Print Story The price of freedom
Diary
By lm (Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:31:43 PM EST) (all tags)
Being tired all the time from staying up too late to watch television.

Blather follows.



It's been hot lately. Hot and humid wet. I brought this up at coffee hour following the Liturgy this past Sunday to a guy I'd not met before. He was quite the large man, well over six foot tall and somewhat overweight. His reply, `No kidding, try being fat in this weather.'

Nevertheless some people have ways of coping. For example, one day this week, I had to take my wife out to the repair shop to get her wheelchair worked on and I ended up coming into at about 11:30. With the full force of the August summer sun beating down on me, I passed two elderly guys chillaxin' in the shade of some trees, kicking back in the grass sharing a forty and a joint.

The heat hasn't been so bad on me. Our apartment is air conditioned. My work is air conditioned. The bus I take to work is air conditioned. There is only trouble in paradise at times like last week when the cooling tower at the building where I work broke or like this week when the entire heating/cooling system at my apartment building was turned off to upgrade the boiler by means of replacing it. Of course, my two daughters bore the brunt of that one. They found ways to cope, journeying out to the local mall to shop for four hours or so during the hottest part of the day.

My favorite trick from the bad old days when I didn't have air conditioning is to soak a tee shirt in water, put it in the freezer for ten minutes or so, just long enough for the water to begin to freeze. Then put it on. It takes your breath away. For bonus points, stand in front of a fan until the shirt is dry. Then, if need be, repeat. The same could probably be done boxers. I've not tried that.

:: :: :: :: ::

I finished Carlo Levi's Christ Stopped at Eboli this week. It's a very nice read. It did take me two tries to get through it. I don't know why it just didn't catch my fancy the first time by the first few pages just seemed not worth it. A couple of years later, I picked it up off the shelf and it grabbed my attention from the very start. It's a memoir about the year the author spent in exile in a small, rural town in Fascist era Italy. The descriptions of the peasant life of hardship under the hot, Italian sun is profoundly moving in many ways. Levi started to lose me over the few brief pages where he started to make his political commentary explicit rather than to let the absurdity of the situation speak for itself as he does in most places. But those pages are few in number and the rest of the book really shines. My biggest complaint is the abrupt ending with no real closure. But that is something that really that Levi had little control over. After all, when Fascists say that it's time to go home, it really is time to go home.

I think my next casual read will probably be Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground. A guy who I once knew only as the guitarist of my favorite punk rock band and whom I became reacquainted with when he popped up on Facebook commenting on the status of the younger sister of ex-girlfriend of mine from high school and who just took the Ohio Bar Exam suggested it to me. He had put up a very nice note on how the particulars of legal cases often lead to room for moral ambiguity.  I commented to point out the parallels between what he'd written and my present research into the problem of the universal and the particular as formulated by al-Farabi. In turn, he suggested Notes from Underground. From what he said, the novel deals more with themes of the simple and the complex than with the universal and the particular. Nevertheless there is some overlap and Dostoevsky is my second favorite Russian author (after Chekov). Not to mention, it would be really slick if I could drop some hip literary references into my thesis. The odd thing is that as much as I like Dostoevsky, I've read so little of his writing. I've read far more Tolstoy and I'm not a very big Tolstoy fan.

:: :: :: ::

My grandma fainted while attending Mass this past Sunday. It was the 150th anniversary of the parish that she used to go to with her fiancee back in the days before he became my grandpa. The service was packed. It was a hot summer day in a 150 year old building with an antiquated A/C unit. Fortunately, she was standing between two of her children, one a paramedic and the other a nurse. By Tuesday, she had been sent home from the hospital and seems to be doing fine. My uncle's comment was that either she doing some heavy drinking before the Mass or she took her blood pressure medication without eating anything.

My grandma is a pretty amazing woman. I think she's 85. Given her age, she's in pretty good shape. She's not up to going sky diving like George H.W. Bush did on his birthday this year. nor, like Jack LaLanne, is she ready to swim in chains around Ellis Island. But her mind is still sharp even as her body is slowly giving out. She can't make out the words that her parish priest says from the pulpit, so he prints up his homilies for her. Of her four children that still live in town, they take turns taking her to Church services.

Some of my earliest memories are of her, or at least of playing in her house. I remember building ranch complexes out of Lincoln Logs, driving Matchbox cars around them, and when my grandma ducked her head in from doing laundry or other housework, I told her that when I grew up, I was going to build a log cabin out in the woods and that she could come out and live with me when she got old if she wanted and I would drive her everywhere she needed to go. I also remember playing in the snow on cold winter days and coming in to be greeted by steaming cups of hot chocolate and buttered toast to take the chill out of my bones.

