Gun rights in America

Originally posted as a comment on this Louder with Crowder post in regards to whether the right to keep and bear arms applies to individuals. I’m reproducing it here for easier reference in the future.

You should add in the Militia Acts of 1792 which basically calls every citizen 18 or older a de-facto citizen of the militia and _requires_ them to be able to furnish a gun and ammo if called on. In other words, what we now understand as selective service has its roots in the “well regulated militia” clause. “A well regulated militia” meant citizens who were equipped and disciplined enough to form a standing army if called on.

This same sentiment was re-expressed when the Militia Act of 1862 was passed which basically recognized black people as citizens _by recognizing them as militia members_.

US v. Cruikshank is a particularly interesting SCOTUS case which illustrates majority of challenges to the 2nd Amendment have been on the racial grounds of keeping “those people” from owning weapons with which to defend themselves. Namely the KKK trying to prevent black people from owning guns and 2. that the right to keep and bear arms is not _granted_ by any government but merely recognized.


The Intern – Movie review


The Intern” could have been a great movie.

Obligatory spoiler alert here.

Ben is the grandfather you never had. He is in his 70s but you would never know it because he is physically fit and his mental faculties are as sharp as ever. He has led a long successful life and is apparently doing well enough financially to afford a nice house in a nice NY neighborhood and wear tailored suits every day. Ben loves learning and doing new things. Ben even learned to speak Chinese. Why? Who cares! Ben is obviously the picture of competence and professional accomplishment.

One day Ben come across an ad (in a printed newspaper) for a “senior intern”. A company has had the brilliant idea to hire elderly people as interns. Why? We are never told. Some sort of charity I suppose. Or perhaps it’s because seniors are always getting into trouble and therefore need something to do with their spare time. Either way Ben responds to the ad and gets “hired” because who could be more awesome than our hero?

But wait. Shortly after Ben is hired we discover that his heroics pale in comparison to the woman he will be assigned to for the duration of the film.

This is where we meet Jules. Jules is the founder and owner of an ultra-successful internet startup. This startup specializes in making sure that the clothing you order on its site will fit you when it arrives. Jules is a cross between Jeff Bezos and  Steve Jobs. Jules can do it all. And Jules has no need for Ben.

For some reason Ben is assigned to “help” Jules anyway and a significant portion of the movie is spent showing Ben idling in the office waiting for Jules to need him. During this wait Ben decides to help the other male interns get their acts together. Ben helps one intern fix a relationship that he broke some time ago (by accidentally sleeping with the the girl’s roommate). Ben helps another intern with general life skills like how to tuck in his shirt and wear a tie. Ben even helps Jules’s assistant, who has a masters in business degree from Princeton, get noticed by our superstar Jules.

Finally the day comes where Ben is needed by Jules. The near flawless Jules has spilled something on her coat. No doubt the fault for this mishap lays with the dish she was eating or the person who prepared it because one thing is already clear in this movie, Jules never does anything wrong on her own.

Ben goes to retrieve the garment to take it by the dry cleaners and discovers that Jules is still wearing it. When Ben goes to retrieve it from her he overhears a meeting where Jules is being maneuvered by her board to look for a CEO to give her some “adult supervision”.

This is the major conflict that the movie revolves around. Who will Jen choose as a mentor/boss?

A minor conflict arises at this point because remember Jules doesn’t need Ben. The script writers needed to figure out how to get Ben close enough to Jules to provide her with some of the great advice he’s already doling out to the other interns. This is solved by Ben casually looking out of the window and seeing Jules’s driver drinking from a flask in his jacket. Ben confronts the driver and allows him to gracefully exit the scene while Ben assumes the duty of driving Miss Daisy, err Jules.

This is where we learn about Jules’s life away from work. Just kidding. Jules’s personal and professional lives overlap so much that Ben basically becomes the Alfred to her Batman from this point on.

The movie reaches its climax when Jules decides that she doesn’t need a CEO to provide her with adult supervision at all. What she really needs to do is to simply lean in a little more.

Along the way we learn that Jules’s husband, who just comes out of left field in the movie, is cheating on her because he is just not strong enough to be a good house husband, excuse me stay at home father. We also learn that Jules has a strained relationship with her mother. We know this because at one point in the movie Ben leads a raiding party of interns to go delete a nasty email about her mother that Jules sent to her mother by mistake.

At no point does Jules learn or grow in this movie.

