for his scholarship on classical political philosophy (I often recommend his edition on Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy) as well as his provocative commentary on social and political issues. While I liked his take on Machiavelli, I warmed to him further when, after his book on manliness came out and some reporter asked Mansfield if it was “manly” to carry a gun? He answered to the effect, “Yes, but not as manly as carrying a sword”.
Mansfield has a new article out in Defining Ideas on the nature of elections and democracy worth reading:
Are You Smarter Than a Freshman?
….Machiavelli believes that human beings are divided into the few who want to rule and the many who do not care to rule themselves but do not want to be ruled by others either. Then those who want to rule must conceal their rule from the many they rule if they wish to succeed. How can they do this? Machiavelli went about conceiving a “new mode of ruling,” a hidden government that puts the people “under a dominion they do not see.” Government is hidden when it appears not to be imposed on you from above but when it comes from you, when it is self-imposed.
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Posted in Academia, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Elections, History, Human Behavior, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Politics | 2 Comments »
Posted by Ginny on 26th August 2012 (All posts by Ginny)
Weekly Standard. Breitbart.
This is difficult territory. But someone I deeply respect, whose background is evangelical, said he saw abortion in about any circumstances as deeply wrong; he’s also voting for Obama. The schism between sides may mean he hasn’t been exposed to audios like those linked above. Or he doesn’t want to know. So, this is difficult because that Illinois hearing and its transcripts define an in-your-face position.
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Posted in Elections, Morality and Philosphy, Obama | 15 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 24th August 2012 (All posts by Shannon Love)
Sorry I haven’t been blogging any during the last eight months but the truth is that I’ve been wrestling with a big decision that affects everyone and I didn’t quite know how to explain it. Now, I’ve come to a decision and I think it only right that I inform you all of it so that you have some time to prepare yourself.
Here goes… I’m turning off the Universe.
Yep, that’s right, the whole shebang, from littlest Higgs Boson to the greatest galaxy clusters. Say goodnight, Gracie.
I know this will be hard to accept, but, you see, you’re not real. I mean, you are real as far as the experience of yourself and every other human being you know of but you aren’t, you know, real real.
I’m not explaining this very well.
You see, I wrote you. That is to say I programmed you. I programmed you and every other person, place and thing in your universe. You’re just a simulation, a very big video game, based loosely on once-real people, places and things that I created. Not only did I create the simulation but I can start it, stop it, rewind it and alter it at will.
And all that kinda makes me god. I mean not GOD god but just god of the universe you experience. Let’s just say, “god as far as you are concerned.”
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Posted in Christianity, Human Behavior, Morality and Philosphy, Religion, Science | 19 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 4th August 2012 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I was struck yesterday by a post on Ann Althouse’s blog, and by a Virginia Postrel piece that makes the same point, how wrong Obama was to say “You didn’t build that..”
The incident, so characteristic of this leftist ideologue president, is the stimulus for theorizing about how economies work, and perhaps why this one is so stuck with Obama in the White House.
There is an excellent analysis by David Warren printed last year in Canada and which I have saved. It is a comparison of Obama with Gorbachev and brings considerable light on the subject of success of nations.
Yet they do have one major thing in common, and that is the belief that, regardless of what the ruler does, the polity he rules must necessarily continue. This is perhaps the most essential, if seldom acknowledged, insight of the post-modern “liberal” mind: that if you take the pillars away, the roof will continue to hover in the air.
Gorbachev seemed to assume, right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall and then beyond it, that his Communist Party would recover from any temporary setbacks, and that the long-term effects of his glasnost and perestroika could only be to make it bigger and stronger.
There is a corollary of this largely unspoken assumption: that no matter what you do to one part of a machine, the rest of the machine will continue to function normally.
This brief discussion fits well with the book that was recommended by the Postrel piece.
The Bad History Behind ‘You Didn’t Build That’
By Virginia Postrel
The controversy surrounding President Barack Obama’s admonishment that “if you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen” has defied the usual election-year pattern.
