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« "Dog Bites Man" | Main | Morally Velocitized »

November 07, 2006

Comments

Oh good God Almighty...

I want to alter my race. I feel like a blue-skinned, antennaed Andorian.

How about changing my birthday? Mine is so... uninteresting.

Can I make up a month for it to be in? How about "Febtober"?

I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay
I sleep all night and I work all day

I cut down trees, I eat my lunch
I go to the lavat'ry
On Wednesdays I go shopping
And have buttered scones for tea

I cut down trees, I skip and jump
I love to press wild flow'rs
I put on women's clothing
And hang around in bars

I cut down trees, I wear high heels
Suspendies and a bra
I wish I'd been a girlie
Just like my dear papa

As much as I love The Lumberjack Song, I think the most appropriate Monty Python illustration comes from The Life of Brian:

"What's the point of fighting for his right to have babies when 'e can't have babies?"

"It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression!"

"It's symbolic of his struggle against reality."

Unfortunately, the struggle against reality is the law of the land. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, three Supreme Court justices (O'Connor, Kennedy, and Souter) affirmed "the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."

Brilliant! What happens when they catch a documented and certified female, who nevertheless looks like, smells like, and sounds like a man, going into the women's restroom? "Oh, that's okay, I'm allowed in here. See, it says on my birth certificate." Oh, sorry to have bothered you!

Could be a way for female-men to qualify as a woman-owned business for Small Business Administration purposes too. Oh, the fraud of it all!

There are more nuts here concentrated into a small area than anywhere else on earth.

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/kids/lyrics/happydays.htm

Absolute idiocy. Of course, down here in Australia we already have this sort of idiocy on the books.

Although why anybody thinks a surgically mutilated man is a woman is beyond me ? Although it is against the law to say so apparently as this is "discriminatory".

Alan, before you gloat, you should probably give the Dems year to see what they actually DO. Just because they reflect more of your values doesn't mean they will deliver in any meaningful way.

Hi Robert, yesterday America stopped digging, I am well aware that there is still much to do to get us out of the hole. Restoring the Republic and undoing the damage of the Bush/Delay years will take many years.

Also some really bad people got the boot, folks like Richard Pombo in California, Charlie Taylor in North Carolina and little Ricky Santorum in Pennsylvania.

I vote Rep., but I'm actually interested to see if the Democrats can do something worthwhile. If they do, I'll be pleasantly surprised. (That is, if they do something more than hold endless "investigations" into this-and-that.) If they don't, they'll have set themselves up for failure in 2008.

I was surprised to read that the two top reasons people voted Dem. was because because they opposed the war (which leaders from both sides supported, by the way) and didn't like Bush. This seems odd... we're already in Iraq and a pullout now would lead to devastating consequences, but maybe the Dems have a magical way to institute democracy on the fast-track. Second, why do you vote against one candidate because you dislike another? I don't get it.

Mostly, I'm a bit jaded, and don't really think it will change much except the Supreme Court nominee process, which seems to be the only place anything gets done in US politics.

"Restoring the Republic and undoing the damage of the Bush/Delay years will take many years."

Please. Forgive my curtness, but do you do anything but repeat rhetoric? What part of the "republic" has been lost? What magical elixir do the dems have, and what are they repairing?

Back on the point of the original post... "Could be a way for female-men to qualify as a woman-owned business for Small Business Administration purposes too. Oh, the fraud of it all!"

I hadn't thought of that, but it does raise some interesting questions. Really, what are they going to do with all those discriminatory laws? (note that not all discriminations are illicit, so "discriminatory" here is not a pejorative)

Paul, Congress is supposed to hold "investigations", it's part of the role the Framers envisioned when they set up the separation of powers. There has been a huge amount of corruption and abuse of power over the last twelve years.

The leaders of both parties didn't vote for the Iraq war and even had they done so, the Administration's prosecution of the wars in Iraq and Afghanisatan has been so corrupt and imcompetent that it is entirely proper and necessary that Congressional oversight be exercised.

