Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

July 31, 2008

Re: Orson Scott Card – State job is not to redefine marriage

Filed under: culture, politics — Tags: — codesmithy @ 10:14 am

Orson Scott Card has a post on gay marriage claiming it represents “the end of democracy in America.”  Further claiming that

These judges are making new law without any democratic process; in fact, their decisions are striking down laws enacted by majority vote.

I think Mr. Card needs a little bit of a civics lesson.  We have this thing called a constitution that is the supreme law.  Occasionally, legislatures pass laws that are in contradiction with the constitution.  If the judiciary finds this to be the case, then the constitution wins and the law is struck down.  This usually doesn’t spell the end to democracy however, because there are still avenues to change the constitution itself.

As for the end of democracy in America, in the cases of California and Massachusetts, these are state decisions.  The relevant laws are state laws, constitutions and precedents, not federal.  Maybe it is a disturbing trend in Card’s eyes, but nevertheless it is limited to two states, forty-eight others are fine.

Further on Card states:

The pretext is that state constitutions require it — but it is absurd to claim that these constitutions require marriage to be defined in ways that were unthinkable through all of human history until the past 15 years. And it is offensive to expect us to believe this obvious fiction.

Did he read the California decision?  Here is the copy.

In considering this question, we note at the outset that the constitutional issue before us differs in a significant respect from the constitutional issue that has been addressed by a number of other state supreme courts and intermediate appellate courts that recently have had occasion, in interpreting the applicable provisions of their respective state constitutions, to determine the validity of statutory provisions or common law rules limiting marriage to a union of a man and a woman. These courts, often by a one-vote margin, have ruled upon the validity of statutory schemes that contrast with that of California, which in recent years has enacted
comprehensive domestic partnership legislation under which a same-sex couple may enter into a legal relationship that affords the couple virtually all of the same substantive legal benefits and privileges, and imposes upon the couple virtually all of the same legal obligations and duties, that California law affords to and imposes upon a married couple.  Past California cases explain that the constitutional validity of a challenged statute or statutes must be evaluated by taking into consideration all of the relevant statutory provisions that bear upon how the state treats the affected persons with regard to the subject at issue.  Accordingly, the legal issue we must resolve is not whether it would be constitutionally permissible under the California Constitution for the state to limit marriage only to opposite-sex couples while denying same-sex couples any opportunity to enter into an official relationship with all or virtually all of the same substantive attributes, but rather whether our state Constitution prohibits the state from establishing a statutory scheme in which both opposite-sex and same-sex couples are granted the right to enter into an officially recognized family relationship that affords all of the significant legal rights and obligations traditionally associated under state law with the institution of marriage, but under which the union of an opposite-sex couple is officially designated a “marriage” whereas the union of a same-sex couple is officially designated a “domestic partnership.” The question we must address is whether, under these circumstances, the failure to designate the official relationship of same-sex couples as marriage violates the California Constitution.

Marriage wasn’t redefined.  California already had a comprehensive domestic partnership law in which all the same rights were basically conferred.  That domestic partnership law was something passed in the last 15 years (1999 to be exact (source)).  The California Supreme Court found this duality unconstitutional, and the ruling makes numerous references to relevant information if Card were so interested.  If the pretext is so patently absurd as Card suggests, he should have no problem pinpointing a California law that clearly demonstrates an error.  However, Card cites no California law, relevant sections of the California constitution, or precedents.  However, he would have us believe that he is more an expert on California law than the majority of justices on the California Supreme Court.

Card later bemoans being labeled a homophobe.  He claims he is a victim of this labeling by opposing the gay-rights activists.  Maybe it is because of his rampant paranoia in the paragraphs above and below.

Already in several states, there are textbooks for children in the earliest grades that show “gay marriages” as normal. How long do you think it will be before such textbooks become mandatory — and parents have no way to opt out of having their children taught from them?

There is this little thing called transparency, and this whole paragraph is terribly opaque. Which states?  Which textbooks?  Can he give an example?  Or is Card talking about “Heather Has Two Mommies?”

Card then goes on to state that: “when gay rights were being enforced by the courts back in the ’70s and ’80s, we were repeatedly told by all the proponents of gay rights that they would never attempt to legalize gay marriage.”  That is highly dubious.  Individuals have their own agendas.  In addition, there is a whole new generation of gay people, why should they be bound by the promises made by gay people before them.  It isn’t like they were their parents.

Then Card goes off the deep end.

Here’s the irony: There is no branch of government with the authority to redefine marriage. Marriage is older than government.

This is an absurd argument.  It is like saying no branch of the government has the authority to ban slavery because slavery is older than the government.  Card then makes some confused points about the definition of marriage.  Maybe he can be forgiven, because there have been cases where people have tried to legislate Pi as exactly 3 (if only it were that easy).  The issue is not what men and women do together, but rather the special legal status that the partner has and whether that should be extended to same-sex couples.  Can a partner inherit your wealth the same way a widow does?  Can they make important decisions about the other partner’s medical care?  etc.  These are things the state can do.  It doesn’t alter the laws of the universe, but rather establishes some power over the welfare over another person of their choosing.  Card is right in that it is not the same thing.  It is equivalent to saying that two people are equal.  This is also obviously false, no two people are exactly equal.  What we mean when we say it, is that they are equal in the eyes of the law.  In the California case, the court ruled “domestic partnerships” and “marriage” had to be on this equal legal standing.

Card then goes on to make some points about cohabitation, divorce, and out-of-wedlock births.  I would agree with Card that out-of-wedlock births and divorce are problems.  However, I don’t see the direct connection to “gay-marriage.”  Just look at the divorce rates, Massachusetts is at 47 (under Utah which is at 23), and California is at 19 and the data is old.  Nevertheless, the top state is Nevada.  Shouldn’t what is going on in that state be the focus of the ire?  Isn’t that the state that is destroying marriage, much like Arkansas, Alabama, Wyoming, and Idaho?

I would agree with Card that there are things wrong in our culture.  However, I don’t think “gay-marriage” or the “gay agenda” is the driving force behind it.  And, if push comes to shove, I would rather kids have an accurate picture of gay people than be totally ignorant.  Just like I would like kids to have accurate information about contraception than not.  I don’t think people, in general, make better decisions with less information.  If they do, it is more luck than anything else and luck is not sound public policy.  It doesn’t mean one has to approve, just like there are some people who don’t approve of eating meat, but I don’t see who is being served by ignorance.

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July 30, 2008

The Smoking Gun: NYPD Bruise

Filed under: culture — codesmithy @ 9:38 am

The Smoking Gun has video and subsequent police report of a NYPD officer knocking over a bicyclist.  In the incident report, the police officer presumably signed the following statement.

Deponent further states that upon instructing the defendant to cease the above-described conduct, the defendant steered the defendant’s bicycle in the direction of deponent and drove defendant’s bicycle directly into deponent’s body, causing deponent to fall to the ground and causing deponent to suffer lacerations on deponent’s forearms.

The important thing to note is not the basic facts, the officer might have indeed suffered lacerations on his forearms.  Rather, how the whole sequence of events was framed.  It was this entire framing that was misleading.

It is really hard to speak to the police officers motivations.  It could be that he thought he was going to get hit by the bicyclist.  For example, the bicyclist was possibly “acting like” he was going to hit the officer from the officer’s perspective.  Whether or not the bicyclist had that intention is questionable.  However, it could be the police officer had some stereotype in his mind about the nature of an activist.  Therefore, we would be equally guilty of projecting a stereotype if we thought the cop did this just to bust someone’s head and later lied about it.

In short, our societal conceptions of the nature of evil and violence are hampered by myths, myths about the motivations of perpetrators.  It is a basis of the cultural incongruity, the conceptual chasm, that exists between evil acts and pure motivations.  The officer could have had some legitimate concern for his own safety that caused him act the way he did.  This doesn’t make his actions any less distasteful, but painting caricatures or assuming the worse about perpetrators doesn’t help either.

July 29, 2008

Bertrand Russell: Face to Face Interview

Filed under: culture, math — Tags: — codesmithy @ 9:12 am

Bertrand Russell was an anti-war activist, philosopher and mathematician.  I think he is correct in the conclusion that scientific man can not be at war with itself.  We are much too clever.  We wield great power, but haven’t the sense not to use, nor can we contemplate all the problems we are sure to create.

In The Systems Bible by John Gall, it states

Destiny is largely a set of unquestioned assumptions.

