Category Archives: Blogs Proper

Hear me out.

[NOTICE: Since I didn’t finish this post in time, I cut out all the different supporting sections I had been building so that I could finish them and publish them as independent blog posts.]

What follows is my attempt to persuade you to vote for Gary Johnson tomorrow. I will explain why I think your values have not been honored by Obama and would not be honored by Romney if he were to win. I will explain why I think a vote for either of them would be much more of a throw-away vote than a vote for Gary Johnson (spoiler: it has to do with the electoral college and what will happen if Gary Johnson gets 5% of the vote). If you do not have an open mind about whom you will vote for or do not have the stomach to hear out some criticisms of your guy, stop reading now. If there is a real chance you will like me less after hearing me out, then please don’t.

Why Not Barack Obama?

Barack Obama has continued many immoral aspects of the foreign policy of George W. Bush by supporting terrorism and waging several unwarranted and unconstitutional wars. He has transgressed against human rights at home and abroad. He is doing virtually irreparable damage to the fundamentals of the United States and global economies. He has eerily and unconstitutionally expanded the powers of the Executive branch.

Why Not Mitt Romney?

Mitt Romney flip-flops on issues, lies, and is loyal to the Republican Party in a way that will likely result in carrying out their unconscionably harmful plans just as other presidents have been doing. He gives lip service to life and sound fiscal policy but his record and his actions signal the intent to carry on the establishment business as usual.

Why Gary Johnson?

Gary Johnson is an Ironman. He unwaveringly champions compassion, justice, freedom, fiscal responsibility, and overall sanity at home and abroad. If he earns 5% of the vote it will allow Libertarians equal ballot access and federal funding, striking a critical blow to the entrenched two-party system. A vote for him directly contributes to this achievable and high-impact goal. A vote for an establishment candidate is a throw-away vote if you are not in a swing state.

http://www.garyjohnson2012.com

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I plan to write a political blog tomorrow.

If you are interested in hearing me out before you vote, you will have a chance to do so.

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MetaMUSCLEs.

I don’t remember who gave me my first MUSCLE man. I just remember having a collection of them that I cherished: flesh-colored, dark orange, neon green, deep purple, and red. Mostly flesh. They are about an inch tall. There is a series with mohawks and a series with horns and capes. Some robots. Some half man and half beast. Others half man and half hand-tool. Some are half man and half medieval weapon. Some winged. Other are simply muscular, or grotesque and really cool-looking. They came in plastic four-packs or in small rubber garbage cans, which could hold eight. I have many, many fond memories with my MUSCLE men. They remind me a lot of my grandma’s and grandpa’s house in Bakersfield. I remember the large rounded cement steps at their back door and the Blue Room. I had an hour-long timeout in the Blue Room once, but I had a bright green robot MUSCLE man with me. I loved to categorize them, put them on teams, dramatize story-lines. In one episode they encountered Jenny’s My Little Ponies, animated by Jenny herself, and I couldn’t recount the narrative to you here because I only remember it having to do with a literal buffet and a literal court, which led to the incarceration of the majority of my MUSCLE men. They were tricked into it by way of the buffet.

I kept them. And on one day not long ago I gave them all to Soren. He was pretty excited. He keeps them in a traditional Star Wars metal lunchbox.

The other day we were looking at them together and pointing out features that were cool or unbelievable.

Me: Look! This one has needle-nose pliers for his head and arms, instead of a head and arms!
Soren: Look! This one is just an arch with a little head!
Me: Look! This one has six arms!
Soren: He must have six kids!

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Metametacarpals.

(Me, holding my foster daughter B.)
Soren: I want you to hold me.
Me: Ok, come here.
Soren: I want you to hold me with two hands.
Me: I have two hands so that I can hold two kids.
Soren: Oh!
(Soren reflects.)
Soren: When the baby in mamma’s tummy is born, you will need THREE hands!

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On affirmative action.

So the argument against affirmative action is something like that we should admit or hire based on competence and suitability and not based at all on gender, race, or other non-competence-or-suitability-constraining factor. Often Hooter’s waitresses and actors and actresses hired to fit certain demographically-specific roles in television or film are cited as obvious counterexamples. However notice that in the case of demographically-specific television or film roles, only actors or actresses with specific demographics are suitable (sometimes a lack in demographic suitability can be overcome with makeup and special effects, but never mind).

Hooter’s is on their own to defend themselves.

Anyway here’s an idea: let’s say I could show you that you are admitting or hiring from a pool of applicants with a certain demographic makeup, and the makeup of your hires or admittances is statistically significantly divergent from that of your pool. That should indicate that, regardless of your good intentions, you have some racial bias in your admittance or hiring process. What now?

I’m not saying that one should hire or admit people who aren’t suitable on the sole basis that they are of a specific race. I’m suggesting that one’s well-motivated drive to admit or hire based solely on competence and suitability and not on, say, gender or race, might reflect demonstrable (if unintended) gender or racial biases that could be mitigated by the use of statistically driven, voluntary affirmative action.

It turns out that there has already been a lot of work done on this issue in areas like corporate hiring (Google claims that their processes control for biases related to gender and sexual preference), and graduate school admissions. For example, check out the abstract for this study:

This paper provides an empirical examination of the factors that influence graduate admissions decisions. It exploits a unique, large data set on applications and admissions to 48 leading graduate schools in five disciplines, including economics. The analysis shows that these graduate schools in the aggregate gave substantial preference in four out of five fields to U.S. citizens over foreign applicants, modest preference in three fields to women over men, and substantial preference in all fields to underrepresented minorities over other U.S. citizens. The findings suggest that higher standards are applied to overrepresented groups to achieve more diverse enrollments.

Testing for Bias in Graduate School Admissions

I think a free market could very easily promote self-testing for bias and/or submission to private, third-party testing. We simply need to be vocal about valuing equality, and active in patronizing or favoring organizations that pursue this kind of monitoring. Google is already doing it out of PR concerns.

My only concern is that human behavior does not always follow statistical trends. As you know, I reject determinism. And while human behavior can be retroactively analyzed to find patterns (and reliance on such historical data and trend following might yield fruit), individuals exercise varying degrees of free choices under various constraints. Perhaps a company’s hiring practice could be truly unbiased and based solely on competence and suitability but due to the particular individuals in the pool of applicants, only people of Inuit descent were qualified–or even interested. This concern would be mitigated by the calculation of “statistical significance” but that calculation contains variables whose values are supplied subjectively.

Still I think admitting that we can be biased despite what are perhaps sincere efforts is important. And why wouldn’t we want to monitor ourselves and our organizations for trends suggesting that we have something to work on in that area?

What free market white Evangelical male in America has two thumbs and supports affirmative action? This guy.

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Thanksgiving

When I was registering for classes at Biola, despite all the financial aid I was awarded (including loans) and the help my parents were giving me, I was about $1,000 short. This may or may not seem like a lot to you, but to me it meant that I could not go to college. I didn’t have a credit card; I didn’t have a job. It might as well have been $1,000,000. I was stuck in line with no way to pay.

The wife of my youth pastor and friend happened to work at Biola, and she happened upon me in line and asked how I was doing. I was almost in tears. Without skipping a beat she showed me how to redo my paperwork so that I got more money from Financial Aid based on the fact that I would be living on campus—something I had overlooked. It covered my expenses to the penny.

The next year I was well over $1,000 short. A friend’s dad found out about it through the grapevine and cut me a check for the exact amount.

The semester after that I couldn’t afford to buy all my books. The ones I needed showed up in a bag at the door to my dorm room.

The stories go on. I was awarded an unexpected scholarship one semester that made the difference in my ability to stay or go. I got a job one semester that gave me an advance that kept me in school, and other things happened too.

This isn’t an apologetic or evangelical post. This is a post of Thanksgiving. I believe in God and I believe He intervenes and I believe He provided for me to go to college and find my wife, and best friend and business partner there. I believe He taught me life lessons at Biola and, eventually, gave me a heart for the mind.

And I am thankful to Him for it.

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Catching Up

I didn’t post between the 22nd and today the 28th for several reasons. Mainly, my blogging efforts were spent working on a thoughtful reply to a critical comment a friend of a friend left on my post about the design argument. But I was also reading a paper by Peter van Inwagen, which is something of a sequel to the one I reviewed on my other blog.

Also, it was Thanksgiving week and my sister was in from Seattle and our friends Chris and Abby were in from Portland. We had a wonderful time! Laura and Abby played with Soren a lot, Chris and Abby brought us Stumptown Coffee, I got some good quality time in with Laura, some great philosophical conversations in with Chris, and we even got to read through a one-act play that Abby is writing (it’s pretty funny).

Now it’s back to work!

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