David M. Brown's Blog

July 19, 2016

The going rate for honesty is one dollar

Filed under: Economics,Ethics,Psychology — davidmbrowndotcom @ 4:48 am

Or at least, that’s the going rate when that’s what I can spare after having paid ten dollars for a soda. What I mean is that I ended up paying two dollars, one for the soda, one for the honesty.

Yesterday afternoon, in exchange for a can of soda, I was dumb enough to hand a ten-dollar bill that I thought was a one-dollar bill to the owner of a small grocery store. After I had zipped out the door and was definitively on my way, he called me back to give me my nine bucks in change. Embarrassing; but I appreciated the honesty. I said so verbally but also with an extra dollar, which pleasantly surprised him. Of course, I’m not trying to suggest that one should receive cash whenever one acts in a principled virtuous way. Nor do I believe that the prospect of gaining nine unearned dollars can either tempt or compensate a person who is honest on principle to suffer the injury to character that must result from stealing even a few dollars. But unexpected bonuses are fun to get and to give; life is short; and life is made out of moments.

Years ago, I did the same dumb thing when paying a pizza delivery guy, realizing my mistake soon after he had left. Reflecting on the incident, I realized that he had noticed my blunder and known that it was a blunder, but had suppressed his surprise as he kept the overpayment. If honesty were automatic, nobody would ever be dishonest. Being honest is not hard, if that’s a principle by which you live—and regardless of the amount of apparently easy-to-get-away-with loot involved. But it’s not automatic.


Read The Flying Saucers Are Very Very Real

Read Omelet: A Tragedy of Bill Shake-a-speare

Read The Case of the Cockamamie Killer

July 17, 2016

Editorial to appease fact-averse racists apologizes for apt headline about cop-killer

Filed under: Media and journalism,News,Politics,Psychology,Society and culture,Terrorism — davidmbrowndotcom @ 5:33 am


A newspaper in Memphis quickly apologized after protestors complained about its choice of headline in the wake of the deadly police shooting in Dallas.

“Gunman targeted whites,” read the lead story headline in the Commercial Appeal, a member of the USA Today network. The headline was accurate, as Dallas gunman Micah Xavier Johnson explicitly talked about wanted to kill white police officers before he was eliminated via robot bomb.

That didn’t stop protestors from gathering outside the paper’s office in downtown Memphis on Wednesday to express their displeasure, some holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter.”

Commercial Appeal editor Louis Graham quickly apologized after meeting with the protestors, and wrote an editorial titled, “We got it wrong.”

Louis Graham’s editorial has stuff like this:

Those three big words in headline type stretched across Saturday’s front page — Gunman Targeted Whites — were true according to police accounts in Dallas at the time but they badly oversimplified a very complex, rapidly evolving story, and angered many of our readers and many more in the broader community.

In my view the headline was so lacking in context as to be tone deaf, particularly in a city with a 65 percent African American population. That front page minimized the broader refrain of what’s happening in our country with anguish over the deaths of young black men at the hands of police. It has been viewed as suggesting that this newspaper values the lives of white police officers more than young black men who have died in incident after incident.

This guy says he also received objections for a headline that referred to how a bridge was shut down because of a protest instead of referring, more content-free-wise, simply to “peaceful protests.” Anyone forcibly blocking others from going about their business is not being peaceful.

Graham says the “Gunman Targeted Whites” headline failed to capture the entire swirling cauldron of nuances of the fast-moving situation—and that this failure, somehow, makes the headline culpable, objectionable, bad. Bad headline. But the function of headlines is to function as headlines, not to substitute for the detailed report that the headline headlines.

Another thing this editor says is that in a city with so many black people, such a headline is tone-deaf. Some people—the ones who yelled at him—were irrationally upset by it, sure. But the headline didn’t say that all black people in the city target white people. It said the killer targeted white people. Nor did the black people of the town march en masse to protest the newspaper’s brazenly fact-stating headline. The fact-deaf BLM jerks, plus some equally fact-deaf and also vocally obnoxious ones in the “wider community,” were the ones protesting. (The editor reports no poll, by the way, nor even any casual conversations with any persons not offended by the headline. He feels chastised, and the persons of whatever color just minding their own business, unoffended by fact-stating headlines, affect him not. If you want to convince Graham to reverse course on any matter, don’t refer to any truths or facts, just storm his palace and demand craven submission.)

People were angry at the paper, Graham says. Why? For any good reason? How does merely being angry mean that the anger is justified? The editor also says he knows that other readers will be angry at his kowtowing (which he wants to believe he is not doing). How and why is their anger at his appeasement misguided? They’re angry too. What about their anger? I fear that we have competing anger factions here and that the only way to resolve the matter will be to resort to facts. Perhaps the fact that the killer was, by his own admission, targeting whites is relevant after all.

