Category Archives: I Pandora

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."

Scientific Orthodoxy: The Modern Inquisition

Note: This article is not necessarily about what is actual truth is in any given comparisons. Instead, it is comparing the methods and attitudes of those holding power and in control both inside and outside the scientific community.

Try drawing a comparison between social and cultural entities today and those that existed in the past, and you may find some are more uncomfortable than others. Not “uncomfortable” that they don’t fit, but “uncomfortable” because we are used to looking at the world certain ways, and the way we look at the world and the way it really is are not necessarily the same thing, and sometimes that difference, though still apparent, is not a good thing.

Take, for instance, modern scientific orthodoxy.

Orthodoxy (n): Authorized or generally accepted theory, doctrine, or practice.

What everyone believes and what is really true aren’t necessarily the same time. They might be, but one is no guarantor of the other.

Egg colors

It wasn’t too many years ago that eggs were bad. Eggs had cholesterol and cholesterol, we were told, was bad. There were signs on billboards “Give eggs a break!” and we were encouraged to eat no more than 2 eggs per week. This represented the scientific orthodoxy. Then we discovered that dietary cholesterol had less affect on levels in the body than we had previously though. Now eggs were good. “Give eggs a break” disappeared.

But what do we really know about eggs, about dietary and internal levels of cholesterol? Are we really at the end of this path? Have we really discovered everything there is to know about these little shell-wrapped packages of undeveloped avians, reptiles, and invertebrates?

Cholesterol (n): a compound of the sterol type found in most body tissues, including the blood and the nerves. Cholesterol and its derivatives are important constituents of cell membranes and precursors of other steroid compounds, but high concentrations in the blood (mainly derived from animal fats in the diet) are thought to promote atherosclerosis.

The point isn’t whether we were right then or right now, the point is that there was a point at which people in positions of control and power knew one thing, and these attempted to foist their will and knowledge on us. Then they were shown wrong and some others (or possibly the same people) told us it was OK to eat as many eggs as we liked pretty much, just so long as we didn’t use bacon grease, butter, or any other saturated fat to cook them.

“Use Margarine”, they said. Yea, it’s a trans-fat (meaning it was an unsaturated fat converted to a saturated fat by the process of hydrogenation), but it used to be unsaturated and that’s what counts. Saturated fats, like butter, bacon grease, and other things were never “good” and so can’t be healthy ever, while something that used to be “good” before it was made a little worse to gain stability and flavor should still retain some goodness.

Hydrogenation: to combine or treat with hydrogen, especially to add hydrogen to the molecule of an unsaturated organic compound.

Once again, people who knew, who had power, or the ears (or pockets, it really doesn’t matter which) of people in power, told us what was what. The orthodoxy was now that we ought to use shortening instead of lard, margarine instead of butter. There were signs, stories, articles, campaigns and programs, all geared around convincing mamacitas in their cucinas toss the lard and use the Crisco (which name has always reminded me of San Francisco, for some odd and unexplained reason).

Bacon and Butter

Sacramento restaurant Bacon and Butter

Then we learned that saturated fats are healthier than trans because the naturally occurring saturated fats don’t lower what we think are the healthier lipoproteins in the body the way trans-fats do. Now there’s a new scientific orthodoxy, but this is a good one, because it’s now OK to use butter and lard and bacon grease and all those good things. So it’s OK.

Scientific orthodoxy isn’t limited to dietary concerns. Another big issue for most of the last 20 years has been “global warming”. Al Gore, former vice president of the United States, inventor of the Internet, and love novel inspiration, has spewed countless greenhouse gases jetting countless miles from one party to another sharing the inconvenient truth that polar bears can’t swim as far as they used to, but that they’re still really cute and their pictures are good for charities’ and political movements’ bottom lines.

Global Warming (n): a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants.

Bigwigs have documents signed by lots of smart people saying cow farts are bad, car farts are worse, and beach front property will be opening shortly in Arizona because of all those farts, and, most importantly, the only way to stop all those nice Arizonans’ property values from going up so much is for us all to give lots more money and power to government so they can give money and power to people who do cool things with electricity and batteries and who kill birds with giant pinwheels. Other smart people say this ain’t so, but these don’t appear to have as many greased-pocket-connected ears as the others, and so they are called “deniers” and laughed at.

