Quick Roundup 179

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Real Voiceless Victims

Animal "rights" activists will often claim they speak for the "voiceless". This claim to moral superiority, like their entire notion of rights, rests on ignoring the role of the mind. The utterances of a voice mean nothing if not shaped by a mind, and the whole concept of rights depends on the fact that the being which is supposed to have them depends on the use of its mind in order to survive.

Having said that, I was reminded of that leftist contempt for rationality when I encountered Mike N's blog about the indoctrination tactics used by global warming activists against children. Here's part of an excerpt he made from a Washington Post article on the subject.

... 9-year-old Alyssa Luz-Ricca's mother returned from a business trip to Costa Rica with a T-shirt of a colorful frog and the words "Extinction is forever." Alyssa looked at the T-shirt and, she says, "I cried."

"She cried very hard," clarifies her mother, Karen Luz of Arlington.

"I don't like global warming," Alyssa continues, her eyes huge and serious behind her glasses, a stardust of freckles across her nose, "because it kills animals, and I like animals." [my bold]
You wonder whether this witch flew her daughter out to Vancouver as a Christmas "gift" upon getting wind of the crucified Santa Clause last year.

This is monstrous. I completely agree with Mike that children are ill-equipped to deal with such complex topics as climatology. This is emotional abuse, pure and simple, and this child's own mother is perpetrating it in the stead of the care-free time of play and learning (i.e., psychological and intellectual development) her daughter should be experiencing.

Arnold Kling on the Ball!

For once, Arnold Kling has written an article I do not find objectionable from start to finish. He makes an interesting point about a mistake in cost-benefits analysis that commonly occurs in the debate over socialized medicine.
[E]rrors are inherent in medicine, because knowledge is imperfect and decisions must be made under uncertainty. Given the uncertainty, one cannot reduce errors of one type without increasing errors of another type. Most importantly, the existence of errors does not prove that the system is flawed.
He also discusses a couple of other examples of how one must make decisions with limited information, including the subject of terrorism watch lists.

Speaking of which, this analysis is useful in the appropriate kind of context (like whether one should do an MRI and how government interference might skew such a decision) but worse than useless in others (like passenger screening for terrorism). In the case of MRIs, physicians, in the normal course of their work must make this type of decision, and this analysis can show how government interference can result in bad choices. (This remains only an adjunct to making moral arguments against enslaving physicians, however.)

But why is our government wasting so much of our time and money screening for terrorists? First, because it is pursuing the wrong strategy overall concerning the Islamofascist threat. And second it is also doing so many other things wrong, such as violating the rights of airlines that might wish to "discriminate" against some passengers by refusing them service if they seem suspicious.

To go into a similar cost-benefits analysis of terrorism screening may be an interesting academic exercise, but it strikes me as something that too easily confines our public policy debate to thinking within a small box when we really need to be climbing out of it. In fact, this loss of the larger context is precisely the danger that comes with this type of public policy argument.

Will "Global Warming Denial" Be Next?

The European Union is considering a measure that would criminalize Holocaust denial, a violation of freedom of speech that some of its member states are already guilty of.

For Sale: One Useless Cat

This "ad" is hilarious. (HT: Found on the Web)

Those Mesmerizing UPS Ads

Have you found yourself strangely fascinated by those UPS television ads featuring some long-haired guy using a magic marker on a whiteboard to regale you with tales of shipping innovation
? If so, you can now watch them at your leisure and find out all about them at Slate. The story behind the ads was worth the read.

If, like me, you were puzzled about how some guy with long hair ended up in an ad geared at least in part towards business executives, you'll find out why. (And at least now I know I'm probably not the only one who has to keep from getting up and looking for a pair of barber's shears every time I see one of those ads....)


That number is probably close to my "permanent age", as Scott Adams, who is a "42", put it.

Perhaps that explains my bemusement and mild annoyance with long hair on men. (HT: Found on the Web)

Adams on Copyright

And yes, Scott Adams, whose comic strip Dilbert I rank as a favorite, has a blog. (How did that slip under my radar?) I've added it (The Dilbert Blog) and Found on the Web to my sidebar.

In any event, I found his post on the subject of copyright law (as it applies to an artist wanting to sell books) both very amusing and very worthwhile. His analogy: "[C]opyright violations are analogous to borrowing your neighbor's underpants without asking, then laundering and returning them before he returns home." His point: "[T]he artist who loses legal control over his creation feels violated...."

There's much more, and it is very good. Among other things, you learn that he had to work hard for a decade to make his strip the success that it is today.

-- CAV


Mike N said...

That photo of the useless cat has a pic in the upper left corner of relaxing brown bears which should be captioned "Where's the remote?"

Gus Van Horn said...

You're right. And actually, I'd missed that when I was blogging it this morning....

Galileo Blogs said...

Regarding environmental brainwashing, it is far more heinous today than it was when I was a kid in the 1970s. Yet, the 1970s marked the first, classic and very effective anti-pollution ad:


This ad will bring back memories if you were old enough to see it then. It is the famous "crying Indian" ad. Of course, it also tied in to white guilt over the treatment of the Indians, guilt that had been drummed into our heads by history books and countless movies. So, when the Indian cried, we all cried with him, not just for the despoliation of his environment, but also for our destruction of his way of life, a life that was pure in nature and untainted by the ugliness of the modern world.

Of course, I am speaking with the voice of the enemy. Those aren't my beliefs!

Nevertheless, speaking personally, this ad was very effective. I never really became an environmentalist as a young kid, but I did feel bad for that damn Indian!

Today's indoctrination obviously goes much further and deeper, and appears well-integrated into almost any kid's school lessons. Indoctrinate the young and you will capture a whole generation. The Nazis understood this (Hitler youth) and the Communists understood this (the Komsomol). The environmentalists understand this.

That means (rolling up my sleeves), we have our work cut out for us!

Gus Van Horn said...

I do remember the ad, barely.

And this reminds me: You probably realize this already, but the "enviro-Indians" are a mythological race!

Galileo Blogs said...

Fascinating data on the Indians in your linked article. I hadn't seen that. It should surprise no one that man is always inventive and industrious, even the American Indians, who wiped out huge swaths of the animal kingdom in order to feed themselves. I should expect no less.

Gus Van Horn said...

It would seem that almost anything cooked up by the left as a mascot or a symbol should. ipso facto, be held suspect and might bring rewards to any enterprising blogger or investigative journalist.

So many empty symbols, so little time....

johnnycwest said...

The indoctrination of children is despicable, but it is not always as it seems. I grew up in the 70's with my high school graduation right in the middle of the decade. I was very left-leaning for the first part of those years. I am Canadian, but was an avid McGovern supporter! and have the campaign buttons to prove it. - I was taking an elective in American history at the time. I used to get into screaming political arguments with my best friend who supported Nixon!

I think my left leanings were the result of a profound sense that something was wrong with the world - I was raised going to church, but rejected religion at an earlier age. I simply absorbed the cultural ether of the left because it seemed to be the alternative. I was quite passionate about my beliefs although to call them half-baked would be undeserved praise.

Then I saw The Fountainhead on late night tv - bingo - the world is wrong and this is right. It was a revelation to me - I could not believe the ideas I was hearing for the first time. I have been a student of Objectivism since that time.

It is the nature of childhood that we must question orthodoxy. I have 2 children of my own: 17 and 14. They are both bright and ambitious, but I have intentionally soft-pedaled my ideas. I do not shy away from stating my beliefs, but I do not try to make my ideas their orthodoxy. I encourage them to arrive at their own ideas with my encouragement, but I try to err on the side of saying less than more. I am more interested in their thought processes, than their content.

I am pleased to watch my children grow into independent thinkers and will likely soon introduce them to Ayn Rand, but I trust them to reject the cultural ether as I did.

I think human psychology and emotional and intellectual development is a fascinating area of study. If I was younger, I would study neuro-anatomy and psychology towards the development of a human psychology congruent with Objectivism. I believe that we need this if Objectivism is to take its rightful place in the world as the dominant philosophy.

Thank you for your blog and your contributions to the intellectual debate.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you for your kind words.

I agree with your overall point, which I have also heard expressed as, "I am not raising my children 'as' anything. I am raising them to become rational adults." Your approach is what will make it easier for them to see the value of Ayn Rand's ideas for themselves, which is really the only way to accept them in any meaningful sense.

As your own intellectual independence and commitment to reason show, the politics one accepts as a child is far less important in the long run than whether that child learns to think.

Having said that, the indoctrination, in and of itself would be bad, but not nearly as bad as what we have now in our public schools, which is: indoctrination on top of a deliberate attempt to thwart the normal intellectual development of the students.

johnnycwest said...

Thank you - I am certainly not defending current education practices - my own education was useless, although largely harmless until graduate school. Since I was in the sciences, graduate school was my only valuable and enjoyable experience in school. I share your concern over public schools - both my kids attend private schools, which are certainly better because they make it clear that they respect you as their customer and they do provide a better education as a result. I am just trying to be an optimist, that a good number of kids can still grow up to reject the nutty (and evil)ideas pored into their heads. Here's hoping.

Inspector said...

"Extinction is forever."

One of my parents had that shirt. I forget which one. They played all the environmentalist videos and agitprop in elementary school for me. "Captain Planet" was targeted at me. I was given board games like "endangered species."

Those bastards tried to brainwash me.

And because of that, my hatred for them will always be personal; not just philosophical. Mike and Gus, you're right about it being child abuse - and that's coming from someone who was once that child.

Gus Van Horn said...

On the one hand, I am sorry to hear that your parents made your life so miserable. On the other, your words serve as a nice little reminder to all the control freaks out there that people do indeed have free will, and many survive with their minds intact.

Inspector said...

I just realized the wording of my post was unclear. Sorry about that!

By "they" I mean the environmentalists. And it was the schools which sat me down and played the triumph of the will - I mean triumph of nature - films. My folks may have bought into that stuff and certainly spewed it, they weren't capable of anything as effortful as brainwashing.

But, yes, it's a mixed bag. By being assaulted in such a heavy-handed fashion, I was able to understand its true depravity long before learning of Objectivism. In fact, the fact that Objectivism fully identified its depravity really drew me into the philosophy.

So the joke is most certainly on them.

Gus Van Horn said...

Well, I'm relieved for you, then!

There aren't many people who call their own parents "bastards", and I'm glad you're not one of them!

I probably ought to have asked whether you really wanted to post that one. I'll take some of the blame for moderating comments in a hurry. Bleh!