Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Abortion and negative rights

A negative right is the right to keep something you already have, the right to not have something taken from you. In contrast, a positive right is the right to have something provided to you. The classic statement is Locke's: you have the right to life, liberty, and property. These are negative rights: you have the right to keep whatever property you have: other people, including the government, do not have the right to take your property from you. A positive right to property would be the right to have property given to you.

Part of the reason abortion is such an insoluble problem is that they involve two conflicting negative rights. If the fetus is a human being, then it has the negative right to life. But the woman has the negative right to liberty, expressed here in terms of bodily autonomy. So the question is which of these two negative rights take priority, and the answer is neither. You don't get to take away someone's negative rights. Of course, it is not clear to a lot of people that the fetus is a human being with human value and thus human rights, including the right to life (see here), but just ignore that for the sake of the present issue.

So if we grant the claims of both sides, the fetus has the negative right to life and the woman has the negative right to liberty, and neither gets to overrule the other. And the resolution to this is . . . meh.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Quote of the Day

I picture the Agnostic as a modest man, politely refusing to kneel before any Gods or Icons in which he does not place his complete confidence; while the Atheist, although operating from the same principles, brings a hammer to the event.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022


OK, I'm currently writing up a fairly extensive philosophy post, and I'm sorry I've been focusing so much on Japanese heavy metal lately. But while you're waiting for the philosophy, let me say some more about Japanese heavy metal.

My first tier of bands that I absolutely love consists of just two: Lovebites and Asterism. I discovered Lovebites last August, about a week and a half before their bass player (and founder) left the band. However, they have publicly announced their search for a new bassist of any nationality, age, or gender. Having said that, from what I gather, the fan favorite so far is a Japanese woman. Anyway, here's a couple more of their songs. The first one, "Raise Some Hell," is odd to me, because for some reason I usually don't hear the verses sync up with the music in most performances. (The part where she sings, "Who is that? Who’s that chick? Shredding on guitar; Who is that? Who’s that chick? Heavy noise on bass ;Who is that? Who’s that chick? Pounding on the drums; Who am I? I’ve got a voice, it’s gonna knock you out"). But in the performance of it below, it syncs up for me without any problem. 

I absolutely love Midori, the blonde guitarist. The frame at 3:51 should be a poster. If I went to one of their concerts I'd hold up a sign saying, "Midori will you marry me? Shred for yes." I'd have to OK it with the wife first, though. Anyway, here's another video:

Now for Asterism. Everyone seems completely in awe of their performance abilities, and I am too, but I'm more overwhelmed by their original compositions. In all seriousness, I'd put them up against most classical music in terms of overall musicality, and 95% of what I listen to is classical. At the end of the following song, I just feel ennobled, something which almost no music ever does to me.

This next one really displays their originality and talent. If you love classical music, just listen with open ears and mind.

I was going to go over my second and third tiers too, but this post is long enough already. Just enjoy.

Friday, February 25, 2022

And yet more Japanese metal

There's a lot of crap happening in the world right now, so here's a little distraction. I found another band called Asterism. They do instrumental songs, so no singing. And they are insanely good. In addition, they are young. The guitarist and bassist are both 19 years old. This song was released when they were 13 or 14, and it's as good as Joe Satriani on his best day.

That's a six-string bass by the way, and I think he has a seven-string one too. And here's another song they just recorded a few months ago. This is absolutely brilliant.

I mean, holy crap. I can't think of anything to compare that to, it's its own genre. I'm just in awe. They're musical geniuses.

And to conclude, here's a glorious Lovebites song from last year's EP.

Update (5 March): When I posted this I had wanted to include another Asterism song that has an official video, but it wasn't embeddable. You can watch it here, and I highly recommend it. The bassist has that 7-string bass, and now I'm thinking the video above might be the same 7-string instead of a 6-string. But I just found a live version of the same song they did when -- get this -- the guitarist was 12, the bassist was 13, and the drummer 15. (The drummer and bassist are brothers).

And because the focus is going to be on the bassist and guitarist, I wanted to show a cover they did of Rush's YYZ to showcase the drummer. If you can do Neil Peart, you're at the top of your game.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Quote of the Day

 For all these reasons I conclude that the historian, of whatever persuasion, has no option but to affirm both the empty tomb and the 'meetings' with Jesus as 'historical events' in all the senses we sketched in chapter 1: they took place as real events; they were significant events; they are, in the normal sense required by historians, provable events; historians can should write about them. We cannot account for early Christianity without them. The tomb-and-meetings scenario is warranted, indeed, by that double similarity and double dissimilarity (to Judaism on the one hand and the early church on the other) for which I argued earlier as a methodological control in the study of Jesus. Stories like these, with the kind of explanation the early Christians offered, make the sense they make within first-century Judaism (similarity), but nobody within first-century Judaism was expecting anything like this (dissimilarity). Stories like these do indeed explain the rise of early Christianity (similarity), but they cannot be explained as the back-projection of early Christian faith, theology and exegesis (dissimilarity).

This conclusion rules out several of the alternative accounts that have been offered from time to time, mostly variations on the theme of mistakes made in the early morning (the women went to the wrong tomb, they mistook someone else for Jesus, and so on). These are in any case trivial when we remember the state of mind of Jesus' followers after his crucifixion and the fact that they were not expecting anything remotely like this to occur. Reports based on misunderstandings would quickly have been sorted out. The hoary old theory that Jesus did not really die on the cross, but revived in the cool of the tomb, has likewise nothing to recommend it, and it is noticeable that even those historians who are passionately committed to denying the resurrection do not attempt to go by this route. Roman soldiers, after all, were rather good at killing people, and when given a rebel leader to practise on they would have had several motives for making sure the job was done properly. A further, more recent suggestion can also be ruled out: that, after his crucifixion, Jesus' body was not buried, but left instead for dogs and vultures to finish off. Had that happened, no matter how many 'visions' they had had, the disciples would not have concluded that he had been raised from the dead. we are left with the secure historical conclusion: the tomb was empty, and various 'meetings' took place not only between Jesus and his followers (including at least one initial sceptic) but also, in at least one case (that of Paul; possibly, too, that of James), between Jesus and people who had not been among his followers. I regard this conclusion as coming in the same sort of category, of historical probability so high as to be virtually certain, as the death of Augustus in AD 14 or the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

This is so cool

The James Webb telescope is on its way. I feel dumb because I didn't realize it was going to the L2 Earth-Sun Lagrange point which makes a lot of sense. I wish we had more stuff at Lagrange points. You know, like space stations.