It’s not about Abortion

But the abortion issue plays so well.

Had a yellow dog reply to me the other day “I hope Roe is overturned before 2008!” In response to my entry on the impending Democratic Victory at the polls.

The elections that will be impacted are the 2006 elections (2008’s will probably also go against the Reps, but that’s still 2 years off) The complete lack of focus on the part of the sitting government is what is going to cost the Republican’s plenty, not the reversal of Roe. On the subject of what is important to Americans right now, Roe and Abortion isn’t even on the map. Nor do I think it will be reversed or even severely impacted.

Oh, they could change the “on demand” status, and the Religious Reich would crow to the heavens about the “victory” they’d achieved. But science and precedent aren’t behind a reversal of the current ruling. I don’t see how the SCOTUS can see it’s way to a ‘reversal’. Which means that Abortion stays legal and will be privately funded (in fewer places) and that the more logical chemical approaches to ‘family planning’ will take the front seat.

The issue should die there. Why? I made this argument a long time ago, you can’t have a murder if you don’t have a body. There is no body with a morning after pill (the method of choice these days) or one of the other early use chemicals. So attempting to inflict the morality of “life at conception” through the use of law is just another downward spiral. Just brings on the major societal change that much sooner.

The fact is that what people do find important isn’t being addressed. The war, the lackluster economy, etc. The fact that, even with half the income of America at the gov’ts disposal, it still takes years to get a city rebuilt. (N’Orleans)

There is some serious dissatisfaction out there, and I don’t see the Republicans addressing it. Come to think of it, I don’t see mainstream Democrats addressing it either.

Da Vinci Court & Opus Dei

Noticed on news today that the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail are looking for a slice of Dan Brown‘s Da Vinci Code pie.

Maybe they should have written a fiction novel instead of trying for the non-fiction label themselves. They would have needed more of a plot, though.


Read this defense of the antagonists faith from the novel, Opus Dei the other day. I gotta tell you, he doesn’t convince me that the behavior makes sense, or that I would want to sign up for that kind of self abuse. What he does convince me of is why the church is so desperate to retain membership that they would do some of the things that they’ve been accused of doing of late.

“You want me to inflict pain on myself so that I can experience some spiritual growth? Uh, no thanks, dude.”

I would suspect that, if you believed that inflicting pain on yourself lead to your long term benefit, you might come to believe that inflicting pain on others might be to their long term benefit. Sounds pretty sick to me.


Looking forward to watching the movie. Don’t know if I can quite picture Tom Hanks in the lead role, but the clips I saw on the news story seemed pretty interesting.

When are Taxes not Theft?

Heard on the radio today that Austin is going to give 3 million dollars as an incentive to HP so that they’ll graciously relocate here. Oh, I know, they aren’t actually ‘giving’ anything. They’re offering incentives (rebates on taxes) and I’m sure you and I won’t even notice that HP (the multi-national corporation) isn’t paying the same property taxes that us working stiffs are.

Why should we care when we as living, existing entities with limited time in this world are stolen from on a daily basis while a corporation with no real existence and no limit on their lifespan (profitable or not) gets a free pass for 10 years (about a quarter of the average persons working life) and has potentially centuries to make however many millions it is destined to make.

So, to get to the point, when are Taxes not Theft?

When the tax is levied on an legal entity that has no physical being to maintain. When the tax is levied on creatures of law that have no existence outside of law; if the cost of maintaining it’s existence is the maintenance of gov’t and law, can any cost be considered ‘unreasonable’? Can any cost short of self destruction be considered theft, since the alternative is for them to cease to exist?

Taxes levied on creatures of the state cannot be ruled theft. Corporations and other creatures of law, government sheltered businesses of any kind, should carry the burden of gov’t since they owe their very existence to government in the first place, and would have no ability to continue in existence without it.

In my opinion, this is the answer to the age old question of how to fund government. Let those who profit from it, those who would have no existence with out it, pay for it. Starting with corporations like HP.

Might *doesn’t* Make Right

Got into one of those discussions this weekend (I don’t know how I manage to do this so often) someone insisting that the use, or threat of use of force, is required routinely to provide a ‘safe and secure’ society.

