Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
I’m inspired by recent events…none of them having to do with politics. Well, most of them not, anyway.
Pretty sure I’ve written of this before.
Persistent conflicts among thinking humans, inevitably can be traced to a disagreement, recognized or not, about whether to proceed with the definition of details, and they are between one side with an interest in concealing these definitions and the other side which relies on recognizing them.
The side that is invested in concealing detail, will start conflict to derail the discussions, because that is their mode of thinking and this leaves them with no other choice.
Then, they will blame the other side for starting this conflict.
First that cool viral song my wife found:
After Josh Zeolla graduated from high school, he moved in with his girlfriend. He studied audio engineering at a community college and woke each morning at 2 a.m. to make donuts at a bakery. She ran her own photography business and paid their bills.
“I dated someone who ran circles around me,” he said. “I didn’t have the ability to help her. I panicked. I put down certain things she was doing because I was supposed to be the man.”
Zeolla, now 26, said the insecurity sparked a break-up, then a downward slide. He wanted to be the provider, but he wasn’t. He didn’t look like the muscular, confident men on television. He was afraid to express the feelings that tore him up.
When his car broke down one day at the grocery store, Zeolla couldn’t afford to fix it or retrieve it from the impound lot. He wouldn’t ask anyone for money. So, he dropped out of school, lost his job and landed on a friend’s couch.
“I was paralyzed by this definition of what I had to be in my head,” he said. “I just couldn’t see how I’d ever get there.”
I found Zeolla, who lives in Rhode Island, after posting a journalistic call-out on Facebook: “Millennial guys! Would love to hear how you define masculinity.”
The whole article is sloppy. The premises are sloppy, the contemplation upon them is sloppy, so they never get re-thought, by the writer or by the interview subjects. “I was paralyzed by this definition of what I had to be.” Also, “He was afraid to express the feelings that tore him up.”
Not only does that end with a dangling preposition, it’s entirely irrelevant. I know this personally. I’ve been in this situation; is there anyone who hasn’t? If the name of the game is to keep those feelings expressed, I’m sure I did a shitty job of it. Probably did a shitty job hiding them too.
But eventually, I solved the problem and expression of feelings didn’t have anything to do with it whatsoever. Hey…we’re looking for the “stark difference between millennials and their dads”? Think we found it!
But whoosh…the point goes sailing right over everyone’s heads. Revisiting the story of this main subject, whose surname-spelling has mysteriously changed…
Zoella…recalls running out of money and food after he lost his income. He subsisted mostly on peanut butter and water, he said, because meals at homeless shelters were for, in his mind, “disadvantaged women and children, people with real problems.”
One day, he applied for a job at a customer-support call center, one near a bus route. He interviewed, got the gig and, after two years of making $10 an hour, was promoted to a director role. His anguish started to fade, he said, after he realized he was in control of his life.
“Realizing I was responsible for my opportunities,” Zoella said, “that was the point everything started turning around.”
He began to think often about social pressure, how it crushes both men and women. He realized others had harshly judged themselves, too. He calls this “his enlightenment.”
Zoella will soon join his uncle’s plumbing business. He wants to expand it with his recently acquired management skills. He’s also dating someone new.
And then…the tragic ending…for now…
“I think masculinity, for me, is about balance,” he said. “The ability to show your heart to someone and at the same time be a protector, which is what I always wanted to be to someone.”
When you think about it, this is alarming. This person’s been to the bottom rung, and back up again, deserves probably more credit than he’s managed to give himself. And learned nothing. What, according to him, did he do to solve the problem? Answering the ad, being a good employee for two years, must have had something to do with it; somehow these items managed to go without being mentioned, except as asides. And that’s a serious oversight. This is where he — as a representative of an entire generation — exerted some control.
Perhaps, with a little bit more diligent attention paid to the events and the related issues…and the spelling…all involved in the article’s publication might come to realize a jarring truth: Masculinity is not a balance. It’s a direction, as extreme as any other direction, in time or in space: Get it done, and if you don’t know how to get it done, find out how.
Do it as effectively and as efficiently as you can, because life, no doubt, has other challenges in store for you after you manage to clear this current problem. From observations like this one, come all the gifts we enjoy in life — discounting the purely natural ones, like air to breathe, and sunrises. This is where humans manage to do good stuff. And the expression of feelings is not within scope.
A friend and I were talking at work about the tragedy of the kids-these-days…the stuff they can’t do that previous generations would’ve been able to do, what’s changed in their upbringing, and consequentially in their behavior. She’s in her mid-thirties, I’m closing in on fifty this summer. So it was worth contemplating, that people in our age bracket have been harboring these concerns for a good long time, centuries even. In each generation, these concerns could be crystallized into something specific, that remains consistent with what was expressed a generation previous and a generation afterward: Here is something the kids aren’t being taught how to do, and after I was taught how to do it, darn it, turned out I really, really needed to know it. So how are they to cope? The world’s still here, so perhaps these worries are overblown.
But on the other hand. It would be futile, and maybe even a bit foolish, to doubt that there is a quickening of sorts taking place. The rate at which things are changing, the way they are changing, this is in itself changing. The kids don’t see it. And while the old farts like us do see it, it looks to us like some sort of a curve. Well, a curve could mean anything. y=x^2? Or, y=1/(k-x)? One can be plotted indefinitely and the the other cannot be. And this is the summation of the fears of all the old farts, grousing about the shortcomings of the younger generation, throughout history. Trying to detect from the slope of the curve, whether or not we’re heading over a brink. It’s the Stein Rule, whatever cannot last forever, won’t. So is this, that? Are we approaching something that can be approached only so much? That’s the question. Parabola or hyperbola.
I am reassured when I see that Medicators have been with us throughout the ages. These are the hopeless addicts to immediate gratification, the ones who don’t define much of anything at all, in fact will resist the useful definition of pretty much anything save for their own feelings. Their opposites are the Architects, the ones who take the time to figure out the widget will start working when, and only when, this pinion is affixed to this shaft and meshed with that other pinion…to which the Medicator protests, “I don’t care how the watch works, I just want to know what time it is.” Technology has illuminated, and intensified, this split in how people think. But the overall point is, it has also saddled us with a tragic paradigm: It has made it easy, in a way it never was easy before, for the Medicators to come out on top. Seems every big firm, right before tumbling over a precipice and starting a downward slide, puts their creative talent under the authoritative whim of the uncreative and untalented. This is a product of technology. Without technology, there is an implied contract of “you may have what you can build yourself,” just as without law and order there is an implied contract of “you may keep what you personally can defend with physical force.”
All-around, that’s an improvement. But there is one thing I know is wrong, for sure. I don’t need to wait to see how the curve plots as the X-axis extends rightward. And history provides me no assurances about this. And I don’t need a windy paragraph to make the point, I can summarize it in a single sentence:
People who “don’t care about” things, expect to win.
That’s new, and it isn’t being constrained in any way that I can see. Indeed, this expectation that the outcome should be unilaterally determined by people who claim not to care what the outcome is, does not come from within. If it does, it is at least being reinforced from without. These races for President of the United States just provide further evidence for what I’m observing. History is going to record President Obama got elected to fix our health care system, and…did something about it. The sources biased in His favor will say He fixed it, those biased against Him will say He wrecked it, but they’ll all be obliged to agree He was the Health Care President. But, Obama doesn’t care about this subject. He is not a policy wonk. If He was, He wouldn’t be fun to watch, there’d be no entertainment value in His speeches, and He would not be the figure He is today. Ever watch someone who cares about whether something works, build the whatever-it-is? Boring. Caring about where things go, how it all works, sucks up a lot of time. It can be made watchable only by way of careful editing, reducing hours and days to just a few minutes. But how about designing it? Want to watch someone do the actual design? Even more boring.
Watching someone wreck something, or dismiss a rebuttal with the ultimate smackdown of “I don’t care about,” that’s entertaining. Technology has enabled us to wallow in the delusion that this is how things are built. But it isn’t. Things that actually work, are built by people who care. Things that don’t work, are built by people who don’t. It’s no more complicated than that.
Which brings me to bathrooms. Among those crusading for an end to the ladies’ restroom as a defining edifice of civilized society, a talking point has set in that they’re somehow the sane ones; their exclusive lock on sanity is illuminated by the fact that they don’t care. They don’t care about the gender of the person using the facilities, and they don’t care about the issue overall either.
They think they can sell that as sanity, because they think it looks like sanity. Maybe it does to someone else, not to me though. Sanity, where one side cares about how an issue is resolved and the other side does not care, looks like: Let’s ask the ones who care. While those who have better things to do, more weighty things on their mind, go off to attend to whatever those things are.
I know, that’s just crazy talk, right? It would end these “bathroom wars” in a heartbeat.
But, that will never work. It takes seriously something that never was intended to be taken seriously, this outburst of “we don’t care about.” That’s fake. The crusaders for the rights of gender-confused bathroom visitors not only care, they refuse to take no for an answer.
This is an old problem with the homosexual agenda. It passes itself off convincingly as something reasonable, by basing itself on the premise that “kids are born that way,” therefore the object of all this crusading has to do with a personal birth-attribute, over which the person in question has no control, much like the color of a person’s skin. It is on that intellectual foundation that the movement is treated, from within and without, as an anti-discrimination movement. All fine and good. But it does not follow, from that, that the movement should be granted the various things it demands. This is the true meaning of the Latin “non sequitur“: It does not follow.
How you “sexually identify” shouldn’t have any ramification whatsoever on what bathroom you visit. We visit bathrooms to resolve biological issues; to take a #1 or a #2, to put it delicately. This has nothing to do with sex, it has to do with attachments and fittings. But with the “I don’t care” crowd running things, I suppose right-wing blogs are the only place we can mention what should be immediately & ultimately obvious?
As saneperson commented last month,
Another little game that liberals like to play is, “Why are you wasting time arguing about X when there are all these far more important issues?”
But if their real concern was that public debate time is being wasted on trivial side issues, the solution would be simple: Give the conservatives what they want on this issue, and then get the conversation back on the important things. If you think the issue of who can use which bathroom is silly and not worth arguing about for 30 seconds, then great, stop arguing about it! If you think this debate is a waste of time, you can end it instantly by just conceding the point.
Of course they never, ever do this. 9 times out of 10 they’re the ones who brought the issue up in the first place, by passing some law or getting a court ruling forcing everyone in the country to do something that liberals want. As in this case. So they’re argument is, “This is stupid and unimportant. So you should just concede the argument and give us 100% of what we want.” No, if you really believed it was stupid and unimportant, you would never have brought a lawsuit over it or lobbied Congress or whatever to begin with. You’re the ones who declared this a vitally important issue. And now you’re mad at us because we agree that it’s important.
The real objection, of course, is not that we are wasting time by debating this trivial side issue. The real objection is that we are not getting the liberal agenda enacted fast enough.
And that really nails it. My beef with them is not with their apathy; I’m apathetic about a lot of things. Nor can I fault them for their passion. It’s the insincerity, by which they so casually cloak the latter under a disguise of the former. They’re supposedly not targeting homosexuals, or straights, they just want a non-discriminatory world in which everyone can be what nature has decided they should be. And, they’re not coming after our kids, supposedly. But they are. Elsa is supposed to have a girlfriend, the newest hashtag campaign says so. What does “coming after our kids” look like, if that isn’t it?
And this brings me to the latest hot new trend of “We distinguish ourselves by not caring about it, so let us unilaterally dictate how it’s going to be and we will NEVER take no for an answer”: #NeverTrump.
Once again, a tempest in a teapot arises, and it’s supposed to be all my fault, for noticing a glaring contradiction. These are supposed to be champions of conservatism. Their narrative is that Trump is just as much a liberal as Hillary, and since the election is now a contest between the one and the other, it’s a lost cause for conservatism. They’re just pointing it out, folks, and don’t you dare insinuate they’re campaigning for Hillary!
Here is one example:
I will not vote for a liberal. I don’t give a hairy rat’s ass how many made-for-TV slogans he repeats, how many empty promises he offers, how many insults he or his followers hurl…I don’t trust him. I won’t vote for him. and I do not respond to fascist tactics, period.
if you only dive-bomb my posts in an effort to change my mind? save it. you’ll never do so.
if you delight in hurling insults at those who still take the time to engage you? don’t be at all shocked when they respond in the only manner in which you seem to understand.
don’t bother with your asinine argument about voting for BIG GOV CANDIDATE 1 (Thing 1) in order to prevent BIG GOV CANDIDATE 2 (Thing 2) from ascending to the WH. we told you months ago that — should this shit sandwich on soggy syphilitic toast become the fare du jour — we would not partake.
you’re comfortable with compromising your integrity, your “principles”, to the point that you’ll support a lying, classless bully who exhibits NOT ONE characteristic indicative of statesmanship, nor any fundamental understanding of the Constitution he might become charged with protecting — on the basis of this year’s “Hope and Change”? good on you; I’m happy for you. I’ll never be there.
I will not shut up. I will not stop posting about my objection to this ASS as an appropriate choice for president. I will NOT vote for him come November. and I AM NOT ALONE.
continue haranguing the last conservatives of good conscience remaining in this country; you’ll find that you only cement our resolve.
Where to begin.
“Hurling insults” is something I have seen time and time again from the Trump-phobes, not so much the Trump-philes.
I’ve checked out this thing about Trump being some kind of liberal. Even in the smear jobs, he comes off looking like a mercenary who has become tired of the rules he has successfully followed. This is the very picture of the newcomer-conservative that the movement should be making efforts to welcome.
And, as I’ve pointed out many times before, this mistaken mindset of “I must be correct for look how incredibly difficult it is to change my mind” is a rhetorical tool of the left. Of liberals. We should expect this to be the case. If they had what it took to take in new information, to consider other perspectives and other views, they wouldn’t be liberals.
But my biggest problem is with the “I will not shut up.” Why not, I wonder? If you are in this crusade to uphold your “principles,” which have to do with conservatism, which has been entirely betrayed now that the 2016 election is distilled into a contest between one liberal and another…then, I would expect, your head is in 2018 or 2020. And your crusading would go there. Why are you crusading in the here and now? What is it you want — this year? We know what you don’t want; what DO you want, then? Given all that is possible as of now.
If your thoughts are on this year, and you will not shut up…which I’m reading as, you will not take no for an answer…I’m guessing you want to divert votes away from Trump. You know your third-party candidate won’t actually win, so — what part of this is not supposed to look like crusading for Hillary? Why is it, exactly, that people aren’t supposed to think this is what you’re doing?
I’ve pointed this out to Trump-phobes before. They don’t take too kindly to it. One of the most common rejoinders is, if they’re expected to shut up, then anybody who disagrees with them should also shut up, just as quickly and just as much.
This misses the point. They’re the ones with the narrative that says all is lost now. They’re the ones who, given that the contest is now between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, don’t care. Which brings us back to the original subject, the title of this post. Just like the people who don’t care how nature made a child who was born gay; and, like the bathroom warriors. There is a certain way people behave when they really don’t care about something. True apathy has a certain standard, and #NeverTrump crusaders, by continuing to crusade, are failing to live down to it.
The time has come to start spelling it out with one word.
Lately every movie that has some action in it, has to involve a butt-kicking female. What’s sad is that it’s like watching an alcoholic try to cure his alcoholism by drinking more alcohol, because there is a desire here to get a message out that women can be just as heroic as men. What’s missing is the heroism. They stand up to sexists, they win arguments, they kick butt. Actually saving the day though, as in protecting the lives of untold numbers of total strangers, that’s still a dude thing.
