Thought of the day

Apparently Congress is having a little trouble passing a bill to fund Homeland Security. I say good. Don’t fund it. And while we’re at it, let’s not fund the DEA, the TSA, and the NSA. These organizations are dangerous (the DEA especially), useless (the TSA especially), and/or outright antagonistic to liberty (the NSA especially).

Can we admit that “deflategate” was utter nonsense?

During the AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, some of the footballs used by the Patriots were said to be deflated below league limits of 12.5 psi. Indeed, we were told that 11 of the 12 balls were 2 psi too low. Why, that must mean the Patriots were cheating! And then, of all things, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick had the gall to deny they did anything wrong. Why, that’s even worse. They cheated and were caught, yet they refuse to fess up? Hang ‘em!

But wait:

First, at a press conference last Thursday in Phoenix, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino spilled the beans that the PSI of the 12 Patriots footballs were never recorded by referee Walt Anderson. Blandino said that balls were measured, and if they were under the low threshold of 12.5, they were simply pumped up with some air. So instantly, the report by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that said 11 of the 12 footballs were a full 2 PSI under the threshold was essentially debunked. How could Mortensen have that information if nobody could have that information? (The answer, of course, is that a source who desperately wanted such misinformation out there gave him the “scoop.”)

Got that? The initial report was garbage.

Secondly, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the morning of the Super Bowl that just one of the 11 footballs was 2 PSI under the limit, while the other 10 were “just a tick” under the 12.5 threshold.

Goodness gracious, how shocking. It’s almost like this makes perfect sense. Under the scenario put forth by the people who are purely jealous of the success of the New England Patriots, we were told to believe that Tom Brady had given instructions to deflate 12 balls, yet whoever did it messed up and only deflated 11. Because that’s what the best quarterback in the history of the game wants, right? “Yeah, I want you to do this very specific thing because it makes a huge difference. If you happen to entirely mess up 1 football, I’m sure that wouldn’t make a massive difference. Even though I’ve just contended that it does make a difference.”

No, what’s more likely here is that a whole host of footballs were ball parked to 12.5 psi and someone messed up on one of them. Why? Because the exact psi isn’t overwhelmingly important and Tom Brady doesn’t give specific instructions other than to keep them as low as they’re allowed.

Here’s the reality. The Patriots had 12 balls inflated pretty close to the required 12.5 psi. For whatever reason, one of them was a bit off. The refs, of course, claim they checked them out before the game, but let’s be realistic. One ref likely squeezed a few footballs and called it good. No one took out a pressure gauge and checked everything over. Furthermore, the Pats 12 backup balls didn’t seem to have any issues. Moreover, no one measured the psi of the Colts’ balls, as far as we know. This entire “investigation” has been as garbage as the accusations. And as if all that wasn’t enough, let’s look at history. When the Pats were “spying” on other teams (just like every other team does), they were caught and fessed up pretty quickly. Belichick and the organization took their fines and moved on. I don’t for a second believe they wouldn’t have owned up to doing something as minor as messing with the psi of a few footballs.

Picture of the day

Maine

Thought of the day

Deflate that.

What’s the ethical argument against incest?

A recent news article has been going around about a father-daughter incestuous relationship:

An 18-year-old woman from the Great Lakes region told New York magazine she planned to marry her formerly estranged, biological father and move to New Jersey, where she said there is no legal prohibition against adult incest.

“We plan to move to New Jersey where we can be safe under the law, since adult incest isn’t illegal there, and once I’m there I’ll tell everyone,” the woman, whose name was not published, told the magazine for its “What’s It Like” column, which explores unusual and taboo topics.

It turns out the two had been estranged since the girl was 5. Other articles I’ve read portrayed the two as having no contact until she was 17, but this one says they had minor (non-sexual) interactions from when the girl was 5 to 15. This article also indicates they’ve been dating since she was 16, but it doesn’t say the age of the father; another source indicates he was about 34. At any rate, whatever the specifics here, it’s pretty clear their relationship isn’t okay. There’s a power dynamic at play that makes it wrong. Moreover, most people would simply point out that incest is wrong. I’m wondering, though, why we consider that latter point a good enough argument.