Gall gives this piece of wisdom with respect to problem avoidance.

If you’re not there, the accident can happen without you.

Avoiding catastrophe can be a lot easier than dealing with it.

July 28, 2008

McCain: Kick Russia Out of the G8

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 8:11 am

McCain went on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos and defended his position to kick Russia out of the G8.  Stephanopoulos notes that this is an unsupported position.  McCain compares it to Reagan declaring “tear down this wall.”  This really displays the utter dearth of comprehension in the Republican party.  They have really drifted toward complete incompetence.

The reason why “tear down this wall” worked was that it exposed a contradiction in the Soviet system.  One that Gorbachev tried to correct with glasnost.  Contrast this with McCain’s condemnation of Russia:

They cut back on their oil supplies to the Czechs, because the Czechs made an agreement with us. They have now thrown out the — or forced out — BP out of Russia. And by the way, I — a lot of us thought that might happen. They continue to put enormous pressures on Georgia in many ways. They’re putting pressure on Ukraine. They are blocking action in the United Nations Security Council on Iran.

Those are the big crimes: cut back oil supplies to the Czechs, forced out BP, “pressure” on Georgia and Ukraine, and a refusal to go along with the US on Iran.

It is clear that McCain has completely bought into the imperial mentality.  There is no reason to even disguise our ambition or reasons behind moral declarations as was done during the Cold War.  The US is the world’s only remaining superpower, we do as we please.  Go along with what we say, or else.

Maybe McCain didn’t notice, but we still have stockpiles of nuclear weapons.  After the Soviet Union collapsed, there was a definite moment there when we could have disarmed, and made some real headway against the potential of nuclear holocaust.  The course that was pursued was in fact, the opposite of this alternative.  There was a deliberate decision to escalate via SDI, despite the fact that SDI will not work.  It will just trigger a new arms race.

(h/t Pharyngula)

McCain may think antagonizing Russia in these petty ways is a good thing, but that is exactly what makes him so dangerous.  Let’s go down McCain lane.  Let’s say we manage to get Russia kicked out the G8.  Does this make them more or less likely to secretly give a nuclear weapon to Iran, like the US gave to Israel those many years ago?  How does this not cause more problems than it solves?

In McCain’s world, we threaten and they shape up.  History has shown that when we threaten, Russia responds in kind.  What does this belligerence buy us?  Do you want to die over BP?

July 27, 2008

The Road to Serfdom

Filed under: books, capitalism, politics — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 9:21 am

As promised, I read The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek.  I checked it out from one of the primary socialist institutions in this nation, the library.  From the due date sheet at the front of the book, it looks like I was not the only one to have this idea.

Generally when I walk into a library, I have a deep sense of dissatisfaction.  It is a profound remorse that I am physically incapable of reading all the knowledge that is contained on those many selves.  What am I missing out on, I ponder.  The Road to Serfdom cured me of this affliction.  I consider The Road to Serfdom a typical book in the library.  Wildly heralded in certain circles, Friedrich Hayek is an influential thinker.  But the book itself is the epitome of mediocrity.  How can something be so bland and lack of meaningful flavor?  First, it has to try really hard.

Hayek expressed his amazement in the introduction that the book could be successfully abridged, as it was for Reader’s Digest, while keeping the core argument intact.  This is like marveling over the ability of people to breath.  The primary problem is one of definitions.  The book does not define socialism, totalitarianism, fascism, collectivism, etc. except to say they are the same thing.

In addition, I take some offense to the pretense of the book.  Hayek argues that a planned economy is the road to serfdom, not a road to serfdom.  Hayek must have expressed surprise when he discovered that serfdom existed as a social relation and did not come about the way he describes in his book.

The book itself is a conglomeration of muddled paranoia.  To show it as such, we need to do what Hayek refused to, and provide reasons why totalitarianism is bad.

Totalitarianism can be thought of as a mass system of slavery.  But that definition is a little bit lax, because what is slavery?  What distinguishes coercive slavery from wage slavery?   Obviously, we need to dig a little bit deeper.  Slavery is bad because the worker is not given a choice of his profession.  So far so good, except for the fact capitalist society doesn’t offer an absolute choice of profession either.