In classic feminist fashion every other character is made to confront their shortcomings and flaws. What makes this movie somewhat unique, however, is that it pits the cultural milieu that gave rise to  two competent and accomplished characters against each other. Ben likely grew up in the 30s and 40s. Jules remarks on how Ben has managed to shed the sexism that his generation is apparently notorious for and at one point Ben actually says “I don’t mean to be the feminist here” while correcting Jules when she toyed with the idea of giving up the feminist fantasy world she’s living in because her family is in danger. Jules, on the other hand, grew up in the progressive 90s and 00s where she was expected to break glass ceilings while also having a family and competing for mom of the year.

Everything that makes Ben’s advice worth listening to is at odds with how Jules is living her life. One of the sub-plots in the movie is that Ben is looking for female companionship. Not a wife, just someone he can take to funerals and occasionally have sex with. Think of it like an elderly play date. Anyway, through this sub plot we learn that Ben was happily married before and his wife stayed home to take care of their son. We never meet the son in the movie or even hear anything else about him. This is especially odd when you consider how the climax of the movie goes with Jules crying about how she is likely to die alone if she divorces her husband.

Jules thinks it’s unfair that her husband will likely run off and re-marry the soccer mom he’s been seeing for quite some time now while work will likely consume and overshadow any hope of a family for Jules.

Ben resolves this for Jules by telling her she can be buried in the same plot with he and his wife. I’m not sure how this is supposed to resolve the real conflict Jules raised earlier but according to the magical world of cinema, it does.

This could have been a great movie. The question underlying the whole elderly intern program idea appears to be “where have all of the seniors gone from our lives?” We read about how timeless wisdom about life and how to live it well used to be transmitted down through generations by having elderly people around to mentor us. In fact the movie’s tagline is “experience never gets old”.

However the inescapable lesson the movie seems to drive home is that the only real wisdom the older generation can give is in being cheerleaders. I mentioned earlier where Ben led the interns on a raid of Jules’s mother’s house to remove an email Jules accidentally sent out of frustration. That email was Jules complaining to her secretary about how her mother was a raging bitch because she had the audacity to criticize Jules. Jules wants to get rid of Ben early on because he is “too observant” and she tells him later that she considered that to be a problem because she feared he might judge her. I don’t think the word “mentor” is used in the film at all. It couldn’t be because that would imply a relationship where Jules would be expected to confront her character flaws and grow past them. However the lesson that is driven home in this movie is that feminist heroes arrive on the scene already perfect with no further character development required. In fact it is the world that needs to develop around them.

Here’s the trailer. And even though I think this movie could have been great I still think it’s worth watching. If nothing else it provides great food for thought.

Why don’t you Christians do something about the KKK?

A friend of mine posted the following picture on my Facebook wall recently:


The problem with the Christian -> KKK and Muslim -> ISIS analogy lies in how we define what a fundamentalist or radical is.

For a Christian that would mean looking like Jesus. For a Muslim that would mean looking like Mohammad. Some Muslims, in their devotion to Muhammad, even enter into the bathroom with the left foot because one of the Hadiths (additional teachings and sayings of Mohammad’s life) teach that he entered with his left foot and left with his right foot. Likewise the term “Christian” literally means “little Christs” and there are many places in the Bible which spell out how followers of “the Way” (another title Jesus applied to himself) should think and act.

These should help you understand how its not legitimate for people to call themselves Mohammed or Christ followers without actually following the respective founders.

Most people who legitimately consider themselves Christians and Muslims haven’t actually studied their respective founders. There are a number of lofty sayings and behaviors in Christianity that, upon further inspection, simply don’t enjoy the support of scripture. Likewise there are a number of things that many Muslims do which aren’t supported by the Koran or any of the Hadiths.

So the question to ask with respect to the meme above is whether or not ISIS is acting in accord with what we have recorded about the life and teachings of Muhammad. We should apply the same standard to the KKK.

That will settle the question of legitimacy. The next question raised by the image above is about the spread of a supposed heretical strain of teaching.

The KKK only have at most 8k members and that is spread across groups who often fight with each other about the right to claim the name (source). That’s a clear sign that the KKK’s back has been broken. Furthermore, The last act of terrorism that can be traced back to the KKK appears to be the Michael Donald lynching carried out over 3 decades ago. So given the infighting, dwindling numbers, infighting among disparate groups which all claim the mantle, it’s hard to see how the KKK is an issue or exists in any meaningful way today.

At the most the KKK of today is a glorified trolling organization. A fact backed up by Dylan Roof’s manifesto of sorts where he complained that none of the other KKK members he was in contact with took the racial superiority stuff seriously. “We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet.””

On the other side you have ISIS who, to make a long story short, are operating well within the bounds of what Muhammad taught. And statistics indicate that they are not on the decline.

