A Menagerie of Outspoken Opinions on Science, World Politics, and Geek Culture

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Score one for Judicial Common Sense

The Illinois Supreme Court in a 6-0 decision (one recusal) tosses out a class action decision against State Farm Insurance.

Lawyers had argued that the insured were defrauded when OEM parts weren't used in repairs, calling them "inferior generic replacement parts."

The justices found two reasons to reverse the lower court's decision. Damages were unproven:
McMorrow added that State Farm's use of non-original parts did not give rise to a fraud claim "based on the assertion that State Farm breached its promise to restore plaintiffs' vehicles to their 'pre-loss condition' or that State Farm breached its promise to repair plaintiffs' vehicles using parts of 'like kind and quality."

...and the Class had been improperly expanded to include out-of-state participants:
She also said the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act does not apply outside the state. "The only putative class that can exist in this case under the (Illinois) Consumer Fraud Act is a class consisting of policyholders whose vehicles were assessed and repaired in Illinois," she said.

It is of passing interest the slant some in the media choose to give the story. The Reuters article is surprising even-handed, giving quotes from both parties.

ABC & the Chicago Sun Times however, find quoting the Chief Justice in her opinion to be unnecessary, instead relying only on quotes from the plaintiff's lawyers:
"It is a total pity for the consumer that somehow the court system would find that State Farm's cheating isn't uniform enough to be actionable," she said.

I would imagine a Chief Justice could comment on a class-action lawyer's "cheating" in expanding the class beyond the limits of state statutes.

Said one lawyer for the plaintiffs:
"It's an empty day for automobile insureds in Illinois, and across the country," he said. "This can create a Balkanization in class-action cases."

Cry me a river.

So, In summary, Illinois' supreme court throws out a class action lawsuit.

Reuter's writes an even-handed report on it.

What's next? Dogs & cats living together?


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Could I get a lump of reality with your Pacifism please?

A close and very dear friend forwarded this to me. She is a pacifist and her blind idealism breaks my heart at times. I felt it worth responding to:

Your Primary Responsibility

by Alan Cohen

A friend confided in me that he was struggling to understand his responsibility in a world obsessed with war. I told him the answer is simple: choose peace.

While you cannot control the attitudes or actions of politicians or others, you have total control over the thoughts, feelings, and energy you are exuding. If you are steeped in fear, anger, a sense of victimization, or separateness, you are contributing to the darkness.

If you hold a sense of peace, wholeness, compassion, kindness, and the presence of love, you are contributing to healing. As Kipling nobly penned, "If you can hold your head when all about you are losing theirs."

Mother Teresa was once asked to speak at an anti-war rally, and she refused. "If it were a pro-peace rally, I would attend," she explained. "But fighting against war, like fighting against anything, is just another form of war."

Ram Dass recounted that on his altar he has pictures of Christ, Buddha, and many other spiritual masters. He has recently added a photo of George W. Bush. Why? As Ram Dass explains, "Until I can find the same divinity in George W. Bush as I find in other holy beings, I am stuck. When I can see and honor his soul, then I am in a position to protest. Until then, I am ineffective."

The power of prayer and intention goes a long, long way. At any given moment the world situation is a precise expression of the consciousness of all the people who live here. As you shift your consciousness in the direction of peace, wholeness, and faith, you tip the balance in that direction. You literally become the tipping point for the world you would like to create.

Be less concerned with what you are doing and more concerned with how you are doing it. Actions that spring from fear or hatred, no matter how nobly clothed, create only more of the same. Actions that issue from faith and love, no matter how humbly clothed, create only more of the same.

A visionary thrives under all circumstances, for he or she sees beyond the obvious. At this time the world needs good visionaries. If you would save the world, begin with your own consciousness.


Only Love Prevails. Be the change you want to see. "In the end, only kindness matters" Peace-it begins with me!

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Would you really condemn millions to the horror of Sharia?

Do you really believe this can be reasoned with, when their very religion promotes lies, and they issue blatantly toothless "fatwas"
against violence?

Clint Eastwood perhaps put the current actions of the U.S. best, in describing his role as Harry Callahan:

"It's not about a man who stands for violence, it's about a man who can't understand society tolerating violence."

The actions of the U.S. at the direction of George Bush are not about an obsession with violence. They are about a fundamental acceptance of an existential threat to the liberties we all too often take for granted. President Bush probably cannot understand the parodoxical position the world's leftists have taken abhorring any actions we take in defense of those liberties, while at the same time tolerating the violence comitted by a totalitarian death cult that has not progressed ideologically since the 7th century. It is to his eternal credit that he perserveres despite the slings and arrows of his detractors.

If you cannot make the distinction between the violent actions of Islamofascists and the necessarily violent reaction in defense of the liberty we as a race have fought and died and sacrificed for ten thousand years to achieve, then you approach a willful ignorance of reality. You should count yourself the luckiest of all, for having been born into a society that will defend your liberties, despite the protestations from a segment of society so lost in it's own quasi-intellectual disdain for a man who dares speak in absolutes like "good and evil". It is not lost on the young men and women fighting to bring liberty to oppressed millions that their sacrifice is not to be done "in your name."

If you had your way, you would be the death of Western Civilization and would chain us in Dhimmitude. Certainly it wouldn't be your intent, but the spread of Islam in Afghanistan, Nigeria, the Sudan, Somalia, and Malaysia, and the resulting death of liberties and life, the subjugation of women and Kafir, the despotism that seems to inevitably follow an existence under Sharia... all these demonstrate clearly that Islam is not a forgiving or tolerant religion by todays standards, and that it despises and punishes pacifism with a particular glee.

And still your tolerance of its barbarous teachings and actions would condemn us all.

Peace is rarely won by words alone. Mahatma Ghandi was the exception that made the rule. His peace was not won in a vaccuum, but instead under the judgemental eyes of the Western world that promised isolation for totalinarianism, and inclusion for peace and democracy. Stating that violence or the threat of violence never brought peace is to turn one's back on history. The Cold War, World Wars I & II, VietNam, The Korean War, The Civil War, the War for American Independence. All were Just wars. All with the exception of VietNam brought greater good to the regions affected, and all with the exception of VietNam and WWI brough greater peace to the world. VietNam was a failure not of the military, but of the politicians. The price of pacifism in that conflict was over 2 million South Vietnamese and Cambodians executed at the hands of the Viet Cong and Pol Pot. WWI's peace was sabotaged by the usurious demands of the French on the Germans, and was finally destroyed by the pacifism of Neville Chamberlain. Even WWII was tainted by a pacifism bred by years of conflict, resulting in a Communist China and an expansionist U.S.S.R., and the consequent deaths of as many as 130 million people.

The evolution of Society along the path of least resistance is not towards liberty and longevity, but towards failure, death and servitude. This is absolute, as exemplified by all great Societies in our history. Peace and liberty are not some default state of being, but must be ever defended, and if necessary, fought for.

In the end, Pacifism is nothing more than the gateway ideology to Nihilism: it is a small step from saying nothing is worth fighting for to saying there are no objective truths worth defending, and no moral gradients between a George Bush and an Osama bin Laden.

Finally, and in direct response to Mr Cohen: why should I take
seriously a man who charges for his platitudes on selflessness

Honestly, could the stench of hypocrisy be any more rank?

I would open your eyes to the evil you ignore, but for the innocence that action would necessarily destroy. Truly, the images I could show you would scatter your thoughts in despair for humanity and haunt your dreams until your idealism fell starved from its delicate perch.


Monday, August 15, 2005

To Kill an American

I got an e-mail this morning from Jim Hake over at Spirit of America. He's in Jordan right now - heaven only knows what tireless, dangerous work he's doing there to promote greater stability and freedom - but he came across something he wanted to share with his donors. It's one of those often-annoying "forward this to everyone you know" e-mails, but thankfully it doesn't claim to be written by someone famous or warn of intestinal parasites should you fail to pass it on. It simply says it's the work of an Austrailan dentist and gives an opinion supported by a few historical facts. Given that the population of imposter Austrailan dentists is probably rather small, I see no reason not to take this one at face value:

To Kill an American

You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.

So an Australian dentist wrote the following to let everyone know what an American is... so they would know when they found one. (Good on ya, mate!!!!)

An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek.

An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani, or Afghan.

An American may also be a Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans.

An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim.

In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses.

An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American lives in the most prosperous land in the history of the world.

The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need.

When the Soviet army overran Afghanistan 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country!

As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan.

Americans welcome the best, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best athletes. But they also welcome the least!

The national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty, welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America.

Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11, 2001, earning a better life for their families. I've been told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 other countries, cultures, and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists.

So you can try to kill an American if you must.

Hitler did.

So did General Tojo, and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and every bloodthirsty tyrant in the history of the world.

But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.

Author unknown

I presently see nothing on snopes.com that addresses this particular piece of internet lore. But I'll check back in a few days and update this post if I find something.



Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Speaking From Experience

FOX news recently put together an article of collected opinions from military personnel and veterans about staying the course in Iraq. These are not the words of politicians, special interest groups, or the media. These are soldiers who have served in this war (or in another) and simply volunteered a response to the question posed.

I think this quote sums up a lot of what is on these soldier's minds (and does so really well):

“I am a veteran returned from Iraq, and I believe we should stay the course. I spent a year-plus running a security crew for convoys, both with armor and without it on our Humvees. If the media would report on the improvements there instead of just the attacks, injuries, and casualties, I think the country would be behind the troops and the president a lot more than they are. The problem is the average person doesn’t get the whole story. They look at the headlines and take it for what it is without knowing there has been a huge decrease in the number and type of attacks. They see that there was another attack. That point alone would help the American people see the progress that U.S. soldiers have and they’d stand behind it more. People need to be patient, look at how long we occupied Germany after WWII, and we are still there. The same thing is true for Korea. Rebuilding a nation does not happen overnight, but the chance for hope does, and the Iraqi’s now have a chance.” — Stephen (SFC, Army National Guard – Columbus, OH)

I don't know how many times I've heard something very similar from other soldiers, either in an e-mail, a comment to this blog, or an interview given to a mainstream media outlet. "The media reports the bad news and ignores the good news. They do it all the time. They are hurting the war effort and breaking morale". It's hard to find an Iraq war veteran who doesn't say that. One begins to wonder if it's mere sensationalism on the media's part, or if it really is something darker and more purposeful.

Anyway, read the opinions in the article. All are quite interesting.



Tuesday, August 02, 2005

BPCP Update

The Blogosphere Political Compass Project has been updated. Go to the BPCP permalink page for a complete list of participants and links to their sites.

BPCP Graph for July 2005 Posted by Picasa

New to the BPCP in July 2005:

252 mattfast1 of The Random Ramblings of mattfast1 (3.1, -1.6)
253 Steve of Steve the Pirate (6.9, 5.6)
254 Joe of Joe Missionary (0.6, 0.9)
255 Jacqueline Passey of Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey (7.5, -4.9)
256 David of Kaufmanet (5.6, -2.4)