One votes against Republicans because it is the only way to get Democratic control of the Congress and that is the only way to stop Bush before he screws things up worse then he has already done.

Those who lost were rubberstamps for the Administration and deserved to lose for enabling corruption, incompetence and usurpation.

Hi Alan,

I didn't say they shouldn't hold (any) appropriate hearings, but this seems to be the knee-jerk reaction, that all we have to do is hold a hearing and everything gets fixed. Instead, I'd rather they actually do something productive with the salary I pay them.

I'm not sure how to respond to your comment about the war -- it's rather vague and generalized, so there's not much to respond to.

What exactly are the Dems going to do with their majority to "stop Bush"? I'm interested in details. I'm actually interested in the answer to that -- I have heard some of my friends say they were voting Dem so they could have this effect, but I don't understand what they (and you) think that actually looks like in practice.

By the way, if those that lost were, in fact (and not just labeled so for the sake of rhetoric), "rubberstampers, usurpers, corrupt, and incompetent", then I want them out also. They're not serving me or the country by such conduct, regardless of their label (R/D). They're not *leading* (which, by the way, is something one can say about many Dems also, if you were to be honest about it). Can you give us case-by-case examples of this? (A link would suffice, since there were several seats lost ;) and they were apparantly "all" of the ilk you described.)

Oops, I missed the word "enabling" ("enabling corruption, incompetence and usurpation") in your post.

Okay, what specific actions did those that lost do to enable these? What were the specific cases of corruption, incompetence, and usurpation? You talk in many generalities, but I'd like to hear exactly how you came to each of these charges.

I think it is an interesting point that Alan only has interest in politics and apparently everything else takes no seat at all.

Hi Paul, the best way to effectively use our resources is to watch those who use them. Henry Waxman, Kent Conrad and Brian Dorgan will serve us well.

Not all Republicans who lost were corrupt, I don't knoww allof them and Johnson and Leach were good people on the wrong side. The ones I named (along with Delay, Ney, etc.) were among the worst who have ever held office at a national level. Rather then links you could just google "corruption" and the name of the person you wish information on. Pombo and taylor were also among the worst on environmental issues. Santorum, besides his gay bashing, was the Senate go to guy on the K Street project.

Sorry for what often seems like generalities but I often forget the most people don't have the time or inclination to follow things as closely as I am able. If your googling raises any questions, I will be happy to provide help.

If you read blogs you might add a few liberal ones. On Iraq there have been a number of books and this article: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/19197

i have a question - why does this can't the person change their sex back after they have changed it the first time?

if a guy feels like he should have been born a girl, and then changes his birth certificate...
what if after a few years, he starts to get the feeling that really he was meant to be a guy. why does this new rule require them to keep the new sex?

Hi Louis, I have many interests but if ones house is on fire, ones interest will tend to be focused on finding a hose.

Some of my people left Germany to escape religious persecution and they fought in the Revolution. I value the Constitution and the Republic they helped found and have no desire to live in a one party, semi-fascist state. If some of you folks would accept limits on what the state can and should attempt to do, I could have more time for other things.

Alan,

Its living water we need, not a hose.

Alan,
I lived in such a state and it wasn't all that bad as I recall. We have to be politically correct here also...or we get in a heap of trouble. So, I value the constitution as well, but most constitutions start out with high ideals that end up being subverted by coniving politicians. That's just the nature of the world we live in. If we addressed the issue of human nature that is the root-cause of the problem, we might get somewhere(in other words...remove the flamable materials from your analogy). Just dousing it with water may not be enough...we need to create a fire-break to really stop it. The problem is that you seem to be a one solution man and you are sold on the effectivness of your hose to the exclusion of other solutions. The real nature of the problem you face is not a political one, but a moral one and the field of politics is ill-suited to solve that.

Semi-facist state? What do you mean?

On the sex change issue, Sci Phi Show wrote, "Although why anybody thinks a surgically mutilated man is a woman is beyond me".

