Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Future of Retail

The Atrocity of Trump

Got the below cry of righteous outrage in my Facebook feed:

There is something FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG about a system in which a candidate can get TWO MILLION more votes than their oppositon yet still "lose" due to an archaiac system like the Electoral College, which counts votes by STATES with excessive weight being given to small states. This is in ADDITION to the unprofessional and unethical PUBLIC conduct of an FBI director confusing and INTERFERING with an election, Trump's gross and vulgar mud slinging and name calling, possible illegal Russian contact with Trump, illegal hacking and other interference with our election by a foreign power and false pretext Republican voter harassment schemes. The Constitution provides the Electoral College with the power to DENY an UNQUALIFIED person the office even if that person got more votes. Here, the UNQUALIFIED candidate didn't even do THAT but got LESS votes. The Electoral College has a right and duty to DENY the UNQUALIFIED Trump the office and elect instead the MAJORITY vote getter Clinton!
A response:

  1. The electoral college is there as a check on democracy, which can otherwise become the tyranny of the majority. Remember that Hitler was popularly elected. Other checks and balances on democracy are the Senate and the Supreme Court. If you want to abolish the Electoral College, logically, you should also abolish them. Both are considerably more distant from direct democracy than the electoral college.
  2. Comey's intervention in the electoral process was more in favour of Clinton than against her. He should indeed have stayed out if it; and she would have been worse off for it. He should not have publicly advised not to prosecute, and he certainly should have gone more aggressively after the evidence at that point. This would have prevented the later announcement that hurt her campaign--but by leaving her under formal investigation, if not indictment, throughout.
  3. Trump's name calling? Who has been called more names than Trump and his supporters? Names like "basket of deplorables," "irredeemable," "racist," "white supremacist," "white nationalist," "Fascist," "misogynist," and on and on. As was Bush II in his day. Trump is just the first guy on the other side who fought back.
  4. Trump's possible illegal contact with Russia? Purely a theoretical possibility. We have no more evidence of this than of the same charge against Clinton. No, we have better evidence that Clinton was coordinating with Russia. What about that uranium deal while she was Secretary of State? What about the Clinton Foundation's "pay for play" in general? What about leaving her communications open to Russian intelligence? Could she have been that stupid, that it was not intentional? How about leaving Syria open to Russian intervention by not acting on the "red line" warning? Could Russia have done better with anyone else?
  5. Illegal hacking of the election by a foreign power is also purely speculation. If it did occur, we cannot assume who it was intended to favour. Most probably, the goal was to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the process, whomever won.
  6. Republican voter harassment schemes? Trump asked his supporters to be on the watch for voter fraud. Preventing voter fraud is not voter suppression. To assume the latter was meant by Trump, and understood as such by his supporters, implies some hidden and very sophisticated means of communication between them that the rest of us cannot detect. Sounds a lot like a paranoid fantasy.
  7. The author contradicts himself in objecting to the electoral college as undemocratic, and then demanding they overturn the results of the vote. If th electoral college were to ignore the vote, on the grounds that Trump is not fit to be president. it would certainly not be in favour of Hillary Clinton. A good argument could be made that she is at least as unfit, with criminal investigations ongoing. And the electors are mostly Republicans. If Trump is really the problem, the author should be appealing to the Democratic eletors not to vote for Hillary Clinton, but for some Republican other than Trump, Slim chance ,but this just might shake free enough Democratic electors to give us President Pence or President Romney. Happy now?

Saturday, December 03, 2016

A Steal at $18.5

Taipei Calling

A lot of folks are upset at Trump for taking a call from the president of Taiwan, considering it either a costly blunder or a reckless act.

I don’t see it.

It is simply not America’s business to carry water for the Chinese regime. An American citizen has the right to talk to anyone he pleases. China’s internal affairs are China’s problem, not America’s.

It is simply showing weakness for an American president-to-be too be overly sensitive to China’s wishes. It implies subservience. If China really wants something so exceptional from the US as a consistent denial of the reality on the ground, they ought to be prepared to give up something significant for it. Chin has not, after all, been behaving terribly well recently from the US point of view, with their encroachments in the South China Sea.

Some are protesting that the move makes no economic sense. China is a crucial trading partner, and holds a huge amount of US debt. Taiwan is, after all, only a small island of 20 million people.

But that cuts both ways. It is servile and defeatist to assume the US needs trade with China more than China needs trade with the US. Why so? Why not bargain hard? Chins holds lots of US debt? Fine—so they can refuse to lend any more. On the other hand, the US could suspend payments on that debt. Now who is worse off?

Looks to me like a savvy move. Projects an image of strength.  

Women Raping Men

Back when I was on the Standards Committee of the Editors' Association of Canada, we developed a course for prospective editors. One author wanted to make the point that it was not always necessary to use inclusive language: some things pertained only to men, or only to women. Her chosen example was rape: it was never necessary to say "he or she" raped "him or her." Since, of course, only men raped.

I objected at the time, for the obvious reason that I knew personally men who had been raped by women. And it turns out it is not uncommon.

About time we drove a stake through the heart of this prejudice.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Remembering Africville

Africville is back in the news: former residents and descendants have a lawsuit pending before the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia demanding compensation for its destruction back in the 1960s.

Or rather, to be accurate, more compensation.

Some of us are old enough to remember when Africville was pulled down. At the time, it was considered a triumph of civil rights, a mighty blow against segregation, which back then was considered a bad thing.

Africville, after all, was a ghetto. And it was a slum. It was an unhealthy place to live. Even though few of them had legal title to their homes, the residents were given compensation, help moving, and new publicly-funded housing elsewhere. The old eyesore was turned into a public park.

And now, the rest of us apparently owe the descendants of Africville residents big time for it. And not for the first time. Aside from the original compensation, the Halifax municipal government shelled out an additional 4.5 million in 2010. Not bad pay, considering Africville had a peak population of only 400, in 1917.

No good deed ever goes unpunished.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Elon Musk on Ultimate Reality

Elon Musk is right, except for his arbitrary identification of physical reality with “base reality.” Take that away, and there is no real philosophical problem. It does not matter whether what we perceive is mental or physical in origin. Ask Bishop Berkeley. Material reality is an unnecessary assumption, and in the end, as Musk points out, an untenable one.

All that really matters is whether God exists. If he does, we can be confident that our experience is ultimately meaningful. If he does not, it equally does not matter whether we perceive “base reality” or some computer simulation: either way, nothing means anything.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

They Didn't Like It Either

Found Haiku

Flames shooting in the air
and a truck on fire

-- Stephen K. Roney

A Lovely Bit of Cultural Fusion


Shocker: Leonard Cohen Revealed as Secretly Irish

Fake News

Fake news is a real problem, and intensely annoying. Indeed, it used to be an offense under the criminal code of Canada: “spreading false news.” However, the Canadian Supreme Court, wisely, eventually struck the law down. The problem is that no agency can be trusted to decide for everyone else what is true. Such a law is an open door to attempted mind control. The only possible approach is to allow freedom of speech, and hope that the truth will out through free debate.

This article points out, correctly, that “false news” began to be a more serious problem when the postmodernists and the cultural relativists of the left began to declare that truth was not objective, that there was “my truth” and “your truth.” That wasn’t Trump’s idea.

And the “mainstream media” began pushing fake news well before any websites in Macedonia.