Saturday, May 06, 2006

Democrats don't believe in democracy

Have you ever wondered why the Left is so enamored of demonstrations, marches, rallies, and mass strikes, while the Right tends not to do those things? I have, and I think I have come up with the answer: those kinds of mass political events are anti-democratic so the Right which believes in democracy tends to avoid such things while the Left which believes only in power by any means, embraces them.

What is the purpose of a million-__ march (fill in the blank)? According to leftist rhetoric, it is to show those in power what the people think, no, what the people demand. But those in power already know what the people demand; they demanded it by who they voted for. And if the situation is changing more rapidly than the turnover of representatives can handle (an unlikely event) then we have endless scientific polls to tell us how public opinion is going.

What can you learn from a mass demonstration that you can't learn from polls? Just one thing: that there are thousands or hundreds of thousands of people who feel strongly enough about this to actually do something. And what is the point of that? It is to frighten and intimidate people. What if the entire crowd turned ugly? Property could be destroyed, people could be injured or killed. The police and administrative-branch politicians may be forced to respond with force. No one wants that, but that is what is being threatened, and that threat is exactly what the Left is relying on for the force of their demonstrations. That is why these things are anti-democratic. The point of democracy is to replace violence with votes. The point of mass demonstrations is to replace votes with the threat of violence. It is a step backward in civil society.

Don't believe me? Then you need to read Michelle Malkin more; she has been one of the best bloggers at tracking this anti-democratic activity.

There are plenty of incidents of anarchist pre-meditated violence. These particular leftists aren't engaging in speech, but in warfare. They use violence to get their way, but they try to keep it in the sweet spot: just low enough that there won't be any serious response from the authorities and high enough that it will effect the decisions that the authorities make in order to avoid the violence. For example, there were calls to disrupt the Republican National Convention.

When a leftist group was denied permission to hold a rally in New York's Central Park there were calls from leftists to trash the park anyway.

A bunch of leftists mobbed some military recruiters to force them to leave the campus The link to the video says that this was a peaceful protest, but if a hundred people mobbed around you to force you to leave some place that you had a right to be, do you think that would seem peaceful to you? The recruiters didn't leave because there was a large crowd around them, they left because they felt that violence was imminent. And the mob deliberately gave them that impression.

Then there was the leftist "peace" rally where they vandalized property to persuade militaries recruiters to leave campus.

Before the recent pro-illegal immigration rallies, a leftist group was encouraging immigrants to arm themselves. This message was a cryptic call to violence. It is encouraging armed violence on the day of the rally, but in a round-about way so that if the violence occurs, the writer can claim he was only calling for self-defense.

And now Bob Burnett, a leftist is calling for a general strike to punish the United States for defending itself against Iran. If the democratically elected government does what they feel is necessary to protect the US and the people who voted for them, then this writer wants to stage a general strike, focused to do maximum damage to the US economy so that our leaders will be forced to do what the striking minority wants. He is calling for illegal aliens to back him, hoping for the support of millions of non-voters in this "democratic" action. In fact he probably got the idea from illegal-aliens activists who tried to do this before. They had little success last time, but if we don't do something soon about the illegal aliens in this country, they will one day have the power that they seem to think they have now.

Those are just a few examples of so-called demonstrations being used to intimidate, harm, or otherwise threaten or inflict violence. In addition, there are all the anti-globalization protests with such extreme violence that city police forces have to prepare for months for a G8 conference. There were also the Rodney-King riots, created by leftists who went around before the verdict warning everyone that if the verdict went the wrong way, there would be riots. That constant drumbeat of "expect riots" is what created the riots, and the purpose was to intimidate the people of Los Angeles and make them afraid of black leftist politicians. Can you imagine evangelical religious leaders going around during a trial saying that if the jury doesn't decide their way, then the evangelicals are going to riot? Of course not. Evangelicals believe in democracy, not mob rule.

Mass demonstrations are fundamentally anti-democratic. Their purpose is not to reveal the will of the majority, nor to peacefully persuade the majority, but to intimidate and frighten people into doing the will of a determined minority.

Friday, May 05, 2006

a confession or three

I've been a vehicle owner (motorcycle or car) for about 23 years now. Today I sent in my registration renewal and it wasn't late. I think that is my first time ever. Hey, you don't have to hit me over the head with penalties and fines 24 times to learn something.