To get more concrete, let’s say we have a totalitarian society in which everyone is a millionaire book critic.  The problem with the totalitarian society doe not exist for those who enjoy being book critics, but rather those who despise it.  Hayek argues that those who despise being book critics should have a choice to do whatever they want.  In order for these contrarians to be happy, the society has to be set up so that people and freely associate and trade.  This way, our dissatisfied book critic can embark on a career as a shoe shiner if he/she so chooses.

Hayek also argues that it is important that the market is not planned.  A society can’t have quotas on the number of book critics or shoe shiners.  In Hayek’s view it is better for impersonal forces to rule, having a planner set out how many shinners or book critics there shall be will inevitably lead to cronyism or suspicion.  Without a doubt, there is an undeniable transparency to just letting someone try and fail.  Again, these are all arguments for a free market, and they are all good as far as they go.  But we would be remiss if we did not bring some Marx into the mix.

Marx argued that there are specific historical conditions of modern industrial society.  At the outset, there are people who find their lot in the life where the only thing they have to sell is their labor-power.  Marx also argued that it is the nature of the capitalist system to drop the price of commodities, thus forcing the adoption of industrialized processes throughout the economy.  It is also in the capitalist’s interest to make the work unskilled, thus guaranteeing the largest possible labor pool.  This is combined with other perversities such as extending the working day, increasing productivity and keeping wages to mere subsistence.  This guarantees the capitalist the highest amount of profit by minimizing the amount of compensation the worker gets as the result of the proceeds of his labor.

The key revelation by Marx is that capitalist society didn’t spring up out of the blue.  There are definite historical conditions.  It isn’t like the rich of one era voluntarily ceded their wealth to the mobs that won their freedom.  Even in America, who came to own what chunks of land was a function of what a King or Queen handed out.  The notable thing about the American revolution is not what changed, but rather, how much remained the same economically.  There was no wealth redistribution.  The publicly supported westward expansion is best understood as a land grab.  It is this land grab that offered settlers independence at the expense of the aboriginal people.  However, this independence is particular to the epoch it takes place in.  Productivity increases undermined this independence, thus there are people who only have their labor-power to sell for survival.  If that isn’t serfdom, I don’t know what is.

The coercive force comes about somewhat differently.  We have the pretense of fairness because the same rules apply to everyone, however a certain segment of society is forced to submit because they find their only independent means of survival criminalized.

Ergo, there will always be compromises on someone’s freedom.  The question is merely one of extent.  Do we want someone’s freedom to be determined by the conditions of their wealth or do we provide freedom more or less equally, independent of wealth.  In short, do we allow the economic conditions to dictate the politics, or the  politics to dictate the economics?  If a libertarian is to be consistent, one must oppose concentrated power in all forms, including concentrated wealth.  This means regulation and therefore planning.  The alternative is, well, actual serfdom.

July 22, 2008

Chomsky on Anarcho-syndicalism

Filed under: history, politics — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 9:17 am

Youtube has an interview with Noam Chomsky pertaining to government.  Chomsky is an anarcho-syndicalist, or the libertarian left.

(Parts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)

If the words don’t make sense, it proves the effectiveness of filters in our society.  For example, Leon Frank Czolgosz, an anarchist, shot President McKinley.  Although, calling Czolgosz an anarchist is a little bit of a stretch.  It isn’t like one has to take a test or get a degree from an accredited institution.  In fact, the primary schism in the two branches of socialism, communism/Marxism on one-side and anarcho-syndicalism on the other, is the use of violence in bringing about social revolution.  Anarcho-syndicalism, in the Proudhon tradition, believes social revolution can take place peacefully.  Social revolution is a matter of raising consciousness of the populace to a new way of living.  Communism, in the Marxist tradition, advocated the violent overthrow of the existing regime.  When in power, the new regime would have the power to dictatorially carry out social reforms.

The underlying point is that there is a great diversity of thought about the organization of society that is far to the left of the Democratic party.  It is common, in the United States at least, to label this “liberal.”  It is hard to determine what “liberal” means besides a label that the right uses to adorn some political opponent as a target of scorn.

There is a fundamental difference between a thing, and what that thing is called.  I hope what this alphabet soup of “isms” convinces the reader of, more than anything else, is to know the idea and not just the label.  As Friedrich Engels once wrote:

These gentlemen think that when they have changed the names of things they have changed the things themselves.  This is how these profound thinkers mock at the whole world.

