Saturday, February 19, 2005

what a jerk

UPDATE: see the update.
Kevin McCullough (link from La Shawn) reports from CPAC:
John Fund highly respected Wall Street Journal columnist did the strangest thing today. He walked right into blogger's corner (he is not a credentialed blogger). He sat right down at a machine that wasn't in fact belonged instead to Adam Doverspike of RedState.

He began typing away and when Adam returned - and in fact needed to return to his blogging duties was told by Fund:

"I'll only be a minute..."

20 minutes later, Adam gave up and left to go get something to drink
What he did wasn't strange, it was revealing. He revealed that he is a jerk. John Fund is either an idiot and an jerk or a bully and a jerk. Either way he's a jerk.

If he didn't know the computer was private property then he still knew someone was using it and he barged in and refused to give it back so he's a jerk. In this scenario, he finds a bunch of people working on a bunch of different laptops, with no sign posted to say that they were set up for general use and he assumed it anyway. In that case he's an idiot. And he's a jerk for not giving the computer back to the person that he obviously knew was using it.

Since he's probably not an idiot, the most likely explanation is that he is a bully. Bullies don't stop being bullies after they leave high school, you know. They just change from bullies that lock freshmen in lockers to bullies that cut in front of lines, flirt with other men's wives right in front of them, and use people's property without permission. If they're lawyers, they threaten law suites. He wanted to demonstrate that he is the big dog. He does whatever he wants and all the little bloggers just have to tuck their tails and get out of his way.

Bullies should not be tolerated in a civil society. They rely on the courtesy of others to get away with having no courtesy. That's why, once I have decided that someone is a bully, I no longer consider any courtesy due them. It has been my universal experience that once you let a bully know that he is not protected by his victim's social conscience, he changes his behavior. Sometimes you have to fight. More often you just have to show that you are willing to be as aggressive as necessary. If that means yelling back, cursing, and refusing to back down, that's what you do.

Confronting a bully is a good deed, just like beating the crap out of a mugger is a good deed. It is sometimes dangerous and always unpleasant. Wisdom is always called for. If you can't possibly win, you are under no obligation to try. But if the odds are in your favor (and with adult bullies they usually are because all you have to do is refuse to back down) then you have an obligation to make their antisocial behavior cost them. It's good for society and in the long run it may be good for them.

John Fund is obviously a jerk. I don't care how much respect you have for his writing, he's a jerk and he needs to be slapped down.

UPDATE: John Fund has written a letter claiming that he was the victim of a practical joke. So it seems likely, were all of us. I've written to the blogger who reported it to see if he lied to his readers. More if he responds. Actually, more if he doesn't respond too...

Friday, February 18, 2005

must be my capitalist tendencies

It may sound kind of wimpy, but take it from a long-time player. You don't want to mess with shopkeepers. Stealing from them is OK if you have a way to teleport directly to the exit, but don't pick a fight with one.

So I'm proud to be a Nethack shopkeeper. OK, not really.

Anyone know where I can find a "Which WB cartoon character are you?"

If I were a NetHack monster, I would be a shopkeeper. I'm exceptionally polite and helpful, but get angry when people try to take advantage of my trusting nature.
Which NetHack Monster Are You?

what's wrong with slavery

This started out as a comment on Donald Crankshaw's post about slavery, but it got too long. He says:
Slavery has existed since before recorded history, and as Sowell has said, the concept that slavery could be and should be destroyed didn't seem to occur to anyone until a couple of centuries ago. So I think the burden of proof is on us, the modern Westerners. Why is slavery wrong? What about it is so offensive? More to the point, why should it be self-evident that it is? What principles underlie this conclusion?
Here is my attempt at an answer.

First of all, you have to distinguish slavery from slave-raiding. Going out to attack people and kidnap some of them for slaves is obviously at least as bad as going out to attack people and steal their stuff. I hardly think there is any need to ask why that particular practice is evil. The American slave trade was exactly this sort of thing --if indirectly through other Africans-- so it falls in the "clearly evil" category.