We tend to reject incestuous relationships for two primary reasons. First, they often are not consensual. Second, they can result in genetic abnormalities in offspring. But hang on. Those aren’t arguments against incest in and of itself – those are arguments against non-consensual sex and incestuous reproduction. What if we have two sisters or two brothers? At best we may have a power dynamic at play. What if they’re twins? Or they were estranged their entire lives and only met as adults? What’s the argument then?

There tends to be an “ick” factor when we talk about incest, but that isn’t an ethical argument. It’s a feeling, and no matter how strong it may be, it isn’t a very good basis to reject an idea. Indeed, it’s actually the same reason same-sex marriage still isn’t a thing everywhere.

The article that got me thinking about this topic isn’t a good case study for talking about what makes incest in and of itself wrong, so I don’t particularly want to discuss it. It was merely a jumping-off point: What makes incest wrong? Is it that incest has higher odds of leading to genetic abnormalities? Again, that’s an argument against incestuous reproduction, not incest itself. But let’s pretend that argument does address incest itself. It also addresses people with Huntington’s disease. A person with that disease will die a painful death around middle age while also having a 50% chance of passing it onto his/her children. Those are far greater odds than any incestuous relationship produces. Who is ready to lobby for laws barring people with Huntington’s disease from sexual activity that has any chance of producing children? I’m not.

Let’s be clear, then: The genetic argument against incest is out. It’s not even on point, and even it was, it’s an argument against a lot of other types of reproduction. Moreover, it entirely fails to address relationships where children aren’t possible/would be aborted.

I’m not about to go lobby for new laws regarding incest, but it strikes me that there isn’t a good ethical argument against incest in and of itself. If, at the end of the day, we’re talking about two consenting adults who don’t have an asymmetrical power dynamic at hand, there just isn’t an argument to be had. Society would certainly ostracize anyone who made it public that their relationship was incestuous, and I can’t imagine a healthy relationship would be at all easy as a result, but the same has historically been true of interracial and homosexual relationships.

EDIT: Given some other discussions I’ve had around the Interwebs, I’ve once again had it reaffirmed that some people are genuinely too dumb to have conversations above the most remedial, superficial levels.

Thought of the day

Those who fight against free speech in any way stand with the attackers of Charlie Hebdo in some way.

Stuart Scott

Every so often an icon emerges in the media. Usually, these people were never meant to be the story. We simply expected them to report the stories. If they did that, we would find ourselves discussing what they had told us, not giving a second thought to where we heard it. That is always good enough. That’s the job. But every so often one of these personalities will shine through the morass. Stuart Scott was one of those people. And now he has died at the age of 49.

Scott had been fighting cancer for the past 7 years. I had no idea this was his third bout with the disease. Hell, I had no idea he was ever even sick. Insofar as this was well-known news (and it was), I managed to miss it. Part of that is sheer chance. I simply didn’t happen to see the news stories. But most of that is because Scott never let it show. Looking back I can see some of the weight fluctuations now, but the strength of his personality always hid whatever physical weakness he may have been experiencing at a given time. He always said to keep fighting – fight, fight, fight – and he lived that. The images and tributes over the past day have made it wildly clear that he was speaking more than mere platitudes. He meant what he said and he lived it entirely.

I only ever mention a celebrity death here once in a great while. Sometimes it’s because I feel bad for the odd life the person had (such as when I mentioned Gary Coleman). Most times, though, it’s because I deeply respected the person (such as with Christopher Hitchens). This is like most times. Stuart Scott stood out as one of the good guys. There are a lot of sportscasters I like and I’ll be sad to hear if any of them die, but Scott’s passing is especially heartbreaking. I wish his family the best.

Here are two videos. One is of Rich Eisen giving his on-air farewell only 10 minutes after hearing of his friend’s death. The other is of Stuart Scott delivering one of the best speeches I’ve heard in a long time.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 212 other followers