Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; (D&C 98:10)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Why I am against net neutrality in one sentence

"When you add regulations, things get worse." (Brad Green). He  is a computer tech, a computer scientist and the Chief Information Officer for PlumbersStock.com

Click here for the summary of the podcast "55: Brad Green on Net Neutrality" (Society and the State) starting at 19:04. This is where I got the quote from Brad Green.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Recovering Libertarian

I friend of mine, Jeffrey Thayne referred to himself as a "recovering libertarian". It is the closest I have found to concisely and accurately describe my political views.

By recovering libertarian, I mean that I still have a strong, nearly overriding preference for libertarian solutions as a matter of values -- freedom is still one of my core values. But I am less persuaded as I used to by the underlying logic used by many libertarians, so I find myself willing to compromise in some ways when politically necessary.

Of Cakes and Expression

From a FB post of a friend, Bruce Nielson.

Sincere question for both left and right. 
Suppose the Supreme court refuses to pass judgement on the Jack Phillip baker case and instead throws it back to the state, but with the, following instructions. 
1. Retry this case with the understanding that refusal to make a specific artistic expression supporting gay marriage is protected under the constitution as freedom of expression.
2. But a generically decorated wedding cake is not a specific artistic expression, it’s just a cake. So, it’s not protected. 
In other words, what if they refused to rule on this specific case, but merely clarified that if a gay couple asks for a generic wedding cake (indistinguishable from any other wedding cake), and is refused, this is not protected. But if the wedding cake is obviously specifically a ‘gay wedding cake’ that this can be refused under freedom of expression. (For example, the cake shown below would be protected under freedom of expression because it's clearly a case of forcing a Christian to express support for gay marriage.) 
And then suppose that it goes back to the state with these instructions and the court notes that actually the gay couple left before finding out if the baker (Phillips) was willing to do a generic cake, and he thought he was only refusing to do a ‘gay specific’ wedding cake. Therefore he is found innocent and there are no damage for that specific case. 
So suppose the final ruling doesn’t harm the baker, and it does setup a freedom of expression protection for Christians, but it also means that Christian bakers will have to bake and even decorate at least generic wedding cakes for gay marriages. 
So in other words, what if the judgment protects both sides in the very ways they have most expressed a desire to be protected: Christians don’t have to make a specific gay wedding cake but gay couples can’t be refused service for creation of a cake for their wedding. 
Would you find this a viable solution and hail it as a victory (or at least an acceptable compromise)? Or would you reject it as a tragic loss for your side? 
Note: I have no idea if the Supreme court is even allowed to do something like this. This is a pure hypothetical to find out the degree to which people are willing to accept a compromise that tries to protect both sides.
I like this comment thread to the post above by Jeffrey Thayne.

Jeffrey Thayne I would argue that a generic, frosted cake does not inherently carry expression, but a wedding cake does. By virtue of the fact that it is a wedding cake, it carries expressive meaning. It signals that what is happening is a *marriage*, or something very close to it. And so crafting a wedding cake for such an occasion, wether customized as a "gay" wedding cake or not, is an expressive activity.

The better difference would be buying a premade wedding cake off the shelf vs asking the artist to craft one specifically for the occasion.
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2 hrs
Bruce Nielson Thank you for the clear reply that followed what I asked for.
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Reply2 hrs
Jeffrey Thayne To add to it, a wedding cake is more than just something for guests to eat. Whether specially customized to the couple or not, it carries ritual meaning and symbolism. And whether customized with special messaging or not, bakers are engaging in artistic activity when crafting them.

The distinction between premade vs. custom order cakes is important. One can decline create a custom order "world's best dad" two mug set. But one could not create a bunch of "worlds best dad" mugs but then decline to sell a man two of them if you think one is for his same sex partner.

Also, mug is a weird word.
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2 hrs
Nathaniel Givens I agree with Jeffrey.
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2 hrs
Kristopher Swinson I align somewhat with Jeffrey's explanation, even at the risk of appearing less compromising than may be desired. For a strained example, I've hired someone to do translation services for me and, in devising an hour reporting system, casually mentioned that I did not intend to pay someone to work on Sunday. In that case, I had no way or strong interest in checking up on that, but I made it clear enough I didn't wish to knowingly reward someone against my religious preferences.

With the cake, to my mind and for my purposes, conferring upon a same-sex marriage a cake stylized to celebrate union facilitates the celebratory in a manner against my conscience. There are conceivable scenarios where one partner simply comes in and orders a cake largely conforming to the traditional use, and then they adapt it themselves. However, if it came to my knowledge, I wouldn't want to use my craft as though upholding the rite.
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2 hrs
Kristopher Swinson One of the initial abuses of religious freedom against my Huguenot ancestors, eventuating in loss of professional standing, then property, then life, was mandating that they stand at attention in the streets whenever a Catholic festival procession came by. They were not allowed to so much as slip away. This tastes similar, in forcing more immediate involvement in a rite of a different belief. We proceed from rendering taxes unto Caesar to the forbidden leap of "swear by the Fortune of Caesar."
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2 hrsEdited
Nathan Richardson I agree with Jeff's explanation, as a compromise. I still think the whole system would be better if people retained freedom of association and could just do or not do business with anyone they wanted. I think market and social forces are strong enough to counteract people who use their freedom in mean ways. And the obverse is increasing amounts of government coercion that just fragments society more and more. But yes, as a compromise, I think this outcome is satisfactory.