The question about what is wrong about just keeping slaves, or having laws that allow slavery, is more subtle. That might sound funny coming from a libertarian-leaning type like me, but I don't think it's as simple as "you shouldn't force people to work for you" or "you shouldn't beat people". There are situations where both of those statements are false.

For example, if you lived in a lawless society, and someone stole from you, I'd consider it perfectly just to force that person to work for you to pay back what he stole. Historically, much of slavery was about paying of debts of various kinds. Most people had no wealth except their own labor, so if they owed someone they were forced to use that labor to pay the debt.

Similarly, I consider beating (within reason) to be a more humane form of punishment than prison (a whole 'nother topic, of course), so I don't think that beating is inherently wrong.

From a libertarian point of view, I'd say that a man inherently owns his own labor and that taking it from him is stealing. But this is an over-simplification of a complex relationship. Slavery used to be just another rung in the social hierarchy. The general serves the king, the officer serves the general, the slave serves the officer. This was just the social structure. There was someone you owed loyalty and service to, and that person in turn owed you protection and sustenance. It was a form of contract. And in many cases it was voluntary, at least in the sense that the slave wouldn't leave by choice because he would be left worse off.

I still believe that slavery is wrong, but as it was the same as other relationships, whatever is wrong with slavery is also wrong with those other relationships.

My first attempt at an answer is that human beings are not worthy to have that kind of power over other human beings. They can't be trusted to be just. The one who takes orders must have some kind of appeal process against cruel orders or arbitrary punishments. Neither king nor slave-owners is fit to be absolute monarch over the life of another person.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

help save someone's life

Please go to this post at La Shawn Barber and make a donation if you can afford it. It is not only Terri's life that is at stake here. If the forces of darkness manage to kill her for not being a valuable member of society, it will give them the precedent they need to murder other helpless victims.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

what's in a name

In the post just below this one I mentioned that the * symbol is sometimes called "splat". Here are some other names for typographic symbols:

~ squiggle or worm
! bang or crash
@ you
# tic-tac-toe or hash
$ gold
% cross-eyes
^ dunce or cap
& imp
* splat or squash

Three of these come from the old text version of nethack. The rest come from various associations.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

the paradox of splat

The splat is the character * on your keyboard. I just saw it used like this

Oops, I've got a Brooke ... but at least I don't have an Amber, Tiffani or SanDeE*.

--der Fieldenmarshal

*That's not an asterisk, it's a star.

So is the splat symbol an asterisk or not? It was intended as part of the typography of the name, but it was also used as a footnote symbol.

This is similar to logical paradoxes such as "I am lying" or "the set of all sets that don't contain themselves" or "one more than the largest number that can be expressed in sixteen or less English words".


Another good conspiracy theory shot to hell.

Is there no mystery left in the world?

I'd previously written about the 9/11 conspiracy theories here, here, and here.

Monday, February 14, 2005


The new Storyblogging Carnival is up.

Donald has once again posted something that I've already read. Get cracking, guy! I'm waiting to find out what Red Eyes is up to.

You know, I think I paid for some of the stuff that he has posted lately. And now that he has my money, he's giving it away for free to avoid buckling down and finishing the story that I'm waiting for. Is that fair? I don't think so.

Sheya has another installment of her wonderful story The Child. It's going slowly, but with Sheya that isn't so bad. Donald's stories rely on suspense and adventure and when you get left not knowing what happened it's a major pain. Sheya's stories are more centered around personalities. There is some suspense, but it's more intimate. Sort of like getting a letter from someone who tells you what is going on in their life. You get left not knowing how it came out, but that's not so bad because you mainly just wanted to know how they are doing.

That's why Sheya's continuing stories don't annoy me as much as Donald's.

And Andrew's Cthulhu stories always have a lot of suspense, but he has the common courtesy to freaking finish them.