In summary, the original picture above couldn’t be more wrong.

Bonus: It appears that the KKK was more of a pyramid scheme anyway.

Film, divorce, and alienation

The other night I found myself watching E.T with the family. And since I can’t watch a movie anymore without also being on my laptop, here are some interesting facts about E.T I bet you didn’t know.

First and foremost, E.T. is all about divorce, not aliens.

After his success with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Spielberg had instead set out to make a smaller, more personal film. “E.T. was about the divorce of my parents, how I felt after my parents broke up,” Spielberg admitted. “[It was] the first movie I ever made for myself.” The idea for E.T began to form while the director was on location in Tunisia for Raiders. A lonely Spielberg started picturing something of an imaginary friend. “It was like when you were a kid and had grown out of dolls or teddy bears,” he recalled. “You just wanted a little voice in your mind to talk to. I began concocting this imaginary creature, partially from the guys who stepped out of the Mother Ship for ninety seconds in Close Encounters [1977].” He shared the idea with Melissa Mathison, Harrison Ford’s screenwriter girlfriend who had already penned two family films The Black Stallion (1979) and The Escape Artist (1982). Together Spielberg and Mathison fleshed out the story.

Additionally, it appears that Spielberg’s father issues have had a profound influence on most of his work.

Spielberg researched for his upcoming film “Lincoln” for over 12 years and it is partially inspired by his reconciliation with his father.

He was the father of a nation in need of repair and in a sense the movies I’ve made recently have reflected the positive relationship that my dad and I have enjoyed for 20-25 years.

Oh, and it should be noted that it was Spielberg’s mother that filed for divorce, after having an affair with one of her husband’s friends. And Steven blamed his mother, not his father, for the subsequent breakup of the family.

When Spielberg was 19, his parents got divorced after his mother fell in love with one of his father’s best friends. “It’s still a mystery to me, but even though my mother was like an older sister to me, I kind of put her up on a pedestal,” Spielberg said. “And my dad was much more terrestrial, much more grounded, much more salt of the earth. And for some reason, it was easier for me to blame him than it was to someone who I was already — exalted.

All of this serves to demonstrate once again how important marriage is for children.

Invalid comparisons, invalid conclusions


The image above is making the following argument:
Premise 1: Things that look the same should be treated equally
Premise 2: Under the skin, we all _look_ the same
Conclusion: Therefore we should disregard all of the categories above and treat each other as equals.

The first problem is that its not true that we are all the same under the skin. There are numerous differences between us even in our skeletons. These differences are such that archeologists will still know a lot about us even when we are dead and gone.

Next, there are a number of problems with both premises. And a lot of it has to do with disregarding what the categories above are based on.

For example, black and white are two categories that deal primarily with skin. Therefore its invalid to show a picture of a skeleton in order to prove that no difference exists between blacks and white. Martin Luther Jr didn’t base his argument that he and his people should be treated equally on that argument. Instead he based his argument on the Bible which teaches us that we are all equal by virtue of our relationship to our creator. Not because we all “look” the same under the skin.

Then there is the issue with comparing one set of categories with another. For example, the black and white categories can be considered two elements of one set that we can express as (black, white). The next set of categories is gay and straight as those both deal with sexual orientation. That can be expressed as (gay, straight). And the final set, just for completeness, is (religious, atheist) which is based on acknowledgement of the supernatural or not.

Comparing the three sets of categories based on what the author supposes is a good argument for the equality of the first category (that we are all equal under the skin based on the general fact that we have bones) isn’t valid. Even if it were true that elements of the (black, white) set could be shown to be equal by the “everyone’s equal under the skin” function, it doesn’t follow that we can apply that same function to the other sets.

For example, we can’t say that the categories of gay and straight are equal simply because the have equivocal bone structure. That would be like saying that Mother Teresa and Hitler were really the same (ie equal) because they both had feet and hands.

The biggest difference between Mother Teresa and Hitler isn’t primarily physical. So a comparison based on a physical measure isn’t going to help us come to a correct conclusion about the relationship between these two people or elements.

Likewise, the difference between the sets above are not primarily physical so it follows that the image is wrong in its premise that things which look the same are the same since physical appearance is not the distinguishing characteristic of any of the categories above.

40% of homeless youth are LGBT, and the parents are to blame!

Thus says this ThinkProgress image, anyway:

I found this image on a Facebook friend’s wall. Here’s my response interposed with comments from his rather liberal friends:

It is sad that they would reject their family rather than learning to control themselves.

