Archive for month: June, 2012

Ramblings on about the Obamacare decision

28 Jun
June 28, 2012

To say that I’m disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare is an understatement on par with saying the Titanic got a little dinged up by that iceberg. Especially how the individual mandate was upheld. It’s okay as long as it’s a tax. Bullshit. It is not an acceptable encroachment of personal liberty to tell me I must buy a product or you will take money from me at the end of a gun. Will I continue to buy health insurance? Yes. It is the financially intelligent thing for me to do at this point in my life. Should I be forced to purchase health insurance? No.

The health care system in America functions well most of the time, but it has some glaring gaps. Those didn’t just happen. Like any good problem, it’s an evolution of choices that is now more than the sum of its parts. The problem is not going to be solved with one radical change. There are too many players that have too many vested interests. Health care in America is a complex organism, much like the human body it is supposed to be treating. Remedying a symptom isn’t going to cure the disease, even if it makes the patient feel better for the moment.

This decision also reinforces my reasons not to vote for Romney. First, a vote for Romney will not guarantee a repeal of Obamacare. Even if the Republicans control both houses of Congress, I don’t see Romney pushing for a full repeal. Like any good statist, he will find a way to make it better. Instead of repealing this monster of regulation and taxation, let’s fix it, because that will make us look good. Second, this decision highlights that the political party of the president is no guarantee that the judges he manages to place on the high-court will be friendly to liberty. Roberts, the swing judge on this decision, was one of Bush II’s placements. Can the president be a barometer of the types of decisions the justice might hand down? Sure, but there has been enough of these types decisions that I don’t put much faith in the idea that any justice from Romney will work to protect my rights under the Constitution.

I won’t go into the heated rhetoric of this decision being the one that sends us plunging into becoming the next communist state or the next Greece. It is another step in that direction. I am convinced we still have time to recover from our socialist delusions that the government must protect us from every misfortune. I just don’t see very much support for it in the current body politic.

Friday Quote – Napoleon Bonaparte

22 Jun
June 22, 2012

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

Napoleon Bonaparte Emperor of France (1805-1814)

Although this quote is in reference to military matters, it also has its uses in arguing a position. As hard as it may be, sometimes it’s best just to let someone ramble while making all sorts of logical fallacies. Your opponent may just show exactly how much of a fool they are or at least let you demolish most of their strong arguments before they can start moving the goal posts further or start switching their attack vectors.

Friday Quote – Thomas Paine

15 Jun
June 15, 2012

“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”

Thomas Paine American Founding Father and author of the Revolutionary-era pamphlet Common Sense.

Common sense tells us to pick our battles. There is little point in arguing with zealots because they are unfazed by the use of logical arguments. It is highly unlikely that anything said will make them stop and re-evaluate their beliefs. FSM knows I used to be like that when I was gripped in the throes of the conservative political dogma.

The only time I know to engage the zealot is when there is a third-party that can be swayed. In one of the great scenes from the movie Thank You For Smoking, the protagonist, Nick is explaining his job as a lobbyist to his son, Joey.

Nick: Okay, let's say that you're defending chocolate and I'm defending vanilla. Now, if I were to say to you, "Vanilla's the best flavor ice cream", you'd say …?
Joey: "No, chocolate is."
Nick: Exactly. But you can't win that argument. So, I'll ask you: So you think chocolate is the end-all and be-all of ice cream, do you?
Joey: It's the best ice cream; I wouldn't order any other.
Nick: Oh. So it's all chocolate for you, is it?
Joey: Yes, chocolate is all I need.
Nick: Well, I need more than chocolate. And for that matter, I need more than vanilla. I believe that we need freedom and choice when it comes to our ice cream, and that, Joey Naylor, that is the definition of liberty.
Joey: But that's not what we're talking about.
Nick: Ah, but that's what I'm talking about.
Joey: But … you didn't prove that vanilla's the best.
Nick: I didn't have to. I proved that you're wrong, and if you're wrong, I'm right.
Joey: But you still didn't convince me.
Nick: Because I'm not after you. I'm after them. (Pointing to by-standers)

We’re not trying to convince the zealots, we’re trying to convince them. The by-standers that will listen to reasoned arguments against the rhetoric. Those who can be swayed.

