The Art of Tetman Callis

Some mature content; some puerile

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Mobbing about

October 21st, 2014 · No Comments

“If it be true that all governments rest on opinion, it is no less true that the strength of opinion in each individual, and its practical influence on his conduct, depend much on the number which he supposes to have entertained the same opinion. The reason of man, like man himself is timid and cautious, when left alone; and acquires firmness and confidence, in proportion to the number with which it is associated. When the examples, which fortify opinion, are antient as well as numerous, they are known to have a double effect. In a nation of philosophers, this consideration ought to be disregarded. A reverence for the laws, would be sufficiently inculcated by the voice of an enlightened reason. But a nation of philosophers is as little to be expected as the philosophical race of kings wished for by Plato. And in every other nation, the most rational government will not find it a superfluous advantage, to have the prejudices of the community on its side.” – James Madison, “The Federalist XLIX” (emphases in original)

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His pen name was David

October 20th, 2014 · No Comments

“Three thousand years ago, David, according to the tradition, was the poet who wrote the Psalms. Even if you can’t believe that someone named David literally wrote the Psalms, the fact is that someone wrote them.” – Zachary Lazar, “In the Presence of My Enemies”

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Imagine that

October 19th, 2014 · 2 Comments

“The design of civil government is to protect the rights and promote the happiness of the people. For this end, rulers are invested with powers. But we cannot from hence justly infer that these powers should be unlimited. There are certain rights which mankind possess, over which government ought not to have any controul, because it is not necessary they should, in order to attain the end of its institution. There are certain things which rulers should be absolutely prohibited from doing, because, if they should do them, they would work an injury, not a benefit to the people. Upon the same principles of reasoning, if the exercise of a power, is found generally or in most cases to operate to the injury of the community, the legislature should be restricted in the exercise of that power, so as to guard, as much as possible, against the danger. These principles seem to be the evident dictates of common sense.” – Brutus IX, “The Dangers of a Standing Army,” New York Journal, January 17, 1788

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Flowing up, not trickling down

October 18th, 2014 · No Comments

“We may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people; and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behaviour. It is essential to such a government, that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it.” – James Madison, “The Federalist XXXIX” (emphasis in original)

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The opinion that dare not speak its name

October 17th, 2014 · No Comments

“Speech is an essential mechanism of democracy, for it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people. The right of citizens to inquire, to hear, to speak, and to use information to reach consensus is a precondition to enlightened self-government and a necessary means to protect it. For these reasons, political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it, whether by design or inadvertence.” – Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) (internal citations and quotes omitted)

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The definition of algorithm

October 16th, 2014 · No Comments

“An algorithm is defined by a sequence of steps and instructions that can be applied to data. Algorithms generate categories for filtering information, operate on data, look for patterns and relationships, or generally assist in the analysis of information. The steps taken by an algorithm are informed by the author’s knowledge, motives, biases, and desired outcomes. The output of an algorithm may not reveal any of those elements, nor may it reveal the probability of a mistaken outcome, arbitrary choice, or the degree of uncertainty in the judgment it produces. So-called ‘learning algorithms’ which underpin everything from recommendation engines to content filters evolve with the datasets that run through them, assigning different weights to each variable. The final computer-generated product or decision—used for everything from predicting behavior to denying opportunity—can mask prejudices while maintaining a patina of scientific objectivity.” – Executive Office of the President, Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · Mathematics · Politics & Law

They don’t all need to be tried as adults

October 15th, 2014 · No Comments

“Because young people are exactly that—young—they need appropriate freedoms to explore and experiment safely and without the specter of being haunted by mistakes in the future.” – Executive Office of the President, Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · Politics & Law

The theory of how it’s supposed to work

October 14th, 2014 · No Comments

“In the investigation and estimate of criminatory evidence, there is an antecedent prima facie presumption in favor of the innocence of the party accused, grounded in reason and justice not less than in humanity, and recognized in the judicial practice of all civilized nations, which presumption must prevail until it be destroyed by such an overpowering amount of legal evidence of guilt as is calculated to produce the opposite belief.” William Wills, An Essay on the Principles of Circumstantial Evidence

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All that rises must converge

October 13th, 2014 · No Comments

“A democracy has the capacity—and the duty—to learn from its past mistakes; to discover and confront persisting biases; and by respectful, rational deliberation to rise above those flaws and injustices. That process is impeded, not advanced, by court decrees based on the proposition that the public cannot have the requisite repose to discuss certain issues. It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds. The process of public discourse and political debate should not be foreclosed even if there is a risk that during a public campaign there will be those, on both sides, who seek to use racial division and discord to their own political advantage. An informed public can, and must, rise above this. The idea of democracy is that it can, and must, mature. Freedom embraces the right, indeed the duty, to engage in a rational, civic discourse in order to determine how best to form a consensus to shape the destiny of the Nation and its people.” – Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Schuette v. BAMN, 572 U.S. ____ (2014).

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One would think this might be obvious

October 12th, 2014 · No Comments

“Government action that classifies individuals on the basis of race is inherently suspect and carries the danger of perpetuating the very racial divisions the polity seeks to transcend.” – Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Schuette v. BAMN, 572 U.S. ____ (2014).

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Would you like another cup of tea, dear?

October 11th, 2014 · No Comments

“Faction and enthusiasm are the instruments by which popular governments are destroyed. We need not talk of the power of an aristocracy. The people when they lose their liberties are cheated out of them. They nourish factions in their bosoms, which will subsist so long as abusing their honest credulity shall be the means of acquiring power.” – Fisher Ames, January 15, 1788, Debate on the Constitution, Part One (ed. Bailyn)

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They need light, water, air, and good soil

October 10th, 2014 · No Comments

“Appellate judges are not obliged to act like potted plants. Nor like automatons, following only the path laid down by the parties without deviation or interruption. While the discretionary power to reach a new issue should be used with restraint, in criminal matters that restraint should be informed with due regard to the accused’s right to a fair trial. A reviewing court should intervene ‘to achieve a just result. We may not avert our eyes from what is clearly before us.’ (People v. Gray, 247 Ill.App.3d 133 (1993)).” – Justice Michael B. Hyman, People v. Hobson, 2014 IL App (1st) 110585 (March 12, 2014)

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · Verandah

The laws of unintended consequences

October 9th, 2014 · No Comments

“All new laws, though penned with the greatest technical skill, and passed on the fullest and most mature deliberation, are considered as more or less obscure and equivocal, until their meaning be liquidated and ascertained by a series of particular discussions and adjudications. Besides the obscurity arising from the complexity of objects, and the imperfection of the human faculties, the medium through which the conceptions of men are conveyed to each other, adds a fresh embarrassment. The use of words is to express ideas. Perspicuity therefore requires not only that the ideas should be distinctly formed, but that they should be expressed by words distinctly and exclusively appropriated to them. But no language is so copious as to supply words and phrases for every complex idea, or so correct as not to include many equivocally denoting different ideas. Hence it must happen, that however accurately objects may be discriminated in themselves, and however accurately the discrimination may be considered, the definition of them may be rendered inaccurate by the inaccuracy of the terms in which it is delivered. And this unavoidable inaccuracy must be greater or less, according to the complexity and novelty of the objects defined. When the Almighty himself condescends to address mankind in their own language, his meaning, luminous as it must be, is rendered dim and doubtful, by the cloudy medium through which it is communicated. Here then are three sources of vague and incorrect definitions; indistinctness of the object, imperfection of the organ of conception, inadequateness of the vehicle of ideas. Any one of these must produce a certain degree of obscurity.” – James Madison, “The Federalist XXXVII”

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Showing up and doing the job

October 8th, 2014 · No Comments

“Energy in Government is essential to that security against external and internal danger, and to that prompt and salutary execution of the laws, which enter into the very definition of good Government. Stability in Government, is essential to national character, and to the advantages annexed to it, as well as to that repose and confidence in the minds of the people, which are among the chief blessings of civil society. An irregular and mutable legislation, is not more an evil in itself, than it is odious to the people.” – James Madison, “The Federalist XXXVII”

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October 7th, 2014 · No Comments

“It is a misfortune, inseparable from human affairs, that public measures are rarely investigated with that spirit of moderation which is essential to a just estimate of their real tendency to advance or obstruct the public good; and that this spirit is more apt to be diminished than prompted, by those occasions which require an unusual exercise of it.” – James Madison, “The Federalist XXXVII”