Not that I'm annoyed at Donald, or anything.

the ghost of loves past

Well, it's Valentine's Day. All over the world, single, lonely men are greeting this day with an enormous welling of indifference.

For many of us, that is a large part of the reason we are single and lonely. If I were the kind of guy who cared about being alone on Valentine's Day, I would also be the kind of guy who could walk up to a pretty girl I just happened to see in the supermarket and ask her if she wants to go for coffee. If I were that kind of guy, I would probably have been married by the age of twenty-five and have a half-dozen kids by now.

Whew. Dodged that bullet.

Being socially inept is only half of the reason I'm alone this Valentine's Day. The other half of the story is that I've always been too afraid of the responsibility of caring for a family. My fear has left me alone today.

There are many nights when I'm sitting alone in my home playing video games or writing, or doing anything, and I'll think about a soft, lovely lady from my past and wish that she were here with me now, sitting next to me, giggling at some silly show on TV, so I could lean over and touch my shoulder against hers and maybe squeeze her thigh. She would turn her head to kiss me, but if it was a really funny part of the show, she would keep watching it out of the corner of her eye as we kissed. And her mouth would be in the shape of a smile instead of a pucker and it wouldn't be a very good kiss but I'd enjoy it anyway because she was happy to be there with me.

Sometimes I wish I had asked her to stay with me instead of breaking up with her the week before Valentine's Day. I didn't realize how cruel that would be because I didn't realize how important the day was for her. Heck, I didn't even realize that Valentine's Day was close. Every Valentine's Day since, I've felt like a rat.

I'm getting over it.

I'm sure she was over it long ago. She could pick up a new boyfriend any time she wanted. I was the one left alone for years. Serves me right.

I should write a series on things I wish I'd known when I was younger. One thing would be this: when you find a woman who really loves you, grab her and don't let go. No matter what. Miracles like that don't come along very often.

Well, not to guys like me anyway. Not to guys who don't care about Valentine's Day.


I just got an autographed copy of Michelle Malkin's In Defense of Internment in the mail. I'll post a review as soon as I can.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

out to get Alan Keyes

Dean and some of his readers are busy slandering Alan Keyes again. I'm not a big fan of Keyes, but really, the way some generally conservative types go after anyone who opposes the homosexual agenda, you would think they were intimidated by the angry left and looking for ways to find common ground with them.

Dean says that Keyes has "disowned" his daughter. Nothing in the article, which is lopsidedly anti-Keyes, supports that interpretation. Kicking your adult progeny out of the house is not the same as disowning them.

Here is the article Dean quotes so approvingly
Maya Keyes loves her father and mother. She put off college and moved from the family home in Darnestown to Chicago to be with her dad on a grand adventure.
No word on whether Keyes loves her, just an assurance that she loves them. We'll see later on in the article how she demonstrates this affection. Note: putting off college and going to be involved in a "grand adventure" is not a sign that you love your father. It's a sign that you aren't that excited about college and/or you think it would be good for your resume to have a position in a state-wide political campaign. We learn later in the article that she put it off for another year to go to India. Yeah. This girl can't wait to get to college.
Now Maya Keyes — liberal, lesbian and a little lost — finds herself out on her own. She says her parents — conservative commentator and perennial candidate Alan Keyes and his wife, Jocelyn — threw her out of their house, refused to pay her college tuition and stopped speaking to her.
Here's the first sign of how much she loves her father. He kicks her out of the house and she responds by going to the press to destroy his reputation. That's love, all right.

By contrast, Keyes has refused to defend himself to the media. I'm inclined to guess that this is because if he told his side it would make his kid look like a rotten, ungrateful, little brat, and he won't do that do her because he actually loves her.

Let's take the allegations in order: why did they throw her out of the house? We don't know, but I can think of lots of reasons to throw a snotty, ungrateful little brat like this out of the house. She's nineteen for one thing. Isn't it time to move out? Does she have a job? Is there any reason why she should still be living with her parents?