And the AirBNB one bothers me even more. Denying someone because they're Asian is of course ridiculous. But I don't want government to have the power to obligate people to let someone in their home or else forego an income stream. What if the client was using recreational-but-legal drugs? Or other similar scenarios? I think the world is big enough that we can just refer, and people can vote with their dollars.
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Reply27 mins
Jeffrey Thayne Nathan Richardson As a recovering libertarian, I still far prefer your scenario over any compromise. However, I do interpret the Fairness for All rhetoric from Church leaders as an invitation to find compromises like this, so as to defuse the culture wars (or at least not enflame them with doctrinairism). So on a practical front, I strive to find compromises that still preserve the most important core principles.

(By recovering libertarian, I mean that I still have a strong, nearly overriding preference for libertarian solutions as a matter of values -- freedom is still one of my core values. But I am less persuaded as I used to by the underlying logic used by many libertarians, so I find myself willing to compromise in some ways when politically necessary.)
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14 minsEdited
Nathan Richardson Agreed. I envision oodles of such practical compromises in the future.
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Reply10 mins
Bruce Nielson Jeffrey Thayne I think your point of view might come close to mine now. I am also not persuaded of the libertarian logic, but since they believe in free market, I think they are often right. But I think reality is that everything ultimately comes down to 'what do we need to do to accommodate everyone's concerns'. Thus, compromises.
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Reply5 mins

Monday, December 4, 2017

Make tea against your will

"It’s certainly not every day when someone forces you to make tea against your will."


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC

This is written by Donna Brazile, former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee.
"After Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned her position as chairperson of the Democratic National Committee on July 24, 2016, at the start of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Brazile became interim chairperson of the DNC." (Wikipedia). She was also the manager of Al Gore’s campaign in 2000.

Donna Brazile called Bernie Sanders

“Hello, senator. I’ve completed my review of the DNC and I did find the cancer,” I said. “But I will not kill the patient.”
I told Bernie I had found Hillary’s Joint Fundraising Agreement. I explained that the cancer was that she had exerted this control of the party long before she became its nominee. Had I known this, I never would have accepted the interim chair position, but here we were with only weeks before the election.
What is this "Joint Fund-Raising Agreement"?
The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings. 
I had been wondering why it was that I couldn’t write a press release without passing it by Brooklyn. Well, here was the answer. 
When the party chooses the nominee, the custom is that the candidate’s team starts to exercise more control over the party. If the party has an incumbent candidate, as was the case with Clinton in 1996 or Obama in 2012, this kind of arrangement is seamless because the party already is under the control of the president. When you have an open contest without an incumbent and competitive primaries, the party comes under the candidate’s control only after the nominee is certain. When I was manager of Al Gore’s campaign in 2000, we started inserting our people into the DNC in June. This victory fund agreement, however, had been signed in August 2015, just four months after Hillary announced her candidacy and nearly a year before she officially had the nomination.
The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity. 

The short summary,

From Donna Brazile,

The signed agreement Hillary had with the DNC, "was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity."

It "had been signed in August 2015, just four months after Hillary announced her candidacy and nearly a year before she officially had the nomination."

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Myth of Scientific Objectivity

From "The Myth of Scientific Objectivity" William A. Wilson, First Things Nov 2017

If two theories barely inhabiting the same conceptual universe can both explain our observations with such accuracy, what if there’s another? What if there are ten more? What if they give identical predictions beyond the accuracy of any instruments we will build for ten thousand years? When forced to choose between two such radically different theories, parlor tricks like Occam’s razor win us nothing. The choice is philosophical and metaphysical: It can be informed by experience, but can never be settled by science. 
In practice, scientists are rarely paralyzed by indecision when faced with situations of this sort, which implies that they must have prescientific metaphysical beliefs to help them to make the choice, even if those beliefs go unstated. Scientific theories compete with one another to explain a given body of evidence while also exhibiting the greatest simplicity, elegance, scope, consonance with other theories, and internal harmony. But they do more than that; they also make claims, implicitly or explicitly, about what evidence needs explaining and what would constitute a satisfactory explanation.

Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

More interesting graphs at "Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election" 16 Aug 2017, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

I found this image reading this.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Jeff Flake will not seek relection

I wish that the country (and Republicans) stood behind men like Jeff Flake. His decision was informed by the lack of support he had and the challenger(s).

It is a sad report of tribalism in the Republican party for Trump.

"to win the primary I would have to run a campaign that I would not be comfortable with, and that I wouldn’t be proud of. And [my family] didn’t want me to do that." Jeff Flake ("The Tragedy of Jeff Flake", Mary Coppins, The Atlantic)

Even if defeat was likely, why not champion your principles on the campaign trail and let the voters have a choice? He admitted the prospect was tempting. “The pugnacious, competitive part of me wants to go down swinging,” he said. 
But ultimately, he determined that any good such a martyrdom might yield would be outweighed by the grim realities of waging a doomed-to-fail campaign. “There are still several things I’d like to accomplish in the Senate this year,” he said. “And to spend every waking minute outside of my duties here dialing for dollars, and to be subjected to the kind of vitriol that comes with politics right now—it just wasn’t worth it.”

