Regulation as a ball and chain

I just came up with this metaphor/simile/analogy/whatever I damn well feel like calling it, for corporate regulation. Imagine corporations out roaming a common pasture. As they graze more they get bigger, and are capable of grazing faster. In order to slow down their destructive grazing we affix a regulatory ball and chain. The problem is that these are all the same size. As the megacorporations go the ball and chain is barely a hindrance to their movement (but they do get to complain about how tight the cuff is). The medium sized corporations see some real resistance from the ball and chain. The small corporations have two choices, they can either slip them and risk getting caught (but grow until they can drag them) or they can just graze in a tiny area around the ball and hope that they don’t starve to death as they go.

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Faith can move mountains

So one of the things that I love to do it to take things that people are foolish enough to say and turn them around, examining different meanings that those words could carry. It’s one of the things I really get my kicks from. So I was thinking about how the type of person who quotes the bible often says:

“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move” Matthew 17:20

Occasionally that sort of person will also say something to the effect of:

“I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” Norman L. Geisler

Along the lines of the old saw that it takes more faith to be an atheist.

Now I’m naturally inclined to reject both of those claims, I think that atheism doesn’t take a particularly large dose of faith (what happens to a person who has no faith?) and I don’t tend to think of faith as being particularly useful to the process of mass scale landscaping. But I had a curious experience when I put these two thoughts together. If we posit that Atheists have more faith, and that that faith has been invested in science and engineering and materialistic investment in the natural world then we can credit the advances in those fields with the faith invested in them. And what we find is that science really can move mountains. So maybe they are right, maybe Jesus was just telling us to all be atheists, and we were too dim to catch it.

Granted, I don’t really think so, but it’s fun to speculate about a way in which these people could be correct rather than incorrect.

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If religion is like circumcision that fact says nothing about either of them.

A popular meme on the facebook.

A popular meme on the facebook.

I’ve been confronted with this claim more than once. The notion is that neither should be done because adults wouldn’t be up for them. I think that it highly faulty logic. I think that there are lots of things that we teach children as children not because children need to know in order to function as, but because humans need to be taught things while they are still plastic and malleable. We make lots of choices that are good for children that they would never choose for themselves at any time. Think of basic hygiene, who would start brushing their teeth if it were completely foreign to them? When the Europeans first started to interact with the Asian’s regularly bathing was completely foreign to them, and they had a hard time integrating with the highly cleanly Asian’s because they hadn’t learned the habits.

Similarly, there are mental habits, critical thinking is far more effectively taught to those too young to appreciate it, or to put up an effective resistance against learning it. As dangerous as throwing around ev. psych just so stories can be I’d like to posit that the reason we are so malleable and impressionable as youth is in order to enable us to learn the things we would fail to learn as jaded adults. Our species has two phases in life, that of an information caterpillar, and that of an information butterfly, and the fact that an information butterfly is not content to munch on leaves does not mean that they aren’t the best thing for an information caterpillar.

I do think that religion poses problems, and that some of them are downright dangerous (while others fall more towards the helpful end of the spectrum) but I do not think that that means that this meme gives us a good reason to oppose anything.

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It’s amazing how the will to contribute can just be sapped right away

I cut my internet teeth on forums. I would rarely post a topic of my own but I really like to look at what someone has written and respond, and then when they tell me I’m wrong build an argument to prove conclusively that they haven’t got a leg to stand on. I find myself working best when I have a proposition to work against, rather than working in a vacuum. I haven’t yet found a realm in the real world where I can really apply this skill but it works well on the internet and despite my tiny tiny blog now growing (and never being written in) I regularly have people contact me on the internet and let me know that they enjoy reading what I have to say.

It’s not that I’m not creative, in a manner, you cannot tear down someones faulty argument without putting another argument in its place, it’s that I miss that tactile feedback that comes from a discussion. I feel like I’m wasting time when I go out of my way to write something that is not in response to someone else. I also feel like I’m at least doing that a little when I have a private discussion rather than a public one. I thrive on that sense of a community gaining from the progress that comes out of a good discussion. I occasionally think that I might be able to build up a head of steam and build a community, and that that community experience would lead to the positive constructive atmosphere, but I never feel that feedback when I’m starting out with a blank slate.

Somehow I’ve got to cultivate the will to contribute to the world, rather than to merely grind the burrs that I see off of other peoples work. I think that bur grinding is important, that’s why I do it, but I think that ultimately cold contribution is more rewarding, if in an ultimate rather than a proximate sense.

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The case for stratification in our school systems

I went to a magnet school when I was young. Outside of the extra busing cost it was totally a fantastic idea, to concentrate the quickest learning students together in one program. I think it was one of the best decisions the school board ever made, and I’d like to see more of it.

The logic for keeping kids together is multipart, one is that they go to school with kids from their neighborhood, another is that the smarter kids will help the less smart kids to catch up.

By splitting children into groups we do hurt the academic success of the duller children, however we don’t need a population homogenized in intellect. We will always need burger flippers and ditch diggers. We will also always need great scientists and engineers and constitutional lawyers and businessmen and inventors. Those burger flippers do need basic education to be able to take care of themselves, but instilling them with a love of Shakespear is not going to improve their quality of life or improve their productivity. It does leave a sour taste in our mouth that we have thrown some innocent children off the bus, but as adults we need to do what is best for society, not what leaves us with out a sour taste in our mouths.

This was the subject of a recent meme that passed around regarding the Finnish education system. The meme falsely claimed that Finnish teachers get paid like doctors (they get paid less, even than American teachers) what it also claimed that they never get standardized testing. To an extent it’s true that they don’t get standardized testing, in the way that we do in America. in elementary and middle school students do not get tested on a regular basis then on middle school they are tested, unlike in America where the tests are regular and do not impact student greatly, in Finnland at testing dictates where you will go to high school. A student who tests well will go on to college preparatory school, well a student test poorly will go on to vocational school. this is so that they use their time and resources more effectively and efficiently. Virtually all of the European and Asian school systems that beat us on a regular basis while standing far far less money to do so rely on the system, or one like it.
We do have some historical baggage to consider unfortunately, before we venture to implement such a system. Unlike the countries that are beating us using this system we have a large minority population that we have historically abused. our country’s history has shown a that what people in power are to be separate but equal is seldom really equal. But the difficulty posed by these historical consideration do not change the overall picture. No matter what there are differences in between individual students and a heterogeneous population will eat a larger audience of education are being delivered the students with the capability to benefit from it the most.

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There is a systematic shift against me? It can’t be bad data, it must be fraud!

Why Do All Election Forecasters, Political Scientists, Academics and Media Pundits Avoid the Systemic Fraud Factor? Was a big heaping bowl full of infuriating inability to understand modeling.

Alaska excluded, a general rule of thumb is that rural areas tend to be more Republican and urban areas tend to be more Democratic. Another general rule of thumb is that an exit pollster is worth more in an urban area, where he or she can collect more data, than they are in a rural area. A pollster at a precinct that gets 2000 voters in a day collects more data than a pollster in a precinct that gets 40 votes on election day. But the whole premise of the above mentioned piece is that all the raw votes collected from the small and biased sample ought to be counted as equally, and that any attempt to correct for the known bias in collection methods is really just an attempt to cover for fraud.

It just goes to show that even a degree in Math doesn’t mean that you understand numbers at all.

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I’ve basically given up

A few months ago I got a comment for approval, it was obviously spam, so I didn’t approve it, but it made a good point. With the low traffic this is basically a public access diary. “Dear Blog, Today jimmy looked at me twice!…”. This had two effects, one the one hand it sapped me of motivation, on the other it explained why I had so little motivation up until that point. It’s hard to justify spending three hours actually writing and proof reading a good blog post about some thought or event or something when it’s just going to be seen by 15 of my closest facebook friends. To further complicate things I’ve gone on a facebook diet and deleted more than half of my facebook friends, drastically reducing the number of audience members that I’m likely to have.

So that’s the state of things, I may or may not continue :/

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