Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Oh Yeah?

Photo: Creative Cakes

I probably shouldn't steal this photo, but Denise in the North Dallas, Plano area of Texas really does make creative cakes.

I couldn't resist posting the picture. Mad Hatter, that was my nickname when I delivered wholesale groceries to pizza shops around town. I don't think it was just the hats I wore that lent me the name. That's the name of this cake. So far as I can tell a picture of me doesn't turn up by an image search of "Mad Hatter." I was just checking.

The Editors over at The Poor Man Institute for Freedom Democracy and a Pony are nearing their fourth anniversary blogging. What courage, in this post American Dumbass present The Ten Most Dumbassest Poor Man Posts of All Time!!!! I can hardly imagine reading over my old posts. Actually I did that a bit today looking for the post that explains what Party Hats for Potash are all about. Ouch! And the other day I read through a thread that referred, actually favorably, to a previous post I'd made in the same thread. I was chagrined to discover what has to be some sort of record for spelling errors in a single paragraph when I went back to read it myself.

noted in the comments that the counter is coming up on three thousand and suggested that a Party Hat for Potash be sent to the three thousanth visitor. I'll be looking at the stats and perhaps with a little detective work and help from readers identify the lucky winner and send a hat to them.

Having little to do with the theme of this blog, I would like to offer that the recent revelations about the extent of NSA spying on every American don't make me feel safer. It's easy to imagine why members of government might find such snooping useful, but quite hard for me to imagine any good purpose in it. "Just trust us" doesn't cut the mustard when the program seems absurd on its face. Perhaps my view is a minority view, although many in the blogosphere have spoken out about the dangers and probable illegality of the program. Consider the issue for yourself, it's important.

In early February well before the extent of such program was known John Allen Paulos wrote at his ABC News column, Who's Counting Of Wiretaps, Google Searches and Handguns: Ineffective Government Screenings Not Worth Loss of Privacy. The whole piece is definitely worth reading, but consider what he writes about the problem of false positives:

Even if the probability that the purported terrorist profile is accurate were an astonishing 99 percent (if someone has terrorist ties, the profile will pick him or her out 99 percent of the time, and, for ease of computation, if someone does not have such ties, the profile will pick him or her out only 1 percent of the time), most of the hits would be false positives.

For illustration, let's further assume that one out of a million American residents has terrorist ties — that's approximately 300 people — and the profile will pick out 99 percent, or 297 of them. Great. But what of the approximately 300 million innocent Americans? The profile will also pick out 1 percent of them, "only" 3 million false positives, innocent people who will be caught up in a Kafkaesque dragnet.
I don't know about you, but it would be just my luck to be "caught up in a Kafkaesque dragnet."

Pete Seeger said of his song Lisa Kalvelage:
One of the four housewives, who in May 1966, made a personal demonstration, and prevented a load of napalm bombs from being delivered on time, made a statement as to why she had done it. I have simply tried to put the statement into meter, rhyme, and music.
The song is so moving. Lisa Kalvelage was pleased to imagine that at least her children would not have to be silent when they might be asked, "Where was your mother, when?" I don't have children, and I'm about as chicken as they come. Still, it's not right to be silent; I must not be.

What is it that I should say? There's the rub. Blogger is so good to archive my posts. Judging from this collection I have a knack for long posts that never seem to get to a point; and I can't spell worth a darn.

I want no more wars. My country's leaders marching us headlong into military actions in Iran under my flag: Stop! I say.

Going back over my posts shows my thinking in such a muddle; it would be hard to select a top ten "dumbassest" posts. In this post I offered a quotation from Carl Jung's memoir Memories,Dreams, Reflections. It seems such clear thinking I'll offer it again:
[E]vil can no longer be minimized by the euphemism of the privato boni. Evil has become a determinant reality. It can no longer be dismissed from the world by a circumlocution. We must learn how to handle it, since it is here to stay...

In practical terms, this means that good and evil are no longer so self-evident. We have to realize that each represents a judgment. In view of the fallibility of all human judgment, we cannot believe that we will always judge rightly...Nevertheless we have to make ethical decisions.

1 comment:

Kenyananalyst said...

Thanks for visiting with me at mine. I read on your profile that you are in PA. I schooled in Harrisburg several years ago. Regards, Jesse.