Warming, Viruses, and Conspiracies

People seem disappointed that I’m not immediately jumping on the bandwagon with Dr. Li-Meng Yan’s claim that SARS-COV-2 is a man-made Chinese bioweapon.  There seems to have been some sort of belief that because I oppose the Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis and all policies based on it, I must be a fellow conspiracy theorist.

So, to clarify, I am not.  I have no deep emotional urge to disbelieve “the official story” or pluck at straws to undermine the claims of people I dislike.  I oppose AGW because there is no legitimate science support it, and much which disproves it.  If Dr. Li can support her claims with real evidence, I will re-evaluate my position.  I currently see significant evidence to doubt her claim, including the virus’ total inadequacy as bioweapon and my lack of knowledge of any nation having the capacity to produce viruses ex nihilo.

I understand that this puts me in opposition with many of my Trump-supporting friends, but frankly, that is why I left the Republican party after his nomination.

Tenets of Modern “Skepticism”

1. All human thought is either ‘science-based’ or ‘fantasy-based’. These are mutually exclusive, and there are no other possibilities.

2. Everything I like is ‘science-based’.

3. Because it is ‘science-based’, it has value in all situations. People who believe it are smart and good.

4. Everything I don’t like is ‘fantasy-based’.

5. Because it is ‘fantasy-based’, it cannot have value. People who believe it are stupid and bad.

A Thought as Orwell Spins…

The political party currently telling you that the police are racist brutes who cannot be trusted, is the same political party which says that you should forfeit your Constitutionally-affirmed right to self-defense, because police are the only ones which should be trusted with guns.

We Forget the Lessons of Vietnam

I was going to do a political cartoon about our abandonment of the Kurds turning allies against us… But it’s already happened. The whole area aligning with Syria and RUSSIA. And hundreds of ISIS prisoners have already escaped from the facilities we left behind with forces about to be wiped out by Turkey.

The response from the White House? ‘The Kurds are probably releasing the ISIS fighters (who killed 11,000 Kurds) on purpose.’

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/turkey-syria-incursion-kurds-isis-detainees-escape-sdf-alliance-bashar-assad-russia-today-2019-10-14/

Conversations

Me (in response to a Facebook meme):

Atheism is fundamentally incompatible with science.

Atheist A: “I would like you to explain that. I would never say general creationism is fundamentally incompatible with science. As the existence of a God can not be proven or dis proven. I would say young earth creationism is incompatible with science. What is your reasoning?”

Me: Young earth creation is BAD science, because it is an attempt to validate a premise, rather than falsify an hypothesis. But it is not “incompatible” with science–in fact, it is worse science to say “you’re not allowed to ask those questions.”
As for atheism and science:
Science is based on repeatable observation. For the same circumstances to give rise to the same objectively-observable phenomenon repeatedly, the universe must behave in a rational manner.
If the universe does not have a rational organizing principle, then there is no reason–including previous observations of what appear to be rational behavior–to expect future rational behavior. In other words, without a rational organizing principle, the universe is by definition irrational. Further, as subsets of the universe, if it is irrational then so are we. It is not possible for irrational beings to undertake a rational study of an irrational system.
Thus, without a rational organizing principle, “science” is a meaningless term applied to an impossible event.
A “rational organizing principle of the universe”–minus the mythological baggage of any particular religion–is the definition of God. Therefore, no God, no science.
Atheism is fundamentally incompatible with science because it posits an irrational universe, which negates both the function and the method of scientific inquiry.

Atheist B:  http://www.positiveatheism.org/faq/firstcause.htm

Me (rebutting various points in the article he linked): “The first axiom is very doubtful indeed. Quantum mechanics works with events in nature that are, or at least seem to be, completely random. I do not know how the author has managed to conflate “being random” with “being uncaused”, but he has. They are not the same, and this is a nonsense objection.”

B: “Hume showed that humans cannot perceive ’cause’ and ‘effect’, but construct these notions from past experiences.”

Me: Hume’s arguments about causation are questionable, and irrelevant regardless. This discussion is not based on perception of causation, but on deduction of causation.

B: “Even if we agree that everything we see has a cause (which for quantum reasons I won’t) how can we infer from that that everything has a cause? This is mere speculation, it is not knowledge we can ever have.”