There’s supposed to be some creativity involved, too, but there isn’t any. The constant costume is this NeckToToeBlackCatsuit. Modesty Blaise made this look good. It makes sense for Batgirl and Catwoman to be wearing it.
But that’s not enough. Selene. Emma Peel. Black Widow. Aeon Flux. Trinity. Wilma Deering. Charlie’s Angels. Scarlett. The Invisible Woman. The Bride. Seven of Nine. Katniss. Yori. And, some women who don’t belong in catsuits…Lara Croft, Wonder Woman, others.
It’s the bare legs, stomachs, backs…skin pisses off feminists. Interestingly, a pleasing female shape doesn’t seem to arouse this kind of rage out of them. Odd, since their battle cry is supposed to have something to do about reforming unrealistic societal expectations placed upon the female physique. A hundred-pound strumpet doing high kicks in a NeckToToeBlackCatsuit does nothing to bring about such reform, and yet we are surrounded by exactly that because the studios don’t want to piss off the feminists.
Well if the story is supposed to involve some kind of realism, I can certainly go without the bare skin. What I can’t abide is the NeckToToeBlackCatsuit. It is a warning siren of studio cowardliness, coupled with extreme lack of creativity. Black Widow, that’s okay because she’s been illustrated this way in the comic books for years. It’s the cookie-cutter motion that piques my fatigue, and ultimately closes my billfold. Oh, we’re supposed to have action. Write in a butt-kicking female, and have the costume department order up a NeckToToeBlackCatsuit.
Well here is an idea. How about…get to the root of the problem? How about writing it so that the woman, rather than just kicking high, winning arguments, beating people up — does what the male action heroes do that make them heroes? Find the control box that activates the deadly satellite that will vaporize Hong Kong in X many minutes, risk life and limb to get to it, and prevent a disaster? Which, if allowed to happen, wouldn’t harm her personally in any way, but would end the lives of innocent people she has never met, and never will meet?
Yes, some women in action movies do something like that. But not as often as the males. The high-kicking in the NeckToToeBlackCatsuit, generally, is invested in self-preservation. And before she gets to that, she’s winning arguments, asserting her position of superiority and dominance over retrograde sexists who don’t have the correct opinions.
It’s the wrong approach. James Bond did engage in & win some arguments here & there, sometimes against bad guys obsessed with world domination, sometimes with scatterbrained females. But the primary emphasis was on saving-the-day. The studios are missing this key point, so in their zeal to elevate reform of cultural attitudes above entertaining the audience, they’re typically not even going about it the right way.
1a obsolete : to take part in conversation, discussion, or argument
b : to talk with another so as to influence actions or opinions (can’t reason with them)
2 : to use the faculty of reason so as to arrive at conclusions
the use of reason; especially : the drawing of inferences or conclusions through the use of reason
Something has happened. In years past, these people who today call themselves “liberals” used to do some of this. Now they don’t, or at least, they do it much less often than normal people. Which really says something, because normal people are not involved in social-media “debates” as often as these people who today call themselves “liberals.”
Maybe I come close. But my observation is about normal people. So, those who go by this label, are involved in arguments a lot more, and they use reasoning a lot less. Taking all of the above definitions into account and applying it to everyday situations, we might think of “reasoning” as traversing a sort of route on a map, with facts at one end, conclusions at the other.
It’s pretty hard to live an adult life, even for a day or so, without doing some of this. So how do they get around doing it? Part of it is, conclusions are really just opinions, and to an emotionally-invested liberal there’s no distinction to be made between facts vs. opinions. In their world, this stuff is all in the same salad bowl, it’s all just something you say to make people agree with you.
Their enduring position, and their attitude, is “accept it uncritically or else I shall call you a troglodyte.” Or something worse: Bigot, sexist, racist, homophobe. Mere insults carry a threat of social shunning, but the “ist” words carry a threat of vocational ostracism. Using plain simple words, that means career-death. That actually means something to a conservative.
The unreasoners are encumbered by a paradox. They want to think their ideas are so emphatically, so self-evidently true, so elevated above the need for any inspection, deliberation or contemplation — reasoning — that anyone capable of even the most cursory level of responsible thinking would not only sign on, but assist the liberal in eschewing any dissent. Truth is, though, if an idea ever did rise to that level of “everyone gets it, no need to discuss,” it would lose all appeal for them. They don’t want to promote any ideas that are self-evidently true, that everyone with a working brain automatically gets. That’s boring.
That would be something like: If you think the police are prejudiced against you and you’re afraid of them…start this urgent business of protecting yourself, by not breaking the law. Or: If we want the economy to do better, make it less expensive to start, and operate, a business. Things like these make far too much sense, so this is all something to be left to conservatives. They’re much more fond of things like: What is our country doing to make the terrorists want to attack us? Or: We have to sign these international accords so we can bring the planet’s climate (back) under some kind of “control.” Or things that contradict not just common sense, but themselves: The economy is doing wonderfully because of Obama’s wise stewardship — it is urgent that we elect Hillary so she can clean up this terrible mess. Cops are racist, let’s have strict gun control so only cops have the guns.
It is only when they take such risible positions, that the unreasoners start flocking to their go-to, like bugs to a zapper: It’s just so obvious, there’s no point discussing it with someone who doesn’t get it. Ever notice? They don’t do that with things that really are just obvious.
Me, from the e-mails:
I look at it like this. Whenever someone is replaced in some occupation due to incompetence, you can count on two things: Things will get better over the longer term, and there will be lots of discomfort over the shorter term. There are variables involved but the variables don’t affect either one of those two things. They remain true even if the incompetent is replaced by someone else even more incompetent (since, at least, there is a forced acknowledgement that there was & is a problem of incompetence, whereas before there was no such forced acknowledgement). And they remain true even if the prior person’s incompetence was a closely guarded secret.
Now the political class that Trump opposes, or pretends to oppose, it really doesn’t matter which — it had one freakin’ job, no more and no less. Trump is obviously not a politician and doesn’t try to be one, but he beat ’em at their own game, and he did it time after time after time, all year long. Anyway you cut it, that’s incompetence. They had one job.
You know, people blast Trump for this and that, some of what they say is true but it doesn’t matter because they’re missing the point. Trump did earn those delegates. There was something hugely broken before he came along, and he effectively exploited the problem. Yes it does remain a large assumption to be made that “exploit” has something to do with “fix,” and there are a lot of problems involved in such an assumption. But that’s the assumption that makes American politics go, that is how it works. With any candidate.
Their moment-to-moment war-planning, and their life-long training, is to be liked & get votes. Donald Trump…just go and randomly pick from any one of all the things he says, on any given day, for proof of this…is not quite as fixated on the being-liked part. He’s been beating them like harp seals all year. And beating them at what they’re supposed to know how to do. And he isn’t supposed to know how to do that, at least, not as well. But, the results…they speak for themselves.
No, that is not because there is just unlimited awesomeness on Trump’s end. There must be some incompetence on the other end. Pretty hard to deny there is something significant taking place right now, and that it is the result of pressures building up over time while being denied an outlet. An outlet’s been found.
Over the long term, that’s a good thing.
1. The very first rule is to keep in mind at all times that, by default, the reaction to you being angry is either a) indifference or 2) laughter. That’s because “temper tantrum” is a term we use to describe the behavior of very small children. If you’re using one to get something you want, you have to change this dynamic somehow. Which brings us to…
2. Your temper tantrum M-U-S-T involve a cost, to someone, besides you. Someone in a position to fulfill your demand, or at least get things moving in that direction, has to be deprived of something they want. If this is not happening then you’re just embarrassing yourself.
3. The best way to throw a temper tantrum is always to go charging out of the room. Keep in mind though that you can only do this once. If you have to keep popping back into the room to remind people you’re still angrily charging out of it…that’s not providing incentive for change, that’s providing humor.
4. Remember that a temper-tantrum is a negotiation tactic. As such, you M-U-S-T give your opponent an out. What are the terms of their surrender that you’re offering? How are they supposed to bring your temper tantrum to an end? Your demand must be a) possible, b) practical, c) concise and d) clear.
#NeverTrump folk have a lot of good points to make, so it’s a shame that they’re punchlines right now. They’re breaking all four of these rules. Making a logical decision from a plurality of undesirable options is one of the defining characteristics of maturity. Fantasizing about some other option being available, that isn’t, is a defining characteristic of immaturity. No, it doesn’t look “principled.” It looks like a little kid upset about the dinner menu, throwing a fit because he can’t have something else.
There are no party bosses, wringing their claw-like hands together in perplexed states of agitation, whining to each other about “Oh no! Bob out in Northern California doesn’t like his choices! We must find another! Donald Trump, stand down!!” Fun thought for you to have in your head if you’re Bob in California…but that is not happening.
Had a terrible thought as I was listening to the morning news earlier this week, about these so-called Climate Change accords. It’s a thought I’ve had many times before. It’s about the future, but it’s becoming less and less a prophecy about what is to come, and more and more an observation of what already is.
My thought is that the alwarmists are going to lose the battle of public opinion, but win the war of public policy nevertheless. I find this much more frightening than the prospect that they could win at both, because there are quite a few things that would have to change in order for that to happen. But for them to be unmasked as the plunderers they really are, and get what they want anyway — well, we’re pretty much there already, right? All that has to happen is actual ratification of these international regulations, taxes, penalties, various wealth-redistribution schemes…which “everybody knows” are just a big crock. Just like, some fifteen years ago “everybody knew” they were on the up-and-up, and we only had ten years before the oceans would boil away or whatever.
My dread is that “everybody will know” this is just a big scam, and we’ll have to line up and pay anyway just like cows falling in line before the slaughterhouse. It won’t be worth anybody’s time or energy to question it anymore. Just like the income tax, and ObamaCare, and…
The attitude was adroitly summed up a few years ago by Mark Steyn, describing what has become in the United Kingdom a sort of catchphrase: “It’s ‘ealth ‘n safety gone mad, mate! ‘ealth ‘n safety gone mad!!”
‘It’s ’Elf ’n’ Safety, mate, innit?” You only have to spend, oh, 20 minutes in almost any corner of the British Isles to have that distinctive local formulation proffered as the explanation for almost any feature of life. The signs at the White Cliffs of Dover warning you not to lean over the cliff? It’s Health & Safety, mate. Primary schools that forbid their children to make daisy chains because they might pick up germs from the flowers? Health & Safety, mate. The decorative garden gnomes Sandwell Borough Council ordered the homeowner to remove from outside her front door on the grounds that she could trip over them when fleeing the house in event of its catching fire? Health & Safety. The fire extinguishers removed from a block of flats by Dorset risk assessors because they’re a fire risk? Health & Safety. Apparently the presence of a fire extinguisher could encourage you to attempt to extinguish the fire instead of fleeing for your life.
And this is my feeling of dread. That the struggle of swaying public opinion has not been lost — quite to the contrary, it has been won, rather decisively. People do not support the idea of unproductive people playing the “turnstyle game,” skimming off the top of the business of better people who actually do produce things. But, it doesn’t matter. In the generations to come, that’s how it’s going to be done — even though everyone with viable tissue upward from the brain stem, can see what’s wrong with it. Doesn’t matter.
Reminds me of that old joke about how many New Jersey teamsters does it take to change a light bulb. “Twenty-three, you got a problem with that??”
I’m not sure how we got here. We could not have gotten here without some people acquiring influence over lots of things, people who are very much different from me. People who want to see their own granddaughters watch them as they wreck things. I can’t relate to that at all. In the e-mails, I was inspired to drop a bit of personal history…
I had a good thing going with the network security thing, but I had to go back into software development again. Earning potential wasn’t the reason. Certification issues are much closer to the truth, but there are certification issues required with software development as well, especially in the military, and I have noticed my brain does not work in the same way as the brains of people who build exams. That comes a bit closer to the truth. But the bulls-eye is, I’m unhappy being the guy who meets with the application developers and telling them, “book, chapter, verse, here are the new policies we are implementing, and what you have built, entirely permissible up until this day, is an intolerable infraction against what we shall be enforcing from this day forward. Tear it out and do it again.” That was my whole line of work, a destroyer. My background had been as one of the guys who built stuff, and here I was with my whole working life dedicated to wrecking things. So I went back into the business of figuring out how to make things work and making them work…maybe, from time to time, being faced down by an “Information Assurance” guy just like myself years ago and told No You Can’t Have Firefox. But that’s okay.
You can certainly admit “climate change is real,” and yet many more hurdles will remain standing in front of you before you get to the part about “we have to get these accords signed so the planet can be saved.” Nevertheless, even if I cleared all those and was into getting those new rules in place, because I earnestly believed Charlton Heston would be banging his fists on a beach centuries hence, damning me to hell if we didn’t get it done…I can’t relate to a guy who wants his granddaughter to sit on his lap, watching him do the dirty work. The work of a destroyer. Who wants their grandchildren to remember them as agents of destruction? Even if you can rationalize the destruction is necessary. That’s your living epitaph, seriously? You want that? You found a good reason to stop things, and then you stopped them?
Sorry, I just can’t relate.
And yet, somewhere along the line, this has become the New Normal. Unproductive people, make the rules — are expected to make up the rules — about how more productive people are, and are not, supposed to do their producing.
Part of what has gone away, I think, is the paralyzing fear of a bare cupboard. There are some of us who do like to be productive; when you get right down to it, who doesn’t? But there is also a feeling in place, absent in generations past, that if we fail in this objective then it’s not like anybody in our household is really going to starve. That seems like a good thing. On the whole, maybe it is.
But it has the effect of devaluing productivity, to a matter of taste.
Oh sure, yes I’d like to produce something, if I can have that…the way I’d like to put chocolate milk on my Cheerios if I can have that. And that’s it, that’s the change in mindset. We know this is a scam and we don’t want our so-called “leaders” to be pulling this scam on us…but, if they get away with it, and they probably will, it isn’t anybody’s fault. It’s just things the way they are. Line up, get ready to get fleeced, or don’t produce anything, and we’ll just adapt to that. ‘ealth ‘n safety gone mad, mate. We know it’s wrong. We’re going to accept it anyway.
We did not get here in the blink of an eye. It’s been a series of tiny, unnoticeable changes, one after another, taking place across decades. We’re about to let the unproducers run everything, in part, because throughout these decades it has become something of a pain in the ass to produce anything. To produce something, you have to define things, and throughout this period of gradual degradation it has become harder and harder to define anything. The undefiners have become more popular than the definers, because the undefiners are more fun to watch. It’s fun to watch a wrecking ball. And that right there is the true source of the problem. We’re seeing a conflict between instant and delayed gratification.
Because the unproducers and the undefiners are running everything, and we’ve allowed them to take over like this, many among us have experienced a new misery at work — and, I suppose, we all deserve it. We have begun to labor under the tutelage of a new breed of undirectors.
Me, from the e-mails, again:
Among all the people who are trying to get something done, there are two kinds: Those who obsess on process, and those who obsess on outcome. “Bureaucracy” is a dirty word, you know, nobody ever says “I want to build the perfect bureaucracy.” Why is bureaucracy a dirty word? Because wherever there is one, there is a sink-or-float formulation in place with regard to these process vs. outcome people. The ones who are obsessed entirely with process, to the point they neglect outcome, end up on top.