Will all future newspaper headlines need to be rewritten to ensure that they can’t possibly offend anybody for any reason? That would be doubleplusungood, but, what the heck, Graham and similarly brave editorial souls may use the following headline, which covers every contingency. But I require a royalty check to be sent to me oneach of the infinite number of times it will need to be deployed in preemptive appeasement of all unhinged protestors:

 -Story in article-

This catchall will be especially useful for readers scanning contents pages. I wish I could give the above lustrous gem away for free, but I put so much work into ensuring that nobody of any view could possibly take offense. (Not counting partisans of objectivity and justice, substantive content, etc., that is.) As for the story itself—no! Don’t start reporting any of the facts in the column inches of the formal report either. People could really get upset.


Read The Flying Saucers Are Very Very Real

Read Omelet: A Tragedy of Bill Shake-a-speare

Read The Case of the Cockamamie Killer


July 13, 2016

Hyperdivisive Hillary Clinton admits she may have been a tad partisanly divisive

Filed under: Language and grammar,News,Politics — davidmbrowndotcom @ 11:49 pm

Lady, we already knew. That and your 70%-Bernie socialism are not happiness-making with the sane people. Didn’t you—to select one out of many possible examples—didn’t you, in a very partisan, untransparent and obnoxious way, unsuccessfully try to ram the proto-ObamaCare HillaryCare down our throats twenty years before Obama successfully rammed the neo-RomneyCare ObamaCare down our throats? Do you now disavow the divisive and medical-industry-destroying, individual-rights-destroying Obamacare?

Clinton says: “I cannot stand here and claim that my words and actions haven’t sometimes fueled the partisanship that often stands in the way of our progress.”

Such politic confessional candor is a lie, however. Progress toward what? The TyrannyCare? The StompFreedomCare? If divisiveness and partisanship impede progress toward such baleful ends, we must divide. We must be as divisive as possible.

“Divisive,” like “partisan,” are often-abused terms. Distractive and fuzzifying terms. In politics, they are what people who oppose the ideas, policies or conduct of other people often call those other people for opposing the ideas, policies or conduct of themselves. Slapping these adjectives on political foes is one of the substitutes for clear and unambiguous discussion of what’s fundamentally at stake in political contests. Speaking in such a way divides us from the truth.

Opposing thuggery is “divisive” if the other guy in the room is a thug. You two are not going to be multiplicatively hugging and cherishing each other. No need to wallow in guilt about this. Blame the thug.

Suppose that I oppose willful massive destruction of the freedom of innocent people. Suppose that in a completely nonpartisan way I also prefer the party that is discernibly if too often merely marginally less in favor of willful massive destruction of the freedom of innocent people to the party more in favor of willful massive destruction of the freedom of innocent people. Is my preference for freedom and opposition to the gung-ho mass destruction divisive or non-divisive?

We have no near-term prospect in this country of happy peaceful unity about the value of freedom and individual rights, because, for one reason, so many Americans want to divisively multiply the pace at which others are robbed so that the partisans of robbery can get more “free” stuff. No matter how much loot the pelf-demanders get, they demand more. It’s very divisive. I’m a uniter, not a divider, but you looters have to give me something to work with. Stop robbing and pillaging, stop voting for Hillary Clinton, etc.

Of course, it’s not just the question of whether earners of their money should be allowed to keep their money which divides us. We’re also divided with respect to whether it’s okay to be virulently racist if only you belong to one race rather than another race (a proposition with which I disagree; in my view, nobody should be racist: not cops, not cop-killers, not presidents of countries, not anybody). Then there’s the divisive issue of whether partisans of Islam who Allahu Akbaringly yodel their allegiance to Islam as they mass-murder people are in fact Muslim terrorists and caliphate-partisans or just pretending. And so forth.

Read The Flying Saucers Are Very Very Real

Read Omelet: A Tragedy of Bill Shake-a-speare

Read The Case of the Cockamamie Killer

July 12, 2016

Facts Matter: The collectivism and the collaborationism of the Black Lives Matter movement

Filed under: Language and grammar,Media and journalism,Politics — davidmbrowndotcom @ 1:49 am

Just a few days ago, in response to a Drudge Report headline stating that “Black Lives Kill: 4 Cops Shot Dead In Dallas,” David French, at the National Review Online site, in indictment of the headline, wrote: “When we tribalize conflict, we create a tribalized society. It’s that simple.”

Simple. Yet French’s later article, “Black Lives Matter: Radicals Using Moderates to Help Tear America Apart,” explains how Black Lives Matter is dominated by the type of ideas and persons who, on collectivist or tribal grounds, would rationalize and excuse the murder of the five cops shot dead in Dallas–even if many who call themselves participants in the movement would never themselves endorse those rationalizations and excuses.

Of course, if the Drudge Report headline writer, let’s say Drudge, intended to imply that all persons without exception who have marched in the streets protesting demonstrably unwarranted killings by police officers are also directly responsible for the cop murders in Dallas, that headline is badly wrong. It’s that simple. The headline writer is, then, assigning collective guilt, and is indifferent to any differences in motives and ideas of individual participants in the Black Lives Matter movement.

On the other hand, maybe the headline is guilty primarily of imprecisely truncating an essay-long argument that the Black Lives Matter movement is led by collectivist thugs who would rationalize murdering cops–even if the movement also includes many fair-minded foes of any plain murder, no matter the color or job of the victim or the perpetrator.

The Black Lives Matter movement arguably does include many unvicious protestors who, for whatever reasons, perhaps just ignorance and thoughtlessness, are willing to be associated with and march side by side with collectivist thugs and with those who loudly and volubly care not whether a police officer’s shooting is justified in any particular case. Judging by interviews that have appeared in the press, such innocents do exist. They don’t read manifestos and David French articles, or the papers. Perhaps they also don’t listen to what is being shouted from bullhorns at the protests they attend.

At any rate, it is fair to say that Drudge’s headline does not supply a complete argument. It’s that simple.

July 9, 2016

Kill or be killed

Filed under: Society and culture,Technology,Terrorism,War — davidmbrowndotcom @ 8:16 am

A Los Angeles Times article says that Dallas cops’ use of sophisticated military equipment to kill someone before that someone could kill (more of) them raises “raises ethical questions.” One such is the risk that powerful technology like the bomb-ferrying robot used to kill the Dallas sniper could be misused. Yes, it could be misused…just like every other weapon and every tool in human history. Battering rams can be used to smash in doors of innocent home owners in the middle of the night solely because somebody told the police that drugs were on the premises. But battering rams don’t invade homes; home invaders do.

The only question relevant in a kill-or-be-killed situation like what happened in Dallas is whether there’s a way to kill the enemy without being killed yourself. If you’re the victim of the aggression, you already know it’s right, as matter of the ethical principle of self-defense, to kill the enemy.

The new tactic may “raise ethical questions,” but, contrary to what the LA Times headline seems to be implying, not any new ethical questions, not with respect to what to do in certain situations given the materials available to you. If you can stop the guy shooting at you most quickly and definitively only by dropping a giant rock on his head, do that. If aiming a satellite-based laser beam on his head is the only way, do that. All the considerations about risk and effectiveness that are relevant with respect to deploying any other weapon against the killer are also relevant with respect to deploying the bomb-ferrying robot.

And it turns out that the police were correct. The robot-delivered bomb did kill Micah Johnson, and only Johnson. Good job, remote-controlled devices.

July 8, 2016

With respect to the way James Comey let Hillary Clinton off the hook…

Filed under: Ethics,News,Philosophy,Politics — davidmbrowndotcom @ 1:45 am

…Charles Krauthammer writes, “I admit I’m giving Comey the benefit of the doubt. But the best way I can reconcile his reputation for integrity with the grating illogic of his Clinton decision is by presuming that he didn’t want to make history.”

Krauthammer chastises FBI Director James Comey for shabby logic, but the commentator’s own logic is shabby. How is evading evidence because one does “not want to make history” consistent with integrity in drawing conclusions from evidence?

Proposing a minor variant of the widely guessed motives behind Comey’s evasion of Hillary Clinton’s prosecutability, Krauthammer suggests that the director’s conduct is not as ugly-looking if the Krauthammer-preferred rendition of motive, and not some other motive, animated the evasion.

But imagine a case in which another official, also not being physically threatened, recommends prosecution when that official knows–not guesses: knows–the accused person to be innocent. What then? Would the injustice done to that innocent person be somehow more consistent with the integrity of a commitment to justice if Motive A for committing the injustice were operative rather than Motive B? Would assigning one motive rather than the other constitute giving the “benefit of the doubt” to an official who knowingly cooperates in trampling the rights of an innocent person? That it is hard to be just in a particular case is no excuse for being unjust.

July 6, 2016

What I recommend for any future criminal investigations of me

Filed under: News — davidmbrowndotcom @ 8:57 am

No charges.