Normally a political faux pas lasts little more than a news cycle. People hear the story, decide what they think, and quickly move on to the next brouhaha, following what the journalist Mickey Kaus calls the Feiler Faster Thesis. A gaffe that might have ruined a candidate 20 years ago is now forgotten within days.
Three weeks later, Obama’s comment is still a big deal.
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Posted in Big Government, Britain, Business, Civil Society, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, France, Human Behavior, Judaism, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy | 9 Comments »
Posted by Charles Cameron on 29th April 2012 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
[ introducing the world of problem solvers and creatives to the world of theologians and contemplatives and vice versa -- and then, Simone Weil -- cross-posted from Zenpundit ]
I believe this is an important post in its own way, though a short one: because it links two areas that I believe are joined at the hip in “reality” but seldom linked together in thinking about either one.
I mean, creativity, as in the guys working away in the garage on something that when it emerges will be the new Apple, and grace, the mysterious and mercurial manner in which inspiration touches down on us…
In the first part of this post, then, I would simply like to suggest that those entrepreneurial folk who follow their dreams — typically into garages or caves — and beg borrow and steal from relatives, friends and passing acquaintances the funds they need to continue their pursuit of some goal or grail under the rubric “do what you love and the money will follow” are, in fact, following a variant of a far earlier rubric, “seek ye first the kingdom of God … and all these things shall be added unto you” – and that creative insight or aha! is in fact a stepped down and secular version of what theology has long termed epiphany – the shining through of the eternal into our mortal lives.
But this will get preachy if I belabor the point: what I am hoping to do is to open the literatures of the world’s contemplative traditions to the interest of “creatives” and the literatures of creativity, problem solving, and autopioesis to the interest of theologians and contemplatives…
And Simone Weil.
Simone Weil, a philosopher I very much admire, wrote a book of superb beauty and wisdom titled Gravity and Grace. I must suppose that her title was somewhere in the back room of my mind, working quietly away behind the scenes, when the title for this post popped up.
Weil is, shall we say, hard liquor for the mind and spirit — highly distilled, potent, to be sipped, no more than two paragraphs or pages at a time…
A Jew who loved the Mass yet refused baptism, an ally of communists and a resistance fighter against the Nazis, a factory worker, mystic, philosopher. The poster at the top of this post is for a film of her life: I doubt it will be a comfortable film, but the discomfort will likely be of the inspirational kind.
Posted in Entrepreneurship, Morality and Philosphy | 14 Comments »
Posted by Carl from Chicago on 3rd March 2012 (All posts by Carl from Chicago)
When I was a consultant I traveled throughout the US and worked in many different states and regions. I grew up in the Midwest, where my core values were shaped. A general description of these values in business would be a variant of the “golden rule” – from wikipedia:
The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a maxim, ethical code, or morality that essentially states either of the following:
(Positive form): One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.
(Negative/prohibitive form, also called the Silver Rule): One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated.
This concept describes a “reciprocal” or “two-way” relationship between one’s self and others that involves both sides equally and in a mutual fashion.
This sort of approach wasn’t out of the “goodness of your heart”, it was a fair and reasonable way to approach your customer or supplier. An example – you are working on a job at a price that you both agreed upon, and then you find that things are significantly different than planned and you will come up far short of your original profitability or even lose money on the job – what do you do?
You approach the customer, subtly, and describe some of the new or unseen events that have changed the scope of the project since inception. The customer has a few options – they can 1) give you nothing and tell you to “eat the difference” 2) split the difference on some of the unforeseen items which may not make you whole but softens the blow 3) not change the current deal at all but implicitly or explicitly tell you that there are future opportunities to make yourself whole.
More often than not, we eventually came to a #2 type resolution, although it was often linked with a #3 type opportunity. Rarely were we just told to “pound sand” and take the #1 option.