“I think after the fever breaks, this’ll pass.” He said, “Resentment is not a governing philosophy, and we’re gonna have to govern.” He said, “We’ll have to go back to some semblance of the old normal.” 
“When you look at our history,” he assured me, “we’ve been through some tough, tough things. And we’ve made it through. These institutions are durable and well constructed, and they are built to withstand the foibles of man.”

Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as "telling it like it is," when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified. And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy.
Max Perry Mueller, an assistant professor of American religion at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said he heard so many religious overtones in Mr. Flake’s speech that he plans to set aside his next planned lesson for the American religious history class he teaches, and instead have his students deconstruct the senator’s remarks “as a Mormon speech.” ("Flake’s Speech Bore Marks of Mormon Faith as Well as Politics", Laurie GoodStein, New York Times, 25 Oct 2017)
For the note of optimism that he struck at the end of his floor speech, Mr. Flake said he drew on a family motto that his parents had posted on the refrigerator at home: “Assume the best, always look for the good.”("Flake’s Speech Bore Marks of Mormon Faith as Well as Politics", Laurie GoodStein, New York Times, 25 Oct 2017)
The full transcript of Jeff Flake's speech can be found at, "Transcript: Sen. Jeff Flake Announces He Won't Seek Re-Election", NPR, 24 Oct 2017.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Psychology of Sex Differences – 5 Revealing Insights From Our Primate Cousins

From "The Psychology of Sex Differences – 5 Revealing Insights From Our Primate Cousins" BPS Research Digest Oct 2017

- Boy chimps spend more time away from their mothers
- Baby girl monkeys are more social
- Boy monkeys enjoy more rough and tumble
- Girl monkeys spend more time playing parent
- Boy monkeys like learning from their dads, girl monkeys from their mums

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America

From "How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America: The foreward to a new history of our controversial Founder written by Ron Paul." 18 Sep 2017

Having now endured a more than two-year orgy of adoration for the Broadway hip-hop musical, Hamilton, the public surely deserves a historical corrective. Historian Brion McClanahan's latest work on the Revolutionary period, How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America, is being released Monday. 
Ron Paul, the Libertarian and Republican candidate for president and longtime U.S. Representative from Texas, has written the foreward, which he graciously shared in advance with Reason.
"The central government has always been the greatest threat to liberty in America, but most Americans don't understand how modern America became the warfare state. How did the president acquire so much unconstitutional power? How did the federal judiciary become, at times, the most powerful branch of government? How were the states reduced to mere corporations of the general government? Why is every issue, from abortion to bathrooms to crime to education, a "national" problem? The people have very little input into public policy. They vote, they rally, they attend "town hall" meetings, but it does very little to stop the avalanche of federal laws, regulations, and rules that affect every aspect of American life. We have a federal leviathan that can't be tamed, and Americans are angry about it. They want answers."

Friday, September 8, 2017

Why the Arguments of “New Atheism” May Sound Familiar

While it’s common today to use the term “information,” LDS scriptures (prophetic as always) have long called this property of reality “intelligence.”5 In every realm, ordering intelligence precedes and defines the matter that is ordered. A spiritual creation precedes a physical one (Moses 3:5) and order presupposes an “orderer”—a mind that comprehends and creates the order upon which material reality is based. The scriptures refer to both the information that inheres in reality and the mind that understands or creates it as “intelligence.” This is why we often speak of all matter having “intelligence” but also refer to God’s spirit children as having been created out of eternal “intelligences.” God, like the humans created in His image, is a creative force—one who can comprehend and create order/information.
(Why the Arguments of “New Atheism” May Sound Familiar, By Hyrum Lewis · September 5, 2017)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

We're Going to Hire our Own Bully

Part of the reason we have the President that we have is because people got so tired of this stifling, weaponized political correctness from the left, that eventually, a lot of people on the right said. 'We've had enough. If they're going to bully us culturally endlessly, we're going to hire our own bully.'
(Guy Benson, "Gay and Conservative (Guy Benson Pt. 1)", The Rubin Report, YouTube, 30 Aug 2017, circa 16:02)

What the Alt-Right Gets Wrong

What the Alt-Right Gets Wrong
The alt-right ultimately amounts to an oppressive, backwards-looking movement. It's the opposite of libertarianism.
Posted by Reason Magazine on Thursday, August 31, 2017

From Reason.com

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Great American Eclipse path over the Rexburg Idaho Temple

"The Great American Eclipse path over the Rexburg Idaho Temple on August 21, 2017. This composite accurately illustrates the starting and ending points of where the eclipse started its phases into totality and back to normal." (FB Post, Alan Fullmer Temple Photography, Can be purchased at: http://www.alanfullmer.com/LDS-Temples/Temple/Rexburg-Idaho/i-JNRdg4d)