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Can a man marry his brother but not his sister?

by Greg Krehbiel on 11 July 2014

I asked that question a while ago in the context of same-sex marriage. Some people argue that allowing same-sex marriage is simply extending to homosexuals a right that is currently exercised by heterosexuals — or, to put it another way, that denying “marriage” to same-sex couples is discrimination against a class of people.

What that argument fails to recognize is that same-sex unions are an entirely different thing from heterosexual unions, and one easy way to see this is to look at the rules we have for heterosexual unions. We don’t allow a man to marry his sister because it’s bad for the children, but the rule is irrelevant when it comes to a man marrying his brother, because the union is inherently sterile.

Different rules apply to heterosexual unions because they are inherently different from homosexual unions.

Applying that logic to our marriage laws assumes a link between marriage and procreation, but it’s no longer a given than a “married” couple will have children. Once we uncouple procreation from marriage — that is, if we say that we can no longer base our rules for marriage on the assumption of procreation — then there’s no reason to prohibit incestual marriages.

That is the next frontier in our path to the Brave New World. See Australian judge says incest may no longer be a taboo.

-- 10 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-07-11  ::  Greg Krehbiel





“We can talk about that after you secure the border”

by Greg Krehbiel on 11 July 2014

Every elected official should say that over and over and over again. There should be no discussion of anything related to immigration until the border is secured. When there’s a hole in your boat you don’t worry about polishing the brass.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-07-11  ::  Greg Krehbiel





Random thoughts on personal identity

by Greg Krehbiel on 10 July 2014

When you watch a show about royalty, or about people who are born into lucky circumstances, there’s usually a line in the show (or maybe you just think it yourself) to the effect of “but what if he were born to a poor family?”

It’s somewhat of an odd thought — as if we believe there is a “he” that transcends the circumstances of his birth. It’s almost as if we believe there are all these souls out there just waiting to be placed in bodies, and one soul gets put in the baby prince while another soul gets put in the baby pauper.

A person’s identity is determined by things like the particular sperm that fertilized the particular egg, the womb he grew up in, etc. To speak of some kind of identity outside of that reality is strange.

Somewhat along the same lines I was thinking this morning about our concept of something happening to a person “through no fault of his own.” There are obvious examples where it applies — where some completely random thing happens to somebody. But sometimes it’s hard to understand if the concept applies.

For example, is it “through no fault of his own” if a person is born with a genetic abnormality? It’s something that is part of his very being, but it’s certainly not something for which he is responsible, as if he chose it.

How about if someone is a jerk? It’s entirely possible that’s not something he can control either. The parts of his brain that regulate social cues and so on may be underdeveloped — “through no fault of his own.”

There’s nothing new in any of this, of course, it’s just one aspect of the old determinism debate. But I think the practical gist of it is very relevant, i.e., the more we push a view of human nature that is mechanical, or biologically determined, the less we are able to sustain this concept of a “him” that exists apart from his circumstances, “for which he is not responsible.”

Imagine the conversation. (Substitute some other pathology for jerkiness if it makes the story work better for you.)

Sam: I’m sick of all these jerks. We should get rid of them.

Lou: It’s not their fault that they’re jerks. Their brains didn’t develop properly and they don’t get social cues the way we do.

Sam: Yes, but all you’re saying is that they’re jerks at a fundamental level. They are jerks. It’s not as if “jerkiness” was applied to them by an evil, outside force. At the basic level of who they are, they’re jerks. And I don’t want them around.

It could be that some sort of concept of a soul — that a person has an identity and a value apart from his circumstances — is the best defense against the horror that Sam represents.

To put it another way, the triumph of materialists would likely have very far-reaching effects on how we view ourselves and others.

-- 10 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-07-10  ::  Greg Krehbiel





A brain sucker, starving to death

by Greg Krehbiel on 10 July 2014

Remember that thing kids used to do in school, where person 1 would put their hand on person 2′s head and move their fingers up and down, somewhat like a spider doing push-ups, and say, “Q: What’s this? A: A brain sucker. Q: What’s it doing? A: Starving.”

Andrew Klavan reminded me of that as he tries to understand what Obama was thinking on immigration. Klavan seems to conclude that trying to make sense out of Obama’s plans is like trying to read something intelligible into Yes lyrics. In the process he says two very important things.

Intentions don’t dictate results.

The idea that you can cause chaos and then predict what will come out of that chaos makes absolutely no sense.

This is also worth quoting.

Many people on the right think Obama is an Evil Leftist Genius. Not me. I think he is a hapless putz. I think his ideas are all wrong, his application of his ideas is incompetent, and the chaos that he causes with his wrongness and incompetence will not lead in the direction he thinks it will. …

The guy is just a sad little schmuck who played cynical politics well and got promoted way above his competence. His policies won’t change the face of the nation. They’ll just make a mess that those who come after him will have to clean up.

Harsh words, but they have the ring of truth to them.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-07-10  ::  Greg Krehbiel





But can they blame it on the car?

by Greg Krehbiel on 9 July 2014

Al Gore will find a way.

Earth’s Magnetic Field Is Weakening 10 Times Faster Now

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-07-09  ::  Greg Krehbiel





“Reasonableness and restraint”?

by Greg Krehbiel on 9 July 2014

Hamas fires rockets into Israel, and Obama tells Israel to act with “reasonableness and restraint.”

I’d have said “Good hunting.”

-- 15 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-07-09  ::  Greg Krehbiel





Why “Do you believe in same-sex marriage?” is not a fair question

by Greg Krehbiel on 9 July 2014

At least it’s not a fair question for people who believe that the word “marriage” doesn’t mean much of anything any more. The thing we call “marriage” today is a watered down, weakened version of marriage.

We’ve degraded marriage in many ways, but the four most important are …

  • Sex outside of marriage is now socially acceptable,
  • Adultery is no longer a crime,
  • Children are regularly raised outside of marriage, and
  • Couples can divorce for any reason or no reason.

Perhaps the more important question to ask today is if the culture changed and we could restore marriage to what it used to be (i.e., reverse all the bullet points above), would same-sex couples want to get married?

That, of course, is also not a fair question, because same-sex couples live in the same moral swamp everybody else lives in. They’ve been fed a diet of “everything is about my happiness” just like the rest of us. So if we’re going to ask that of same-sex couples, we should also ask it of modern heterosexual couples. Would they want to marry under the terms I outline?

Probably not.

It’s not just the laws that are wrong. It’s the whole culture and our expectations about sex and kids and marriage. We’ve redefined “marriage” to mean something that I don’t think it means (or shouldn’t mean). What we have today may be more like concubinage than marriage, and I’ve often thought that we should have two separate institutions — domestic partnerships for people who want the modern whatever-it-is, and marriage (under the old terms) for people who want that.

My thoughts here were prompted by an article I saw on the very different rates of divorce among same-sex couples.

We’ve abandoned the tried and true, and we’re adrift in a stormy sea with no idea where we’re going.

-- 6 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-07-09  ::  Greg Krehbiel





Match.com for business?

by Greg Krehbiel on 8 July 2014

Please don’t misinterpret this post. I am not saying the idea I’m going to describe is a good thing, but I do think it’s a possible way to make a lot of money by doing something slightly questionable. Or perhaps despicable. You decide.

I despise personality tests. Myers Briggs, the little online “are you conservative or liberal,” and all that stuff — they drive me crazy.

Or, rather, they fascinate me, but I despise the way people use them. They’re used to put people in buckets. It’s basically an acceptable form of racism. “You’re an ISFJ, you wouldn’t understand.”

In my experience they are always a barrier to understanding people, not an aid. I have never once seen anything good come from one of those things, but I have frequently seen them abused.

Having said all that, they’re clearly the rage, and it’s fairly obvious why. They combine science and narcissism in a way that’s bound to appeal to the modern person. You can imagine somebody who has no interest in finding a date signing up for one of these things simply to find out what kind of a person he is.

So then, here’s the business idea. Invent an easy, accessible way for a company to use something like this in hiring. Sure, there are things like this, but read on.

First, a little background.

I was at a SIPA conference once where a guy told a story about a bunch of people who went for a job interview with Southwest Airlines. About ten people were sitting in a waiting room, and somebody came in and said Southwest tended to be rather casual in their interviews and offered everyone a Hawaiian shirt. They had a dressing room with shirts in every size, and everyone was welcome to go try one on. Some did, some didn’t.

