The Hardest Thing I’ve Done as a Parent

Being a parent is all about facing the challenges that come with raising your kid and overcoming them. Sometimes they’re small challenges. Sometimes they’re big ones. But tonight, I and Chelsea experience a colossal challenge: cutting Traven’s hair.

He doesn’t like loud noises, to begin with, so he was less than thrilled about even going near the clippers. Then the battery kept dying out on it, which made the ordeal even longer since we had to stop after a few swipes to let the thing charge back up again. Worse still, I decided to try helping Chelsea out (she has a presentation she has due by 11 pm tonight) and ended up accidentally cutting his hair shorter in the back.

Right now, he’s got a halfway completed haircut with a short patch along the back of his noggin, but we’re getting there. Now that I’ve found the right charger, the clipper should charge up a lot faster. He’s already cranky about the haircut, but now it’s pushing past half an hour since he needed to be in bed. And you can set your watch by when this kid goes to bed and wakes up.

I’ll fix the horrendous thing I did to his head. Definitely will. This ought to be a great experience for everyone, right?

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“Lest We Forget” Nov. 11 Poker Tournament – Remembering Our Vets

Image from @chairborne’s post about the tournament

With Veteran’s Day tomorrow, some of the vets here on Steemit have come together to sponsor a 25 SBD free roll poker tournament on Lucksacks in honor of our fallen comrades


The tournament is going to be on Lucksacks.


The tournament will start on Nov. 11, at 8 pm EST.

Sign up now to take part in the tournament!

This tournament is sponsored by our Steem witnesses who served:

@derangedvisions (witness @c0ff33a), @guiltyparties, @jackmiller, and @themarkymark, and yours truly (witness @noblewitness). Give my fellow veterans a vote.

Busy, Busy, Busy…

This is what juggling several things looks like. It’s that face.

Sorry to everyone who’s been following my blog for not posting in the last ten or so days. As always, law school takes up a tremendous portion of my time, especially now. This semester marked my Jurisprudence class, which was a class dedicated to writing a proper academic paper as part of my graduation requirement from the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. Never mind the reading for all the rest of my classes, this has easily been the most time-intensive portion of my semester and my time in law school generally.

I love jurisprudence as a subject because it takes two things that I love and combines them into a single field of study: philosophy and law. I wrote a couple of posts on the topic, but basically: jurisprudence is the study of the why and how questions of law. It’s less about interpreting statute and more about how one goes about crafting law as general principles, and whether or not there is a moral quality to it.

I’ve finished my second draft of the paper (not too soon, either, as finals are coming up here in less than a month). Now that I’m in the home stretch, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, but boy, was it tough. Footnotes are no joke.

I apologize for being so woefully absent, but I’m making up for it now! Thanks to everyone who’s stuck with me through the drought!

If you want to vote for me as a witness, cast your vote here! Scroll down until you see the first text box, and type in the name "noblewitness"!

Like what you read? Follow me, @anarcho-andrei! You can also find me on PALnet, Steem Romania, and the Fiction Workshop on the Writer’s Block.

On Writing Academic Papers

As you guys probably know since I won’t shut up about it, I am a member of The Writer’s Block. I love writing fiction, and I’ve done my fair share of opinion pieces here on Steemit. I love to write. But when it comes to academic work, boy is it another universe entirely.

Writing political opinion pieces is simple enough. Start with a premise, offer the facts that you want to apply your premise to, and then draw the conclusion. There’s plenty of sub-arguments within the span of your main argument, such as making the case why a term should be defined one way as opposed to another, or establishing that part of your premise is true because X, Y, and Z. But ultimately, it’s just a giant syllogism: A is C. B has all the qualities of A. Therefore, B is C.

For rigorous academic writing, the kind that you publish in journals, it’s significantly deeper than that. All the same rules for making an effective argument are still there, but, to put it how my jurisprudence teacher puts it, “no one wants to know what you think.” For legal writing, you need to cite every assertion you make that isn’t your own, and you are not expected to make any assertions yourself outside of your premise and your conclusion. Most of my opinion pieces are based in logical reasoning, to avoid citing to authority and thus undermining the strength of my argument on its own. Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury here.

