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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Rules for comments: A reminder

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

I've had to delete a number of comments and I've been forced to ban some users lately. Therefore, it is appropriate to bring the rules back up to the top, as a reminder of what is and is not acceptable in the comments.

  • A reasonable level of civility is expected. While it is expected that controversial political and social issues may generate heated debate, there are common-sense limits of civility that will be enforced.

This is a wide open rule, and intentionally so. Here are a few examples of what is not permitted under this rule, though this is by no means a comprehensive list.

Open racism and anti-Semitism is not permitted under the "civility" rule. We live in an age where everything anyone says can be described as "racist," so this is much more narrowly defined than in a lot of places. Do not use racial slurs, do not describe an entire race with derogatory terms, etc. This is not difficult to figure out.

Namecalling should be avoided. For example, calling me or anyone else a "faggot" is a good way to get your post deleted and get your account banned. Threats of violence will not be tolerated.

It is impossible to predict everything that is beyond the bounds of civility, and it is pointless to try to list everything. That said, most people are adults and are capable of understanding what is and is not civil. It should not be a surprise when an overtly uncivil post is deleted, whether I have explicitly prohibited that specific content or not.

  • This blog is a family-friendly site. Therefore no cursing, profanity, vulgarity, obscenity, etc. will be allowed. This is a zero-tolerance rule and will result in automatic deletion of the offending post.

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

  • Anonymity has greatly coarsened discourse on the Internet, so pseudonyms are discouraged but not forbidden. That said, any direct criticism of a person by name cannot be done anonymously. If you criticize someone, you have to subject yourself to the same level of scrutiny or the comment will be deleted.

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

  • Please keep your comments relevant to the topic of the post.

Please comment on the post itself instead of using the comments to bring up something unrelated to the post. For example: If I write about tax policy, please do not use it as an opportunity to post about abortion, traffic laws, or the war on drugs. Thank you for your cooperation.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." -- John 15:13


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Meme sharing via guilt trip.

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 3:00 AM

If you're active on Facebook, you've seen plenty of images with text like this:

"I bet only 2% will share this, and most people will just scroll on by because they don't care."

The easiest way to get me to not share a meme is to guilt trip me for not sharing it.

Homie don't play dat.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Oh for crying out loud!

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

So apparently the billboard advertising the new X-Men movie featuring a Apocalypse choking Mystique is controversial.

What utter nonsense.

The X-billboard doesn't glorify violence against women any more than Apocalypse beating up Charles Xavier glorifies violence against the handicapped. It is a villain being a villain.

Shut up, Social Justice Warriors.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Of course moderation is censorship

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 10:00 AM

Anyone who has moderated any sort of forum has engaged in censorship if he has deleted comments or banned a disruptive user. That is not a bad thing and we should not run from the word "censorship."

Disqus is one of the leading comment providers on the web, used by a number of high-profile sites. They had a useful blog post about moderation, but this one statement caught my eye: "Removing hateful comments or banning users who are there to antagonize others isn't censorship."

Actually, censorship is exactly what that is. And that is not automatically a bad thing.

Think of it this way: If someone comes into your home and calls you a bunch of obscene names, you will probably ask him to leave. You are censoring what he is allowed to say to you in your home, and you have every right to do so. It is no different when someone is on private property on the Internet - a blog, a forum, or a Facebook page - and behaves in a way not allowed by the established rules of the site.

Censorship can be a bad thing, such as when government tries to make criticism of politicians illegal or engages in other ways of intimidating or punishing people who speak truth to power. Censorship can be a good thing when it preserves the decency of a forum, protects innocent people's reputations from libel, or silences disruptive trolls. The only thing that really matters is how censorship is used, not that censorship is occurring.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fifteen years

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

I got married fifteen years ago today.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The opioid "crisis" is not a crisis

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The opioid "crisis" has been inflated far beyond what the statistics justify, and is in danger of leading us to the failed policies of the past. We need to take a step back and closely re-examine this non-crisis, before we overreact with bad and destructive policy. Our "solution" could be far worse than the problem.

