Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Doritos, NARAL, and Sci Fi

Posted: February 8, 2016 by ShortTimer in Culture, Philosophy, Science
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In the last few weeks, I keep piling up stories that will probably be strung together in a few Field Day posts, but this story from HotAir I didn’t want to leave on the back burner and get to later.

The title is “I suppose we should talk about that Doritos ad“.

This is the ad:

And this was the response from NARAL:

And a screenshot in case it disappears:

naral superbowl 50 tweet humanizing fetuses

So they’re opposed to humanizing human offspring, because it’s some tactic of the anti-choice movement.  Humanizing fetuses is… bad?

NARAL’s twitter feed sounds like the hard leftist craziness it is, but as they’re not the kind of people I follow on twitter – Twitchy does a fine job of keeping up on that sort of thing anyway.

Not sure why they use the statue of liberty as their twitter avatar, seeing as how she’s in favor of accepting those poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free, not yearning to crush the lives from people who will never breathe, but I guess irony escapes them.

I’m a sci fi fan (and I don’t care that it’s become SF or “speculative fiction” to clean up the image of bug-eyed monsters from the 50s), and from the perspective of most humanist sci fi, I can’t see any way that NARAL doesn’t come across as utter monsters.

I just spent part of this morning watching SFDebris Star Trek reviews – I enjoy seeing what someone else has thought of classic (and not so classic) episodes of the past – and even if I don’t always agree with the takes that he has on them, I usually gain some greater understanding of the episode and story.  This morning one episode review I watched was his review of Star Trek: Enterprise Similitude.

Enterprise was the prequel spinoff series that aired in the late 90s early 2000s and fared poorly.  Especially compared to The Next Generation and Deep Space 9 (which was highly underrated), Enterprise was weak.

The story Similitude involves the chief engineer getting seriously injured after an engine mishap, the ship getting stuck in some kind of anomaly that was decaying the hull, and the need to save the engineer.  So the highly unethical ship’s doctor decided to make a clone of the engineer by using some alien critter larva, then force-grow the clone, and basically strip it for parts.

Thing is, the clone is recognized as a person.  Even though it was grown for the specific purpose of being harvested for organs, the clone is a copy down to neurological pathways of the original, so it has his memories and knowledge (dubious science, I know), and is fully self-aware and more than a little opposed to being used for parts.  In the end the clone cares more for the comatose engineer and the memories of trying to make things right for his/their lost sister and family, especially knowing it’s force-grown and will age and die in a few days.

Even in this mediocrely written sci fi, there’s some understanding that something is being done with life – that life isn’t something to casually throw away, and that a human life (or near-human life) is a valuable life – and that virtue of life is acknowledged even if it’s a force-grown clone created with a specific purpose.

Plenty of folks on twitter smacked NARAL around by pointing out the definition of a fetus is “a developing human”, but the whole thing strikes me as something both telling and sinister.  It shows the character of people who are in NARAL and those who support it, and it’s really disturbing.

From an alien perspective, an alien may or may not care for the idea of terminating gestating offspring, but denying that a gestating offspring is still a member of the parent race is just nonsensical.

If aliens from Zeta Reticuli said, “yeah, we kill our offspring when it’s inconvenient for us because we value the agency of full-grown Reticulans over those of our larva”, you might well find them offensive, especially depending on their history and culture.

If they said, “yeah, we kill our gestating fetuses when it’s inconvenient for us because those things aren’t Reticulans”, you’d probably find them to be poorly written or a race in absurd denial in order to justify their actions.

The problem for NARAL might be that saying you should be able to kill offspring – which is their position – then makes it solely a question of timing.  The argument I remember hearing in college philosophy courses was the “future like ours” theory, that means you could kill off the weak, crippled, or handicapped, but that you shouldn’t kill off the strong in the womb.  The same argument also began to apply to “future like ours” as in what can be provided for the offspring, thus it’s was okay to kill the strong if you were poor and couldn’t afford an ideal future for that offspring.  There was also an argument that human offspring aren’t capable of independent life before a certain time period, and that makes it okay to kill them because they’re not individual beings yet – this is intended to be a trimester argument, but its logical conclusion would include newborns and children up to a few years of age who couldn’t survive in nature without assistance (an argument that has been made before).