She also sent me a birthday card this year. It arrived in the mail a month late, the day before my daughter's birthday. Of course, I didn't read it until the next day, Sunday. I was probably reading the card she mailed me around the same time she was fainting.

Some days I feel a bit guilty that I don't live close enough to help out with things like mowing her lawn or driving her to mass. I don't beat myself up about it too much. I can't do everything for everyone.

:: :: ::

This op/ed piece on Why Atheists Care About Religion caught my eye for a number of reasons, first and foremost because I thought it was an unusually intellectually honest and sober treatment of a topic usually treated with histrionics, hyperbole, and vehement rhetoric on all sides of the question. Soberness and honesty aside, two things really caught my eye. The first is the apparent presentation of the critical method as the only route to truth. The second is the false dichotomy that is presented as a function of this: people are presented as either being critical (rational) or dogmatic (irrational) with nothing in between. It seems to me that one does not have to be in what Husserl would call the philosophical frame of reference in order to be rational, or even to not be in a dogmatic frame of reference. Nevertheless, it's a well written piece.

A few weeks ago, I caught Ridley Scott's GI Jane broadcast late at night on some obscure cable channel or the other. In the film, the question of women in combat came up as an intentional matter of policy spearheaded by a feminist senator. In reality, the question is being solved on the battlefield as a practical question. It seems the old guard of the US Army has to go to war with the army it has and not the army it wishes it had and that this is opening the door for woman soldiers on combat duty.

From the ``seriously, it's not a joke'' department, The Pope, Jimmy Carter, Bob Bar and Susan Sarandon walk into a bar. Okay, so it's not quite a bar. Still, strange bedfellows and all that ...

Ryan Sager doesn't understand the difference between grass roots and astro turf. The distinction, missing from his analysis, is that people (paid or unpaid) to encourage other to write letters or show up at town hall meetings is organizing. This is a different animal than people being paid to write letters or disrupt meetings, people writing letters in other people's names.

I'm not certain what to say when a woman sets herself on fire at store counter and then strolls through mall while ablaze. The story strikes a little close to home for me. A relative of mine died by self-immolation. It was a closed casket funeral. It's also the first funeral I went to that I really remember as a funeral. I remember understanding that he was dead. But I didn't yet understand why that would make so many people sad.

The venerable gray hair periodical Reader's Digest files for bankruptcy. Too bad it's Chapter 11. I've got a chip on my shoulder over their utter lack of fact checking.

Clearly, the Socialist in Chief of the US needs to step it up. Real socialist authoritarians know how deal with dissent.  Chavez would certainly know how to deal with anti-government protesters carrying rifles.

And speaking of the Socialist in Chief, artist behind a world famous parody of him was a Kucinich supporter. Of course, the Kucinich guy wasn't the one that added `socialist' as a pejorative. Regardless, the ethnic background of the satirist makes me chuckle over the various allegations of racism.

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews has a review of Aiming at Virtue in Plato by Iakovos Vasiliou which is apparently a book that tries to stand Socrates' theory of ethics on its head. The attempt is an interesting one. He tries to explain the apparent tensions in Plato's Socratic dialogs by distinguishing between two questions: ``what ought we to aim for in our lives?'' and ``how can we determine what will get us there?'' Vasilou's presentation seems to be that Socrates thought the first question answerable (virtue is the end) but the second question is not (we do not know what virtue is, let alone how to attain it). This might end up being very relevant to my MA thesis as al-Farabi's argument for the virtuous political regime is explicitly built on the idea that the philosopher king will be able to answer both of these questions not only for himself, not only for an entire city, not only for an entire nation, but for an entire empire.

I thought that this story was an interesting case of relationship judo. Certainly not the approach usually taken, `Hey, take some time to grow up. Me and the kids will still be here when you do.'

Amish newspaper apparently Internet-proof

CNN's prediction that oil isn't likely to hit three digits per barrel anytime soon cracks me up. I guess it depends on what means by soon. Personally, I expect oil to be trading normally at three digits per barrel with a couple of years. Of course, my prediction on oil and a sawbuck will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. The reason for my prediction, though, is twofold. On the one hand the price of oil per barrel right now is artificially low as many governments subsidize oil production but few governments tax oil or its refined equivalents at a high enough rate to pay for the costs of using oil (roads, environmental cleanup, and etcetera).

As for economy. Earlier this week, Diane Rehm hosted a panel on her radio show. Bottom line, they all think we're screwed. Warrent Buffett also thinks it's bad.

What was that you said Mr. Kennedy? that you believe it is vital for this Commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate? I can't imagine anyone that might have been in a position to do something about that in the past three to nine years or so.