When I offered the counter observation that it was hardly the case, and that most poeple would rather do anything to avoid a fight, it was scoffed at; never mind that day after day, time after time, events transpire to prove that people will tend to avoid confrontation if they can.

(one might even argue that it would be a better world if only more people felt there were things worth fighting for, but don’t get me started)

That there are people who only respect force is a given, in my book. That is one of the core reasons that some form of government will always be necessary. Self government only works if you are intelligent enough to modify your own behavior when your desires drive you to take what isn’t yours or in some way transgress the ‘normal’ code of conduct that is currently enforced as law. That there isn’t daily killings on the highway for transgressions of driving ettiquette is all the proof that I need that most people are capable of self government.

If Might made Right, then anything achieved by force would be acceptable to the sensibilities of people in general. Logically, if the use of force “made right”, then I’m not sure what business anyone has objecting to anything that is done to him. Obviously it’s ‘right’ if it can be done, given that force is the only measurement of ‘right’ (being what the word ‘makes’ means) if you accept the statement as true. That people object, and that some people will respond with force (also known as self defense; a concept near and dear to my heart) proves that Might Doesn’t make Right. Not even ‘Right now’.

Lucky for the rest of us. I guess I’ll have to add a few more names to the book, though. The record of people that I will need to apply force to if I ever want anything out of them…

Liable for Compulsive Gambling?

A Pathologist is suing a drug manufacturer, and the casinos that he lost his 14 million dollar Fortune to, because the drug that he was given causes compulsive gambling. I think that not only the drug manufacturer, but the casinos could loose that lawsuit, despite the objections about “where is the justice in this” that I’ve heard.

The lawsuit has nothing to do with justice, and everything to do with philosophy. In the dominant philosophy in the US right now (Kantian Altruism) it is accepted that “we are our brothers keeper” which means that the casinos have the responsibility to tell someone who is hurting himself by loosing too much “you’ve had enough now brother, time to stop”. It doesn’t matter that this introduces a whole new mess of problems for the gambling industry. Just like the can o’ worms that bars now face (and that McDonald’s et al narrowly dodged by adding ‘healthy’ items to their menus) in having to be “brother’s keeper”, the casinos have a responsibility to do likewise.

The only way this can be corrected is to change the dominant philosophy in the world today; a daunting task.

As a Capitalist/Objectivist, I’m not going to bother trying to defend the argument that the casinos should be liable; I’m just stating for the record, that based on Altruist values and reasoning, they are.

Not Public School, Government School

If the schools were public, then the public (at large) would control them. This is clearly not the case with the schools we have now. They are government funded, with government mandated curriculum. They are run by quasi-governmental entities elected in the same fashion as government itself.

They are government schools.

As for what to do about it (at least here in Texas) see my earlier rant.

Beyond the Da Vinci Code

I read the Da Vinci Code; I thought it was a good bit of fiction, a gripping who-done-it with a clever twist at the end, as good as any of the mystery writers that I’ve enjoyed over the years, with just that bit of ‘what if’ that stirs the mental soup even when you’ve finished reading it.

I’d like to stress the word fiction again, just for those jumpy christian types who keep thinking that it is possible to disprove something that is published as fiction.

Seriously, three hours, and counting, of material on the “History Channel” (which gets confounded sometimes as to whether it’s actually supposed to be the PTL or the militarism channel) attempting to prove that a work of fiction is in fact, fiction.

“Yeah, it’s says it right on the spine of the book, thanks for caring, though.”

Not that they didn’t have some interesting sources during the course of the three hours. Sources that lent more credence to the thought that the story was a bit more than fiction, than to the blatant attempt to discredit the book as, once again, fiction.

So, just for grins, here are the sources:

Dr. Deirdre Good – General Theological Seminary
Dr. Karen RallsThe Templars and the Grail
Richard Leigh – Holy Blood, Holy Grail
Timothy FrekeThe Jesus Mysteries
Margaret StarbirdThe Woman with the Alabaster Jar

A heartfelt encouragement of ‘good reading’ I give to you all. May you find it as intriguing as I found the History channel programs frustrating, with the exception of the insights from the sources listed above.

People should question their most firmly held beliefs. Every day. If your beliefs cannot withstand your own questioning, then are they really your beliefs?

