Bob Kolker

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Everything posted by Bob Kolker

  1. Beautiful guns

    1. Killing 2. Wounding 3. Threatening 4. Target Shooting 5. Collecting. Some fire arms are very beautiful objects. Have I missed any uses? If I were going into harm's way I would surely want a kinetic energy kill device with me. Bob Kolker
  2. "We Aren't Lighting The Fires"

    The way I "beat the system" was to make sure my kids knew how to read, write and do arithmetic before they ever saw the inside of a tax-loot funded school. I home schooled them for as long as I could. When I let them go to the tax funded illiteracy mills they had sufficient skill in reading, writing and thinking that the creatures of the local teacher's union could not do them any permanent harm. In addition to which they had access to all the books they wanted to read and my wife and I provided back up. The tradition has been carried down to my grand children. My youngest grandson was reading phonetically by the age of three and a half. He is nearly seven now and has no trouble with reading, writing and calculation. His twin sister is more into music and dance, but she is reading just fine now. My youngest grand daughter now three and a half is computer savvy. Bob Kolker
  3. Beautiful guns

    Toys for the boys? I cannot help but notice the fetish appeal of fire-arms. They have their uses, of course. If I had to take one fire-arm to Detroit, it would be the AK-47. Simple but effective. Bob Kolker
  4. "We Aren't Lighting The Fires"

    This was precisely the goal that Horace Mann set out to accomplish when he "sold" compulsory tax funded schooling as the preferred mode of educating the young. Mann was very impressed with the Prussian model and wished to produce an American version of it. Unfortunately he succeeded. Bob Kolker
  5. Ghosts of Independence: Old Ink, Eternal Ideas

    If our liberty does not matter to us, then why take the trouble and go into danger to protect it? I would prefer to live free than live as a slave. But that is my personal inclination. Others may have their own views on the matter. Taking orders from mediocrities and dull wits is rather bothersome. I just as soon would not have to take such orders or put up with such interference. Life is short and it should not be filled with unnecessary bother and frustration. Bob Kolker

    The root word for skeptic is the Greek work skepthein which means to examine or look over carefully. It is related to the verb skoposein which means to look at. My skepticism consists in examining things and ideas very carefully before coming to a conclusion. It does not mean Pyrhonian Skepticism which is the denial of knowledge which is a self contradictions as in : I know I know nothing. That kind of nonsense goes nowhere. And if I have my doubts about the great body of the American public catching on to Ayn Rand's philosophy, please recall I have been watching since 1960 (when I read -Atlas Shrugged-). That is fifty years. No sign of any major change, so forgive my doubts. Have I missed something? Has American politics changed (other than for the worse) in the last fifty years? I knew the great American electorate "blew it" when they rejected Barry Goldwater back in 1964 (46 years ago). He was the last decent Republican I have seen. I have seen no viable third part in American politics. So where is the hope? Bob Kolker

    I can give a kind of argument in favor of my three points by means of indirect proof or reductio ad absurdum. Deny point 1. No police. Then the hoodlums and criminals run even wilder than they run now. Property is not safe, life is not safe. Ordinary folks will have to organize into posses and that will most likely lead to vigilante "justice". Hardly a hopeful scenario. O.K. If we want to avoid the Wild West we had better have a set of laws and a sheriff. Deny point 2. Give up our armed force. We get invaded. The country is destroyed. So Point 2 remains. Deny point 3. No courts, no applications of law. Then contract disputes will have to be settled by arbitration, but without the courts the decisions cannot be enforced. Without courts people accused of crimes will be lynched. Hardly what we want, yes? So point 3 stands. That is the best I can do for a "proof". It is not high mathematics or logic but it makes sense. I accept the indirect proof as valid since I assert the law of non-contradiction. I am sorry I can't build a major system which will produce a synthetic proof, i.e. a direct proof from undeniable first principles. I am not sufficiently intelligent. Bob Kolker

    Short of a violent revolution or a total breakdown of the current system, I do not see any clear way out, at least not in my lifetime. The people of the U.S. have dug themselves a very deep hole and they are in it over their heads. My lifetime goes from FDR's second term until today. I have witnessed what amounts to social and political suicide and I am sorry to say, I can not think of a damned thing to do to stop it. I cannot drill holes in the heads of other people and pour logic and reason into their heads. I feel like an onlooker hanging above the Titanic as it heads toward the iceberg. Stop I say, but no one is listening. I would make one suggestion: The first Law of the Hole -- stop digging, put the shovel down. If we can slow down our destruction perhaps someone (anyone) can come up with a workable process to reverse our destructive course. Ayn Rand blew the warning back in 1956 (54 years ago), has anyone listened? Not too many, it would seem. Please forgive me if I am not overflowing with hope in the short or medium term. I hope my children or grandchildren can do something, because I sure can't. Bob Kolker
  9. Ghosts of Independence: Old Ink, Eternal Ideas