That's a good point I hadn't given much thought to -- why is it that some cutting and sewing is seen as what magically changes a person from male to female (or vice-versa)? If you sew a beak onto my face, it doesn't make me a chicken.

So my point is just this: the NY Board of Health is actually being consistent here, recognizing that (given the supposition that your gender is really independent of your DNA) the surgery is really just an unnecessary formality. In that, they demonstrate the ridiculousness of their primary assumption (what I put in parenthases in the last sentence).

Louis, the Framers of our Constitution understood human nature very well; that is why they built in a system of checks and balances.

We came close to losing it this time and we are not out of the woods yet. My hope is that as we leave 9/11 in the past more and more of us snap out of the PTS that has affected our politics. Fear is a low and corrupting emotion and folks caught up in it are easily manipulated. Remember Franklin's maxim: "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

There is some indication that the evangelical base is abandoning the Republican party. If enough Christian Evangelicals reject the attempt of Christianists like Dobson and Kennedy to subvert our Constitutional Republic it will be a good thing.

William and Louis, human nature is what it is and we are never going to have all go well on earth by everyone practicing one religion. We should not lose sight of the fact that some of the most corrupt have been formally Christians.

Hi friends
first, Alan, thank you for your consistency in hijacking any topic and turning it into a liberal ejaculation of utopian idealism unfounded in a metaphysic possible of containing it and, of course for taking the Alanesque swipe at the GOP. Hopefully, now that it is almost over, we may have the benefit of your good, though preoccupied to the point of obsession, intellect.

Being a body/soul dualist, I have sometimes wondered if it is possible that, as result of the fall, the soul may indeed be confused as to its gender, or if indeed the male soul is radically different than the female soul ( I suggest it is) Now of course, if one has a penis (can I use that word)but has some sense that he should not, is that more likely a physical manifestation of the fall, or an immaterial, or soulish manifestation of the fall.

Finally, a more appropriate term would be "sexual organ" change. For nothing at all can even be suggested so as to suggest that castration alters the DNA fingerprint from male to female.

I would be very interested in Christian and non Christian thought on this. It does seem to be in keeping with the blog topic.

I loved the excerpt from Monty Python. Here is something similar from Abraham Lincoln: "If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No, calling a tail a leg don't make it a leg."

Typically Alan's answers often would have gone more something like Bush lied about WMD in the State of the Union address. This has the effect of shifting the topic to politics and introducing a conversation on the fact or fiction of events. When Alan asserts things like "Santorum, besides his gay bashing" it can divert the conversation for those who don't want to ignore unsupported assertions and let them pass.

So to get back on topic, we should all heed Lincoln and realize that saying somthing over and over does not make it true. Arafat tried this with Jenin and of course the Nazi's practised this effectively. More recently the whole media frenzy over the Valerie Plame "outing" is a case in point. The fact is that there was no effort by Karl Rove to get revenge on Wilson by outing his wife. It was a fiction proposed by Wilson and promoted by the media. It has been documented that Richard Armitage was the source. I think that these references are legitimate because they directly relate to the topic in a way that an assertion of Santorum as a gay basher does not.

As you can't change your sex by filling out a form, you don't change historical fact by repeating falsehoods over and over in the press. I firmly belive that something to be true must correspond to reality!

What kind of worldview must you have to really believe that every person defines their own reality?

When Alan says "human nature is what it is and we are never going to have all go well on earth by everyone practicing one religion. We should not lose sight of the fact that some of the most corrupt have been formally Christians." I can agree. This is because I believe the Christian explanation of reality. That we live in a fallen world and that there is no one who is without sin. We see it every day and our experience verifies the condition. It is for this very reason that I don't place any confidence in Man's utopian political schemes. Alan's solution, because of his worldview, has to come from Man because he is not a theist. His solutions also have to be held in harmony with his utilitarian philosophy of the most good for the most people. I continue to question how the definition of "good" can be legitimately grounded in people whose nature (as Alan accepts) is imperfect. Only an objective moral truth grounded in a God with authority can solve this dilemma.

"Only an objective moral truth grounded in a God with authority can solve this dilemma."

