Pat Gunn said elsewhere..

A blog by Pat Gunn (Atom/RSS)
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Sun Nov 11 17:29:50 2012
Hey liberals

In response to this:

I find the most amusing bit to be that "Worst sin" line; the "confidence" subclause is inaccurate, and the sense of smugness the author perceives seems to be dismay on his part that it has achieved enough coherency of perspective to analyse and try to improve the world by its own values.

I have no idea what a healthy culture (or cultural faction) would look like that has listened to and tried to improve itself by his criticism. Isn't the conservative side of America often derided for its "sense of smugness and superiority"? Isn't that the same criticism that it would also use against any other culture that speaks for its values?

If a set of values that are distant to your own seem to be healthy and perhaps ascendant, it's pretty reasonable to try, consciously or not, to introduce decay into that society or subculture in the hopes that the dice will be rolled again and maybe something closer to you will be rolled up next time (particularly ugly as an idea if you believe your ideals have some kind of natural appeal and other ideals don't). Reasonable at least strategically, that is. This article doesn't look as much like an argument for anything specific as an attempt to introduce that kind of decay.



Thu Oct 7 12:42:42 2010
National Day of Prayer - Pearce

In reply to: Steve Pearce, complaining about church-state seperation:

I'm not sure what rights you're referring to. You have the right as individuals to pray. I can't say I'm the typical atheist (probably because there is no typical atheist), but I don't want to take away your right to pray. What you're conflating is the right to have the state sponsor your prayer with your right to pray. You never had the first, and I don't think you'll find people trying to take away the second.

For what it's worth, the pledge of allegiance, written by a Christian Socialist in 1892, is "I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all."

If you're so worried about your rights, tell us exactly which rights you feel are being stripped away. Wave your own flag - don't expect the state, which is a government of more than just Christians, more than just those of Abrahamic faiths, to wave it for you.



Wed Aug 4 14:16:15 2010
Slashdot grammar and line spacing

From: here, a discussion on whether two spaces after a period or one space is appropriate...

  • "What does it mean to be correct on this matter?"
  • "A certain body with which one associates or to which one agrees to be bound agrees, or alternatively there is broad consensus with insignificant dissent"
  • "And when one argues that one usage is correct?"
  • "Either one of the above is true, or one is asserting one's position on the manner in a way that one hopes others will simply accept, in order to try to make the second true"



Tue Feb 23 15:42:11 2010
OkC - On Patriotism and Partisianship

Conversation here

Post 1:

  • "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel" is a quote that comes to mind, regardless of gender. Nations are not just real estate - they are separate legal systems (and to an extent societies) with distinct mechanisms aiming to serve their people (and humanity in general). People like me (I'm not female, but I also don't feel like being disqualified by that) have no particular attachment to any nation, just to our values and principles. I may be American, but that means nothing more to me than having Scottish-German-Jewish-Misc ancestry - it may say some things about how I was raised, but it doesn't inspire loyalty per se (except insofar as American society and other societies sufficiently like it may be based around values I care about). If some other nation does a better job at meeting my values, I'd support it more (while continuing to pressure it to support my values even more).
  • "My country right or wrong" is as deeply repugnant to me as "manifest destiny" and "american exceptionalism".
Post 2:
  • We don't support the war because we support our troops. We can respect our troops for offering their services, but if their presence there were counterproductive, we should pull out of Iraq and Afghenistan immediately.
  • That said, this would be a very bad thing to do. While invading Iraq was a bad idea (and removing Saddam was a worse one), that's in the past, and we should do our best to transition out of the area in a way that leaves the most stable government and society we can manage. A rapid pullout would be irresponsible and lead to a lot of suffering and mess. In Afghenistan by contrast, invasion was appropriate, but we're left with a government and society that are in an even worse situation - we may not like being there (casualties, cost, attention, PR), but their government is practically nonexistent, their society is in shambles, and the area will continue to be dominated by dangerous radicals unless we can nation-build them. It's strategically important to do so, and it's important to do so out of a concern for humanity (them, us, and their neighbours). The more help we can get from other countries (from Europe to Iran, Russia to Japan), the better. Fortunately, there are both liberals and conservatives who understand this (even if they understand and stress it slightly differently) - many pacifists on the left and many isolationists on the right might not like the idea, but for the rest of us, both our national security and our concern for the welfare of humanity come together to suggest that Afghenistan will be our project for some time.
Post 3 is in response to:
  • Hmm. Somebody better inform the Moonbats that The War is a good idea since The Messiah is apparently escalating The Bush Doctrine, increasing troop presence and continuing to fund the war through an All Democrat-controlled Congress, but how humiliating that must be for you? Supporting Bush AFTER the fact?
and contains:
  • I'm considerably to the left of Obama, and loathed BushJr (I had a certain respect for BushSr). That said, not everything BushJr did was wrong (nor is everything Obama does right). They're politicians, not residents of Mt. Olympus to which we devote our lives nor some football team we want to win every game. If I like 70% of Obama's agenda and 10% of BushJr's, I'm fine with that, and I'm not ashamed either of the 10% I like in BushJr or the 30% I dislike of Obama. That's just how politics work - you never get someone who represents you entirely, and you should criticise or approve policy as appropriate regardless of party. I could name a few other things BushJr's administration did well if I had to, and I am generally considered far-left by American standards.
Post 4 is in response to:
  • Dacte, I see little to NO difference between Bush's strategy and Obama's strategy when it comes to the Middle East. I see Obama floundering to the point in his inexperience that since he can't think of a more acceptable solution to the Middle East, he has basically adopted and increased the war...which I support. Now, if I was Pro Obama and voted for him for the reasons most people voted for him, i.e. ending the war, closing Gitmo, etc., well, yeah, I'd be pretty majorily fucking pissed right about now, but since Obama is pretty much Bush III, I'm not really complaining about how he's handling that situation.
  • My major bitch about Obama is that he has devoted, and failed, for the last year in pushing the healthcare plan rather than concentrating all of his efforts on the economy which is our biggest problem.
And contains:
  • The differences I see are that I don't think Obama would've gone into Iraq to begin with (I see that invasion as a mistake) and that Obama is putting a lot more effort into international diplomacy and foreign military contributions to stabilise both regions (although Agfhanistan isn't really part of the Middle East, I'll presume you're talking about the two military engagements). He does seem to be willing to push/criticise Israel further in order to nudge them towards taking peace seriously, while rebuking/praising/shaping the Arab world against extremism - a lot of this is "soft power", and it's something some Republicans have been good at in the past too (e.g. Henry Kissinger and BushSr).
  • I believe he's responsibly winding down Iraq - his difficulties in closing the Cuban base are largely due to local politics, not because of a lack of will on his part. We have balance of powers for a reason, as inconvenient as it sometimes can be - I'm more angry at Congress than Obama for that. I don't see Obama as being Bush3 by any means - he may be being obstructed from doing what he'd like (which I often agree with - not always), but he has (from my perspective and by my values) done a lot of good in both domestic and international politics. Some of this is the sort of most-people-agree-it-would-be-good-regardless-of-party that a competent moderate Republican also might've done, and some of it is things that appeal to me particularly because I'm very liberal. I do have my frustrations though - this *is* politics and everyone who cares about it will have at least a few things to be pissed about :)
  • On healthcare, I don't think he's actually spent a lot of time working on it - I get the feeling he considers it congress's problem and while he's talked about it a lot, he hasn't been leading on the issue (until very very recently). I think this (let-congress-handle-it idea) probably was a mistake. That said, politicians always are working on lots of things at once. Given how much arguing, comprimise, and (sadly) discussion with lobbyists any issue has to go through, I doubt spending more time on any particular issue is possible or productive - unless congress had literally dozens of huge issues they were struggling with at the same time, I doubt they'd become much less effective (not because they're so effective as-is but because any proposal involves a lot of wheel-spinning).



Fri Nov 6 15:55:28 2009
Israel-Palestinian peace and focus

Location: here

Manipulating Israel and their Arab cousins into peace will not take the shape of an alliance with one and conquest of the other. Not all Israelis are the same, and not all Arabs are the same - the sidelining of hawks and sacrifice of the most jingoist elements of each ("all of this is mine and if you're not with me all the way you're anti-me") must happen.

We should not hate Arabs or Israelis, but we should reject and marginalise those who stand in the way of peace (or substitute "I win it all" for peace). Sometimes it's a terrible injustice to stand beside someone no matter what they do. What kind of a world is it where some Jewish or Palestinian leaders can say "restore greater Israel" or "give us all of Palestine back", dooming future generations to continued tension and violence with their approval of every sneaky tactic towards that end (endless expansion of settlements and destruction of crops, continued violence and threats of invasion)?



Tue Oct 27 18:53:25 2009
Regarding Secular Humanism and Atheism

Original: here

I think you have a deep misunderstanding of what secular humanism is. It is not a simple commitment to seek some notion of the good, it is rather a specific set of philosophies with a creed. This creed is strongly based on American political conceptions of society.

Please see here for their creed: here

I, for example, am an atheist, I have rejected secular humanism because I don't agree with everything in their creed, and yet I do have strong ideas about the public good. I have my own creed.

I don't think you should identify Secular Humanism as being the single philosophy that could be described as Atheist that tries for ethics, nor that all one needs to be one is to try to live an ethical life.



Mon Oct 26 17:12:31 2009
Gender and invititude to sport

Original: here

I would be concerned if Obama were avoiding basketball with females, and angry if he suggested that it is "not a sport for gals". However, we don't know what his social circles are like - people tend to do sports with people they know who are interested and of similar skill levels, and he may not be personally close to any females who play those sports. Personal recreation is not a PR event - people won't go to great ends to be representative in their personal lives.

We should assume it to be innocent unless he says something - I doubt most of us have perfectly statistically even distributions of friends. If we don't have a Chinese friend to go out drinking with, that doesn't necessarily say anything about how we feel about Chinese people.



Thu Oct 15 18:30:04 2009
Wikis and how bandwidth/disk fails as an argument for Inclusionism

Over many years, the "is bandwidth/disk space an issue?" argument has repeatedly been proven bad for any wikis where it's dominant - the point of keeping things appropriate is a cultural/content maintenance issue, not a technical one (otherwise, we would not be using a wiki to begin with - every change we make adds another revision and more content for spiders to rummage over). We don't want mission creep - we need to maintain what the project is about, and prevent ego from distracting us from our goals. People and organisations often have a tough time learning how to be good wiki citizens - they have an urge for self-promotion and to effectively advertise themselves and their interests, regardless of the purpose of the site, and when wikis don't regulate that, one ends up with a lot of cruft, a lot of decent content handled inappropriately, and a site that has purpose-drift to the extent that nobody knows what it's about anymore, serving as the homepage for every person, group, and bit of trivia under the sun. I think we should firmly reject that, and restrain our argument to "what do we want the wiki to be about", ideally keeping that fairly narrow.



Tue Oct 13 14:53:23 2009
Cultural Steering

  • Source: here
  • Date: 29 July 2009

You're talking as if western libertene thought is a faith. It's another way to run a society, and one that we've probably taken a bit too far (even if its foundations are sound).

We'd probably be better off if parents (opressors!) were to make sure that youth in the US have better role models than our rappers. Consumerism has, at least in some areas, created terrible role models for children and given us a cultural rot that wastes potential of individuals and encourages crime. We may be able to find ways to combat this that are compatible with a libertene culture (with or without the state, we have an obligation to do cultural steering). China's taking a more direct route to fix an obvious problem, while the worst flavours of our political philosophies have a head-in-the-sand attitude, refusing to use the state to do any cultural maintenance/steering/enrichment and refusing to see it as an obligation outside the state. The latter are proposing a suicide pact where they would have us watch as society falls apart because to do anything else would mean not being "neutral".



Tue Oct 13 14:52:29 2009
Societies depend on trust

  • Source: here
  • Date: 31 July 2009

It's not feasable to make every part of society completely bulletproof, societal trust is part of many areas of this. People keep the trust because they are supposed to and because it'd be a big hassle to do otherwise.

In a neighbourhood, one neighbour may have a shed she doesn't want you playing around in. She might tie it shut with a rope, use a padlock, or even an electronic lock, depending on how much she cares. None of this is meant as a challenge - untying the rope, picking the lock, or messing with the electronic lock are all within the capabilities of some people. It's not cute to say "Your lock was not good enough, that's why I was in your shed".

I've read 2600 for years (it's sometimes interesting when one can get past the juvenile attitude), and know people in the community. The standard preface of "I am just doing this for intellectual curiosity and do not laud nor do things like this" is more legal covering of asses than anything else. In some areas maybe we can't rely entirely on societal trust and it's accidentally helpful to have people prodding at these systems, but they're still a nuisance and I would not trust the community in general to use that knowledge responsibly. I've known too many people who have bad attitude towards society in general and who would take these things as far as they can for personal benefit.

Being clever is great. Being clever in ways that hurt society is not.