This brings up the darker side of the scientific orthodoxy and the part that compares most discomfortingly with some of the darker histories of power throughout human history. Any group in power necessarily seeks its own continuation. Within the democratic republic of the United States, this generally takes a more subtle approach than it has elsewhere around the world and throughout history. Because a President is forbidden from staying in direct power beyond a certain amount of time, each President works to secure their “legacy” while they can, which will guarantee their future invitations to important parties and engagements. This will also explains why previous Presidents are rarely, if ever, investigated and prosecuted for their involvement in any scandals rising to criminal status, as subsequent Presidents want also to be free of such investigation when the climate has changed and they’re no longer being feted at every turn. (I learned that bit from the Hunger Games). But it is the same goal: retention of whatever power can be retained.

Inquisition: an ecclesiastical tribunal established by Pope Gregory IX c. 1232 for the suppression of heresy. It was active chiefly in northern Italy and southern France, becoming notorious for the use of torture. In 1542 the papal Inquisition was re-established to combat Protestantism, eventually becoming an organ of papal government.

At times throughout history, different parties representing different aspects of knowledge, society, and culture, have held differing levels of power. At one time it was “the Church” that held most power in the world. While they did, there were good things accomplished and bad things done, all in the name of The Church, and things done in the name of God which brought shame to His Name instead of the glory those human actors thought they were bringing.

We moderns like to look back and shudder at the horrors and laugh at the idiots of those benighted times. We think we know everything today and don’t pause to consider just how benighted we still might be and how harshly future generations will judge us for our own foibles and what they’ll doubtless see as gropings just as blind as those we laugh at in our own distant past.

We don’t take the time to consider what we don’t know. We trust blindly, just as the populace of dark years past did, in the platitudes and excuses of those in power. We sit idly by as the powerful persecute and prosecute those attempting to speak truth to power.

You and I consider ourselves mini-Galileos, watching Cosmos and reading Cosmo, when we have much more in common with the ignorant illiterates filling the pews of the Church Corrupt of the 14th century, hitting “like” on real people’s real needs and moving passively on.

Meanwhile the Church Corrupt of our age, those who control what are the authorized and generally accepted truths, exercise great and increasing levels of power and control. Say what you will about the success or failure of a nationally standardized education system: it makes teaching orthodoxy easy. Controlling what people are taught is important to raising up people who will continue to support The Powers That Be, accepting their words and actions without criticism or investigation.

Standardize (v): cause something to conform to a standard.

ManipulatedThe Church Corrupt of our age does not use their power and control to further knowledge, possibly in tacit acknowledgment that theirs is not the actual truth, probably in fear that it is not, but instead uses it to extend its control and further its power both by mind control as mentioned previously, and also by persecution of those who question it. Certainly, people are not put to death by the scientific orthodoxy as we have been led to believe they were by the Inquisition, but the pain of death lasts but for a minute, while unjust discrediting, blackballing and blackmailing, last for a lifetime, and when other powerful entities such as government and media join in the persecution, the result can be life worse than death for those who pursue the true goals of science and the real paths of honest investigation.

One clear difference we have today is that information simply cannot be held down as it could be 400 years ago. Monolithic authorities and entities of power are at much greater danger than they were then, yet at the same time the same systems that convey information so freely and democratically today enslave those they reach with mind-numbing gluts and stultifying entertainments. Instead of searching for true bits of knowledge in the information stream, we’re dead men watching.

We’re dead men watching.

Toledo-Police-Memorial-Al-Cavanaugh

The Officer’s Duty

Law enforcement has a hard job, made doubly so because those they are sworn to protect the law-abiding against are not constrained by the laws officers must uphold.

Officers of the law must track and apprehend the lawless while themselves remaining within the bounds of the law at all times. While police officers breaking the law while chasing the bad guys makes for good TV, movies and dramas alike, it negates the law they are sworn to uphold.

Police Officers

In this country, and all the freer countries around the world, it is the fact that the law is an absolute authority, that there is no one, no matter how high or powerful, who is not constrained by its dictates, that makes those countries free. When all people are equal before the law, there can be equality.

But when officers, who are sworn to uphold the law, break the law, even for purposes we may rationalize and agree with, they must be doubly punished, for they are leaders and are held both to slavish obedience to the law, and to enforcement for the protection of all those who abide by it.

