Friday, July 09, 2004

I had hoped to have time to post from college yesterday, but time got away from me due to all the catching up with the people in our cohort. A lot can happen in a couple weeks.

More good news: I found out Wednesday night that we had another decision by one of the new-comers to the youth group. Welcome to Meghan, my newest sister. People are getting geeked. Well, some people are getting geeked. The others... well... I think there is something wrong with them. Must be too busy arguing about trivia. Anyway, nothing is going to wreck this.

I had a pleasant surprise when I arrived at college. There is one of the instructors that we have had a couple times before that everyone really likes. There is a ton of information that he gives in a way that makes it real. He has been around ministry in a number of contexts and is completely transparent. I get more out of his classes than any three of my other classes.

Anyway, our program sheet had him listed as the instructor for the course that started yesterday, so we were all pumped up for it. Then we found out that he wouldn't be able to teach it and it would be taught by An Instructor To Be Named Later. We were disappointed and also concerned about who would be teaching. We had had a previous encounter with someone that had never taught an ACE class before and it wasn't an experience that anyone wanted to repeat. Well, we walked into the building last night and there sat our favorite instructor. Everyone was relieved and thrilled. He then proceeded to make our day by throwing out all the homework in the module and substituting his own syllabus. It's a lot more work, but it cuts out all the Mickey Mouse crap and assigns real work. It was a happy ride home.

I got home later than usual. We stopped for dinner at the IHOP by the college before we got into serious travel mode. I didn't get home until after 2am, which of course means that I was really late for work. Ah well.

Tonight, I need to run by the church for praise team practice. I'm running sound this week because the regular sound guy is out of town. Practice is usually Saturday morning, but one of the praise team is running a race on Saturday. That works out better for me because we have a family reunion Saturday. Debbie has to work, and with me doing sound in the morning, we were going to have trouble getting ourselves, and all the stuff we needed to take, to the reunion on time.

I took some personality test and this was the result:

You are an SEDF--Sober Emotional Destructive Follower. This makes you an evil genius. You are extremely focused and difficult to distract from your tasks. With luck, you have learned to channel your energies into improving your intellect, rather than destroying the weak and unsuspecting.

Your friends may find you remote and a hard nut to crack. Few of your peers know you very well--even those you have known a long time--because you have expert control of the face you put forth to the world. You prefer to observe, calculate, discern and decide. Your decisions are final, and your desire to be right is impenetrable.

You are not to be messed with. You may explode.

So I'm an evil genius. I knew there was a reason I have problems keeping jobs. Anyway, if you want to give it a try, it's here.


Another bit from the AnalPhilosopher:

...I've heard many critics of the war in Iraq say that if the reason for the war had been humanitarian, the United States would have intervened in other places besides Iraq, such as Sudan. Since it hasn't, the reason for the war wasn't humanitarian. But if it wasn't humanitarian, what was it? The clear implication is that there were other reasons, perhaps sinister reasons, for the war. This gives rise to various conspiracy theories, none of which can be taken seriously. The problem with conspiracy theories is not that they're false, but that they're unfalsifiable. Just as, to a theist, everything counts in favor of God, to a conspiracy theorist, everything counts in favor of the conspiracy.

This form of argument recurs. If the reason for the war had been to punish a war criminal, then why is the United States not punishing other war criminals? If the reason for the war had been to destroy weapons caches, then why is the United States not destroying the weapons caches of other countries, such as North Korea? If the reason for the war had been to promote democracy, then why is the United States not intervening militarily in other nondemocratic nations? If the reason for the war had been to enforce United Nations resolutions, then why is the United States not enforcing other United Nations resolutions? Ad nauseam.

The people who make these arguments are confused. They think that there must be one sufficient reason for our intervention in Iraq. But why should that be? Why can't there be multiple reasons, none of which is sufficient (or necessary), but which, taken together, suffice? Most decisions human beings make are like this.

Another possibility, besides confusion, is that the critics are trying to deceive. Their goal is to end the Bush presidency. Nothing will stand in the way of their goal. They believe that if they cast doubt on President Bush's motives for waging war, they will undermine his electoral prospects. One way to cast doubt on his motives for waging war is to say (or imply) that his stated reasons are not his real reasons. One way to accomplish this is to "refute" each proffered reason by citing cases in which the reason applies but the United States has not waged war.

I hope you see that this is fallacious reasoning. Shooting down each of five reasons as insufficient does not mean that the five of them, together, are insufficient. If you believe the war in Iraq was wrong, say so and be prepared to support your belief. But don't mischaracterize the arguments in favor of war for dialectical or rhetorical advantage. That's intellectually dishonest. No single reason sufficed for intervening militarily in Iraq. There were, or could have been, many reasons for it.

