The scientific theory of evolution just as such is entirely compatible with the thought that God has guided and orchestrated the course of evolution, planned and directed it, in such a way as to achieve the ends he intends. Perhaps he causes the right mutations to arise at the right time; perhaps he preserves certain populations from extinction; perhaps he is active in many other ways. On the one hand, therefore, we have the scientific theory, and on the other, there is the claim that the course of evolution is not directed or guided or orchestrated by anyone; it displays no teleology; it is blind and unforeseeing; as Dawkins says, it has no aim or goal in its mind’s eye, mainly because it has no mind’s eye.
This claim, however, despite its strident proclamation, is no part of the scientific theory as such; it is instead a metaphysical or theological add-on. On the one hand there is the scientific theory; on the other, the metaphysical add-on, according to which the process is unguided. The first is part of current science, and deserves the respect properly accorded to a pillar of science; but the first is entirely compatible with theism. The second supports naturalism, all right, but is not part of science, and does not deserve the respect properly accorded science. And the confusion of the two—confusing the scientific theory with the result of annexing that add-on to it, confusing evolution as such with unguided evolution—deserves not respect, but disdain.
If our first priority is to protect our children, we need to examine whether gun control alone can work. It must be combined with bullet control.
There are already hundreds of millions of firearms in private hands. Guns remain functional for centuries. If the private purchase of bullets is controlled, the stockpile of bullets will diminish over time.
Restrictions could be combined with a government buyback program. People would be more willing to sell back their “extra” bullets than they would be to give up their firearms.
Bullet sales would be monitored and registered. Tie the number of bullets that one could buy to the need that one has for the firearm. And you could buy more only if you could demonstrate that your allotment was properly used.
Bullet control combined with gun control might take decades to have an impact, but gun control alone will never work.
LARRY NESSENSON Berkeley Heights, N.J., Dec. 20, 2012
Note from KBJ: Has this man heard of the Constitution?
Unless one believes in an afterlife, the rational person must rate death as an incomparable calamity, for it means the loss of everything.
(Daniel I. Wikler, "Persuasion and Coercion for Health: Ethical Issues in Government Efforts to Change Life-Styles," The Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly/Health and Society 56 [summer 1978]: 303-38, at 311)
All of this fiscal cliff talk on tax breaks, loopholes for business, higher rates for the wealthiest in America, entitlement programs and [sic] is ridiculous!
As an American who has fought for the freedoms everyone benefits from, I can say that everyone can and should pay more taxes. Why should they do this? It’s simple; if we don’t then our country is going to be headed down the road to Greece or worse. Nobody in America should be paid to live here, single parents who work part-time jobs, receive child support and get a huge tax kickback from claiming these dependents is just plain wrong.
Affluent members of this country owe it back to America to pay a higher tax rate than the single parent with three kids. It’s time for all of us to respect and appreciate how good we all have it here in America and embrace the opportunity to help this country and do our duty as citizens and get us back on track to being the number one economy and best country in the world. Each of us needs to do our part and stop crying and moaning.
In reality, the doing of good is not so much for the benefit
of those to whom the good is done as it is for that of the doers, whose
moral faculties are activated and invigorated by the doing of it, and for that of the community, the shared values of which are ritually
asserted and vindicated by the doing of it. For this reason, good done
otherwise than by intention, especially good done in pursuance of
ends that are selfish or even "nontuistic," is not really "good" at all.
For this reason, too, actions taken from good motives count as good
even when in fact they do harm. By far the most effective way of
helping the poor is to keep profit-seekers competing vigorously for
their trade as consumers and for their services as workers; this,
however, is not a way of helping that affords members of the upper
classes the chance to flex their moral muscles or the community the
chance to dramatize its commitment to the values that hold it
together. The way to do these things is with a War on Poverty; even if
the War should turn out to have precious little effect on the incomes
of the poor—indeed, even if it should lower their incomes—the
undertaking would nevertheless represent a sort of secular religious
revival that affords the altruistic classes opportunities to bear witness
to the cultural ideal and, by doing so, to strengthen society's adherence
to it. One recalls Macaulay's remark about the attitude of the
English Puritans toward bear-baiting: that they opposed it not for the
suffering that it caused the bear but for the pleasure that it gave the
spectators. Perhaps it is not far-fetched to say that the present-day
outlook is similar: the reformer wants to improve the situation of the
poor, the black, the slum dweller, and so on, not so much to make
them better off materially as to make himself and the whole society
better off morally.
Note from KBJ: And now you know why progressives care about intentions rather than results. The minimum wage, for example, hurts the very people it is intended to help. Rent control hurts the very people it is intended to help. Welfare programs, by promoting dependence, hurt the very people they are intended to help. Affirmative-action programs, by undermining self-respect, hurt the very people they are intended to help. I could go on, but you get the point.
Jonalyn: Hi Keith! I'm Jonalyn from Charter Communications. How can I help you?.
Keith Burgess-Jackson: I'm trying to change my contact telephone number. Your website apparently doesn't allow it. Why?
Jonalyn: No worries. I'll be glad to change them for you.
Jonalyn: May I have your service address please?
Keith Burgess-Jackson: I want to do it myself, Jonalyn. It's infuriating that you allow other changes to be made, but not the telephone number. Please explain to me how to do it, and I will do it.
Jonalyn: May I know what website you're accessing to change it?
Keith Burgess-Jackson: I'm at www.myaccount.charter.com. I can change my address, e-mail address, and other things, but apparently not my contact telephone number. I don't understand why this is.
Jonalyn: Are you receiving error message when trying to change it? or the number part is grayed-out?
Keith Burgess-Jackson: Neither. I just can't find a place or a way to change it.
Jonalyn: I see. Then it seems that the phone number can be changed by us.
Keith Burgess-Jackson: I want to do it myself, Jonalyn. Why does your website allow me to change everything but my telephone number?
Jonalyn: I understand Keith. I'll make a report regarding this issue.
Jonalyn: But for the meantime, would you like me to change it here?
Keith Burgess-Jackson: All right. The number you have no longer works. Let me know when you get the website fixed, so I can change it myself. Thanks. Good night.
Jonalyn: You're welcome! It's my pleasure to be of service, we will send you updates regarding your account to KBJ1@CHARTER.NET. Thank you for making Charter No.1. Enjoy your evening! Thank you for visiting. Please contact us again at any time. Your session has ended. You may now close this window.
While acknowledging Second Amendment rights to own weapons for self-protection or sport, I have a hard time understanding why a semi-automatic assault rifle with a 50-bullet clip has any functional purpose except to kill 50 people. With that thought aside, your editorial correctly points out the need for more and better mental-health care. However, you also persistently advocate for a sharp reduction in discretionary government spending. Part of the sequestration that begins within days will target reductions in mental-health funding.
Our murder rate is more than three times higher than in any Western European nation, Canada, Australia, Japan or China. Our rate is even higher than in India and Afghanistan. How much of that statistic relates to the fact that Americans own 280 million guns, how much relates to inadequate mental-health care, and how much relates to other causes? You and others ask what would be gained by prohibiting certain assault weapons or large clip magazines. I would ask in return what sacrifices would we be making to accept constraints on weapons not intended for either self-defense or sport?
James M. Meyer Conshohocken, Pa.
Note from KBJ: Let me get this straight. Because an occasional lunatic uses a semiautomatic weapon to commit murder, nobody may own one. Let's apply the letter writer's logic to the First Amendment. Because an occasional lunatic uses speech to defame, incite, or offend, nobody may speak.
We had a couple of days (including Christmas) with snow on the ground, but the snow is gone and the sun is out. Although it was cold (44º) and breezy, I went out for a bike ride this afternoon. I wore a windbreaker over my jersey and also brown cotton gloves. The ride was uneventful, which, after my broken collarbone six months ago in Waxahachie, is good. I saw a bobcat near the entrance to River Legacy Parks. It ran across the road in front of me. I could see that it had a radio transmitter on. Some scientist must be doing research.
About the only other thing of note is that my average heart rate was 138. This is the second-highest I've ever recorded on a bicycle, beating the 137 of five days ago. The highest—143—was somewhat of a fluke, since I achieved it during a one-hour ride on a quarter-mile track. I knew that I would be riding for only one hour, so I pushed hard. Also, it was 107º that day, which made every pedal stroke difficult. My average speed today was an unimpressive 16.45 miles per hour (my record for the course is 17.58), but I attribute that to the wind and cold rather than to lack of effort.
It always feels great to have ridden (or run). The image in this post (click to enlarge) will give you an idea of what much of the trail looks like. It's a wonderful course. I'm flat-out in love with it.
After the recent presidential election, it seems that the holiday blues many Republicans may be suffering from now could be of their own making. During President Obama’s first term, the Grand Obstructionist Party just said no to most of Mr. Obama’s proposals.
Their only strategy, a negative one, was to make sure that Mr. Obama was a one-term president. They had nothing positive to offer all Americans, especially the middle class, minorities and the poor, who make up the 99 percent.
Republicans banked on winning the presidency by benefiting from the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, heavily financed Republican “super PACs,” voter suppression efforts, Fox News propaganda and the conservative news media’s falsely saying nonstop how awful our president is.
If the Republican Party wants to win future presidential elections, it must become more diverse, more inclusive. It must shed its image of being a party that caters primarily to rich white people.
PAUL L. WHITELEY Sr. Louisville, Ky., Dec. 27, 2012
Note from KBJ: This man needs a refresher course in American government. He thinks Baroque Obama is king.