In other words: mind the Constitution, policemen and women. We citizens have our rights. It may be frustrating when we fail to obey you, but you are not the law, and we are not compelled to obey any command given by you if the power to make that command is not explicitly granted in the laws drawn up by our representatives. You serve and exist at our behest, for our protection, and the protection of our rights and property. Power trips and petty scrabblings which end up with our going to jail without legal justification can and should end up with you paying a strict penalty.

sd-police-officer-t-shirtspng-e2eb18844515cf0f

I support law enforcement. They have a hard and dangerous job as guarantors and protectors of my freedom. They are often unappreciated by those they serve. I will do my best to make sure the officers of the law have the resources they need to carry out their necessary work effectively and as safely as possible. But when they overstep their bounds and become not a protector of the law, but a law to themselves, with their own pride and power as their ultimate goal, then shall earn nothing except a quick trip to jail or whatever other punishment is commensurate to their crime.

With Friends Like These

With Friends Like You

A few days ago I received an issue tracking survey email from Chuck DeFeo at the Republican National Committee that began with the sentence:

At the RNC, we’re always working on ways to grow and strengthen our party.

Well Chuck, I looked at your survey and found it pointless and repetitive, so let me share with you a few ideas.

First, it’s about the Country, not the Party. Want people to like the Republican party? Make the Republican party about the United States. Friend of my friend, and all that.

Next, we’ve seen what “principled conservatives” like John Boehner and his ilk have done, and frankly I’m over that term, especially when it’s coming from the elephants mouth.

I do not think it means what you think it meansYou had a grassroots movement thrust into your lap. A vibrant and effective movement that was looking for partners, not controllers, and the GOP went and mucked that up to the point there’s an effective third part that is only nominally Republican, and getting more and more fed up with even that tenuous connection.

The reason? The GOP is not about about Constitutionally limited government. It’s not about conservatism. It’s not about freedom or liberty. Oh, it pays great lip service to them, but they aren’t really guiding principles. It seems they’re being used more to placate and control a voting bloc which are then manipulated to your own preferred ends.

Think this means I’m jumping ship to the (D) side? Not a chance. Everything bad about the Republican party is magnified 10 times worse for Democrats. That’s the party of the nakedly powerful manipulating and controlling and enslaving the weakest to increase their own power. Republicans are the party of those desirous of power or content in mediocre levels of power trying to control the middle class to keep them in power. Also, the Republican party at least pays lip service to freedom and liberty, while the Democrats stopped doing that years ago.

What it does mean is that I’m not enthused, not excited, not interested, and not particularly hopeful of our chances. With bumbling idiots like you and your pals in the driver’s seat, who needs Democrats.

You don’t get technology. You don’t understand branding and the marketing of ideas. You can’t conceive of any idea that began outside the paneled rooms of the upper echelons of party power. Democrats won the last TWO Presidential elections because they were able to manipulate those at the bottom into supporting yet another upper cruster by thinking it was their own ideas embodied in Mr Obama. I like Romney and think he would have made a fine executive, but once again, since he had friends like y’all, he had no need of enemies.

The only purpose to engaging minority communities is to welcome them into the melting pot. We love their food, most aspects of their cultures, their character, their skills, their passion for liberty that far exceeds our own. We don’t need them to remain outside, separate, different.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
~Emma Lazarus

The United States was and is a nation of immigrants. Sure there are some who want the border locked down tight, and they have good arguments, but they’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Yes, there are some who want to benefit from the very cheap labor these new and frightened people are willing to give up for the appearance of success. The first rule of immigration has to be: It has to be easy and safe and fast. This means removing bureaucratic bloat and testing and retesting each aspect of the process for efficiency and efficacy. There should be no reason for people to come here illegally because we should welcome any and all legally and openly. The penalties for illegal immigration should be just and fast. These people are not our citizens and are not owed any Constitutional privileges. Make the process just, make it fair, and make it safe, but make it about the rule of law. When the door is wide open, punishing those who still refuse to use it regains it’s moral legitimacy.

Armed Liberty

The GOP can be the party of a strong defense (offense has become offensive, good or bad) by being vocally and effectively protective of any and all US citizens endangered overseas.

