December 05, 2006

Definition : Statist


Statists are those who favor government control. Economic statism shows itself as minimum wage requirements, zoning laws, or limitations of sales, as well as most cases of welfare or other income redistribution. Social statism shows up as banning guns or making a victimless crime illegal.

antonym: small-l libertarian (polite), anarchist (rude)

Ohio Smoking Ban

So, the Statists won the 2006 elections. For those of us in Ohio, this has an interesting two-fold result. I'll leave the 'minimum wage' issues for another post, since we have til January to see the results of that, but one of the more interesting results will come in mere days.

As of December 7th, 2006, any nearly public building, and the entrances to said buildings, will be smoke-free. Actual enforcement is, as of this moment, undecided, but that's certain to be fixed sooner or later, and nothing has stopped statists from placing an unenforcable law before.

It seems simple, in a way. Nothing that could affect nonsmokers. At the very least, it was observed as such : the ban passed by a broad margin.

Of course as any libertarian realizes, small motions have large effects.

Businesses will see a loss in profits. After Columbus first banned smoking in a similar fashion, many businesses began to take remarkable losses. Obviously, those around the Ohio borders will be hardest hit. Yes, smokers will actively choose to eat or drink at home rather than in public areas some times. Gas stations and supermarkets should also expect a drop in prices as devoted tobacco shops (which are immune to the ban) will get a lift in sales, particularly during the winter months. No one wants to be stuck trying a new blend in freezing weather unless they must. Violations - and be sure that there will be - will likely end up with random amounts of money being taken from businesses and dropping into the government piggy bank.

More noticable will the non-economic events.

Roughly one in four Ohio citizens smokes in one form or the other. Those who do not complete high school or college, such as those running service professions, smoke even more often - I've seen numbers as high as one in three. For those who do not smoke, or have not encountered a smoker, the side effects of nicotine withdrawal include : "Stomach problems, Appetite changes, Tingling sensations and dizziness, Problems falling asleep or frequent waking, Difficulty concentrating, and, of course, Irritability and anxiety."
That's going to be a lot of fun to deal with.

And, of course, your property becomes slightly less your property - if you can't smoke there, can you offer fattening food? Wear offensive odors? Talk too loudly?

Talk at all?

November 26, 2006

Breaking Radio Silence.

My apologies for the long space with no posts. I hope to clear this up and have a decent method of creating a forelog, to prevent this from happening again.

Life's been busy, and not in a good way.

August 26, 2006

Definition : Mushin

Mushin no Shin

Translated : "Mind of no Mind".

Originating from Japanese modes of Zen thought, Mushin is a state where actions occur without a thought being required. It is best known for martial arts training, and most references to 'being like water' on the silver screen are related to it, whether the author knew it or not.

While Mushin is most often described and noticed in combat states - likely due to the increased awareness during such things - it can be cultivated and maintained in other areas. In fact, it often manifests in abilities as basic as computer typing and food prep, although such "Everyday Mushin" is often ignored as mundane.

August 24, 2006

Media : Embryonic Stem Cell Research

I'll keep this short, as I have neither the morality to state right or wrong, nor the knowledge to give sermons.

Today's media swarm has noticed an older study showing that embryonic stem cells could be produced without destroying the embryo. In many ways, this is the 'Golden Apple', with all the benefits of totipotent stem cells without the moral muss and fuss of.

Or at least it looks this way, or close enough for the vaunted Instapundit and many other bloggers and all members of the mainstream medias. Unfortunately, there still remains no free lunch.

All stem cell treatments have one major problem, the possibility of host-versus-graft disease, where the immune system fights against the injected cells. It can result in cellular damage, rejection of the donor cells, scarring, and in some cases, death. This results when donor cells are significantly different from those of the host. In bone marrow transplants - the first adult stem cell treatment - this occurred with as small a difference as one genetic base pair off.

This is not an insurmountable problem, but the solutions are far from simple. The most obvious one is also the reason that the ethics of embryonic stem cell research are far from cut and dry : simply make stem cells that match the host genetically.