Procrastination is a big problem for me. Some day I'm going to have to work on that.

I also have a problem with impatience. I'd work on that, but it's such a freaking waste of time.

I'm also far too much of a perfectionist. I'd work on that but I can't think of really optimal way to do it.


Back of the Envelope is hosting the next Storyblogging Carnival. Get your entries in by tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hot Air

Well, I finally got around to checking out Hot Air, Michael Malkin's new video-blogging site. The video was surprisingly well-done --not as clean and professional as a network newscast, certainly but very good. Michelle is a natural in front of the camera, very appealing and charismatic (and I think extremely sexy, but I have a thing for Filipinas so I'm not an impartial judge).

Her voice could use a bit of work. It's not bad --far from it-- but Michelle doesn't have the control and consistency you see get from the real pros; her voice has occasional distracting breaks and volume changes. Or maybe she doesn't need work. Maybe it's a plus that she doesn't sound like a professional speaker; this is a new medium, after all. New medium, new rules.

Also, the videos are very informative, well-researched and well-argued. But if you've read Michelle's writing, you expected that.

Check out her latest report on the illegal-alien rallies.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

animals and languages

Dean occasionally like to post articles about research on animals and language. Here are his latest two: starlings and prairie dogs.

These kinds of articles often annoy me because they seem designed to deceive non-scientists. They pretend to be reports on the progress of science, but they are really polemical pieces intended to persuade people of a controversial and highly doubtful theory.

Consider this false quote from the Starling article: "Fifty years ago, it was taboo to even talk about animal cognition." The truth is, people have been discussing animal cognition for millennia, and it has been a hot topic since Darwin. So why would Timothy Q. Gentner say such a thing? Because this isn't science, it's religion. Dr. Gentner wants people to understand that he holds the truth, that people who disagree with him are primitives cowering around their fires in helpless fear of the unknown beyond the firelight, relying on irrational taboos to explain why they will not go into the night to see what is there. If Dr. Gentner can persuade us that his opponents are all fearful and irrational small people, then we will accept his side. After all, who wants to be one of the fearful and irrational small people?

But when you look past the polemics at the facts, you see that Dr. Gentner doesn't have much to back up his sweeping claims. What he has done is show that the brains of starlings have the capacity to recognize certain limited classes of recursive patterns. And this proves … what exactly?

It's moderately interesting, but hardly startling. Or if startling, only in the way that it was initially startling to find that some birds can imitate human sentences. But once you think about it, it would be startling that an animal that can imitate sounds could not imitate human speech. And it would be startling if the human brain were the only one in the animal kingdom with the capacity to recognize recursive patterns.

No, there is nothing in Gentner's experiments that weighs on the question of whether animals have language. This should be obvious since the research is on starlings and no one is claiming that starlings have language. But Dr. Gentner tries to fool us about one of the factors that makes human speech unique. He claims that one of the distinctive marks of human language is that it is a center-embedded language. In fact, human language is far more complex than center-embedded. Even if you only consider syntax (what makes a well-formed sentence, regardless of meaning) human language is more complex than center-embedded. To see what I mean, consider the examples:
(1) The hat falls to the floor.
(2) The floor falls to the hat.
Both of these sentences are well-formed, but one of them is a meaningful sentence and one is not. But in the real world, things are often more complicated than the idealization, and in the real world, there is no sharp distinction between meaning and syntax. Meaning can actually change the way you parse a sentence to see if it is well-formed. Consider
(3) Time flies like an arrow
(4) Fruit flies like a banana.
In the first sentence the subject is "Time" and the verb is "flies". In the second sentence, "flies" is part of the subject and the verb it "like". To decide how these sentences fit the pattern of an English sentence, you need a language far more powerful than merely center-embedded.

So the existence of certain limited pattern recognition in birds does not show anything about whether human language is unique or not. Actually, even much more complicated pattern recognition would not bear on the issue.

As to the other paper, this post is long enough so I'll just observe that people have known for millennia that animals signal to each other and that they have different signals for different events, and people have known for millennia that animals can be taught dozens (occasionally hundreds) of signals. The only thing new about this paper (if you take the author's interpretation of the results at face value which I don't) is that prairie dogs seem to be born with a sizeable vocabulary. Of course, humans are not born with any vocabulary, so the significance to human-like languages is a bit of a stretch.