July 20, 2008

Modern Science Writing

Filed under: books, culture, science — Tags: — codesmithy @ 10:21 am

I finished reading The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing edited by Richard Dawkins.  I can’t think of another book that I so enjoyed reading.  It is an anthology, and therefore suffers from uneven tone and style.  The upshot is that there are a few authors I would like to read more of, such as Lancelot Hogben, Lee Smolin, and of course Carl Sagan.  It also convinced me not to read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time of which there is a brief selection in the book.

I think the book is best enjoyed in small doses.  This sensibility comes from the fact that one should be thinking when reading it, not about the words on the page, but what it says about us, and the universe we live in.  What we are, what we are made of, the indifferent rules that govern us and what the implications are for the limited freedom we do enjoy.  As an thought experiment, try to imagine the life of an individual carbon atom, formed by a nuclear reaction in a star, which just so happened to find itself trapped in limestone on earth.  Imagine further that this atom somehow manages to enter into the carbon cycle where it might become part of you.  Part of your DNA, your hair, your brain.  But a carbon atom’s existence as literally part of you is just less than a blink of an eye in the grand-scale of its experience.  Every atom of your being has some extraordinary tale of natural history.  This is the mind-expanding world one enters as one reads the pages of Modern Science Writing.  How terribly parochial many of our conceptions of the world seem when placed on the canvas of the cosmos.

This is knowledge that deserves to shared, deserves to be contemplated by all mankind.  But when pondering this, there comes another crashing reality of natural history, how I came to read the book.  Perhaps I am guilty of projecting my particular aesthetic onto the rest of humanity, but nevertheless the book costs approximately $35.  The local county library has 1 copy, and there are two holds as I write this.  The point is that the high price of this book has a practical effect, it limits the knowledge to a specialized class.  Kate Muir points out that “the Victorians, with their public lectures and royal societies, gloried in debate and celebrated the thrills of fresh knowledge.”

I don’t think think it is quite fair to critique the popular culture of different eras.  Bemoaning the anti-intellectualism of the masses on one-side without considering how science is presented seems a tad disingenuous.  It is natural that science gets more specialized as it progresses.  A predictable consequence of this is that it may take work to make discoveries fit for mass consumption, as opposed to the Victorian era, where some new discovery could just be presented.

The danger that the discoveries of science become esoteric knowledge of a specialized class is real.  To guard against this, science must be communicated to the public, freely and openly.  Hence we find ourselves in contradiction, as to gain access to the knowledge is comparatively expensive and ignorance is free.  When should science pass into our shared cultural heritage, and should it take as long as some piece of fiction?  Is there some better way to compensate scientific authors for their work?

In closing, I don’t begrudge the money I did pay for the book.  It is extraordinary.  I enjoyed as much to think that it deserves to be integrated as part of our cultural heritage as quickly as possible.  But, this knowledge is constrained by the societal conditions in which it was produced.  Does science exist for the benefit of a specialized class, or is its purpose to enlighten humanity?  In the context of current economic conditions, it rests in the former more than the latter.

July 19, 2008

Mark Steel: Russian Revolution

Filed under: history — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 10:34 am

In the videos above, Mark Steel examines the Russian Revolution.  It is clear that a revolution happens when enough people stop following orders from the elites in the current structure of society and start standing in solidarity with a new order.

Judging the ultimate results of revolutions, like the Russian is difficult, because invariably the new government is terrorized by foreign intervention.  This terror has the effect of concentrating power within the revolutionary government, with a strong possibility of bringing a small group to near dictatorial power which they will seldom relinquish.  This is why the American revolution is more of the exception rather than the rule.

July 18, 2008

Al Gore’s Challenge

Filed under: economy, environment, politics — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 8:59 am

Al Gore challenged the nation to get to renewable, zero carbon electricity within 10 years.  What Al Gore proposes is the type of large-scale action that is necessary to combat the related crises we are facing.  If you watched it on CNN, you probably didn’t see the website you could visit for additional information.  It is http://www.wecansolveit.org.

Al Gore’s suggestions meet the scale of the challenge that lie before us, not just as a nation but as a species.  America needs to lead, not dig in our collective heels.  Gore demonstrated the type of rhetoric that demonstrates a good contrast between the ideas of the Republican party and his.  The Republican solutions to these crises are actually counter-productive as Gore explains in his speech.