Why is it this way? On the surface it would seem that, as a customer, #1 would always be preferable. You have a binding contract, why not stick it to your vendor? A few reasons – a bitter vendor is unlikely to do good work, and will look at the contract in detail to find a way to stick it back to you by living to the “letter” not “spirit” of the agreement. An additional component is that if you behave as if life was a series of single transactions with no consequences to others (i.e. a series of #1 events), you eventually end up with a reputation as a “bad customer” and this will come to damage you in various ways; often it will get raised from the vendors boss to the customers’ boss at the golf course or some other type of less formal venue; and most companies don’t want a reputation for being difficult and vindictive. An additional element is that this type of behavior is generally not how people in the Midwest live their lives – it will probably be correlated with other types of behaviors (selfishness, not looking out for co-workers, extreme ambition) that will lead to at least a mild ostracism or at least career damage.
The second part of a series of #1 issues is that the SUPPLIER can just walk away from the job in the first place if they aren’t going to earn a sufficient profit. Sure, you can sue them, but the courts take forever and meanwhile, whatever project you hired the supplier for in the first place is languishing (i.e. a product launch, or a cost reduction project, etc…). This is a variant of the golden rule on the part of the supplier, which means that they have an obligation to do the best work possible under the spirit of the agreement to make the purchaser look good.
In my limited experience the apex of #1 experiences on all side was New York. Even the simplest item became a desperate bargaining scrum, with both sides scouring the other for weaknesses and gleefully “sticking it to them” whenever possible. If you approached a NY transaction with the attitude of a midwesterner, you were going to get screwed, because they were going to walk all over you and push for favorable terms and lord over you their advantages while you would be loathe to use the same tactics in return. Soon even the dimmest types have to take on #1 attitudes, and then regular update meetings are just taking turns throwing the other guy “under the bus” and scheming to leverage the fine print. A real joy.
The difficulty with #1 behavior is that it “negates” itself when confronted by both parties using this set of tactics. Now you get back to equilibrium, but the entire transaction and work effort is bitter and poisoned. As far as future work, you just “roll forward” your grievances into the NEXT transaction and find ever more creative ways to win with #1 tactics in the future, as both sides escalate.
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Posted in Chicagoania, Economics & Finance, Morality and Philosphy | 10 Comments »
Posted by TM Lutas on 29th February 2012 (All posts by TM Lutas)
Francesca Minerva and Alberto Giubilini wrote a paper entitled After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?. They were subsequently shocked that their argument in favor of infanticide instead of putting up for adoption led to death threats.
There is something deeply wrong in the state of modern, academic philosophy and ethics. The first problem is in making the argument. The second is in being so isolated from society that the reaction to the article surprises them.
Update: The journal article has been moved and now resides behind a paywall.
Posted in Academia, Medicine, Morality and Philosphy | 9 Comments »
Posted by onparkstreet on 11th January 2012 (All posts by onparkstreet)
In a previous post, I asked a question about leverages in terms of foreign policy:
A key–an essential–question on leverages at Abu Muqawama (Dr. Andrew Exum):
Where things get tricky is when one tries to decide what to do about that. The principle problem is one that has been in my head watching more violent crackdowns in Bahrain and Egypt: the very source of U.S. leverage against the regimes in Bahrain and Egypt is that which links the United States to the abuses of the regime in the first place. So if you want to take a “moral” stand against the abuses of the regime in Bahrain and remove the Fifth Fleet, congratulations! You can feel good about yourself for about 24 hours — or until the time you realize that you have just lost the ability to schedule a same-day meeting with the Crown Prince to press him on the behavior of Bahrain’s security forces. Your leverage, such as it was, has just evaporated. The same is true in Egypt. It would feel good, amidst these violent clashes between the Army and protesters, to cut aid to the Egyptian Army. But in doing so, you also reduce your own leverage over the behavior of the Army itself.
Okay, so we have leverage with an Army cracking down on its own people, an Army fattened on US military aid and training. I thought bilateral military training was supposed to mitigate the worst instincts of some armies? Isn’t that the theory? What does it mean to have leverage? To what end? To what purpose? I don’t know the answer and I don’t think anyone does, so Dr. Exum has a point. We have no strategy (link goes to Zen) within which to place “trade offs”. Well, if we do, I can’t see it.