…Processes have advantages. They provide immunity in case of a bad outcome, at least, to those who follow them. Process is a contingency plan, much like a parachute in an airplane. Plane takes the trajectory of a lawn dart, goes crashy crashy, and to everybody who’s bothered to follow the process — strap on the parachute — it’s all good. “I did what I was supposed to do.” You see politicians say this all the time. People don’t take the time and trouble to explore this aspect of it…but this is why they don’t like bureaucracies. Would you get on an airplane under the command of a pilot, who was overly obsessed with his parachute?
That, too, has become a New Normal: The power-figure who has all the authority, but won’t accept the responsibility that comes with it because the bad results came about after he followed, unquestioningly, all of the rules. Put in simpler terms, we have come to see it as a qualification for leadership, that our leaders won’t demonstrate any kind of critical thinking. We have begun to say — Yes! I would fly on that airplane. Even if the pilot has exactly one more parachute available for his use, than I have available for mine.
For that to happen, we must have lost the vision, somewhere, of arriving at our intended destination in one piece.
But the undefiners have done more damage than simply to saddle us with a new management layer of undirectors. They’ve also rotted the layers further down, closer to the bottom where the work actually gets done. How could it have gone any differently? People are shunned if they try to produce anything at all, shunned if they try to be anything different from what is absolutely mediocre, placed under the directorship of undirectors who are promoted to be undirectors because of their own demonstrated mediocrity…occasionally, you find yourself relegated in the status of persona non grata if you produce anything at all.
And so now we find ourselves living in the age of the unworker. It’s one of those transitions that has been sneaking up on us; we wouldn’t notice it if we had the chance to live the last 80 years over and over again, a hundred times in a row. But if you could have been put on ice that many years ago, and revived in an instant in the here and now, the change would have all the subtlety of a whack in the balls. You see, our grandparents did not live in an era wherein one counted actual “calories,” but they lived their lives around the expenditure nevertheless. Grandpa clocked in to his shift, and then he spent miserable hours that were measured in minutes. But it wasn’t about misery, it was about honesty. He got paid for that time, as a matter of honor from his employer. And he worked for all that time, as a matter of honor from him.
Now, we’re supposed to go without so our kids can go to college. Learning what, exactly? Ah…here, the undefiners have flexed their muscle. We don’t know the answer, all too often. Some kind of degree, that will make them more employable? Employable in what? Doing what? Producing things? Or adding to the already-thickening ranks of unproducers?
Remember, our Secretary of State — representing all of us, in some capacity — wants to be remembered by his granddaughter as a guy who stopped more productive people from producing things. That’s not just him. That reflects in some way on us all. And it reflects on us all, because of this change that has taken place; back when your grandfather measured the worth of his paycheck in the minutes of his misery, Secretary Kerry would have had to do this preening as a private citizen, and would be effectively told by his country “all fine and good, you go down that road alone. And as an aside, you are one weird, screwed-up grandfather.” Today, his unproducer vision is dominant. There is some vision of his granddaughter, hopefully as a long-lived, radiant, wise woman, getting the message out to her own grandchildren what “we” did in the here & now. What we stopped. And those great-great-grandchildren are supposed to be grateful we didn’t trash the planet.
Just like we’re grateful that a few decades back, the Hollywood hippies scared industry away from building more nuclear power plants…oh yes, during the rolling blackouts we all feel so grateful. No, reason and common sense say the tykes from many generations from now, will still be struggling with anemic economic “recoveries” and therefore aren’t likely to show such gratitude. But that’s reason and common sense. The province of definers…not undefiners.
Because we’re living in the age of the unproducer and the undefiner, the ununifier has become dominant as well. President Obama is merely the most resplendent out of many examples that could be offered. Each one surrounded by a cloudy narrative that he is in fact inspiring us all to live together in peace and harmony…but then, uh oh, reality beckons.
He condemns these “routine” events and calls for more gun control each time another one happens. After the recent Planned Parenthood shooting, he said, “we can’t let this become the new normal…enough is enough.”
But when did it become the new normal? While the 2nd Amendment continues to be attacked each and every time another mass shooting occurs, just realize something: these events were never this “routine” until Obama became president.
It isn’t just Obama, though. He’s not on the ballot this year, and yet there is something remarkably different: The two candidates with the highest disapproval ratings, happen to be the two most likely to face off against each other in the general election. It has not always been this way. What changed?
Well if you actually listen to an Obama speech, or a Hillary speech, or a Donald Trump speech, the answer is crystal-clear. This is the age of the ununifier. The so-called “leader” who purports to be an exemplar of excellence, but takes the shelter appealing only to the mediocre, the shelter of process over outcome, the parachute on the doomed plane. The guy who’s going to defend himself, after it’s all turned to crap, with craven cries of “yes but I followed all of the rules.” Yes, Trump would object to this, insist that he thinks for himself…John McCain supposedly did likewise. But see that’s the problem. These “mavericks” make up their own minds — how? They walk into a room and lock the door behind them, kind of mull things over really, really good? It seems they don’t take advice from anybody. Where do they get their information? To whom do they listen? What do they read? None of them are ready to say. Three possibilities emerge:
1. They don’t want us to know who has influence on them;
2. They’re making it all up as they go along;
3. They acknowledge someone else might have influenced them, but are afraid to inspect this open question themselves.
Either way, their decisions are beyond question, certainly beyond appeal. What really concerns me more than anything else is, all three of them seem to be open to the idea that in a free and honest exchange of ideas, they may find out the decisions they made cannot withstand an assault of scrutiny, as well as an opposite decision could; and, this terrifies them. At least, that’s how it looks to me. I’m sure there is a narrative that’s supposed to be peddled that isn’t being helped by that thought, but that’s how it looks.
The ununifier is a Prima donna. And we are living in his age. More’s the pity; we really do need, like never before, some open and honest discussion of the ramifications of important decisions. And we’re not getting it.
Worse still, our political so-called “leaders” are getting a rise out of this increased polarization. It has infected them with a perverse incentive, to get the rest of us fighting about anything…about nothing, if the situation calls for it. And so now we have the disgraceful bathroom debate. Should men be allowed to occupy womens’ restrooms because of the way they “identify”? Back when your grandfather punched the clock and began his dreary minutes of productive labor, it wouldn’t even have been a question.
One liberal Facebook-friend responded to this graphic…
…with this…speaking on behalf of many, no doubt…
Is he going to take some little boy who identifies as a girl and drag him behind his pickup truck?
Is he scared of his own sexuality and wants to prove what a man he is?
++blink++ What the fuckety fuckety fuck…
Look, I know this is nothing new. I’m up on this dark fantasy Hollywood has had, that any males who stand for manhood, thereby thwarting their agenda, must be latent homosexuals. I guess it all comes from that sick, sick movie. But this crosses a line: The same brush is to be used to tar any man, anywhere, who sees fit to extend any kind of extra effort to protect a woman?
Oh yes, I do get it, it’s all about narratives with these people. And that narrative they want is the one of an ultra-limber, ultra-strong, sinewy bitch-in-a-catsuit, who weighs 115 pounds soaking wet, kicking three hundred pound men backward so hard that their unconscious bodies shatter brick walls as they sail through the air.
Well the problem with that is…and it makes me feel a bit awkward having to type this, truth be told, it seems like I shouldn’t have to say it. There are an awful lot of females in this world, they’re more than half the human population. And they’re not all sinewy bitches in catsuits who can kick heavy guys through brick walls. Some of them are little old ladies who need oxygen tanks and inhalators. And yeah, maybe a big strong protector. What’s wrong with that, exactly?
I thought liberals were supposed to be in favor of defending the weakest among us?
I guess not. I guess we have entered the era of the unprotector. What happened here? This thing we call “liberalism,” far from being friendly in any way to the vision of expanded liberty, has become drunk on the power of the expanding state. And an expanding state cannot find the energy for further expansion, in any environment, save for one saturated in feelings of misery and despair. People feel miserable and desperate when they feel like they aren’t protected.
So it’s: DON’T protect that woman, or me and my friends will insinuate you’re some kind of latent homosexual. Leave her unprotected, so she’ll feel miserable and desperate, and she will grasp for the “protection” provided by my friends who are running for office, as democrats, as a thirsty man would lunge for a canteen of water. That’s how it’s supposed to work. So don’t get in the way.
Rather like two bums getting into an argument over who gets to work the street corner. Except the other guy wasn’t a bum wanting to work a street corner, he was a concerned man spending a few extra minutes to defend a helpless woman against danger.
Now, what’s written above is quite a lot of words, even before you consider there are hyperlinks to go with it all, leading to more pages with more words. How to bottom-line it all?
I would compare it to drinking water after eating Jalapeño peppers. We’re doing things that seem at first blush like they should fix the problem, and in an instant…but the “solution” we’re trying just makes the problem worse. Nothing gets better until we do a better job of defining things, and the solutions we’ve been trying all have to do with removing definitions, rather than re-invigorating old ones or imposing new ones. So the problem languishes, or even gets worse. So we try a bit more of what we have already just seen doesn’t work.
At this point, we’re like a man who has ingested so much water that his health is starting to see a new danger that wasn’t yet present when he was just eating the peppers, and is still asking for yet more glasses. The distinction between men and women, we’re ready to rend asunder — that can only mean, all other definitions are on the table as well. Producers vs. non-producers, workers vs. non-workers, people who abide by the law vs. those who flout it, men, women, excellent, mediocre…people who need help and protection, people who do not…weakening and erasing these differentiations, has not done anything to help us. And yet, the critical thinking has yet to make a comeback.
We’re on auto-pilot, and have no business at all flying that way. It doesn’t fit our situation. The aircraft nose is pointed downward, the “pilot” has a parachute and we don’t. Oh yeah, and he’s not in the cockpit either, he’s in the back of the craft, by the emergency exit…
Now might be a good time to wake up from the nap.
Jack Jenkins is ThinkProgress’ Senior Religion Reporter and has a Master’s of Divinity from Harvard University. Zack Ford is ThinkProgress’ LGBT Editor and an out and proud atheist who has spoken at various secular conferences nationwide. This week, they went to see the new film God’s Not Dead 2 together.
You can read the whole thing at your leisure. The two things that really resonated with me were…
1. The nerd-slap-fight at the beginning, over the pen. They were both supposed to take the “reviewing” assignment seriously enough to take notes, but prepared for this by arriving, somehow, with only one pen between the two of them…the result of which is one liberal blaming the other for hogging the pen. Well that is worth a giggle and a snort. I know it goes over the head of a dedicated liberal, and non-liberals were likely never supposed to see this…but, isn’t that just like ’em? Because of this, the first two paragraphs read like parody of liberal entertainment sites, written by a conservative. Except, I think, they’re serious about it.
2. Continuing on to the very end, what you get out of it is the same as what you get when you take it upon yourself to argue with a liberal, on any given day. Here, I’ll summarize it: “You lost us when you acknowledged the victimhood of, or identified with, someone we don’t think should ever benefit from victimhood.” The difference between that, and the whole review, is just some volume of idle mockery. But that gets right to the heart of it. Trans-genders, gays, atheists, women, blacks, and illegal immigrants can be victims. Along with felons who are actually guilty. Boy Scouts, home-schoolers, business owners, conservatives, Republicans, stay-at-home Moms, whites, straights, men…and Christians, cannot be.
A tempest-in-a-teapot has emerged over whether the film accurately portrays the legal challenges some Christians have encountered as they freely exercise their faith. The producer of the film maintains that the plot is taken from real-life examples, and to bolster this point as listed 25 such cases at the end of the credits. The so-called review links to an effort to debunk some of these, but it amounts to nothing more than any given left-wing “debunking,” it’s far less of a debunking than an exercise in “we can’t [afford to] let anyone else have the last word on anything, ever.”
What I got out of the actual movie they don’t want anyone to take the time to go see, is a point that seems to have gone sailing straight over their heads. And it isn’t complicated: There’s a big difference between a state that is dedicated to non-establishment of an official religion, and a state that is dedicated to establishing non-religion as its religion. In the United States, we have arguably managed to achieve the second of those two things, albeit outside the purview of written legislation, through a chilling effect. Yes, that’s a real legal term, because it’s a real legal concept.
And here begins a fascinating discussion. Someone should make a movie about it. Actually, someone did, but the liberals, thinking they’re responding to & prevailing in this ensuing discussion, could much more fairly & accurately be characterized as refusing to participate in it. Because it acknowledges people could be shorted, slighted, wronged…the foundational premise of any civil-remedy system…while maintaining membership in classes liberals don’t like. And liberals refuse to participate in any contemplation, in a group environment or in solitude, that allows for such a possibility.
Finally — finally! — someone bulls-eyed it. Can you play the clip? if so, keep watching until the very end.
The other issue is, of course, that there are reasons why we have been herding males into boy-restrooms and females into girl-restrooms. It’s a “Chesterton’s Fence,” you shouldn’t be allowed to dismantle it until such time as you understand why it got put there in the first place. One liberal was admonishing me that there is a possibility that a girl can be molested in a girls-only bathroom, and a boy can be molested in a boys-only bathroom; my rebuttal to which, of course, was that the likelihood of such shenanigans going down was much higher with men being allowed in a girls’ facility. Which I’m sure the liberal, when he responds, will make untrue by chortling at it and invoking his magical “I Laugh At It And So It Becomes Untrue” powers. That’s the ethereal liberal realm; people don’t change their behavior in an altered environment, ever, unless such behavioral change would be helpful to whatever liberals are pushing. Buying doesn’t slow down when there are artificial prices built into things, active-shooters don’t gravitate to places that restrict the ability of bystanders to shoot back…human behavior remains absolutely static.
But the primary, most-important issue is that we’re deciding what truth is. Is it merely an after-product of a person’s feelings.
So why can’t we just live and let live? Bathroom law opponents “are crusading against a tiny minority that poses no real threat,” Jillian T. Weiss, a transgender rights lawyer and activist, wrote in Wednesday’s USA Today. In a way, she’s correct: Demonizing transgender people is unfair in any light. But Weiss also misses the bigger picture behind the bathroom brouhaha. It’s not a fight against people. It’s a fight about reality, and whether the government can dictate a certain version of it. Ultimately, it’s a fight about freedom of thought.
America’s burgeoning bathroom wars, so silly and banal on the surface, are actually quite deep: They fling together two conflicting, wildly incompatible streams of thought. On the transgender side, identity is everything. If gender is truly fluid, and yet truly knowable, then the denial of one’s gender identity is a hurtful denial of one’s very being or self.
This is also why the bathroom issue provides such a massive spark point: If the government agrees that trans men and women can access the bathrooms of their choice, they are officially validating the view that gender is no more than what you feel or believe it to be. They are ruling this view, in their own way, a fact—and if it’s a fact, can anyone really rightfully disagree?
In a way, this is all quite obvious, this business of government ruling on a belief held by only a few among us, as a fact, and ruling against the contrary belief held by the remainder. People actually “know” this already. You can see it in the faces and hear it in the voices of the sugar-pumpkins in the video. “I identify as a 6’5″ Chinese woman.” How say they? Well the honest answer would be — I’m not as “sure” about height as I am about gender identity, because this month’s bandwagon is all about gender identity and not about height. We’ll see about height sometime later, maybe.
That would be the honest answer. But once people climb onto the bandwagon, they can’t say that.
From the comments:
My problem with this bathroom thing is no[t] even related to abstraction or morality, but to plain and physical conditions of the people affected. Male has penis, female has vagina. There are not “Peginas” in nature, not in humans, no in animals, not even in plants.