This illustrates my original point quite clearly: the author goes directly to an irrational universe. If the law of cause-and-effect does not apply, then science is impossible. Moreover, it is not “mere speculation”–it is an axiom of science, a fundamental law of logic, and the most-validated repeatable observation possible.

B: “And just suppose that every thing has a cause, then the argument is still invalid, for the Universe is not a thing, it is the set of all things. And a set cannot be a member of itself, so a conclusion about things in the Universe is not necessarily valid for the Universe itself.”

While it is true in some mathematical practices that sets cannot contain themselves, this is because sets are defined as not containing sets. If the author wishes to make the rather absurd claim that universe is a set (which is actually just a metaphysical collection), then he must accept the consequence: there are NO sets, because all other sets would exist within the universe. Since all numbers are a set, that means that mathematics is invalidated, and once again we have an irrational universe.

B: “Then, I’m afraid, we have to say that God had a cause too, and that that cause had a cause too, ad infinitum.”

And this is where language is important. The argument is not that “everything has a cause”. It is “all things WHICH BEGIN are caused”. All physical objects have beginnings, and all physical objects have causes (note that there is more than one type of cause; cf. Aristotle). The universe began, therefore the universe is caused.
To then attempt to apply this argument to God would require that God began. Since this is contrary to the definition of God, it may be dismissed as nonsense.

Martial Arts in the U.S. Have Changed a Lot

I was heavily involved in martial arts in the 1990s. Having had no access at all to martial arts in high school, I had just finished a career as a wrestler through the 80’s. I started training in Shotokan karate and Cheng-system taiji in college, before being introduced to wonderful style called Hwarang-Do by a college classmate. I spent several years at this school, training under the late Franklin “Butch” Fowlkes, an ex-Army Ranger who would later found the Five Elements Martial Arts System. In addition to being an instructor of Hwarang-do and the senior student of Michael Echanis, Butch held advanced ranks in taekwondo and hapkido (both learned while serving on the Korean DMZ) and wing chun; all of which he surreptitiously inserted into our lessons.

Sa Bahm Nim Fowlkes eventually cured me of my military-hating liberal ways, and I shipped off to be a late-blooming military policeman in the U.S. Marine Corps. In addition to high-expert ratings with rifle and pistol (and later MOS qualification as a Primary Marksmanship Instructor), I was trained in L.I.N.E (this was before MCMAP), Combat Hitting Skills, and pretty much everything Monadnock had to offer.

Once in the fleet, I spent three full years on Okinawa; training in Shorin-ryu karate, kobujutsu, and jujutsu under Grandmasters Shimabukuro Eizo and Kise Fusei. I was also briefly deployed to South Korea, allowing me to train in hapkido is some of the same places that Butch had. Upon returning, I briefly worked as “security contractor” until war broke out in 2002, at which time I returned to service in the National Guard. When my first deployment with the National Guard was over, I trained to the level of Instructor Candidate in the kali-silat system of MasGuru Greg Allend, before my instructor moved and I was once again in a wasteland with no training available. So, I got my NRA training credentials and worked on that for several years.

Now, as I finally approach retirement from the Guard, I find myself in area with several “martial arts” schools available. Except that they aren’t. Martial arts have been almost completely replaced in the U.S. by combat sports. My choices are, for the most part, to engage in sparring against athletic hopefuls half my age in systems with no weapons training at and which largely rely on rolling around on the ground for effectiveness; or to train with elementary school children in a sort of pajama’ed gymnastics routine which may or may not involve waving bits of plastic around in semblance of “weapons”. Even firearms training consists almost exclusively of medium-range rifle shooting at stationary targets from a bench.

The human race is not at the top of the food chain because we are the strongest or fastest animals on the planet. We are at the top of the food chain because we know how to make tools which largely negate the advantages of speed and strength from those who DON’T use them. Somewhere along the line, the citizens of the United States–who use tools for everything that they do–have allowed themselves to be convinced that using tools IN DEFENSE OF HUMAN LIFE is wrong.

This needs to be corrected.

Just a Little Reality-Check

Dear liberals: No matter what anyone claims, the Federal budget is 100% the responsibility of Congress. Period, full stop.

Dear Conservatives: RIFs only apply to planned furloughs, not emergency shut-downs. This is not a brilliant master plan.