Those last parts become unpalatable and monstrous to most of society right now.  Using sci fi/speculative fiction to explore the concepts, there’s not necessarily a reason they couldn’t become or be considered acceptable, given the proper framework.  Maybe a warrior group kills the weakest of its offspring, or an overpopulated planet exterminates them, but even then there’s a reason.  The warrior race wants to be stronger, the overpopulated planet is concerned with its stability – they understand the offspring are theirs, but deny them life for a reason (albeit ones we may not agree with).  I still couldn’t see a writer coming up with any kind of logic to a race that would deny its own offspring, unless it were an intentional flaw in the race – like some kind of adherence to an obsolete philosophy from when they were warlike or too numerous to survive that they now take as gospel.  It might work for an group with a strict collectivist mentality that’s harshly enforced, or for a group that steadfastly believes in some throwback idea that they don’t realize they’ve outgrown.

Human cultures in the past have engaged in practices like those, but concern for our species and enlightened concern for all humanity has moved us past that… except for the people who want to drag us back.  NARAL denies the humanity of a developing offspring that even infanticidal cultures of the past would not – because the infanticidal cultures of the past acknowledged it as a decision, either an ugly one or one they simply choose to be willfully apathetic about due to circumstance – while NARAL is afraid of the moral bankruptcy or perception of callousness that comes from acknowledging what they’re advocating.

Really sharp guy.  Covers a lot of topics as he refutes lefty social justice arguments – eventually by personalizing the demands that SJWs make and putting them to the SJW.

He uses Alinsky’s rule 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”

The SJW college student is just foolish enough to engage the discussion that his flawed and failed ideas cannot hope to win.  That’s why SJWs drop/change subjects, deflect, call people racist, and use the “shut up” response to any and all criticism.

With Open Gates

Posted: November 25, 2015 by ShortTimer in Bill Whittle, Culture, Europe, islam, Middle East, Philosophy, Science
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Via Jawa Report, from Breitbart:

‘With Open Gates: The forced collective suicide of European nations’, a slick, hard-hitting film about the European migrant crisis is going viral in Europe, already watched at least half a million times.

Although the 19-minute film may feel like a dispatch from the future, it is cut entirely from recent news reports, police camera footage, and interviews.

Breitbart notes that the original video was taken down by youtube.  It’s been copied and reposted (mirrored) several times now, as is the standard response to youtube censorship.  As noted in the story:

UPDATE 13/11/15: After gaining a million and a half views in less than five days, the Open Gates video was taken down by YouTube following a copyright infringement. Although the rights company involved in the claim has been named in allegedly spurious claims in the past, there is no reason to suggest that is the case with this video.

The video itself is made by somebody who claims to be from /pol/, which is the name for the politically incorrect board on a handful of popular message boards – most notably 4chan and 8chan – though relative popularity may be very different after the effects of censorship about Gamergate drove a lot of people from pol from the first site to the latter.

It should be noted that /pol/ is a place full of intentionally inflammatory, often racist, purposeless posts (shitposting), either seriously made or in jest.  While the intent of the maker certainly sets the tone, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily completely wrong or inaccurate, either.  The video is, after all, a collection of news reports, camera footage, and interviews that speak for themselves.  (Edit: Except the last minute or two, which is an interview that seems to be being used to a specific anti-semitic end, and is about 5 years out of date.  Edit2: I don’t care for whatever agenda is intended by that last bit – whether genuine anti-semitism or shitposting parody of it, but the rest of the video with news reports is again still visuals for reporting we’re not seeing stateside.)

The video is a sharp reminder that, as Mark Steyn says, demography is destiny, and that there are parts of the world that understand that r strategists can defeat K strategists.

Bill Whittle and Stefan Molyneux had a conversation about r vs K selection recently as well.  I do agree with Whittle’s contention at one point that r vs K is learned as humans can choose either reproductive strategy, and how they are a result of relative success or failure.

It’s long, but a very good conversation.

Thinking about how the r vs K that Whittle and Molyneux talk about as it applies to the Open Gates video is enlightening, but also tragic.

Die Hard isn’t just a Christmas movie.  Die Hard is the Christmas movie.

Die Hard is quintessentially a libertarian-conservative American Christmas movie, and that’s what makes it The Christmas movie.  Despite what some people say.

