Posts

Election Signs

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What are people thinking when they place election campaign signs on their property? Political signs usually contain only names, not arguments or policy positions (except referenda, I guess). Do they think people will be influenced to change their vote through peer pressure? Are they trying to indicate moral or ethical superiority? Are they signaling their tribal identity?
What are people who steal election signs thinking? Do they think they are influencing the election by removing peer pressure or suppressing their opponent's name? Are they trying to intimidate others into not signaling their political allegiance? Is it an act of animosity or do they think it is an act of virtue?
I think the placing of signs is an exhibition of excessive pride more than any practical consideration. Political signs actually cost money. The theft of signs shows a lack of respect, both for the property owner and for democracy, but I don't find much respect in filling your front lawn with political …

Van Halen vs. Van Hagar

Everybody else has an opinion on this. Why shouldn't I? Who was the better and more authentic singer for Van Halen, David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar?

I first heard Van Halen in the early '80s when I was a pre-teen. At the time, I was heavily involved in the Christian religion, so I wasn't particularly enamored. At some point, I saw this notorious performance video of David Lee Roth on stage in pants that had no seat in them. I thought it was trashy and sinful. Even then though, I could feel the pull of pop hooks, and all the other boys at school were listening to them. After I grew up more, I started to appreciate the musicality and very high level of instrumental expertise of Van Halen.

I was vaguely aware of David Lee Roth having left Van Halen because it was the talk of my peers and my older sister. I thought I wouldn't miss him, but of course he engaged in his usual show boating in a solo career. "Van Hagar" then formed when the band recruited Sammy Hagar, a…

Plagiarism?

Singing in the shower the other day I noticed it was possible to make a mashup of Van Halen's Panama and Glen Frey's The Heat is On.

Sing it in your head:

Panama (guitar riff)
The heat is o-on (saxophone riff)
Panama (guitar riff)
Oh it's on the streetetc.

Full Songs:
The Heat is On
Panama

Both songs were composed and released in 1984. Van Halen has the advantage of about 5 months. Panama came first. The Heat is On was not written by Frey, so he's off the hook. Instead it was written by a couple of record producers/songwriters for the Eddie Murphy movie Beverly Hills Cop. Frey just agreed to record the song and sang the lead and played guitar on the popular recording. The verses diverge somewhat but the main chorus and chord patterns match perfectly.

Does this mean it was copyright infringement? That is a technical term from the legal profession, and I'll leave it to the lawyers.

On the other hand, it is an established technique among music producers to use previous hit songs…

The Misinterpretation of World War II

Freedom Survived Only Because of Nationalism
Nation states freed us from the monarchies but not from their values.

Modern nation-states first appeared in Europe through consolidation of rule by monarchs. This was achieved through a combination of military aggression and feudal systems or analogues of feudalism as kings and princes acquired territory and consolidated their lands. Human beings were treated as property, and were tied to the land on which they lived but did not own. Kings and lords fully controlled the land and ruled the people according to whim and frequently without regard for the well being of their subjects.

Monarchy, in its purest form, maintains the fundamental belief that power is the entitlement of those born into a particular position in society. Monarchists believe that those who are not born into a family of leaders are not entitled to participate in making decisions of any consequence. In order to rule a large geographical area with significant population, an e…

How I Lost 37 Pounds

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In 2014, I suffered a couple of knee injuries that resulted in a long period of inactivity and general self-pity. I gained quite a bit of weight. I ate too much, drank too much, and exercised little. Week after week I chose to stay in the house, waiting for sore joints to heal, but even when healed enough, came up with excuses to not go outdoors and burn off calories. I also developed an even more fervent love of good food and drink, compounding the problem.
Around the beginning of 2014 I reached peak weight of around 210 pounds, a ridiculous measurement on a 5’9” frame. By late in the year, around October 2014, I decided that I needed to make some changes. I wanted to lose weight and started to examine my lifestyle to figure out what I needed to do differently. In keeping with my personal philosophy, my emphasis was on self-discipline, which I believe solves or mitigates most personal problems, and is certainly the key to achieving healthy weight loss.
You will notice this diet does no…

Why I Am not an Atheist

As Neil DeGrasse Tyson once said, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”1  On social media platforms, belief in God is commonly juxtaposed with “belief” in science. Usually this type of confrontational question comes up in a discussion about evolution2. This is a false choice. It is possible to believe in both, as long as the limitations of both religious belief and the scientific method are understood. There are questions that can be asked that are not answerable with logic, and can be proven to be so3,4. I will not go into further detail on that here (see the footnotes), but the question of whether or not a god exists is such a question. I will attempt to explain my position on this in detail.
The short answer to the original question would be that I believe in God, and that the universe is a divine creation, yet also believe that evolution occurs. It would be a misleading statement to call myself a creationist, because usually when people …

Regarding Syrian Refugees and Terrorism . . .

Islamic Terrorism, Domestic (US) Terrorism, and Syrian Refugees Some Observations and Conclusions Regarding the Debate


The matter of how to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis is not as clear cut as either side of the great cultural divide would like us to think. I have watched with a combination of dismay and bemusement over the last year as my Facebook feed has blown up with irrational beliefs and fears from both the right and the left. All of this has been complicated by the acts of domestic terrorism in Colorado Springs and foreign terrorist attacks by legal residents of the US, some born American citizens, some immigrants, some the children of immigrants (Orlando). To clarify things in my own mind, I decided to list out various observations about the issue, based as closely upon fact as can be managed with a soft science topic like this, and judge it against my personal values. I am mostly satisfied with the result, although it is also true that I have changed my opinions several t…