Archive for February, 2012

NEWS LINKS: Detroit pol wants to force gas stations to hire security

by Staff Monkeys

  • In Detroit, a city councilman has decided he has the solution to a wave of violence engulfing his city. He wants to force service stations to hire security guards. That’s right. He wants additional security to be mandated. We would have sworn that the businesses and the consumers are already paying for police protection with their taxes. Oh, the guy is also going to meet with ministers to plan a “Peace Sunday.” That’ll do the trick.
  • We still haven’t met a single person who’s excited to support Mitt Romney, but the man keeps winning in the Republican primaries. On Tuesday night, he added victories in Michigan and Arizona to his win column. So who’s voting for him? People who really think he’s great? Or mostly people who think he has the best shot of any Republican of beating Barack Obama?
  • Remember the movie, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”? In the movie, memories could be selectively erased. Well, it appears that scientists are close to being able to do the same thing in real life. Would you take such an option if you could — to forget things that are painful or inconvenient in some way? Or are those things that happen to you so much a part of you that losing them would be wrong?

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NOTEBOOK: Why do so many libertarians need One True Way?

by David McElroy

More random thoughts that don’t belong anywhere else…

I’ve noticed something interesting about the psychology of most people who consider themselves libertarians. It’s my observation that most libertarians are opposed to rules coming from the state, but they’re also temperamentally inclined to have strong views about “the right way to do things” on a wide range of subjects. I don’t generally see them wanting to force others to comply with their ways, but it seems as though they’re more drawn to systematic rules than the average person is.

Two questions: 1) Am I accurate in my observation? 2) If so, why might there be this statistical correlation between desiring legal freedom and a tendency toward believing in One True Way to do things (not just politically)? I asked these questions of friends on Facebook the other day and everybody generally agreed it was true. The “why” question generated some interesting discussion. Do you guys have any thoughts about it?

I suspect that the same internal need for logical consistency which drives us to adopt a very unpopular political position (or some variation of it) also drives us to need logical consistency in the world around us. That doesn’t exist, of course, and we can sometimes end up frustrated when people can’t see what’s so obvious to us. What do you think?

I finally have official word about the lump I had removed from my breast last month. It was intracystic papillary carcinoma, which is so rare that there’s not much known about it. The good news is that it’s not very aggressive and is very unlikely to recur.

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NEWS LINKS: 75 percent of likely voters say rich already pay enough

by Staff Monkeys

  • In what must be disappointing news for Obama campaign strategists, a new poll shows that a full 75 percent of likely voters want lower taxes, not higher taxes. The Obama administration wants to raise the top tax rate to approximately 40 percent, a level that only 4 percent of likely voters favored in the poll.
  • Speaking of Obama, the latest Rasmussen poll shows that the president has lost support for his job approval lately. What’s worse, trial heats against the Republican candidates show that Obama is now losing to both Mitt Romney and Ron Paul by slight margins. A lot can change between now and November, but it’s not good news for the Obama team.
  • Although savings edged slightly higher earlier in the current economic downturn, Americans are starting to slide back into their old habits. New numbers show that Americans are charging more and more money on credit cards. This story claims that credit card debt is nearing “toxic levels.”

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Ohio high school shooting shouldn’t be excuse to take more guns away

by David McElroy

When I first heard about the shooting at a high school in Ohio Monday morning, my mind immediately went back to the shootings at Columbine High School near Denver almost 13 years ago. I wonder if this incident will ignite the same hysterical reaction as the one that followed the Columbine tragedy.

In the shooting at Chardon High School, just outside of Cleveland, a lone student apparently came to the school cafeteria Monday morning and fired four or five shots. The student was someone who other students described as an outcast, someone who might have been the victim of bullying.

Roughly 1,200 students and their parents spent the rest of the day being grateful they weren’t directly affected by the shooting — such as the student and her father above — but a few families weren’t so fortunate. Two students died and three others are wounded.

After the Columbine shooting in 1999, there was a renewed push to make guns harder to own. There was also a huge and very expensive push to install metal detectors and upgrade security at schools all over the country. Schools that had been relatively open to their communities because more like fortresses in some cases. Why? Because every administrator was scared that his school system might one day be the site of another random fluke of violence — so every one of them went overboard to show parents that everything was being done to protect their children.

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‘Please do not adjust your set’

by David McElroy

We’ve experienced some technical difficulties today that knocked the site off the air for nearly an hour this morning and then just briefly a bit later.

If you had trouble accessing the site during that period, I’d like to apologize and assure you that the monkeys and I are doing everything we can to keep the problem from happening again.

I would explain the technical details of what happened, but that might embarrass a certain poor monkey who really didn’t mean to do anything bad when he pushed the button that was labeled, “Do not push this button under any circumstances.” He won’t be getting any extra bananas for dessert tonight, though.

NEWS LINKS: Abortion is about choice, unless gender is involved?

by Staff Monkeys

  • Those who favor legal abortion argue passionately that women have the right to decide whether to have a baby or not. In their arguments, nothing is more important than the woman having the right to choose whether to have a baby or abort it. But when women want to make that choice based on the sex of the child, suddenly it’s a horribly immoral choice. Why? Why is is moral to allow them to make the choice to kill the growing baby, but not if they consider something others don’t want considered? Pretty hypocritical, huh?
  • Until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently that police aren’t allowed to track people with GPS devices without a warrant, the use of those devices had become very common. It became clear Friday just how widespread that tracking had been when the FBI’s general counsel said the decision shut down 3,000 GPS devices. It’s interesting that the quit using them rather than justify their use to courts to get warrants — suggesting that they weren’t too concerned about probably cause all along.
  • If you have an “unlimited” data plan from your cellphone provider, but the company decides to start slowing down the data speed to keep you from using what it promised you, that might irritate you. One California man took AT&T to court over the issue. A judge agreed that the company was wrong and awarded him $850.

