Cowardly Apologetic

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I don’t know how else to put it.  Kenneth Anderson as put up a post at Lawfare trying to explain the continual missile strikes on men who are purported to be terrorists.  I say purported because while some of those killed by professional button-pushers and lever-pullers undoubtedly wish(ed) to murder Americans for no better reason than to change American policy, but as far as others… The reasoning is less clear.

To be clear, I understand that some people wish to kill Americans.  I also understand that nothing short of death will stop them.  I understand that this necessarily means that we as a people should desire their death as a means to our own defense.  I believe that even carefully targeted missile strikes violate the principle of proportionality (see Unnecessary Destruction in regard to civilian deaths) as well as aerial bombardment… But I digress.

I think that the point that “capturing people is hard, so instead they should be killed” is a cowardly and dehumanizing argument.  I find the ideal to be revolting on its’ face.  I think that drones could be far more useful assisting troops in contact with the enemy, or providing close air support for out-lying bases or patrols.  These killings are breeding villains.  They are the symptom of a cowardly society, unwilling to look its enemy in the face and then either bring him home for justice or shoot him there on the road.

That’s mostly just poetic rhetoric.  It would be a lot easier on my heart, though, if these men were killed while they were either engaged with US forces or isolated from civilians.  Mr. Anderson’s sanitized writing about men as targets throughout his essay disturbs me on a personal level, but what really upsets me is his logic (that I perhaps insufficiently addressed) that mixing up captures with a whole bunch of killing is a good idea.

On a final note, I admit I am vulnerable to accusation.  I blog using anonymity, which takes away a bit of my credibility.  I understand that.  I am a small fry, and enjoy my bit of freedom of the press.

Stop Following Me!

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Nah, j/k.  I have noticed since I started my blog every day I make a post I get new “followers.”  Wordpress has this neat feature that notifies the blogger if he or she gets a new “follower.”  A follower is someone who subscribes to another person’s blog.  While this sounds neat in principle, it is decidedly underwhelming in practice.  I think that the idea is to get follows-back, sort of like the scheme on Twitter to get more twitfame points.  As far as I know, WordPress regrettably lacks a feature to display the followers on each blog.  Perhaps there’s a widget somewhere, or a market waiting to be exploited by an entrepreneurial Mark Britton-type.  Unfortunately, Mr. Britton’s wisdom seems forever lost on the Internet, or the address of his original blog post regarding his Theory of Influence has disappeared.

Centralized Planning

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Ugh.  I was shocked, shocked, Casanova, when I discovered that only six people signed up for health care on the first day the Health Care exchanges were opened.  I mean, nobody would really ever know what the numbers were, right?  Why would the most transparent administration in the history of the United States release such unimportant data?

HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters helpfully pointed out that this wasn’t a bad start: only 123 people signed up for coverage in the first month the Massachusetts state health care exchange opened in 2007.  What a stupid comparison.  Besides size, scale, and the difference in diffusion of awareness about the two programs, I guess it lines up.

Where does the buck stop?  When was the last time a politician took responsibility for his actions?  It seems like it takes adultery or theft to get someone to admit they have actually done something.  If these guys can’t be responsible for something they put their name on, then what matters?  What do they care about?

Maybe they’re just too busy looking up potential dates.

The Only Achievement that Matters in The Stanley Parable

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I have played the game (like many others) recently (also like many others).  I have gotten a few endings: the Third Person Ending, the Jump Ending, the Self-Power Ending, the Freedom Ending, the White Board Ending, the Confusion Ending, the Please Die Ending, and the Escape Ending.  There are more.  These are my thoughts, along with a spoiled story (or at least one in progress). Continue reading

Back

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I took a break for a few days to get out of town. It was a good time! Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime. In the meantime, I am dying.

It astounds me that more people are not… Forthcoming about that. I contemplate death a lot, particularly my own. I know that my death is coming, and relatively soon in the “grand scheme of things.” People have been around for a very long time, and will almost certainly be around after I can no longer affect the world, and things will go on. I am sure that barring some sort of apocalyptic scenario my passing will be mourned, but I will be forgotten. I am sure of that. I am barely aware of what my great-grandparents did during their lifetimes, and I am a direct (albeit removed) result of their actions.

I often wonder what I can do with the little amount of time I have. It has helped to cut down on some (but not all) of the frivolous things I do, and has made me much more brooding. I think I might be happier because of that, but I’m not sure.

Better a Loss than a Pyrrhic Victory

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Congratulations to the Democrat Party on ending the government shutdown.

The Republicans just cost the country money and their own caucus political capital on their principled stand.  What a waste of time.  Hopefully I’m wrong.  Hopefully, this will push the Overton Window back toward fiscal responsibility.

I was concerned about the shutdown.  Personally,  I think it needed to happen.  It is a complete shame that only one party seems to bear responsibility for the shutdown, and the Republicans have failed (in my point of view) to represent the shared burden.  Maybe this is partly on the shoulders of the press

I sincerely hope that this will spark a conservative coalition.  Ideally, there would be a four party system, made up of libertarians, neo-conservatives, progressives, and liberals.  If only there were some big personalities that were upset by the status quo, I think this would be the time to lead the split.  After all, people on both sides are unhappy with only two choices.

Polar Opposites

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So, recently the news sites are awash in analysis and reporting on The Shutdown.  Most of the blame is falling on the Republicans (empirically so), but I think that this is just good PR on Democrats’ part.

Meanwhile, some claim that this is the work of a few crazy men and women in one particular part of the country.  I call bullshit.

I think that the shutdown is the result of a polarized electorate… Hopefully not an uniformed one, but ultimately their (our) level of knowledge is immaterial.  The point is that the candidates that we sent are simply unwilling to compromise on some issues.  The Congress has reached an apparent critical mass of men and women that coalesced into groups with mutually exclusive goals.  Previously, Representative Walter Jones was an outlier.  Now, he finds himself with like-minded individuals that are large enough to form a voting bloc.  These candidates believe that they have a mandate, much like President Obama believed that he had a mandate to pass the Affordable Care Act (or at least the unshakable will to do so).  The problem is that now the two each have the authority to demand what they want, and to deny things that are contrary to their priorities.  Each side is doing it.  Like I said, it’s just good PR that has made the Republicans bear most of the blame.  I sincerely hope that this will illuminate and inform the voters (us) for the next election so that we can have a government that works (more on that later, if you wish).

I’m not sure how all this will turn out.  Frankly, I am worried… But we will see how it goes.

Search Engine Deoptimization?

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Scott Greenfield recently wrote up a post excoriating Professor Mary Anne Franks’ position on punishing “revenge porn.”  Greenfield and others of his ilk (Mark Bennett, Ken White, Marc Randazza, etc.) are on board not just with heaping enthusiastic invective against revenge porn, but also supporting legal action that punishes the scams that seem to accompany these sites.

All of which is great!  I hope that through marginalization of the men (and women?) who do this, this become such a scumbag and taboo subject that nobody would dream of doing it.  I’m sure that won’t actually work, since you can find anything on the Internet perverting something.  But at least it will be fewer, lessening the harm rather than magnifying it and harming more women.

Some, though, think that Marc Randazza, Scott Greenfield, and others aren’t going far enough.  Some people, like Professor Franks, think that even posting such pictures should be criminal behavior.  I think that Mr. Greenfield makes an EXCELLENT argument about why posting compromising pictures that would otherwise be labelled “revenge porn” present compelling stories: the Anthony Weiner affair.  If it was a criminal act to publicize what he did, then those who exposed him</pun> would be facing criminal charges.  That seems grossly unfair and against the spirit of First Amendment protections (to me).

Anyway, Professor Franks has been loud in her advocacy, but I think that ultimately the untitled (Juris Doctor?) Scott Greenfield offers a good push back against her (relinked here; I linked to it earlier in the post).  Unfortunately, Mr. Greenfield has pointed out that there is nothing opposing Ms. Franks’ view other than Mr. Bennett’s.  That’s too bad; I wonder what’s up.

Post Script: I have been meaning to get back to some issues that have ripened with time, but I considered this of sufficient contemporary interest to rush ahead of everything else.

My Little Place in History

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So I really enjoy the Popehat blog.  A lot!  I read it with great frequency and interest over last several years (even signing up for a forum account!), but the community over there has gotten big enough that I feel a bit lost trying to interact. Some of their posts have thousands of comments, and I simply feel overwhelmed even trying to get a foot in the door. That, and the point that I would like to make has often already been made; if not in whole, then in part.  I know that the authors are trying to remedy that (soliciting opinions through the poll at the bottom), but…. I guess I would rather just have a sort of public forum where I put out my own ideas.  Here is me trying get back into what I started.

On a tanget: reading through the TOF’s series The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown, I noticed that he either directly quoted letters, or quoted recorded correspondence between two people.  It has helped to push me toward writing.  Mr. Greenfield gave the initial push, I think, through his encouragement to “just do it”.  I have been spending a lot of time playing video games lately… I think that time will make itself available if I just sit down and write.  Of course I’ll probably have to consult with someone about what is appropriate… The NSA doesn’t need free access to every thought (where is the code for a wink?), but I would like to add to the conversation.  Even if it’s an echo chamber!

So, I’ll be going back through my drafts that I’ve compiled, at least, and adding some updated thoughts so that I can push them out.  When I first started this blog, I would save a draft post with a link and an outline daily with the intent of getting around to finalizing a post.

Obviously, that intent was not realized.

So!  I will remedy that and try to get back into the habit.  At worst, I learn something about myself that I don’t like.  At best, I contribute to some great thinker somewhere.  So, hopefully more posts will be going up as the days go on.

Why am I so lucky?

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So today, I came across Lindsey Nicole Martinez’s story (Warning: severe heartbreak).

It brought me to tears.  I have three children, all of whom are more precious than any tangible thing in the world to me.  Their individual existences bring me immense joy beyond measure.  Each one of them is like an ocean of happiness that I get to sit near and look over.  I would reshape the shoreline to make their lives easier.

I’m just so happy to be a part of their lives, and I am immensely blessed by them.  I never understood why people cared so much about their children until I had mine…

That’s not to say that they should be spoiled, or ignorant of the cruelties of the world.  My goal is to make them tough, and to help them survive without me.  I wish I didn’t have to do that.

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