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Watch your mouth

October 6th, 2014 · No Comments

“It is impossible to fight any war wholly humanely. In most respects, the Western allies displayed commendable clarity in their conduct of total war against an enemy bereft of civilized sentiment. Aerial assault, however, provided the exception. It was a policy quite at odds with the spirit in which the Americans and British otherwise conducted their war effort. The remoteness of bombing rendered tolerable in the eyes of Western political leaders and military commanders, not to mention their aircrew, actions which would have seemed repugnant and probably unbearable had the Allies confronted the consequences at close quarters. Eisenhower’s soldiers frequently found themselves killing local inhabitants in the course of battles for Germany’s towns and villages. They would have surely revolted at the notion of systematically slaughtering civilians by artillery bombardment or machine-gun fire. This is what the Allied air forces did, nonetheless, protected by the curious moral absolution granted by a separation of some thousands of feet of airspace, together with the pragmatic excuse that it was impossible to hit targets of military relevance with air-dropped missiles without inflicting what is now called ‘collateral damage.’ We should recognize, however, that it is far easier to pass such judgements amid the relative tranquility of the twenty-first century than it seemed in 1945, when Hitler’s nation was still doing its utmost to kill American and British people, together with millions of Nazi captives, by every means within its power. Some Germans today brand the bombing of their cities as a war crime. This seems an incautious choice of words.” – Max Hastings, Armageddon

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You gotta have faith

October 5th, 2014 · No Comments

“—if a Constitution is not to be established unless it is impossible to abuse the Powers given to the Destruction of the Community, I will venture to assert that no Government can ever be established—for the Delegation of Powers is necessary to the Being of Society, and it is impossible so to guard them that they may not be abused for a Time—an Assembly of a State, the Officers of a County or Town or of any smaller Community may betray the confidence repos’d in them; and it is impossible to grant such powers as are necessary to do Us good without granting such as may do Us evil; our Security must rest in our frequently recurring back to the People the fountain of all power by our Elections—the contrary Opinion appears to involve a suspicion that a Man become a Villain the Moment he is intrusted with power—if this so, in the Extent the Objection Supposes, it concludes against the propriety of establishing any Government in any possible Case—,” Samuel Parsons, letter to William Cushing, January 11, 1788

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October 4th, 2014 · 2 Comments

“Our soul possesses two broad and strong wings, which can bring us better and more permanent possessions than gold, honour or health. Our sharp intellect allows us to penetrate the secrets of nature, and lets us pursue that way as long as we modestly recognize our human weaknesses. But as for the ultimate secrets, which are higher than angels and angelic spirits: no speculative reason can attain them, but only deep mystical contemplation. There where our thinking can come only slowly and with endless effort, our heart, our mystical faith rises with a single wingbeat.” – Will-Erich Peuckert, Pansophie (trans. Hanegraaff)

→ 2 CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · Verandah

Or they may kick it in

October 3rd, 2014 · No Comments

“There are strong minds in every walk of life that will rise superior to the disadvantages of situation, and will command the tribute due to their merit, not only from the classes to which they particularly belong, but from the society in general. The door ought to be equally open to all.” – Alexander Hamilton, “The Federalist XXXVI”

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Then there are those who possess them and don’t know how to use them

October 2nd, 2014 · No Comments

“In countries under arbitrary government, the people oppressed and dispirited, neither possess arms nor know how to use them. Tyrants never feel secure, until they have disarmed the people. They can rely upon nothing but standing armies of mercenary troops for the support of their power.” – The Republican, “The Principal Circumstances Which Render Liberty Secure,” Connecticut Courant, January 7, 1788

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October 1st, 2014 · No Comments

“Where the great body of the citizens are ignorant, and incapable of discerning their true interests, they may be duped by artful and factious men, and led to do things destructive to their own rights and liberties. But a sensible intelligent people, who have access to the sources of information, and are capable of discerning what measures are conducive to the public welfare, will not be easily induced to act contrary to their own interests, and destroy those rights and liberties which are the foundations of public happiness.” – The Republican, “The Principal Circumstances Which Render Liberty Secure,” Connecticut Courant, January 7, 1788

