May 2, 2016 § 63 Comments
I left the following comment – which was removed by the moderator and not published, according to Disqus – on this article at The Remnant. Apparently, pointing out that pre-Vatican II (and still ongoing) ‘pastoral mercy’ granted to unrepentant usurers is very similar to post Vatican II ‘pastoral mercy’ granted to unrepentant adulterers, was not considered on topic.
Or perhaps the observation doesn’t fit well with some other overarching narrative or worldview, I suppose.
The ‘whitewash away metaphysically realist doctrine with anti-realist pastoral accommodation’ thing has been done before, and is still fully in force in the case of usury. Humanae Vitae is simply becoming the new Vix Pervenit.
If you want to grasp what is currently happening in the domain of sex and marriage you need to first grasp what had already happened, before any of us were born and before Vatican II was a twinkle in John XXIII’s eye, in the domain of usury.
I document this in some detail here:
I’m not a regular reader of The Remnant, although I have some of the article author’s books. As I understand it the title of the magazine refers to a putative small ‘remnant’ of orthodox Catholics in an ocean of heterodox cafeteria Catholics.
But some might think that deafening and willful silence about so-called ‘pastoral mercy’ toward unrepentant usurers combined with outrage over so-called ‘pastoral mercy’ toward unrepentant adulterers, is its own sort of cafeteria Catholicism.
According to the moderator it was just the inclusion of a link that got my comment removed. That seems odd though, because there are other comments (for example this one) in that thread with links to outside websites, blogs, etc.
April 25, 2016 § 49 Comments
It has been pointed out to me that in characterizing the public position of the mainstream pro-life movement as pro abortion, I am being unfair. Some go so far as to suggest, while bravely facing the applause, that this is outright calumny and rash judgment. The dispute is not over the moral status of abortion: it is over the legal status of abortion. The mainstream pro-life movement abhors abortion morally and wants to see the number of abortions dramatically reduced.
Pro-lifers are even willing to do whatever it takes legally to mete out punishment for all of the abortions caused by men who manipulate poor helpless women.
So lets define “pro choice” as the position that a woman ought to be able to choose abortion without any legal consequences to herself.
The mainstream pro-life movement’s position, then, is not pro abortion. It is pro choice.
April 24, 2016 § 3 Comments
I’ve expressed before why I am not concerned that some artificial intelligence is going to take over the world and turn humans into slaves any time soon. Computer scientists have been yammering on about how AI was just around the corner since before I was typing rudimentary game programs into Hewlett-Packard calculators in the 1970’s. The pinnacle of what all of this massive human effort has produced is smart phone autocorrect.
Computers don’t have intelligence and they will never have intelligence. They do just exactly what they are told to do, nothing more, nothing less. Because they can do so very, very quickly, and because human beings are telling them what to do, they can be used to do some astonishing things. But they are just mindless tools, and that is all they will ever be.
However, computer-infected objects have managed to become quite narcissistic, at the instruction of their programmers. It is astonishing how many inanimate objects are constantly nagging me for attention, not because of something they can do for me but because they need me to attend to their own special needs.
Of course if humans continue on our current trends Alan Turing may turn out to have been prescient after all. As human society approaches the Narcissism Singularity it may ultimately become impossible for a third party observer to distinguish between the nagging narcissism of circuits and the nagging narcissism of meat.
April 24, 2016 § 31 Comments
I don’t have strong views about intellectual property. Modern understandings of property and commerce are perverse, immoral, and unreal. It seems likely that at least some of what IP law sanctions, asserts, and prohibits goes against the natural law. But I haven’t personally done the due diligence required to credibly advance particular arguments about particular laws or practices.
The sovereign is, qua sovereign, the ‘owner’ of certain marketplaces: that is, he sets the terms upon which transactions are permitted and carried out in the marketplaces over which he is sovereign.
Cash – or more specifically, sovereign-issued currency – entitles the bearer to engage in certain kinds of taxable transactions in the sovereign’s marketplaces. (People often use it for non-taxable transactions too, and in other marketplaces owned by different sovereigns: insulin is valuable for barter in trade by non-diabetics).