Greg Scoblete at The Compass (RealClearWorld) asks the question in a much better fashion (I enjoy reading that blog, whether I agree or disagree with specific points):
But all of this begs an important question – leverage for what? The idea is that the U.S. invests in places like Bahrain and Egypt because it needs or wants something in return. During the Cold War, it was keeping these states out of the Soviet orbit. In the 1990s and beyond, it was ensuring these states remained friendly with Israel and accommodative to U.S. military power in the region. Today, what? What is it that U.S. policy requires from Egypt and Bahrain that necessitates supporting these regimes during these brutal crack downs?
How should we view American policy toward the Middle East? What is the larger strategic framework within which we ought to view the various relationships? What is the optimal posture for the United States? Folks, I don’t know. I’d love to know your opinions on the subject.
Posted in Blogging, History, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics, Russia, Society, Terrorism, United Nations, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 6th November 2011 (All posts by Shannon Love)
Every year, thousands of boy and girl scouts head out into the wild and set up camp sites. They even do so on a scale of thousands when they have Jamborees. Even more impressively, the vast majority of the people organizing and doing the work are just teenagers. We see the same level of impressive self-organization when natural disasters hit. Strangers instantly come together to pool limited resources and help each other out. Within hours, they can create a physically safe and emotionally supportive ad hoc community while they wait for outside help to arrive.
Given all that, just how pathetic is it that the various “Occupy” mobs can’t even come close to providing the same level of effective self-organization in their little campground cum shantytowns? Even the most trivial decisions take hours of protracted debate that often end without deciding on an action. The “Occupiers” in many cities have rioted, attacking random individuals and destroying businesses large and small. Almost all of the sites nationwide are plagued internally by violence and theft. The New York Occupy campground has even had to establish a women’s only tent to prevent rapes.
Do these pathetic, immature, egocentric twits actually expect the rest of us to allow them to influence any major public policy? When people are losing jobs and homes and entire communities and even states are sliding into bankruptcy, why would we turn to such overt incompetents for leadership? If they can’t manage a campground or honestly manage 500,000 donated dollars, why would we think they can manage a city government or regulate a bank?
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Posted in Anti-Americanism, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Politics | 14 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 4th November 2011 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
I started following what I called “The Affair of the Danish Mo-Toons” way back at the very beginning of that particular imbroglio, followed by the ruckus last year over “Everybody Draw Mohammad” and now we seem to have moved on to the Charlie Hebdo fiasco – a French satirical magazine dared to poke fun at the founder of Islam … by putting a cartoon version on the cover of their latest issue, with the result that their offices were firebombed. I think at this point it would have been fair to assume that representatives of the Religion of Peace would respond in a not-quite-so peaceful manner, so all props for the Charlie Hebdo management for even going ahead with it – for even thinking of standing up for freedom of thought, freedom of a press, even freedom to take the piss out of a target. (The following is what I wrote last year – still relevant to this latest case) Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Civil Society, Islam, Morality and Philosphy, Religion, That's NOT Funny, The Press | 8 Comments »
Posted by Joseph Fouche on 15th October 2011 (All posts by Joseph Fouche)
Like other commenters, I was struck by this observation of Lex’s while he related his tale of his initial Occupy Chicago encounter:
My hatred of the Boomers, who have brainwashed and wasted these kids
is boundless. There is nothing wrong with them. They have just never
been taught anything but bullshit. They have been betrayed by their
parents and their teachers. It is very depressing. The country has
been shamefully dumbed down.
Three weeks ago, Thomas S. Monson, the president of my church, observed:
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Posted in Morality and Philosphy, Political Philosophy, Rhetoric | 35 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 5th October 2011 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
(This is an essay I constructed some time ago, for the Daily Brief – but in light of ongoing events in the Middle East is still quite relevant, and worthy of being recycled to a larger audience.)