Public bathroom separation is based on that very simple, binary, but undeniable scientific and natural truth. Everything else is opinion and PC. And that is all there is to it.
I think the liberals have really met their Waterloo with this one. One of their most popular tactics in recent years is to get hold of some cherry-picked statistic, friendly to their agenda, that makes the reciter-of-the-statistic sound like he’s somehow pulled in a Ph.D.-level of expertise on the subject overall. It doesn’t matter if the statistic is questionable, or even if it’s been entirely discredited. President Obama, for example, is still getting mileage out of the business with ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists agreeing with global warming. The shelf life on this stuff is quite long. And let’s be honest, your Republican Uncle is usually going to be unprepared for the recited-statistic. This stuff works, that’s why they keep using it. So the liberals get to crow about “get the facts!” Case closed.
They use that here too. But here, on this subject, they are promoting a view of truth that contradicts their “facts.” They’re promoting a new fabric, a new shape to the space-time continuum, that says facts must give way to feeling. They are reduced to their usual, routine protest that the facts are on their side, while simultaneously insisting on the premise that facts don’t matter.
Furthermore, if facts don’t matter and feelings count for everything, then there is only one solution available to us to keep our society functional. We’re going to have to have more separation, not less. Give up on that celebrated liberal one-world utopia. Build more and more walls, so that people can live in segregated-bathroom societies, or unified-bathroom societies, whichever way their feelings make them feelz. And then we’ll have to build more walls still. Guns-or-not; high-taxes-or-not; meat-or-not; birth-control-or-not; money-or-not.
If we must insist that all feelings are valid, and that they trump truth, but that we are unified in our desire for peace — there is no other solution.
Update 4/18/16: Thanks for the feedback from those who weren’t able to play the video. I’ve replaced it with the tried-and-true YouTube.
Isn’t it exciting to think about, if you had super powers, you could avert some sort of disaster that would otherwise bring bodily harm to one innocent, or many? Or, that you could do something amazing that might simply have a positive effect on their lives? Make their day? Give them a thrill? Advance the cause of science, technology, peace, love, understanding…?
And all that stuff?
I guess the answer to that nowadays is “Not only no, but hell no.” This permeating theme that used to be de rigueur in comic books, from Action Comics #1 on through decade after decade after decade, has given way to a different one: What if the super-powered being turns against us? And ya know what…that started out as an intriguing thought. You have to welcome any & all intriguing thoughts into the superhero genre, provided they truly are intriguing. And new. But by now I have to put together some sort of a PSA, for the benefit of writers of superhero movies and comic books.
This is not new.
Also, it’s bad story-telling. It might not start out that way, but it’s bound to end up that way. It has zero potential. You can’t take it anywhere.
“[blank]-Man, with his powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, constitutes a threat.” Alright…what do you do with that? You can do two things, you can neutralize this threat or not neutralize him. Those are your two options.
How do you make this reasoning even appear mentally balanced? You can’t. Batman gave it a good try in Dawn of Justice, but he did not succeed. And I suppose the writing staff intended for him to fail at this…although they don’t seem to be too sure about that. How do we even summarize the theme so it seems somewhat appealing to someone who isn’t either working in a security-related industry, or completely off his nut? Let me give it a good-faith try: “If any one among us has powers not shared by everybody else, then not one among us is truly safe.” Ooh. That’s quite good, if I dare say so myself.
Let’s slip it one notch further toward the brink of insanity: If we can make a world where not one person can do anything everybody else can’t do, we’ll all be completely safe. Whoops! That one toppled over the edge. Looks like we never had too far to go…
Which is kind of the point I’m making here. Not only can you not take this idea anywhere in fiction, you can’t take it too far in real life either.
It does form the basis of sensible enterprise security. I remember one time management wanted to know if someone on the team could conceivably be a threat…not sure how that question came about, but the answer we provided was far more sensible. YES he’s a threat, the same way everybody on the whole damn team is a threat, we have administrative privileges that are required for us to do our jobs.
It boggles my mind, knowing that there are people out there who never get tired of this boring theme. It boggles me even more knowing, after they’re all done watching the latest movie that uselessly cogitates upon the idea-that-can’t-go-anywhere “Golly, what if Iron Man decided to take out downtown?” — will lose no time in solemnly intoning, goodness gracious here’s ANOTHER problem, so we’d better give President Barack Obama more power to do something about it.
I had high hopes for Suicide Squad. The Harley Quinn actress looks like she’s turning in one of those memorable performances, of the “great acting, because it’s not that much of a stretch for her” variety. But, the first line of the first scene, crapped all over my hopes for it…
What if Superman decided to do that? Dunno…file it under “If a frog had wings, he wouldn’t have to bump his ass on the ground all the time.”
Stop it already. I liked it in The Incredibles, because it wasn’t a serious thought, except when the storyline was showing how flawed the reasoning was. Since then, it’s been done to death…and it started out tired. Now it’s an irritant. Stop. Now. Please. Thank you. ThatIsAll.
Last month (as well as previously) I noted…
1. There is an intelligence within the liberal movement, manifesting itself through its competence, taking on the responsibility of adjusting the agenda between election cycles. Let us call this the “scheming elites”…
2. There is a demonstrated ignorance within the movement as well, a bloated, voluminous, sprawling ignorance…We could call this the “ignorant commons.”
3. The liberal movement consists, in large part, of a sustained monologue taking place FROM the scheming elites TO the ignorant commons, with zero feedback…
This creates something of a question. New information has a tendency to do that; one mystery solved, two more created. How are liberals motivated, what’s their angle? It’s easy to see how the “scheming elites” gain ground when it’s harder for me to protect my household because I can’t get a gun, or when I spend more time on the employment sidelines because it’s harder to get a job. It creates an atmosphere of hopelessness and desperation, and democrats win more elections when people feel hopeless and desperate.
What of the ignorant-commons? They flock to social media to recycle the talking points the scheming-elites gave them. They think it makes them look smart. How it makes them look, is like Lenin’s “useful idiots,” except on the wane curve of their declining usefulness…
I have noticed a certain drive to make sure all discussions end a certain way. So I guess there’s a childish addiction to winning-the-argument. But that’s not all of it. I recall a certain tireless gadfly engaged in an endless push to smear a questionable George Washington quote, give it a good shove one layer down from the category the facts support — “disputed,” “unsubstantiated,” “frowned-upon by the experts at Mount Vernon,” — to the category the facts would not support. “Debunked” or the equivalent. The tempest in a teapot ground onward, through the sands of time. The weeks turned into months and the months turned into years. Embarrassing to watch. There is an example where “winning the argument” rapidly dwindled into a lost cause. They wanted the quote discredited altogether, couldn’t bring the foundation of fact to support that, got caught coming up short with it, everyone saw. And it’s notable because as an example, it doesn’t stand alone.
I can’t help wondering what they’d have to say about Lenin and the useful-idiots quote.
The motivation is to make sure the discussions end a certain way, not quite so much to win arguments. One of my exes was a lot like that. I used to call the conversations “‘This conversation isn’t over until it’s over the way I like it to be over’ conversations.” I suppose this reflects on me; wouldn’t such exchanges be finished in an instant, if I would simply give them what they want?
But what they want is lying. Worse than lying. Voluntary assistance in lying.
I might add that making sure all conversations end a certain way, in a monogamous relationship, is slightly less silly than making sure all conversations end a certain way on Facebook. How many of those are there? Whose job is it to notify you these conversations are underway?
But, back to the questions that might perhaps actually be answered. What motivates the ignorant commons to persist in their ignorance, and to spread it to others? This answers itself, somewhat, because of the enabling factor. Wallowing in ignorance feels so much better if others share in it. And so we are burdened in the tragedy of ignoramuses working so much harder at recruiting, at pulling others into mire of the ignorance, than those who have successfully extracted themselves work at keeping others out of it. Said mire of ignorance thus becomes — unnecessarily — a sort of rite-of-passage. Only some emerge, but everyone has to enter. Like a turn-style on a subway, everyone has to go through it. Is this a fixable problem?
I was given cause to think about this while reading Susan Stamper Brown’s recent column in Townhall. She, perhaps unintentionally, hit on an illuminating point.
While it’s true that liberalism is destroying America, it is also true that most liberals are not doing it intentionally.
Instead, they do what they do out of fear. Liberals are the casualties of social conditioning which inspires them to fear just about everything. That’s why they fear free speech, warm winters, competition, healthy debate, individualism, the Bible, guns, big sodas, freedom, capitalism, the U.S. Constitution, salt, manly men, a strong military, and so on. These irrational fears drive liberals to attempt to control their environment by creating safe spaces and collective utopias which always fail.
At the heart of liberalism is a quest for control over people’s lives and the insistence that a monstrous, micro-managing government offering minimal personal freedom is the only way to achieve fairness. If Americans understood how enslaved they are, they’d run the other way, but, “ignorance is bliss,” as the saying goes.
Yes, there is something to this. I recall a liberal who was oh so anxious to win-win-win the argument, and/or make sure the conversation ends a certain way…had to ‘fess up, in spite of all his passion for gun control, he didn’t have any guns. In fact, he was grasping for some GoodPerson strokes, having boasted of a personal oath to never own a gun, ever. He hadn’t anticipated the optics. A lot of people haven’t got an opinion about guns one way or another, but they can see what’s wrong with non-gun-owners laying down the rules about how guns are to be owned.
That’s a good issue. Gun control illustrates the distinction between “good fear” and “bad fear”; one enables you to prevent a bad thing from happening, the other enables you to prevent the living of life. Bad fear, like good fear, is rational on some level and that’s what makes it dangerous. There really is a possibility, however remote, that you will be run over by a car & killed if you leave the house. Just like there is a possibility that a gun you own might be used for nefarious purposes, or have some role in a tragic accident. But how far are we to take this? Do you really want to swear an oath never to leave the house, to go along with your oath never to own a gun?
Well, if you’ve never made the decision to “go ahead, damn the risks and let’s see what happens” — about anything, ever — that can look reasonable.
A second enabling factor is the elevation of theory over practice. Every now and then I’ll see a liberal turn this on its head, try to set up this false narrative that it is the conservatives who short themselves, shutting out reality, reciting the same litanies over and over again. Some will accuse me of never having been open to the idea that something I said might be wrong. Now, that’s funny. A typical morning for me will begin at around 3, when I put on some coffee and start inspecting why an application or library I’ve been developing at home doesn’t behave the way I want it to behave. Then I shower, dress, drive to work and spend another eight hours doing exactly the same thing. So my favorite rebuttal of “I realize I’m wrong about six to ten things, every day, before you kids think about getting out of bed” has a paralyzing effect on them that I have not missed out on noticing. They don’t know how to deal with it. It’s as if they’ve never been in a conversation with someone willing to admit he was ever wrong about anything; and that’s probably exactly what’s happening.
We know liberals are great at coming up with theories, but are terrible at refining those theories based on the lessons that come with practice. My favorite example of this is the Affordable Care Act. They want to tell us it’s an overall success, on balance, but there are two things you’d have to take into account to determine that: 1) things that were working fine before the Act became effective, and 2) things that are all cocked up in the aftermath. Liberals resolutely refuse to acknowledge either one of those things, let alone evaluate either one.
But that’s just one example. There are many others. The above-mentioned gun control, climate change, minimum wage…”My favorite part about the Obama era is all the racial healing.” Theory, practice; practice, theory. Liberals don’t look at this the way normal people do. That requires maturity. Admitting that practice contradicts cherished theory, or even just that it has required some minor adjustment, can require a lot of maturity that they simply don’t have.
There is a third factor. We have to mature to a certain level to admit nature doesn’t care what we think. That means there is a metaphysical truth writhing away, like a great sea serpent in a moat, seen or unseen. It doesn’t care who wins what argument, it is what it is. Liberals, having failed to develop the maturity to recognize this, seem to think “truth” is shaped by these conversations ending in one way or another. I’m guessing they’ve been commanded by the scheming-elites to log on, and do what they can do drum up support for this thing, or to dissipate the support for that other thing. But I get the impression it isn’t only just that. They seem like true believers, like they can go back and re-write history, make it so George Washington really didn’t say what they “know” he didn’t say, if that is how the dialogue concludes. This is rather ironic, since it’s a tacit admission that with one potent rebuttal inserted where it otherwise would not be, or removed where it otherwise would have existed, reality is likewise altered and suddenly George Washington really did say it.
It seems strange and surreal that there are people who don’t understand this, and therefore it is necessary to point it out in writing somewhere: Reality doesn’t work that way. But it takes maturity to realize that. For that reason, I maintain that some of the most productive and beneficial opinions, over mankind’s history, were formed by those who implicitly understood the limits to how much their own opinions mattered. It’s easy to prove the reverse, that the opinions that have done the greatest damage, or the least amount of good, were formed by those who thought their own opinions were all-important.
OUR infrastructure is inexcusable, much of our public education is miserable and one of our leading presidential candidates is a know-nothing, say-anything egomaniac who yanks harder every day at the tattered fabric of civil discourse and fundamental decency in this country.
But let’s by all means worry about the gays! Let’s make sure they know their place. Keep them in check and all else falls into line, or at least America notches one victory amid so many defeats.
That must be the thinking behind Republican efforts to push through so-called religious liberty laws and other legislation — most egregiously in North Carolina — that excuse and legitimize anti-gay discrimination. They’re cynical distractions. Politically opportunistic sideshows.
And the Republicans who are promoting them are playing a short game, not a long one, by refusing to acknowledge a clear movement in our society toward L.G.B.T. equality, a trajectory with only one shape and only one destination.
There’s a huge glaring error in this, but first let me nit-pick a bit. It is the polar opposite of the truth to say this trajectory has “only one shape and only one destination.” The trajectory meanders, turn by unprecedented turn and inch by serpentine inch, just like any other trajectory driven by emotion and drama. This year it’s all about forcing businesses to do away with male and female restrooms. Previously — just last year or so? — it was about same-sex marriage, and forcing the businesses to participate in that. Next year, who knows…although it will probably have something to do with forcing businesses to do something else. Frankly it’s become rather tiresome, not unlike taking a phone call from a friend who’s in the eleventh year of her divorce and has a whole new round of tall tales to unload about the awful things “Bob” did.
Another issue is that I think I know more conservatives than Frank Bruni does, and I can’t recall a single one who’s terribly obsessed with making sure anybody from any particular group “knows their place.” For keeping groups of people in places, we have democrats to worry about that. The concern with religious liberty is exactly that, protection from litigation; not exactly an unneeded thing in this day and age. One wonders, Who is against such shielding? And why, exactly? More lawsuits are a good thing?
But the big problem is:
…that’s very interesting, considering that it was the city of Charlotte, NC, run by Democrats, which initiated this whole thing with their passage of a gender confused bathroom law. The NC law, HB2, did a few simple things, one of which was to restrict local cities from forcing private businesses to allow transgenders to use the bathroom, locker room, and showers of their “gender identity”. If a company wants to do this, they are welcome to do so. It is their choice.
I thought liberals approved of choice. No?
As for the real issues, yes, we have them. So, why are so many Democrats, like Frank Bruni, so utterly concerned with a law that simply reaffirms freedom of choice for private entities as to who uses their bathrooms? Mention the danger from ISIS and radical Islam, and liberals mostly shrug and say it’s much ado about nothing. Gender confused in bathrooms? 5 alarm fire!