The abuse of opioids (both prescription drugs and illegal drugs like heroin) killed 28,000 people in 2014, leading the New York Times to describe opioids as "a leading cause of death." That description is misleading. Opioid abuse killed 0.009% of the population that year. Is this really a crisis? No, it is not.

"Candyman" doctors who recklessly distribute opioid painkillers should be prosecuted. As people who hold medical licenses, they hold a higher responsibility for the care of their patients. But doctors as a whole are far more knowledgeable about and experienced in the proper use of prescription drugs than government bureaucrats. Doctors know the needs of their individual patients far better than government bureaucrats.

The news media has been incredibly irresponsible in reporting on this limited problem as a "crisis" and politicians have been irresponsible in jumping on a problem to "solve" with legislation. Only by educating ourselves and pushing back against this dishonest fear mongering - and lobbying our elected officials to not be swayed by it - can we stop further unnecessary government meddling in the doctor-patient relationship.

Let's not leave cancer patients or people with chronic pain in the cold because some bureaucrat thinks he knows better than a doctor, or because a doctor is too afraid of cowboy law enforcement to give the patient the medicine he needs under the proper supervision. Government meddling in our health care is the real crisis, not opioid abuse.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Enough.

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:01 AM

I banned another user this morning. This individual claims to be an actual Nazi but is more likely a parody troll.

Read the rules. Follow them, or you won't be commenting here. Calling me or someone else a "faggot," open racism or anti-Semitism, and other such violations of Rule 1 will get your post deleted and might get you banned.

I am not inclined to enable pre-moderation of posts, meaning I have to approve posts before they appear. However, I will do so if this continues. My blog will not be a place for this filth.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Like it or not, Hiroshima was justified

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The Hiroshima bombing was a terrible tragedy and will always be remembered as an example of the horrors of war. While it was justifiable, it was nonetheless a tragic loss of human life.

Last month, I tweeted an article putting the nuclear annihilation in historical and mathematical context, and that context is critical to understanding and analyzing the decision to use nuclear power. That context is simple: The Hiroshima bombing resulted in fewer deaths than continuing the conventional war against Japan. Bombing Hiroshima saved lives, on both the American side and the Japanese side.

Sometimes in war, you are faced with no good options. President Truman knew that an invasion of Japan itself would be incredibly bloody and destructive for both nations. He chose the option that would end the war more quickly and result in less death and destruction - for both military and civilians - than an invasion.

In fact, one could argue that nuclear weapons have been the greatest force for peace the world has seen since the end of World War II. The horror of atomic warfare restrained both these United States and even the Soviet Union, a truly Evil Empire guilty of genocide against its own people. Both nations fought proxy wars, but a third world war between the USA and the USSR would have been horrific on a scale that would have easily eclipsed World War II.

While I understand that the destruction brought by only one bomb is very different psychologically than thousands upon thousands of conventional bombs, it is interesting that Hiroshima gets so much more attention than the much larger number of civilians killed by the Allies' conventional bombs in both Germany and Japan. Of course, the Axis targeted cities and civilians as well, with Germany's bombing of London and Japan's war crimes against China and Korea. We should remember those people at the same time we remember the lives lost in Hiroshima.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

City Council should reject Planned Parenthood funding

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:00 PM

Bloomington Herald-Times, May 21, 2016

To the Editor:

The Bloomington City Council should reject Planned Parenthood's cynical request for $7,500 in corporate welfare from the Jack Hopkins Social Services Fund and instead distribute this money to an organization that could actually benefit from the grant.

The fund guidelines discourage funding operating costs, but in reality that is exactly what this grant seeks to do. This is not a "one time" investment, it is a continuing program.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky took in over $15,000,000 in its most recent fiscal report. PPINK also has the backing of an obscenely wealthy national organization and network of affiliates that bring in over $1,000,000,000 in annual revenue. There is more than enough money floating around Planned Parenthood to fund the Bloomington branch.

The city council should stop forcing pro-life residents of Bloomington to subsidize an organization we find morally abhorrent. They should instead donate their own money.

Finally, city councilor Dorothy Granger, who volunteers for Planned Parenthood as a clinic escort, should recuse herself from this vote. Using your position of authority to funnel tax dollars to an organization you personally volunteer for may not be a conflict of interest legally, but it does present a serious appearance of impropriety.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Spoiled? Naw, it can't be that!

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

I posted this on Facebook three years ago and was amused when it came up on my "on this day" page.

Nano came over and nudged my hand because something was in his way and he couldn't get to his bean bag. Naturally, I got up and fixed it. He's happily napping on his bean bag now. My dog might be spoiled.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Backsliding into bad drug war policy

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 3:00 PM

We have made some progress in the failed War on Drugs over the last few years. It actually seems like our national focus is shifting away from the punitive policies of the past that have not only failed, but have unnecessarily ruined so many lives. But the increased use heroin and illegal use of prescription opioids has us teetering on the edge of a moral panic that will cause us to lurch backward into the same old failures.

Charging drug users with murder for sharing drugs with someone else is absurd. These people are not murderers. At worst, they are guilty of negligence or reckless homicide - and sometimes not even that. A charge of murder should require an intent to actually end someone's life, which is absolutely not true with the cases profiled in the Washington Post. Should there be some sort of penalty for providing an illegal drug that kills someone? That is reasonable. But that is not murder and should not be charged as such.

Remember, these people are not drug kingpins or even street-level drug dealers. They are drug users themselves, sharing their high with someone else. There is a reason many states have passed immunity laws shielding people who call 911 to get help from charges. Now, the people who made those calls to save a life are not only not protected, they have been charged with murder. Do you think that will make people more or less likely to seek help in the case of an accidental overdose? Over-charging these people will cause more people to die.

Anger and bitterness are both natural and understandable emotions when someone dies senselessly from a drug overdose. It is natural to want revenge, or to make someone pay for a loved one's death. But that should not be the basis for our public policy. Our policy should instead be decided based on what will be the most effective at eliminating a problem, and what will be proportionate when bad things are done. Murder charges are not proportionate.

We need to treat drug abuse as a public health problem, not as a literal war complete with military equipment including armored Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) military vehicles better suited for dealing with terrorists in Iraq or Afghanistan than drug users. Treating drug abuse as a literal war has been a self-fulfilling prophecy and has empowered hyperviolent cartels. We need to move beyond the failed policies of the past.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Party unity in a "big tent" party

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 8:00 AM

You cannot have party unity in a "big tent" party. If we are going to have a wide range of ideological perspectives in the GOP, then we have to expect there will be heated disagreements and debates about public policy. Sometimes, these debates will become bitter arguments.

It is not realistic to expect people who have wide differences on public policy will not criticize each other and sometimes refuse to support candidates who have wildly different perspectives on public policy.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Movie Review - Captain America: Civil War

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

It is unusual for a superhero to be the villain of his own movie, but Marvel managed to do just that with Captain America: Civil War. Just like with the comic mini-series that inspired the movie, there is not much reason to root for Captain America and his team of anti-registration vigilantes. At least this version of Captain America does not openly commit treason by calling on a foreign power to invade his country to stop the Superhuman Registration Act.

Much like the mini-series, there is an effort to force super-vigilantes to register with a government authority after massive collateral damage during a battle. While in the comics the incineration of an elementary school and much of the surrounding neighborhood was brought on by glory hounds filming a reality TV show, the collateral damage here happened while trying to stop terrorists from stealing a biological weapon. The Avengers, then, are not nearly as unsympathetic as the New Warriors were a decade ago.

I am not sure some of the critics are familiar with the source material. For example:

Woodard's "Who's going to avenge my son?" shamelessly taps the illusion of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and Tamir Rice as Boy Scouts and potential Rhodes scholars. That’s way out of bounds.

I was looking for this connection when I watched the movie, and it was just not there. It is a figment of a National Review writer's overly active imagination. It is a very close adaptation of a scene in the comics where a grieving mother accosts Iron Man after her child dies in the blast caused by super-villain Nitro. It is this guilt, in addition to the political realities of superhero registration, that drives his motivation for holding super-vigilantes accountable.

It does make sense given the story that it is the United Nations that will oversee the Avengers, but I think it would have worked better had it been the U.S. government instead. And just like in the comics, Iron Man's support for registration is a compromise to stop something worse. The "something worse" should have been spelled out like it was in the comics. I knew what it probably was because I have read the comics, but people who have not (the vast majority of the audience) will have no clue what he is talking about.

But even without strengthening Iron Man's position, the argument basically boils down to Tony Stark arguing that heroes have to be held accountable and under proper supervision, while Captain America (Steve Rogers) basically says that vigilantes are better for the safety of the world than agents of a military or police force. In the real world, if someone puts on a mask to go beat up muggers, he is breaking the law. There's no reason it should not work that way in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Marvel's mainstream comic books.

Eventually, we find there is a bigger plot behind the scenes, and our heroes eventually join together to stop it. I found it really interesting that Baron Zemo, while his terrorist actions make him an evil character, has a motivation that is understandable and almost heroic. He is not the son of a Nazi war criminal out to take over the world.

A few short things: There was a big plot hole, because the writers apparently forgot that Scarlett Witch had psychic powers in Age of Ultron, as she does not use them here. Quicksilver was not mentioned at all, and one would think his twin sister would still be grieving his death. I strongly disliked the Ant-Man movie, but I loved the character's scenes in Civil War. I loved the inclusion of Spider-Man and while I would have loved to see the "Iron Spider" armor there is no way it would have worked here. His quips were great and he was by far the best thing about this movie.

Overall, this is a very good movie and well worth seeing. Final Grade: A-


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Recognizing simultaneous truths about rape

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Rape is an evil, heinous act. Persecuting young men for crimes they did not commit is also an evil, heinous act. Both statements are simultaneously true, and the truth of one in no way reduces the truth of the other.

Consider this example: In 1989, a woman was savagely beaten, raped and sodomized in Central Park, drawing the outage of a nation and calls for harsh punishment of the perpetrator. The five teenagers who were convicted of this crime - four blacks and one Latino - were completely innocent and spent years in prison for a crime they did not commit. Pointing this out does not minimize the heinousness of that crime. False convictions only make injustice worse.

Now, on to the controversy over rape on America's college campuses and the meme that one in five women are raped or sexually assaulted in college. The "one in five" meme - which makes college campuses more dangerous than high crime inner cities - minimizes the heinousness of rape by including things that are not rape with rape. Forced kissing, fondling, or grinding are acts of moral depravity and a violation of a woman's right to bodily integrity, but none of those things are rape. It is an insult to rape victims to lump those things in with rape.

The Central Park Five is an extreme example, but one that should inform us in how universities and the Obama administration deal with rape on campus. It has been well documented that men on college campuses have been denied due process in campus kangaroo courts, are subjected to an extremely low standard of proof that they committed a crime, are denied the right to defend themselves, are denied the right to call witnesses or have an attorney, and in some cases are even denied the right to know the charges against them. One man was expelled after the woman he allegedly "raped" denied she was raped and said the sex was consensual!

This is simply wrong and it needs to stop. We need to protect rape victims and harshly punish rapists, and that should be done by the criminal justice system instead of a university that can at worst expel someone. I have always been in favor of harsh punishment for rapists. I have never said rape is anything other than evil. But what is going on at college campuses today is just wrong. Rape is evil. Ruining the lives of men who committed no crime is also evil. We need to be very clear in opposing both crimes.