With all the talk about the Indiana law on religious liberty, I thought I’d waste an hour or so this morning listening to a debate on religious liberty. I found this one, which is pretty interesting.
A few tidbits I found interesting.
The stats on “religiously unaffiliated” people are often mistakenly used to mean secular or atheist. At least half of those people pray daily. So while it’s certainly true that the percent of unbelievers is on the rise, you have to be careful about how people use the statistics.
Some people on the panel in this debate were saying that the only right we have is freedom of religious opinions, not “free exercise” of religion. It’s important to keep those straight.
On the question of public accommodation and forcing people to serve everybody (e.g., forcing a florist to serve a same-sex wedding), would we force convenience store owners to sell beer against their religious convictions? Would we force doctors to perform abortions, or help somebody die? It seems to me we’re not thinking this “public accommodation” thing all the way through.
About the debate, Ben Shapiro is very intelligent and makes a lot of good points, but he’s also pretty obnoxious.
A friend of mine frequently posts partisan political stuff on Facebook. Recently this friend posted, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it start with me.” A nice sentiment, of course, but to me it seemed to conflict with this person’s habit of posting partisan stuff.
I was very tempted to reply, “Then quit posting partisan political stuff.” But I didn’t, for many reasons.
One reason is that I also post partisan political stuff — although mostly here, and rarely on Facebook.
Another reason is that I suspect that this person thought that the political stuff this person was posting would actually encourage peace. It’s common for people to believe that the path to peace is for everybody else to be reasonable, which means, of course, that everyone else agrees with them, since they are eminently reasonable. So posting partisan political stuff will lead to the peaceful future where everybody holds to the same partisan view of the world.
Where does this kind of confusion come from, and what is the remedy?
The news about the pending Iran deal is sounding worse and worse. Congress should spell out specific things they require in any deal with Iran and tell Obama that if he signs a deal that doesn’t meet those requirements they’ll impeach him.
Also, I’ve been wondering why Obama thinks he can do this without Congressional approval. I had thought that all treaties had to be ratified by the Senate.
Apparently it’s one of those deals where they simply call it something else: an “executive agreement.”
The governor of Indiana has just signed legislation that has certain parts of the nut-o-sphere hopping mad. This, as far as I can tell, is the relevant language.
Sec. 8. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
(b) A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person:
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
The law is being described as anti-gay. How is this anti-gay?
Whatever you believe about climate change, it is rather remarkable that all the intense screaming and catastrophizing — from “most governmental agencies, a long list of welfare-sucking corporations, the public school system, the universities, an infinite parade of celebrities, think tanks, well-funded environmental groups and an entire major political party” — hasn’t changed public opinion much at all. Poll after poll puts it very far down the list of issues people are concerned about.
How do you explain this? Is Fox News so powerful that it can outweigh the combined efforts of governments, corporations, schools, celebrities and the rest of the media? It seems pretty unlikely.
The article goes on to explain why the Big Sell hasn’t worked. His reasons, as I can see, are as follows.
#1 — If you get on the AGW bandwagon you also get associated with the left’s preference for top-down control, and most Americans don’t like that.
#2 — The public, unlike the scare-mongers, can tell the difference between “climate change is real” and “climate change is calamitous.”
#3 — The chicken little syndrome. (He doesn’t call it that, I do.) He says, “We perpetually hear about new threats that never seem to materialize.”
And as the fearmongering becomes more far-fetched, the accusations become more hysterical, and the deadlines for action keep being pushed right over the horizon, fewer people seem to really care.
I think he’s missing a few other factors.
People may realize that even the most extreme cuts to U.S. emissions would barely have any effect, since India and China will continue to pump out CO2 like crazy. So it hardly seems worth it to strangle our economy for no real change.
People may also be sick of spending too much for stupid light bulbs, toilets that barely flush, and other annoying environmental things. “Green” may have been pushed beyond people’s tolerance.
It’s also possible (although unlikely) that people realize the climate has changed many times without our help, and that humanity has survived.
Shipman lays out meticulous data that shows that when modern humans arrived in Eurasia “there was an ecosystem-wide crash involving many members of the predatory guild” — not only Neanderthals but also other species, including cave hyenas, cave lions, leopards and lesser scimitar cats.
I don’t mind the loss of cave hyenas, cave lions, leopards and lesser scimitar cats, but I’ve always wanted to meet a Neanderthal.
A friend linked to an article that included this little gem: “no one is more certain of their moral superiority than the Left.”
That certainly fits with my experience. Liberals seem annoyingly sure that their perspective is the only possible way to view the world.
But … Evangelicals can be that way too. And … so can conservative Catholics. And have you ever listened to Mark Levin? Talk about certain!
It’s definitely not only liberals who are doggedly confident of their moral superiority. But it does seem to me that the left is (on balance) more guilty of this than the right. That’s only my impression, of course.
I wonder if there’s a way to test that hypothesis.
P.S. — “certain sure” is something Katy says in Darby O’Gill and the Little People.
A few years ago I had regular contact with a team of people at Google because of some work I was doing. I work in the publishing industry, and one of the topics that’s near and dear to my heart is copyright protection. Publishing largely depends on copyright law, which means my paycheck largely depends on copyright law.
I pitched an idea to some Google folk about ranking pages, and organizing search results, based on whether the content was original or stolen. To simplify it for the sake of discussion, a publisher would register with Google and identify sites that are authorized to carry its content.
So, for example, this site would be registered to me and Google would associate the content on this site with me. If another site uses the same text without my permission (i.e., authorized sites would be managed through my webmaster tools, or something like that), Google would identify the site as a copyright violator, and perhaps mark them down in search results, send me a notification, or something. There are a range of options.
The Google people I worked with reflexively responded, “We don’t want to be the internet’s policeman.” It sounded like that was a company line that all the drones learn when they sign on.
As with other things at Google, when it comes to ethics and such they seem to like to rely on overly simplistic rules. (“Don’t be evil.”)
The reality is that they do want to be the policeman when it’s something they care about. Take a look at this.
It’s easy to dismiss Cruz. He’s a freshman Senator with very little experience in elective office (but a fair amount of experience in government). He’s on an edge of the Republican Party that many will dismiss as the lunatic fringe.
Don’t let that fool you. I listened to about a half hour of his speech from yesterday — which he delivered without notes or a teleprompter. He is very smart, and he has a vision and a message. He could easily become a star.
I’m not supporting him. At this point I’m not sure it’s right to go from Obama-crazy amateur-hour left to Cruz-crazy amateur-hour right. I’m leaning towards the idea that the country needs a centrist who can govern from the middle. I’m not completely sure of that, but it’s where I’m leaning right now. And from that perspective I would not want Cruz.
But I absolutely do want his voice in the primaries. I think it’s important to get lots of voices out there.
Remember Herman Cain and 9-9-9? He wasn’t going anywhere as a candidate, but he got people thinking about alternatives to the existing system, and that’s very important. Unthinkable ideas have to become thinkable.
I want a crowded field on both sides. Get Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley out there on the left, and get Cruz, Walker and Rubio out there on the right. Let’s hear what they have to say.
Do star-crossed lovers share the same fate in all possible worlds? No matter what world they find themselves in, John and Jillian can't seem to help falling into each other's arms, but the tale isn't always the same. This collection of two novellas and one short story explores how these two lovers interact in three parallel worlds. It includes The Witch's Promise, Pipe Dreams, and A Collision of Worlds.
The Hidden Village
Warring clans, a missing son, and a mysterious role-playing game at the center of it all. Geof Franklin gets the late-night phone call every parent dreads and learns that his son has been missing for weeks. As he relentlessly searches the city for Alek, he gets pulled into the orbit of a cult-like sub-culture of clans that live by their own rules and think nothing of killing anyone who stands in their way. To have any hope of reaching his son he has to keep digging, but he's digging himself into more and more trouble -- with the mysterious clans, and with the law.
Pipe Dreams is an urban fantasy / psychological thriller set in and around Washington, D.C. When John Matthews starts smoking his grandfather’s pipe (mysteriously obtained) he starts to see visions of his dead wife. Is he going insane, or has he discovered a dark family secret? Can John beat the forces that conspire to send his life into a downward spiral? And can he break the constraints of time and space and re-unite with his lost love?
Jeremy Mitchell is a refugee from a separatist, anti-technology community who is a fish out of water in the high-tech society of the 21st century. He recklessly plunges himself into his new environment and finds himself caught in a confusing web of technology and intrigue. Powerful forces try to make him a pawn in a contest between rival intelligence organizations, but he doesn't play along with their game and makes his own rules. His loyalties are tested by a budding love affair with a young college student, who, along with her computer geek girlfriend, are unintentionally pulled into the conflict. Paperback: $9.99 Kindle: $2.99
Maybe your spouse just bought you a brewing kit and you want to learn a little more about this home brewing thing. Or maybe you're just curious. If so, this is the book for you. There are a lot of details in brewing and sometimes it can get overwhelming. Beginning brewers often say they worry they're not worrying about the right things. That's why they need this book. The general rule is -- don't worry. There are a few things you need to pay attention to, but by all means, chill. Home brewing ingredients are so good these days that if you're moderately careful you can make really good beer at home. Without worrying.