Just to get this out of the way first – what’s often said about it is that it wasn’t released at Christmas, so it’s not a Christmas movie.  Release date doesn’t mean it’s not a Christmas movie, either.  “The Christmas Song” was written in the middle of summer, and no one complains that it’s not a Christmas song.  Anyhow, on to the story…

Starting with its hero, John McClane – the story throws an everyman cop out of his element into a situation he doesn’t expect and he, the individual, through his own resilience, perseveres.  It’s a celebration of individualism and independence, where one man can and does make a difference.  That one man isn’t alone in the world, but his individual actions make the difference.  Without him, everyone at the Nakatomi Christmas party would be fodder for murderous thieves.

die hard merry christmas

In contrast to other Christmas movies, John McClane doesn’t need Clarence to take him out of the world and show him what life would be like without him.  When John McClane is at his lowest, his friend – a friend whose face he’s never even seen – talks to him and reassures him that his actions matter.  John McClane doesn’t have an angel to come save him, but he has his friends who help him.

That friend whose face he’s never seen is important doubly so for that reason.  John McClane doesn’t know Sgt. Al Powell of the LA police department.  He knows nothing about him to begin with save that Al was a street cop based on his driving.  He doesn’t know Al’s race, his religion, or whether his ancestors and McClane’s fought each other in the old country.  They don’t judge each other based on some preconditions or some prejudice, there’s no room in their world for that, and there’s no reason in their world for that.

When government gets involved in the situation above the individual level, we see a very libertarian small-government criticism.  The 911 operators are blase and uncaring, dismissive of a citizen’s call for help.  Even when finally driven to action, they choose to dispatch a lone squad car on his way home – because they are blase and uncaring.

By the time Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson arrives, we really begin to see government involvement and its consequences.  Robinson starts by ignoring that Al was the man on the ground, had experience, and was as hands-on as the situation would allow.  Al has a grasp, but Robinson dismisses him and has some ham-fisted responses by sending in his teams in “standard two-by-two formation” – decisions that ultimately get good men injured and killed.  The further he goes from the individual, the more foolish he gets.  When he has men injured or dead at the door and in the car who are protected by John’s quick actions, he’s more concerned about the glass that the individual John McClane blasted all over the grounds.

Local government is shown as foolish, even moreso when it defers to the federal government.  When that same local goverment listens to the individual or starts to think about its role, it becomes more responsive and effective.

The federal government response is one you’d expect from Washington, DC.  It’s a one-size fits-all approach for an A7 scenario, running the universal playbook step-by-step, and it’s an even more ham-fisted and foolish one than the local government uses.

But Agent Johnson does add that “We’ll try to let you know when we commandeer your men,” in perfect parody of the uncaring fedgov taking over.

agents johnson and johnson die hard

In defense of the realism of Agents Johnson and Johnson, Die Hard was made prior to the siege in Waco, where the fedgov proved itself more incompetent, not less.

Over objections of local government in the form of Deputy Chief Dwayne T. Robinson – who sucks up to the FBI heavily at first, but begins to question the wisdom of it later (as he realizes he could be held accountable, and thinks he should call the mayor) – and private citizens who object, the feds kill power to an entire grid.  Federal, local, and business authorities spend the whole argument ignoring Walt the technician who could cut power locally.

dwayne robinson johnson power guy 1

Walt is the individual, showcased again as the only competent one there, ignored by his company boss, the local authorities and the federal authorities.  Over his own objections and explaining that he can get the same result with no harm, he is threatened by Agent Johnson, and ends up being forced to shut down a power grid that inconveniences and harms local families on Christmas Eve, and plays right into the hands of the terrorist thieves.

walt die hard

Further from the consequences, as the FBI prepares its doublecross, Agent Johnson (no, the other one) comments that they’ll lose 20-25% of the hostages tops, and the other says he can live with that.  American lives he and his partner (no relation) are sworn to protect are ultimately expendible to him in his mission.  When Agent Johnson is rolling in with helicopter gunships, he whoops “Just like Saigon, eh, Slick?” – he’s become the embodiment of reckless militarization of police forces and the consequence-free actions the federal government would take against its own citizens while remaining assured of its own unaccountability.

While John McClane is on the roof and trying to move a terrified group of citizens back down and away from the bomb-laden roof of the building, it’s Johnson who’s gleefully commanding shooting and sniping at McClane, without having analyzed what the situation was.

