Monday, August 30, 2010

Cracks in the Plan

Anarchists are having problems raising money:

Dear Supporters of the Center for a Stateless Society,
I blame myself.

When we launched the month-plus long fundraising drive for combined July and August expenses two weeks ago, I tried to convey that because it was for two months worth of expenses (and that those particular months were ones with growing expenses), it was going to be a challenge.

I was right, but I should have been working harder to explain that, again and again, to you over the past two weeks.

Right now, the ChipIn fundraising meter shows only $489 (from only 8 donors) raised out of our goal of $4522. That’s 10% of our total goal raised with the drive almost 50% over with.

The irony here is that the anarchist plan for national defense in a stateless society is that people will voluntarily giving money to an non-government entity.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Appropriate Blogging

1. A blog I regularly read linked to, what I though was a Mormon article about the mountain meadows massacre. I perused the website until it realized that, actually, it was an anti-Mormon website.

At first, I was irritated, and thought about trying to write a few scathing comments. But then I realized that these people have spent days of their lives writing and thinking about the church, and how wrong it is. And despite their dedication, the church continues to grow. I decided the church's mere existence already annoys them more than any comment ever could.

Who are these people that spend their lives writing anti-Mormon literature? Isn't it strange to devote so much of your time to attacking someone else's religion? I find it particularly odd because, more often than not, the attacker is usually an evangelical Christian. Ironically, there probably is less daylight between the teachings of Mormons and evangelicals than between Mormons and most other Christians (e.g., Catholics).

Maybe there are similar anti-religous groups out there, and I'm just not aware of them because I don't belong to those other religions. I could never see dedicating huge amounts of my life to writing anti-Seventh Day Adventist or Jehovah's Witness literature, though. Of course, maybe that's because I respect those religions, and I frankly don't have the drive.

Could there be money in it? Why else would any sane person dedicate so much time and effort to attacking a peaceful religion?

2. For some time I've been thinking about the question: why do we need priesthood authority. You don't need the priesthood to do certain things--praying, for instance. Mormon's recognize that God will countenance the prayers of Mormons and non-Mormons alike. Yet, to perform ordinances we do need priesthood authority.

An example I used frequently on my mission to illustrate this principle was a police officer. I would say to investigators, if I personally stopped you on the street and tried to give you a ticket, would you stop and pay the ticket? This example was usually more confusing than helpful at first. But the analogy eventually became clear enough. No, they wouldn't pay the ticket because I'm not a police officer and I don't have authority to give out tickets.

But that sort of begs the question: what is is about police officers and priesthood holders that makes it so not just everyone can do it? Why does this particular job require authorization?

I don't know if there are any official answers, but you can think of some logical ones. One answer is order. Priesthood leaders like police officers, have significant power. You want to make sure that they are using that power appropriately and that there is some organization to how it is used.

Related, is training. Police officers need to know how to identify bad guys and shoot guns. Priesthood holders need training so they can perform ordinances properly. Ordinances are symbolic and slight changes can destroy the symbolism.

Worthiness. You don't want crooked police or unworthy priesthood holders. We need a filter.

Accountability. If a priesthood holders, like a police officer, misbehaves you want some kind of system of accountability and priesthood structure gives you that.

When this topic came up a couple of weeks ago a member of my ward used another analogy: a person selling insurance. An insurance company would not honor an insurance contract sold by someone who did not represent the insurance company. God will not honor ordinances performed by people who are not authorized.

Initially, I thought this analogy suffers from the same problem as mine. Why doesn't the insurance company honor the agreement, and how is that similar to the reasons for why God will not honor an unauthorized ordinance? Then it occurred to me that this is probably a better example because the insurance contract is like the covenant, we enter into when we perform an ordinance. It makes complete sense that God will only give the blessing of the covenants to those who accept his terms, just as an insurance company will only agree to a contract on acceptable terms.

