May 20, 2010
Is it draw Mo day already?
Here's something from the Mohammed Image Archive, a reproduction of Islamic art.
Ok, I'm ready for my fatwa now.
April 13, 2010
Smiley Face Tyranny - For the Children
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington
I have three children in the Munster public school system. I have outsourced my children's schooling to them. The school system is in a very real sense my servant as it serves the families of all the children who attend. It's a scary thing when a servant starts to think themselves your master. When you're giving them your kids for 6 hours a day, it's doubly scary. That was my reality this week as a very nice, pleasant woman explained why I must undergo a background check to supervise my own child.
Schools are given certain powers "in loco parentis" (in place of the parents). Since there is no parent normally available on the spot, schools can manage the child in their absence. This is a very important power and necessary for the health and safety of our children.
Schools do occasionally sponsor events which they insist that a parent attend as a condition of the child participating in the event. At that point, their powers should, at least if the school is not out of control, return to the parents who are now there to directly exercise them. In Munster at least, that is not the case and it's a very slowly creeping and creepy sort of tyranny that results.
We all know and understand that if you're dealing with other people's children, you need to have a background check. Munster schools, at least at Frank H Hammond where my children attend, they occasionally have trips where they tell children that parents must come for them to go on them. This year, the 2nd grade is going to a park to fly kites. Separately, several days later, they send home a background check form to permit you to supervise your own child.
The immediate, visceral response is revulsion but it takes a while to intellectually clarify why, even to yourself. For whose child is the school system acting in loco parentis in placing this requirement? It can't be the children on the trip. They're in the company of their parents and the parents don't have the ability to demand such a background check. Nobody is supervising anybody else's children so there is no question of a parent temporarily exercising in loco parentis powers over someone else's child.
So where did the school get the power to demand that check? I spoke with Frank H Hammond's principal, Mrs. Nancy Ellis about background checks. Boiling down her more lengthy rationale to a word, it's convenience. In her opinion, they can't be making special provisions, treating individual parents specially. It would be too complicated. They tried that approach when they instituted their background check policy, carefully weighing the issues and looking at all the nuances. Then along the way they decided that was too much bother and a simple blanket rule would be much more convenient. And I agree that it is much more convenient, for them.
It's inconvenient to remember your place as a public institution that stands in as a substitute for parents when they aren't around. It's inconvenient to deal with the occasional complexity like an event that has parents that are supervising only their own children. But school authorities, any authorities really, remembering their place is one of those vital underpinnings of liberty.
A quick refresher for those who might have forgotten. It is not normal to have public outings with your children where all the other parents there have undergone a background check. You don't have this at the mall, the train station, the theater, parks department events. In fact, the only time you have background checks done routinely is, once again, when you're handing out in loco parentis powers. Routine investigations into your background as a condition of attending an event with your child (when you are not supervising other children) simply has no basis in US law.
And there's the rub. Doing things that are convenient but have no basis in law is tyranny, no matter how smiley you are in your presentation, how convenient it is for the administration of an institution. You just don't do it. It is wrong.
The story has a somewhat happy ending. Only I will be excluded from the event. If you push hard enough, someone else will still come and supervise your child "in loco parentis" if you challenge. But I won't cry over missing a kite flying occasion. But my daughter did. My only damage is that I had to feel like my heart was being ripped out of my chest as she sobbed about not being able to go over the weekend (got the form on Friday, had my talk yesterday).
I do not have any great hopes for this. I've done my push back, I've gotten my child included in a trip she really wanted to go on. And I know that quietly, when convenient, the same sort of soft 'nudge' will go right back in to pressure parents to prove themselves competent to supervise their own child. After all, it's very convenient. It's very popular with the political class. There's even a book.
There is only one real cure, never-ending vigilance. I had the distinct impression that there wasn't a long line of parents complaining about the usurpation of their parental rights. Had there been, suddenly this policy would have become very inconvenient and been reversed, not to be tried again for a very long time. Too bad, because I'll keep my liberty while others give up theirs. I hope their chains rest lightly.
March 21, 2010
Over time I've started to get more and more interested in infrastructure issues. Ideologically charged issues seem to have reached a logjam and powerful forces are combining to keep major issues in stasis. Infrastructure, by contrast is an area which is complex and there's much interesting work to be done in making clear the issues.