    I was thinking of soldiers who died of shot and steel, froze to death at Trenton, fell from the camp diseases like cholera and smallpox. They didn't desert the fight. They stayed, they fought and some died. Something moved these people. What was it? Bob Kolker

    I resent that. I am a very sincere skeptic. Everything I do is sincere. I am genetically incapable of being insincere. And my evasions are atypical since I am a high functioning autistic. Ms Moderator. I am calling a foul here. Mr. Royce is psychologizing rather than discussing the issue of what a good government looks like. Shame on him! Bob Kolker
  11. Ghosts of Independence: Old Ink, Eternal Ideas

    A philosophical analysis could only pull the words apart at the joints. I am sure it was not philosophy as an abstract mental exercise that moved American men to fight and even die for their independence. What matters is that our liberty must matter to us. One must feel it in the heart and the gut, as well as the brain. Bob Kolker

    Before we discuss ways and means, let us discuss the ends. Is the description of government I gave compatible with your notion of proper government, or not. If we know where we want to go then we can discuss the best way of getting there. Bob Kolker

    One talks about reducing governments because historically and empirically governments have expanded their powers beyond what is necessary to protect rights and property. Governments, historically, have abused the rights of their citizens/subjects. We are not starting from scratch. We are trying to get from where we are to where we should be. Please recall my three item list and tell me if you agree that government should look like the description my list implied. Once more the list: 1. Government maintains a police force to apprehend and punish wrong doers. 2. Government maintains an armed force to protect the people against foreign invaders or attackers. 3. Government provides courts of law to determine guilt of the accused and to settle non-criminal disputes peacefully. And not one wit, jot or tittle more. No welfare state. No redistribution of income or wealth, no setting up quotas to equalize outcomes. And no government funded schools except in military bases and other special territories necessary for government operations. Is this what you want government to look like? If not, please state your objections. Bob Kolker

    I most respectfully disagree. The essence of libertarianism (the small "l" kind) is minarchy. That is small government limited to protecting the rights and property of of citizens and not a bit more. It is all about government limited in scope and power. How about a government that does three things: 1. Maintains a police force to enforce the laws and catch the bad guys. 2. Maintains an armed force to protect the country from foreign invaders. 3. Maintains a system of courts for trying criminals and settling civil disputes. Nowhere in this list is "welfare" on a grand scale or redistribution of income and wealth. It is, in a nutshell, the ideal libertarian government. If you see anything wrong with this, pray do tell. Bob Kolker
  15. "One must never fail to pronounce moral judgment"

    Certainly, not I. Andrew Carnegie who was a capitalist's capitalist established a system of free (to the end user) libraries so workingmen could get the benefits of reading good literature. I expect many of the "goodies" that Bountiful Government hands out to the people at taxpayer expense would be available in a society with minimal government. I do volunteer work for an organization that provides recorded books to blind and dyslexic people. The end user does not pay, and we are financed primarily by voluntary donations, not government subsidy. The labor is mostly volunteer (I do recording as a volunteer)l. Bob Kolker
  16. "One must never fail to pronounce moral judgment"

    You have been forced to pay for these services. If you do not get some use out of them you are doubly fleeced; the first time being taxed, the second time not getting any value back. So yes, it is a case of "well, were paying for it already, might as well use it". The alternative (getting nothing out of it) is worse. Bob Kolker

    Capital "L" Libertariansism or small "l" libertarnianism? The former refers to a particular political party and a movement. The latter refers to a general attitude toward government. The latter tend to be minarchists, i.e. advocates of small government with limited scope and power. As a political principle, the major premise is to renounce the initiation of force. This has some unfortunate consequences. It means no preemptive attacks. If Israel had followed that principle in 1967 it would have been wiped out. To the best of my understanding, the Objectivists object to the libertarians on the grounds that they not ground, philosophically speaking, human rights. But I am not an Objectivist and I might have this wrong. Bob Kolker
  18. Earthquake in Chile