There are also some similarities between agency law--the law that determines when a person is an agent for another, called a principal, and can bind the principle in contract--and priesthood holders. By common law, you can be an agent in at least two ways: by actual authority and apparent authority. Actual authority is when the principle authorizes you to perform an ordinance. This is kind of like a worthy priesthood holder authorized to perform an ordinance. Apparent authority is when the principal represents that a person has authority to do something, without ever actually authorizing the agent to act. For example, if you are the president of a corporation, you have apparent authority to do certain things--hire, fire and sign contracts--by virtue of the position you hold. Even if the president's corporate bylaws prohibit him from executing a certain contract, if he does execute it, the corporation will likely have to honor it because the president has apparent authority to so act. Apparent authority is similar to how God treats an unworthy priesthood holder performing ordinances. The priesthood holder doesn't have God's actual authority to perform the ordinance, but God will be bound to the ordinance because the priesthood holder appears to be acting for God.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

More on Anarcho-Capitalism

I hadn't read the chapter in The Machinery of Freedom dealing with providing for national defense before I wrote this post. Good try, but I don't find it convincing. Even Friedman's not positive he's right.

Re: What Does this Graph Mean to You?

As I understand it, this graph is the revision of the famous hockey stick graph. Apparently the algorithm that produced the original hockey stick would create a hockey stick out of any data set. So now we have this graph.

I really don't know enough about statistics or the methodology to say whether this graph is accurate. Lets suppose for a second it is. The red line represents the scientist best guess at earth temperature for the last 1000 years. The gray area represents the margin of error for this measurement.

I think it's interesting how little this graph tells us. You could say the following about the graph, all of which are true:
  1. Data indicate that the earth's temperature has been rising since industrialization.
  2. Data indicate that the earth's temperature will continue to rise.
  3. Data are inconclusive as to temperature trends in the last 1,000 years.
  4. Data are consistent with no change in temperature for the last 1,000 years.
  5. Data are consistent with slight decline in temperature for the last 1,000 years.

WTT 1967 Fender Bandmaster 3 10 W/ road case Combo

WTT 1967 Fender Bandmaster 3 10 W/ road case Combo:

Orange Dual Terror or Tiny terror W/ ex Cab, Vox AC 15 (Heritage) DR. Z, Port City. Or maybe something cool I don't even know about. Must be tube. I am not really looking to sell, and lets face it, its hard to sell anything right now anyway:) so lets make a deal.
I wonder if there is an economic theory to explain this behavior. Money is used to facilitate exchanges among many people. It's going to be hard for this guy to find a person who wants his amp more than the other amps on his list and has that amp to trade. Why is he limiting himself to trades?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

About that Mosque-like Islamic Center

Initially I was very not against this mosque center thing. It seemed like a simple property rights issue. The Muslims own the property? Then they should be able to build. But I kept having this nagging feeling like something is not quite right with it.

Upon reflection, I think I am against it. I still think it's clear that the owners have the property right to put the mosque there, and I don't think those who oppose the mosque should use the government to get what they want. But. . . I think that the people who are building the mosque are using ground zero to be intentionally provocative. Specifically they are intentionally building a mosque by ground zero to "promote inter-community peace, tolerance and understanding locally in New York City, nationally in America and globally.
" In other words, they picked a spot next to ground zero--where American's were slaughtered by Islamic extremists--to launch a program to teach tolerance to the most tolerant nation in the world. It's condescending. And it's bad form to use a tragedy to gin up attention for your project.

The fact that there are other non-controversial mosques located near by, I think, proves my point. My objection is not to Muslims or mosques in the vicinity--its to the intentions and condescensions of these mosque builders.

