"Public" Online Space:

There was an interesting article on Yahoo/Flickr today, which touches on a topic that interests me. To what degree is the Internet "public" space? On the one hand, there's nothing to stop anyone at all from coming to visit; on the other, no part of it that citizens can use to express themselves is "public" in the traditional sense of the term. It is privately owned.

There are legal consequences to that, but those don't interest me particularly -- what interests me are the normative questions. In other words, I am interested not in what the law currently says, but rather in the question of what the law ought to say.

We increasingly live on the internet: don't we want some of these public-space protections for our speech? What is the tradeoff for getting them? We can make the law say what we want, assuming Congress can be convinced to go along: so what should it say?

Aristotle and Martial Arts: 10s

The Ten Second Problem:

I have a post at Winds of Change on free will, Aristotle, and answering a problem posed by some new research into consciousness.

Lily Pad

Lily Pads:

2008: Floating Lily Pad cities!

1930: Torpedo cars travel 120 mph through New York!

Of course, we have advanced computer modeling now.

Happy Birthday, USA.

Bob Krumm has a report of 1,215 soldiers reenlisting this day in Iraq.

This country is lucky to have such citizens. They make it possible that, as Washington wrote to Moses Seixas, "...everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid."

Enjoy the day, yourselves, your family and your country. Have a fig. And remember.

Independence Day

Independence Day:

We've just finished talking about patriotism, so I won't discuss that again today. I will just link to a few worthy things, and then get on with celebrating myself. We will be having a cookout down at the horse ranch today.

In Baghdad, they're celebrating differently: with the largest reenlistment ceremony in history.

While most Americans probably slept, 1,215 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines raised their right hands and committed to a combined 5,500 years of additional service during the largest reenlistment ceremony in the history of the American military. Beneath a large American flag which dwarfed even the enormous chandelier that Saddam Hussein had built for the Al Faw Palace, members of all services, representing all 50 states took the oath administered by Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq.
I attended such a ceremony in February. Words don't really convey it: it is a deeply moving experience to stand there in Baghdad, in that palace, and hear hundreds take the oath.

BlackFive recommends a tradition of his: rereading Bill Whittle's Freedom.

Cassandra has written a love letter to her country.
Who are we to think that Freedom is ours to spread, Ignatieff asks?

We were the First. We are the guardians of the flame.
The flame right here is going to be roasting hot dogs: but there are other fires in other places. To those who tend them, all the best. This is your day first of all.
Good work.
BOGOTA, Colombia - Colombian spies tricked leftist rebels into handing over kidnapped presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. military contractors Wednesday in a daring helicopter rescue so successful that not a single shot was fired.

President Uribe and Columbia can be justly proud of their military of late.

Looking Abroad

Looking Abroad:

I take notice of this study on blog readers, which suggests that liberals are more likely than conservatives to read opposing blogs -- though alll blog readers show strong identification (compared with those who get news chiefly from television) with a political pole.

Johnathan Chait says this means liberals are more open minded, but I suspect it may have something to do with a basic difference in approach. Liberalism is and always has been about applying theory in an attempt to change reality, and often radically; conservatism is about defending what is best in current reality, with suggested changes apt to be slow and incremental.

As a result, it is easy for a liberal to understand a conservative position if he cares to do so: changes being proposed are normally small and slow, and to the extent that any theory is invoked, it is a familiar theory -- we talk often about Aristotle, as men have talked about him for two thousand years. Debates are about history and its lessons.

Liberalism as an approach favors theories that require a fair amount of buy-in from any reader. For example, consider this piece on parental rights, which feels it necessary to explain, in depth, two hundred years of the development of feminist theory in order to begin making its point.

The point is actually a pretty good one, when you get there: but you're going to lose a whole lot of readers along the way. Many people will get as far as the invocation of Engles and stop, figuring communism for a discredited ideology; some will get farther, to the mention-without-irony of hunter gatherer society as "primitive communism" (true only in that the murder rate in such societies has only been approached by modern Communism); others will simply lose interest in trying to understand the difference between "culture feminism," "equality feminism," "victim feminism," "lesbian separatism," and so forth, all of which must be soldiered through to get to the point; others will recoil at the communist concept that the family exists to prop up capitalist society, which the author eventually rejects, but you have to read through the full theory before you get to the rejection; and on, and on, and on.

But you finally get here:

When it comes to parents, however, the ‘right’ to exercise one’s identity – eat what you want to eat, drink what you want to drink, raise your kids how you see fit – is denied by virtue of the fact that, as parents, any ‘rights’ you may have are subordinate to those bestowed upon your child by the official child-rearing orthodoxy.

The assumption that parents’ rights conflict with children’s rights leads to the policy perspective that, in order to preserve children’s rights to a healthy, wholesome, high-achieving life, parents have a duty to put their own quest for self-identity on hold, and ‘for the sake of the children’ bow to the dictates of the state.

From the bizarre sledgehammer rule that parents must not take their children on holiday in term-time to the insidious attempts to use schools, doctors and TV chefs to determine the content of the family meal to the endless Parliamentary discussions about whether parents should be able to smack their children and if so, how hard, to the tacit encouragement that fathers, like mothers, should not have full-time careers but instead make do with tricky ‘flexible working’ arrangements, the clear trajectory of policy is to use the children to exercise increasing amounts of control over the minutiae of their parents’ lives.

This is a deeply repressive and divisive shift. By setting parents apart from non-parents one clearly-defined section of society that cannot pursue its quest for self-fulfilment, we can see a version of women’s oppression being played out again, with all the bitterness and obfuscation that this caused. And by seeking to manage the relationships of family life, the therapeutic state is setting parents against each other and making them resentful of their children, while encouraging children to disregard their parents’ authority and seek recognition from outside the home: the heartless therapeutic state.
That's a good point, and a concept that is fairly useful. The conservative who did soldier through all of it to get there will be rewarded with that useful concept -- only briefly undermined afterwards by a renewed attack on the "joyless" nature of family life, and a reassertion that Engles was right and "the family still sucks." On the other hand, you learned quite a bit about the conceptual development of feminist theory on the way to getting to 'we should trust parents to look after their families, and not the state.'

A conservative, who did not feel it was necessary to defend a defense of the family against 200 years of theoretical attacks on the family as an institution, could have said the same thing more quickly.

But that is not the point. The point is that it was worth reading through, because it points to an area of commonality between ourselves and our neighbors. You might not have looked for it, but here is a starting point for a moment of unity and common interest. We both want to defend the family against the incursions of the "heartless theraputic state," at least right at this moment; we want to defend the right of parents to order their families so that they might "pursue happiness" as well as unmarried or childless persons.

Surely it is necessary to do so, because we need to continue to reproduce our civilization. Parents shouldn't be punished for performing that necessary duty.

Personally, I find family life highly rewarding, and I wouldn't say it "sucks" at all. There are certainly sacrifices, but there are also great rewards and meaning. Yet let's let that lie. The point is that, yes, liberals are hard to understand by comparison to conservatives, but it can be worth taking the time.