Why did they refuse to pay her college tuition? We don't know, but I can think of several reasons. Maybe they never intended to. My parents didn't pay my college tuition. Doesn't mean they didn't love me, it just means they had a different view of a parent's responsibilities than others do. And in fact, if I'd tried to hang around home after I graduated high school with no job and not going to college, they would have kicked me out.

Why aren't they speaking to her? We don't know, but I can think of several reasons. Maybe it's because every time they try to speak to her she ends up screaming and cursing at them. Maybe it's because it's to painful to speak to someone they love so much when she does nothing but spew contempt at them. Maybe they would speak to her and it's her that won't speak to them. We have only her side of the story here.
Maya, 19, says her parents cut her off because of who she is — "a liberal queer." Tomorrow, she will take her private dispute with her dad into the open. She is scheduled to make her debut as a political animal, speaking at a rally in Annapolis sponsored by Equality Maryland, the state's gay rights lobby.
Yup. She loves her parent all right. Respects them too. Now all she has to do to is come up with a convincing explanation of why her parents kicked her out for "being who she is" yet waited a year after finding out "who she is" before doing it. I think she's lying. I think she was refusing to follow the rules that her father laid down for living at home and he kicked her out for that, just like any responsible parent would do.
During his failed campaign last fall against Barack Obama (D) for the Illinois Senate seat, Alan Keyes lashed out at Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Cheney. Keyes told a radio interviewer that Mary Cheney was a "selfish hedonist."
This is a lie. Alan Keyes didn't "lash out" at Mary Cheney. It was the interviewer who asked him to explain his position on homosexuality and he expressed his opinion, one shared by a lot of people. Then it was the interviewer who brought up Mary Cheney. It was a deliberate "gotcha" question, intended to force Keyes either to backpedal on his principles or criticize a family of the Vice President. Keyes took the principled --and courageous-- stand, and the media has lied about what happened ever since. Keyes knew they would. That's why the stand was courageous.

Then, without having been asked anything about his own family, he volunteered that "if my daughter were a lesbian, I'd look at her and say, 'That is a relationship that is based on selfish hedonism.' I would also tell my daughter that it's a sin and she needs to pray to the Lord God to help her deal with that sin."

Maya heard the comments and recoiled. "It was kind of strange that he said it like a hypothetical," she says. "It was really kind of unpleasant."
Oh. Poor. Little. Baby.

She knew exactly what her father thought of her sexual perversions. I doubt that knowing what he thinks of it is more unpleasant for her than knowing what she does is for him. What would she prefer, that he had publicly outed her at that moment? Of course he had to make it hypothetical. And all those people who tsked, tsked about how Alan Keyes wouldn't be so sure of his convictions if he had a family member who was gay, they were wrong weren't they? I won't hold my breath until they admit it.

Anyone who would change his mind about what's right and wrong just because of the way it effects him personally doesn't have principles, he has opinions of convenience.

And from that quote, which Keyes gave, knowing that the hypothetical was true, tells us what he really told his daughter. He didn't tell her that she was a sexual deviant and had to get out of his house, he told her that she was a sinner and needs to repent. Non-Christians can't seem to grasp that this is a loving thing to say to a person. No the person doesn't like it, but drunks don't like to be told that they need to quit the bottle, drug addicts don't like to be told that they need to stop using drugs, people who sleep around without protection don't like to be told that they need to stop. People who are addicted to harmful behaviors don't like to be preached to. But if you love them enough, you preach anyway. Because they need to be told.

In Keyes view her lifestyle choice is a harmful behavior. He's not going to change his mind just because his views are politically incorrect. He's a man of principle, and he is not going to give his daughter up to harmful behavior just because the alternative is to be scorned and ridiculed. He is a man of principle. And he loves his daughter too much not to try.
"As long as I was quiet about being gay or my politics, we got along," she says. "Then I went to the Counterinaugural," last month's protests in Washington against President Bush. "My father didn't like that."