Beginner's Guide to All-Grain Brewing
If you've tried basic homebrewing and are curious about all-grain brewing, this is the book for you. It's a quick and easy introduction to the essentials. It covers what you need to know without going into too much detail or the geeky specifics. It explains the basics about grains, what goes on in the mash and lauter tun, what you need to know about equipment and process, and provides practical tips, schedules and calculators to make sure you know how to brew your first all-grain batch.
Eggs are Expensive, Sperm is Cheap: 50 Politically Incorrect Thoughts for Men
When it comes to love, sex, dating and marriage, the world has gone crazy. The modern view is both stupid and destructive, but it's rarely questioned. It's thrown in our faces from every angle and has so infiltrated our culture that we don't even recognize it. We just breathe it in with the air. Eggs are Expensive, Sperm is Cheap asks young men to stop and think about it for a while, and presents a completely different view of how the sexes should relate. Available on kindle for just $2.99. (Note, this book was formerly titled "Before You Marry.")
Awkward Ollie and the Stolen Banana
Mix a weird boy who mutters, won’t stand up straight and has no friends, with a vindictive, nasty girl and what do you get? Spells, curses, trouble with the principal, detention, and … a trip to the hospital.
If you were in middle school you’d stay as far away from Awkward Ollie as you could manage.
Allison Warren is a washed up lawyer who is trying to make a career as a female detective / PI. Her first case involves a college friend who got in over her head with some neighborhood toughs. The cover illustration is by my pal Jake Warrenfeltz. Get it now for $0.99.
The Security Breach
This is a very short story about a chief security officer at a government contractor. He's hauled before a panel investigating a sexual harassment complaint -- against him. While he's away from his desk somebody is taking advantage of the opportunity and hacking the company servers, which contain sensitive government information. Is the accuser in on the attack? Was the harassment claim part of a larger gambit? Get it now for just 99 cents!
Tales from Crow Hill
This collection of exciting short stories explores a wide variety of themes and settings. A patriarch is stuck in a world ruled by women. A murderer is troubled by a religious tract. A hat transforms a shy man into a chick magnate and lands him in trouble with the mob. A possessed woman struggles to find meaning to her life after her demon is cast out. A nightmare experience in the office. A "family values" guy caught in a sordid affair. A man who fathers a child on a witch. You never know what you'll find in Tales from Crow Hill. Get it now for just $2.99.
Shy Hans can't make any progress with the lovely Sara and is afraid to approach her, but then a mysterious hat gives Hans the skill and confidence of an experienced pick-up artist. As he learns how to use the hat he discovers that he has his choice of many beautiful women. Will Hans stay devoted to Sara? Is there a secret price that comes with use of the hat? And has Hans gone too far in dating the fabulous Julia, the girlfriend of a dangerous gangster? Get it now for just $0.99.
Sam is a patriarch caught in a world ruled by women. In this dystopian future, men can't go to college, work white collar jobs, or even own books. They do all the hard and dangerous work that keeps the economy moving, while a select few of the most gifted women rule society and lead ostentatious lives of privilege. Other women are left to breed. Sam isn't the kind of guy to take this lying down. Kindle: $0.99 The cover art for this eBook is from delafo at fiverr.com.
The Inner Voice
Al knows exactly what Johnson is up to, and he isn't going to allow him to get away with it any longer. This human cancer has to be stopped before he ruins even more lives. Justice has to be done. But Al has to move carefully. Purchases for the job need to be discreet, and untraceable. He needs to learn how to make his own weapons that will leave no evidence at the scene of the crime. All the while, the tech guys at the office are watching, ... and Al wonders if he'll ever resolve his inner turmoil. Get it now for just $0.99.
Attack of the Tinkers
This is a collection of short stories based around the concepts in The Hidden Village, an (as-yet) imaginary game for city dwellers to play in their off hours -- at lunch or happy hour, or as they wander the city streets. The participants join a guild and compete with one another for members, points and territory. But there’s a secret purpose to the game that the players don’t know about. Get it now on the Kindle.