The pufferfish is an odd little creature with mostly poisonous flesh, which has developed as a primary defense, the ability to inflate itself in order to appear larger to predators. In addition, the spiny pufferfish is covered all over it’s body with short bony barbs. In full defense mode, it looks like nothing so much as a small spiky ball, a sort of aquatic porcupine, attempting to look larger and more combative, more dangerous than it actually is. I was reminded of these qualities a some years ago, when I read something apropos of an Islamic hissy-fit over Pope Benedicts’ mildly stated observation as regards violence and Islam. I am not quite sure where I read it, or anything but the general thrust of the suggestion, which was in a way, revolutionary. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Christianity, History, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Islam, Middle East, Morality and Philosphy, Religion, Society, Terrorism | 5 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 7th September 2011 (All posts by Shannon Love)
An era of the conceivable made concrete…And of the casually miraculous.
Adrian Veidt, The Watchmen by Allan Moore
A while back I found a post by pseudo-intellectual Peter Frase, pulling several mental muscles trying to imagine what it would be like to live in a Star Trek utopia if only it didn’t have intellectual property laws. [h/t Instapundit-->Overcoming Bias] That got me to thinking about how our contemporary world stacks up against Star Trek’s utopian vision.
Star Trek is often used as a starting point for musing about this or that utopia because everything in Star Trek seems so wonderful. Star Trek is Gene Roddenberry‘s vision of New Frontier democratic socialism evolved to a utopia so perfect that individuals have to head out into the wilds of deep space just to find some adventure. Watching Star Trek, one naturally begins to wonder what it would be like to live in a world so advanced that all of the problems we deal with today have been resolved or minimized to insignificance.
Well, we don’t actually have to imagine what it would be like to live in a Star Trek-like, radically egalitarian, technologically advanced, “post-scarcity” society because we live in a Star Trek-like utopia right now, right here, in contemporary America.
How can I say that? Simple, Star Trek the Next Generation takes place 353 years in the future from 2364 to 2370. If we were to think of ourselves as living in a futuristic science-fiction society we would likewise look back 353 years in the past to 1658.
Image what modern America would look like to the people of any of the world’s major cultures back in 1658! Any novel, movie, TV or comic book set in day-to-day middle-class America would read like astounding science fiction to anyone from 1658. Our society looks even more utopian in comparison to 1658 than Star Trek world 2370 looks to us today.
I’m not just talking about all the amazing and frightening technology like nuclear power/weapons, spacecraft, cars, cell phones, computers, the Internet, etc. I’m also talking about issues of want, individual dignity and social/political equality.
Just to start, by the standards of anywhere 1658 ,contemporary America is a land completely devoid of material poverty. No one in 1658 would consider anyone in America, even a street person, to be even marginally materially poor. Poor people today in American have a material standard of living that surpasses that of even the wealthiest individual in 1658.
For example, just turning on a faucet and getting safe, clean drinking water would look as amazing to a 1658 person as a Star Trek replicator looks to us today.
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Posted in Human Behavior, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Science, Society, Tech | 12 Comments »
Posted by Zenpundit on 3rd September 2011 (All posts by Zenpundit)
[Cross-posted from zenpundit.com]
[NEW! Incoming link from Outside the Beltway - see addendum below]
There has been much ado about Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter’s enunciation of “Responsibility to Protect” as a justification for the Obama administration’s unusually executed intervention (or assistance to primarily British and French intervention) in Libya in support of rebels seeking to oust their lunatic dictator, Colonel Moammar Gaddafi. In “R2P” the Obama administration, intentionally or not, has found its own Bush Doctrine, and unsurprisingly, the magnitude of such claims – essentially a declaration of jihad against what is left of the Westphalian state system by progressive elite intellectuals – are beginning to draw fire for implications that stretch far beyond Libya.
People in the strategic studies, IR and national security communities have a parlor game of wistfully reminiscing about the moral clarity of Containment and the wisdom of George Kennan. They have been issuing tendentiously self-important “Mr. Z” papers for so long that they failed to notice that if anyone has really written the 21st Century’s answer to Kennan’s X article, it was Anne-Marie Slaughter’s battle cry in the pages of The Atlantic.