Doing so will require either accepting therapeutic cloning - farms of embryos produced and destroyed to provide the subject cells - or reproductive cloning, with the same farms producing 'child' after 'child' with inherent cellular degradation.

I can't say if this is right or wrong. But I can say that it leaves ethical issues left to be discussed.

Communityism Vs. Self-Reliance

While I will try to avoid bringing events from my work to this blog, today just bugged the hell out of me. Names have been changed to protect the innocent stupid.

I was working in a vent pulling out decade-old thicknet and, low and behold, a "Priority One" call for tech support to paged in. This isn't rare - at least once a week we get a mid-level manager that doesn't quite understand that his computer needs electricity to work, or a secretary who deletes some of the wrong data. It's usually a nice, quick fix - nearly nine out of ten issues we run into are OSI layer 1 problems : loose cords or no power - and you don't want either of the above waiting.

This specifical call came from a break room, which typically means some type of wireless connection problem. Today wasn't typical, and there weren't any laptops or PDAs in the break room.

Instead, I viewed a nice fire.

While The Company provides styrofoam cups and plastic spoons for our usage (praise the evil overlords and their free caffeine!), it's not unusual for these to be depleted by noon, and as a result, most people bring their own containers. One individual, faced with cold coffee and nothing but the insulating mug she brought and a microwave, decided to combine the three.

Metal, combined with plastic, in a microwave, can lead to some interesting results. This particular situation lead to a small fire which melted the cup completely, and lit several napkins also in the microwave, at least the parts that weren't wet from the drink.

I grabbed a plastic spork, parted the crowd staring at and debating the molten plastic, tossed the whole melted mess in the sink and turned on the water, then stumbled back to work.

So, other than the hidden lesson about keeping a knife concealed unless you need to use it, what's the point of this story? Putting metal in a microwave is a bad accident, but it's just an accident.

Two grown women and five grown men, all of whom had not only graduated from high school but also had a college degree of one form or another, when confronted with a problem with a simple solution, couldn't figure it out in the time it took me to cross half a building. The sort of puzzle that Wile E. Coyote figures out after a stunned two or three seconds. Why did this stumble them so?

I'm not a student of the human mind - I barely have one to call my own. These are smart people. They're certainly smart enough to figure this out. This is Ohio, far from a bastion of either political side, and there was no overwhelming disparity of gender or race. Why?

Communityism. Or, to be more exact, they stared at each other and all, at the same time, asked what the others thought would be a good idea.

When did self-reliance, the ability to solve your own damn problems and only asking for help after you've tried yourself, go the way of the dodo? Why is there this psychological need to disperse potential failure or success across the whole group?

Who started it? I'm sure the schools and both political parties had a part, but they're only means, not an end.

Can we stop this sort of thinking?

August 22, 2006

Laws : Can't Carry Money?

Although not a recent event, the Emiliano Gonzolez's case in the Eighth Circuit Court and resulting decision are well worth the attention of you or I.

The short and ugly truth is that a Mr. Gonzolez, without being charged or convicted of a crime, and without a preponderance of evidence or even proof that a crime had been done, was stripped of his private property permanently under the force of law. For carrying too much money and confusing a police officer, Mr. Gonzolez had 124,700 dollars confiscated. Outside of tortious action, he is not expected to have the currency returned.

In fact, Mr. Gonzolez never went on trial : the actions of the courts were against not he, but 124,700 USD in U.S. Currency.

An obvious violation of the Constitution, 18 USC 242, and common decency. Spread the word, and hope that we can get this sort of vile act stopped. Hat Tip to Xrlq, saysuncle, and countless others.

August 09, 2006

Media : McCain - Feingold

While I'm hopeful that those reading this blog have seen this elsewhere, it doesn't hurt to repeat for emphasis.

Two caveats : first, your ad must brush against McCain-Feingold (by naming a candidate up for election within 60 days), and, secondly, sanity test pending. Yes, I'll even take a Brady Bunch ad or something from PETA, just has to be safe for work and otherwise be 'normal' outside of the timeframe.