Writing without Reason?

I generally have two or three books I’m working on reading at any given time. Currently my non-fiction book of choice is Stephen Hick‘s Explaining Postmodernism. So far it’s been an excellent read for anyone wanting to understand some of the broad philosophical trends of the last few centuries. Currently I’m working through chapter 4 – “The Climate of Collectivism”. I’m marveling over the impact that someone like Rousseau seems to have had over philosophy in recent history.

Whatever else he may have said aside, anyone who writes theses about reason being the root of mankind’s unhappiness, and that we must abandon it in order to be happy, really ought to look to his own house first. As someone who has written volumes over the years, I think I can honestly say that one cannot write a sentence without applying reason, much less an entire treatise on any given subject.

I’ll give him one thing, mankind would have been much happier if he had followed his own advice. 

A Downward Spiral

A friend of mine tried to make a call to me the other day. Seems he was picked up on an old warrant issued on a citation that he had thought had been dismissed. I didn’t actually get to talk to him because Correctional Billing Services refused to allow him to speak to anyone on the phone unless they were willing to pay 50 dollars in advance for the ‘privilege’ while he was being detained at Travis County.

With no other visitation options, they are, there is no other word for it, extorting money from friends and family members of anyone unfortunate enough to get arrested in Travis County. They stole personal information from us under false pretense (asked for address and billing information and then claimed to “not have a contract” with our phone provider. Strangely, they didn’t have a contract with one of the largest mobile phone providers in the country either) and then demanded 50 dollars in advance to be allowed to talk to this friend of ours who has clearly had a hard enough time today.

They then proceeded to tie up our phone line for several minutes after we declined to pay them their usurious fee. The supervisor that we demanded to speak to (none of them would give names) called back after we hung up and proceed to lay the phone down in order to tie up the line on purpose.

[Bad as Travis County is, Williamson County is magnitudes worse, so don’t get me wrong here. I’d sure like to see the contracts for this company pulled. I’d rather see them inhabiting the same cells they currently provide service to, and see how well they like it. But I’ll settle for simply putting them out of business]

It’s been 4 years (and more) of purgatory for this friend of mine, all because he was caught speeding and then agreed to a search of his vehicle by the officer that pulled him over (which I would never agree to, myself) who then found something to arrest him for inside the vehicle. This time they stopped him for a broken headlight, and when they ran his license number came up with the warrant that failed to get dismissed due to some petty little clerk’s vengeful attitude. And off to jail he goes again.

Some would say “well that’s what you get, should have kept his nose clean”; but to me it’s the opposite lesson that should be taken from this. Always assume that you are guilty, and that you will end up in jail. With all the new laws on the books, there’s bound to be something that you can go to jail for if they decide they want you. Learn to ‘bah’ convincingly like a sheep, for as long as it profits you; but don’t bother worrying about whether your nose is clean. They’ll dirty it for you if it’s deemed necessary. Just keep the number of a good lawyer handy, you’ll probably need it.

At lunch the other day, another friend of mine related a story concerning how he was nearly shot for being a drug dealer, just because he had the same name as someone who was fingered by a felon looking to lower his jail time. It was only due to a panicked call to 911 because there were strangers in his yard, that the warrentless invasion of his property was avoided. The vision flashed before his eyes, so he said. His house on the 6 o’clock news, and how they would describe him as one of those ‘kooky gun nuts’ that dared to resist police who were just ‘doing their jobs’.

The downward spiral is in the system, not in the morals of today’s population.

Common Sense Alternatives

It’s my curse to see them, and then spend my time arguing with complete buffoons about them.

Like the smoking argument, the solution the the drinking and driving problem isn’t less alcohol consumption, or more expensive drinks; just as the solution to problems with second hand smoke isn’t keeping people from smoking. It’s architectural; or in this case, a zoning issue. If it was possible to set up neighborhood pubs or sidewalk cafes as they do in other places, it wouldn’t be necessary to drive down to the pub to get a pint, or to the cafe to get a taste. You could walk there.

De-stressing the forbidden nature of alcohol would go along way in stopping teenage drinking as well.

But I don’t expect anyone will listen to this argument any more than they have to the other ones I’ve offered.