Maya returned from the demonstration to find that she had been let go from her job at her father's political organization.
Imagine that. She goes to protest against the fact that her organization won an election and the organization fired her. Who'd a thunk it?

Here we have a father who --against his better judgment, no doubt-- hires his daughter to work for him, knowing that she is opposed to what he is trying to do. While employed in his political organization, she goes and publicly betrays it by supporting the other side, in an infantile and destructive way. And she gets fired. And her father is the bad guy. Amazing.

And then, in the face of this admission of a fully valid reason for firing her, she claims she was fired for being openly gay.

I can't believe that Dean would buy this.
"In my father's view, financing my college would be financing my politics, in a sense," Maya says, "because I plan to be an activist after college."
Oh. Now we have a reason why he might not want to pay for her college. I don't believe a word the ungrateful little brat has to say, but if this is the reason then it seems perfectly valid to me. She plans to spend her life working against everything her father has worked for. What man of principle would fund that? And what daughter who loved her father would do that or expect him to support it?

Face it. What we have here is a bitter, rebellious, ungrateful bitch who has made it her goal in life to make her father miserable. And since he won't put up with her any more, that makes him the bad buy.

I'm appalled.

UPDATE: My limited-size comments are too awkward for long posts, so I'm going to reply to toridjoe's comments here. Toridjoe, if you would like to reply again at length, you can send me an email and I will post it verbatim.

None of that speculation was "wild" and most of it was clearly labeled as possibilities, attempts to explain oddities. For example, how do you explain it when otherwise intelligent people uncritically accept the ranting of an angry teenager about how awful her dad is? When a teenager puts off college twice for two different reasons, it's not "wild" speculation to wonder if she isn't that excited about going to college. Most of the rest were simply posed as alternatives to taking an angry, spiteful teenager at her word. A wise person would always look for the other side in such a case.

Most of the "bigoted viewpoints" you mentioned were me expressing Keyes views, not my own. And I didn't see how any of them were bigoted. There was no expression of hatred or contempt. Only the observation that certain behaviors are wrong. I believe that envy is a sin. Am I therefore bigoted against envious people? I believe that greed is a sin. Am I therefore bigoted against greedy people? I believe that I am a sinner. Am I therefore bigoted against myself? No. When you say I am bigoted, all you mean is that you hate what I believe.

As far as this
"Isn't it time to move out? Does she have a job?" Well, let's see--she was fired from her job, and can now not afford college despite being the daughter of a prominent columnist. First you attack her for doing service work and getting a job, and a few paragraphs later you attack her for being lazy, essentially.
Talk about misrepresentations. Losing her job was 100% her own fault. No responsible person would have kept her on after that. She can afford college. Anyone who is willing to work for it can go to a good university. She may not be able to afford Brown but I'm having a hard time weeping over that. I never attacked her for doing service work, I pointed out that she was engaging in political activity that was directly counter to the organization she was employed by. I never attacked her for being lazy, I suggested that this was an alternative explanation for the known facts --alternative to just taking her word that her father is just a heartless pig.

When you say that "A lashed out at B" you are saying --among other things-- that A took an action that A intended to harm B. Keyes never intended to harm Mary Cheney. He was callous; he was too willing to let her be hurt, but he never set out to hurt her. The radio interviewer was more callous because he deliberately set out to harm Mary Cheney in pursuit of his political agenda. He used her as a tool. No fair person could call Keyes the bad guy in this without also pointing out how malicious that interviewer was.

Keyes was principled and courageous because he knew that he would suffer for telling what he saw as the truth and he did it anyway. He was principled and courageous, but he was not thoughtful or diplomatic. He can be fairly criticized for that. But it is simply a lie to say that he "attacked her" or "lashed out at her" when he had no intention or desire of causing her harm. He didn't want to talk about her at all. He was asked a malicious question and he answered it coldly but honestly. A charitable person might assume he was taken by surprise --that was certainly the intention of the interviewer-- and that he regrets his choice of words. But no one who believes there is such a thing as sexual sin deserves any charity, do they?