How Andrew Breitbart Makes James Cameron Look Like an Ass |

How Andrew Breitbart Makes James Cameron Look Like an Ass | "Cameron attended the event on Sunday and used the platform to say of those who question man-made global warming: “I think they are swine.'"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Right on This One

Isaac Chotiner writes:
I am a little late coming to this, but yesterday's David Brooks column, which discussed our ability (or inability) to (in Orwell's words) face unpleasant facts, included the following:
The ensuing mental flabbiness is most evident in politics. Many conservatives declare that Barack Obama is a Muslim because it feels so good to say so. Many liberals would never ask themselves why they were so wrong about the surge in Iraq while George Bush was so right. The question is too uncomfortable.
Is Brooks really comparing these two things? A huge percentage of Republicans think that Barack Obama is a Muslim. A huge percentage of Democrats (presumably) think they were right to oppose the surge. In other words, a lot of Republicans have a bizarre, often bigoted, and undeniably wrong opinion on a very simple topic. A lot of Democrats think that a hugely complex, somewhat successful, and still inconclusive policy was right to be opposed. (Let's ignore the question of whether it was smart to oppose the surge based on the evidence people had at the time.)
Chotiner's right, this is a bad analogy. A more apt comparison to 31 percent of Republicans believing that Obama is a Muslim, is 35 percent of Democrats believing Bush had knowledge about the 9/11 attacks in advance. Of course, there is nothing per se wrong with being a Muslim, whereas Democrats inexplicably believe Bush was complicit in the largest terrorist attack on American soil ever.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sentence of the Day - The Corner - National Review Online

Sentence of the Day - The Corner - National Review Online: "From a NYT editorial: “But many of Mr. DeLay’s actions remain legal only because lawmakers have chosen not to criminalize them.”"

So true.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

More Machinery of Freedom

From The Machinery of Freedom:
If I invest time and energy in discovering which candidate will make the best President, the benefit of that investment, if any, is spread evenly among 200 million people. That is an externality of 99.9999995 percent. Unless it is obvious how I should vote, it is not worth the time and trouble to vote 'intelligently', except on issues where I get a disproportionately large fraction of the benefit. Situations, in other words, where I am part of a special interest.
Funny how the conventional wisdom on this point --that for the greater good, we all should vote for, and those who do not vote or educate themselves on public policy issues are acting irrationally--is exactly backwards

Friday, August 20, 2010

Unqualified Reservations: Why I am not a libertarian

Unqualified Reservations: Why I am not a libertarian: "If some government is limited by its own volition, it can abandon these limits at any time. (Historical experience suggests that the 'sacred-document' trick is of extremely limited utility in preventing it from doing so.) If the government is limited by some external power, it is not a government in the usual sense of the word, and we should direct our attention to the limiting power."

This, it seems to me, is a fundamental problem with anarcho-capitalism. Some protection agency is going to emerge as the strongest, in which case they can demand the best bargains, and use the threat of force in a way that gives it all the characteristics of government anarchists hate.

Unqualified Reservations: Why I am not a libertarian

Unqualified Reservations: Why I am not a libertarian:
In my opinion, the practical problem with grounding libertarianism in the ideals of the American Revolution is that Americans no longer hold those ideals, and Europeans never did. Both, today, follow a moral code which is essentially socialist. It is true that this is the natural consequence of 'education' at the hands of a government which is essentially socialist.
This has occurred to me, too. Some people need to be led to water. But all the people doing the leading have a vested interest in the current state of education, and vicariously, government.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Murder in 24

24 Spoilers below.

In season 3 of 24, President Palmer's very duplicitous wife, Sherry goes to visit the wife of a former political ally now turned against him. The former ally is old and frail and takes many medications. He accidentally comes upon the meeting and gets very angry, triggering a heart attack. The two wifes can easily give him the medicine, but decide not to do so, mostly due to Sherry pressuring the wife.

When president Palmer find out what happens he calls his wife a murder. But I'm not sure that's the case--at least as a matter of law.

In law school we study the old common law, which is mostly worthless because the common law is now entirely replaced by statute. At common law, however, you generally have no duty to save. If a world class swimmer walks by a drowning child and decides he wants to watch the kid drown, then at common law he can without legal consequence.