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Posted in Academia, Big Government, Civil Liberties, Europe, International Affairs, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Obama, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, United Nations, USA, War and Peace | 12 Comments »
Posted by Charles Cameron on 30th August 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
[ cross-posted from Zenpundit -- values ]
Sacrifice was high among the unifying ideals that many Americans hoped would emerge from the rubble of ground zero, where so many Good Samaritans had practiced it. But the president scuttled the notion on the first weekend after the attack, telling Americans that it was his “hope” that “they make no sacrifice whatsoever” beyond, perhaps, tolerating enhanced airline security. Few leaders in either party contradicted him. Bush would soon implore us to “get down to Disney World in Florida” and would even lend his image to a travel-industry ad promoting tourism. Our marching orders were to go shopping.
I’ve drawn this partial paragraph from Frank Rich‘s New York piece of August 27th, The 9/11 decade is now over. The terrorists lost. But who won? – it really caught my attention.
If you shake it down in the mind like someone panning for gold to get rid of the lightweight details, the heavier material that remains for you to sort through will, I think, consist of two words: “sacrifice” as representing one order of values, gleaming in contrast with the darker “shopping” representing another.
Yesterday I made a post about words and culture, this one is about culture and sacrifice… what comes next will be the series on ritual and ceremonial…
Posted in Civil Society, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, Morality and Philosphy, Society | 3 Comments »
Posted by onparkstreet on 28th August 2011 (All posts by onparkstreet)
I left the following comment at zenpundit :
“I don’t touch ink or paper
This hand never grasped a pen
The greatness of four ages
Kabir tells with his mouth alone”
Tom Tom Club (Wordy Rappinghood) says,
“Words in paper, words in books
Words on TV, words for crooks
Words of comfort, words of peace
Words to make the fighting cease”
And Asia Times writes,
The channel broadcasts in Pashto language from 12 pm to 3 pm in the afternoon and 6 pm to 8 pm in the evening. The programs include jihadi taranay (jihadi motivational songs….
And drones the size of bees, some day
And mobiles crossing the Kush; they play
Tribal songs for jihadi alms, a call-to-arms
On 11/11 our cell phones say:
And Americans can talk endlessly about the importance of democracy, but they never thought to explain to the chiefs why they came back to Afghanistan. They arrived with suitcases full of cash to buy help – but they never told the chiefs that they were there because the way al Qaeda attacked the US on 9/11 meant that many Americans couldn’t find so much as a fingernail of their massacred relatives to bury because the bodies were ground to dust.
Not to be able to bury one’s dead or even a piece of one’s dead — knowing THAT would have meant a great deal to the chiefs and those in their tribes. But the Americans never explained, never even cried, never showed emotion. THEY NEVER ACTED HUMAN; they never interacted with the Afghans in ways that are the same for all — not only all humans but all mammalian creatures. In other words, they displayed not a whit of common sense.
What do you talk about when you first sit down with a man whose life has been circumscribed by war and who knows nothing about you and your tribe? The answer is you tell me of your battles, I’ll tell you of mine and in this way we establish a commonality of experience.
You transform the rug or patch of sand you’re sitting on into the terrain of the battle, and you use sticks and stones or teacups as place markers for the troops to show how the battle was fought. In this way, you demonstrate that the battle is truly in your heart, that it means enough to you that you can bring it alive for another.
If you don’t show what’s in your heart, then you haven’t established a basis for developing a mutual understanding, so then there is no way to move off the dime. Only when you’ve demonstrated by your stories of war that your tribe also shed much blood for independence, can you move on to explaining stuff about government. You can explain that you were losing too many of your sons in battle so you devised a type of government that would help defend your freedoms and with less bloodshed. And so on.
– Pundita, “Americans, who are you?
Contra Pundita, I bet this has been done sporadically between some who are working together as NATO attempts to build an Afghan Army – one able to protect its borders and serve as an irritant to transnational groups in the region. Many stories have yet to be told….
Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Americas, Anglosphere, Blogging, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Poetry, USA | 6 Comments »
Posted by Charles Cameron on 21st August 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
[ cross-posted from Zenpundit -- philosophy, psychology, history, game theory, dilemma, commons cooperation, analogy, 9/11 ]
I have an interest in game theory that is much like my interest in music: I can’t play, but I can whistle. And so it is that I’ve substituted curiosity about the history of the thing, and whatever analogical patterns I can discern there, for any actual ability at the thing itself.
Somewhere in my analogy-collector’s mind, then, I have these two quotes, cut from the living tissue of their writer’s thoughts, and prepped fpor contemplation. I find them, in retrospect, quite remarkable.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in On the Inequality among Mankind, wrote:
Such was the manner in which men might have insensibly acquired some gross idea of their mutual engagements and the advantage of fulfilling them, but this only as far as their present and sensible interest required; for as to foresight they were utter strangers to it, and far from troubling their heads about a distant futurity, they scarce thought of the day following. Was a deer to be taken? Every one saw that to succeed he must faithfully stand to his post; but suppose a hare to have slipped by within reach of any one of them, it is not to be doubted but he pursued it without scruple, and when he had seized his prey never reproached himself with having made his companions miss theirs.
And David Hume, in A Treatise of Human Nature:
Your corn is ripe today; mine will be so tomorrow. ‘Tis profitable for us both that I shou’d labour with you today, and that you shou’d aid me tomorrow. I have no kindness for you, and know that you have as little for me. I will not, therefore, take any pains on your account; and should I labour with you on my account, I know I shou’d be disappointed, and that I shou’d in vain depend upon your gratitude. Here then I leave you to labour alone: You treat me in the same manner. The seasons change; and both of us lose our harvests for want of mutual confidence and security.
Those two, I believe, are fairly well known – I was delighted the other day to run across a third sample for my collection. William James, in The Will to Believe, writes:
Wherever a desired result is achieved by the co-operation of many independent persons, its existence as a fact is a pure consequence of the precursive faith in one another of those immediately concerned. A government, an army, a commercial system, a ship, a college, an athletic team, all exist on this condition, without which not only is nothing achieved, but nothing is even attempted. A whole train of passengers (individually brave enough) will be looted by a few highwaymen, simply because the latter can count on one another, while each passenger fears that if he makes a movement of resistance, he will be shot before any one else backs him up. If we believed that the whole car-full would rise at once with us, we should each severally rise, and train-robbing would never even be attempted.
The first two quotes are of interest as showing the forms that an idea which will later be mathematized can take. They are, if you like, precursors of game theoretic constructs, although neither Hume nor Rousseau appears to be mentioned in von Neumann and Morgenstern‘s Theory of Games and Economic Behavior.
The third, I think, is even more interesting.. Consider the eerie and heroic “fulfillment” of that third paragraph if read “as prophecy” – in this account from the 9/11 Commission Report of the events on United Flight 93:
During at least five of the passengers’ phone calls, information was shared about the attacks that had occurred earlier that morning at the World Trade Center. Five calls described the intent of passengers and surviving crew members to revolt against the hijackers. According to one call, they voted on whether to rush the terrorists in an attempt to retake the plane. They decided, and acted. At 9:57, the passenger assault began. Several passengers had terminated phone calls with loved ones in order to join the revolt. One of the callers ended her message as follows:
“Everyone’s running up to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.” The cockpit voice recorder captured the sounds of the passenger assault muffled by the intervening cockpit door.
Yesterday’s highwayman is today’s hijacker, yesterday’s train is today’s plane…
If there’s anything to be learned here, it’s not a novel way of protecting trains or aircraft from passengers of malicious intent –
It’s that there’s a subtle thread running from something akin to instinct that’s also close to unspoken common sense, surfacing for a moment in the writings of thoughtful individuals, leading on occasion to the formulation of exact mathematical principles — but also (i) available, (ii) in the human repertoire, (iii) to be acted upon, (iv) cooperatively, (v) as required, (vi) via the medium of human common interest, (vii) which provides the resultant trust.
Which may in turn offer some reason for hope — for a humanity in various forms of communal distress…
Posted in Arts & Letters, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Education, Environment, History, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Quotations, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »