FactsPlusLogic
A Careful Look at Issues

Recently Forbes.com columnist Joel Delman asked, Are Amazon, Netflix, Google Making Too Many Decisions For Us? He complained that “Are Amazon, Netflix, Google Making Too Many Decisions For Us? Mr. Delman observes that Amazon suggests what we products want to buy, Netflix suggests what movies we might like, and Google is developing a car that will drive itself. He suggests that assisting technologies ought to have an “off” switch, or that maybe the default should be “off” until we turn them on. I’m here to suggest the opposite, that we should embrace these technologies and push them hard. We are all at war with the complexity of the modern world, and computers are our ally. We need more help, not less.

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Zoning laws place enormous power in the hands of local authorities. Suppose I’d like to convert the garage on my house in a residential neighborhood into a convenience store. Surely I have a fundamental right to operate a business and to make a living. My convenience store would sell milk that parents would buy for their children. Surely children have a right to be provided with milk. Yet zoning laws prohibit my converting my garage to a convenience store. The local government’s right to regulate the location of stores trumps my right to make a living and the rights of neighborhood children to conveniently get milk.

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Last night Chris Mathews, the commentator famous for getting a tingle in his leg when Obama speaks, hosted a panel discussion reviewing Obama’s first year in office. The panel cover the spectrum of opinion one would expect on NBC, ranging from overall approval to adoration. I did sense that the obsequiously worshipful category was a bit weak, perhaps due to the bitter realities the past year served up.

One point stumped the panel. All agreed that American are unusually welcoming to foreigners visiting the US. One much-traveled panelist claimed that Americans were clearly the most welcoming in the world. The conundrum, then, it why Americans have not been notably impressed with Obama’s efforts to curry favor with the international community. I’m here to help explain the mystery.

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Famous documentary film producer Ken Burns has a new series being shown on Public Broadcasting, The National Parks: Americas Best Idea. I have been watching with interest. The series is more about the history of the Parks than what is in them. There are clips of fabulous park scenery, but far more historical black and white images. What strikes me are the frequent explicit references to nature worship as a moving force among park advocates.

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Nancy Pelosi has stated in explicitly: any bill that does not include a government option cannot pass the House. Howard Dean says that true reform of health care requires a government option. The question is why a larger role by government is deemed essential by ideological liberals. the main reason is fear that the compromise might work, and that would upset their larger agenda for government control.

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Isn’t it silly to suppose that the way students dress would have an effect on their education? Suppose you were in Court for something important, and the judge decided that a jogging suit would be more comfy than judicial robes. Would that be disturbing for any other reason than it being non-traditional? Costume is a way of reinforcing mindset. A judge in robes is reminded of his judicial responsibility. Students in uniform are similarly reminded of their roles as students.

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Some proponents say that gay marriage is a right, and therefore should not be a debatable issue. It should, they say, be guaranteed as equal protection under the law, and enforced by the Supreme Court as such. Is it possible that use of a word in a new way is a fundamental right? How do we know what is a right and what isn’t a right?

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My theory is that religion is only one of the mechanisms by which the instincts behind traditional religion can be served. Some atheists believe that if traditional religion disappeared then reason would prevail. In fact, there are numerous over-arching belief systems that serve the same functions as religion. They provide community, tribal identity, and simple answers to complex problems.

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Governor Palin has five children, including a baby with Down’s syndrome and an unmarried teenage daughter who is pregnant. The news commentators are now abuzz with the topic of whether it is proper for her to seek national office at the the potential expense of caring for her family. It shouldn’t be an issue.

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Jefferson, speaking for the Founders, believed that rights were derived from God. That is true, but why were they self evident rather than revealed or inspired by God. Christianity is a religion of revelation, so why would Jefferson claim truths to be self-evident?

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