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What’s wrong with Indiana’s new law?

by Greg Krehbiel on 26 March 2015

The governor of Indiana has just signed legislation that has certain parts of the nut-o-shere 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?

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-26  ::  Greg Krehbiel

The Big Climate Fear-Mongering Fail

by Greg Krehbiel on 26 March 2015

This is interesting: The Campaign To Make You Care About Climate Change Is Failing Miserably.

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.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-26  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Those dirty dogs

by Greg Krehbiel on 26 March 2015

Our ancestors and their dogs drove the Neanderthals to extinction, says a new book.

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.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-26  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Certain sure of their moral superiority?

by Greg Krehbiel on 25 March 2015

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.

-- 8 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-25  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Not the internet’s policeman?

by Greg Krehbiel on 24 March 2015

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.

What If Web Search Results Were Based On Accuracy?

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-24  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Don’t underestimate Cruz

by Greg Krehbiel on 24 March 2015

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.

-- 8 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-24  ::  Greg Krehbiel

I’m for the death penalty, but …

by Greg Krehbiel on 23 March 2015

I realize that opposition to the death penalty is a popular cause among liberals, which explains why we see lots of stories like this one. After 22 years on death row, woman sees murder case tossed.

There are plenty of miscarriages of justice going on all the time that don’t get much play in the media because … it doesn’t interest them. The death penalty does interest them, so we get these stories.

Still … these cases are often pretty awful.

My response to these sorts of stories is that they have everything to do with problems in our judicial system and very little to do with the death penalty, per se. It’s not as if it’s okay to imprison someone falsely either. Or fine them. Or put them on a “sex offender” list. Or seize their assets.

IOW, if our system is this bad, it’s not only the death row cases we need to be concerned about. We need a thorough audit of our rules of evidence, appeals process, etc.

I’m in favor of the death penalty. But these cases trouble me, and I think it would be reasonable to put the death penalty on hold for a while and try to fix the system. But we need to fix the entire system and not just the capital cases.

This is something that Rand Paul has been talking about. I don’t know if his ideas are right or wrong, but I think it would be good to draw attention to the problems in our criminal justice system and start a process of reform. If that means stopping the death penalty for a while, so be it.

-- 8 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-23  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Obama’s radical agenda re: Iran

by Greg Krehbiel on 23 March 2015

From Obama’s Iran Agenda

[Obama] has abandoned more than three decades of bipartisan U.S. policy towards Iran — on its nuclear weapons program, on its regional ambitions, and on its support for terrorism.

These are radical departures. The Obama administration’s goal in nuclear talks is no longer preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons at all costs, but managing the process by which Iran becomes a nuclear state. The Obama administration no longer seeks to thwart Iran’s expansionist aims in the region and in many respects is now facilitating its aggression. On terrorism, the Obama administration has cast aside inconvenient realities about Iran’s support for jihadists of all kinds and has chosen instead to pretend that to the extent there any longer exists a war on terror, Washington and Tehran are on the same side.

And he wonders why the Republicans tried to sabotage his negotiations.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-23  ::  Greg Krehbiel

What is a “natural born citizen”?

by Greg Krehbiel on 23 March 2015

Now that Cruz is in the race, we’re going to have to wonder if he is eligible to be president. Politifact has an informative article on the subject.

The Constitution says any candidate for president must be 35 years of age, a resident within the United States for 14 years and a “natural born citizen.”

So what’s a “natural born citizen”? Apparently it’s not entirely clear, but Politifact says this.

In 2008, we reviewed research and polled several legal experts. The consensus was that someone is a “natural born” citizen if they have citizenship at birth and don’t have to go through a naturalization process to become a citizen.

Since this has come up with two recent candidates — McCain and Cruz — it seems that it’s time for a clear definition.

BTW, I didn’t mention Obama in the previous paragraph because the issue there wasn’t so much the definition of “natural born citizen,” but where he was born.

-- 4 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-23  ::  Greg Krehbiel

If you’ve got a kid …

by Greg Krehbiel on 22 March 2015

Here’s another silly short story for the young crowd, which will be free on Kindle for a week starting tomorrow (Monday).

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-22  ::  Greg Krehbiel

2015-03-22 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Liberal idiocy on display
2015-03-20 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
No jury duty for me
2015-03-19 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Mars or space stations?
2015-03-19 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Thou shalt vote … or else
2015-03-17 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Will Hillary go to jail?