This view leads to Utopian thinking and ideology. Why one does something is not as important as what one does. The greatest good for the greatest number seems like a good place to start.

On this topic, who really cares. Life is short and it can be unpleasant at times. If someone, finds their gender out of line with their formal identity, who is hurt by whatever choice they make to resolve the situation?

Whatever Armitage may have done, it is a matter of record that the OVP and the White house were concerned, to say the least, about Wilson's article. Unlike the guy at the top, folks with the mental horsepower of Rove and Libby can walk and chew gum at the same time. There is more here then you wish to admit.

I'll stop talking politics when you all stop trying to ruin my country. BTW, with the results in Arizona, California, Oregon and South Dakota, as well as the fall of Christianists like Santorum, our hosts have been strangely quiet.

Alan...you really think you own this country? It isn't just your country...you know. It is our country and aren't you just as bad as those you accuse of trying to run your country when you try to run theirs?

Alan,
Question: are all acts random and indeterminate?

(Don't worry, this may seem like a non-sequitor, but your answer does indeed bear directly upon your comments, so humor me, if you please.)

I just filled out a survery for my University (UBC) and when it asked for Gender, it had Male, Female or Other....
=|

I believe that it was Aristotle that said that government rests upon the necessary foundation of morality. Alan, if that is true and morality is nothing in particular, where does that leave
your country?


Alan wrote: "I'll stop talking politics when you all stop trying to ruin my country."

Alan, I thought we had a reasonable discussion going on in the blog here at last. What is with this ridiculous assertion? For the record, I don't mind you talking politics, the appeal was just that you post political responses when there is a political topic at-hand, and not hijack other topics.

Okay, what exactly are "we" doing to "ruin" "your" country? As someone else pointed out, it's also *our* country. We happen to think a lot of the things you stand for have the potential to do the country great harm. Why is it your view holds more weight?

"If someone, finds their gender out of line with their formal identity, who is hurt by whatever choice they make to resolve the situation?"

Nobody is "hurt" until we start making policies that direct the course of society. If some guy wants to wear a dress, get an operation, and change his name, what do I care? Start changing policies that affect the society, and you have no way of knowing the consequences (unless you (or the policy-writers) have suddenly become omniscient. Our history is littered with "decisions" people made that "didn't hurt anyone" that later were found to have done great harm to a great many.

Hi Aaron, no, some are, some aren't.

Alan said: "This view leads to Utopian thinking and ideology. Why one does something is not as important as what one does. The greatest good for the greatest number seems like a good place to start."

This is simply not historically true as far as I can tell. Also once again, I ask, how do you establish the good? Is good what Alan thinks is good? Is good what the majority thinks is good? My point is that what is good, moral and true does not depend on on what humans think, but how people think does effect how they behave.

Alan also said: "I'll stop talking politics when you all stop trying to ruin my country." Talking politics is fine if it is on topic and conducted in a well reasoned manner, relying on reasoned argument rather than name calling. Once again, just asserting something doesn't constitute providing evidence of truth.

Once again Alan, you try to sneak transcendence in the back door. How does one determine "the greatest good for the greatest number"? That reality will shift with power shifts, for one. Also, how will you discern good? If those with Parkinson's disease are a statistical minority, perhaps we should cut off all funding for that disease so that we can focus on diseases with a higher statistical incidence in the population.

How does "greatest good for greatest number" sound now?

It seems to me that there is general agreement on what constitutes the good. All the major religions seem to agree; the Golden Rule is a universal concept.

Patrick, one does what one is able to do and one of the lessons of science is that, often, one doesn't know where one will wind up. AIDS research has greatly increased our knowledge of the immune system and viral manipulation. Likewise reasearch in diseases like Parkinsons will likely have spill overs into other areas. Also as we become an aging population more of us will suffer from these types of diseases so helping those with Parkinsons now is insurance for us in the future.

Linear analysis often fails when considering human culture.

"Patrick, one does what one is able to do and one of the lessons of science is that, often, one doesn't know where one will wind up."

