Archive for category Politricks

Nuclear Attacks – Survivable, say Feds

The feds have published a happy little book (available here) that lets us know we can expect to survive small nuclear attacks. The blogosphere has been muttering about it, mostly to the mistaken tune of “OMG, Global Thermonuclear War!”

But this booklet isn’t about a sophisticated attack by missile or bomber; this is about little tiny nukes, up to 10 kiloton, the kind of thing you might expect from an unusually sophisticated basement terrorist manufacturing operation. It is a guide for local officials that detail everything from what to expect in terms of injuries, damage and fallout, to what to do about people’s pets.
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Is a corporation really like a person?

In the US, (IMHO very bad) court decisions have made it so that businesses – corporations – are commonly treated as if they were persons under the law. This leads more or less naturally to weighing the rights of the corporations against the rights of a flesh-and-blood person; and when a corporation contributes more to the public trough than the citizen does, the outcome is often a foregone conclusion.

Lately, it’s been rattling around in my old head that perhaps, instead of treating corporations like persons, we should treat them like useful, but very dangerous, viruses. Comparable to one that generates some useful end product, but would eat your flesh off if you got any on you. Because other than the end products they make, I’m really hard put to think of much good corporations do unless they’re legislated into a corner and forced into it.
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SCOTUS empowers another ex post facto law

rippedThe Supreme Court ruled on May 17th, 2010, that federal officials can indefinitely hold inmates after their prison terms are complete. The high court in a 7-2 judgment reversed a lower court decision that said Congress overstepped its authority.

Ex post facto laws are explicitly forbidden to the federal government and the states by two separate and quite specific clauses in the constitution, the government’s authorizing document:

The federal government: “Section 9 – Limits on Congress – No … ex post facto Law shall be passed.”

The states: “Section 10 – Powers prohibited of States – No State shall … pass any … ex post facto Law”

You may be asking, “What is an ex post facto law?” The legal definition is given by Calder v Bull (3 US 386 [1798]), in the opinion of Justice Chase, which defines four ways laws must fail as ex being post facto:
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President Obama, you’ve put your foot in it.

Much as I like you, Mr. President – and I definitely do – you have really put yours foot in it this time. I’m not a sycophant. I don’t agree with all of your positions. For instance, I think your stance on gun control is outright unconstitutional, while at the same time, I understand why you’d prefer that it were otherwise, and, since the system itself is corrupt and largely unconstitutional these days, why you’d be willing to violate your oath in order to see things done the way you’d like them to be done.

This isn’t stupid; it’s calculating and it is very much political, “just the way things work today.” For instance, if you actually think the government presently is authorized to restrict citizens from owning arms, I’d love to sit down with you and show you why you’re 100% wrong. I think you’re far too smart to buy the standard arguments for your own position, though, and I suspect that in private, you’d simply admit that is the case. I understand political expediency. I also understand an urge to do good, and that the legalities of the system can frustrate that urge if not pushed to the side.

But this time… I’m disappointed in you.
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I’m just disgusted with people.

Like most literate netizens, I keep an eye on the news. Mostly, it’s bad. Mostly, though, it’s about the idiots in Washington finding new ways not to get useful things done, wasting our money on useless, pointless wars, and the continuing whitewash of the economic firestorm most of us are enduring. All these things are terrible, but I’m kind of inured to them. I see them every day, so I have a tendency to just grumble and carry on.

This week, I got to watch the people be stupid. Lots of them.
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AGW skepticism is warrented. Here’s why.

Science – The path from unsubstantiated hypothesis to experimentally-verified theory, more to the point – requires that we come up with models, which then lead to predictions of the result of experiments in the realm of the hypothesis. These predictions, if borne out by experiment (the model is not falsified), validate the hypothesis and then we have a theory with laws (that is, rules for models we can use to predict.) If the predictions are wrong, they falsify the model and we are back to, or still have, an unsubstantiated hypothesis. We get to try once again, if we still think the hypothesis has merit, hopefully with more information at hand the next time around.

Now, the problem with the AGW hypothesis is that the models which are making the predictions are not matching the actual results. These climate models never worked well at both the poles and the mid-latitudes; they failed to predict the current long-lasting stall; the rates of temperature rise predicted don’t match, when rise actually does occur; and so what we have here are hypothesis that are not producing rules that we can use to predict their notional basis. With regard to predictions made of future performance, as that future has not arrived, as the near-term predictions have failed, there is no basis to presume that the models are verified long term.
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On "The Price of Freedom"

The price of freedom is risk.

The price of safety is conformity, restriction, and repression.

You can bank on it. Our leaders certainly have.

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On Animal Testing

devotionAnimals – with great certainty, mammals like cats, dogs, monkeys, pigs and so on – are conscious, feeling beings. Only the least intelligent human, or one completely unfamiliar with the company of animals, can argue otherwise with a straight face. Animals use language, tools and create domiciles; they express emotion, they will sacrifice themselves for their offspring, and they can learn.

They, in many ways similar to human babies, are unable, for lack of sophistication, to consent to risk taking. They don’t have the potential to turn into the kind of advanced being a human baby does; nonetheless, they do think, they do feel, they do suffer. As any human with any reasonable degree of insight can tell you, imposed suffering without any degree of understanding why leads directly to even more suffering and deeper fear. Therefore, it is wholly unethical to subject them to risk (or certainty) of suffering via coercion; further, it is selfish and cowardly to do so for the benefit of yourself or those you value.

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