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Common Sense and the sensus communis: anatomy of an American pressure cooker

romesenate1

Gay-Lussac

The pressure of a fixed mass and fixed volume of a gas is directly proportional to the gas’s temperature.

This relationship is known as the Gay-Lussac’s Law and a pressure cooker is an example of the law in practice. Cooking under pressure creates the possibility of cooking with high temperature liquids because the boiling point of a liquid increases as its pressure increases. High pressure and high heat can result in delectable dishes.

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Cooking under pressure can be also dangerous because as liquids change phase into gases their volume expands greatly. For example, at atmospheric pressure the volume of steam is about 1700 times greater than the volume of water. To prevent pressure cookers from becoming bombs, relief devices (pop safety valves) are employed that are capable of relieving all of the steam the vessel is capable of producing.

America the Beautiful Pressure Cooker

The political pressure cooker is beginning to heat up. The power brokers and institutions that drive the nation have arrived unannounced on the doorsteps of America like a gaggle of unwanted, high maintenance relatives that demand hospitality for an unforeseeable time and that won’t take no for answer. Furthermore, they’ve announced that more relatives are on the way. Whatever plans America’s householders had, they’ve just gone out the window, with their household budgie and the relatives’ cat in hot pursuit.

People are justifiably angry with this incursion. Their budgie might not have been much, but it was “their budgie”, nurtured from birth into what it had become. Justifiably angry householders are trying to work out why the relatives arrived on their doorsteps and why they brought their fucking cat. Continue reading

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A Conversation on Race: Let’s Not

CB001871 On Sunday Night during the VMAs, one of my favorite singers, Taylor Swift, a pop country singer just a few months older than me who writes and performs her own songs, was giving her acceptance speech after winning the Best Female Video of the Year Award, when Kanye West randomly appeared on the stage, took her award from her, and declared that she didn’t deserve it, explaining, “Beyonce had the best video of the year!” Taylor Swift went back stage and cried, and since then Kanye West has apologized to her, but not before his behavior became a subject of controversy.

Most people deduced reasonably that regardless of whether Kanye thought Taylor deserved the award (It’s called: “You Belong With Me” is the most adorable video ever and Taylor deserved the honor hands down, but whatever), it was not reason enough for him to leap on the stage and make a public idiot of himself. Most people came out in support of Taylor, acknowledging that what Kanye did was despicable and disrespectful.

This is a reasonable, mature conclusion.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much to change the atmosphere in this country. Because Jimmy Carter was right, we are a Racist Nation. But not for the reasons he thinks we are. You see, when Joe Wilson screamed “You Lie!” during the President’s speech on Sunday night, he was not being racist, he was simply being an imbecile. Any person not paying attention to the color of the President’s skin would have seen this. They would have heard representative Wilson’s outburst, logically concluded, “What a tool,” and Representative Wilson would have been ignored, as all blathering idiots should be ignored, thus Representative Wilson would not have gotten a week of free press coverage, thus reporters would have instead covered the president’s Health Care speech (which is kind of, oh… I don’t know… THEIR JOBS) and things would be slightly better with the world.

(In an even better world, cable news talking heads and the MSM would also realize that no one takes boobs like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Joe Wilson seriously and would therefore not pay attention to a word they say, thus taking the public debate away from Health Care Reform, Afghanistan, and the Economy, but you can’t have everything, and unfortunately this is not Walgreens.)

We are not a racist nation because people like Joe Wilson illicitly scream, “YOU LIE!” during presidential speeches. Calling someone a liar is not racist, it is calling someone a liar. I myself have called people of all races and ages liars. For example, when the white woman in the Pantene Pro V Shampoo Commercial says that she is a Professional Cosmo and she uses Pantene all of the time, I scream “YOU LIE!” at her. But I do not call her a liar because of the color of her skin, I call her a liar because most Cosmos are brainwashed in beauty school to believe that they can only use Salon Products to maximize profits for the Parlors that train them. Thus, a Hair Stylist would never tell people to use Pantene Pro V unless she was being paid large sums of money. Whether she is liar or not isn’t irrelevant to the color of her skin because when you are calling someone a liar, you are questioning their honesty and character, not implying that they are inferior because of their skin color. Simple Pimple.

I believe it was Martin Luther King Jr. who dreamed of a world where little white girls and little black girls could hold hands and play together without anyone thinking anything of it. I believe he told us to judge a person not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character. Kanye West demonstrated poor character on Sunday Night. He is Black. George W. Bush demonstrated poor character for eight years. He is white. Margaret Cho IS a character. She is Asian. Taylor Swift Demonstrated Good Character all this week. She is white. Beyonce demonstrated good character on Sunday Night. She is Black. As you can see, these folks do not have good or bad character because of their race, they have good or bad character because they have good or bad character and should be judged as human beings, not members of race or ethnicity.