Recap: If liberals don’t get anything they want here, at all, the retail businesses can build all sorts of other-gender-identity bathrooms, let confused males use the womens’ restroom, confused women used the mens’ restroom…you can still have all that. This isn’t about what decision ultimately gets made, it’s about who makes it and gets to force it. And I don’t see anyone on either side overly obsessed with who exactly it is who owns the businesses, or overrides the business’ decisions, by name; so, this is about roles.
No, liberals do not approve of choice. They approve of force.
And they’re opposed to having any sort of discussion about it. Like John Hawkins noted,
Liberalism creates a feedback loop. It is usually impossible for a non-liberal to change a liberal’s mind about political issues because liberalism works like so: only liberals are credible sources of information. How do you know someone’s liberal? He espouses liberal doctrine. So, no matter how plausible what you say may be, it will be ignored if you’re not a liberal and if you are a liberal, of course, you probably agree with liberal views. This sort of close-mindedness makes liberals nearly impervious to any information that might undermine their beliefs.
And over the years, I have noticed something about this. Whenever I chance upon a liberal struggling in this mental state, which is very often, it seems to happen pretty consistently that there’s some disagreement lingering about what is natural. There is a certain pedigree to this. It may have started with the environmental movement. But today, it’s an oversimplification to say: Liberals have a hot, new, potentially disastrous whiz-bang idea, and conservatives are standing athwart the silliness yelling “slow down.” It’s accurate, but there’s more to it than that.
The liberals’ hot, new, whiz-bang idea — at least in the minds of the liberals — has something to do with a return to a more natural state. We have reason to believe this, across the board, including even such issues as the Affordable Care Act and Common Core.
There is perhaps no subject on which this is made more clear, than with the economic issues that have to do with “equality” of income or wealth, like raising the minimum wage, progressive taxes, and social safety nets. Their narrative is not one of “We have come up with an innovative new way to make sure everyone has the same amount of stuff”; it is one of “We have come up with an innovative new way to get things back to the way they were supposed to be, so everyone has the same amount of stuff.” It’s an important distinction, because the latter interpretation is seasoned with a pungent hatred of humanity missing from the former.
Liberals think in passive voice. This is what allows them to envision some sort of intended order to the universe — while simultaneously rejecting any belief system that has to do with a deity that’s doing this “intending.” This is, in a sense, what makes a liberal a liberal. It’s where the arrested development comes into play. It’s definable. Absolute certainty about what’s “supposed to” be this way and what’s “not supposed” to be that way…coupled with a resolute determination to never, ever, under any circumstances, entertain any inquiries into who or what is doing the supposing.
Businesses are supposed to have bathrooms based on feelings of gender identity. “According to whom?” is a rude question, unfit for polite discussion.
Apart from the above referenced hatred of humanity, what’s really dangerous about it is that they envision a validation from history for their ideas, that never was there. You can see this just by discussing things with them a few minutes, letting them monologue about it. They envision a halcyon era that existed before mankind, or when mankind was in too infantile of a state to have much of an effect on anything, in which things worked the way liberals want them to work now, and everything was wonderful. Then man came along and dorked it, so now it’s up to them to return us to normalcy because they & they alone have the smarts to do it. It’s rather like a twisted, Bizarro-world version of the expulsion from Eden. But, they didn’t get it from any sort of written Bible, they imagined it. That’s why I think it came from the environmental movement. They’re just living in a comfort zone, and during the environmental movement’s ascendency they became very comfortable with this. “‘We’ botched it all up, after it was all perfect and wonderful, before ‘we’ came along.” And liberals, of course, never, ever include themselves in that “we.”
Like it or not, the civilized world looks to the United States in times of need. Since World War II, we’ve been the protector of freedom, the superpower to stand against evil. We aren’t worthy of that trust anymore.
Barack Obama squandered America’s pinnacle position in world leadership through feckless moral equivalence and empty platitudes in the face of opportunity. The chance to lead, to rally the world against the evil of our time, has been flushed by a man who seems to believe the sins of our nation’s past are no different than the sins of those who murder in the name of their God.
“This is yet another reminder that the world must unite. We must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism.” Meaningless…Is the world not already united? Has it not been united against terror since 9/11? Since Paris – the first or second time? Since any and all terrorist attacks, beheadings, burning alive of prisoners? Aren’t we always united in opposing such actions?
That’s not the problem. The problem is, without American leadership, we’re also united in impotence when it comes to doing anything about it.
The problem here is not a lack of saber-rattling. Not necessarily, anyway. It’s a leadership problem. The head honcho is confronted with this job that has to get done, and He’s shown Himself over and over again to be obsessed with just doing the easy parts of it. The immediately-gratifying parts. Repeatedly. The part that has to do with making a “We Must Unite” speech and then reading in the papers about how He just gave the greatest speech in all of humankind. Again.
There’s more to it than that.
Europe, sad to say, is more far-gone than we are. Doug Giles has been noticing. Just like in the last century, they bear the responsibility for having created, or at the very least emboldened, an enemy from which we are going to have to one day liberate them. As the parent of an eighteen-year-old, I’m hopeful that there will be less spilled blood involved this time around. Somehow.
They take verbal abuse from Islam and then sit there in befuddled wonderment when Islam follows through with Brussels attacks while asking themselves, “What happened? I didn’t see that coming.” And I’m screaming at the TV, “Yes, you did see it coming! You just chose to view the Islamic invasion through your Hello Kitty, rose-colored glasses. The selfsame glasses the jihadist just ground to powder.”
What more does Islam have to do before Europe wakes the heck up?
Islam, like my buddy’s horrible little bride, tells Europe they hate them and they’re going to kill them and, yet, Europe doesn’t believe it’s going to happen; or they’re self-deceived to such a degree that they think they can talk them away from a malevolent worldview that does not include Europeans.
So, keep on living in denial, Europe. Keep blaming yourself. Keep telling yourself it’ll “get better”. Keep on cutting Islam slack and excusing their verbal abuse and see what happens. I predict it won’t end pretty.
Thing of it is, on both sides of the Atlantic radical Islam is not the actual problem. It’s more like a ritual challenge. There are always threats. Someone is always out to kill someone. The problem, on both sides of the Atlantic, is this: Our leaders are more concerned about looking like charismatic, inspiring, revolutionary figures ushering in new ages of HopeChangePeaceLove etc., that they’re not even paying lip service to the idea of performing merely adequately at their jobs. Which would start with doing all of the parts of those jobs, not just the fun, immediately gratifying parts.
It reminds me of what one of my bosses said, the one who was often accused of getting a rise out of firing people (and was likely guilty). “I don’t ask much of anything at all,” he said in one meeting, right after the termination that demoralized the workplace more than most of the others. “Just finish something.” This was, I think, one of the more profound, respectable things he had to say during his tenure as human woodchi– er, I mean director. It’s a truth, from which I notice a lot of supposedly accomplished people in technology tend to stray. Do all of a job. Getting part of it done is the same as getting none of it done.
In fact, one might reasonably graduate to the next level of bluntness-yet-truthiness, since a lot of people are missing out on what follows as well: If you only do the parts that makes you look wonderful and awesome, then move on to the next thing without achieving the basics, we would be accurate in postulating from that that you’re firing yourself. It connects to this main subject because if you read your history, you see this is the real problem; this is what made the twentieth century bloody. Guys wearing suits, speaking into microphones from behind lecterns, a bunch of nonsense about how This Is The Moment or This Is Our Time or some such…and then, going on to the next thing. Leaving the actual problem unaddressed and unsolved. You’re going to find that is the common precursor to the bloodlettings, lots of talking that never actually meant much of anything.
Well, Donald Trump has done it yet again. It’s pointless to call out which time he did it, or to argue that this latest example pushes him over some kind of edge, achieving some sort of status to be denied to all the other examples. Pointless to provide a link. Pointless to compare the number of times he did it on this day, compared to the number of times on that other day. Comes as naturally to the man as breathing.
He waxed eloquently about how superbly capable he is of meeting some challenge, or doing some thing, or thinking through some thing. Without showing a single sign of identifying what it is that has made him that way. Today he’s probably going to do it a few more times, and then next week he’ll do it some more.
Trump haters, on both the left and the right, are correct to criticize him for this. They are recalling from the Twenty things that are non-partisan, or darn well ought to be what could arguably be the most important one, Number Five:
If I must learn something new to meet my objective, I will have to admit that I don’t know it, in order to learn it.
I see some common ground shared between myself, and all sorts of different factions involved here. Let me dispense with the least comfortable first: I identify with what is called the “Republican establishment” in their criticism of Trump. Trump, who knows it all, bases seemingly every word of everything he has to say on this faulty premise that he’s the master and hasn’t got anything to learn — but, can’t or won’t speak of the circumstances under which he learned it. Certainly, I can’t relate to The Donald. In my less mature years, perhaps maybe I could have. But since then, I’ve noticed hubris is not something I need to stockpile. Others have had enough flattering things to say about my capabilities and intellect…and with each passing year, I cherish this less and less. I’m at the point it makes me uncomfortable. “Morgan’s a smart guy, he can handle it” so consistently seems to precede some sort of disaster.
So Trump and I are on different pathways in life. If that means our net worths will never come any closer together from here on out, well, so be it.
Did I say this common ground I shared with the Republican establishment was most uncomfortable? We-ell, about that: I wince in proxy embarrassment when I hear The Modern Left take their turn tearing into The Donald; they who have been holding up The Barack non-stop for all these years, as the “all-knowing, all-wise, and yet not a shred of curiosity to be found” savant. The Republican Establishment is, at least, somewhat consistent. At least they are, if you take what they have to say at face value. The Left criticizing Trump, on the other hand, paint themselves into a rather curious corner. They seem to be saying: Yes, accumulated wisdom correlates with curiosity and an admission that you need to learn things, if and only if we’re talking about the mortal plane. Which is most certainly not occupied by He Who Argues With The Dictionaries. President Lightworker gets a pass.
Obama, lest we forget, just did it too: “I’ve Made My Decision.” That is, I understand from a variety of sources, the subject line of the e-mail He sent out…to no one in particular. Seven years I’ve been spending, wondering when, or if, that “fear not, I have figured out what to do” shtick will ever get tired and I guess by now I have my answer. Someone’s lapping it up, cleaning the plate and demanding seconds. Let me guess the next part: I’m some kind of racist for noticing.
Yes, the 42 white guys who came before also made decisions. But I struggle to figure out which one did so without displaying a hint of curiosity. Yes that includes the immediate predecessor, you know, that dimbulb from Crawford, TX. In my lifetime, they all offered some nod to the truth that their knowledge fell short of the universal entirety. As well as, on occasion, to the conviction held by some of the people they governed, that the decision could’ve & should’ve gone the other way.
Not so with the earthbound, golf-addicted Oracle. Like the “Republican front-runner,” He strikes a perfect confluence between knowing everything, and showing curiosity about nothing.
I also identify with the Trump fans. I keep hearing how stupid they are for falling for all this stuff Trump says. After talking with them, I don’t see any sign of this whatsoever. They’re not taking it completely seriously. Nor do I see any sign from the man they’re following, that this is part of his intent. Which sets him apart from the above-discussed person who occupies the White House at the present time.
I’m afraid this is part of the times in which we currently live. And, God help us, will be for quite some time. Maybe we’re seeing what this thing we call “politics” really is. Perhaps this is the rule, what we lived through before — residual traces of humility, at least, in Eisenhower, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, some might say JFK and Johnson — was the exception.
Maybe this is politics in its “natural habitat.” How it’s done. Admission that the decision was made with even a routine and expected tincture of uncertainty, could be perceived by enemies as a weakness. And admission that there was anything left to be learned by the person who decided, would necessarily imply uncertainty. We can’t have that, so we have that “perfect confluence” instead. Over and over again, until we can’t take it any more, and then we get some more of it and so we’re forced to adapt to it as an unwelcome part of our routine, like a traffic jam. “Fear not, I’ve decided; I learn nothing yet I know everything.” It slaps us in the face until we don’t notice it anymore.
It does not impress me as a formula for likely success. I’ve worked in my share of infuriating bureaucracies just like anyone nominally experienced in tech industries. “The decision has been made, resistance is futile” is not a prelude to any sort of grand accomplishment. Or, a feeling of satisfaction. Or even that you are doing your work where you should be working. It is a warning siren, that however low morale is now, it is never going to get any higher and you should get ready for a nosedive. Because the dimbulbs are in charge.
It would be puerile of me to stoop so low as to insult their level of intellect, to call them “dummies” or “stupid” or something. And yet, I note, the question “but what makes them smart?” continues to hang, unanswered, in the air. If they aren’t curious about anything now, and never were before, then when did they ever learn anything? And why are the rest of us to presume they ever did?
This comes up a lot, in my career field. Someone wants to do something about the present fact…which over time has become something of a lingering fact…that very few out of the total number of science jobs, are held by women. And so this latest plan, or stunt, will be introduced with great fanfare. It makes for a lot of attention for those who seek it, but at the end of it all nothing changes very much.
Are the geeks like me keeping women out of the field? That is the idea you can see people would like to position ahead of a voice box, just before giving it some hot air so it can lunge out and achieve promotion to spoken thought. They seldom go this far because the thought wouldn’t last long. Keep women out of the field? What meeting was that? I must have missed it. And if I didn’t miss it, I sure as hell wouldn’t have voted yes. Shortening and brightening my work days, working alongside nice-looking intelligent women, like it seems ALL the other male working classes get to do…lawyers, architects, hospital workers, bureaucrats at City Hall, Hooters cooks. Nope, the software engineers just have to toil away endlessly, shoulder-to-shoulder with a bunch of other sweaty guys. Oh, we’re working hard to keep it that way, are we? Well that would be news to this one.
But you can tell the thought is there. In pieces like this one for example, which adheres to what has become a familiar journalistic pattern: Paragraph One mentions that males already in the field, are poorly behaved. Paragraph Two bludgeons the readers with some more statistics about the disparity. The link between these two things is for the reader to imagine.
Which I must admit, is beyond me. What could the link be? “‘I get called “honey” and “dear” a lot, too.’…women still hold only about 20% of all computer science jobs.” Does the first cause the second, or the second cause the first? Let’s see…woman lands a “science job,” gets called “honey” and “dear,” is traumatized, quits to go home and make babies. Or…women don’t hold many science jobs, so the guys in those jobs never actually see women and don’t know how to behave around them. Well that works a bit better. I must be one of the offenders, having occasionally used these terms. But, I make it a point only to do it around women I know fairly well, who I’m sure would not take it the wrong way. Which I have found is very often the case, most women don’t have a problem with it. Especially when you limit your selection to the women who have actually accomplished something that requires disciplined, scientific thinking.
We only have so much energy. Even upstairs between the ears, when we’re not doing anything physical, there is a finite number of “CPU cycles” in the gray matter within any given time interval. We can burn them off thinking about, is that an unintended infinite-loop, or is it a memory leak? Or we can waste them on being offended. But not both. It is highly unlikely anybody is going to do both.
I’d still suggest getting to know a female co-worker fairly well before calling her “honey.” If you have sufficient sanity about you to write some code that works, which is among the very first steps, you probably don’t need this advice.
But, back to the paucity of female practitioners in hard-science fields. It is a trend so durable, we should recognize the possibility that it is a comment from Mother Nature on the human condition. Maybe, just maybe, the chicks — generally — just don’t wanna. I said generally. You make such a remark in any sort of public setting, and the retort comes flying back at you at Mach One: Not so! This chick over here did such-and-such, and there isn’t a man alive who could do it better blah blah blah…yes, true. But this says a lot more about the handicaps of the retort-maker, than it says about men and women. The concern is about statistics. As in, averages. How’d you lose track of this so soon, retort-maker, we were just discussing it. Were you sleeping?
