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Philosophy

Funhouse Morality

This Salon.com article accuses the anti-WikiLeakers of hypocrisy and/or double standards. It strikes me as a hall of two-way mirrors. What you see depends on where the light is shining. When we accuse an opponent of using situational ethics, we implicate our own use of “flexible standards”:

If "a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail" because of the WikiLeaks disclosure -- even a "single one" -- then the entire WikiLeaks enterprise is proven to be a "disaster" and "Assange is a criminal" who "should be in jail."  That's quite a rigorous moral standard.  So let's apply it elsewhere:

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Hypocrisy and Situational Ethics

So often in the leftosphere, intentions matter more than outcomes. Wikileaks, for instance, is focused on truth-telling without regard to the lives which might will be lost when secrets are exposed.

I’m not of firm opinion about spilling secrets like this. My anarchist nature likes any check on government shenanigans. And few things are permanently secret anyway. It’s more a matter of timing the reveal; today is inconvenient, while tomorrow will help explain history.

But also I recognize evil in the world and accept that compromises must be made. Governments and their secrets are the best of many bad choices.

Neo-neocon makes an excellent point about the kinds of nations and governments that can be harmed when state secrets become public:

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Filling or Fulfilling?

Pleasure vs. Satisfaction

Pleasure is a transitory feeling. It persists only as long as those conditions which produce it survive. Satisfaction is an enduring state. Once a need is fulfilled, it is extinguished.

Eating a fine meal pleases the senses while satisfying a biological need. But biological needs are in the baser realm of human experience. The ability to procure, prepare and provide a meal has meaning beyond each instance of the act. All the steps may not be pleasant, but in them we find satisfaction.

Similarly, volunteer work is only sometimes pleasurable. But the satisfaction that comes from working with and for things larger than the self outlast any suffering endured in service.

H/T: ChicagoBoyz commenter “Joseph Somsel

Blessed

Robin of Berkeley, a political changer from lefty to righty, reflects on her first Thanksgiving:

Being a Leftist means honing in on every possible injustice. Never-ending gripes and grievances are the glue that keeps progressives cemented together.

But then, three years ago, the bottom fell out of my life. Slowly but surely, it dawned on me that everything I had held as sacrosanct was a lie. I woke up -- and now I behold the world with fresh eyes. Consequently, I am celebrating my First Thankful Thanksgiving.

Instead of laser-focusing on every unfairness, I am now moved by life's bounty. I finally see my great fortune in being born in this country, in this moment in time. Although I used to lambaste the United States and everything it stood for, I realize that I was like a spoiled child -- ungrateful, mean-spirited.

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Every Man a King

The enemy of big government is self-government.

Quoted from: Thaddeus McCotter

Via: Maggie’s Farm

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One Man No Longer Forgotten

Over the transom came a video about a painting titled The Forgotten Man. I can’t show the picture to you; you’ll have to go to the artist’s website.

The painting is interesting enough, and the artist has clearly done some study to decide who to depict. All the Presidents are there, along with many other people. The site has an interesting interactive component (which is why I can’t copy it). Go look and poke around. You will learn something.

I learned of a man called Fisher Ames. Ames was a member of the First Congress, representing a part of Massachusetts. He was also a noted orator and

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Christ the Warrior

Given this line of the Gospel, I wonder if the common conception of Jesus Christ is wrong:

Do you think that I came to bring peace on earth? Not at all, I tell you, but rather division!

That’s J.C. speaking, in Luke 12:51.

Why are so many Christians, pseudo-Christians, and political Christians so focused on achieving Peace on Earth?

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Escher Economics

The great illusion of Progressivism is that the middle class can make the poor into the middle class.

Ascending and Descending drawing by M. C. Escher

Quoted from: Cobb’s Rules

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Up and Down are Relative

Australia is “down under”. But that’s only an artifact of where the ancient mapmakers lived. This view is equally valid in the geographic and astronomical senses:

Politcal map of the world with Australia at the top

H/T: Theo Spark

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Government Confers No Virtues

MaxedOutMama writes:

Current policy makers seem stuck on the idea that if the government does a thing that is highly destructive when a private entity does it, the activity will somehow become economically functional due to the government interference. That defines "Stuck on Stupid".

My quibble is over calling out only current policy makers. For most of organized history, government has been seen as some sort of divine agency, above the laws of men. Only perhaps during the first century of the United States was government not seen as a special exception to the rules of morality and wisdom. The Founders explicitly overturned the Divine Right of Kings.

Sure, the Failed Obama Administration™ is expanding the assumption of state divinity into new territories in the U.S.A.

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Men vs. Ideas

Definition of liberal as good personI find great truth in the maxim that righties think they have better ideas while lefties think they are better people. Ideas can be tested by logic and experiment. It can be difficult to judge a person’s character, and even harder to do so on the basis of bumpersticker slogans or blowhard talking points.

Leftism is much about identity and self-reassurance. This image lifted from the intertubes represents a whole class of self-congratulatory stickers, t-shirts, icons and other in-crowd swag.

Liberals are possessed of noble qualities, while conservative is a synonym for mean. And everybody knows Mean People Suck.

Becoming History

…Immortality is the recollection one leaves in the memory of man.

Quoted from: Napoleon Bonaparte

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Ummah All the Way

Today’s Rant of the Day makes the plainest case I’ve seen that Islam is a threat to everyone else:

Islam is not a religion, nor is it a cult. In its fullest form, it is a complete, total, 100% system of life.

Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other components.

Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their religious privileges.

When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other components tend to creep in as well.

The Franklin Method of Self-Improvement

It’s been a long time since I read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. But I seem to have embraced some of his wisdom anyway. I have become an almost-compulsive tracker of my own activities. I log all my food and exercise, I keep a sort of time sheet to make sure I spend my hours in ways that keep me moving forward, I have a periodic journal of thoughts, and this blog is a record of my view of worldly events.

Franklin had perhaps even more interests than I do, but he kept his focus on essential virtues:

As such, he himself attempted to always live by this code and developed charts with which he charted his progress from day to day, to make sure that he was constantly improving towards this end.

He would start with one of the virtues and plot his progress on the chart until he mastered that virtue; then moving on to the next; and so on until he mastered them all. He ordered them specifically as shown below, as some of them naturally lend towards others. Thus by sticking to this order, he felt it made it easier to achieve the whole.

This code is as follows:

On the Nature of Humanity

A thought that can stand without its context:

As Immanuel Kant famously remarked, “from the crooked timber of humanity no truly straight thing can be made.” But, in the words of philosopher, Denis Dutton, “It is not…that no beautiful carving or piece of furniture can be produced from twisted wood; it is rather that whatever is finally created will only endure if it takes into account the grain, texture, natural joints, knotholes, strengths and weaknesses of the original material.”

And another, offered as a comment on the first:

Utopian ideologies fail because they seek three impossible goals—

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The Omniscience Trap

From a long comment on Neo-neocon’s post about the terrorist resupply mission foiled by Israel:

I’ve reached the conclusion that Islamic radicalism is a symptom not a cause. Regrettably, I’ve been forced to conclude that the cause is Islam itself.

I base this assessment upon Islam’s holiest and most fundamental theological tenet, which when fully appreciated inexorably leads to the logical conclusion that it is Islam itself, which makes war upon Israel and the West.

Voting on What to Steal

A recurring thought which I hope to develop someday…

Americans are trained to worship democracy. But the brilliance behind the U.S. Consititution is not that some most people get a vote. The true political innovation was that the Founders put limits on what government could do. Those limits mean the people do not get to vote on everything.

We’ve all become accumstomed to having our opinions catered to. Although the elected politicians almost universally fail our expectations, they still invoke the rituals of democratic religion. Those who wish to sell us goods ask our opinion both as a method of improving their product and as a sales technique. Once we are engaged, we are open to persuasion.

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Recovery Prayer

From a story about the person who led the search for human remains after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans:

With fire axes and shovels, the team would then fan out across a vast grid of destroyed homes and overturned cars, seeking the unburied. Cadaver dogs joined the search, ominously sniffing through the rubble for the storm’s departed.

“A good day is when we can ‘clear’ homes and actually let families (know) …  for sure that this person was here – or not here,” Glynn told Online NewsHour in March 2006. “I mean … that’s about the best that this mission gets.”

Places: 

The Fog of History

Any great struggle, while it remains undecided and sometimes even afterward, unfolds not in certainties but in doubts.

Quoted from: Mark Helprin

Via: Newmark’s Door

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Get a Helmet

Dr. Lastname, a psychiatrist blogger, wants you to know that life is hard:

I know, you’ve got lots of feelings about what you can’t change and you’d prefer to ask why rather than accept what you consider as defeat. But here’s the advice that I think can be most helpful: fuck that shit. You’re never defeated if what’s stopping you is reality.  Defeat is wasting your time complaining about what you can’t change or trying to control it when you know you can’t. Defeat is being an idiot about not giving up on your wishes. Victory is putting up with the pain and humiliation of reality and trying to make things better anyway.

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