:: ::

So of course being scientifically demonstrated to be not-fat was too much goodness for me to handle. A weekend full of feast days, my eldest daughter's 16th birthday, pizza, hamburgers, cookies, Cheetos™, beers, pseudo-Irish pubs and the like put me right back up at 175 come Monday morning. I was also tired and dragging my corybungus, struggling to stay awake all day. Perhaps I'm catching a cold. Of course, by Tuesday, I started to shed the extra weight. By the end of the week, I shed it all.

Running is mostly uninteresting. With no stop watch, I have no real way to measure progress (or lack thereof). Monday morning, I did see something interesting, some sort of large, winged insect in its death throws on the sidewalk. It's coloring was like that of a cicada, but its body was more wasp shaped. I didn't get close enough to take a good look. As it writhed around in pain and agony, I just ran right on by, putting one foot in front of the other, sweating, and sweating some more.

With regards to weight lifting, my trapezius is killing me again. It started Monday when I woke up. They just hurt. And that was before I started lifting. After I lifted, the pain subsided for a bit, but by afternoon, the pain was back and I hit the medicinal analgesics to good effect. Then they hurt all day Tuesday. It's not a worrisome pain. It's the kind of pain you'd expect if you're building muscle. But it's certainly irritating, irritating enough to make me grouchy. Fortunately by Wednesday, the pain had started to taper off there only to have my sinister rhomboideus major start complaining. Also, my legs finally seem to be getting the hang of the increased weight. My hamstrings are a bit tender but they don't hurt like they have been and I haven't had any signs of shin splints in a few weeks.

Motivating myself has been a challenge recently. Quite a few mornings, I feel like shrugging my shoulders, saying ``forget this'' and getting another hour of sleep before I go to work. I've yet to do that. I find myself asking myself why I'm doing this. The answer is always the same: because it's worth doing.

::

Speaking of having gone to the faux-Irish pub, it was a fun night out. After a period of indecision followed by threats of the imposition of dastardly punishments of increasing grotesqueness should she not make up her mind post haste, my eldest daughter finally decided that she wanted to eat out at McGinty's in honor of turning sixteen. On the menu was something billed as a traditional Irish breakfast, eggs, bangers, rashers, both black and white pudding, baked beans and a choice of mashed potatoes or chips. It sounded like an awful, terrible lot of food to me so I asked my wife if she were interested in splitting it. She wondered aloud what the black pudding was. I ignored her question and asked her how she wanted her eggs.

While walking home, the truth came out.

`I ATE WHAT? WHY DIDN'T SOMEONE WARN ME!'

And for the rest of the evening she complained about having pains in her stomach and the barbarity of eating clotted blood. Though, she did like the white pudding until she looked up what suet was. I had the baked beans and rashers all to myself. Over all, I wasn't that impressed. On the other hand, I can see how it would make great comfort food.

< I got nothing | ancient history >
The price of freedom | 24 comments (24 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Women in combat by duxup (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:02:31 PM EST
I saw a congressional hearing when a congressman was asking about women in combat in Iraq a year or two into it.  Even at that point the military brass hummed and hawed at answering questions directly. A second congressman then bailed out the military brass dudes by asking some pointed questions about how vital it is to have women in some roles. Basically he was setting up the brass to quietly send a message to the first congressman. The message was that they needed women in these positions, organizationally the military was setup for this pretty battlefield where various units don’t do regular combat but that went to hell fast, they know damn well they're combat roles, heck their assignments are in fact expecting regular combat many times, and they (the brass) were worried that asking too many questions and drawing the ire of some folk who don't think women should be in those roles.
 
I don’t doubt some people would be upset and shocked but I think in general the military overestimates the PR hit from openly admitting women are in direct combat roles. Having said that their orders are otherwise so sitting in front of congress saying they’re essentially defying that wouldn’t seem like a good idea either. 
 
The short of it: You heard right that we’ve been up to something with these women. You don’t want to have to change the rules and take the political hit for such an act and we get that. However, you don’t want to ask too many questions because if your constituents get all riled up over it we’re all going to be in between a rock and a hard place.


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PBS had a documentary on these woman by garlic (4.00 / 1) #22 Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 03:14:05 PM EST
the military program name and the documentary were both called Lioness I believe.


[ Parent ]
anti-government protesters carrying rifles by duxup (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:12:36 PM EST
Remember the Bush era "free speech zones"? He seemed to know what to do with unrest too. I wonder if a gun carrier would have even been allowed to carry a weapon there?

Also didn't Regan pass some law that limited gun rights in such situations too?