It’s also a different style of writing. In fiction writing, it’s important to show, not tell. Academic writing is the exact opposite. Illustrative facts are really just facts recited from other sources that support your premise. That’s it. Aside from a clever hook at the beginning of a law review article, the roadmap, and the conclusion, everything else is recitation of evidence that supports your premise. Prose doesn’t have much of a place here.

While it is rewarding to make a well-documented piece of work, I’m less enthusiastic about it than good ol’ writing from the hip.

If you want to vote for me as a witness, cast your vote here! Scroll down until you see the first text box, and type in the name "noblewitness"!

Like what you read? Follow me, @anarcho-andrei! You can also find me on PALnet, Steem Romania, and the Fiction Workshop on the Writer’s Block.

The Sickness Has Finally Taken Me

Well, it’s finally happened. I’ve finally succumbed to the illness that’s taken my girlfriend, her son, and my daughter.

Chelsea and Traven have been struggling with illness for the past few weeks now. For Traven, it started out as a double ear infection, which coincided with him getting a stomach bug. Chelsea contracted that stomach virus from Traven in the process of taking care of him. Thankfully, her illness cleared up after a couple of weeks, though she’s still having coughing fits. Traven’s lasted until the day before yesterday, and Sunday night he threw up several times around bed time. No one was having fun. Still, today, he seems like he’s up and at ’em again, bouncing around without a care in the world.

Same goes for Kate. She was burning up with a fever last week, and she had unpleasant bathroom incidents every day. I’ve had to throw more than one pair of her panties away as a result. This week, though, she’s doing much better. She’s finally turned the corner on it, and she’s back at school, feeling 100% again. I’m glad to see her finally have her energy and happiness back.

So now it’s my turn. The lethargy. The muscle aches. The low grade fever. It’s all started, and it’s lingering on the cusp of going full bore into something like the flu. Honestly, I’d rather it just hit me. The anticipation is killing me, and at least if I’m totally out of commission, I don’t feel quite as frustrated with my inability to do things. When it’s just a minor issue to my productivity, like it is now, I’m actually more pissed off about it.

We’ll see how this next week goes. Got plenty to keep myself busy between school and home, so I’ll just keep trying to be productive while I wait for the inevitable.

If you want to vote for me as a witness, cast your vote here! Scroll down until you see the first text box, and type in the name "noblewitness"!

Like what you read? Follow me, @anarcho-andrei! You can also find me on PALnet, Steem Romania, and the Fiction Workshop on the Writer’s Block.

Taking a New Tack

Since law school started, my presence on Steemit was pretty slim. It’s been the single most arduous undertaking of my entire life. Now that my second semester is well under way, I’ve decided to make some changes to my posting habits, so I can be present here more often

A lot of that is going to focus on commenting. I used to comment a lot, and I used to reply to people’s comments often. That’s just being polite, in my opinion; if someone reads what you have to say and leaves a comment, the courteous thing to do is respond to them. They’re not leaving flyers on your door, after all. This last year has been a lot less involved for me across Steemit and Discord, and I’m going to work on changing that.

The other part of this change is going to be in the nature of my posts. When I first joined Steemit, I composed essays about political topics, and attempted to go through a number of series based both on my own experience and other sources. I treated Steemit as a place I could lay down just the really important work; I was still on Facebook for my day to day stuff (and the memes). Since I’ve deleted my Facebook account (or so FB tells me), I haven’t had a social media outlet. So I’m going to be including simpler posts from here on. Updates about my personal life, or what’s going on that day, or any number of other social things, rather than focusing exclusively on political articles and legal essays.

Additionally, I’m going to be present on The Writer’s Block much more than I have been. For the same reasons I turned into a ghost on Steemit, I’ve been equally separated from The Writer’s Block, and I need to change that. For everyone who’s there already, expect me around more often. For those of you who haven’t ever been to the Block, it’s a community we run on Discord to help writers improve their craft and discuss the art of writing fiction. The link to join the server is at the bottom of the post.

Don’t worry. Anyone who is a fan of my Adventures in Law School series will still get all the information I’m planning on putting out. Just going to be adding a lot more content there as well.

If you want to vote for me as a witness, cast your vote here! Scroll down until you see the first text box, and type in the name "noblewitness"!

Like what you read? Follow me, @anarcho-andrei! You can also find me on PALnet, Steem Romania, and the Fiction Workshop on the Writer’s Block.

Edmonton, Home of the Largest Mall in North America

I was scrolling through my imgur albums, when I came across a picture I took when I flew up to help Chelsea drive down to the US with me. It doesn’t get more Canadian than the above photo, taken at the airport in Edmonton.

When I first started talking to Chelsea, we talked about Edmonton, the city she lived in. One of its claims to fame (and arguably it’s only claim to fame) is the gigantic West Edmonton Mall. It’s three stories tall, and its list of features and attractions is impressively long.

There’s a bar crawl inside the mall. There are several food courts, including a higher end one in the bar crawl for more discerning fare. They have a wave pool and indoor water park built right into the mall. There’s an amusement park with a freaking roller coaster on another end. They have blacklight mini golf, and their own bowling alley. Hell, they even have a pirate ship attraction with a pool deep enough that you can go scuba diving. Crazy, right?

With three stories, the list of stores is equally impressive. If you want a detailed list of the shops available, click here, but suffice it to say you will find what you’re looking for. From jewelry to children’s toys, from fedoras to adult toys, West Edmonton Mall has at least two of each. They even have a military surplus store inside the mall.

And that’s to say nothing of the hotels. There’s more than one hotel. In a mall.

If you haven’t ever been to Edmonton, I suppose the Mall is the only reason you’d get onto a plane to go. I’ll stick with what I have around town, to be honest.

If you want to vote for me as a witness, cast your vote here! Scroll down until you see the first text box, and type in the name "noblewitness"!

Like what you read? Follow me, @anarcho-andrei! You can also find me on PALnet, Steem Romania, and the Fiction Workshop on the Writer’s Block.

Credit Cards: Bane of My Existence

I, like most Americans, have quite a bit of credit card debt. Thankfully, it’s less than $15,000, but it’s still enough that it is the bane of my existence.

Image: Pixabay

I opened my first credit card when I turned 18, with Wells Fargo (my bank at the time). It started out as a secured card, with a $500 limit linked to $500 in my checking account. Of course, that lasted maybe a month an a half before they pulled the stops off and bumped up my credit limit to $1000.

Being a dumb teenager, I was beyond excited. I had $1000 of free money to play around with! Needless to say, I blew through that in the blink of an eye. At the tender age of 18, I felt the terrible burden of owing someone money. I managed to pay it back over a couple of months, but, and I’m sorry to say this, I didn’t learn my lesson.

I didn’t learn my lesson at all. Instead, I kept racking up credit card debt and asking for extensions on my card. Over the course of a year, I bumped up my credit limit to $6000. Each time I’m bumped up my credit limit, I spent more of it. It was nothing short of extraordinary how quickly I drove myself into debt I could barely afford. Thankfully I was still living with my parents and not paying rent, but boy did it hurt. I actually maxed out my card to take out a $450 cash advance to buy myself a car I wanted. Not even a car I needed.

Now, nearly 13 years later, I have three credit cards, only one of which is paid off in full. My Wells Fargo card is chugging along near its limit, and my other card is also near its limit. Thankfully I pay nearly double the minimum monthly payment, so that should help, but as anyone who has a card will tell you: it’s not the payment on the principal that gets you, it’s the interest charges.

Moral of the story: have one card that you pay off completely every month, purely to build your credit score. Otherwise, avoid these things like the plague.

If you want to vote for me as a witness, cast your vote here! Scroll down until you see the first text box, and type in the name "noblewitness"!

Like what you read? Follow me, @anarcho-andrei! You can also find me on PALnet, Steem Romania, and the Fiction Workshop on the Writer’s Block.

Sickness Takes Us

Chelsea and Traven are both sick. It’s only a matter of time before the sickness creeps into me, too. There is no hope left.

I’m kidding. It’s not as apocalyptic as it sounds, but both my girlfriend and her son are sick with some sort of bug. Poor kid has been totally uninterested in eating, and as a result his stomach contents are just liquid. This isn’t helping him at all, as whatever he’s sick with is causing that to run right through him. We’ve got pull-ups to spare, so we’re at least not running through clothing like it’s going out of style, but it can’t be easy on him. It’s also making giving him medicine a lot more difficult. He threw up yesterday after trying to give him some children’s Imodium to settle his stomach because there wasn’t anything in there to settle. We’ll see how today goes.

Chelsea’s not doing much better, but she is carrying on like a champ. I help, for what it’s worth, but she has been on the ball with Traven this whole time, and she’s been sick, too. She’s had a fever for most of yesterday and the day before, along with chills and muscle aches, but she’s still going as strong as I could hope her to. I had to insist on taking the laundry out of the dryer.

I’m still doing okay, but I can feel it starting. The weakness. The fatigue. Some muscle aches here and there.

So posting may be a little sketchy over the next few days. Hope for us.

Adventures in Law School – Natural Law Jurisprudence, Pt. 2

Continuing with my discussion of natural law jurisprudence, we’re going to move away from the classical natural law theorists and begin moving forward in time.

Later Natural Law Theorists

Due in large part to the wide array of theorists that followed Thomas Aquinas, I’m not going to focus on many of them. I do want to mention two in particular though. The first is Francisco Suarez. While he approached natural law the same way that Aquinas did, he made a particular distinction between reason and will. For him, law was an act of will, and the ultimate will was that of God’s. God’s will was the Eternal Law, and the human will, in enacting legislation and issuing edicts, had to conform to God’s will in order to be just.

This stands in stark contrast to Hugo Grotius. He applied natural law theory to the international relationships between nations, arguing that nations should treat each other in the same way that individuals do within their community. For him, law was not simply an act of will. As with Aquinas, law was derived by the use of reason. More importantly, he held that this reasonable discernment of law would be the same whether or not there was a God, establishing for the first time since the rise of Christianity a secular basis for natural law.

John Locke

We could spend an entire series of posts discussing just John Locke and his views on human nature and political philosophy. Many authors have, as a matter of fact. However, for the purpose of these posts, we’re going to be discussing his view of the ethical underpinnings of any legal framework: namely, that individuals are endowed with certain inalienable rights.

Like Thomas Hobbes, John Locke was a social contract theorist. Unlike Hobbes, though, Locke did not think that man in a state of nature was a brute who would just as soon destroy his fellow human being as work with them. He did not subscribe to the notion that human beings must be kept in check by some superior authority lest humanity destroy itself. Instead, he recognized that human beings could be good or bad, and that they worked in their own self-interest. He also held that man was a political creature by nature. Even without some sovereign imposing its will on a group of people, people would naturally tend to create cooperative groups.

There are several reasons for this. First, and perhaps foremost, human beings have certain rights that are inherent in them being reasonable creatures. He constructed these rights as a right to life, a right to liberty insofar as that liberty did not also infringe on the liberty of another, and a right to justly acquire and dispose of property. While the founders of the United States replaced property with the Aristotelian construction of “happiness” in the Declaration of Independence, they built their principles on Locke’s construction of individuals rights.

Second, that human beings are governed by their self-interest. This means that most individuals, while not necessarily evil, are not likely to be the best arbiters in disputes to which they are a party. This is a reasonable observation to make; when something is taken from us or broken, we ascribe a higher value to it than it would otherwise be worth, and when we are the ones doing the breaking, we very clearly ascribe a much lower value to it. This makes negotiating and arbitrating disputes difficult

Third, any individual, even one who has rightly arbitrated a dispute where their right have been breached by another party, is only able to rely on his or her own power to take restitution or exact punishment. This very quickly leads to a situation in which the strongest person is immunized from the consequences of his or her actions, and the only recourse is a steady increase in violence.

