Blog: Length and Breadth

Length and Breadth
Length and Breadth
Date: 2019-Mar-03 06:04:44 EST

I'm finding myself getting increasingly stressed when I try to watch comedy or news coverage over our current POTUS. I can't really manage schadenfreude, and everything happening just adds to the stress of watching it all. It's not that I feel an ounce of sympathy for the man, but I think I've hit a point where even thinking about him for too long freaks me out. And as generally seems to be the case again, while I call myself liberal (and usually vote that way for most offices) I don't align all that well with either party as a whole. My belief in the importance of balance and that it takes two parties to make our system work well and keep each other sane is probably a bigger part of it. Like the mirrored races in the Dark Crystal, ill to either party corrupts the other. So I can't really enjoy all the signs that the Republican Party is splintering because if that's wrong the nation is on a dark path directly, and if it's right then the Democratic Party will follow (and I keep seeing signs, like the fawning over AOC, that it is).

Recently been fascinated by a topic in law - standards of liability. I've been advocating that people who kill or maim with their car should, under strict liability, lose their driving privileges irrevocably. Reading more about strict liability, I've been wondering under what circumstances might I find such a standard just - driving privileges are easy because they're just that - something we're already comfortable severing (temporarily or not) and which people must apply to get in the first place. Other uses of strict liability would need to carefully justify the why. This standard is used in torts as well as criminal law; I'm primarily intrigued by the latter. Wikipedia offers statutory rape and felony murder as examples of traditional offences held to this standard. Felony murder already has some quite complicated (and interesting) justification (the idea of transferred intent is fascinating) and having read a bit about it I'm comfortable with its nuances at least broadly. Is statutory rape a case where this is the appropriate standard? I worry about this - age is occasionally non-obvious, particularly with sharp boundaries. The idea that an excess of caution should be applied around some topics seems like it might, perhaps, justify these rules in that the law dissuades carelessness (although at least in some cases this standard is applied that way, the law is not capturing an existing moral intuition so much as intentionally creating a nervousness - the example of the Nederlandish law on bicycles mentioned in the WP page currently is something I can approve of although there is this weirdness). Intrigued at the (distinct) standard of absolute liability, which looks to see more use internationally as the standard for many kinds of regulatory offences.

I wonder what a career in law might've been like. I suppose if I had any shred of belief in gods, I might've enjoyed studying Sharia or Halakah as part of some religious training.

The most recent IQ2US debate was fascinating - this was one of the differently-formatted ones with five debaters and 3 mini debates where they'd take stances differently between. I felt I learned a lot even though my positions didn't feel very strong. I liked meeting some of the presenters (and John Donvan) after the debate. Been thinking about IQ2US in the broader context - great debates are an important part of exploring issues, and it's a step up from the current degraded state of public discourse where people can talk about their personal narrative, toss red meat to hungry fans, or just lie. People can challenge each other's views and that's important, but if we wanted to enrich those discussions by bringing lots of data in and making sure it makes a difference, the conversation would have to continue. Perhaps by having, for any given important topic, a debate every 3 months and between them continual gathering and curation of data relevant to the debate, with a system for challenging submitted data as well as efforts to construct, argument map style, a very long term well-mapped discussion. Done right this might provide a way to ensure that procedural rules and civility in discussion are not the end of productivity of discussion (as crucial as they are).

I'm worried about the up-cycle in the endless stupid conflics between India and Pakistan.

I love how the Trappist-1 system continues to fascinate.

I finally saw my new neurologist, and I'm glad that I quickly took a liking to her - she seems to think very analytically and has a plan to figure things out. I'm now on several more meds. Hoping to get some pain relief - if my neck issues actually are acting as a migraine trigger for the new more-frequent-than-usual migraines, maybe some of these will help. That would be nice - I've become exhausted with these health issues.