Reality is falling short of a goal, that the women in these fields should number in proportion to women in the general population. That is the concern. The question it inspires is: From whence did this goal come? Reality did not produce it; that’s why it is under indictment. But reality shouldn’t be. Reality never did or say anything to promise this.
I’ll answer the question. It came from the premise that men and women are exactly the same. Which is factually, provably wrong.
“What can we do to get more women into the STEM fields?” is something that illuminates, brilliantly and as few other things do, the yawning gap between bureaucratic thinking and reality. If there are some young girls who’d like to sharpen their skills, and they’re feeling somehow intimidated by whatever, then curing that would be a worthy goal for anyone. But after all the failed efforts to manage the girls in bulk like they’re cattle or something, reroute them around, culturally condition them, with so little to show for it, it’s time to see that as what it is: A problem that exists on a case by case basis. Even there, it is likely that the talking-heads have overestimated its effects, and not by just a little bit. There’s a great deal more going on to intimidate young girls away from becoming swimsuit models, or beauty pageant contestants, than from being STEMmers. Fact is there just isn’t that much social excoriation going on in these fields, because there’s not a lot going on socially in any direction. It’s an anti-social vocation. We get together out of necessity, only when it is absolutely necessary to get further work done, or when the bosses make us do it. These are called “meetings.” We hate them. Most of us do anyway. I’d venture to say the only people working in STEM fields who look forward to meetings, are the political-animal types, the ones whose favorite desktop computer application is the e-mail client. The ones who have to have the last word on all matters great and small. The ones who, if you look closely, aren’t really all that STEM-my.
And sadly, those are the ones who all too often become bosses. That’s when you know you’re working for a bureaucracy, and the priority of technological advancement has slipped a peg or two. When we hear about people who look good in suits and are good at talking into microphones, making their noise about “getting more women into the STEM fields,” we know it’s one of those tell-tale signs that the wrong people are in charge. That we’ve got twiddlers in charge. Those who can, do; those who can’t, make fancy speeches and twiddle with the rules constraining those who are doing. That’s best-case scenario. Worst-case is, we have insane people in charge. Because let’s face it, if technology is important, that means technology can alter the course of humanity for the better, just like your course is altered by someone extinguishing the fire that was consuming your house…and in a situation like that, if you’re all worried about whether the fireman has a penis or a vagina, you can legitimately be called a lot of different things but “sane” is not one of those things. Worry about the fire. That’s the job.
For example, the very people who support Planned Parenthood’s butchering and selling of baby body parts also advanced the disaster of Obamacare because they care for children. The same people who insist that “The Vagina Monologues” be permitted on college campuses also set up “safe zones” to restrict free speech because students must be protected from harmful ideas—like marriage being between a man and a woman. They outlaw incandescent light bulbs so we can use only toxic mercury because they care about polar bears and penguins with happy feet.
Around the country, progressive bullies have attacked Christians for daring to put their faith ahead of the pet causes of those who feign compassion while destroying life-giving liberties. What we are seeing is a scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners approach as the wildfire burns across our land. It is not enough that Christians be quiet. Christians must be silenced and punished.
There will be no going down the street to another florist, baker, pharmacist, venue operator, or photographer. Any who defy them are labeled bigots and driven to the fringes of society.
They will viciously attack those who disagree with them because they tire of the debate, which they never wanted to begin with. They have no interest in explaining or defending their beliefs. They want victory and know the only way to get it is to silence, isolate, and destroy any who get in their way. The progressive activists who yell bigot at those who disagree with them are the jihadists of American culture.
The column is adapted from the book You Will Be Made to Care.
I’ve been noticing this thing about liberals tiring of a debate, which they may have started, but never wanted. Been noticing it awhile. Somewhere I made the point that a lot of people — wasn’t thinking of them as liberals, it was just a general observation — tend to forget the first rule of winning arguments: To get there, somewhere along the line you have to do some actual arguing. That’s, like, the first step. Veggies before dessert. We’ve lately got a lot of people living among us who want to skip to the fun part.
And yeah, come to think of it a lot of them do tend to be liberals.
“Though liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view.” — William F. Buckley, Jr.
“I don’t want to start an argument or anything, but…” What a nice sentiment. If disagreement ensues, it must be the other person’s fault. Can’t we all just get along?
I can only think of two examples. But two is enough…
The missus had the idiot-box tuned to one of those shows liberals just love. It doesn’t matter which one. But I was noticing the male action hero somehow got away with doing a very un-liberal thing, namely, telling his female co-star something like “Stay right here, don’t go anywhere or do anything until I get back.” The other example would be Jack Bauer beating a terrorist senseless until he can find out where the ticking time bombs are…
It’s interesting. It would be healthy if it relied on a decent and crisp separation between fact and fiction. In a way, it does. But there’s something insincere about it as well. These people we today call “liberals” are the way they are, because we’re going through a cultural conflict. They’re intruding into an established culture, with a new culture they’d like to impose. “Conservatives” are any people who do something to resist this incursion. This new, enlightened culture says men should not address women in any manner or tone except for the most-deferential; to do otherwise is uncool, anywhere, inside or outside of the teevee set. And that goes double for pummeling terrorists to get information, of course. Their message is not one of “that’s only cool in make-believe, real-life people shouldn’t do that”; their message is that this is BadThink. It’s part of the thought-smallpox we’re supposed to make extinct, right?
The two examples — there may be more — dislodge a telling fig leaf. They reveal a meaningful truth, that liberals and conservatives don’t actually disagree about what’s cool. The disagreement is in whether ordinary people are worthy. Kinda gets back to what I was noticing about their newest, Trump-defense campaign slogan: “America is already great.” You don’t know what that actually means, any better than I do. Does that mean, sometime since their guy got sworn in seven years ago, America crossed some threshold and became “great,” rather like the sun crossing the celestial equator and starting Spring officially? Because the liberal catechism sure as hell doesn’t smile on the idea that America was “already great” in 2009. So, when exactly was this crossover-point, this vernal equinox? Where is the enthused, self-identifying liberal who will comment on that?
Again: Without the “ordinary people aren’t worthy” idea tossed into the mix, there’s an irreconcilable contradiction. And with that emulsifier added, things align, sort out, start working. But this would mean “America is already great” really means, “America hasn’t got any business aspiring to be any greater.”
Pay all your bills, fund your retirement AND save for your kids’ college funds? No peasant, you must choose. Let Sweden and Guatemala have a shot at that first. America has been “great” too long. Am I interpreting unfairly? Because this makes everything work. Jack Bauer is cool when he does what’s needed to stop the bomb plot, but that’s him, you just squirm appropriately while your liberal wife yells at you, Hillary/Bill style.
It also fits into another observation I made awhile ago. There is some sort of licensing process, or criteria at least. Certain people, the aforementioned current President and His wife among them, are permitted by the liberal intelligentsia to imagine themselves doing extraordinary things, to aspire to these things. They are encouraged to do this, applauded for doing this, for merely having the thought, or enabling the thought. Others are not, and the difference doesn’t have as much to do with ideological leanings as it does with social proximity.
It’s a phobia. If you live next door to a liberal, socialize with the liberal, occupy the same economic bracket as the liberal, and then you earn a promotion at work then this creates pressure on the liberal. If this stuff we today call “liberalism” is any one thing at all, it is the avoidance of pressure. Don’t wanna, that’s too hard, what about the rest of us who didn’t bother. Who’s going to provide the worm to the bird who didn’t want to get up early? We need a program…
President Obama, along with others in the same mold, can be a “transforming figure” because He is not a peer.
And this is a division that has endured between liberals and conservatives, since before America’s Civil War. The idea that certain types of people are just certain types of pegs, that fit into certain types of holes. In other words, remember your place. And stick to it. We are supposed to think of women this way, men are supposed to go over there and stay out of the way, let’s have a gay guy do this, the President should be black, and now that He is nothing He does matters unless it can be put in a positive light…doing what needs to be done is for Jack Bauer, you and I are just supposed to go to work, if we do have work, and spend as much of the day as we can in the stall so we can get paid to poop. College kids have these jobs, non-college kids have those jobs.
As opposed to: No, anybody can do anything. The only limit is you.
Vodkapundit, which is Stephen Green:
Last December my newly minted ten-year-old got a Swiss Army knife for his birthday — an Explorer much like my first.
It’s a rite of passage, and an important one I think, for your children to earn their first knife and to learn its proper use and care. Unless your children are anything like these kids:
California State University at Long Beach on Thursday said that it has taken seriously an incident in which a faculty member saw a student with a small knife, in class, and asked him to leave and notified authorities. On social media, the incident was described by some as a threat by the student against a black female student in a class on gender and race issues. Many on social media have questioned why Cal State didn’t alert the campus to danger or take further action against the student. The university statement does not reference many of the details claimed on social media. But the university says that the incident remains under investigation by campus and local officials, and that a threat assessment determined no immediate threat.
Back in my university days…if a professor had asked for a show of hands for who was carrying a pocketknife, some men (typically but not exclusively men) would raise their hands. Some wouldn’t. But the point is that nobody would have really thought much of it one way or the other. I’d even be willing to wager that in some parts of the country, a man might feel a small bit of shame if he’d forgotten to grab his knife that morning. I know I feel naked without one — and next-to-useless, too, if I find I need one and it isn’t there.
I prefer my Skeletool, with the belt clip. Sheaths, both leather and nylon, have failed me repeatedly and I find them unworthy of the tool itself, which is insanely well-engineered. Oh, but we want safety, do we? Well…the pliers probably saved the fingers of the purchasing & requisitions lady who I rescued at 6 in the morning one day, as she struggled to pry the paper detritus from a business-sized shredding machine that couldn’t be unplugged from the wall.
Which is a point I see not discussed too much. In this balance between perfectly-ready and perfectly-safe, we presume these are always opposite goals. It isn’t so. A lot of the time in life, being ready brings its own safety benefits. In fact that’s most of the time. When people have to get something done and they’re forced by “safety” rules to be unready, they start…improvising…
The other point I see not being raised as often as it should, is this passive-voice notion of “…described by some as a threat by the student against…” You’ll notice that is the entirety of the stated danger. Someone said. Someone posted on Facebook. Someone saw it as. “Many on social media have questioned why Cal State didn’t alert the campus to danger or take further action…” As is the case with all passive-voice statements, the question lingers: Who?
See, when people say “it’s a threat when someone else has something that could be used as a weapon,” what they’re really saying is “you should feel threatened when I have something that could be used as a weapon.” They’re saying people shouldn’t rely on the value others place on human life, which is the foundation of any civilized society; they’re saying they don’t believe in civilized society. They’re projecting their lack of community feeling, onto others.
When they hallucinate about people with guns on a subway, suddenly turning that setting into a bloodbath, what they’re saying is that they have the untested impulses to do something like this. They’re saying they come from a place where people are not to be trusted.
This is a bit like the underwriter at a bank, being responsible for approving loans for which he himself would never qualify. And then, because of that, denying them all. Nope! I can’t be trusted to pay back a loan, so that means nobody else should either.
So for the safety of us all, it would be a good idea to track down these people who so-described and so-questioned, and find out who they are. Perhaps we’re all in danger with them walking around free like that. If it saves one child’s life then it’s certainly worth it…right?
By way of Gerard.
…or, how to destroy modern-liberalism once and for all. I haven’t got all the answers yet, and what I do have no doubt has been gathered by others who are more eloquent at describing it. Nevertheless, it occurs to me someone should be putting this all together in one place. People do make observations about liberals a lot. But I don’t often see these things put together into a strategy to actually solve the problem.
1. There is an intelligence within the liberal movement, manifesting itself through its competence, taking on the responsibility of adjusting the agenda between election cycles. Let us call this the “scheming elites,” since the slickness through which it self-coordinates suggests limited size, and the content of its strategy shows that it does not share all interests with the constituencies upon whose support it depends.
2. There is a demonstrated ignorance within the movement as well, a bloated, voluminous, sprawling ignorance. The argument of: “If democrats win elections when there is economic desperation, they must have an incentive to preserve and create such desperation” is so simple, and irrefutable. When liberals fail to understand it, the only possible explanation is that a cosmetic lack of understanding must be the only method of refutation available to them. This fits in well with other observations made about liberals who fail to understand things: They get emotionally invested in wrong things, and when a logical point is made by someone that exposes the wrongness, they have to do something to disrupt the discussion, to avoid learning logically sound, but contraband, things. We could call this the “ignorant commons.”
3. The liberal movement consists, in large part, of a sustained monologue taking place FROM the scheming elites TO the ignorant commons, with zero feedback, very much like the power structure among the aristocracy and the peasants in feudal times. A great portion of this monologue, measured either in volume or in priority, is concerned with instructions about how the ignorant-commons should do their living, their communicating, their thinking. The instructions run long on “do this, don’t do that” and run short on hard, helpful information. Passive-voice sentences appear very often in the message stream. And these are things the scheming-elites would never, ever practice themselves. Examples abound.
4. One of these examples would be the elevation of emotion above reason. We know this must be part of what the scheming-elites would have the ignorant-commons continue to practice, and yet would never practice themselves, because this emotion-over-reason configuration is so intrusive and so persistent that its practice blocks self-improvement. We know this because Obama voters managed to — chose to — re-elect Obama. This is a choice not to learn from experience. The scheming-elites, meanwhile, figured out they had been in error directing their political resources away from the legalization of gay marriage, and so they self-corrected. This proves a differential between these two halves, about how a thinking and acting person must conduct himself. If the preservation of this differential is key to the enemy’s continuing survival, it logically follows that the destruction of this differential is key to his defeat.
5. The ignorant-commons consistently fail to distinguish between statements about facts, versus statements about what facts might mean. Put more simply, they can’t think. Examples include emotionally unhinged sentiments of conclusion that purport to be statements of fact, such as “Health care should be a right and that’s a fact,” or “Education must be free and that’s a fact.” This makes it easy for the scheming-elites to program the ignorant-commons to have certain opinions; they say, “get the facts” about this-or-that. The ignorant-commons then obey, get told what to think, and with this emotion-over-reason juxtaposition in place, proceed to “feel” like they know something. From that feeling, they get a sort of a hit, like a hardcore junkie. It’s their soma.
6. There is also a hostility against any sort of exceptional thinking, I’ve noticed. It’s the sort of thing you might see more often in a middle or high school setting. If a functional adult sees that a brush fire is about to start, it doesn’t matter if a lot of other people can see it as well; urgent action is required. To an emotionally-invested liberal, like to a seventh-grader, nothing is worth noticing if it hasn’t achieved “everybody knows” status. “Nobody thinks that” is a legitimate rebuttal, even against observations that, once measured objectively and in good faith, would be undeniable. One of the things that distinguishes liberals from conservatives is faith in one’s own ability to validate. A conservative believes himself capable of seeing conflicts between contradictory statements, repeatedly, and eventually from that judging the true state of things. A liberal doesn’t even try. So a conservative, forced to choose, will value the ability to think logically over a repository of verified & verifiable information, whereas the liberal will not, because the conservative can see one can be made from the other with just a bit of work.