To be perfectly honest, I do not need to be lectured about race relations by rich white “liberals” *eye roll* descended from slave owners, who have never seen a black person in their lives. By screaming that I am “RACIST” every time I criticize the President on policy grounds, they are diffusing their argument and in fact proving themselves to be racist. If they were truly as blind to his race as they claim to be, they would see him as a human being with flaws, triumphs, failures, hopes, dreams. They would recognize that he is not “America’s First Black President” but a President who has many responsibilities to the American people, and therefore would hold him accountable to those responsibilities at all times.

America is indeed, a racist country, because we continue to have “a conversation on Race.” I don’t care what race a person is, and I do not want to have a conversation about it. I want to have a conversation about last night’s episode of True Blood or Kohl’s big blow out sale at the end of this month. If you see a person as your equal or your better, you talk to them as you would anyone else. Therefore you do not walk up to them and say, “Oh, hey! Let’s have a conversation about your race.” I wouldn’t even say something like that to my cat. That is just plain common sense.

America needs to move forward and leave the bloody stains of slavery and segregation behind us. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. If we can learn to look at each other as people instead of black people, Hispanic people, gay people, and Trannie people, that beautiful dream of his just might come true one of these days.

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Is it absurd to try to weather the storm?

stormIs it beyond our ken to maintain a noble purpose as we guide our battered ships of state through the dark shadows of this mild squall of an economic crisis? Whom of us will risk life and limb to keep the ships afloat? Who will cast away possessions for the same purpose? Who will act to subvert these sacrifices? How will the storm weather us, as we weather the storm?

I ask these question because these darkling foreshadows are pallid compared to those that will attend the forthcoming Category Six typhoon of environmental collapse. How will that storm weather us, if we weather the storm? Given the tendency of people to adopt default positions in crisis situations, how we perform now, should give us some indication of how we’ll perform in much more dire circumstances.

Curiously, given the introduction, the point of this post is not to delve into the ugliness which portends. The point of this post is to ask the question, “How should we behave when faced with the absurdity that the cultural virtues that we cherish undermine the existential preconditions of our culture?” In other words, what does a wine-inspired poet do, when he finds that greater amounts of drink are fueling his muse, but not curing his cirrhosis and, in fact, killing him?

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It’s Time to Downsize the US

Alexander_cuts_the_Gordian_KnotIn difficult circumstances, such as the current economic crisis, it’s normal to work out how one got there as a means to avoid repeating the process. In the current situation, the discussion seems to range between those who feel that the situation is already working itself out, to those who feel that structural dangers remain and proper regulation is required, to those who feel that the problems were the result of regulation and government programs in the first place.

Count me somewhat on the side of the last group. I say somewhat because I think that the problem has to with the inappropriateness of the regulations that were employed, but unlike them I do not think that the problem is humans using morals and reason to regulate the marketplace. In other, more localized, words, I reject the notion that the Tenth Amendment prohibits spending programs and regulations.

My sense is that the regulations that were deployed to prevent economic disaster were structurally and functionally inadequate because they half-heartedly represented the Great American Project as manifest in the Constitution of the United States. The problem with the regulations wasn’t that they were half-hearted. That half-heartedness is symptom of the larger problem. They were structurally and functionally inadequate because the US can no longer afford to provide its citizens the rights and freedoms guaranteed in its Constitution. The regulations failed because they had a relationship to expectations that are suited to an America that does not exist, in an economic sense. The problems with the public education system, illegal immigration, crime and punishment, and social security, to name a few, are all relatively easy to solve, once the very costly, burdensomeness of the Constitution is overcome. It’s time for America to wake up and downsize its’ dream, the dreams of its citizens, and smell the aroma of the box store, bulk size, generic coffee reality that its best and its brightest have packaged for Uncle Sam’s future.

Downsizing America

Given the economic realities of the new US of A, what aspects of the American vision should no longer be seen as part of the covenant between the citizens and their government? A quick look at some fundamentals of democracy should provide some context about what avenues should be open to being cut. Then the process of contracting out the bureaucratics to the private sector can begin. This said, these are preliminary thoughts, so all that I will provide is a rough and general sketch.

Democracy is expensive and inefficient, even when it’s practised by politicians who are not neo-conservative Republicans. This is unsurprising by design. After all, it’s said that, in an ideal democracy, the populace is educated, they have access to all of the information they need to make a good decision, and they are free to make that decision. How does this ideal fare when it faces the real world?

Immediately, one is struck by the gross redundancy in the ideal system. Providing that much information to so many amounts to an excessive effort for minuscule return. The set of possible decisions for any question is extremely limited, given the options for action, and polling research has already proven that we only need small sample populations to get the gist of what people want. In fact, given the history of their wants, and given the nature of the question, there is probably no need to poll them further because it should be derivable from past decisions. The cost savings to be gained by dismantling the information network should be substantial. Mainstream media can remain as is.

The efficacy of sampling also suggests a direction for schooling provision. Once again, the system is entirely redundant. Imagine, though it’s a laughable thought, that a university degree was all the education one needed to be capable of making good decisions. What do you think it would cost to bring the 71% of Americans who do not have a degree, into the range of democratic competence? How could it possibly be worth the cost? In fact, apart from the decreasing number of specialty jobs that actually require a well-schooled employee, there is no good reason to maintain anything, but a shell of the existing system, apart from creating athletes for the circus part of social diversion. This is because we can use the same polling methodology and randomly choose children from the masses to receive schooling similar to the one that is provided today, and then poll them to find what the rest would have wanted, if they had the schooling.

Given the earlier recommendation of using past polling to extrapolate their wants, this process is admittedly redundant, but it does double duty in terms of providing training for the small percentage of jobs that actually require advanced schooling. Then again, perhaps it is wasteful to randomly select children, as this disregards the advantages of choosing children who are more likely to do well at university, based on their family background. Given past polling, it’s probably best to err on the side of efficiency. The point to take here is that there is no value in giving people more schooling than they need to do the small range of relatively unskilled jobs that await them. Furthermore, think of the dissatisfaction that is avoided when people don’t have enough education to be hired below their level of training.

If the vast majority of people are no longer making decisions, then there’s no reason to prop up the facade that they actually are involved in decision-making. If voter turnout is any indication, many will appreciate avoiding the exercise. To be fair, eternal vigilance is an unwieldy burden to bear, if the only benefits people accrue is to not have decisions made for them by their betters.

In fact, if they are not needed for decision-making, their representatives are redundant for the same structural reasons. The cash to be gained, by trading in the clunker of a public decision-making structure, should be sigificant.

All of these actions would save the economy trillions and once again put America front and center as an economic powerhouse, through the tax dollars it would free up and save. At the same time, it would give Americans a leg up on the rest of the developed/undeveloping world, by readying its citizens for a life of diminished possibilities long before the others face the challenge, should they.

The Constitution is in the way of progress in the US, to the extent it promotes the values of the ideal democracy. Perhaps it was prescient to send home Churchhill’s bust because his notion that “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”, seems to have gone bust for America.

chrwsbwp

This is “a frayed thread” in honor of GW’s administration crying wolf at election time.

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Can Honour Killing In Muslim Communities Be Ended Through Islam?

Recent events in the United States and Canada, in which fathers and families treat their daughters in an inexcusable manner, compel me to release this draft of an incompletely distilled paper. I apologize for its length, but the topic is not amenable to a series of posts, and it may offer some understanding as to why these practise exist and what might be done to change them.

Aqsa Parvez was strangled to death in her Mississauga home, Peel police said today.
An autopsy revealed the cause of death as “neck compression.” The 16-year-old was taken to hospital Monday morning after a man called police and said he killed his daughter. She died later that night. Friends told reporters that Aqsa fought with her Muslim family over whether or not to wear the hijab. She often stayed overnight with friends, afraid to go home, they said. Her father, Muhammad Parvez, 57, appeared in court today and will face either a first- or second-degree murder charge. He was denied bail and remanded into custody until a hearing via video link on Jan. 29.

Why did Aqsa Parvez’s father strangle her to death? Why is the honour killing of women, over perceived or actual improprietous conduct, a feature of practice among some Muslim communities? Why do these communities enforce such rigourous and strict regulation of women’s conduct? Given that many of these killings violate both the word and the spirit of the Koran and the prophet, why does the practice persist? In this brief essay, I sketch the physical and social conditions that lead to the emergence of the structures that control women’s conduct within the Muslim communities that practice honour killing. I show that the more stringent control structures are artifacts from pre-Islamic Bedouin communities. Furthermore, I demonstrate that the gender-based honour killings that are features of these structures violate Islamic principles and law. In fact, much of the structure of social control goes against the principle that the practice of Islam is a matter of internal conviction. Continue reading