To solve all of these issues, human beings form political groups. This starts as a community of people, but to address interactions between multiple communities, they will form larger political units. These political units derive their legitimacy from consent, as the mere act of exerting power does not, for Locke, confer any legitimacy or moral high ground to the conqueror. In exchange for agree to limit their liberty, these people create a political union for the purpose of protecting their liberties from outside threats and adjudicating disputes between themselves and others. A just government was one that respected the rights of its citizens, and just law were rules of conduct set down by such a government, constrained by the rights of its citizens.

To the point about obligation to obey law, or what a law really is, Locke held that any political union so constituted can also be unconstituted. If a government began to abuse the rights of its citizens, it would lose its legitimacy. There is no moral obligation to obey an unjust government, and Locke argued that any citizens of such a government were well within their natural authority to disband it. More to the point, an unjust or illegitimate government could impose no morally binding laws on its people, and the people have the right–and arguably the duty–to resist.

John Finnis

John Finnis represents the prevailing modern theory of natural law. For him, any theory of law should, as the classical natural lawyers thought, be considered as a part of a larger ethical whole. This ethical framework seeks to answer two primary questions: how should we live, and how can we discover the answer to ethical questions? The first is a normative analysis and revolves around discovering basic goods that every human being seeks, along with developing rules of conduct to achieve those goods, and the second is a more meta-ethical question. We’re going focus more on the first than the second.

According to finis, there are seven fundamental goods in human life: life, knowledge, play, aesthetic experience, sociability, practical reasonableness, and friendship. All of these are intrinsic, as they are pursued for their own value. To give an example, health care is not an end in itself; it is a means to the preservation and betterment of life in the context of health. All of these are also self-evident. Finnis’s conception of self-evident is a little different than Locke’s, though. Whereas Locke meant self-evident to mean true a priori, what Finnis means by self-evident is that they do not derive from some more foundational proposition, and that any argument that attempts to falsify them runs afoul of logic in its attempt.

These seven are, according to Finnis, equivalent in value. The cornerstone of any good life is the pursuit of all of these. However, recognizing that some evaluation will be made in the context of specific situations, there is no prohibition on choosing to pursue one good at the temporary expense of the other. Choosing to pursue a means to achieve aesthetic experience over, say, knowledge is not bad by itself. It becomes bad when the person either rejects any pursuits of some or all the other fundamental goods, or when that person arbitrarily orders the goods in importance such that one is always subordinate to the others.

These seven fundamental goods give rise to moral obligations through intermediate principles, what Finnis referred to as “basic requirements of practical reasonableness.”
– One may never act directly against a basic good (lying, killing, etc.)
– No benefit justifies means that are contrary to a basic good
– One should form a rational plan of life
– One should not have arbitrary preferences among persons
– One should foster the good of the community
– One should not have arbitrary preferences between the goods

Law is a way of effecting some goods that are too complicated to be effected on a large scale. Individuals can pursue goods readily for their own benefit, but as the number of people seeking goods increases, it becomes increasingly more complex to achieve those goods, both separately and working together. Law allows for effective coordination of society to achieve other goods. However, Finnis takes same view of unjust laws as Aquinas. Unjust laws do not merit moral obligation, and should only be followed to the extent they uphold just institutions. If resisting those laws does not cause an action contrary to a basic good, or if the institution creating the laws is no longer just, any individual is morally justified in resisting.

That covers this overview of natural law theory and some prominent theorists’ analysis of natural law. Keep your eyes open for the next post, where we’ll deal with more legal theory before moving on to current US law!

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Like what you read? Follow me, @anarcho-andrei! You can also find me on PALnet, Steem Romania, and the Fiction Workshop on the Writer’s Block.