Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

December 29, 2005

Dogmatic Inconsistency

Filed under: — Different River @ 8:06 pm

Dr. Sanity quotes Stephen Hicks in Explaining Postmodernism on one of my favorite subjects — which I call syllogistic hypocrisy:

Using contradictory discourses as a political strategy

In postmodern discourse, truth is rejected explicitly and consisteny can be a rare phenomenon. Consider the following pairs of claims.

  • On the one hand, all truth is relative; on the other hand, postmodernism tells it like it really is.
  • On the one hand, all cultures are equally deserving of respect; on the other, Western culture is uniquely destructive and bad.
  • Values are subjective–but sexism and racism are really evil.
  • Technology is bad and destructive–and it is unfair that some people have more technology than others.
  • Tolerance is good and dominance is bad–but when postmodernists come to power, political correctness follows.

There is a common pattern here: Subjectivism and relativism in one breath, dogmatic absolutism in the next.

And to be a right-thinking (which is to say, left-thinking) person in they eyes of NPR, the New York Times, or a typical university faculty, you have to believe all those pairs of things.

You also have to believe a lot of other odd things, like:

  • Homosexuality is genetic, but gender is socially constucted.
  • A woman has a right to do what she wants with her own body — unless she wants to get breast implants.
  • A woman is capable of choosing whether to allow her child to be born or have an abortion, but can’t be trusted with deciding where to send that child to school.
  • Christmas is religious, but Hannukah is merely cultural.
  • Tolerance of diverse viewpoints is important — and everyone who doesn’t believe that should be silenced!

Please add more examples in the comments!

UPDATE (1/1/06):

James R. Ament at Cave of the Curmudgeon links here and adds this example:

I remember listening to a comedian, some years ago, cracking a joke about how those hypocritical conservatives want to protect every fetus but then can’t wait to kill people by engaging the death penalty. He got the audience to laugh; which is to say, he knew his audience. I remember thinking at the time… Didn’t this joker see the corollary – The hypocricy of wanting to save some child rapist murderer while advocating the killing of 1.5 million innocents per year? Yea, funny.

2005 is a Leap Year?

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:44 pm

Well, sort of. The last minute of 2005 will be 61 seconds long, as a leap second is added to the year. To keep all the time zones in sync, that will be the “last minute of 2005, coordinated universal time” (which is the new name for Greenwich mean time) — which will be right before 7pm on the U.S. erast coast (for example).

Remember to reset your watches! Or, as Samantha Burns puts it, “That’s just great. Now my whole year is going to be thrown off schedule.”

Why does this have to happen? Because the earth doesn’t rotate at exactly hte same speed every day. A few years ago I heard a scientist quoted as saying, “We have to synchronize our super-accurate atomic clocks with our llousy earth clock.”

“Terrorism Assistance”?

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:05 pm

Here’s some grist for the government-is-incompetent mill. AP reports:

WASHINGTON – Most companies interviewed about the government-backed Sept. 11 loans they received have told investigators they weren’t hurt by the suicide attacks and didn’t know they were getting terrorism assistance, an internal government investigation found. The Small Business Administration’s inspector general also reported Wednesday that lenders who doled out billions of dollars in such loans failed _ 85 percent of the time _ to document that recipients were actually hurt by the terrorism attacks and therefore eligible for the federal aid.

The IG, the agency’s internal watchdog, concluded only nine loan recipients in the 59 cases sampled appeared to be qualified for the special disaster loans. The report said SBA officials told lenders they would not be questioned on how they gave out money.

The AP found that terrorism recovery loans went to businesses including a South Dakota radio station, a Virgin Islands perfume shop, a Utah dog boutique, and more than 100 Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway sandwich shops in various locations.

So, Congress and the president gave the SBA a bunch of money to help small businesses hurt by the 9/11 attacks — and the SBA gave that money to, well, to just about any small businesses. Your taxpayer dollars at work!

And, of course, the bureacrat at the SBA is not getting fired or anything, like, say, anyone employed in a private business who was given money to do one thing and did something else entirely. In fact, he is mounting a defense that would be laughable anywhere outside bureaucracy:

SBA Administrator Hector Barreto put the best face on the findings, saying the audit did not find that loan recipients were unqualified for the program, although he did note that lender documentation could have been better.