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When it comes to politics and race, double standards are everywhere

by David McElroy

When former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke launched an organization 30 years ago called the National Association for the Advancement of White People, everyone loudly said that it was racist for such an organization to exist.

I had been raised with very liberal attitudes about race, so Duke’s group held no appeal for me, but I was quietly puzzled anyway. Why was it racist for whites to have an organization that pursued things they perceived to be in their best interests, but it was noble and right for blacks to have the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to advance their interests?

I didn’t say anything at the time, partly because I didn’t want to support an admitted racist and partly because I didn’t want to ask a question that polite people clearly didn’t ask. But it was my first realization that standards of what was acceptable are very different depending on what your skin color is.

I was reminded of that again Sunday when I saw some video from Barack Obama’s campaign announcing the launch of African Americans for Obama. (See video below.) Can you imagine the formation of White People for Ron Paul or European Americans for Mitt Romney? Representatives of the black “civil rights industry” would be frothing at the mouth to denounce them. People in the media would be apoplectic with righteous rage. Everybody would denounce such groups for white people as racist. So why is it acceptable when a black politician does it?

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NEWS LINKS: Canadian cops go crazy when 4-year-old draws gun

by Staff Monkeys

  • When a 4-year-old girl in Ontario drew a picture of a gun at school, she was asked who it was. She said, “That’s my daddy’s. He uses it to shoot bad guys and monsters.” On the basis on that, her father was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm, which is illegal in Canada. After hauling the entire family to jail for extensive questioning — and a strip-search of the father — it turned out there was no gun in the house, other than a toy pistol.
  • The nuts at PETA claim to care about animals, but the records show otherwise. According to the organization’s own records, PETA kills 95 percent of the animals in its own custody. Just-released records show that PETA killed 1,911 cats and dogs last year, finding homes for only 24 of the animals it took into its custody. Yes, this sounds like a warm-hearted bunch who really care about those animals.
  • Gasoline prices hit a nationwide average price of $3.67 Saturday as they rose for the 18th consecutive day. In the past month, prices have gone up almost 30 cents per gallon.

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Boston ‘gay on gay’ assault shines light on absurdity of ‘hate crime’

by David McElroy

Let’s pretend that I’m the violent type and I don’t like a guy named Fred. Let’s say that I punch Fred and break his nose as I yell, “I don’t want to see your ugly self around here any more!” I don’t know what the penalty is for assault and battery, but let’s assume it’s a year.

Now let’s assume that the facts are identical, but we just change one word. I punch Fred and break his nose, but I yell, “I don’t want to see your gay self around here anymore!”

If I did that, the law in this country in most places would say that I’ve committed a “hate crime,” so the same offense might get me up to 10 years in jail. In other words, the only difference in the two scenarios is the word I use, so I’m spending far more time in prison because of my speech and what some prosecutor decides was in my thoughts when I committed the crime.

The absurdity of this insane idea is even more on display in Boston right now, where three young women have been accused of beating up a 43-year-old man. (That’s one of the women above.) The only thing we know for sure is that the guy was beaten up. (See a video report from local cable news at the bottom of this article.)

The two sides have different stories. But prosecutors are calling it a “hate crime” because the victim says the women shouted a slur about his sexual orientation. The kicker? The women are lesbians and they say they didn’t know he was gay. So how do prosecutors figure that the guy was attacked because the women hated gay people?

Under this Orwellian law, it doesn’t matter whether the attackers were also gay. They don’t have to actually have hate toward gays to be charged with a hate crime. Their alleged language was enough. The law allows the charge because the victim was in a “protected class”:

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NEWS LINKS: Richard Dawkins says he can’t be certain there’s no God

by Staff Monkeys

  • Richard Dawkins might be known as the world’s most prominent atheist, but he admitted this week that he can’t be completely sure that God doesn’t exist. At a debate at Oxford University, he said he prefers to think of himself as an agnostic. Dawkins said that he’s “6.9 out of seven” sure that there’s no God. “I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing is very, very low,” he said.
  • Some American neoconservatives and their Israeli allies are trying to scare the U.S. public with statements about how Iran is about to have a missile that can hit U.S. cities with the nuclear weapons we all assume they’re working on. But experts say the danger is overblown and that the Iranians aren’t close to having such technology. Frankly, we’re more afraid of our own government than of Iranians.
  • Last September, a Florida state trooper shot a handcuffed 19-year-old woman with a Taser when she tried to run away from him at a police station. When she went down, her head smashed into the pavement and she’s been in a vegetative state ever since. She’s probably never recover. What crime was she accused of? Fleeing the scene of an accident. Watch the video for yourself. Police have cleared the officer of any wrongdoing, but we knew that before they ever investigated. Do they ever decide these thugs do anything wrong? (As a side note, it’s a sad day when Iranian state TV can run a report about U.S. human rights abuses.)

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

Contact David

David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I rarely have the time to respond. (Sorry.) Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”

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