The media lie is in the words "lashed out" and "attacked". I didn't say the quote was a lie, I said the characterization was a lie.

As my comparison of homosexuality to an addiction was not a medical point, I can't imagine why I would want the endorsement of a medical board. I would include gossip, greed and envy in the same group, do I need a medical board to tell me that those are sins too? The reason I used the examples I did is because they are clearly examples of self-harm. The point is that Keyes believes his daughter's alleged lifestyle is harmful to her and he acted under that belief. In effect, what you really hate Keyes for is not his actions but his beliefs. In other words, you are engaging in anti-religious bigotry.

faith in fiction

I've been reading through the archives at Faith in Fiction. It has some wonderful advice on writing, given by someone with a lot of knowledge.

The blog has inspired me to make my next Storyblogging Carnival entry an exercise in tone. I think I'll try re-writing the chapter introduction from the first chapter of Torus, the aborted novel I've posted parts of before. When I first wrote that section, I remember that I was going for a particular tone and wasn't able to achieve it. Maybe it's time to try again.

Couldn't use Meating of the Mines for this exercise because that's a screenplay. And besides, Rolf and Zantar pretty much set their own tone. I don't have much to do with it.

By the way, the blogger who writes Faith in Fiction is a fiction acquisitions editor for a Christian publisher. He's looking for novels that have a Christian orientation but aren't part of the typical genre. I think Sheya and Donald both have stories that fit this criterion. Why don't you guys go check out his site?

mystery solved

The following appeared in a comment at the Belmont Club. There is no way to link to it, so I'll quote it in full:
Dear Belmont Club Readers,

I think many of the comments on this blog have had a tendency to take the Left a bit too seriously. This is understandable, because there is some rather obscure history one must know in order to fully understand the current situation. Most of you are probably aware of the efforts of the former Soviet Union to subvert the West during the Cold War. But few of you know how these efforts have evolved in recent years.

My acquaintance with the subject began in the early 1990’s when I hired a Russian immigrant (we’ll call him Sergei to protect his identity) to do some small contracting jobs around the house. He was a pleasant fellow, who spoke English without an accent, and we soon struck up a friendship. It turns out that his background was with the old KGB, specifically 2nd Section of the 3rd Division of the First Chief Directorate. As you may know, The First Chief Directorate was responsible for foreign operations and intelligence gathering activities. The 3rd Division within this Directorate was responsible for “Active Measures” in foreign countries, such as disinformation, propaganda, and the establishment and backing of international front organizations. There isn’t really a good English translation for the title of the 2nd Section (literally it’s something like "Section for the Cultivation and Sustainment of Forward Thinking Elements within Non-Marxist Societies"”), but colloquially, the people who worked there called it the Useful Idiots Section.

It turns out that Sergei had kept a detailed record of all the techniques, codes, contact information, etc. for running the Useful Idiots Network in the United States. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the value of this information had become so discounted that Sergei was willing to share it with me in exchange for a few referrals to his contracting business and a case of good Vodka. Since the Soviet implosion removed any utility that these Idiots formerly possessed, I no longer refer to them as Useful Idiots, but have taken to calling them Useless Idiots.

To make a long story short, since early in 1993, I have been sending out instructions to the Network and am responsible for most of the ludicrous public statements and antics of the American Left. My motivation is nothing other than a slightly twisted sense of humor. Although I can't claim to have any control over a loose cannon like Churchill, I will take credit for using the Useless Idiots Network to get him hired at UC despite his lack of credentials. My favorite recent coup is Teddy Kennedy’s speech just prior to the Iraqi elections. (BTW, Teddy isn’t actually part of the Network. He’s just a harmless old drunk, but one of his speech writers always follows my instructions to the letter.)

I beg you to keep the above information confidential so that I may continue to pursue this humorous pastime.

Faithfully yours,

The Idiot Master