McCain-Feingold isn't the single most unConstititional law on the books today. I'd have to give that to the "Violent Crime Control" act, which pretty much tried to erase not just the 2nd Amendment, but also all of the 1st and parts of the 5th. However, McCain-Feingold is not just evil, but also has vast and deep support from the conventional media, who love the potential it holds for further journalistic shield laws for "defenders of free speech" like Al-Rueters, and the ACLU will not consider it dangerous until it is far too late.

If this is going to be stopped, it must be done by those who will benefit most from free speech : the normal populace. The media doesn't want us normal folk stepping on their turf. The politicos love having a huge advantage in any race where the opponent doesn't have major name recognition to start with. And big lobbying groups aren't willing to waste the millions they've spent on grooming a candidate just to help the little guy.

August 08, 2006

Self-Defense : Why Not "Non-Lethal?"

It's not unusual for a gun or knife nut to be asked the question. Coworkers, politicos, or friends, who think that defending yourself with lethal force

So, why not?

  • "Non-lethal" weapons aren't. Chemical sprays can be deadly to individuals with asthma. Tasers have killed people with preexisting heart problems, and multiple applications in a short period of time can do the same to healthy individuals. Blunt weapons can break bones, or, again, kill. That's why manufactors of these tools are trying to get the name "less-lethal" to stick.
  • They aren't always, or even often, effective. Blunt weapons and chemical sprays disable through the application of pain - eventually an opponent is overwhelmed and will do something else to make the pain stop. As a result, they are not effective on those that won't register pain, such as drunks or druggies. Tasers require a conductive surface, and as a result, will 'bounce' off those who are. Low-voltage tasers (under 200kv) will only incapacitate an opponent for seconds, while high-voltage tasers are increasingly risky.
  • Control is significantly more difficult. A can of CS spray can be knocked out of your hands very easily, even in situations where a gun would not be. Many touch tasers sacrifice their grips for increased concealability, and thus you risk tasering yourself. Comparatively, an opponent trying the same thing to a blade will end up ginsuing their own fingers.
  • Legally speaking, using a less-lethal weapon such as CS spray or a taser is battery with a dangerous or deadly weapon depending on state. Use is justified only as self-defense if your opponent has the ability, opportunity, and capability to cause significant harm to you. In short, by the time you are justified in using a less-lethal weapon, you probably need to be using a gun.
So, you pick up a less-lethal weapon and you now have a tool that is not perfectly adapted to your plan of use, at more personal risk, and negate no legal risk. Did I miss anything?

The biggest danger is that individuals will use non-lethal weapons as toys. This is already a significant problem in the police forces, where nearly a hundred individuals have died after the use of tasers, in some situations where the use of force was not justified.

That's not to say less-lethal weapons don't have a place. They're a good option to have. But they can no more replace a gun or knife than a Post-It note can replace a notebook or computer.

August 06, 2006

Media : Civil and Human Rights

Another day, another article where these two differing terms are used as synonyms.

Human Rights are rights which result simply from status as a human. They are free, and apply regardless of citizenship or argueably age. In fact, human rights can not be earned, given, limited, or revoked. They can only be recognized or (in the case of abusive governments) infringed. Human rights usually consist of understood common law, and as a result aren't given much attention -- since everyone knows about them, they're not debated or discussed.
Which human rights are recognized depends greatly on location and politics, but examples include the right to freedom of speech, or the right to self-defense.

Civil Rights are rights that are given by the government to inhabitants, as part of an understood or signed social contract. Typically this only includes citizens, although some other legal inhabitants are given similar social contracts. Civil rights are naturally limited : while you have the right to vote, you only have the right to vote once for a specific election issue, and can be required to register beforehand. While you have the right to not be discriminated against at a job due to race, gender, or other attributes, this right does not extend to those who have violated their social contract in the past.

Those who intentionally confuse civil and human rights do so in order to reduce the understood value of human rights. An attentive reader will note that such people often discuss how the Constitution gives rights stated in the 1st or 2nd Amendment.

Possible reasons, such as to turn all human rights given by nature and the human mind into civil rights dependant on the government, are not very pleasant to think about.