Maybe statutes have changed this result. I found Com v. Pestinikas, 421 Pa.Super 371 (1998), a case where a Pennsylvania court upheld the conviction of the Pestinikas, a couple unrelated to the victim who were supposed to care for him but failed to feed him or give him medicine.The court, while recognizing that a stranger refusing food and medicine to a person does not give rise to a murder claim, still upheld the conviction in Pestinikas because the Pestinikases were contractually obligated to provide food and medicine.

but I think for the most part, american law generally has stayed the same on this point--there is no duty to save.

Now, the wife was related, so she may have had a duty to save, but it seems Sherry didn't.

The only two other ways I can see that Sherry may be guilty of murder:1. she made the former supporter mad constituted creating a life-threatening condition such that she needed to save him from it, or 2. she interferred/discouraged the wife from saving the supporter making her some sort of accomplice to the murder of the wife or otherwise guilty of murder.

On the question of creating a life-threatening condition--I wonder whether you take your victim as you find them (like you would in tort law) or whether the condition has to be objectively life-threatening to normal fit people. I would assume the latter, because we would want the perpetrator of the crime to have the mens rea, before punishing them. If I'm correct, then Sherry would still have no duty to save.

My inclination then is to think that what Sherry did was not murder.

This is supposed to be L.A., so maybe I'll have to do some California-specific research.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The If-You-Loved-me-You'd... case study challenge!

The ground zero mosque controversy reminds me of those arguments that high school couples have. The if-you-really-loved-me-you'd-do-X argument. The obvious retort is always, if you really loved me you wouldn't ask me to do X. For the political context just replace "love" with "respect" and "ask me to do X" with "offend me by doing y." the retort: if you respected me you wouldn't view my action as offensive.

Four case studies:
1.Mormons performing baptisms for the dead for jews who died in the holocaust.
2. Carmilite nuns moving into an abandoned Nazi death camp and praying for holocaust survivors.
3. Muslims building a mosque two blocks from ground zero.
4. Drawing cartoons of the prophet Mohammad or Allah.

In each case, one party takes offense at something the other party is legally entitled to do. Stop doing that; it offends me! In each case the offending party can reply: don't choose to be offended!

Here's the challenge: in which of these cases is the offended party justified and in which case is the offended party being thin-skinned? What principles help you differentiate between the cases?

Portland lemonade stand runs into health inspectors, needs $120 license to operate |

Portland lemonade stand runs into health inspectors, needs $120 license to operate | "Technically, any lemonade stand -- even one on your front lawn -- must be licensed under state law, said Eric Pippert, the food-borne illness prevention program manager for the state's public health division. But county inspectors are unlikely to go after kids selling lemonade on their front lawn unless, he conceded, their front lawn happens to be on Alberta Street during Last Thursday."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Perry v. Schwarzenegger

The Volokh Conspiracy: "The right to marry has been historically and remains the right to choose a spouse and, with mutual consent, join together and form a household. Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage."

Does anyone actually believe that?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Are the Corporate Money Floodgates About to Open? | Mother Jones

Are the Corporate Money Floodgates About to Open? | Mother Jones: "But free-flowing corporate money may also have a price. In Minnesota, it's fueled a backlash from gay rights activists who have slammed Target and Best Buy for backing Emmer, a gay rights foe who's called for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as 'the union of one man and one woman.' Both Target and Best Buy had previously garnered praise from the LGBT community for their support of gay rights in the workplace and beyond. Target, for instance, offers domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian employees, and has backed the Minnesota AIDS Walk and Twin Cities Pride. Best Buy had a similarly gay-friendly reputation, and both companies have been celebrated by the Human Rights Campaign."
Two points about this Citizens United: 1. business people are always giving money to politicians expecting political favors. What is the practical difference between CEO Smith giving money or corporation Target giving it? 2. Does any politician in his right mind want to be the Taco-Bell-McDonalds-Walmart-Target candidate?