Friday, September 26, 2014

Will South Dakota Follow Where Kansas Has Gone?

Governor Sam Brownback will sign a proclamation designating October as Zombie Preparedness Month Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office in the Kansas Statehouse.
"If you’re prepared for zombies, you’re prepared for anything," is the theme of Zombie Preparedness. 
"If you’re equipped to handle the zombie apocalypse then you’re prepared for tornadoes, severe storms, fire and any other natural disaster Kansas usually faces," said Devan Tucking. "This is a fun and low-stress way to get families involved, and past turnouts have proven it to be effective."
A Zombie Apocalypse resolution should be the only resolution taken up in the upcoming session by the South Dakota Legislature, a body too fond on nonbinding measures.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Daugaard The Sophist?

This was a post I wanted to get to last week, but given Governor Daugaard will likely continue to condemn philosophy and the liberal arts, it remains timely.

Madville Times does a great job of refuting South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard's latest erroneous contention about the value of philosophy. If fact, Cory does such a great job that I would not even have bother with this post if Daugaard had not put out a weekly release with this sentence: "Everything is relative, of course."

The numbers Daugaard is referring to in the press release may need context, but they are not relative. Given Daugaard's distaste for liberal arts, one should not be surprised that the Governor is imprecise in his language use. All of us are at times, but no one in the South Dakota blogosphere has a paid staff hired to ensure usage is precise. It is more troubling that Daugaard sees nothing wrong with the phrase "everything is relative. In fact, not everything is relative.

Let's turn to philosopher Simon Blackburn.
Then, fortunately, there are countless small, unpretentious things that we know with perfect certainty.  Happiness is preferable to misery, and dignity is better than humiliation.  It is bad that people suffer, and worse if a culture turns a blind eye to their suffering.  Death is worse than life; the attempt to find a common point of view is better than manipulative contempt for it. –Simon Blackburn, Being Good, 134.
Terry Eagleton provides and even stronger statement:
All truths are established from specific viewpoints; but it does not make sense to say that there is a tiger in the bathroom from my point of view but not from yours.  You and I may contend fiercely about whether there is a tiger in the bathroom or not.  To call truth absolute here is just to say that one of us has to be wrong.

If it is true that racism is an evil, then it is not just true for those who happen to be its victims.  They are not just expressing how they feel; they are making a statement about the way things are.  ‘Racism is an evil’ is not the same kind of proposition as ‘I always find the smell of fresh newsprint blissful.’  It is more like the statement ‘There is a tiger in the bathroom.’  One could imagine someone murmuring consolingly to the victims of racism that he understands just why they feel the way that they do; that he understands just why they feel the way they do; that this feeling is of course entirely valid for them – indeed, that if he were in their shoes he would doubtless feel just the same way; but that in fact he is not in their shoes, and so does not consider the situation to racist at all.  This individual is known as a relativist.  He might conceivably be known, less politely, as a racist. – Terry Eagleton, After Theory, 106 
Off the top of my head, I can think of only two schools of philosophical thought that would accept "everything is relative" as true: the ancient sophists and their descendants, the postmodern deconstructionists. For whatever reason, Daugaard doesn't seem like one of the latter. 

Perhaps the Governor would know that if he brushed up on his philosophy instead of condemning it and trumpeting his wisdom about philosophy without understanding the subject. The latter quality does mark him as a sophist.

Just in case I didn't make it clear earlier: not everything is relative

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The First C Of Political Survival: Campaign

I have become quite fascinated with the 5 Cs of survival: cutting tool, cover, container, cordage, and combustion. The idea of 5 alliterative essentials is an excellent mnemonic device and, dare I say, a workable organizing principle.

It with that spirit in mind that I offer Democrats the first C of political survival, campaign.

Professor Jon Schaff believes "Weiland has run an almost perfect campaign," and "Rounds is in trouble." I agree with Schaff that Rounds is merely bruised not bloodied. Further, in blood red South Dakota, Weiland needs a knockout not merely a knockdown to win. Those caveats aside, Weiland still has a chance because he is running a campaign.

It is difficult to imagine every Democrat running for statewide office having the energy to do Weiland's statewide tours. In addition Rounds may have bigger flaws and have more negative baggage than most other Republicans seeking statewide office. That said, Susan Wismer's campaign has provoked skirmishes but falls far short of full scale political guerrilla warfare necessary to win. There's little evidence than any other Democrats are running for statewide office.

Campaigns matter and only one Democrat running statewide seems to be running a complete one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Left For A Week And Nothing Changed

I had to take a week to learn more about oceans for the policy debate topic, read Things Fall Apart as a teacher rather than a reader, survive homecoming activities and few other real life nuisances, so I maintained blog absence for most of the past week.

I was worried that I may have missed something, but a quick scan of Madville Times shows that Democrats are still trying to hang the EB-5 albatross around Mike Rounds neck. Meanwhile, Dakota War College continues it efforts to show Democrats to be incompetent or duplicitous or both.

Other stories of interest remained stable Attorney General candidate Chad Haber still does weird stuff and Brad Ford continues to write the weirdest posts in the South Dakota blogosphere. Oh yeah, South Dakota teacher pay is still the worst in the nation.

Regular blogging here will hopefully soon resume

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Minor Musing On EB-5 And Logical Fallicies

Over at Madville, Cory has been beating a consistent drum about the irregularities in the EB-5 program that lost millions. His posts point to malfeasance that illustrates a culture of corruption under the Mike Rounds administration

PNR has been more circumspect when posting about this matter, but this post has him concluding that Mike Rounds may have been guilty of mismanagement.

Normally, I would reject the either Rounds is either a crook or an incompetent argument as an either/or logical fallacy. Rounds, however, has not offered a plausible alternative to either scenario, so until he does, one is left concluding that a vote for Rounds represents support for corruption or incompetence or both. I not sure why anyone would want to cast that vote.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Scripture And Song For The Week: Colossians 4 Edition

1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Minor Musing About Mixing Knives And Jesus

While he lived on the farm, my father always carried a pocket knife. My mother had a butcher knife that she was particularly fond of when it came time to butcher chickens. To prevent my wife from yelling at me, I will confess only to having not a few full-sized folders and multi tools along with an equal number of the keychain variety. Further I am willing to hold forth for an extended period of time about my conviction that the Cold Steel company's Triad locking mechanism is one of the best locking mechanisms ever invented for a folding knife. All of this is a long way of saying that I have no problems with knives and and an admission that I probably own too many.

I have no problem with Jesus. He died to save the human race from sin. Jesus was seemingly ambivalent about sharp objects. He told his disciples to have some  swords with them, but he wasn't too keen on swords being used in a particular garden, The scriptures seem silent on His view of locking or slipjoint folding knives.

This post is prompted by my discovery of Overcomer Knives, maker of custom knives including Roman Samurai Slayer and the Israelite. Some of the offerings include rams horn scales. The company's website homepage references Luke 22:36-38, the passage that has Jesus telling his disciples to be sure to have swords:
36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.
38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
On the About Us page contains the following paragraph:
Until a bar stock piece of steel is shaped, heat treated and formed into its Master’s image it will not overcome. Once this steel is made into a knife it becomes an overcomer. It will overcome trials and adversity in the hands of its Master. WHY CHOOSE AN OVERCOMER KNIFE? Jesus Christ is put at the forefront of Overcomer Knives. A samurai sword is highly esteemed by many in this world. It is a religious experience for the sword maker, when making a samurai sword. The sword maker prays to a false god until the completion of the sword. Here at Overcomer Knives, I pray to the true living God, the Lord Jesus Christ, until the completion of a knife. I am self taught and have done extensive research on what type of steel is the best to use. All of my knives are made of air quenched steel, A2, CPM 3V and CPM 4V. All heat treating and tempering is done in my shop with a digital kiln. No two knives are exactly alike. I make my knives as the Spirit of the Lord leads me. The Scandinavian people are true outdoorsmen. This is seen in many of their knife grinds and designs. All of my knives come with a Scandinavian type grind. This is my favorite grind and is ideal for sharpening. I also add an additional edge on top of the Scandinavian grind for added strength. All of my knife designs are original and unique. I make my knives with the Spirit of the Lord leading me. Take a close look at my Roman Samurai Slayer. The Lord gave me this design from an ancient concept of catching an opponent’s blade. This knife can save your life from a Samurai sword attack in a last ditch effort. I test each knife personally with a real Samurai sword to make sure the knife can catch and deter it. All of my knives are guaranteed for life or until the return of Christ, whatever comes first, and against defects in workmanship or materials. A Born Again Christian overcomes through the blood of Jesus Christ. I will build a knife for you that will help you overcome anything the enemy can dish out.
 If I am reading the paragraph correctly, I am supposed to buy a knife from this company because the design came from God and the design will allow me to overcome any pagan samurai I encounter, especially that rare breed of samurai based in Rome. Further, the knifemaker's faith expressed in his prayers apparently will accompany the knife as the new owner takes possession of it and uses it to vanquish the enemy. Given the tone of the passage, it's not quite clear whether the enemy is a physical samurai or the devil taking the form of a "roaring lion seeking whom it may devour." It's also unclear how the company will honor its warranty if Jesus doesn't return until the year 2525.

I don't have a problem with Saddleback Leather including a tract in their briefcases. I'm fine with business owners' claiming that their faith dictates that they close on Sunday. This effort, on the other hand, turns faith into a weird niche marketing tool that equates Christianity to preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse. If I am going to spend hundreds for a single knife instead of shop for the best value under $50, I'll spend a lot of time praying and buyChris Reeve Small Sebenza

Sunday, September 7, 2014

All Hat No Cattle

That's the image that this Yankton Press and Dakotan photo screams to me.

Kelly Hertz photo in September 3rd Yankton Press and Dakotan
A general definition of the idiom for non-South Dakota readers can be found here.

Scripture And Song Of The Week: Psalm 46 Edition

Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: The Problem With The Economy Is Big Business Edition

From this James Pethokoukis post at The Week:
The missing link in the anemic, five-year-old recovery has been business investment. And big business itself deserves a lot of the blame for that. Instead of using record profits to buy new equipment or build factories — and boost the economy — corporate America has been sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash. Corporate balance sheets are stuffed.
When CEOs do put money to work, it's almost always to help shareholders, through higher dividends and stock buy-backs that boost share prices. More recently, companies have been using some of that dough for a tricky financial technique known as an "inversion," buying an overseas rival to take advantage of lower international tax rates. Never have companies spent such a tiny share of the cash they generate on capital investment, according to economist Andrew Smithers.
Even worse, argues Harvard's Clayton Christensen in a recent paper, much of that investment is directed toward making existing products or delivering existing services more efficiently — often with fewer workers — rather than innovating new products or services that create new, high-paying jobs. This plague of risk-averse "short-termism," as Nobel-winning economist Edmund Phelps writes in Mass Flourishing, reduces the total "supply of innovation" in the U.S. economy, resulting in slower growth and job creation.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: America And God Edition

From this Religious News Service interview of Matthew Paul Turner:
Throughout our history we've branded God into a deity that works for us, one that mixes well with American values, one that agrees with our wars, and one who not only adheres to our way of life, in many cases, our way of life is God’s ideal, which we often suggest is one of the reasons he blesses us with prosperity. The biggest issue perhaps is that many of us are so comfortable with our American God, so certain of his ways, that to believe that we might be wrong is impossible.

Monday, September 1, 2014

I Thought Blogging Might Hurt My Teaching Career

But now, I'm really glad I didn't try writing novels. From this blog post at Reason:
A Dorchester County, Maryland, teacher was taken in for an "emergency medical evaluation," suspended from his job, and barred from setting foot on another public school. Authorities searched his school, Mace's Lane Middle School in Cambridge, for weapons. As classes resumed, parents worried that their children were in danger, so police decided to remain on the premises to watch over them.
What happened? The teacher, Patrick McLaw, published a fiction novel. Under a pen name. About a made-up school shooting. Set in the year 2902.
Go read the whole thing. The final paragraph sums up the situation as presented quite well.
For those who are curious, a link to one of McLaw's two books can be found here. This book, The Insurrectionist, features a school shooting. As one Reddit user writes: "It isn't what I'd call good, but it is a novel. I hope they needed more than bad writing to get a warrant."