A few minutes later somebody came in and said all the people who didn’t put on the shirts could go. It was a test to see if they were willing to fit in with the corporate culture.

It seems somewhat unfair, but there’s also something to it. Corporations do have cultures, and some people don’t fit. Some large corporations realize this and work that sort of test into their hiring process, but smaller companies typically don’t have the time or the resources.

Hence, hire-the-right-personality-types.com (or something like that).

Here’s how it would work. All the owners and the existing employees would take personality tests. Management would indicate which employees are the stars (i.e., more like this please) and which are the duds. The service would determine if there’s a particular profile that correlates well with success at that company. Potential hires would take the test, and the results would be one of the characteristics used in making the hiring decision.

I think such a service could make a lot of money, although I hate the idea. Here’s why.

These tests ask things like “when faced with A, would you prefer to do 1 or 2?” Like everybody else, I have my preferences, but I am also willing and able to do things the other way if that is what’s required, and I’m fairly good at figuring that sort of thing out. I can work with pretty much anybody.

But the tests don’t care that much about flexibility. They don’t want to know if you can lead, follow, or get out of the way, they want to know which one you tend towards. They want to put you in a bucket and tell you what you’re good at and what you’re not good at.

Maybe there are tests that take that sort of thing into account, but in my experience they’re more interested in classifying you than in finding out how flexible you can be.

I went through one of these pop-psych management stupidities one time, and the moderator sorted everybody into four groups, then told us how well we would work with the other groups. My group (according to the magical sorting hat) couldn’t work very well with Hufflepuff — or however he named the group to our right — which had two of my direct reports, who were some of my best friends in the company. I worked with them just fine.

Worst still, the CEO spent the next two months treating everybody according to the little groups they had been placed in. It was awful, until he realized it was nonsense and moved on.

Obviously not everyone is as incompetent as the guy who ran our little shrink-a-doo, but that seems to be the way things work.

So, while I hate the whole concept — I think they are destructive of morale and constitute a “scientific” form of racism-by-another-name — I think somebody could make a fortune selling it.

(This is a duplicate of a post over on my marketing blog.)

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-07-08  ::  Greg Krehbiel





The 97% and those 77 cents

by Greg Krehbiel on 8 July 2014

You know what I mean. 97% of scientists believe in global warming, and women make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes. It’s never 96%, or 78 cents.

The problem is that neither statistic is true, but each is quoted ad nauseum as if sheer repetition will make them true.

IMO anyone who quotes either statistic (except to ridicule it) immediately loses credibility. To use one of those numbers shows at least one of these things.

  1. You believe in cheap rhetoric rather than reality.
  2. You are willing to lie to make your point.
  3. You are too ignorant to know that the statistics are bogus.
  4. You don’t have the intellectual curiosity to know the details of the topics on which you speak.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-07-08  ::  Greg Krehbiel





The modern inability to make distinctions

by Greg Krehbiel on 7 July 2014

Maybe it’s not a uniquely modern problem, but I’m seeing it more and more, so I think it’s a growing problem.

The most important intellectual deficit I see in the country today is the inability to make reasonable distinctions — or, to put it another way, lumping things together that don’t belong. The reaction to the Hobby Lobby decision is a good example, but so is this opinion piece about Boehner’s threatened lawsuit against Obama.

Boehner says Obama is an imperial president who has broken the law. Obama’s defenders says he’s just doing what every president has done, and they compare how many executive orders Obama has issued to the executive orders issued by previous presidents — which is completely irrelevant.

The question is not the number of executive orders, but their scope and effect.

I see this kind of problem all the time — even among the allegedly intelligent people who lecture us on the Sunday talk shows. It’s rampant in discussions of global warming (on both sides), and in any political debate. I think it is a serious social liability because it’s the sort of thing that demagogues can and do exploit.

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-07-07  ::  Greg Krehbiel

2014-07-07 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Worst president ever?
+ 4 comments
2014-07-07 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
“Forgive me as I keep sinning”
+ 1 comment
2014-07-07 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Couldn’t this be called an invasion?
2014-07-03 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
I like this
+ 31 comments
2014-07-02 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Romney in 2016?
+ 11 comments
2014-06-26 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Who’s “extreme”?