seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Photos

Shortly after hiking in the Porcupine Mountains on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Michelle, James, Autumn, and I checked out the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The full gallery is here and many are also on Flickr.

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Hiking the Porcupine Mountains

In summer of 2013, Michelle and I met James and Autumn in the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan's Upper Peninsula - a state park. We did some backpacking and had a very fun time despite having to ford a raging... creek... and having to deal with a fair amount of rain on the middle day of our 2 night stay.

All the photos are available in this gallery and many of the highlights are available on Flickr.

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Photography: Banjo's Last Days

Some photos from early January 2013, the last few days of our beloved Banjo. I still miss him. See the full gallery here or highlights on Flickr.

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Photo Gallery: Dogs of Early Summer 2013

A photo gallery with Bitzi, Harley, Buster, Daisy, Moxie, and Conner - from early summer 2013. View the photos here or on Flickr.

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Businesses Need Anti-Monopoly Policies from Government

A James Fallows article in The Atlantic, "Made in America, Again, reminds us of the paramount importance of government policy with regard to monopoly and market power. Any one or a few massive market players can ruin the market for innovation and small business, which is one of the reasons government should seriously focus on preventing any one or a few entities from growing too large.

When Liam Casey took me through his Highway1 incubator for hardware start-ups in San Francisco, I spoke with 10 (mainly) young entrepreneurs who each hoped to set up a small hardware company somewhere in the United States. Not one of them volunteered tax or regulatory concerns as playing big parts in his or her go/no-go decisions. What they did want was a streamlined system to get their products into customers’ hands. To that end, they were concerned with things like the structure of retail distribution, especially the huge investment in inventory required to get their products carried in big-box stores. “Boring-seeming practical details make a big difference for these start-ups,” James Manyika told me. “If I am a small manufacturer doing something interesting, my chances are much better if I happen to be in physical proximity to a larger company, or to a network of experienced people who can help me get to scale.”

Visiting Zion National Park

After having a great hike over 3 days and two nights through the Grand Canyon, we visited Zion National Park with weary legs. A few photos in our Zion gallery.

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Visiting the Grand Canyo

Photos from our 2012 hike down into the Grand Canyon and back out. Full gallery here.

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Our Tribal Politics

Reason is a hard thing, perhaps because so many of us fool ourselves into thinking we have weighed the pros and cons of decisions, of our political choices. But most don't and odds are we are at least some of them.

This article from The Atlantic called "The War on Reason" explores just how rational we are. Consider -

Most of us know nothing about constitutional law, so it’s hardly surprising that we take sides in the Obamacare debate the way we root for the Red Sox or the Yankees. Loyalty to the team is what matters. A set of experiments run by the Stanford psychologist Geoffrey Cohen illustrates this principle perfectly. Subjects were told about a proposed welfare program, which was described as being endorsed by either Republicans or Democrats, and were asked whether they approved of it. Some subjects were told about an extremely generous program, others about an extremely stingy program, but this made little difference. What mattered was party: Democrats approved of the Democratic program, and Republicans, the Republican program.

We are tribal - a quality that served us well as an evolutionary strategy over hundreds of thousands of years. But now we have to work to overcome that if we actually want to live in a pluralistic, democratic society. Thus far, the evidence seems to suggest most people don't want to go to that effort or simply don't understand that they have to if we are going to call our form of government a republic.

Real Men Don't Blame Women

When I think about what defines a real man, or the qualities that I think men should aspire to, self-control is toward the top of the list. So when I am reminded that many, often religiously inspired, view the ideal man as not needing self-control, I am unimpressed.

I was reminded of this in recent articles both about many who call themselves Muslims and also many who call themselves Christians. Both are quick to blame women for various forms of sexual assault and harassment. It is the women who are blamed, often for dressing indecently and tempting men - who are therefore acknowledged to be weak and unable to demonstrate self-control.

When I lived in the Middle East for four months, it was impossible to escape these beliefs. The most religious Jewish neighborhoods had instances of men throwing things at women (often tourists) believed to be dressed too immodestly for their streets.

If I were to subscribe to a religion, it would have to be on that requires adherents to take responsibility for their actions. However, I suspect that for a religion to survive for more than 100 years, it may be necessary for it to place blame on others rather than elevating self-control. We have tribal brains - some things are very difficult to overcome (and there I go, placing blame?).

The article that really got thinking along these lines outlines cases of rape or sexual harassment at a well-regarded Christian school near DC. It is "Sexual Assault at Patrick Henry College."

It is a disgusting story - a reminder of how the world really works.

Reading these quotes, I find it amazing that any man would be proud of believing that he would be powerless in the face of bare female shoulders or ankles. But then, they really don't believe that, do they? Perhaps superficially at best. Rather, they recognize it as a convenient excuse to do whatever the hell they want without having to take responsibility for it. It is the woman's fault, or maybe the devil's.

The self-policing that courtship culture requires, however, is not egalitarian. Responsibility falls disproportionately to women, who are taught to protect their “purity” and to never “tempt” their brothers in Christ to “stumble” with immodest behavior. “The lack of men’s responsibility or culpability for their own actions and the acceptance of male ‘urges’ as irresistible forces of nature is the understructure of Christian modesty movements and their secular counterpart,” the journalist Kathryn Joyce wrote in Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement. These movements, she noted, see “women’s bodies as almost supernaturally perverse and corrupting.”

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In 2012, Representative Todd Akin, running for Senate in Missouri, sparked a national outrage by speaking of what he called “legitimate rape”—a category, he implied, that did not actually apply to many rape cases. Patrick Henry College has sponsored similar ideas on sexual assault. Last September, the school chose Dr. Stephen Baskerville, a professor of government, to deliver a speech that the entire student body was required to attend. He argued that feminism and liberalism have transformed the government into “a matriarchal leviathan.” The result, he said, according to a copy of the speech, was a society plagued by politically motivated “witch hunts” against men—while “the seductress who lures men into a ‘honeytrap’ ” was really to blame.

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Afterward, Claire agonized over why she hadn’t “fought him” off. “I was afraid that it had something to do with my sinful nature,” she says. In the Christian world Claire had been brought up in, men only do bad things to impure women who have tempted them. She blamed herself, tried to act normal, and told no one.

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When she met with Corbitt to show her the e-mail, the student remembers the dean saying, “The choices you make and the people you choose to associate with, the way you try to portray yourself, will affect how people treat you.” In subsequent meetings, the student says Corbitt told her to think about her clothing and “the kinds of ideas it puts in men’s minds.”

I would be embarrassed to believe men should be this weak. Pathetic.

Interview with a Very Famous Person

This guy has got it together!

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