7. The potential weakness of the movement, leading to its eventual defeat, is to sever the link between the scheming-elites and the ignorant-commons; somehow, disrupt the flow of information through that pipeline. What would make that easy is that the connection relies on an implicit trust, and the truth of the matter is that this trust is unearned, since the scheming-elites favor policies that hurt the ignorant-commons. In short, the objective is to expose the elites, as parasites. What makes it difficult is that the ranks of the ignorant-commons are constantly replenished, by way of youth reaching majority age. In order to defeat the enemy, such an enlightenment would have to achieve an attrition rate that exceeds the rate of replenishment.
It all depends on what youngsters, marching up to and teetering on the brink of adulthood, manage to learn before arriving at that brink. Modern liberalism has achieved success because it’s taken control of what we today erroneously call “education.” They’ve managed to turn it into a process of emotional investments in emotional investments. Today we’re fighting a problem that has been allowed to mature and grow. It is a Death Star of bureaucratic, passive, “hope the bosses do things to help me” thinking.
But every Death Star has an exhaust port.
Related: Dice explains where this is all going if the small photon torpedo doesn’t find its mark.
I was impressed by a gentleman this morning, who actually is not impressive and is very far from being a gentleman…
He had met up with the “Aisle Nine Disappointment.” The bank of four self-cash-out machines is positioned in such a way that there is no room for a line of people, so the line forms up Aisle Nine. Several times a minute, therefore, a customer in a hurry descends upon the machines under the impression that there is no waiting to be had. And then one from a variety of experiences falls upon him, with the outcome being that he learns there is, indeed, a line. And often that he’s guilty of being a cutter. These experiences have all happened to me at some time or another.
They fall into two major classifications: You figure out the unpleasant truth yourself, or someone has to tell you. Civilized people think little of this. It means two or three minutes more waiting, when you’ve already been inside the better part of an hour.
This fellow’s face reflected genuine surprise, and then contorted into rage. Gave his cart (2 or 3 items) a mighty shove, and walked off in the opposite direction. My vantage point was from within the line, so it looks like, once again, I have aroused anger in someone by existing in this universe. When will I ever learn? No seriously — where, I must wonder, would people like this choose to direct their rage?
I am not free of rage myself. I have been quite unhinged on occasion. At my worst, the target of ire is some inanimate object. I’m not proud of this. I hope at my funeral, someone sees fit to immortalize something else about me. But I do have this to offer in my defense: The target is there. There is one. From the target of ire, there is at least an implied goal, and from that, at least an implied plan. Something to do with destruction, replacement, or both of those things.
What is the implied plan, with turning your shopping receptacle into a projectile, possibly hurting someone? Someone is supposed to notice you’re upset? Who? For an explanation, all I can think of is a chemical imbalance in the brain, or poor upbringing. It’s not just him. Something is just a bit off today. One of these days, I need to learn to do my shopping here when the professionals do it; seems when they’re there, I have a lot of trouble parking, but when everybody else is there I have problems with everything else. People don’t understand what they’re there to get, which is excusable, but they also don’t seem to understand how to move around other people. Which is not. C’mon, you’re not five anymore. High traffic areas, low traffic areas, these things are not the same. You need to check your bearings, figure out what’s next on your list, have a quick conference with your spouse…where do you do that? In the way, or out of the way? You should have to pass a test like this before being allowed entrance.
Perhaps that is what escalated the agitation level in the “gentleman” who made this impression on me. Several minutes of that. Still, that’s no excuse.
Here’s the fascinating part. I would bet good money that this is an Obama voter. But there’s no use heading over to Social Media to say so, it would just start needless arguments, butt hurt, and a LOT of rebuttal. That’s the advantage of having taken the time to argue with liberals, you learn things. And the fascinating part is, Obama voters, while being seen in this light by normal people, look at normal people this way too. No really. They think when normal people think about high taxes the way normal people think about high taxes — high, therefore questionable at least, and certainly very taxing — we’re being the asshole who gives a cart a mighty shove, thereby contributing to the congestion problem that he is simultaneously announcing to the world is too much for him to tolerate. They think that guy is us. You hear them say so all the time. Who among us has not heard the endless litanies about how we have to have a tax system so we can pay for police departments, fire departments, park benches, et al. They’re so cute when they work so hard to avoid saying anything good about the military. Also, traffic lights are like this. Part of the price we have to pay to live in a civilized society is that we have to follow rules, much like stopping for a red light and waiting for it to turn green. Yes, that must be the problem. I’m opposed to more public debt because I’m a red-light runner.
I’ve heard this many times. I can re-type it with my eyes closed. Yes, take it from me. Leftists see real-people, as just more specimens just like the shopping-cart asshole. They don’t show any signs of understanding why we see them that way. The ignorance may be genuine.
Yesterday I had made the point, as I had made it before,
Liberals should not summarize the viewpoints of their opposition on behalf of their opposition, because liberals don’t understand their own opposition. They’re proud of not knowing.
And what motivates their opposition is,
What exactly does conservatism seek to conserve? Civilization, the blessings that come from having it, and the definitions that make civilization possible. From what does liberalism seek to liberate us? Those things — starting with the definitions.
The definitions that make civilization possible include, but are not limited to…waiting in line. Shopping-cart-asshole is their dude, whether they realize it or not. In fact, so are the people who run red lights. All those who doubt this, allow the liberals to wander away from this issue and bloviate about something else for awhile. The pattern will soon set in and it won’t often be disrupted to any extent: Where there is a definition, they want to kill it, especially if it is a definition upon which civilized society depends.
Profits go to people and businesses that are most productive. That, too, is a definition upon which society depends. They’re none to fond of it. Who’s going to give the worm to the bird who doesn’t particularly feel like getting out of bed too early? Not — from where should the worm come. Just — where’s the program. More worms would keep the society going. More programs bring it to a stop. So the stencil-selection involved in their aggravated curiosity is most telling.
I think they’re rushing to get the talking point out, about “You just don’t like taxes because you’re a stranger to the concept of following rules,” because it helps to conceal a truth that has become evident to all serious observers, even the most casual ones: The Left is burdened with a far greater saturation of these shopping-cart-shoving assholes who don’t want to take turns. I mentioned up above somewhere about an ignorance they show, that is likely sincere? They have one that’s insincere: They pretend not to understand that high profits are what make our society go. Some of them pretend that they’re keen on some obscure bit of wisdom, that eludes us slope-foreheaded people who can’t see the brilliant inventor in clock boy, or the woman in Caitlyn Jenner. But that’s all fake. It’s bluster; they don’t even have the beginnings of an idea of what that obscure bit of wisdom would be.
The “I need a program” part is genuine. The “taxes, not profits, are what make society go” is crap. That comes from just saying whatever you have to say to get what you want.
Occasional reader/commenter Nate sent along, in the e-mails, an article about, and written by, a lefty-inclined person who’s starting to see the light.
I will always believe in “The Revolution”. But I am becoming very frustrated with modern “activist” culture.
First of all, I’m tired of watching people turn into pretentious assholes who think their activism makes them better than everyone else, even those oppressed and marginalized groups with whom they claim “allyship”.
It’s got some funny parts in it, which aren’t intentional unless this is supposed to be parody. A possibility I can’t dismiss right away. “Allyship”?
They talk about listening, being humble, questioning one’s preconceived notions about other people and hearing their lived experiences…and yet ignore the lived experiences of those who don’t speak or think properly in the view of university-educated social justice warriors, regardless of how much worse off they really are. That is not to say that we should accept bigotry in any form – far from it. But I would go as far as saying that the politically correct mafia on the left perpetuates a form of bigotry on its own because it alienates and “otherizes” those who do not share their ways of thinking and speaking about the world.
Something tells me the cupcake could’ve saved herself a lot of time and trouble, merely by listening to a conservative once in a while and taking what he or she had to say, at least somewhat seriously. The essay reads like “no freakin’ duh.”
But, back to breaking these rules that keep society together, the running of the red lights, the shoving of shopping carts; lefties think normal people are doing that and normal people think it’s the lefties doing that. Each side thinks it’s the other side that can’t take turns. How to resolve the impasse?
Me, a few months back:
You can’t reliably, or regularly, generate good results when you do this preening. Because those who preen are not predisposed to improve, to repair flaws. To do that, you have to 1) hang around to see how the Awesome Wonderful Grand Plan works, 2) find some flaws and 3) be honest, with yourself first of all, that the flaws are there. That gets in the way of The Preen.
Which means, ultimately, that The Preen has to get in the way of improvement. Any improvement. All learning…
I have had the idea germinating in my head that the preens that do the most harm, are limited in number. I worked this over a bit, masticating it between the molars of my mind, and came up with…in the current troubled times in which we live…seven. Huh. Interesting. Just like the deadly sins from Paradise Lost. Also, the castaways in Gilligan’s Island. What is it with that number seven?
Well, maybe with some more thought put into it, I’ll be seeing the number change. But for now…
Special Needs Preen
What these all have in common with each other, is that the person preening has embraced an urgent need to get some communicating done, without offering any sort of opportunity to actually exchange ideas or information. The narrative is all set. The audience is supposed to react the way the script-in-his-head says, and if that doesn’t happen…well, I was just talking about that, wasn’t I. Conflict ensues, and it’s all the fault of everybody else.
I think you’d have to have been living in a cave, to require any sort of introduction of the first one. The narrative is that the planet is on its last legs — because of “us.” The preener is entirely innocent of this planetary destruction, or if he is not then he is at least aware of his guilt, which is the same as not having any. And then there are these poopy heads who doubt the message. “Skeptics,” they’re called. So the green-preener toils away, like Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the mountain in the underworld, to get the message out so the planet can be saved. This would necessarily involve the skeptics no longer being skeptics. But nobody’s really sure how that is to be done. Also, if it happened, you have the “dog caught the car” thing happening there, the preener wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to do. Conflict is essential to the exercise. There have to be some BadPeople making BadFeelz with their BadThinking. Can’t have drama without a villain.
Now the Gelding Preen is a special case, a kind of “negative preen.” He does not seek upward social mobility by saying the right things. Rather, he seeks to avoid social deterioration by distancing himself from the wrong things. It happens in office environments. And it starts out with the right intentions; we’re all there giving up a third of our day, so we can make an honest living, and that means everyone is deserving of some measure of respect. Also, nobody should be doing anything to make the day unnecessarily longer. Human decency: If we’re all stuck in an elevator car together, don’t take a shit. The problem is when the definition of “shit” is broadened to include any & all male-associated actions and characteristics. In much of what we regard as civilized society, it’s happened already.
If you’re a man who works in an office and you speak with a voice pitch that is much higher than what’s comfortable, you’re part of the problem. Yes, it’s unthinkable that we should run around talking in natural voice inflections, an octave or two below middle C if that’s what comes naturally to the male voicebox. And it’s horrifying that we should have pictures of Sports Illustrated swimsuit models on our work computers. But why? It’s these “evolving standards” that are cocked up here.
The Pantsuit Preen is the opposite of the Gelding Preen. This is, women seeking to elevate their social status by not appearing to be women. Maybe they cut their hair short. Again with the questions: Why? More importantly, who? As in, who likes this? Whoever that is, that’s the one with the real problem. Women are women, it’s just a fact. Women wear skirts and dresses. They look good wearing these things, and men don’t. And if your skepticism doesn’t completely ping off the charts when you see a woman wearing a pantsuit all of the time, you just haven’t been paying attention to what’s been going on lately and can’t see the calling cards. Same way it’s a fact that a man is a man, it’s also a fact that a woman is a woman. When did this become something we have to pretend is not true? What slipped? Who’s responsible? There’s the problem, those who are responsible won’t say. They just keep contributing — anonymously — to the problem.
The Guilty-White Preen is responsible for all sorts of misery upon us. And it has recently shifted into high gear with all this business about “check[ing] your privilege.” It doesn’t stop there. All sorts of “Those People” conversations begin, and end, with a whole lot of hand-wringing about the plight of “those people,” and what sort of rigging of the system has to be done to get them back where “they” belong. But so seldom are the shenanigans ever designed by anyone with the slightest intention of living among “those people.”
There is a strange sort of dirty earnestness about the Guilty-White Preen. Its narrative aligns with reality, if only temporarily, when its adherents recognize that fate has blessed them with advantages they don’t deserve. But it seems to go flying over their heads that fate has also burdened them with a challenge, along with an opportunity, to prove themselves worthy. They become self-fulfilling prophesies, blinded by their own unearned advantages from ever seeing the good side of anything. Example: A Republican President makes the case that military action is required, over here, for these reasons…the preener immediately expunges as even a remote possibility, that the President could be arguing for this action in good faith. No can do. Suddenly, it’s all “he lied to get us into an illegal/unjust war BushCheneyHitlerHalliburton.” It is almost as if they know their privileged upbringing has imbued them with a lifelong, unsupported skepticism against the necessity of any chore. Someone needs to take out the garbage? I doubt it! Prove it! That’s anti-war activism in a nutshell: A dirty job that has to be done? I never saw anything like that when I was a kid. There must not be any such thing.
The Gadget Preen is unique in this list because, apart from the Gelding Preen, it is the only one that is resolutely apathetic against the details of any issue. This type of preener glides above it all, preferring not to get bogged down in the pros and cons of Quantitative Easing. Why should he bother? He already knows everything. He has an iPhone!
Not to be confused with the Egghead Preen, which is best thought-of as an almost-scientific study into how to make the most consistently wrong decisions, with the greatest confidence. It is truly frustrating when you see someone pushing an idea so wrong, that you just know it wouldn’t have held any appeal for them if they weren’t in such a hurry to show their smarts. Always always always, there is some morsel to their thinking, some 180-degree hairpin-turn, away from some slothful inept status-quo idea that had consumed the attention of us slope-foreheaded morons before the egghead came along and showered his enlightened thinking upon us. And what a good thing for us that he did!
Our current President has become rather enslaved to this sort of thinking. It’s embarrassing to watch Him in action, after awhile. Thought exercise: Wait for the next time He tells us “we can’t” do something, and imagine yourself as the guy who — according to His narrative — had been previously intellectually incapable of processing this. Imagine yourself saying “Aw gee, because that was like my plan and stuff.” We can’t turn against each other. Guess I’ll have to throw out my caveman plan, of us all turning against each other. Ditto for my plan to wait for Congress (which the Caveman’s Constitution says you’re actually supposed to do), also I wanted to become numb to school shootings…and, defund ObamaCare. Me am to want to pass on to me cave kids a bill they can’t pay. Me am to want to be a bystander to bigotry. Me am to drill meself to lower gas prices.
President Obama is supposed to be, if nothing else, original, creative, fun to watch, entertaining. If you’re a one-trick pony, you’d better know the trick. I’m not sure this pony does. What do I miss, exactly, if I miss the latest Obama speech? Someone please tell me. Each one is pretty much interchangeable with all the others, at this point, right?
A common mistake I see the Egghead Preeners making, is to confuse a point about increments on a spectrum between the endpoints, as license to conflate the two diametrically-opposed endpoints with each other. I will support that with an example. I could choose from several. The first that comes to mind is Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction, to which I made a casual reference already. After this had become a pressing issue, John Kerry ran against George W. Bush for the presidency, as a challenger, on an unofficial platform that he had the intellectual fortitude, the “nuance,” that the Crawford Dimbulb was lacking. “He thinks in shades of gray” was one meme that took on a life of its own, as I recall. It is certainly true that there were shades-of-gray involved in the hypothesis that “Saddam Hussein has WMDs.” Somehow, this metastasized into something like: We need to start thinking of this guy as a victim, even though our intelligence and common sense tell us he’s dangerous, and might even be up to something. After all, if you can’t trust Michael Moore then who can you trust? Another example: Socialism. One of my Facebook friends, inclined toward the lefty-leaning side of things, a few hours ago said
The one thing that defines a socialist at their core is that they nationalize private industry. If they don[‘]t do that then they are not socialists. Period.