Anti-Vaccine Proponents – Righteous Fools With a Body Count Part I

13 Jun
June 13, 2012

I find most forms of pseudoscience just annoying. They’re harmful, but ususally just to the practitioner. Someone who wastes their life chasing UFOs or becoming a Scientologist usually just hurts themself. That expands when an adult drags their children into their delusion, but usually someone outside their immediate circle is not directly affected. (I know there are exceptions. There are reasons a generalization is a generalization.)

Then there are the anti-vaccination conspiracy people. Vaccines are one of the true miracles of modern medicine. They have eradicated small pox, one of the deadliest diseases in human history, to the point where the only samples are in laboratories. Unfortunately, vaccines have become a victim of their own success. Since people are not growing up with seeing their friends and family members suffering from the ravages of vaccine-preventable diseases, the idea that the cure is worse than the disease has managed to take root. In this first post dealing with the anti-vaccine propaganda, I will deal with why I think everyone should be required to be vaccinated unless physically unable.

Vaccinations are one of those subjects where I devolve from some of the more rabid wookie-suited libertarians, especially when it comes to those of us who are urban or suburban residents. One of the truisms held among the libertarians is that “your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.” Essentially, the right a person has to do what they want ends when it will reasonably be expected to cause harm to another. How does that fit into the use of vaccines? For that we need a basic of understanding of how vaccines operate in a populace.

Let’s take a normal small sized city of maybe 50,000 people. In that population there are adults, children, elderly, healthy, and sick people. In that 50,000 there are going to be those that physically can’t be vaccinated. The very young or people with compromised immune systems. In order to protect those individuals from the ravages of some horrible diseases, the city will need to develop “herd immunity.” Essentially, this means that when (not if) a disease enters the city, there are enough vaccinated “blockers” between the carrier and the unprotected population that the disease dies before it can reach the unprotected. More importantly, for this herd immunity to work, there needs to be a high number of blockers. For some diseases the threshold may be 75% of the population needs to be vaccinated, but pertussis (whooping cough) requires at least 92% of the population to be vaccinated for herd immunity. Understanding that, if I choose to live in a city with this unprotected population and do not get vaccinated, then my actions can reasonably be expected to put a portion of the population at risk. How many people do I come in contact with during the course of a normal day? How would I know who could be vaccinated and didn’t and who’s immune system couldn’t take vaccinations.

In the next part, I will take on some of the anti-vax propaganda.

Friday Quote – George Bernard Shaw

08 Jun
June 8, 2012

“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”

George Bernard Shaw

What surprises me is less that people dread liberty, but how quickly they will surrender it “for the public good.” They don’t understand that each time they surrender their liberty so that someone else will handle their responsibility, they are giving control to an enitity who may not use it in their interest.

RSS feed

06 Jun
June 6, 2012

The Derek Ward blog was updated so that I could drop in markdown. This may have broken the RSS feed for the blog. Is there anyone else who lost the feed?

Update: It looks like it was that one post. Wondering if it might be the module for using markdown.

Badmoon Rising – Chapter 7 – Weird Stuff Just Happens, Even to Me

05 Jun
June 5, 2012 I woke up in the infirmary of the Guild. The fluorescent lights glared harshly into my eyes. I tried to move my shoulder, but it was bandaged tight. I could smell the wolfsbane mixture used to treat archanal wounds. Moaning from the other stretchers in the room brought me around. The infirmary held twenty stretchers plus an operating room for five. About fifteen were filled, most of the occupants injured badly. I saw some clothing on the green floor next to my stretcher, a black t-shirt, a pair of jeans, socks, and boots. Putting them on, I walked out of the infirmary. As I moved my shoulder, I could feel the tightening and loosening of stitches. I started to step out the door, a hand grasped my good shoulder. Wheeling on the heel of my foot, I turned to face the Guild’s doctor, a short stubby lycanthrope called Burn. I gave him a great deal of respect and not just because he had patched up some of my more serious wounds. Burn had been attending medical school when he was recruited. How he had managed to graduate both medical school and the training camp at the same time amazed me. Read more →