Fiat currency does not authorize all conceivable transactions, of course: various transactions such as selling yourself outright into slavery are not “allowed” (that is, enforced); and usurious contracts are allowed/enforced but should not be.
Intellectual property, then, is like a lease or easement in the sovereign’s markets. Leases and easements are a kind of financial security, that is, claims against property. A patent permits the patent holder to sell the patented invention in the sovereign’s marketplaces, while forbidding other parties to sell the patented invention. A patent, then, is a financial security; the property against which it entitles a specific claim is the sovereign’s marketplaces.
It is similar to Disney allowing only Starbucks to sell coffee in Disneyland. When you are in Disneyland, you must commercially transact within the rules of Disneyland.
 Modern economists use the label “money” to refer to many essentially different kinds of security: actual paper currency, individual currency-denominated claims against the balance sheets of banks, bank claims agains the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve, etc etc. All mainstream modern economic theories — Austrian, Keynesian, Chicago, MMT, Labor Theory of Value, etc — are metaphysically anti-realist, that is, are disconnected from reality and therefore insane and incoherent. In fact I am not personally aware of any metaphysically realist economic theory (an economic theory which competently distinguishes between imaginary reality and actual reality) at all, mainstream or fringe.
April 21, 2016 § 69 Comments
At Cane Caldo’s blog commenter Bruce writes:
There’s another dynamic here. Pro-lifers strongly identify with their role of saving individual babies. I think they believe they can save more babies by going easy [on women] and changing their hearts.
Agreed. It isn’t just a one-off situation of hostage taking: it is an ongoing process of hostage-taking with no end in sight, and if the hostage takers are not appeased then more hostages are going to die.
This leads some ‘hostage negotiators’ (pro lifers) initially into lying to the hostage takers about their real views and their long-term intentions. In reality the hostage-taking murderesses ought to get the gallows or at least the asylum; but if we actually say that then we will lose more hostages right now and in the next round of hostage taking.
So the pro life movement feels like it has to lie, and feels justified in doing so.
After a while though the hostage negotiators start to believe their own BS, out of habit and because they do not want to think of themselves as liars.
UPDATE/NOTE: It should perhaps be emphasized that this dynamic applies to some pro-lifers. Other pro-lifers are just feminists, with all that that implies. The dead babies are ultimately just a price paid for female emancipation, and while we’d like to stop the baby-killing we aren’t willing to call feminism into question in order to do so.
April 15, 2016 § 36 Comments
Ending political conflict over abortion admits of a simple technical solution. All we need to do is develop and enhance techniques which empower women to carry out abortion themselves, without the assistance of an abortionist. If necessary we can develop technology which has ‘acceptable’ uses – which is to say, non-criminal uses – for other things besides self-abortion, to avoid any objection to the effect that the providers of the technology can be criminally charged. After all, guns don’t kill people: people kill people.
That way – under the principles expounded by all respectable people, including pro-lifers – the law has nobody to charge with a crime. Political conflict over abortion should come to an end.
Unless we listen to the fruitcakes and nutcases who think there should be legal sanctions against women who procure abortion, that is.
But they aren’t True Pro Lifers[tm] or True Conservatives[tm] anyway, so why should we listen to them?
Reader GJ in the comments below provides data to the effect that 20% of all abortions in 2011 were self-administered by the mother taking an abortion-inducing pill. In 2008 approximately 30% of the abortions in Planned Parenthood facilities were performed by the mother herself (taking a pill).
April 15, 2016 § 37 Comments
Someone is pro abortion if he asserts – for whatever reason or set of reasons – that no woman should face any kind of legal sanction or punishment for deliberately choosing to have her unborn child murdered.
It is a pretty big tent. I used to think that many of the folks who literally march under the pro-life banner were well meaning but suffered from a kind of stockholm syndrome. Recent events show that I was giving them too much credit. It turns out that they are just pro abortion after all, and have been so all along.