The whole area is rife with MEGO (my eyes glaze over) problems which discourages amateur attempts. The problem just seems to be too big to get a handle on. And without proper data sets and decision support tools it *is* too big. That's a huge shame because in this big topic is a 'rubber meets the road' fact of life, infrastructure is where the left's magic happens. Infrastructure is where Peter is most often robbed to pay for Paul's vote buying big government program.
I think that the best approach is going small to large and pulling help along the way. I just hope that I can figure out a way to finance it.
November 06, 2009
Truly Analyzing Evil
While I was researching a blog comment I came across the most encouraging article advocating separating out ideology from analysis. It was an article examining nazi science and demonstrated pretty clearly why the standard narrative of naziism vs science didn't really hold water and how holding to that narrative made us understand the nazis less and made it more likely that their sort of government would be let loose into the world once again as a major threat.
October 15, 2009
Right now I'm working on creating a business intelligence application. Since I've not got much of a budget, open source is a no brainer. Like most open source projects, the documentation is the weakest part. I'm getting Pentaho Solutions to get a better handle on what is a pretty complex environment.
September 24, 2009
I just sent this off to my school's principal. She was just so provincially clueless about why any parent would be concerned about Obama's school address that I knew I had to write to her. With the recent pro-obama schoolkid video showing up, I finally had a visual hook to explain what the worries are.
When I dropped in the week prior to the presidential speech to children, you said you didn't understand why anybody would object to the President speaking to the nation's schoolchildren. Looking at you, I took you at your word because I'd seen that face before in coworkers and friends who simply had no exposure outside their own subculture and were encountering something truly new, different, and diverse from their normal experience. I'm sure that I've worn that same face myself a time or two. It happens.
For the record, George HW Bush's speech to the schoolchildren of the United States had Democrat led congressional hearings into the propriety and legality of such a speech. In the end, there were no prosecutions but at the time, they were apparently threatened.
When the speech transcript came out shortly prior to the speech, my immediate concerns were put to rest. This is why I did not protest when you deviated from the procedure you outlined verbally to me in showing the speech to my 4th grader. No opt out form came prior to it being shown.
When I read the White House released transcript, I did note that the original version DoE curriculum materials didn't make much sense paired with that speech and guessed that whatever was there originally had been scrubbed down to the proper neutrality it should have had from the start. The White House later admitted that the speech had been changed and the original version has never been released. But that's just of academic interest. What truly concerns me is the children, my own and our community's.
The public schools, being public, have an obligation to political neutrality with regard to partisan politics. It's a public trust. In the normal course of life, there is a proper assumption that the professionals are doing their job and not engaging in indoctrination.
Some of your professional colleagues have violated that trust and this violation is the source of that parental concern you seemed so puzzled at in our face to face meeting. One school in NJ actually was so wrapped up in their little cultural bubble that they filmed one of their indoctrination sessions which ended up on the 'net. I'm including the youtube URL for you.
The inclusion of policy buzzwords straight out of the Democrat party is simply inappropriate for a children's song taught in a public school. It is doubly inappropriate for children who are as young as the ones in the video.
Unfortunately, once you start seeing evidence of indoctrination this blatant, the question naturally becomes what about my local district, my kids. Are the teachers teaching my kids really neutral or are they just smarter about how they're betraying their public trust? You have not been proactive in dispelling these questions so far as I can tell. I suspect you just have been unaware of videos like the one I referred to above (there are a couple I've seen out there and I don't purposefully look for them). Now you know.
I have sympathy for the position your ethically challenged colleagues have put you in. I wish you the best in navigating these waters. Please let me know if I can be of assistance.
September 11, 2009
On September 11, 2001, a long series of misjudgments finally came around and bit us. We'd been blinded and thought that "it just can't happen here" until it did. So now a lot of people say never again. I'm not convinced that they've thought it through deeply.
While we are unlikely to ever again recreate the exact set of blinders we had that bright shining morning when almost three thousand innocents paid with their lives for our leadership's long series of miscalculations, a fuller understanding of never again means never again putting blinders on, not switching out one set for another. In that fuller sense of never again, we are failing and it breaks my heart.
September 07, 2009
The Right as Rebels
Tigerhawk asks "why has it taken so long" for the right to adopt the guerrilla tactics of the left. In short, what is known today as the right's become the guerrillas again, for the first time since the 1780s. Here's my note responding at more length there.
While the Constitution was in ascendency, while the Founders were, more or less, in the driver's seat, those on their side were smart to adopt the tactics of defense and conservatism. It is only when the Constitution no longer is top dog and the Founders are no longer animating our politics that it makes sense for their advocates to adopt the aggressive tactics of an Alinsky.
The left expects to be the barbarians at a tea party but grandma just pulled out her scattergun and they haven't even realized how much the rules just changed.
August 29, 2009
Some of What I've been up to
I've been profoundly disappointed in both major political parties. We can't seem to renew either of them in any way that seems to stick. Creating tools that work around their fundamental incompetence and corruption seems to be the only peaceful way out that might have a shot at working.
Instead of blogging, that's what I've been doing, conceiving and starting to build something that might serve for that purpose. I'm using the Sam Adams Alliance's Sunshine Review wiki as a starter data set. I'm looking to create a wiki/structured data set interface for the Wikipedia software, MediaWiki.
There doesn't seem to be much out there to take the relatively unstructured data coming out of wikis and structuring it so that you can do some analysis across various wiki pages where appropriate. There are a lot of projects looking to take advantage of free labor that use wiki platforms but they cripple themselves by not getting a version of the data that is more structured.
May 21, 2009
The Big MOSS rework II
As of today:
Goals - Starting Friday 4PM CDT:
Install Windows 2003 Enterprise
restore OS settings
restore OS shares
Install Windows SQL 2005 Standard
Install 2ndary software
Restore previous Farm site collections
dump in bamboosoftware dlls et al into the IIS sites.
reapply MOSS SP2
Best guess, I'm going to have a very long night
The Big MOSS rework I
Unlike the rest of the non-retail country, I'm redoing our Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) this weekend. It's fun, needle under your fingernail fun.
A different direction
Work's keeping me busy and I'm taking things in a bit of a different direction. I'm putting my political stuff over on Chicago Boyz blog and going to be writing more personally and work related material here.
April 05, 2009
Dad's giving in to the Internet
I just got off the phone with my father and I'm shaking my head in amazement. He's starting to see the value of that crazy Internet thing and he asked me to order him a book, Mark Levin's Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto to be delivered to his house. It's an excellent choice for a first Internet book order if the reviews are to be believed.
April 03, 2009
Obama Outrageous I
I really hope this Politico story on President Obama's meeting with bankers is wrong in this respect:
“My administration,” the president added, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”
If this is an accurate quote. We are in deep, deep trouble.
The reason that the only thing between bankers and the pitchforks is because the bankers and the rich in general have put their trust in the government at all levels to keep the mob at bay and have fired their private security forces of past days. If the government steps back from that iron clad commitment, it is inevitable that we will return to those days and the return will not be pleasant. It will not be tolerable. It will entirely be the fault of one President Barack Hussein Obama who myopically put mob justice as an option on the table.
God help us all if Politico got it right.
January 28, 2009
Bishop Williamson of the SSPX has had his excommunication lifted. This has caused Israel's rabbinate to react rather negatively and, unfortunately, unwisely.
The Holocaust denying Williamson is wrong on the facts and very likely undertook his provocative recent interview in Sweden to make it more difficult for the Vatican to regularize him and bring about unity and a restoration of Vatican discipline.
What the Vatican understands and the rabbinate does not is that one can be a thorough loon with reprehensible views and not be excommunicate. Excommunication is a specific punishment for a specific act, in bishop Williamson's case a schismatic act of being raised a bishop in defiance of Rome. The way the Western Church works, this was punishment was imposed without due process. No trial, no defense, no airing out of issues. He was raised a bishop without the right paperwork so he's out.
Obviously Williamson has "other issues" and when he's actually back in the Church those issues can be addressed. If they are not, the rabbinate would have a point at that time. I strongly suspect a monastic life for Bishop Williamson inside the Catholic Church, a very quiet one.
January 25, 2009
Guantanamo and the death penalty
One of the things that has gone under remarked in the Guantanamo saga is the eligibility of so many of those prisoners for the death penalty. A key anti-death penalty argument is crumbling before our eyes and few, if any, are taking note.
The argument is that in modern penal systems, killers are simply not going to kill again. Supermax facilities and their like are supposed to bring us an era where the death penalty is unnecessary to protect society. But what is happening in the military context of the death penalty at Guantanamo?
As the AFP notes we have the spectacle of "Two ex-Guantanamo inmates appear in Al-Qaeda video" announcing to the world that after committing a death penalty crime (fighting without uniform) they're very likely going to do it again. In fact, we've got 11% of released detainees going back to kill again as a fact of our forbearance to apply the full extent of US military justice. How many more will join them to kill and maim again is a very open question now that Guantanamo is going to be quickly shut down.
Death penalty opponents who oppose the penalty in all cases on ideological or moral grounds have a bit of a problem here, if anybody's going to take them to task for their false claims. I'm not holding my breath.
January 12, 2009
The Elephant in the Room
The dead weight loss of stupid regulation and poor state activity is the elephant in the room regarding the current recession. Megan McArdle's recently blogged car tribulations where she finally managed to register her car bought August 3, 2008 on January 10, 2009. The delay is due, in large part, to PA state bureaucrats misapplying state law and putting a national hold on McArdle's ability to get a drivers license. There is no left wing or right wing justification for this. Nobody particularly supports the practice of the government making regulations up as they go along and then quickly retracting their claims when somebody calls them on it.
So why does this sort of thing persist? Two reasons spring to mind. Once you've caught them, correcting the problem for everybody looks so daunting and fixing it for yourself looks so cheap that the vast majority of people just fix their own paperwork and get on with their lives. The second is that there seems to be no political advantage to undergo a crusade to fix this sort of stuff.
But sometimes the waste is just sitting right in front of you and nobody even notices. Sean O'Neill wanted to see his travel dossier so he did a FOI request. The response was mailed, twenty pages. Sending paper is more expensive than sending bits. It's slower, too.
An agent from U.S. Customs and Border Protection can generate a travel history for any traveler with a few keystrokes on a computer.
A well thought program development effort would have rated each data field whether it needed to be censored in an FOI request and enabled a "few keystrokes" report that automatically generated an electronic version that had the appropriate black boxes where sensitive data would otherwise be. Instead we have a print, a manual black box strategy (the sample page from the record has the black boxes tilted off of horizontal by a couple of degrees), and unnecessary paper mailing. Multiply this by thousands of FOI officers throughout the federal government and hundreds of thousands of requests every year and you get a system that is slow to respond and expensive.
And that's the problem of dead weight loss in a nutshell, government that is slow and expensive even when it isn't being capricious and not following the law. We can do better.
January 05, 2009
I've been using Twitter lately under the label TMLutas. If anybody's interested in following me...
January 04, 2009
What did they know and when did they know it?
I think that it is pretty generally accepted (if unremarked on) that there is absolutely no difference in the level of corruption of Governor Rod Blagojevich before and after his arrest. If anything, the arrest has probably reduced any actual Blagojevich corruption (though anything is possible). So what did his conversation partners know and when did they know it?
Specifically in the case of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who tried to steer the appointment and then famously said than nobody appointed in this process would be seated when did he come to his opinion that Governor Blagojevich was corrupt? And when will the press ask him? What other corrupt Democrats is Sen Reid willing to play footsie with until the indictments are announced? What sort of culture of corruption is being unearthed here?
Thanks Terrorist Guys
I don't understand why the Israelis don't run ad campaigns between these violent dust ups with their more violent lunatic neighbors. We just had a 6 month "cease fire" where Hamas' Gaza Strip was the launch site of hundreds if not thousands of rocket and mortar attacks into Israel. I can see the theme now, "Thanks Hamas".
You take a cute kid, an innocent woman, an everyman dad and thank Hamas for their war crimes that will, some time in the future, doom their family to destruction and death.
"Thanks Hamas! By launching your mortars from my olive grove, Israeli return fire destroyed 70% of my orchard. I know I owe my family's hunger to you."
"Thanks Hamas! When you stationed your missile storage depot in the basement of our school. When our school is destroyed in the middle of the night we won't have to go to the trouble of getting an education."
"Thanks Hamas! By filling my children's ears with the glory of suicide bombing I've lost three of my children to a death that has sent them to the fires of hell."
A parallel Thanks Hezbollah! and Thanks Al Queda! campaign writes itself.
No doubt many media outlets will refuse to carry such ads. This just makes the campaign more interesting and gives it lots of free publicity.
A product of BruceR and Jantar Mantar Communications, and affiliated contributors. Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's half-informed viewpoint on the world.