A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Friday, December 28, 2012

Odds and Ends

How Can We Possibly Explain This Mystery?

"Despite Tax Increase, California State Revenues in Freefall"--headline,, Dec. 8


Most Unfortunate Headline of the Year

"Kissing Balls Add Romance to Holiday Decor"--headline, Burlington County (N.J.) Times, Dec. 10

Is an Armed Society a Polite Society?

The Founding Fathers put the Second Amendment into the Constitution not because they thought guns would make people virtuous but because they thought Americans already were virtuous and would continue to be so and, therefore, that they could be trusted with lethal weapons.
-- James Bowman

Or is a polite society one that may be armed?

Follow an Absolute Morality and Earn a Just Award

Subsidize wind and solar power, stop using fossil fuels, switch to electric cars, change your light bulbs, green your business, become a vegetarian, have fewer kids, we are told. If you do all these things and more, then man will be able to control hurricanes, stop the rise of the seas, and save the polar bears.
-- Steve Goreham

Aphorism of the Week

An unquestioned given is not the same thing as a self-evident fact.
-- James Chastek, JustThomism

The Joys of Statistics

“A statistician is one who prefers true doubts to false certainties.”
-- Stephen Senn, Head of the Competences Center for Methodology and Statistics (CCMS), Luxembourg

Great Expectations

"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.  His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”
-- Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. of Chicago

The Mind is Quicker than the Eye

"Theory determines what can be observed"
-- Albert Einstein, comment Werner Heisenberg

De River in Egypt

Relativism is just nihilism in denial.
-- theshink, commbox comment

Can You Stop This Coffin?

The cleverness of the scientific system: to pretend that hypothesis expresses no conviction. “We must wait and see”. This is not a triumph of method, but of forgetfulness – that is, the forgetfulness of all experience outside the method. We could easily prove that a coffin was the universe, if we only forget that we nailed the lid shut from the inside.
-- James Chastek, JustThomism

Was Russell Some Sort of Religious Fanatic?

But for children, there would be no need of any institution concerned with sex. It is through children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution.
-- Bertrand Russell, speaking on divorce law reform

On the Meniality of Work

Is emptying bed pans in a hospital menial work? What would happen if bed pans didn't get emptied? Let people stop emptying bed pans for a month and there would be bigger problems than if sociologists stopped working for a year.
-- Thomas Sowell

On the Value of Rev. T. Malthus

At that point, instead of dying of starvation, societies with high fertility grew in strength and number and began menacing those with lower fertility. In more and more places in the world, fast-breeding tribes morphed into nations and empires and swept away any remaining, slow-breeding hunters and gatherers. It mattered that your warriors were fierce and valiant in battle; it mattered more that there were lots of them.
-- Philip Longmann, Foreign Policy

On Why the State Encourages Relativism

To free oneself from moral norms is to surrender to the state. For only the state can manage the ensuing disaster.
-- Roger Scruton


  1. I must cry distinguo at the last bit quoted. Scruton is being too clever, like Earle’s ‘Scepticke in Religion’: ‘He finds doubts and scruples better than resolues them, and is alwayes too hard for himselfe.’ In fact not even the state can manage the ensuing disaster, which has a nasty way of taking states and other large institutions down along with it. Nor is it that the state underestimates the disaster and thinks it can manage it: for the state as such does not have expectations, and the people who run the state (and still more, the people who oppose the moral norms) never expect any disaster at all.

    I think Martin Amis has the right of it when he says, in Koba the Dread:

    ‘I was in my late twenties when I first realized — the moment came as I read a piece about Islam in the TLS — that theocracies are meant to work. Until then I thought that repression, censorship, terror and destitution were the price you had to pay for living by the Book. But no, that wasn’t the idea at all: Koranic rule was meant to bring you swimming pools and hydrogen bombs. Collectivization, similarly, was meant to work.

    In the same vein, freeing oneself from moral norms is meant to work. There isn’t supposed to be any disaster for the state to manage; and the state is by nature incapable of accepting a surrender of that magnitude. It cannot possibly provide enough police to be a substitute for millions of abandoned consciences; and if it could, quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    1. I'll go along with that. Everyone does what they believe is the good. Some believe that this time it will all end differently. Or that the last time we didn't quite push it far enough. But the end of relativism has always been tyranny. The answer is always Nemo custodit custodes.

    2. Very well put, Tom. If you honestly think the moral strictures of the past were bastions of oppression and terror, the worst shackles of the mind imaginable, you will welcome any lifting of the burden on the conscience.

  2. Per Steve Goreham's observation regarding Knut's advisors -- excuse me, NOAA experts & their climate-change fanboys -- I found this yesterday about a Solar Cycle Update:


  3. > How Can We Possibly Explain This Mystery? "Despite Tax Increase, California State Revenues in Freefall"

    Don't get too upset at the California lefties ; they just ran into some bad luck. defined by Heinlein:

    Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
    This is known as "bad luck."

  4. "How Can We Possibly Explain This Mystery?
    "Despite Tax Increase, California State Revenues in Freefall"--headline,, Dec. 8


    We can explain the mystery in the same manner as "Despite an over-all drop in the crime rate, incarceration rates are at their highest levels in years."

    1. Or the folks who look at my mother-- BS in ag with a minor in education-- and marvel at how she "wasted" herself as a ranch hand; clearly, her kids didn't need the attention, they ask a lot of questions and generally drive the teachers nuts by being too demanding.... (They're then shocked to find out that our dad has an AA, since "cowboys" don't do that in their world, they "just" fix things until a real repair can be made.)

  5. Nice pants. Can I test the zipper? Hey, i am looking for an online sexual partner ;) Click on my boobs if you are interested (. )( .)


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