Category Archives: Philosophy and Discussion

Food For Thought: The Logic of Illogic

A group of writers (and avid readers) I belong to have been discussing some of the issues that plague modern literature, specifically modern science fiction. That said, much of what we see there applies to modern “literature” of any stripe.

To provide some food for thought this day, please go check out this excellent essay on the logic of illogic and think a bit about the points it raises.

A Special Rejection of Persuasibility

I’ve written before about Rational Discourse and the Doctrine of Persuasibility.  It is more than an intellectual exercise, and is not — no matter how much some might wish it so — a pseudo-intellectual bit of blather.  What it is, is the cornerstone of the Marketplace of Ideas that in turn is a cornerstone of our current Republic.

The idea is simple:  people are capable of rational thought, of making good choices to benefit the whole/greater good even at the cost of short-term gain for themselves.  Or, simply put, to govern themselves per the ideals of the Enlightenment.

However, this is dependent upon people choosing to be rational, to consider the facts, and agree to be persuaded based on new information.   Good discussions on the topic accept that for every person there are topics for which this will not apply, and religion is one of those topics for many.  Hence, a position held as a matter of religious faith is one that is not subject to facts or debate, and will be held as a matter of faith.  This led to defining all such beliefs as being a “religious” matter for the holder of that belief.  John Barnes has done a very good job of discussing this and related issues, and I commend his works to you.

One of the cornerstones of any totalitarian effort is to shut down the Marketplace of Ideas, and to prevent rational discourse.  Any political/philosophical effort that does so is totalitarian no matter how it bills itself, and as such I would note that this makes a good litmus test.

Efforts to limit debate, or to change terms of debate, as seen in the ever-expanding ideal of political correctness/racial (other) sensitivity, are contrary to the ideals of the Republic and the Marketplace of Ideas.  It is not about making speech hate-free, but using the pretext to prevent a full and honest discussion.

I’ve been encountering a tactic that deserves a good and honest name, even if it is likely to evoke a strong reaction.  This may be a corollary to a religious belief, but I’m not sure that it is as it appears not to be an honestly held belief.

This tactic is to make a comment about a topic in a way so as to appear to be a “religious” matter for the commenter; but, the real purpose is to demean and denigrate both a differing position and the person holding that position.  In the process, it effectively shuts down any possibility of discourse with both the person committing the tactic and with the larger audience that is following the conversation in person or in the media.

I’ve seen this done with topics ranging from diet and nutrition to individual rights/power of the Federal government.  The methodology is always the same, and the comment is snarky, devoid of substance, and done as a “drive by” to help prevent any effective engagement or response.  In fact, the person so doing usually runs from any attempt at engagement (a position of intellectual and moral cowardice, IMO).  I posit that such is rarely a truly held position, religious or otherwise, but nothing more or less than an attempt to “slam” both a person and the philosophical/political/religious/other concept held by them.

While I would normally avoid a label that is going to serve as a “hot button” that can limit debate, I’ve come to call this tactic an “asshole.”  Unlike a real rectum, which serves a valuable and useful purpose in eliminating waste from an organism, this tactic is designed to prevent the discharge of waste from the body politic and to increase the level of vitriol even as it shuts down discourse.  The fact that I also find it an accurate descriptor of the user makes it all the more appropriate.

There is more that I could say, but the basics for generating some discourse is here.  To that end, what say you?

On Why I’m Not A Social Con

Because I am a believer in a strong national defense, and support the idea of limited government and financial prudence, there are many who automatically assume that I am also a social conservative and gleefully apply the full brush of tar and label me a “Rethuglican” and nasty wingnut conservative.  I would point out to them what happens when you “assume” something, as you tend to make an ass out of you (not so much out of me).  That this unnecessary polarization comes from deliberate manipulation is a topic for another day…

Continue reading

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a very special day today.  No matter what faith or belief you may have, may your day be filled with health, happiness, and the warmth of joy and love.

Giving Thanks

For all that this has been perhaps the roughest year of my life in many respects, there is much for which to give thanks.

Today, I remember and give thanks for those who have volunteered to give up hearth and home, to man the walls between darkness and light.  To all who serve, my thanks and I remember and give thanks for you.

My health is the best it has been in a LONG time, thanks to a change in lifestyle and diet.  Without the challenges and hardships of this year, this might never have come into my life.

I have discovered friends I didn’t know I had, have made new ones, and discovered some who say but were not.  All is good to know, and I am much the richer for it.

I was challenged to relearn photography and in the process got my creative side re-awakened and moving.  That has led to changes on many fronts, and to pushes on many fronts to get things moving.  Now, to not just keep that going, but to build it.

Today, there is food for me, a roof over my head, and coffee in the pot.  I’ve got quite a lot for which to give thanks.  What about you?

For What Are You Thankful?

Asking at Facebook and here:  For what are you thankful this Thanksgiving?  Sound off!