July 5, 2016

Rush Limbaugh on the relationship between intention and gross negligence

Filed under: Ethics,News,Politics — davidmbrowndotcom @ 5:25 pm

Must you intend to be grossly negligent in order to be grossly negligent? Must it be listed on your to-do list? “Be sure to be grossly negligent about national security for the sake of protecting any politically corrupt dealmaking with respect to which I probably do not want accessible public records.”

From a July 5, 2016 transcript from Rush Limbaugh’s radio talk show:

Who cares if she intended to put US national security at risk?  Who does? But the fact of the matter [is] that the statute says gross negligence. Gross negligence and lack of intent are the same thing. Gross negligence, if you’re just so willfully unaware, if you don’t care, if you are so unattached that you are not aware what you do, that’s gross negligence.  That’s the statute. How can you intend not to care? How can you intend to be negligent? You just are. [Emphases added.]

But Hillary Clinton did intend to neglect legitimate security concerns about her setting up and using a private server for her Secretary of State job email. She took pains to ignore and circumvent such concerns. She wanted to be able to hide–for example, by deleting masses of emails from the server–any email discussions touching on any matters manifesting political corruption. She wanted to be able to hide any emails touching on pay-for-play deals conducted as Secretary of State on behalf of the Clinton Foundation. She didn’t want these email to be subject, ever, to Freedom of Information Act requests. She certainly intended, and did, tell a lot of lies about all this.

The FBI, of course, has plenty of means to know that there is more to find here than they have chosen to find. But of course they intended to find a way to let Hillary Clinton off the hook from the beginning, regardless of any explicit laws pertaining to handling classified communications.

It is okay and even good to “outsource,” i.e., engage in voluntary trade to mutual benefit

Filed under: Economics,News,Politics,trade — davidmbrowndotcom @ 1:25 pm

At NRO, Victor Hanson has penned a strong article about the ways and wherefores of those who are rich plus powerful plus corrut; but the article is undercut by Hanson’s lumping of “outsourcing” with all manner of blatant corruption and lies.

In a sense, these revolving-door apparatchiks and incestuous couples are bullies, who use their megaphones to disparage others who are supposedly blinkered and ignorant to the point of not believing that a videomaker caused the attacks in Libya, not trusting the Iranians, being skeptical about the theory of sanctuary cities, missing the genius of the European Union, not seeing the brilliant logic in allowing in 12 million immigrants from southern Mexico and Central America under unlawful auspices, panicking about $20 trillion in debt, and incapable of appreciating the wonders of outsourcing.

The same non-corridor folks who don’t appreciate lies about Benghazi and Iran and who worry about trillions in red ink are “incapable of appreciating the wonders of outsourcing”? Incapable of appreciating what? International trade? Trade per se? Is Hanson saying that exchanges on the market are in the same category as rampant political dishonesty and looting? Is that the argument? But he doesn’t say exactly what he means by disparaging outsourcing as he does.

It may well be the case that specific instances of outsourcing, or any specific market transaction, would not have taken place had alternatives not been foreclosed by assaults against producers and consumers in the domestic economy. But this is no indictment of “outsourcing” or markets per se. It is an indictment of high taxes and endless senseless regulations by municipalities, states, and the federal government. Let’s not condemn businessmen–or, for that matter, Amazon and eBay customers who “outsource” certain purchases to overseas vendors offering lower prices on a good–for trying to reduce their costs and do the best they can for themselves despite the constant assaults.

July 2, 2016

In case of foul-mouthed Islamo-fascist would-be terrorist, viewer discretion advised

Filed under: Ethics,Islam,Psychology,Religion,Terrorism — davidmbrowndotcom @ 6:14 am

Whether or not the wild-eyed, hijabified woman in this video is only fantasizing about blowing up a plane (and such things are always unbelievable fantasies before they become unbelievable realities), her foul-mouthed anger at America and gays–existence of which is “not allowed!” (so that, on her view, the 50 slaughtered in Orlando well deserved to be slain)–is transparently sincere. If she’s acting as some kind a sick game, the performance is Oscar-worthy. (Let’s assign a .0001% probability to the explanation that it’s Actress Derangement Syndrome.) Note that this proto-terrorist regards it as irrational per se and murder-worthy per se to reject Islam and to reject the dictates of fascistic sharia rule.

A less-important matter: Assuming that she is exactly what she appears to be, why did she spout her venom to an unallied cameraman on her way into an airport? But it’s really no great mystery. The relationship between inveterate generic wackoism and unalloyed sympathy for Islamomurderousness is undoubtedly reciprocal. Each inspires and exacerbates the other.

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