Pseudorandom Bits

A backwater in the vast ocean of thought

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    The Web is made of bits. Here are some of my bits, added to those other bits. Bits of information, bits of my thoughts, bits of others' thoughts. Maybe they seem a bit random, but, who knows?

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Archive for January, 2008

It’s not about race or sex (wink, wink)

Posted by Mike on January 27, 2008

One Democratic candidate for president sometimes seems to imply, “I’m your best choice for president. Don’t vote for me because I’m a woman, since Americans should be beyond that hurdle by now. But if you vote for me because I’m a woman, that’s fine because we need to show America that we’re ready for a woman president.”

Another Democratic candidate for president sometimes seems to imply, “I’m your best choice for president. Don’t vote for me because I’m black, since Americans should be beyond that hurdle by now. But if you vote for me because I’m black, that’s fine because we need to show America that we’re ready for a black president.”

Then, in debates and stump speeches, they attack each other. But it isn’t about race or sex, you see. We’re just that way.

Peggy Noonan has an interesting column (as usual) that discusses this discord. In her opinion, this presidential contest will change the Democratic party forever, whichever way it turns out. Some in the Democratic party are catching on that some of the top spokespeople don’t speak for everyone in the party. There will be a long-lasting division as some realize that things have changed. Not surprisingly, B*ll Cl*nt*n is involved.

Ms. Noonan also comments on the Republican party. Not all is well there, either. The Republican party is still trying to handle its new face after 8 years of George W. Bush. There are differences there, too. McCain, Romney, Huckabee, Guliani, et at, will push and pull their party in new directions, no matter who is the final nominee.

It will seem like a long slog as the election season gears up (as if that seems possible). But there will be changes in both parties. We’ll have to wait to see what those are.


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The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History

Posted by Mike on January 27, 2008

I just finished reading Thomas Woods’ book “The Politically Incorrect Guide to History“, part of the PIG series of books. You may also want to read a review of “PIG Science” by a friend of mine. Both are available in our local library, and may be available in yours, too.

This book by Dr. Woods is interesting reading, highlighting events and facts about American History that you probably didn’t read in school or in the usual books on American History. Much of this amounts to what you’ve heard and read in the media isn’t really the whole story! Now, that may be a surprise to you, in which case you might want to read this book even more.

The book discusses events from the colonial origins of the U.S., through the Clinton presidential years. What you thought was true might need some revision.

I’d encourage you to visit the link above, which has extracts from the book, then read the whole book for yourself, and make your own conclusions.

There are at least 2 criticisms that can be made of a book like this. One, it “cherry picks” some of the more sensational events, rather than presenting a systematic look at American History (the book is too short for that). Two, a lot of the book is the visual equivalent of the sound byte. Some information is given, but you’d have to check the references to get a better picture.

On the other hand, it does have lots of interesting quotes to think about, and many references are given if you want to follow-up any given topic.

Maybe this will change your view of some events in American History, but even if it doesn’t, it does present some information that should be included in a fuller picture of the usual history we think we know.

“[It is] working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the states, and the government of all be consolidated into one.” – Thomas Jefferson, on the federal judiciary

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Great orators of the 21st century

Posted by Mike on January 22, 2008

Here’s my list of the great orators of the 21st century:

It’s a short list, to be sure. I almost put Alan Keyes on the list, but I haven’t heard him lately. I was impressed with him during the 2000 presidential campaign season. You may not like his views, but he’s more impressive to listen to than anyone I’ve heard lately.

If you read speeches from our founding fathers and some great people who followed, you should be impressed with their style and command of the English language.

There have been great speakers from the last century. Bill Clinton admits to crying like a baby 😉 when he heard Martin Luther King, jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

This posting was inspired by Tony Woodlief’s posting “The Dividing Line“.

“I’ve been listening to Martin Luther King’s speeches today, and lamenting that the times of great oration have passed for our country. Words are cheaper now, as are most of the men who utter them. Ideas have been displaced by soundbytes. It’s safer to speak that way, I suppose, and the overriding goal of the politician is to win, not to lead.”

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Why intellectuals hate capitalism

Posted by Mike on January 19, 2008

Why intellectuals hate capitalism” is an interesting short article on the World Magazine website.

That article summarizes a longer article “Why capitalism is good for the soul” by Peter Saunders.

Is the argument an interesting economic one? Is it a policial one?

It seems that a good part of the hostility some have for capitalism is a moral issue, one of Pride. Some intellectuals think that they can run things, and us, so well that something other than capitalism is needed. But we’ve seen over the decades that communism, socialism, etc., all fail, and not just because they haven’t been implemented properly.

Those systems are fundamentally flawed. And the thinkers promoting them may be morally flawed as well.

But the best explanation for the intellectuals’ distaste for capitalism was offered by Friedrich Hayek in The Fatal Conceit. Hayek understood that capitalism offends intellectual pride, while socialism flatters it. Humans like to believe they can design better systems than those that tradition or evolution have bequeathed. We distrust evolved systems, like markets, which seem to work without intelligent direction according to laws and dynamics that no one fully understands. (from the Saunders article)

Something to think about and discuss with the next person you hear bashing capitalism.

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Posted by Mike on January 19, 2008

Over the past several years, many new business and product names have been given an ‘e’ or an ‘i’ prefix to indicate that they’re part of the new communications revolution.

The ‘e’ prefix (eBay, eMachines, email, etc.) comes from “Edison”, the father of modern electricity. So, thanks Tom, for spuring us to start names with a letter we might not have used otherwise.

The ‘i’ prefix was made popular with iPod/iTunes, IBM, integral calculus, ipso facto, and so on. The ‘i’ does not derive from the “Me” generation, contrary to some thinking.

The ‘i’ and ‘e’ really get together for some terrific work with “i.e.”!

But have you realized that izod used the ‘i’ prefix before the ipod did? Sometimes those fashion folks really are in front of the curve (at least they’re in front of something)!

Something to think about, eh?

(This posting brought to you by the letters ‘I’ and ‘E’.)

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Downloading the Internet

Posted by Mike on January 10, 2008

Most of you have downloaded files from the Internet at one time or another.

But, have you tried downloading the whole Internet?

You might have to wait a bit, and have an extra disk or two handy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | 1 Comment »


Posted by Mike on January 7, 2008

A thought came to me today. Actually, more than one thought. But the one I’ll post about is this: How many times have you heard people talking to themselves in stores only to discover that they’re talking on a cell phone, probably with one of those ear pod things?

So, now you can talk to yourself anytime and get away with it! I mean, how great is that? This is way better than writing a blog that no one else reads.

It used to be that folks would look at you funny if you talked to yourself, but now they’ll think you’re really talking to someone else. They may wonder where your cell phone microphone is, but they won’t think twice about it! Ain’t modern technology grand!

Let me know how it works for you!

Peanuts 1

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One prisoner’s view of Christmas

Posted by Mike on January 7, 2008

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s view of Christmas, and some thoughts by Tony Woodlief.

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Raucous Caucus!

Posted by Mike on January 3, 2008

OK, so not so raucous at our precinct for the Iowa caucus. But the attendance was about twice what I remember from 8 years ago.

The tally of the votes went quickly. In our precinct, Mike received 46 votes, Fred 25, Mitt 24, Ron 9, John 7, and Rudy 3. That’s a total of 114 ballots.

There was the selection of delegates to the county convention, and selection of party committee members.

Then the discussion and voting on party planks for the platform. These will be delivered to the county convention, and will be combined with others from other precincts, or shredded and never make it any farther. It was informative to hear some ideas about what should be included and why. My daughter and I left after about 2 hours as things were winding down.

Statewide, it looks like Mike took about 34% of the ballots. Mitt, who outspent Mike twenty-fold, was second.  Some guy in the other party beat whats-her-name in that contest.

It was an interesting time, and I’m glad I went.

It’s a long way to the White House for someone, though.

The population of Iowa will be somewhat less by this time tomorrow night as journalists, campaigners, and others move on to other sites.

At least the phone calls will stop.

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Christmas Reflections

Posted by Mike on January 3, 2008

Now that Christmas for this season is over, but not that far behind, perhaps it’s worth taking a second look at what a lot of us do. At least Tony Woodlief did that for his family as recorded in his Wall Street Journal essay, “Free Christmas!

“Tradition is the living faith of the dead. Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” – Jaroslav Pelikan

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