Saturday, August 08, 2009

if anything does not feel genuine
no need to be anxious but take your time
sit back and have a bit more wine
and take in your surroundings

a book of verses underneath the bough
a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou
oh, wilderness were paradise enow!
as I shamelessly rip off Omar Khayyam.
[Written on 10/08/08]

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Points to Ponder:
(From one of my early intellectual mentors)

"You must understand that it is not only possible, but highly desirable, to do several things simultaneously; thus, it happened that I was operating an international airline, importing thousands of live wild animals, producing films for television and building exercise machines all at the same time. In my opinion, many of our current problems are direct results of specialization; which is why the scientific community has now degenerated to the point of being a sick joke.

When I first became seriously interested in the subject of exercise physiology, more than sixty years ago, I was unable to find anything of any slightest value that had ever been published in the scientific literature; that being the case, I believe, primarily as a result of two factors: ONE, very few scientists had any slightest interest in exercise, and, TWO, it was then impossible to determine the results of exercise for the simple reason that the required tools for any such measurements did not exist. REMEMBER: it is impossible to evaluate, or even understand, anything that you cannot measure." [Arthur Jones (circa 1997)]

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Cornyn accuses White House of compiling 'enemies list'

Longtime readers of this weblog know that my assessment of President George W. Bush was a mixed one. I am not going to revisit the layers of agreement/disagreement I had with him and various administration policies and/or individuals. I will however say that if President George W. Bush had tried to do with ideological or policy foes what President Barack H. Obama has sought to do with this "send emails of people who disagree with us to the White House" and supplied an address to do so, I would have resolutely stood in opposition to him on that matter.{1} Furthermore, anyone who whined and bitched about the Bush Administration and real or perceived "loss of freedoms"{2} who either stands by silently or in any way approves of the Obama administration acting this way is (and I will not mince words) a hypocritical piece of shit.

Again, a situation or principle is in its truth or falsity right or wrong period. This assessment is not okay or defensible when "your guys" do it and not okay or to be condemned when "others" do it. And however many pundits, agenda provocateurs, or apologists of various and sundry issues{3} may violate the law of non-contradiction to their own deserved discredit, your humble servant at Rerum Novarum does not do such things at any time and indeed no person of ethics and principle would do such things.

Notes:

{1} To use one subject that comes to mind, consider for those who know very well of my solid and unshakeable support for the military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. If the White House had dared to ask me or anyone else to send emails or materials I knew of concerning people who wrote or spoke against the wars, I would not only not have done so but I would have written to them and denounced such things. I hope readers of this weblog who are ideologically not aligned with me would have the ethics to do likewise.

{2} I say "real or perceived" because this area is not as clean cut as many people may have presumed.

{3} Or members of congress, presidents, etc.

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With the confirmation today of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court by a vote of 68-31, I decided to create a tag for the posts on this subject because (i) the principles I outlined in my opposition to this nominee are and remain valid in perpetuity and (ii) I will refer back to them in subsequent court nominees by President Obama.

It is my hope that the Sotomayor confirmation be for Obama what the Battle of the Coral Sea was for the Japanese (read: tactical victory but strategic loss before a much larger planned engagement at Midway). And may government health care be his Battle of Midway (read: a decisive American victory that turned the tide of the war in the Pacific).

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Weblog Threads on the Atomic Bomb Subject and Various Factors Involved in Objectively Assessing the Moral and Ethical Ramifications Thereof:
(A Rerum Novarum Recapitulation Thread)

I have at different points since 2005 issued recapitulation threads on these issues but this one will differ from those in one important way. For one thing, they were issued to summarize the material I had written up to that point with the idea of carrying it further. In those situations it could have been because I intended to pick up the thread from that point and continue it. In that context, the recapitulation threads served to remind readers of what had been covered already so they could put what was written from that point forward into the context of what was previously written. This recapitulation thread is not written with that context or intention in mind.

Essentially, this is written as all I plan to say on the matter this year with one caveat: the material from 2008 in the dialogue with "Blackadder" achieved what I wanted to see achieved in previous years though it was not until 2007 that I decided to try and set a frame work up for achieving that endeavour when previous situations with former friends fizzled so badly. To say I lost a lot of respect for most of those who call themselves "apologists" in the aftermath of those circumstances is not an exaggeration but I do not want to get offtrack now on that factor -if suffices to say that "Blackadder" to some measure restored in my mind an echo of hope that others may seek to approach these matters soberly, rationally, and civilly. If our interaction threads from 2008 assist others in that endeavour on this or any other subject, then the extra time taken on that process will have been worth it.

I know there is a lot to review in the scroll below so to facilitate an easier review for interested parties I would recommend that if nothing else at this time is culled for current reading from those lists I would recommend that the threads from July 22, 2007 -and the three threads it references from the list below, August 10, 2008 joint declaration of dialogual principles, and the August 14, 2008, and August 23, 2008 threads be read. For they encapsulate (i) the publicly outlined challenge I made on this in the summer of 2007, (ii) a joint statement of principles by myself and the person whose work I interacted with in 2008, and (iii) the two interaction threads. The counter-threads of "Blackadder" are linked to the beginning of my responses to him and I encourage readers to not only review his threads but to review them before reading my responses to them.

Now without further ado, here is a recapitulation thread of all postings I can think of culled from past such threads and added to this year with the stuff from 2008 and some of the threads from 2007 which will be listed by year (starting with the oldest threads). This posting will stand in perpetuity as all I intend to say on this subject in 2009 and perhaps in the years to follow.

All things to the contrary notwithstanding.

2005:

On Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications (circa August 17, 2005)

Some Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications" Thread (From Dr. Art Sippo circa August 18, 2005)

More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications" Thread (From Tim Tull circa August 19, 2005)

More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontificatons" Thread (From Tim Tull on Dr. Sippo's Email circa August 21, 2005)

Points to Ponder --On the Atomic Bombs and Their Usage (By Dr. Art Sippo circa August 22, 2005)

And Yet More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications" Thread (circa August 25, 2005)

And More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications" Thread (circa August 26, 2005)

And Yet Still More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications" Thread (circa August 26, 2005)

Expanding Futher on the Subject of Double Effect Viz. the Atomic Bombings (circa August 26, 2005)

Clarifying Some Additional Points on the Atomic Bombing Subject With Dave Armstrong (circa August 28, 2005)

"Armstrong Illusions" Dept. --Part I of II (circa September 6, 2005)

"Armstrong Illusions" Dept. --Part II of II (circa September 6, 2005)

Points to Ponder --On Appealing to Authority in Argumentation (circa September 9, 2005)

Briefly on Making a Valid Argument and Avoiding Argumentation Fallacies (circa September 11, 2005)

"Exit Stage Left" Dept. (circa September 12, 2005)

Abstract Theorizing and Hypothetical Wartime Situations With SecretAgentMan--Parts I-II (circa September 20, 2005; September 23, 2005)

2006:

"Armstrong Illusions" Revisited (circa January 23, 2006)

Guest Editorial on the Atomic Bombings, the Continued Emphasis on it Publicly by Certain Apologists, and the Goal of Catholic Apologetics--By Dr. Art Sippo (circa January 26, 2006)


A Followup Guest Editorial on the Atomic Bombings, the Continued Emphasis on it Publicly by Certain Apologists, and the Goal of Catholic Apologetics--By Dr. Art Sippo (circa January 31, 2006)

Naked Anticipation -A Poem by Albert Cipriani (circa January 31, 2006)

Some Wrapup Comments on the Previous Guest Editorial (circa January 31, 2006)

On Gaudium et Spes and General Norms of Interpretation (circa February 4, 2006)

Responding to Various Assertions (circa March 12, 2006)

Some Core Problems With Apologetics Methodology (circa August 5, 2006)

Core Problems With Apologetics Methodology Revisited With Apolonio Latar III (circa August 14, 2006)

Setting the Record Straight on Old Controversies (circa August 16, 2006)

Highlighting a Key Problem With Apologetics Methodology With Jimmy Akin (circa November 28, 2006)

2007:

On General Norms of Theological Interpretation (circa April 27, 2007)

From the Mailbag (circa May 17, 2007)

On the Morality of Using Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Use of Atomic Bombs in General -Outline for a Possible Dialogue in August of 2007 (circa July 22, 2007)


Dispatching Easily With Three Critics -aka "Ducks on the Pond Dept." (circa July 27, 2007)

On A Key Principle Pertaining to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Incidents From 1945 -A Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG Post (circa July 31, 2007)

Miscellaneous Musings (circa August 4, 2007)

Clearing the Ground for a Real Dialogue on the Atomic Bombings (circa August 6, 2007)

2008:

In lieu of what we outlined recently about the wheres (and most of the whys) of the change in direction and emphasis of this weblog which has officially taken place, it seems opportune to note for readers of this humble weblog some of the upcoming projects from the various previously-intended ones which we plan to complete for posting in the coming days, weeks, months, etc of this humble weblog...