Arbroath, Sovereignty, and the Will & Soul of a People

The Great Experiment that is our constitutional republic is at a crossroads.  The underpinnings of this experiment are no longer taught and not well understood.  Even with those who shine a light on those underpinnings, it is often a selective light on those that advance certain positions.

One thing about being able to spend time with historian and author Daniel Allen Butler is that he is classically educated and passionate about where this experiment came from and is going.  To that end, he sent me the following concerning the Declaration of Arbroath that I will share with you.  This is from his forthcoming book “Of All Things to be Won.”

“It is pointless, arguably even reckless, to speculate on the causes or reasons which compelled a man dead these seven hundred into open defiance of one of the most ruthless monarchs ever to sit on the English throne. It is downright foolhardy to ascribe modern concepts, motives, and descriptions to Scottish rebels of the late 13th Century. Despite the best efforts of generations of novelists and film makers, there was very little romance and absolutely nothing glamorous to life in medieval Scotland. People lived to survive and, hopefully, in their own small way, prosper: a bit more food this year on the table (if they had one), or a few more sheep or cows in the herd, or a dryer roof overhead and snugger walls for their butt-and-ben. These were people openly resentful of being deprived of those small prosperities, taken from them by the English so that Edward I’s minions could benefit from that rapaciousness. They had no time to waste on abstract thoughts of government or ideals of “liberty”; such musings were best left to clerics, clerks, and the occasional nobleman whose literacy extended beyond the ability to – torturously – sign his own name. So describing the men who chose to follow Andrew Moray, or to the south, William Wallace, as “patriots” who chose to fight for the “nation” of Scotland is not merely fallacious, it’s an egregious error. The men who would follow Moray and Wallace, and later the Bruce, were men with real grievances, who had suffered personally at the hands of the English, and were seeking to redress their losses – or, more bluntly, were seeking revenge. These were men who, for the now, had not the time for abstract philosophies: they were men who had been driven into open rebellion by the increasingly heavy-handed conduct of a “government” administered by a disinterested ruling class. They were in revolt against unjust taxation, confiscation, and the imposition of ever-more restrictive laws which made it more difficult from one day to the next for a man to live his life as he saw fit for himself and his family, rather than how his English overlords believed he should.”

So, what motivations should be given?  What message should we take about the heavy hand of government seeking control of all aspects of life so that there is but existence without liberty in servitude/serfdom to the state?  How much did the Declaration of Arbroath influence our own Declaration of Independence?  Go read it and decide for yourself.  Then, discuss here in comments here or over at Facebook.  Sound off, while you still can.

Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Restoring The Past

The unexpected need to come back to Lafayette on business has had a number of costs.  From loss of respect and trust to actual financial cost, it has been steep.

So, this weekend I found myself at one of those evil gun shows (/sarc) and confronted with an opportunity.  I have to have armor for the embed(s), but people I know and trust who have been there and done that in uniform and out have all advised me to get a simple plate carrier.  Seems that the full IBA can snag and make getting around lots and lots of fun.  So, I’ve been looking.

While at the show, I talked with vendors.  For many/most, sales were slow.  The upside of that was that you could have a conversation.  One of the three vendors I thought much of and I had a talk, and it fell to antique shotguns, of which he had a couple with him.

There was another dealer at the show, who is a veteran and former contractor now selling gear.  Part of his wares include plate carriers.  Turns out, we had crossed paths before (here) and we got to talking.  I really wanted/needed a plate carrier, and he discussed the different types he had based one experience.

It was after walking away that I had a thought, and went to my storage unit across town.  I pulled out something that I treasured — my father (and grandfather’s) shotgun.  It was a double-barrel Remington 1900 shotgun, and it was a bit older than 1900.

The gun had a long and rough life.  It was used for hunting by my grandfather, several of his sons, and finally landed with me.  The poor thing had been thrown from an early Ford car by one uncle (no good reason that I’ve ever heard), and had been repaired.  The stock was worn and dinged, the barrel no longer blue, but it was my father’s gun, and his father’s before him and something I treasured for that.

I brought the gun back to the show, to share with the dealer.  He looked it over, looked it up, and fell in love with the rugged thing.  He then made me an offer.

I have no children of which I know, and my niece does not like guns.  When I leave this world, the gun had no clear home or future.  The gun needed a home, and it found it.  The dealer wanted to restore the gun, to make it as it was when new, or as close as possible.  The money he offered was not much, for the shotgun was not a showpiece but a working gun.  But, to have it restored, respected, even loved — that was more than I could have hoped for.

The money was taken, and the shotgun is off to be restored.  The other vendor and I worked a deal, and the money was enough to get what I needed (of course, I want more, but…).

Fate works in interesting ways.  I’ve been promised photos, and when (and if) I get them, I will share.  My heart aches on one level, and is very content on another.  The cost of the trip has been high; but, at least a small bit of good has come from it that I can see.

Defense

I’m not satisfied with my post In Defense of Defense at Blackfive, but it is  start on a complex and interesting topic.  To truly cover it would take a book, but I hope that it provides some food for thought, and that others will do some research and thinking.