Personally, I always assume a politician is operating from malice rather than incompetence. It may be true that they are incompetently malicious, as in this case, but I assume that malice is always the intent. There are a lot of good reasons why we shouldn't have invaded Iraq, and I tend to agree with those arguments. But what the Democrats are saying about the war in Iraq is not rational analysis, just muck-raking. I'm half-tempted to just sit this round out. My participation in the political process as it is now constituted, amounts to me giving the whole sorry mess a level of credibility it does not deserve. Note that even though Mr. Burgess-Jackson is picking apart the Democrats, the same folly is on display on the Republican side as well.

And a bit on drunk driving laws from Bob Thompson's site:

...I don't much like the idea of setting a particular level of blood alcohol as presumptive evidence of impaired driving. For that matter, I don't think drunk driving should be against the law, although I'd punish drunk wrecking severely. MADD and similar groups have focused on the wrong side of the problem. Punishing people for driving drunk is ineffective, as the continuing problem of drunk driving shows. Punishing people for drunk wrecking would be much more effective.

The problem with setting an arbitrary statutory limit is that different people are affected differently. For example, in college I drank copious amounts of beer, but in the last 30 years I doubt I've averaged one beer a year. While I was in college and actively drinking, I was much less affected by any given level of blood alcohol than I would be now. Then, I could have drunk a six-pack without noticeable effect. Nowadays, I can feel an affect after drinking one beer. The same is true, but more so, for an alcoholic who drinks heavily. A guy who consumes a bottle a day of hard liquor might be completely sober with a 0.10% blood alcohol level, whereas I'd probably be unconscious. In fact, the alcoholic might actually be in better shape to drive with a 0.10% blood alcohol level than he would be at 0.00%.

I remember a demonstration years ago that didn't work out as the sponsors had hoped. Over the course of several hours, they had NASCAR race car driver Kyle Petty drinking shots of whiskey, blowing into a breathalyzer, and then driving through a slalom as fast as he could manage. The problem was, the drunker he got, the faster he made it through the slalom, and the fewer cones he knocked over.

That's not to say that drunk driving is a good idea, or that people who drink are not impaired. It does, however, prove that the correlation between blood alcohol level and driving impairment is tenuous at best. It is a miscarriage of justice that I can drive legally at 0.07%, at which level I would be severely impaired, while an experienced drinker will be arrest for driving at 0.08%, at which level he may be completely unimpaired and will certainly be in much shape to drive than I am at 0.07%.

I have always argued that it's wrong to make drunk driving illegal. Instead, there should be severe punishment for accidents that occur when the driver is drunk. For example, if a driver is involved in an accident that kills someone, I think the police should do a breathalyzer test as the first step. If that shows the presence of any significant amount of alcohol, they should deliver the driver to a hospital to be tested formally for blood alcohol level.

The trial could be simple. We wouldn't even need a jury. Just require the accused to drink until his blood alcohol level was the same as that measured immediately after the accident, hook the accused up to equipment that measures reaction time and so forth, and have him do the best he can on the tests. If he passes, which is to say his performance is similar to that of the average for unimpaired people of his age, allowing some slack, he's free of criminal charges. If he fails, the test equipment delivers a 50,000 volt shock at high amperage and they bury him.

But seriously, the eye-for-an-eye method would work very well. If an impaired driver kills someone, kill him. If he paralyzes someone, paralyze him. If someone had to have a leg amputated, amputate his leg. Doing this would eliminate drunk driving in short order. Most of those who now drive drunk would stop doing so. There's a big difference between risking a fine or losing your license or even a short jail term versus risking the summary death penalty. A few would continue to drive while impaired, of course, but that problem would be self-limiting.

I would tend to agree with this. In fact, I would make it more broad: Any impaired driving should be treated this way, whether the impairment is alcohol, drugs, not wearing glasses, yakking on the cell phone, or checking out hot chicks. If you kill someone with your car, you will be defending against a manslaughter charge regardless of the circumstances. Your defense may well be that the idiot walked out from between two parked cars and you had no way to avoid hitting him without breaking the laws of physics. But I'm willing to bet that those would be maybe 1 case in a thousand. I can't count the number of times that I've nearly run down someone on foot or a bicycle because of their stupidity; but I was able to avoid them because I was paying attention to what I was doing and not messing with my hair or reading the paper or any of the thousand and one idiotic things people do while driving (including driving while drunk or stoned). The whole stupid MADD-induced blood-alcohol limits, which are rapidly approaching the absurd, make no sense as they don't address the issue of impairment. Instead, they are a back-door approach to prohibition. As evidence of this, the MADD leadership is now pressing for zero-tolerance. Pushing the blood alcohol limit down to the point that a dose of cough syrup makes you legally drunk wasn't enough. Zero tolerance is the new reason for their existence. I have a better idea: let some rational humans (meaning, men) set up a system that actually works to improve road safety, and all the MADD's can go home and clean their houses, or something else constructive?

I'll shut up now and wait for the hate...

No comments: