Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Time Travel Pharmacy, for all your time travel needs.
We pick up our mail in the 1800s.

The Emergency Room argument is false. Even people with insurance prefer to go to the emergency room because it's more convenient or they couldn't get a doctor appointment the same or next day.

Mental Multivitamin is tired of being told to Get Real.
Why is it considered more “real” to focus on the difficulty than to focus on the good stuff? I mean, I can’t be the only one who finds it more tiring (and tiresome) to read one narrative after another of the “Life [parenting, marriage, homeschooling, friendship, relatives, etc.] is hard” variety than to read about the triumphs, celebrations, tender moments, and, yes, fun.

Interesting discussion on sewing pattern sizing versus ready-to-wear clothing pattern sizing at Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing. Since last summer I started sewing some of my own clothes, I've learned how little I know about fitting, ease, and vanity sizing.

The Introvert's Corner (at Psychology Today) on introverts, extroverts, and flow state.
I ... doubt any of us do our best thinking in free-for-all brainstorming sessions. If I find myself in one of those, I tend to retreat into my own head to see what's there rather than rolling around in other peoples' ideas. I wonder if anyone listens to anyone else in sessions like that. They're too busy shouting out ideas. It's like Twitter--a bunch of people bellowing into a crowd.

Gothic Charm School on Bat's Day at Disneyland, how to talk your dad into letting you dye your bangs blue, the aging (20s) goth versus the egl or sweet Lolita trends, and a PG-rated explanation of why are there so many octopi in steampunk.
Has your father said why he doesn’t want you to dye your bangs blue? Is he worried that it would be damaging to your hair, or that it would cause a mess? Ask him what his concerns are, and give him information to reassure him that you won’t be setting yourself up for disaster.

And, because food cost has been a recent topic around my house, the Hillbilly Housewife's "$45" emergency menu for 4 to 6 for one week.
There isn’t much meat in these menus. That’s because meat is expensive and beans aren’t. Beans provide lots of good protein for growing children and hard working adults. When beans are combined with certain other foods their protein increases. The amino acids in grains like flour, pasta and cornmeal or milk products cooperate with the amino acids in the beans to make an extremely high quality protein. Don’t worry about the lack of meat, there is more protein in this menu than you can shake an expensive protein bar at.

This menu does not assume *anything* in the pantry and includes a shopping list and all recipes, as well as a daily work plan. Unfortunately that $45 price is from February 2006; in March 2009 dollars the same week's worth of food was $70 (she has a comparison price list in the entry). Still a great resource.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A slave and a child

Doctor Zero has a grabby start to his essay, To Keep and Bear Arms.
Twenty-five years ago, a little after sunrise on a Monday morning, the front door of my house was kicked in by a man who had blown his mind with crack cocaine. He marched my family upstairs at gunpoint. When I reached the top of the stairs and turned around, he put the gun in my forehead and pulled the trigger.

You can tell he survived, though, because he's writing this blog post. He makes the usual (and valuable) point that when seconds count, the police are just minutes away.
The police arrived at my house several minutes too late to play a role in my attempted execution. They made excellent time – there happened to be a unit in the area. If things had gone a little different, they might have arrived just in time to avenge me. * * *

The people of an orderly nation surrender the business of vengeance to the government, replacing it with the rule of law. They cannot be expected to surrender the right of defense. The right to protect yourself, and your family, from injury and death is an essential part of your dignity as a free man or woman. Without the First Amendment, you are a slave. Without the Second, you are a child.

But the right to keep and bear arms, protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, isn't entirely or even primarily about self defense from an intruder. It's about self defense against an oppressive government.
Sometimes liberals sneer at the idea we might keep arms against government tyranny, because a bunch of pistol-packing Tea Party types have no chance of repeating the success of the Revolution against a modern military force. This completely misses the point. A disarmed populace has little choice but to obey orders. If the population is armed, a tyrant’s forces have to do more than just brandish their weapons… they’d have to start pulling triggers. Victory for a righteous populace would come in the military’s refusal to pull those triggers. Tyranny should never be easy. Of course, it should never come to that again, in the United States. As long as the population is armed, this is an understanding, and a duty… not an assumption.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Benefits of religion?

I am a religious person--I converted to Judaism when I was 19 or 20 (don't remember which). I've never claimed being religious was necessarily good or bad, though, except for me. I have known ethical people who were agnostic and atheist, as well as ethical people from other religions than mine.

Isegoria points to a review of Guenter Lewy's Why America Needs Religion: Secular Modernity and its Discontents, a sympathetic atheist's view of religion.

In the introduction Lewy states:
The prevalence of secular humanism and moral relativism are said to have undermined the meaning and significance of human life, to have created a debased world of modernity in which there are no firm values and nothing is either absolutely right or absolutely wrong.

I started this book with the intention of refuting this thesis....

I remain a religious agnostic, but, unlike most atheists, I not only am not hostile to traditional religion but consider it a highly valuable, not to say essential, social institution.

In his review, Taylor first explains why he's reviewing the book:
Theoretically, there is no reason why atheists can't teach morality and socialize children well. However, in practice, Christians have been taking this problem seriously for ~2000 years. In contrast, atheists have shown up late to the game, and too often with a cavalier attitude.

and then points out his major objection to the analysis in the book:
My more serious complaint (putting on my engineer's hat) is that Lewy never clearly explains the criteria by which he judges moral doctrines. We have to have objectives before we can carry on an intelligent discussion of whether our objectives are being met.

However, he still concludes that religion (at least as it is practiced in the US and Europe) is better than atheism at providing moral guidance:
There are blind spots. Religion, when it's working correctly, orients the mind's eye so that the blind spot points in a direction that doesn't matter very much. Atheism doesn't cure blindness, it merely allows the blind spot to be oriented in whatever direction is currently fashionable.