And in this case, you can’t even blame the folks who got the money they weren’t supposed to get:

The [Inspector General]‘s report found:

  • Only 2 of 42 borrowers interviewed were aware they had obtained a STAR loan.
  • In cases where eligibility could not be established, 25 of 34 borrowers interviewed said they were not adversely affected by the terrorist attacks.
  • Thirty-six of 42 borrowers questioned said they were not asked, or could not recall if they were asked, about the impact of the attacks on their businesses.

You know something’s wrong when the government has a program called “terrorist assistance.” They are supposed to be impeding terrorists, not assisting them!

Government Micromanagement

I find it quite curious and fascinating (in a morbid sort of way) that the same side of the political aisle that is so eager to “get the government out of the bedroom” when it comes to things like abortion and homosexuality, is so eager to set up a government-run and government-paid-for health care system, which will put government into not only your bedroom, but your kitchen, living room, and anywhere else you go.

As Coyote Blog puts it, it’s a “Health Care Care Trojan Horse“:

I get email and comments from time to time that my language deriding government’s intervention into every aspect of our lives is overblown and exaggerated. My answer: Oh yeah, well how about this:

Mike Huckabee, the Governor of Arkansas, now requires annual fat reports. These are sent to the parents of every single child aged between 5 and 17; a response, he says, to “an absolutely epidemic issue that we could not ignore” in the 1,139 schools for which he is responsible.

As I have argued many times in the past, a large part of the blame for these initiatives is public funding of health care. Beyond the efficiency and choice arguments, I have tried to point out that publicly funded health care is a Trojan horse for a number of truly intrusive nanny-state government controls of our lives.

When health care is paid for by public funds, politicians only need to argue that some behavior affects health, and therefore increases the state’s health care costs, to justify regulating the crap out of that behavior. Already, states have essentially nationalized the cigarette industry based on this argument.

And later he writes:

The logic is that by paying for your health care, the government can argue it has a financial interest in your not eating fatty foods, not smoking, wearing a bike helmet, exercising, etc, decisions that would otherwise only affect the individual themself.

For those who often accuse me of exaggerated paranoia when it comes to government intervention, check out this from the UK:

People who are grossly overweight, who smoke heavily or drink excessively could be denied surgery or drugs following a decision by a Government agency yesterday. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) which advises on the clinical and cost effectiveness of treatments for the NHS, said that in some cases the “self-inflicted” nature of an illness should be taken into account.

Sorry, but I told you so. What’s next? Is an unwanted pregnancy “self-inflicted”? How about an STD from unprotected sex?

Well, there’s a way to get the Left’s attention…

There’s got to be a word for this…

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:22 pm

“This,” being: taking an occassional glance at the Carnival of Cordite (gun-related blog posts) and discovering a nice (apparently) Orthodox Jewish blogging couple who like to shoot.

That is, Leah Guildenstern, whose husband Jack just signed on as a co-blogger.

Not surprisingly, one of the links on their blogroll is to the blog of the special-forces-turned-Orthodox-Rabbi “Rabbi Rambo,” that is, Rabbi Lazer Brody. As if to bring things full circle, Rabbi Brody links to this post on the modern-day implications of Hannuka by Steven Plaut, to whom Rabbi Brody says he has just been introduced. Believe it or not, I actually had dinner with Steven Plaut once, at a now-defunct kosher Thai restaurant in Skokie, Illinois. Where, Leah Guildenstern would presumably be disappointed to discover, it is very difficult to legally own a gun.

Until today, I had never heard of anyone mentioned above except Steve Plaut — and the proprietor of the Carnival of Cordite, Gullyborg. Who, it just so happens, is getting married today! Congratulations!

So much for this “six degrees of separation” stuff. Try three.

Leah also links to this article about Robert Aumann, who co-won this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics, who applies economic analysis to thinks like war and gun control. Nice.


Filed under: — Different River @ 4:21 pm

As usual, I’m behind in linking the blog carnivals. Here we go:

If conservatives were muggers…

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:33 pm

I just got this joke in the (e-)mail … imagine if there were politically conservative muggers:

Late one night, a mugger wearing a ski mask jumped into the path of a well-dressed man and stuck a gun in his ribs. “Give me your money,” he demanded.

Indignant, the man replied, “You can’t do this – I’m a United States Congressman!”

“In that case,” replied the mugger, “give me MY money.”

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