Monthly Archives: December 2014


I’m a big fan of the “One Subject At a Time” Act.

I know, I know, “it’s not the way the system works”. Well how’s that working out, really?

That being said, no matter how much I don’t like “Omnibus” bills, I’m not going to abandon support for a politician who voted for it based on that fact alone.  Some of my more conservative friends have been seen excoriating Trey Gowdy, among others, for voting for the bill.

They have a strategy that may differ from ours, or some who may have preferred not to decided that signing on to this strategy was better than going it alone with their own and failing miserably.

It’s about like saying that the United States was “founded on slavery” because the union included slave states and didn’t outlaw it up front. There was a bigger, more complicated picture than today’s bumper sticker politics will allow room for discussion.

I read a great sentence this morning in the latest Imprimis — in an essay by Dr. Larry Arn. A lot of us would do well to ponder it.

“We hold convictions that are elevated above practical circumstances”

Recognizing this doesn’t mean we abandon our convictions. It is much better to hold convictions we strive to comply with and perhaps often fail to hit the mark than not to hold them at all.

Until enough of we the people demand that certain convictions be adhered to, a minority of us abandoning politicians that generally hold our principles the minute they do something we disagree with will only leave a vacuum for worse politicians to fill, and the rest of we the people who do not share our convictions will fill it with such a person.

What that means is we need to spread our convictions at the We the People level rather than try to elect it. We will almost always fail if we rely on the latter.

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Stolen Land

I find this interesting too….

Went to St. Charles for their Christmas Traditions Festival over the weekend.  Found a book, “Indian Story and Song from North America” by Alice C. Fletcher … a Victorian woman who did a lot of research on American Indian music around the 1890’s — by hanging out with them, listening to their stories.  I’ve always been interested in a lot of the cultural aspects of the American Indians.

So I bought the book.  And I’m reading along in it – she tells the stories behind the songs as told to her by tribe members.

“The He-du’-shka Society is very old.  It is said to have been in existence at the time when the Omahas and the Ponkas were together as one tribe.  There is a song with a dance which must be given at every meeting.  It is to keep alive the memory of a battle that took place while we were migrating westward, and where defeat would have meant our extermination as a tribe.  I will tell you the story.

One morning, the tribe, whose country had been invaded by the Ponkas, made an unexpected assault upon the camp of the invaders.  For a time, it seemed as though the Ponkas would fare badly at the hands of their assailants, who were determined to drive out or destroy the intruders;  but after a desperate struggle the Ponkas pushed their enemies back from the outskirts of the village, until finally their retreat became a rout.  Both sides suffered great loss.  The ground was strewn with the dead, and the grass stained with the blood of the warriors who fell in the battle;  but the victory was with us, and we had conquered the right to dwell in that country.”

There are those who insist on advancing the view that Europeans came across the ocean with some sort of unique “western” attitude that migration and acquisition of property by force to facilitate it means that the “white man” has no right to the land that he lives on today, many generations later.  This attitude is based on standards since set by those very “white men”.  We are judging the past through the lens of today’s standards, and we are leaving out important details to do that.

If we, the descendants of those who conquered this land have no right to it as it was obtained by conquest – and we obtained it from people who obtained it by conquest … where, exactly, does that chain of logic end?

D’Souza’s “America – Imagine A World Without Her” addresses this and many other memes.  It’s worth watching.

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Peer Review

Peer review. It’s not always what you think.

Publisher discovers 50 manuscripts involving fake peer reviewers

Also … check this out.  Fascinating.

Oooh, and I like this, too — added by the guy in the film as a comment.  “Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit”

1.  Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”

2. Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.

3. Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.

4. Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.

5. Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours.  Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.

6. Quantify. If whatever it is you’re explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you’ll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses.

7.  If there’s a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) — not just most of them.

8. Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler.

9. Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result.

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