The Constitution doesn’t need to be protected, it needs to be applied. Applied with judicial and legislative force. Applied brutally. The government has become brutal in its overreach and it hurts everyone it touches. It must be beaten back with equal force and vigor.

You can’t reform entitlement spending because the very idea that people are entitled to something is bunk, false, and results in theft. You can only end it. Cut it, by significant margins. By real margins instead of the fake margins we’ve been lead along with for the last two decades.

You’ve let yourself get bogged down in squabbling and in-fighting while we out in the trenches, in the real world, who have to live according to the dictates of your political operatives and political failures, face the brunt of each and every assault on our freedoms, our pocket books, our lives and families and property. And it’s not like the Democrats haven’t given you golden opportunity after golden opportunity. They’re the party of the gaffe, the flub, the out-of-touch snobbish elite who thinks his jet-set lifestyle is normal and acceptable.

Victor Davis Hanson has some good advice that I’ll leave you with:

To survive, Republicans must go on the offensive and point out that their accusers never live the lives they advocate for others. Liberal feminists seem to be John Edwards and Bill Clinton. Liberal men of the people are Al Gore, John Kerry, and Jon Corzine. Their populists who deplore outsourcing, offshore accounts, and non-unions are Apple and Facebook grandees who embrace all three. White privilege is not the fate of the West Virginian or West Texan working at Target, but the tiny, inbred old-boy and old-girl world of prep-school to Ivy League to the insider pull of Dad and Mom to land up with a phoned-in job in journalism, politics, finance, entertainment, the arts, and academia on the East and West coasts, followed by pro forma praise of diversity — for others. Open-borders zealots have their children behind the walls of private academies.

Surely there is a populist case to be made — or is the Republican establishment to manage a permanent, sober, and judicious out-party, as it is demagogued to death by the privileged?

Victor Davis Hanson, A Beat-up, Exhausted, and Terrified Republican Establishment

http://freelancefolder.com/myths-half-truths-and-other-freelance-lies/

Myths That Won’t Die: Sex Trafficking And The Super Bowl

While no one disputes the idea that any sex trafficking is too much sex trafficking, and that people caught in that evil trade are usually there unwillingly, there is ample reason to dispute what has become an annual refrain: that the Super Bowl attracts the highest level of sex trafficking.

Like the lie that domestic violence is highest on Super Bowl Sunday, this claim seems targeted at sports-loving men. Those animals!

Some attribute the genesis of this lie to then Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (now a candidate for Texas Governor) who, in 2011, said that the Super Bowl is “commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States.” However, others have noted these stories go back at least 2 years earlier.

But there simply isn’t any evidence this is actually the case.

From The Gospel Coalition: FactChecker: Super Bowl Sex Trafficking and Other Myths

Human trafficking is one of the greatest evils of our age. But contrary to the claim of Abbott — and journalists who repeat the claim every year — there is no evidence that sex trafficking increases during the Super Bowl.

According to the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, police departments in cities hosting the Super Bowl deny that sex trafficking increases around the game:

2008: Phoenix police Sergeant Tommy Thompson: “We may have had certain precincts that were going gangbusters looking for prostitutes, but they were picking up your everyday street prostitutes. They didn’t notice any sort of glitch in the number of prostitution arrests leading up to the Super Bowl.”

2009: Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis: “We didn’t see a huge influx in prostitutes coming into Tampa. The arrests were not a lot higher. They were almost the same.”

2010: Miami police said they arrested 14 for prostitution. Those figures are not uncommon for large cities during a seven-day period, experts said.

2011: Public information officer Sherri Jeffrey with the Dallas Police Department: There were “zero arrests for trafficking in the time frame surrounding the Super Bowl.”

Sports on Earth: The Sex Trafficking Super Bowl Myth

The persistence of the Super Bowl sex-trafficking myth can be credited to the theatrical quality of its anecdotes. McCain’s activism originated with an experience she had while shopping in Calcutta. She heard noises under the shop floor and looked down. “I could see all these little eyes looking up at me, and I realized it was probably 30 little girls, looking up through the floorboards at me,” she said. “I realized at that time that it was very serious, and these girls were either enslaved or being trafficked, but the kicker was [that] I walked out of that shop, and I never did anything.” Afterwards, McCain approached Arizona governor Jan Brewer to propose taking action on trafficking, and the state’s Task Force on Human Trafficking was created.