Science can tell us nothing about good and bad.

Also, if the best good is to let people over 65 die without treatment because they place an excessive burden on health care, then they should die without treatment so more money can be spent on younger more productive people who produce more goods and put more money back into the eceonomy. Science can than focus on people who have more years ahead of them, and we can eliminate much of the socical security problem.

That in fact is what happens and what should happen. It's not done by age but by quality of life and it depends on the treatment required. BTW, 65 is no longer old.

Alan -- what is it in his post that you agree "should" happen? (Out of curiousity, what moral standard do you use to decide that "should"?) Is it that people who are too expensive or have too low of a "quality of life" should be exterminated to make life better/easier for others?

If so, you just have two questions to answer: 1) what is too expensive (or what is too low of a "quality of life"), and 2) who gets to decide? History has looked very unfavorably on societies that have travelled this path.

"It seems to me that there is general agreement on what constitutes the good. All the major religions seem to agree; the Golden Rule is a universal concept."

Why would that be? What quirk of evolution gave us that idea? Evolution is about the "survival of the fittest" -- not in a communal sense but in an individual sense. How about this: the only reason it is even close to universal is because we all came from the same Creator, who gave us all the same conscience (though some of us ignore it more than others). By the way, if there is no God, who cares if all the religions teach it and everyone "generally" agrees? If it's just a societal convention, you should be okay with a society deciding that the "Golden Rule" is unnecessary.

Hi Paul, too expensive is relative to quality of life. A while back a doctor was doing cataract surgery on bedridden Alzheimer's patients as a way of increasing his income. A feeding tube in a severely brain damaged person, like Terry Schaivo is another. The whole idea of hospice is that there comes a time where you make the end as comfortable as possible instead of pushing on a string with care that achieves little and is often akin to torture for the patients and their families.

These decisions are made all the time by those with the right to do so.

You severely misunderstand evolution which isn't about individuals. It's about populations. A social animal with a nurture cycle measured in many years or even decades will select for things like altruism. Human society would be impossible unless we were wired to something like the Golden Rule. I see that as a product of evolutionary selection; you see it as a gift of God. In the end, the how doesn't matter; it's there and necessary.

"BTW, 65 is no longer old."


The average life span of the american male is. 75.2. At 65, the american male has 87% of his life expectancy behind him. Of course 65 is old! Old is not a dirty word, by the way

Patrick, a person is as old as they feel, however you should check out the stats before responding. A man who makes it to age 65 will have on average over 15 years of life left and a woman 20 years.

Also declines seem to me to be the relative standard and that point usually begins in the seventies.

Alan,
You said: "Human society would be impossible unless we were wired to something like the Golden Rule. I see that as a product of evolutionary selection; you see it as a gift of God. In the end, the how doesn't matter; it's there and necessary."

This is precisely where I see your utilitarian views breaking down. First of all, the how doesn't matter only if you presuppose a utilitarian view, which would be blatantly begging the question. Second, in the end, the how DOES matter because of the profound implications of either one of the above positions.

"You severely misunderstand evolution which isn't about individuals. It's about populations. A social animal with a nurture cycle measured in many years or even decades will select for things like altruism"

This is probably not correct. An alternative view from the post on Francis Collins: A Winsome,Knowledgeable Witness:

"COLLINS: There is a whole field of inquiry that has come up in the last 30 or 40 years--some call it sociobiology or evolutionary psychology--relating to where we get our moral sense and why we value the idea of altruism, and locating both answers in behavioral adaptations for the preservation of our genes. But if you believe, and Richard has been articulate in this, that natural selection operates on the individual, not on a group, then why would the individual risk his own DNA doing something selfless to help somebody in a way that might diminish his chance of reproducing? Granted, we may try to help our own family members because they share our DNA. Or help someone else in expectation that they will help us later. But when you look at what we admire as the most generous manifestations of altruism, they are not based on kin selection or reciprocity. An extreme example might be Oskar Schindler risking his life to save more than a thousand Jews from the gas chambers. That's the opposite of saving his genes."