So it’s safe to assume, Wes Widner, that you also would reject your children if/when they decided they were gay, because you read Leviticus and you choose to ignore all other Leviticus passages, but hold the one about same sex to literal interpretations.

I guess we can see now why 40% of homeless youths are lgbt. It’s parents who feel they have to be cruel to show love, even though that’s not Showing love.

You know you could replace homosexuality in that equation with any other immoral lifestyle and you would have essentially the same question of how we, as parents, would deal with it. Certainly we wouldn’t condone it or support it in any way. And because we believe it is deeply immoral and therefore self-destructive we would plead with them to repent and change their ways. But if they persist, if they choose their immorality over us then we won’t stand in their way and will allow them to make that choice.

Now you can try to re-frame that as rejecting them and causing them to be homeless if you want and then draw from that a wellspring of moral indignation of our apparent bigotry towards homosexuality. But the truth is that I’ve had friends whose children have decided to live in immoral heterosexual relationships where they have been forced, by their children, to make the hard and gut-wrenching decision (I know it was gut wrenching because I saw the tears) to not enable their immoral lifestyle which, because of their immaturity and stubborn determination to life as they saw fit, led to their being homeless. Thankfully that destitution lasted until they wound up pregnant in which was another rocky road in itself but eventually caused them to think of someone other than themselves and now they aren’t homeless and, more importantly, aren’t living in a self-absorbed immoral lifestyle.

Now the real tragedy with the image above is that the LGBT lifestyle is being so aggressively pushed even when it leads to such horrible outcomes. I understand the desire to paint the parents as the evil ones here, and in many other pro-GLBT propaganda pieces I’ve seen, but the truth is exactly the opposite. I would wager that in most cases its not the parents who are rejecting their children but the children who are rejecting their parents.

Sorry, but the truth is that many people like myself believe that some lifestyles are deeply immoral and that that immorality is more important than any temporary physical discomfort such as homelessness.

Oh, and the tl;dr version is: Its not “showing love” to condone an immoral/self-destructive lifestyle.

I am absolutely appalled at your attitude. “Physical discomfort?” Are you fucking kidding me? Would you throw your 14-year-old child out on the street for expressing love for a person of the same gender? With no tools or ability to survive? Would you be OK with that same child wandering the streets, only to be lured into drugs or prostitution by criminals because the very people who were supposed to love and protect them rejected them for their silly little “morals?”

Where is the morality in abandoning your child? It sickens me, how you’d throw your kid out like common trash.

XXXX, are you likewise trying to justify condoning immoral behavior by not dealing with it?

Rather than turning this into an emotional “I’m offended” session why don’t we try to suppress our natural emotional responses and at least make an attempt to view this issue from a viewpoint different from our own?

Homosexuality is not immoral behavior. Your argument, therefore, is completely invalid.

I get emotional when I hear that someone would have no problem discarding a child for not adhering to their parents’ religious doctrine. There is a huge difference between murder/theft/selling drugs and loving someone of the same sex.

The fact that you think it’s all the same tells me you have some serious mental issues. I suggest therapy. Maybe it’ll help clear away the brainwashing.

‎”Homosexuality is not immoral behavior. Your argument, therefore, is completely invalid. ”

Ah, so here is where our difference really lies. So we can cut out all the emotionalism and I can attempt to help you understand my viewpoint by substituting homosexuality, which you don’t believe is immoral, with something you do believe is immoral and then all I want to ask is whether that would change your perception? I really want to know because I’ve known parents who have housed and thus tacitly condoned their childrens’ drug addictions so I wouldn’t presume to conclude that just because we change the act in question from something you don’t consider to be immoral to something you do presumably do consider to be immoral that you would then agree that a valid course of action would be to refuse to condone their behavior through material support which includes room and board.

One of the issues we run into when discussing issues like this is that they are built on multiplied layers where we disagree on more than one so that if we don’t take the time to unravel the issue we cannot possibly hope to gain any substantive understanding of one another and thus cannot expect to make any progress.

Oh, and as an addendum, refusing to condone a child’s immoral lifestyle by expecting them to provide for themselves when they refuse to abide by your rules is hardly to discard them. That would be what pro-abortion proponents advocate in terms of discarding unwanted children as mere biomass. No, regretfully allowing a child to experience the results of their rejection of their parents is to actually hold out hope that they will, at some point in the future, end their rebellion and choose to end their selfishness and self-destructive lifestyle.

Should Christian women wear bikinis?

Bottom line: Be mindful of your wardrobe’s effect on others. That is, if you want to be viewed as a person and not an object.

Pay tithes or get shot!

The Great Porn Experiment

The Atheist War Against Logic and Philosophy