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Kerry’s light request…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wonders if John Kerry’s latest request of the debate commission (namely to lower the lights) is due to the fact that in recent photos he looks orange.

BTW… Weren’t the lights all settled during the long debate debate (negotiated by Vernon Jordan and Jim Baker)? Your Maximum Leader can’t image they didn’t talk about the lights. Why go dickering about this now? Unless Kerry’s decided he doesn’t look good orange.

Carry on.

Don’t Vote.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t often peruse Slate “e-zine.” But yesterday, on Newsfeed there was a link that caught your Maximum Leader’s eye.

Don’t Vote - It makes more sense to play the lottery. By Steven E. Landsburg

The article is a statistical breakdown of why your vote will not really matter in the upcoming national election. Your Maximum Leader read the article, and in the end felt like he has just been sujected to a mini-lecture by a pompus intellectual. (Which many tell your Maximum Leader is how they feel after they read this blog. But that is a subject for another excursus.)

Your Maximum Leader is not a statistician. But he does understand mathematical concepts. The whole concept behind the Landsburg article is dead on. But if you want to give dissertations on how statistics affect your life, why not explore the ROI (Return on Investment for those of you unfamiliar with that abbreviation) on a lottery ticket. From a purely mathematical point of view if you shell out $1.00 on a lottery ticket with an odds of winning at 1:135,000,000; and you win less than $135,000,000 you are getting a negative return of your investment. That lecture might be use socially useful.

But to publish a tract on how your vote doesn’t matter in what your Maximu Leader thinks will be a very close national election is just wrong. Sure Landsburg may smugly point out that from an abstract view a single vote doesn’t matter. But, it is a civic duty to participate in an election; and your Maximum Leader frowns on those that don’t vote.

Perhaps Landsburg actually wrote his article in a futile attempt to impress geek-chicks with his impressive grasp of statistics. Your Maximum Leader could at least understand that motivation…

Carry on.

Slip-Slidin’ Away: Guns, Abortion, and Taxes

A trifecta of controversy!

The Maximum Leader has called my attention to Velociworld’s piece on slippery slopes.

Methinks the good Velociman paints with too broad of a brush, particularly when he implies that all advocates of gun control want to eliminate all guns and leave right-thinking people at the mercy of the evil mutant criminal hordes.

Perhaps I’m an exception, but…

(Brace yourself for independently principled discourse)

(No, this is not “squishy.”)

(I mean it! I’m not “squishy!”)

(Damn. Like Kerry I seem unable to take a nuanced position without being tarred by the Maximum Leader’s epithets… Okay, perhaps what follows is a wee bit squishy.)

I believe guns are a useful tool.

Deer in your orchard? Defend your livelihood.

Dogs chasing your sheep? Defend your animals.

Burglar breaking into your house? Defend your family.

Big Hominids rummaging through your fridge for tasty delicacies? Defend your nachos.

Obscure literary references wooing your daughter with felt tip markers? You know what to do.

That said, I don’t believe in unlimited, unfettered, unregulated gun ownership. It’s not necessary and it is not a right (see: “A well-regulated militia…”).

I don’t want to ban all guns. But I’m comfortable banning rocket-propelled grenades. I’m comfortabe banning the Foreign Minister’s beloved MP-40. (But it is coooool to shoot!)

I’m comfortable telling private citizens that they may not have handguns, but I’m not a fanatic about it. If someone were to convince me that handguns were so much better than shotguns for home defense that their concealability and potential for abuse was outweighed by that utility, I’d change positions.

In fact, the most persuasive arguments I have heard about permitting widespread gun ownership aren’t based on a faulty interpretation of the Second Amendment; they are based on practicality. Would restricting gun ownership actually lead to a reduction in crime rates? It might not, simply because gunownership is so widespread that we will never be able to get all the guns out of the hands of criminals.

So the slippery slope on gun control does not apply to me - or many other Americans. Even many NRA members support the restriction of Class III weapons.

The slippery slope DOES apply to abortion. And it should. If you believe that life begins at conception, abortion is murder - so one cannot compromise. I am tremendously puzzled by pro-lifers who don’t follow the logic of their own position and are willing to make exceptions in the case of rape or incest. If you believe that abortion is murder, it is also morally impermissible to murder a fetus for the sin of its father. In this case, failing to follow the slippery slope is asinine.

I wish people would reject the slippery slope on tax policy. Reducing taxes makes sense IF we are on the right side of the Laffer curve. But many anti-tax proponents mindlessly mouth the canard that “tax cuts grow revenue” - a silly position that, when carried to a logical extreme, seems to hold that 0% taxation would lead to unlimited government revenue. I respect Republicans who openly admit that Bush’s deficit creation is an intentional attempt to bankrupt the government as a way to force a restructuring of government priorities - at least their goal is open and can be discussed. Voodoo economists who hold that Republican policies ended Clinton-era surpluses in order to increase government revenue frustrate me.

I stand prepared for my flaming.

For the Maximum Leader

George Washington.

Alcohol.

What’s not to love about this story?

UPDATE FROM YOUR MAXIMUM LEADER: There is everything to love about that story. Of course, your Maximum Leader blogged about it before. Okay, he blogged about it last October in one line, with a link that is now dead… But it just shows he’s been tracking the development of George Washington’s whisky for a while now…

Foie Gras

I have to differ with the Maximum Leader’s previous post.

While I love the taste of fattened goose liver pate, I no longer order it.

I was dining at a nice Charlottesville restaurant last week - L’Etoile - and saw the tasty delicacy on the appetizer list. I was tempted, but chose the veal sweetbreads instead.

While I believe that animal and human moral claims are far from equal, I can’t justify the horrible suffering associated with the production of foie gras in the name of culinary delight.

Bad Maximum Leader! Bad!

UPDATE FROM YOUR MAXIMUM LEADER: Bah! Now who is squimish!

The beginning of the end for Calif cuisine…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, like is Minister of Agriculture, is all for easing the suffering of animals raised for human consumption. All for it except when the animal in question is a damned dirty goose! Your Maximum Leader is all for fattened geese. He loves his foie gras. He loves his roasted goose. He loves the succulent tender flesh. He likes it driping in fat as it cooks. (Goose fat renders particularly well and is good for cooking other meats!)

So when he read that California Governator Arh-nuld, was signing a law giving Calee-forn-yah foie gras producers 8 years to figure out a humane way to fatten up the goose’s liver, he knew. It is the beginning of the end for haute cuisine on the left coast.

Carry on.

Ave Smallholder!

Belated congratulations on the emergence of your offspring (and that tasty, tasty placenta, which I assume didn’t go to waste, yes?)!

Here– Gollum has a commemorative haiku for you. Can he hold the baby?

OK, G– take it away!

Uncle Gollum’s here!
Let me hold you close and AAAUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH!!
you… bit… my… Preciooooooooooousssss!!

_

Kiss and Make Up?

I hope the previous post re-ignites talks between the United States of Agriculture and the People’s Republic of Kevin. I am afeared that he took offense at my earlier bemoanment of his scatomania. So much so that he was able to resist writing a Schwartenegger/Maximum Leader haiku.

I was at least hoping for a commemorative BigHo haiku for the birth of Jack William Henry.

Ah well…

The Big Ho and Animal Rights

I have become frustrated with KBJ’s blog.

When I first became a reader two summers past I enjoyed his prose and liked the way that he offered reasons defenses of his positions. I found him to be a witty, cordial correspondent. However, as time has worn on, he has become shrilly partisan in the political arena (not necessarily a liability - I still permit the Maximum Leader to associate himself with my own eminent reasonableness). His animal rights posts have featured factually inaccurate misrepresentations. In none of his posts has he addressed the majority of Americans who believe that animals and humans have different moral claims. He has committed the logical fallacy that:

a) Animalssuffer
b) Humans suffer

Therefore:

Animal and human suffering is equal and both have equal moral weight.

I believe that animal suffering should be minimized, but to move from the factual statement that since factory farming is inhumane we should all become vegetarians is ridiculous. There are options that we as a society could choose that would lead to humane farming practices.

The previous logical jump seems akin to: The death penalty is not a deterrent, so therefore we should abolish all punishment for criminals. The conclusion does not necessarily flow from the initial statement.

I tried to engage with him on the issues on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be willing to wrestle with the implications of further data. As an example, at one point he argued that eating meat led contributed to world hunger. I pointed out why that was simply not the case. He politely acknowledged my response but never returned to the issue to update his side of the argument in light of new facts.

I’ve come to realize that his position isn’t based on reason - his position on the moral treatment of animals is akin to a religious belief. But I’m consistently maddened that this religious belief is covered by a pose of logical, philosophical argument.

SoDakMonk demolishes one of the essay-links from analphilosopher here. But I doubt that KBJ will respond to explain why SoDakMonk’s points aren’t fatal to the animal rights position. That is what I would like to see. KBJ is a smart, erudite, and articulate man - I’m sure that he could at least begin to address SoDakMonk’s argument. I love a reasoned debate between talented individuals. I wish KBJ would live up to his potential.

Perhaps Big Ho is right - hilarious mockery may be the best response*.

* - Blatant kiss-up link to the Big Hominid.

Every thing you need to know for the upcoming election…

I just stumbled on this site and new that I MUST bring it to the attention of the ministers here. Especially the Air Marshal and the ML himself.

New 527 Football Fans For Truth

Back to the trenches….

Another Christian Missing the Point

The good Mr. Bill (Oh no!) over at Bill’s comments directs us over to a rather funny Bill of Non-Rights on the Wicked Thoughts blog.

I was reading along and chortling to myself:

ARTICLE III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful, do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

Heh. Heh. Heh.

ARTICLE VI: You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don’t be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.

I’m now opposed to the death penalty (not as an absolute embrace of the right to life but out of concerns about implementation), but I still found that article amusing - thus far.

The Bill of Non-Rights lost me at:

ARTICLE XI: You do not have the right to change our country’s history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!!!!

The angry, in-your-face, counter-productive “so there” quality of the testimony here is rather offensive. Is this (historically inaccurate) article likely to win converts?

I think not.

Christian Who Misses the Point

My people back in Wisconsin belong to the Wisconsin Synod Lutheran church.

The Wisconsin Synod is a pretty conservative outfit.

The Smallholder clan has a lot of history at the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Elkhorn Wisconsin. My Grandparents attended when the services were still auf Deutsch. I was baptized there.

But my cousin wasn’t married there.

When the church’s aging population declined, the church moved to one service instead of two. And, being an older arish, kept the early service. The cancellation of the late service made it impossible to attend on Sunday. He is a dairy farmer. Dairy farmers cannot play around with milking times.

My cousin falls in love. They decide to get married in the church he has attended since childhood. In a church that has seen five generations of his family. His father is an usher and on half a dozen committees. But the pastor won’t marry him because he hasn’t been coming to services.

Missing the point.

None of my children will be baptized by a pastor so out of touch with the essential core of the Christian faith.

Condemning Christians

Memento Moron has called readers’ attention to Jimmy Swaggart’s latest unchristian action:

“I’m trying to find the correct name for it… this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men… I’ve never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I’m gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I’m gonna kill him and tell God he died.”

Let me heed Eugene Volokh’s call for Christians to condemn Swaggart.

Swaggart is a bad Christian and is bad for Christianity.

Christians who hijack my religion and use it as an excuse to attack their fellow man are missing the central point of Jesus’ teaching.

One of the biggest duties of a Christian is to bring more people to Christ. Acting like a redneck bigot probably isn’t a very good recruiting tool.

Speaking of Fecundity

I used the word in the last advisedly.

Just to set up this post.

We have had a fecund week at Sweet Seasons Farm.

On Thursday my wife gave birth to a new farm hand.

Yesterday, in the middle of the torrential downpour of dying Hurricane Jeanne, one of my Tunis sheep gave birth to a ram lamb.

I went out to move the cows to a new field (they eat right through the rain) and saw “Wooly” standing over her son. He was very chilled and not very responsive. He couldn’t have been more than a few minutes old - the rain had not yet washed away the blood of the afterbirth on her udder and he was still covered in gunk. I picked him up and took them into the barn. I was afraid he would die, but after I rubbed him down with a warm towel, he struggled to his feet, began moving around, found a nipple, and downed his colostrum.

I am excited that it looks like he will survive after such a miserable birth experience. On the other hand, I am disappointed that he is a ram because if he had been a ewe, I could have used another ewe unrelated to my ram. Additionally, I am concerned that he is a singleton; the historical farm that sold me Wooly assured me that she had delivered twins in her last three births. I hope that she is not one of those sheep that only delivers one at a time. If it costs $80 to feed a sheep for a year, and a lamb sells for $100, there is very little profit from a single-bearing ewe. But a twinning ewe would yield a net of $120 - six times better.

The new guy is a grogeous, deep red. I look forward to showing him off to the Maximum Leader’s wee ones.

Passing the 1000 Mark

I note that the fecundity of the Maximum Leader has pushed the blog passed the 1000 post mark. Kudos to the Maximum Leader!

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