"It seems to me that there is general agreement on what constitutes the good. All the major religions seem to agree; the Golden Rule is a universal concept."

How about a definition or two so that we all know what you mean? What are the major religions and where and how do they promote the Golden Rule. BTW, which Golden Rule do you mean. Your first statement implies that this is true regardless of time, place, and circumstances. How about Chad or Darfur or Mogdishu?

Hi John, There are a jillion references on this. Here is one:

Examples of the Golden Rule from around the world
See the BHA poster on the Golden Rule for more.

"He should treat all beings as he himself should be treated. The essence of right conduct is not to injure anyone." (JAINISM -
from The Suta-Kritanga, about 550 BCE*)

"Do not do to others what you would not like for yourself." (CONFUCIANISM - from The Analects of Confucius, about 500 BCE)

"I will act towards others exactly as I would act towards myself." (BUDDHISM - from The Siglo-Vada Sutta, about 500 BCE)

"This is the sum of duty: Do nothing to others Which, if done to you, could cause you pain." (HINDUISM - from The Mahabharata, about 150 BCE)

"What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others." (ANCIENT GREECE - Epictetus, the Greek philosopher, about 90 CE*)

"Love your neighbour as yourself." (JUDAISM / CHRISTIANITY - Leviticus 19, in The Torah, about 400 BCE, quoted by Jesus in Matthew 22 and Mark 12, 1st Century CE)

"What is harmful to yourself do not do to your fellow men. That is the whole of the law…" (JUDAISM - from Hillel: The Talmud, about 100 CE)

"None of you truly believes, until he wishes for his brothers what he wishes for himself." (ISLAM - a saying of The Prophet Muhammad, 7th Century CE)

"As you think of yourself, so think of others." (SIKHISM - from Guru Granth Sahib, 1604 CE)

One should be "contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow against himself." (GREAT BRITAIN -
Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher, 1588-1679 CE)

"He should not wish for others what he does not wish for himself." (BAHA'I from the writings of Baha'u'llah, about 1870 CE)

"You should always ask yourself what would happen if everyone did what you are doing." (FRANCE - Jean-Paul Sartre, French existentialist philosopher, 1905-80 CE)

"Treat other people as you'd want to be treated in their situation; don't do things you wouldn't want to have done to you."
(British Humanist Association, 1999 CE)

http://www.humanism.org.uk/site/cms/contentViewArticle.asp?article=1222

Hi William, try a thought experiment. Which group would survive best; one in which it was everyone for himself or one whose members had a well developed sense of altruism? I don't buy Dawkins assertion and Darwin was quite clear that it was populations not any given individual that mattered in survival of the fittest.

Sorry for continuing the off topic conversation!

Alan said: "I don't buy Dawkins assertion and Darwin was quite clear that it was populations not any given individual that mattered in survival of the fittest."

This is not my understanding. Populations do not reproduce, individuals do. Do you have a specific citation from Darwin that would support your opinion?

Once again, I recommend C.S. Lewis discussion of the Tao. Any particular moral similarities between religions or worldviews can be used as an argument for the existence of objective moral truth. C.S. Lewis describes this observable feature of human traditions as the Tao in “The Abolition of Man”:

“But what is common to them all is something we cannot neglect. It is the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are.”

That these shared moral principles exist is not however, a sufficient reason to suggest that all religions are equally valid. Here is C.S. Lewis from “Mere Christianity”:

“If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through….If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth…..But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic—there is only one right answer to a sum, and all the other answers are wrong: but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.”


William, I don't necessarily believe that all religions are equally valid. That they all show similarities, is from my point of view, merely a sign of something wired into our nature. How it got there is irrelevant to a large extent.

This gives a brief discussion on evolution:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-definition.html

Changes in a individual's genes that confer no adaptive advantage will likely not persist. There is no natural selection or evolution without changes in the overall gene pool.

http://www.literature.org/authors/darwin-charles/the-origin-of-species/chapter-04.html

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