In general, the Republicans don’t win because of the strength of their ideas.  They win based on image.  Glenn Greenwald examines this dynamic in his book Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics.  The corporate-owned, mainstream media plays a critical role.  The MSM doesn’t ask about climate change, they ask about lapel pins.

On the other hand, Democrats play along by trying to blur the distinctions between the two parties.  This is another reason why the FISA capitulation is so disappointing.  Democrats seem unable to convincingly stand by a principle.  The only “strength” they show is by a willingness to surrender even when their base tells them not to.

One thing that is so disappointing about the wecansolveit.org site is that the largest initiatives seem to be contingent on federal government action.  Sadly, the federal government is broken and there is no way it is getting fixed in time, even if the Democratic party is in control of both the legislative and executive branches.  Can we really afford to wait for this broken and corrupt institution before we take decisive action?  Is there any way to get a good head start without federal government help?  Not just researching it, but building it.  I can’t see how we will succeed otherwise.

July 17, 2008

Joel Spolsky Jumps the Shark

Filed under: programming — Tags: — codesmithy @ 10:40 am

In the 14th Stackoverflow podcast, Joel Spolsky worked on his credentials for being a fuddy-duddyBemoaning the criticism of a post he admitted he tried his best to phone-in, Spolsky sees these new-fangled kids and their conversational-style of blogging as leading to its demise.  He draws a parallel between the plethora of blogs and the low barriers of entry to endless September, which heralded the end of Usenet for many users.

The irony of the situation, the fact the Spolsky routinely employs many of the same devices he criticizes other people for using, seems to be completely lost on him.  How is one supposed to tell the good from the bad, Spolsky ponders?  Surely judging a blog by its design or a book by its cover is insufficient.  How is one supposed to tell the difference?  Here is a clue: PAGERANK.  There is this little company called Google, maybe Joel can remember them between his bouts of senile dementia.  Their whole shtick is that they tend to return good search results for whatever you are search for.

Let’s give it a try.  “Should I disable menu items?” I ask Google.  And, boy am I feeling lucky.  It brings me to this page, by this guy named Joel Spolsky that says “don’t do this.”  Problem solved.

So, let’s be clear about what Joel is really complaining about, it is not the lack of the good, but rather the preponderance of crap.  Joel wants a clergy, and what we have is a free market.  Higher barriers of entry don’t improve signal, they just reduce noise.  This all follows from Sturgeon’s Law: ninety percent of everything is crap.  As more players enter the market, the biggest winners are the dung beetles.

The market is, in fact, better than the clergy, but not for the reasons some people believe.  The market is not preferred because of its best case performance (a disinterested, benevolent dictator is convincingly more efficient).  Rather, the free market has the best worst-case performance, and it is precisely because some crap from the elite’s perspective is allowed to persist.

There is another argument in favor of the free market, but it speaks more to human nature than fundamental process.  When someone reaches a certain level of celebrity, their skill in the task they are famous for usually degrades.  This is part of the reason why sports teams find it so hard to win back-to-back championships, why news anchors are seldom good journalists any longer, artists become one-hit wonders, etc.  There is a tendency to rest on ones laurels and reputation, rather than focus on continually churning out a superior product and improving.  A clergy tends to become ensconced.  A free market ensures a steady stream of challengers and competition.  To the clergy, these challengers are perceived as fleas, and in many cases that is exactly what they are.  Nevertheless, it keeps the clergy honest, and threatens them with the only threat they truly understand, a revolution and a loss of status.  As Dawkins asks: was there ever dog that praised his fleas?  Probably not, but they are a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

In ending, I want to make a few things clear because a couple aspects do get lost in the medium.  I am actually a huge fan of Joel’s.  Disparaging comments above are just ribbing, a meta-example of how the best way for a flea (this blog) to improve its health is by attacking a big, healthy host at a point of perceived weakness.  Nevertheless, I do get annoyed when he takes up positions he obviously hasn’t thought all the way through.  I feel it lessens his authority on other issues I would like to cite him for when he espouses views he makes no effort to properly defend.  So, let us make clear the the creed of the fickle market: “you are only as good as your latest offering” and may we never forget it.

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