The Wire: The Super Bowl Sex-Trafficking Story That Just Won’t Die

In 2012, The Houston Press’s Peter Kotz thoroughly tore apart that story, explaining that law enforcement officials in the cities where past Super Bowls occurred never actually saw increases in prostitution busts or the number of trafficked prostitutes, even despite increased efforts to catch johns, pimps, and traffickers. “We didn’t see a huge influx in prostitutes coming into Tampa. The arrests were not a lot higher. They were almost the same,” a Tampa police spokeswoman said in 2009, and a police spokesperson in Phoenix said in 2008 that there was nothing out of the ordinary: “We may have had certain precincts that were going gangbusters looking for prostitutes, but they were picking up your everyday street prostitutes,” and not foreign women “imported” for the event.

National Post: Sex and the Super Bowl: Is the big game really a magnet for prostitution and human trafficking?

“This myth trivializes trafficking … and wastes needed resources that could be used to actually address trafficking,” said Julie Ham, author of a 2011 study on human trafficking and major sporting events for the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women.

“This is part of a larger moral panic about trafficking, which reduces all trafficking to sex. All trafficking is not about sex,” said Pardis Mahdavi, professor in anthropology at Pomona College, Cal., whose research focuses on human trafficking.

Hypocrite

There Are No Exceptional Sins

Ask yourself this: Do you consider some sins worse than others?

Then consider this: What is sin, and how might one sin qualitatively or quantitatively exceed another?

Sin is rather simply defined as a transgression of God’s law. God has given instruction, and we act contrary to His instruction. That’s sin.

What is the result, the wage, for sin? Death. Not simply the end of life here on earth, but an eternal death for our eternal soul. Eternal absence from God, and not just absence, but separation; an enforced absence that cannot be remedied.

If sin is the transgression of God’s instruction, and the wage of all sin is death, then how can there be levels, or grades, of sin? How can one sin be more “saintly” than another.

Now ask yourself again: Do I consider certain sins to be worse than others?

There are verses that speak specific cautions regarding certain groups of sins, and we in modern American evangelicalism and fundamentalism find these groups of sins nicely coincide with our own favorite lists of to-be-specially-demonized sinners: drinking, sexual immorality (especially homosexuality), and… that’s it.

The temperance movement used intemperate (imagine that) hermeneutics and loose theologies to turn one of God’s special blessings of love for His children into an inherently sinful pastime comprised entirely of addicts and not-yet-addicts.

The culture sweeping sexuality under the rug made any deviance not just another sin, but a special sin, and Paul’s abundant warnings in scripture were just as misinterpreted as other passages to support the special sin category for these sins.

What we’ve forgotten is that sexuality is an inherent part of our lives and our selves, comprising key aspects of how we relate to each other. Our mores say less about sex and much, much more about our cultural hangups.

What we’ve also forgotten is that Paul never said homosexual or any other sexual sin was any worse than any other sin.  Paul dealt with cultures that were dealing with a rise in homosexual behaviors much like we are today, and he gave clear warning that homosexuality is a sin, just like it is today. Not THE sin, not a special sin. A friend tried to argue that because homosexual behavior is especially prone to certain medical issues, that was evidence for God’s especial dislike for those who participate in that lifestyle. But stresses and excesses and many other unbalanced and unchristian behaviors have accompanying medical issues as well, and yet somehow we accept the glutton and the cad and reject others.

There is no special ring of hell reserved for the sexual deviant. The homosexual is just as much a sinner as the unfaithful heterosexual. In fact, the base status of sexual relations, the only blessed and sanctified and acceptable state of sexual relations is between the married woman and her male spouse, and the married man and his female spouse. Any deviance from any of these particulars is sin, and to reject one of the particulars is just as sinful as to reject each of the particulars.

The status of a Christian is not that they do not sin, it is not that they have not sinned. The status of a Christian is that they are relying on God’s grace to forgive them of their sin and to aid their avoiding sin, and to come alongside in their repenting sin. We are, each and every one of us, still sinners. Yet for those of us who are saved, we are characterized not by our own sin, but by God’s everlasting grace.

So ask yourself: Are there really any exceptional sins?