Category: Wising up

February 7, 2013

Who knew?!

by Nori — Categories: Wising upComments Off on Who knew?!

Did you know there’s a site that track retractions of scholarly papers?  The latest report has a German professor losing her PhD over plagiarism.  Ouch.

So, here’s your warning.  Just because it was published in something high-brow and scholarly doesn’t necessarily make it good, true or worth reading.  The site counts the number of retractions for any given person/entity as it reports the retraction.  Yup, it’s a new amusement for me.

December 18, 2012

Rephrasing the argument

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, Taxing the American Public, Wising upComments Off on Rephrasing the argument

This morning the Tea Party’s Facebook feed has another “bad Obama” posting.  Various conservative groups run this sort of thing almost weekly.  The latest is a repeat of how “bad” Obama is because he vacations in Hawaii and he’s off to do it again soon and it costs $4 million and “ew, isn’t that horrible”.  It reads like something you’d find in a sensationalist rag right below the newest bat boy sighting; rhetoric that attracts lemmings and does nothing to change minds.

I listened to a CATO podcast last week entitled “Be Charitable to Your Opponents’ Views” and it changed the way I argue about things like this. It’s my hope that all who listen get as much out of it as I did.  It made such a huge impact in the way I think I’ve left it in my RSS feed to listen to again.

This latest Tea Party posting is an excellent example of how we (fiscal conservatives) are phrasing arguments without insight or intelligence.  Instead of arguing on an emotional level, we need to make reasoned arguments on why we see the philosophy behind the behavior is misguided.  We need to make the opportunity (and argument) to change minds instead of just collecting nods from those who already agree with how we feel.

Here’s the cut to the chase piece on this “Obama wasting tax payer money on vacation” rhetoric.  Before we can hope to make a reasoned argument about it, we must understand how Obama thinks.  He believes in wealth redistribution and Keynesian principals of stimulus. When we start with that premise, we understand he thinks he’s doing a good thing, stimulating the economy.  By shortsightedly couching the argument as “Bad Obama”, we’re spouting unconvincing conservative rhetoric.  People who don’t think the way we do immediately stop listening and we’ve lost the argument.

So, the conversation needs to be rephrased. We need to make the reasoned Hayek versus Keynes argument.  We need to educate.  We need to explain why spending of tax payer money on vacations (or most everything else the government does) is based on proven flawed reasoning and the result is a reduced economy.

We’re failing because we’re voicing the message ineffectively. We need to argue the principles behind the philosophy and why they’re wrong.  We need to shy away from the bat boy sighting rhetoric.

November 1, 2012

Setting traditional education on its ear

by Nori — Categories: Feeding the Soul, Wising upComments Off on Setting traditional education on its ear

In my Reason 24/7 RSS feed this morning was a link to an article about Ethiopian kids getting Motorola Zoom tablets.  To keep this in perspective, these kids had NEVER seen a printed word.  EVER, as had most of the adults in the village.  In five months, with no outside instruction, the kids had not only taught themselves to read, they had hacked the devices and re-enabled the onboard cameras.

Makes you rethink our current educational system, doesn’t it.

 

October 24, 2012

Totally off the point

by Nori — Categories: Politics, Wising upComments Off on Totally off the point

One of the things that really bothers me in political discourse is this type of thing.  This excerpt is from a TAC article by Florence King.

Everybody knows who Joan Walsh is. To liberals she’s a saint, and they just might have a point: her TV guest spots have established her as Joan of Fallen Archness. Editor-at-Large of Salon, she regularly turns up on the People’s Republic of MSNBC, wearing her trademark simper and oozing coyness, and obsequiously recites, “Yes, Reverend Al” to the honkyphobic views of Al Sharpton.

Why are attacks on the person so universally accepted?  Isn’t this type of thing usually reserved for the paparazzi?  The person’s ideology should be at issue, not their personality.  When an article starts out like this, I stop reading.  This type of political “reporting” is catty, bitchy, low-brow and pointless.  It’s sole purpose seems to be to attract other low-brow and petty people’s acknowledgement.  Picture me wincing.

October 20, 2012

Stop wasting my time

by Nori — Categories: General, Wising upComments Off on Stop wasting my time
desultory adj : marked by lack of definite plan or regularity or purpose; jumping from one thing to another; “desultory thoughts”; “the desultory conversation characteristic of cocktail parties”

Because up to now I have led a fairly desultory life, I haven’t taken a lot of exception to the amount of time I’ve spent filtering through . . . uh . . . crap.  Using the word makes me wince, but however high brow we normally are, sometimes it’s the really simple words that describe things best.

One of my very best friends, a woman who has acted both as best friend and mother, is now in a skilled care facility recovering from a massive stoke.  Because of my lack of a regimented life, I am free to spend time caring for her and acting as her advocate.  I see it as a vital job until such time as she is able to communicate clearly.  As a result, I have much less time for what has been life’s normal clutter.

Let me give you an example.  Chris Matthews proves how incredibly uneducated he is on the Constitution because he says it protects the President from rudeness.  Really?  This is news?  We already know Matthews is an ignorant shill.  It’s no longer news and hasn’t been for a very long time.

I use the Bloglines RSS reader for news and to keep me abreast of things that interest me.  To find the jewels, the bits of information I need to stay current on government overreach, political races, legislation pending in congress, major world news and the like, I have to filter through a tide of . . . well . . . crap.  This includes anything about Lindsay Lohan’s latest arrest, anyone with the Hollywood frame of mind ignorantly commenting on politics, all the various pundits’ take on the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates, the continuing climate change hysteria, the latest in Halloween costumes and anything I can even loosely define as gossip.

While I might find the latest fete on Elizabeth Warren’s purported native ancestry amusing (the woman does know how to shovel the odoriferous offal that continues to ooze into the hole she’s dug for herself), it really isn’t, in the face of my current situation, important enough to warrant a glance.  When it finally drowns her, now that will be news.

This morning, one of three or four mornings a week where my responsibilities to my friend are absorbed by others, I have nearly 600 entries in my RSS feed.  A few of those are CATO event videos I want to make time to watch (the list is growing because I haven’t been able to make time), and a few are articles I’ve been meaning to make time to read.  The vast majority of those ~600 entries will be deleted en masse still unviewed.  I think this is what we call “priority.”

July 31, 2012

Milton Friedman’s 100th

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, Politics, Taxing the American Public, Wising upComments Off on Milton Friedman’s 100th

Today is Milton Friedman’s 100th birthday.  There are few people for whom I have as much respect, nor any I laud more frequently.  In celebration of his birthday, I’d like to extend this idea.

What if, in the process of writing new legislation, a short treatise was required that referenced all the prior related legislation, what it was intended to do, where it failed or wasn’t being enforced and how the new legislation was going to fix the problem the previous legislation was unable to.

If we forced our legislators to look at the big picture, maybe we could get some to grasp reality and stop pushing out new legislation like so many deformed babies.  Over-regulation is killing our business, our country and our freedom.

Milton Friedman said “The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.”  Wise words from a very wise man.

July 22, 2012

Why gun laws cannot work

by Nori — Categories: Politics, Wising up3 Comments

One of the biggest problems we have as a society is the failure of the citizenry to attach reality to theory.  In theory, if you take away all the guns, there would be no gun violence, but that’s wrong on so many levels.  Gun laws just cripple the law abiding.  This is such an obvious point I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t get it.

You can outlaw guns, but you can’t prevent guns from getting into the hands of those who wish to do evil.  Even if you could, you still couldn’t prevent those wishing to do evil from fulfilling their intended actions so what, exactly, is the point?  Evil will find a way.

I watched a video this morning by Bill Whittle on how operating only on theory has lead to some fairly large catastrophes.  He quoted William M. Briggs.  He said “The love of theory is the root of all evil.”  In relating it to politics and belief in anthropogenic global warming.  “Big elaborate theories are catnip to certain kinds of people . . . who are not so successful out in the practical world.”   Unfortunately, that perfectly describes many of our legislators, more specifically Krugman, Obama, Reid and Pelosi.

Take a couple minutes to watch the video.  I think Whittle nails it.

So back to gun control.  The ONE thing that would solve the gun control problem as demonstrated in Aurora Colorado this week would be to make it mandatory that EVERY adult citizen pass a gun safety course and carry a side arm when in public.  How would Holmes have behaved if he knew he would have been facing an audience of armed adults?  I bet he would have stayed home and a hundred people would not have faced life altering trauma.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the difference between theory (taking away guns will fix the problem) and reality (arming everyone will prevent the problem).  Don’t believe me?  Check out this.

Here’s my favorite Libertarian Presidential candidate saying the same thing.   And here’s J. Neil Schuman and Joe Klein saying the same thing.

Gun laws don’t work because they take guns away from people who should have them and are completely unable to prevent guns from getting into the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.  The best solution is for everyone to have the ability to protect themselves.

 

July 13, 2012

The Supreme Court and Obamatax

by Nori — Categories: Government, Politics, Wising upComments Off on The Supreme Court and Obamatax

Since the Obamatax decision came down from the Supreme Court, it’s been fascinating to listen to/read different people’s take on what the decision means, both short term and long. Of all the bits I’ve heard and read, I have found the perceptions of Randy Barnett, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at the Georgetown University Law Center to be particularly interesting.

Barnett is a libertarian, the author of nine books and over 100 articles. He regularly publishes opinion pieces in periodicals like the Wall Street Journal. His Reason interview is going to be on my favorites list for a while. I’ve listened to it three times so far and will probably listen to it a couple more times before I move on. At almost 33 minutes, it’s a bit long, but it truly is fascinating listening. Barnett covers the Obamatax decision, how the Supreme Court effects our freedoms, interpretation of the Constitution and the move toward originalism.

At the end of the interview Damon Root mentions Barnett’s website and writings on the Volokh Conspiracy website. Barnett’s annotated Declaration of Independence on Volokh is both illuminating and educational.

This is part of our advanced citizenship, to understand what is happening, the impact it will have on us and how we can work toward restoring our Constitution and Bill or Rights.

July 4, 2012

Rich or poor?

by Nori — Categories: Feeding the Soul, Wising upComments Off on Rich or poor?

Who decides if someone is rich or poor?  Is it how much you make, how much you have, how happy you are or how much you owe in relation to how much you make?  Who decides?  What’s the magic formula?

I think rich versus poor is in many cases an arbitrary measure.  I don’t think wealth can be measured just in money or possessions alone because each of us has a different yardstick by which we’re measuring wealth.

Using happiness as a measure of wealth is as arbitrary as any measure I’ve seen but it certainly is a valid method of rating wealth.  You could have the best house/car/yacht with servants at your beck and call and plenty of discretionary income but, if you’re miserable, you’re pretty darned poor.  You’d trade a lot of that “wealth” just to be truly happy.

Do you owe a lot of money?  What percent of your income goes to paying consumer debt on a house, a car, a boat . . . a condo on Maui?  Is lack of debt a measure of wealth?

Freedom is my favorite measure of wealth.  The wealthiest people in the world are those with the most personal freedoms.  The US used to rate at the top in personal freedoms, but each year we let the government further strip us of our liberty, we sink in the world ratings.  How does this degradation effects your personal wealth?

Income is also used as a measure of wealth, but I think it’s a largely illusory measure.  If you lost your source of income today, how many months could you sustain your standard of living before you lost your home, car and health insurance and were out on the street living hand to mouth?  So, how wealthy are you really?  Is it gloss or substance?

There are other ways of looking at wealth.  If you lost your source of income today, what adjustments could you make to continue to live in comfort if not to the standard of living you enjoy today?  Is that ability a measure of wealth?

Disaster preparedness is an infrequent measure but one with validity.  Maybe we should look at wealth as a measure of the level of self-sufficiency we could maintain in the advent of a global disaster.  Could you generate your own power if the grid went down?  Have you got a clean source of water and food stored?  Is your residence still going to be standing if there’s a fire in your neighborhood or an earthquake that flattens everything in your area?  Based on that measure, how wealthy are you?

So how do you look at wealth?  Fancy car?  Big house?  Lots of flash?  Trips to here or there on a whim?  If it’s any of those things, you might want to rethink how those things will serve you in the advent of a disaster.  You may not be as wealthy as you think.

Is wealth a measure of how smart you are?  Not book learning or ability to make money but ability to survive if disaster strikes?  Depending on your point of view, that’s a valid measure of wealth.

So is wealth a formula?  Personal liberty+happiness+absence of debt+survival ability+income stability?  Or is it a different formula altogether?  What’s your formula?

 

June 28, 2012

Dashed expectations

by Nori — Categories: Government, Politics, Social networking, Wising upComments Off on Dashed expectations
ken n 1: range of what one can know or understand; “beyond my ken” [syn: cognizance] 2: the range of vision; “out of sight of land” [syn: sight]

For some reason beyond my current ken, I expected more from SCOTUS today on their ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Healthcare act.  To say I’m disappointed is vastly understating my current state of mind.

I, as a common and lowly citizen (the non-military equivalent of the impecunious subaltern), expected a greater level of intelligence and economic/free market savvy from SCOTUS.  I think, for those of us displeased with the ruling, while slow in accepting that the supreme court is imminently fallible, find this as additional impetus to do more to get our government pared back to within the confines of the constitution.

It seems the Tea Party and supporters of Ron Paul increasingly feel the same way, tired of status quo politics, fed up with broken campaign promises and dedicated to a mission to replace those politicians who are unable to see and hold the line on big government.  November’s coming and it’s going to be interesting.

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