    Given that Chile (warts and all) is a civilized country, I suspect the death toll of the 8.8 earthquake will be fraction of the death toll of the Haiti quake which had one tenth the energy. The difference is in the countries. Haiti is a primitive country, Chile is not. Both have been misgoverned, but technology and industry exists and is at work in Chile at least a century in advance of what is going on in Haiti. Bob Kolker
  19. Lindzen on Global Warming, once again

    I think we may have been talking past each other. I have assumed (and perhaps I should have so so explicitly) that those who review, vet and test the work of others are honest agents. They are motivated by finding the truth of the matters under investigation. People in the sciences are overwhelmingly truth and fact oriented. The world is their workbench. The motivation of scientists is (or ought to be) to find out how the world really is and how the world really works. There are the occasional flim-flam artists and frauds in the field but, fortunately, they are in the vast minority. What is really problematic is the subtle influence of the grant. Most people in science who receive their incomes from grantors (either private or governmental) are bound to be influenced to the extent of not provoking hostility from the folks who give them the money and resources to operate. This may be in the form of spin on the results or in suppressing results that are totally opposed to the folks paying the bills. That is why when a scientist gets money from a company or from a government agency he is less likely to pursue lines of research that oppose the interests of his benefactors. Hence a chemist or a biologist working for a tobacco company (for example) is not going to passionately pursue the health risks of smoking, at least not to the fullest extent possible. That is why science should be funded by neutral sources who do not have a vested interest in the outcome other than that it should be truthful and correct. Bob Kolker
  20. Lindzen on Global Warming, once again

    Total honest comes in the form in independent review. If the reviewer does not have a stake in the correctness of the theory, he is more likely to spot an error. I think you are missing a point. Here it is. No matter how smart or creative a person is, he can make a mistake. In addition to which there is always the matter of observer bias. The purposes of independent view are: 1. error detection 2. spotting observer bias. It takes an independent reviewer to bring to the attention of the proposer several cases which he had not considered. This exposes an error of omission which anyone can make, regardless of how smart or creative he is. 3. A design flaw in an experiment which can be introduced by making an implicit assumption. The Geometer Euclid, for example, made several implicit assumptions which were not exposed for nearly two thousand years. Another example: Albert Einstein in his initial prediction of the light bending around the sun was off by a factor of two. Later he discovered that he had not thought to regard the gravitational field as a gravitating body itself. Now he caught the error, but someone like Eddington or Hilbert could have also caught this error. While they did not think up the theory of gravitation as spacetime curvature, they understood it well enough to have caught the error. Eddington understood the theory so well he was able to provide experimental evidence of its correctness. You are incorrect to assume that independent reviewers could not spot a mistake, even if they could not have thought up the original theory in the first place. Bottom line: Checking is necessary regardless of how smart the proposer of the theory or hypothesis is. The purpose of the review is not to prove the theory is right, but to show it is wrong, if there is a mistake. Bob Kolker
  21. Lindzen on Global Warming, once again

    ch /possible/impossible/ Darn it Betsy, can't you spare a fifteen minute edit window? Bob Kolker
  22. Lindzen on Global Warming, once again

    The IPCC has gone out of its way to make a proper independent peer review possible. It is not enough for some peers to review the results. The check has to be made by independent parties who do not have a dog in the hunt or a horse in the race. Bob Kolker
  23. Joe Stack's IRS Suicide

    It makes just about as much sense as the Japanese Kamikaze attacks. Which is to say not much sense at all. Japanese pilots flew and died and you know something -- the Japanese lost anyway. The way the Japanese finally won, was to cease the war, give up on military based imperialism and become one of the most efficient industrial nations in the world. That is how they finally won. Not by diving Zeroes into the decks of aircraft carriers. Instead they drove Honda Civics into the U.S.A. Bob Kolker
  24. Lindzen on Global Warming, once again

    Correction. That last sentence should read "in the way scientists..." Bob Kolker
  25. Lindzen on Global Warming, once again

    Just an additional word here. It is important to understand that science is a collaborative enterprise. Yes, there are rivalries, competitions and even some profound disagreements between and among scientific workers. But the progress of science is built on the multiplication effect of using the work of others to bootstrap and expand one's own work. Also the collaboration in checking and error elimination is what keeps science "honest" in the long run. There is a built in symbiotic effect in the what scientists operate and use each other's works and ideas. Bob Kolker