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sen. kennedy by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:18:00 PM EST
is wrong.

it's not like the other recent examples of appointed Senators have been good.

and ... shit, if he thinks that MA deserves representation, he should f*cking well resign. It's not like he's ever going to do his job again.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

Not that simple by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #10 Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 07:10:34 PM EST
I actually agree with Kennedy's position from a purely political point of view.  He can't vote for HealthCare Reform.  Probably isn't allowed to travel to do it.  So he needs to resign, but if he resigns now it leaves his seat open until most likely February.  And then the seat could go to someone who is ideologically wrong for the task.  Before the state Legislature decided to try to screw over Mitt Romney it wouldn't have been an issue since at that time the Governor had the authority to appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term.  They replaced that with the current system when Kerry was running for President.




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
That is true ... by lm (2.00 / 0) #11 Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 07:52:23 PM EST
... but if Kennedy had resigned last summer when he decided on an aggressive course of treatment, the good people of Massachusetts would have full representation in the US Senate by now short of a Minnesota style photo-finish.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Niether here not there by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #13 Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 09:28:13 AM EST
I don't know his motivation.  Perhaps he was under the impression/delusion that the treatment would work.  The man is at end of life and accepting that is a blow to anyone.  Especially a cancer patient.  Once you accept that you likely won't survive, then you likely won't survive.  I know it's annecdotal, but people with a strong desire to survive will usually last longer even with terminal cancer.  I'm not a Ted Kennedy apologist, but I'm not going to fault him for this.  Being a Senator has been the cornerstone of his life since 1980.




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't use the harsh language aphrael used by lm (2.00 / 0) #15 Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 09:44:50 AM EST
My only point is that his actions do not line up with his stated goals.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I see that by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #16 Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 09:57:50 AM EST
I just give the man some leeway on this one.  I think when he ran four years ago he felt he could handle another term.  I expected this to be the last term regardless.  If he fully expected to be able to get through a final term and then expected to be able to pull through this health problem, then I can give him leeway.   I also think that is consistent with his current message.  Could he have left earlier?  Yes.  The question is, did he believe at any of those points that he wouldn't be able to vote on Legislation or that he would be able to leave?  I don't know, but I don't think that's the case.  

I replied to aphrael's last comment with a little background on my view of the Senator's position.  It's to represent the state's interest.  Not necessarily the people in the state, so Kennedy's current position is consistent with my politics.  And yes, I know it's a 19th Century viewpoint, but hey, I'm  a guy who always complains when people call me a liberal.

I don't give him leeway on No Child Left Behind.  I think that legislation is more a violation of his stated goal than this is. 




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
I would like the Senate to be aristocratic by lm (4.00 / 2) #17 Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 12:20:44 PM EST
IMO, right now the Senate draws from the worst of both worlds,. To use the language of classical political philosophy, it's a democratic institution that acts like its an oligarchy. Whereas it was originally designed to be an aristocratic institution that acts republican.

The cardinal problem with political appointments in the US is the almost complete lack of any real aristocracy. Instead we have the well-monied, the well-connected and the demagogues.

But that is neither here nor there. I just wanted to throw out that I don't have any problem with political appointments per se.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
so what if the seat goes to someone by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #12 Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:33:45 PM EST
who is ideologically wrong for the task?

if he can no longer do his job, then the people of the state get to decide who should replace him. that's the rule in place ... and the recent instances of the use of the competing rule, that the executive should decide, have indicated that letting the executive decide this leads to really bad results.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
From my point of view by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #14 Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 09:39:37 AM EST
I wasn't in favor of the change in law to a special election.  I wanted to keep the ability to choose a temporary Senator to remain with the Governor.  Even if it was a Republican.  I have an issue with the state not having a second vote in the Senate.  It puts the state at a disadvantage.  We have ten times the population of Nebraska, but during this period we would have half the representation of Nebraska.  I have an issue with that.

In my mind the Senators from Massachusetts are not there to do the bidding of the Federal Government.  They aren't their to do what's best by Washington DC.  They aren't there to do what's best for Nebraska.  They're there to do what in the best interest of the State of Massachusetts.  Yes, I have a 19th Century view of Federalism.

Likewise I have an issue with direct election of the Senate.  I much prefer the concept of Legislative appointment to the Senate than direct election.   The Governor nominating a replacement with the approval of the state Senate might be acceptable to me. 




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
what's best by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #19 Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 05:58:08 PM EST
so I can get behind the job of the Senator being to fight for what's best for the State, although I also think that his job may be to compromise that if it's really in the interests of the nation.