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A fool for a client

September 30th, 2014 · No Comments

“We are told that many criminal defendants representing themselves may use the courtroom for deliberate disruption of their trials. But the right of self-representation has been recognized from our beginnings by federal law and by most of the States, and no such result has thereby occurred. Moreover, the trial judge may terminate self-representation by a defendant who deliberately engages in serious and obstructionist misconduct. Of course, a State may— even over objection by the accused—appoint a ‘standby counsel’ to aid the accused if and when the accused requests help, and to be available to represent the accused in the event that termination of the defendant’s self-representation is necessary. The right of self-representation is not a license to abuse the dignity of the courtroom. Neither is it a license not to comply with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law. Thus, whatever else may or may not be open to him on appeal, a defendant who elects to represent himself cannot thereafter complain that the quality of his own defense amounted to a denial of ‘effective assistance of counsel.’” – United States Supreme Court, Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975)

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · Verandah

We’re free to vote ourselves into slavery

September 29th, 2014 · No Comments

“As it is by comparison only that men estimate the value of any good, they are not sensible to the worth of those blessings they enjoy, until they are deprived of them; hence from ignorance of the horrors of slavery, nations, that have been in possession of that rarest of blessings, liberty, have so easily parted with it: when groaning under the yoke of tyranny what perils would they not encounter, what consideration would they not give to regain the inestimable jewel they had lost; but the jealousy of despotism guards every avenue to freedom, and confirms its empire at the expence of the devoted people, whose property is made instrumental to their misery, for the rapacious hand of power seizes upon every thing; dispair presently succeeds, and every noble faculty of the mind being depressed, and all motive to industry and exertion being removed, the people are adapted to the nature of the government, and drag out a listless existence.” – Samuel Bryan, “Centinel VIII”

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It’s not carved in stone

September 28th, 2014 · No Comments

“A standing Bill of Rights is absurd, because no constitutions, in a free government, can be unalterable. The present generation have indeed a right to declare what they deem a privilege; but they have no right to say what the next generation shall deem a privilege.” – Noah Webster, “Giles Hickory I” (emphases in original)

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Taxation for dummies

September 27th, 2014 · No Comments

“To those who insist that he who pays the greatest share of taxes, ought to have the greatest number of votes; it is a sufficient answer to say, that this rule would be destructive of the liberty of the others, and would render them slaves to the more rich and wealthy—That if one man pays more taxes than another, it is because he has more wealth to be protected by government, and he receives greater benefits from the government.”– Luther Martin, “The Genuine Information” (emphases in original)

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Honest to a fault

September 26th, 2014 · No Comments

“To provide for the general welfare, is an abstract proposition, which mankind differ in the explanation of, as much as they do on any political or moral proposition that can be proposed; the most opposite measures may be pursued by different parties, and both may profess, that they have in view the general welfare, and both sides may be honest in their professions.” – Brutus VI, “The Dangers of Unlimited Taxation,” New York Journal, December 27, 1787

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Watch closely

September 25th, 2014 · 2 Comments

“A writer screwing around and a writer hard at work look exactly the same to the untrained observer.” – Averil Dean, “Groove”

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Civil v. uncivil government

September 24th, 2014 · No Comments

“The business of civil government is to protect the citizen in his rights, to defend the community from hostile powers, and to promote the general welfare. Civil government has no business to meddle with the private opinions of the people. If I demean myself as a good citizen, I am accountable, not to man, but to God, for the religious opinions which I embrace, and the manner in which I worship the supreme being. If such had been the universal sentiments of mankind, and they had acted accordingly, persecution, the bane of truth and nurse of error, with her bloody axe and flaming hand, would never have turned so great a part of the world into a field of blood.” – A Landholder VII (Oliver Ellsworth), “No Religious Test Shall Be Required,” Connecticut Courant, December 17, 1787

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Call it science

September 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

“It ever has been the fate of system mongers to mistake the productions of their own imaginations, for those of nature herself: And their works, instead of advancing the cause of truth, serve only as false guides, who are ever ready to mislead us and impede our progress.” – John Stevens, Jr., “Americanus V,” Debate on the Constitution, Part One (ed. Bailyn)

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Easy as pie

September 22nd, 2014 · No Comments

“So great is the Wickedness of some Men, & the stupid Servility of others, that one would be almost inclined to conclude that Communities cannot be free. The few haughty Families, think They must govern. The Body of the People tamely consent & submit to be their Slaves. This unravels the Mystery of Millions being enslaved by the few!” – Samuel Adams, letter to Richard Henry Lee, December 3, 1787 (emphasis in original)

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