Hans Gruber and his gang as the bad guys are “the world”.  They are mostly Europeans and vaguely foreign characters, and Theo, of course, who is an amoral professional with a charming personality.

Hans and his crew, when silent, aren’t fully understood by anyone but John and Al.  John and Al understand in a direct, visceral way – the terrorist thieves are bad guys.  They show a traditionalist conservative or libertarian response to a direct threat – handle the threat.  They don’t need to pontificate about it – they know the bad guys are what they are, and somebody’s got to stop them.  There’s no introspection or “are we really the terrorists who brought this on ourselves?”  There’s not a thought to “Helsinki Syndrome” – which is mocked by the film itself.

“The world” is recognized for what it is – they aren’t ideologues – they’re thieves willing to use any tactics – “the world” has its own motivations, self-interested motivations, while naiive American govt. policies believe in the babble (Deputy Wayne Robinson) or ignore it completely and don’t even try to understand the motivations (FBI guys) that ultimately lead to failures by government at varying levels.

Hans, when he communicates their “demands”, play the slow-thinking local authorities for suckers, to such a degree that even his right hand man is thrown for a loop.

karl die hard asian dawn 2Asian Dawn?

hans die hard asian dawnI read about them in Time magazine.

John and Al see through it as a ruse.

Dwayne is duped, but baffled – again because he doesn’t listen to his own people on the ground.

The FBI simply ignores it, and fits it into their own plans.  They don’t even bother to wonder why such bizarre requests would be made.  Their sledgehammer-instead-of-a-flyswatter approach doesn’t even factor in that the “terrorists” are stalling, or why they were stalling.  It’s just an A7 scenario, and “we’ll take it from here”.

On a whole host of topics, the movie subltly demonstrates a varying host of both libertarian and conservative beliefs.

On social issues of race or class, none are important – individual character is what matters.  Even just stripping away the action and drama of the story and looking at the characters shows people who are success stories due to their own hard work.

Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi, better known as Joe, is the man at Nakatomi, but he’s no rich robber baron or parody of zaibatsu business.  He’s an immigrant who worked his way up from humble beginnings, including spending young childhood years in the Manzanar internment camp, and he’s become a wealthy and powerful businessman, respected and loved by his employees.

On the other side of the spectrum is Argyle, who’s worked his way up from taxi driver to limo driver, and who’s personable and engaging with people he works with and ultimately for.  He helps John out with a plan to get back together with his wife, and agrees to help John find someplace to stay if things don’t work out.  He’s good people, showing character and initiative that doubtless was part of what got him moved up the socioeconomic and status ladder from taxi driver to limo driver.

On gun control, the movie recognizes the bad guys will always be armed.  The terrorist thieves have rocket launchers – things that are already banned.  How did they get them?  Irrelevant – they’re criminals and criminals break laws.

On right to life, even Hans recognizes that a pregnant woman should be treated kindly.  He’s already calculated to kill everyone there as part of his scheme, yet he neither dismisses her nor her unborn child and their value to the Nakatomi community.  He does value them both less than the $640 million in negotiable bearer bonds in the vault.  But he recognizes the woman and unborn child as being respected by the community and responds to it for the value that Holly and the Nakatomi crowd place on her and her baby.

On smoking, characters smoke because they choose to – and they state they are aware of the dangers.  “These are very bad for you.”  It’s an individual decision, totally aware of the risks.

Abuse of hard drugs is shown to be something that’s ultimately self-destructive as it’s detrimental to the individual and the individual’s judgement.  There’s not a legal or moralizing argument against it, but more observation of the results of drug abuse and the poor decision making and foolish behaviors that drug abuse leads to.  Like the douchey thinking that just because you’re a corporate hot-shot, you can go and negotiate your way out of a situation with men who use guns, not fountain pens.

ellis die hard

The hubris that comes with trying to sleaze and bullshit one’s way through real-world threats is shown very vividly.  While Joe Takagi tried to negotiate as a civilized man with an enemy that feigned civilized manners and ultimately lost his life for it, Ellis douchily walks into a situation already knowing what the stakes are.  Ellis is the mush-brained slow-learner egocentric who thinks there’s a way to talk through problems that can only be solved by force.  He is the embodiment of negotiations with hostile international powers who will act to their own ends and don’t care what anyone talks at them.  He is as effective as the UN – a force only dangerous to those who are allied with it – because it empowers hostile forces by its own simultaneously naiive approach and arrogant sense of self-importance.