That said, I think that Sens. Burris and Gillibrand are examples of the idea that gubernatorial appointments breed mediocrity at best, and think that a gubernatorial replacement for Sen. Kennedy, Democrat or no, is likely to be just as bad.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Temporary Appointed Replacement by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #20 Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:46:28 PM EST
Keep in mind that what Kennedy is suggesting is a replacement for the five month period between the opening of the office and the special election to be held.  He isn't suggesting that the state go back to the old process, but a change in the current process. 




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
right by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #21 Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 11:39:30 PM EST
but unless the person promised not to run for re-election, they'd start off with the incumbency advantage, which is enormous in the Senate.

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
But if they were as bad as you make it by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #23 Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 07:54:17 PM EST
then they wouldn't get elected even with the Senate position in hand.  Would Burris in Illinois really have a chance if he ran for election?  I don't think so. 




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
read my lips: no new taxes by lm (2.00 / 0) #24 Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 10:48:37 PM EST
Promises are empty.

On the other hand, codifying that temporary appointment to the senate could not run in a contiguous elections would have no small amount of merity.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
thnx for the relationship judo link by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:29:28 PM EST
sweet tale made mongo cry.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Great Buffett link. by ni (2.00 / 0) #5 Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 12:14:08 AM EST
Thanks.


"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM
Russian novelists by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 12:46:47 AM EST
I don't know why I don't read more.  I've read Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and loved both but have not hit most of either man's works.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
Dostoevsky... by ana (2.00 / 0) #8 Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 07:15:34 AM EST
writes a hell of a novel. Once you get into it, you have to sit up til October to find out how it turns out.

That said, Notes from the Underground never quite got started, at least for me. I've read all the novels, and loved two or three of them.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Black by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:36:13 AM EST
Pudding.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
I know a woman who's in combat in Iraq by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:45:50 AM EST
right now. Well, maybe not at this very minute, but she's in Iraq and has seen lots of action. She's an E-5.

"It's not the heat, it's the humidity." But when it's 85° at 10PM...

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Atheists and dogmatism by Alan Crowe (2.00 / 0) #18 Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 12:45:20 PM EST
There are different kinds of dogmatism and I find the religious kind is especially worrying.

One of my wild political ideas is to divide the Prison Service into three: National Jail, Secure Stay, and Public Punishment. Assignment is random, and Prison Audit follows up ex-cons for five years, reporting who is employed, who down and out, who is in mental hospital, sole trader, employer, etc.

The point is that the hangers and floggers get to run Public Punishment with a harsh regime, while the hugs and therapy crowd get to run Secure Stay in a kindly way, and the status quo lives on in National Jail. Over the years the reports from Prison Audit accumulate, and the different philosophies get put to the test. In my dreams I imagine all three working pretty badly, but with slow improvements based on responding to what Prison Audit shows. Those who don't respond get left behind. Those who cannot respond, because their basic approach doesn't work, are eventually forced to admit defeat.

When I wake I have a different, gloomier sense of how the world works. I don't think this three way split will ever happen, a least not in a way that puts different approaches to a real test. My sense of the situation is that the hangers and floggers will never agree in case the hugs and therapy crowd win, and the hugs and therapy crowd will never agree in case the hangers and floggers win. Every-one is confident that they are right but not in the Semmelweis sense of wanting a trial: divide up the patients, you treat yours your way and I'll treat mine my way and we'll see who gets the best results.

So I sense dogmatism at work, with damaging consequences. However, it is a shame-faced dogmatism. Every-one does lip service to empiricism and opposes the three way split with various subterfuges. We are stuck with a prison regime that is experimental and endlessly repeats the same experiment because its design is badly botched and never yields any answers. One wicked thing that we do is to pretend that we are not experimenting on our prisoners. The way we pretend this is to deny that the essence of experiment lies in not knowing and having to guess, and instead say that the essence of experiment lies in setting things up so that what we seem to learn has some chance of actually being true.

Religious dogmatism is unashamed. One way to resolve moral dilemmas is to mount an expedition to Hell. Go there and ask the inmates: what are you in for? But religion doesn't work like that.

Religion has its books and its internal divisions between literalists and interpreters. The interpreters fight amongst themselves over interpretation and the literalists fight amongst themselves for reasons I don't want to go over here. One subtext of these fights is that "try it and see" is absurd. It is written and we should read not experiment.

Contrast that to alternative medicine. The patients are supposed to get better. No-one is saying that it is enough to follow the old books on herbalism regardless of outcome. Instead there are testimonials and individualised treatments and a thicket of methodological quibbles that keep randomised, controlled trials at bay. Dogmatism? Yes, but not as frightening as religious dogmatism.

The price of freedom | 24 comments (24 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback