The Lost Art of Debate April 20, 2014Posted by geoff in News.
I used to be on our debate team in high school – spent 3 years doing the research, preparing the arguments, and going into battle against other teams. It was a great way to discipline your mind: you had to build a logical framework supported by evidence and reason within a short period of time. Then you had to convey that framework coherently, nay eloquently, to the judge within your strictly monitored span of time. And did I mention that you had to coordinate all that with your partner?
The game was to try to bulletproof your case against logical attack, while trying to find logical flaws or countervailing evidence to crush your opponents’ case. As I said, it was a great learning experience, and I would have highly recommended it to anybody in high school or college.
Until I read this:
Rabbit Tale April 20, 2014Posted by digitalbrownshirt in News.
A true excerpt from a conversation at work:
First guy: “We did this thing at the house for the kids where we laid out a trail of jelly beans that led to their baskets.”
Second guy: “Cool idea. Did you think of that on your own?”
How Not To Prove the Existence of God April 19, 2014Posted by Sobek in News.
I mentioned in the comments section a while back that I saw, and enjoyed, the movie God is Not Dead. One thing I enjoyed about it is that I spent my money on conservative filmmakers, which is a nice change. The main reason I like the movie is because it’s really about the importance of standing up for your convictions. At least, that’s what I got out of it. I say that because as a work of apologetics – the reasoned defense of a system of faith – I found it quite lacking. The opening credits actually refer to the apologetics researcher for the film (I don’t remember who it was), and I’d frankly be a little embarrassed if it were me.
So before I explain why, here’s a promo for the movie. I add this because before Mrs. S said we should watch it, I had never even heard of it. I don’t know how many of you are in the same boat.
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Public Service Hot Sauce Announcement April 14, 2014Posted by geoff in News.
Just thought I’d mention that Marie Sharp’s hot sauces are now available in 1 gallon sizes.
(Link in the blogroll in the right-hand sidebar. Not that we have a left-hand sidebar. Which is sad, really.)
The True Nature of Primitive Man April 14, 2014Posted by geoff in News.
This book review of Napoleon Chagnon’s book Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes—The Yanomamo and the Anthropologists discusses how Chagnon’s research undermined the inane Rousseaian “Noble Savage” invention of liberal writers and anthropologists.
His anthropology education had taught him that kinsmen—the raiders were related to those they’d attacked—were generally nice to one another. Further, he had learned in classrooms that primitive peoples rarely fought one another, because they lived a subsistence lifestyle in which there was no surplus wealth to squabble about. What other reason could humans have for being at one another’s throats?
Chagnon spent decades studying the Yanomamo first-hand. What he observed challenged conventional wisdom about human nature, suggesting that primitive man may have lived in a Hobbesian state of “all against all”—where the concerns of group and individual security were driving factors in how society developed, and where a sense of terror was widespread. His work undercut a longstanding politically correct view in anthropology, which held that Stone Age humans were noble savages and that civilization had corrupted humanity and led to increasing violence.
Nothing too surprising there, at least for anybody with a realistic view of humanity sans its wafer-thin veneer. If you are lacking in such a view, I suggest you attend the next IB or H2 meatup.
Naturally the anthropologists were less than enthralled with somebody overturning their behavioral and cultural paradigms, and they happily persecuted Chagnon for decades. In the end it appears that Chagnon has been vindicated. A rare triumph of reality over political correctitude.
Despite my long excerpt, there’s still plenty more at the link, both on the Yanomamo tribe and the anthropological persecution Chagnon endured. It’s amazing just how violent a natural, unspoiled-by-evil-civilization-and-capitalism, nobly primitive society can be – Chagnon estimates that 45% of men in the tribe he studied had killed another man. Why?
Wimmens. Ain’t that always the case?
Don’t Count on Increasing Exports to Boost Our Economy April 11, 2014Posted by geoff in News.
Just a few days ago we were all having a chuckle at the President’s rash promise to add 1 million manufacturing jobs in 4 years. It was the kind of the chuckle that comes with a few tears, since that failed promise was a central part of his plan to goose the US economy.
Looking at his promise to double exports in 5 years brings a similarly conflicted response. A major thrust of his economic plan, those exports were supposed to reach $281 billion by this November* (which will be reported in January 2015).
So how close are we?
It may be hard to see the chart through the tears, so I’ll summarize. We’ve added $50 billion in exports since the President made his promise: we should have added $120 billion by now.
Don’t you think the President should have reacted in some way to the abject failure of a key part of his economic recovery plan?
*There’s a little question as to whether one should take exports in November 2009, since those numbers were available in January 2010 when President Obama made his statement) or in January 2010, when he actually said it. Exports were $140.5 billion in Nov09 and $143.7 billion in Jan10 (Stats here). We’re not anywhere close to doubling either number.
Journalists Always Make Sure Obama’s Glass is Half Full April 10, 2014Posted by geoff in News.
Headlines trumpet the good news:
U.S. budget deficit narrows sharply in March
Deficit falls 31% in first six months of fiscal year
The government’s shortfall was $37 billion, down 65% compared to the March 2013 deficit of $107 billion.
But in the 4th paragraph the ugly facts emerge:
A Treasury official said that with calendar-related adjustments, the deficit would have been more than twice as large in March. Because March 1 was on a weekend, for example, certain payments that usually would have been made in March were instead made in February.
Seems like that would have tempered the unbiased journalist’s choice of headline, doesn’t it?
String Fever April 10, 2014Posted by Retired Geezer in Entertainment, Law.
This is pretty cool.
Hat tip to my pretend internet friend, Bones.
No, not that one.
Wren April 6, 2014Posted by Sobek in Ducks.
Last night I drew a wren. That is all. Happy Sunday.
President Obama’s Manufacturing Jobs Promise April 5, 2014Posted by geoff in News.
The President has a well-documented habit of staring the American people in the eyes and confidently promising them things that he cannot possibly deliver. It’s a repeated occurrence made possible by the combination of poor counsel from his advisors, his blissful ignorance on a variety of critical subjects, and a formidable ego.
But it’s not all his fault – it takes a willfully gullible audience to let these pronouncements slide. When the President says ridiculous things like “I’m going to fix the economy by doubling our exports in five years,” the press and the liberal public pretty much nod their heads, pull the lever for him, and go back to sleep.
You may recall his promise at the Democratic National Convention in September 2012, where he confidently assured us that he was going to revive the manufacturing sector by adding 1 million jobs within 4 years. Of course he had absolutely no power to make good on that promise – he was simply counting on the continuation of the manufacturing job growth that had occurred in the preceding years.
Unfortunately, every presidential pronouncement acts like kryptonite to the American economy. As soon as he made that claim, manufacturing job growth slowed.
So how close is he to keeping that particular promise to the American public? About as close as he is on all his promises:
We should have added 350K manufacturing jobs by now, but we’ve only added 137K. At this rate, we’ll have created only 400K manufacturing jobs by September 2016.
We’re all living (if you can call it that) in an economy that is supposed to have been stimulated by these sorts of policies. Infrastructure investment, promoting green technologies, doubling exports, increasing manufacturing jobs: these were key components of the President’s economic recovery plan. A stupid plan, yes, exacerbated by poor execution and a refusal or inability to respond to poor results. A plan that has locked us in to tepid economic growth and widespread misery.
But the press and the public sleep on.