The sensationalist, short-attention-span media, in the character of Richard “Dick” Thornburg, is shown to be irresponsible and reckless, as well as dangerous.  He endangers McClane’s children for nothing more than a scoop, but does also briefly touch on the hypocrisy and foolishness of hiring illegal aliens when he threatens Paulina with the INS.  We not only see Thornburg as the kind of newsman the NYT would hire when they want to show weaknesses in US armor to enemy forces in combat, but also as the kind of self-absorbed ass we expect to see from the news, where the story is always about him.  The rest of the media and their wholly wrong assessment the Nakatomi situation has already been covered above.

Die Hard 2, would of course give us the contrast of the moral journalist in Samantha Coleman with WNTW news.  But I’ll save any further analysis on Die Hard 2 for next year.

An a much deeper level, one could discuss how John McClane running through the glass and emerging with bloodied feet could signify the stigmata, or running on glass the miracles of walking on water, but those would all be a stretch, to say the least.  There are plenty of religious connections that could be made in subtle fashion, and really most would be more valid than celebrations of Christmas involving a fat guy in a red suit, flying big game animals, and toymakers from Lothlorien who live in the extreme arctic.

You could have another conversation as to the relative values and virtues of other Christmas movies, and the traditions they have (they aren’t bad movies, after all… but they aren’t Die Hard).

While some people are adamant that Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie… it really doesn’t matter.  Like Crow T. Robot famously said during the initial singing of Patrick Swayze Christmas – “you keep Christmas in your way and let me keep it in mine.”

As an addendum, there’s also a criticism about Nakatomi having a Christmas party on Christmas Eve saying that they’re a horrible company for it.

This is nonsense.  Joe Takagi and the Nakatomi corporation recognize the dedication of their employees and treat them like family.  They know the amount of work that has been put in to their projects, and they offer a Christmas party for those working long distances from home – like Holly, who had to leave New York to work in LA.  Unlike others in the Nakatomi family, she has her own family that she moved – but she’s there at the party because she wants to support her fellow workers.  She’s not going to be there all night – as she’s already planned to take her husband home to see their children, and Argyle was expecting to be spending Christmas driving John home… and maybe head to Vegas at some point.

John Wayne on Liberals

Posted: April 18, 2013 by ShortTimer in Conservatism, Culture, Philosophy

Strange to hear John Wayne talking about Keynesianism and socialism on the horizon, as he dissects modern liberalism/leftism.

Democrats Like Taxes

Posted: April 10, 2013 by ShortTimer in Democrats, Government, Leftists, Philosophy, Tax, taxes

In other news, water is wet.

From WaPo, easily summed up by their graphic:

wapo who likes taxesWaPo tries to come up with some explanation for this strange phenomenon that no one has ever realized before:

What explains that massive disparity between Democrats and Republicans/Independents when it comes to the tax system?

Part of the answer may well be that Democrats are broadly supportive of the idea that government can and should collect taxes in order to provide services for the American public while Republicans and independents are more skeptical about giving money to the federal government to spend.

Another part may be that the tax question winds up being read by partisans as a broader test of their feelings about the federal government. Democrats, with President Obama in the White House, are more likely to feel favorably (or at least express a favorable opinion) about the government. Republicans are not.

Democrats liked big taxes under other administrations, they just liked them for their programs.  Under Obama, the well-meaning but foolish Democrats get more of their pet “save the world” projects, and they get plenty of self-serving plunder to boot; and the ill-meaning collapse-the-system Democrats get to hurt the “evil” producers in order to create “social justice”.  The power to tax is the power to destroy, and they use the power to tax to target people they want to destroy.

It’s more than simply viewing the government as a nanny state that takes care of everything and the feeling that money comes from nowhere.  It’s also viewing the government as a benevolent wonderful provider of a utopian state that can only be realized once all the evil people who hate utopia are eliminated… through taxation driving them away.

The tax system is a weapon, and they wield it as such against perceived class enemies.  Nothing really new here to those in the know, just confirmation.  (Sort of like how every year at Christmas a study comes up showing conservatives give more to all charities because liberals think they “gave at the office” through taxes.  Liberals are amazed, conservatives go “yeah, and?”)