...

--A dialogue on the moral and ethical principles behind the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki if the previously-agreed upon dialogual format is still acceptable to the party who accepted my invitation of the previous year and met the minimal requirements requested thereof.[...]

--A thread written with the latter project in mind which may be formatted into a general principle statement apart from that project -in content the two threads would be substantially the same even verbatim in spots but each will pertain to a somewhat different (even if somewhat related by logical extension) context. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa February 21, 2008)]


My Preliminary Musings on the Anniversary of Hiroshima, on Revisiting This Subject, and on "Blackadder" (circa August 6, 2008)

Some Additional Musings on the Subject of the Atomic Bombings Subject and the Importance of Doing My Part to Facilitate Potentially Fruitful Dialogue (circa August 7, 2008)

Principles of Proper Dialogue -Part of a 2007 Joint Declaration by Shawn and "Blackadder" (circa August 10, 2008)

Response to "Blackadder" on the Atomic Bombings -Part I (circa August 14, 2008)

Response to "Blackadder" on the Atomic Bombings -Part II (circa August 23, 2008)

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Debunking Federal Reserve Conspiracy Theories

Having written a bit over the years on the problems with conspiracies and that mindset{1}, the above issue deals with that mentality and certain myths surrounding the oft-misunderstood Federal Reserve System.

Note:

{1} Here is the most recent posting on these matters:

On the Problem With Conservatives Dabbling in So-Called "Conspiracy Theories" (circa March 8, 2009)

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Miscellaneous Musings on Divisions Political and Otherwise:

[Prefatory Note: This was originally put together and published in another medium on June 15, 2009. -ISM]

In recent months, my observations of many people who are opposed in various and sundry ways to the Democratic party found me reflecting on a quote that I want to share at this time. It pertains to the issue of religion in the public square and the approach taken by not a few people who though they mean well often do more harm than good. To wit:

"There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus, God, or Allah, or whatever one calls the supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A,B,C, and D. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of conservatism." [Senator Barry M. Goldwater: From the Congressional Record (circa September 16, 1981)]

I have found that this quote resonates with me a lot more now than it did when I was younger. It is not an issue of principles of course that I refer to of course but the manner in how they are gone about more than anything. Maybe part of it is the longer one is around, the more they realize that to a certain extent the more things change the more they stay the same. For one thing, no one ever claims that they are living in "particularly good times" -indeed most of those people who make statements about their times as being particularly dire do so without knowledge of history or how often this pattern repeats itself. The biblical phrase "nothing under the sun is new" is quite accurate indeed as this quote could have been written today as could this one which was directed by Senator Goldwater at Jerry Falwell circa 1982:

"Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them."

I am wondering if the opportunity of the next two election cycles to derail the Obama Express will not be squandered. For almost every issue you can find has a general consensus and also those whose approach to the matter is extremely narrow or otherwise extreme. And oftentimes you will find the latter people basically saying that only their interpretation of the issue is viable, correct, moral, etc. and this ushers in needless conflict which leads to divisions that results in political impotence.

We all have issues we are particularly passionate about but the differences of view on certain particulars of various issues are a reality and one that is not going to go away. If there is not a conscious recognition that politically one may not be able to get everything they want, then the Republicans will continue for sometime to get nowhere politically. I have noted before the irony of those who wave the banner of Reagan who really do not know what The Gipper stood for and did before and do not want to to into that again at the present time though those who buy into many of those myths would do well to consider what is written there because the underlying principle involved in that note remains; namely this:

Do we want to make effective and real progress politically or will continuing factionalism render us politically impotent???

Jesus once said that "a house divided against itself cannot stand" and Sun Tzu counseled his generals to divide enemy armies by sowing discord and creating various dissensions for a reason: it weakens the effectiveness of a cause. It matters not where or what the divisions are and the Democrats are seriously divided now. The haste with which they have sought to push issues that many of their voters do not want and the blatant hypocrisy and double standards they have manifested (not to mention being bitten by the "corruption bug") have got even many of their staunchest supporters confused or angry at them.

The political prospects for the next two election cycles are lining up to be favourable for an opposition movement but I will say right now it will fail as long as all of this factionalism garbage continues. The focus needs to be on broader issues where a consensus already exists and needs to be strengthened, not ancillary distraction issues which needlessly polarize and thus are fodder for political impotence.

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