Yes, it’s another tired debate about Hitler being a left-winger or a right-winger. Isn’t it odd? Certain things, like socialism, are to be defined as narrowly as possible. Other things, like “lied to get us into an illegal/unjust war” as mentioned above, are to be defined very broadly. Well that’s the thing about definitions: You have to do it with some consistency, or else there’s no point to even bothering with the exercise. If people have to keep running back to you to say “Are we interpreting this the right way? Are we interpreting that the right way?” — then you haven’t defined anything at all.
And the difference between confiscating someone’s business by way of “nationalization,” versus letting them keep it but dictating to them exactly how they’re supposed to run it, is more a distinction than a true difference. It’s like the difference between feeding your neighbor’s dog steak laced with arsenic, or just shooting it. And that’s the funny thing about eggheads. They’re so eager to show how smart they are, that they forget the basics. They see different things as the same, and they see functionally identical things, as somehow, inexplicably, different. This defeats whatever advantages their eggheaded-ness might have brought. To mix my tortured metaphors a bit more, under the “in for a penny, in for a pound” rule: Who cares how powerful your mighty engine is, if your tires won’t grip the pavement?
But the Special Needs Preen is the most toxic out of all seven. Anytime you’re dealing with an argument that so-and-so must have some sort of advantage not available to the general population, and the rationale is that so-and-so doesn’t have something else or can’t do something else…you’re dealing with this.
Some people make the point that we have to do everything they want, and nothing anybody else wants, and the reason for this is that they can’t handle their own emotions. Yes that is absurd. Offensive, even. But they get away with it. When they do, it reflects poorly on all of us.
Others try to mix their special needs preening with their guilty-white privilege preening, and paint themselves into the risible corner of arguing that we have to make everything equal-equal-equal, and at the same time, preserve for them (or their targeted sympathy-class) some special privileges, to prove how committed we are to making everything equal-equal-equal.
Others provide documentation “proving” their kids have real-or-imagined “learning disabilities.” Some of these parents act like normal parents, insisting that their disabled children be given as normal a life as possible. You will often find these kids have real disabilities. For if they didn’t, surely such parents would not be conjuring up wild tales about disabilities that don’t exist. But other parents want their children to be sheltered. I just cringe when I see them doing this; it’s as if they’re embarrassing me, and not themselves. They saturate the very air around them with all these wild tales about their kids’ handicaps…but when the time comes to define what exactly these handicaps are, suddenly there are no details to be found. And of course it is improper to ask…somehow.
These people are mired in a personal vendetta against human potential. They’re against it. They, like all the above, reflect poorly on the rest of us. Or at least, I think they do. I think, maybe, if it became the rule rather than the exception for others to ask these contraband questions…
Oh, so you’re failing the class because your professor is so mean? Does the professor have any other students in his class? Are they all failing too?
Oh, so you got a bad employee review because your boss is unreasonable and a jerk? Does your boss have any other employees? What kind of reviews did they get?
Oh, so you can’t get to work on time because you live really far away? Are there any other employees of this company who live in that area? Are they chronically late too?
…things would be different. I think even the casual reader can pick up the gist. This is a conflict between two opposite mentalities.
One mentality says, “If it’s a problem for any one person to get it done somewhere, that it’s unrealistic to expect anyone else to get it done, anywhere.”
The other mentality says “If any one person can get it done, anywhere, then that means everybody has the opportunity to do it, and everywhere.”
The second mentality is more difficult because it brings with it the weight of some obligations: You have to look toward people who getting things done that you’re not getting done yet, and then you have to have the courage to learn. The first one is easier, because of this. But that doesn’t mean it is natural. It is actually the more onerous of the two opposite mindsets, that is the natural one. We are built, down to the individual strands of our DNA, to look to people who are stronger than we are, and learn from their superior example.
The obstacle is just this: It takes balls. That’s all. You have to have courage. It takes a lot of courage to be a “hero,” to be sure. But it takes a lot more courage and balls to find a hero, recognize that he is a hero, treat him as a hero, recognize you have something to learn, ways to improve…and start going to town on it. It isn’t easy, nobody ever said it was. But that is how we improve. And improving is how we survive.
Astute readers will observe that I have come full-circle, I have carried you back to the very first paragraph at the top of this post. Preening looks, at first glance, like a token payment with which we have to contend to continue living in a civilized society. Like a bridge toll or something. That is not what preening is. Preening is acceptance of everything that kills us, and a rejection of everything that nourishes us and protects us. Preening is anti-life. It is pro-death.
But that’s heady talk for a Saturday night, so I’m going to commit this to the ether and slap some steaks on the grill. No, I don’t give a good jolly fuck what anybody thinks of it.
These days I’m getting e-mails quite regularly from the democrats, about the scary guys the Republicans are about to run for President. If I don’t want that to happen I’d better send in some money! But what’s fascinating to me is they so often avoid mentioning what exactly would be wrong with a President Trump, President Rubio, President Cruz…compared to Hillary and Bernie, the two they’re trying to sell.
So it’s finally happened. They’re going with the “Skip the details, we’ll stick with mockery and ridicule for you if you don’t do what we want” technique — on their own supporters. Chip in the cash. Or we’ll make fun of you for being a racist/bigot/chauvinist/homophobe/retrosexual whatever…
It’s odd. Voters have long had a revulsion against political sloganeering that is invested too heavily in “Here’s what’s wrong with that OTHER guy…” Of course, if the voters voted as if that revulsion mattered, politicians and their public-relations arms would very quickly stop using that angle, and that’s not what we’re seeing happening at all. So it’s an ineffectual revulsion. But it’s still there. People talk about it often, and they’re not just making up stuff about it, or about their very sincere dislike. And their worry over it, that if there were positive attributes found in the candidate being sold they’d be hearing about them, so there must not be any; that is sincere too. The democrats must realize this.
And here they are going full tilt. And…failing to deliver on what people didn’t want anyway. “Forget about why you should vote for Hillary or Bernie, we’d rather talk about what’s wrong with those other guys! Except we won’t.” They claim to be “science”‘s BFFs. How strong can one’s tethering to reality remain, over time, when everything worth saying falls short of worthiness of actually being said? When every little observation made, isn’t made at all? When all communication is reduced to winks, nods, rib-elbowing, “ya know”?
Surely they must realize this is not good for them. Perhaps they have taken my advice.
What is liberalism, anyway? The question has been debated and debated around here, and other places too. No, you can’t just go look it up in a dictionary and believe the “experts.” It’s an impossible question to answer until such time as one establishes the level at which one is attempting to define the word. Are we talking about achievement, or effort? Are we talking about political ideology, value systems, or just base human impulses?
If we do consult the experts, are we going to be careful to purge their ranks of any liberals before we put our faith in them? We should. Liberals have a habit of defining liberalism according to what their opponents believe, and if there is any brand of ignorance on the planet more pervasive and eminent than any other, it is the ignorance liberals have about what motivates their opposition. They don’t have a clue as to what motivates conservatives. And they’re proud of not having a clue. So we shouldn’t believe what liberals have to say about what liberalism is. They don’t know a great deal about that either.
Later I elaborated…
Liberalism is an addiction. You don’t ask an addict for his opinion about what his addiction is, or is not. You don’t ask a liberal what conservatives think. The ignorance liberals have about their opposition is a special kind of ignorance. They don’t know, they’re proud of not knowing. They don’t care to learn. They’re proud of not caring.
I dusted this off recently in a comment:
Liberals should not summarize the viewpoints of their opposition on behalf of their opposition, because liberals don’t understand their own opposition. They’re proud of not knowing.
It is a mental enfeeblement…We do not allow alcoholics to define for the rest of us what alcoholism is.
It is the ideology of the failed. When we pay attention to what’s going on in our political system and seek to form solid and qualified opinions about what’s happening and what we should do about it, we are confronted with a very specific set of challenges. We are challenged to elevate reason above emotion. Also, to think over a longer term of time. And, to do as much for the public good as we can, while burning away as little freedom as possible.
This stuff we today call “liberalism” is a grab bag of ill-advised actions, and some epithets, packaged up for presentation to an audience of opinionateds who have failed these challenges. All of them. “Blah blah blah…should be free!” Or “Is a right! Darn it!” And “You’re a bigot, and a sexist and a homophobe.” No seriously, that’s their entire inventory after you get done with “illegal/unjust war.” It’s just a huge smörgåsbord of unmeasurable, unverifiable “shoulds.” Fifteen an hour! Or me and my friends will get all stomp-footy. Ban these guns! We’ve decided there’s no use for them, even though we’ve never owned guns and never will.
Raise that guy’s taxes! Because we don’t like him.
Now that having all been said. It occurs to me lately — in spite of this tempest-in-a-teapot that is our presidential election — that perhaps my problems with liberals have little-to-nothing to do with liberalism itself. I’ve been noticing a problem I’ve had, going back years and years, having to do with arguing. Supposedly I’m the catalyst of this problem — “Morgan loves to argue.” But, problem: I’m seeing a lot of other people saddled with the same rep. Do they love to argue? It does not seem that this is the case. And I also see arguments arise when I have no intention of causing them to arise. I recall a few very specific incidents from recent years, in which I could see the arguments coming from miles and miles off in the distance — on a couple of occasions, I actually said something about it — and had no desire to see it happen. The common theme that emerges is that the match is struck when someone notices something. And then the ensuing inferno is all the fault of the person who did the noticing. None of the blame, it seems, goes to the person who actually turns it into an argument…
What really throws the trolley off the tracks, though, is: These people like me, who “love to argue” and actually are guilty of noticing things that make the arguments happen…interact with other people, and when they interact with other people they go on noticing things. This doesn’t cause arguments. Also: The people who were victimized by having these things noticed that shouldn’t have been noticed, and with a hearty “What??” strike the match that brings about the inferno, which is then blamed on others — they also interact with other people. And there, more of this arguing happens. So if we’re looking at common elements, the observation does not hold true.
Conservatives, also, do not love to pay attention to politics. At least, not the ones I know. We do not “love to argue.” I notice a particular passage in my last post struck a chord:
[Conservatives] say to themselves…well, fuck this, this dime-store idiot liberal guy has all the time in the world to throw his cherry-picked statistics at me, his Mother Jones articles, maybe troll conservative blogs all day, but I have customers counting on me and I have to get back to work. And then after awhile the other thought enters the conservative cranium, yet again…I’m doing this to set up my retirement, get my kids headed to a brighter future, not be a burden to my family when I’m older. If only the liberal dipshits have influence on our politics, they get to shape our politics, and that will render these local efforts of mine entirely futile. The Counter-Futility. Back and forth the conservative goes, like a ping pong ball…it’s futile to do this, it is futile not to do this…
Yes, this has been on my mind a great deal…it would seem, were I to be sucked into the void of space tonight and someone analyzed these pages to indulge in some sort of post-mortem psych profiling, the picture that emerges is not one of a man who actually loves to argue. Rather the reverse, it seems to me…
The conservatives who clean the crap out of the sewer lines and lay the foundations upon which buildings will be erected, that will house all sorts of publicly funded liberal-egghead think tanks, have come to the unpleasant realization that previous generations never quite learned: They have to make the time for politics. They’ve got to attend to it, as if it’s yet another chicken with eggs not yet gathered, otherwise everything else they’ve done is for nothing. They’ve got to write the code that works, they’ve got to build the diesel engines that successfully contain the explosions, they’ve got to manufacture the action boxes for 9mm pistols that don’t rupture under the stress, and do all the other things that liberals can never do. Then, they have to participate in politics like the liberals do. And the conservatives have to grow all our food.
So conservatives have to make things work…food that can really be eaten, code that can really be run, combustion chambers that really do contain explosions…then they have to make time to argue with liberals who don’t have to worry about any of that. Wrestle with the pigs in the mud.
I’m sure to someone on the outside, it looks a lot like “love of arguing” because there’s not much evidence of the resentment churning away, inside, that one should expect to see. Well trust me, the resentment is there. It is concealed behind the most opaque of shrouds, and that is a shroud of resignation and despair. Sure, it would be much easier to provide for this retirement, write that code, prove one’s worth, embiggen one’s salary throughout the very few years available, if one didn’t have to argue with people who think Caitlyn Jenner is some sort of extraordinarily brave not-man-something-else…or that there are going to be more jobs to be worked if the minimum wage is higher…or that clock boy “invented” a clock. Well, there’s a saying for that: “If a frog had wings he wouldn’t have to bump his ass on the ground all the time.” In other words, “if” isn’t worth anything. Cleaning the shit out of the sewer lines would be so much easier if the shit cleaned itself. Well…true…but you can’t do anything with that. The hens won’t bring you their own eggs, either. What of it?
It’s just an additional job we have to do. Yeah sure we “love it,” the way a Norwegian loves Lutefisk at Christmas. Except Lutefisk is something to be associated with pleasant childhood memories, and the Savior of all mankind being incarnated in human form to gift us with everlasting life. Arguing with liberals just has the disgusting slimy jiggly form, the revolting translucency, the unappetizing soapy taste, without any of those endearing attributes to make up for it. Yes, we partake. Pay for it, even. No, that doesn’t mean we have a taste for it. We’re doing what must be done. We’ve tried not-doing-it, and we’re not happy with how that went.
Hopefully, future generations will want to know about these times. If something truly out of the ordinary doesn’t happen further down the road, I’d say they most certainly should. There’s an awful lot of bickering, and it doesn’t just seem to be that way because now-is-now. Yes, it is a valid point, and verifiable as fact, that in the olden days politicians got into physical contests. Duels to the death, even, occasionally.
But now there are three things happening. First is the “blogging”…which we could, and should, recognize as any means of mass communication linked to the newer technology. Seems unhealthy. Viewed up close, it is. All that time burned away by someone? And all it does is start fights, no minds get changed. I agree with all that. But it’s a lesson in what’s called “seeing the forest for the trees”; you have to take a few steps back, think long term. Blogging is the healthy part, because now our trans-society discourse is capable of some level of dialogue. Of rebuttal, and counter-rebuttal. Pre-blogging — oh, let’s just be honest about this, can we for just a moment or two? — that was not the case. Uncle Walter told us “And that’s the way it is,” and that’s the way it was…
Second thing is what has happened to the liberals. They still want to get even for the “Florida debacle” of 2000. Before that, they were about ending prejudices, and feeding and clothing the hungry. True, a lot of their measures achieved the opposite of these things and the liberals didn’t very much care. But afterward, getting even with conservatives is an objective that has stolen the limelight. The shift is subtle, but it is there. There’s a difference between — “I want to get these people health insurance, and I must defeat conservatives because they’re getting in my way of doing that” — and — “I want to make these conservatives look bad in the public view, and to do that I can get the word out that they, for some reason, don’t want these people to get health insurance.” Those are actually two different things. One is overly simplistic but determined, like a dog chasing a car that wouldn’t know what to do if it caught the car. The other is just plain vengeful.
And the third thing is what’s happened to conservatives. They still don’t have time for all this fighting-about-politics stuff. They have work to do. In fact, very often The Futility sets in, and they say to themselves…well, fuck this, this dime-store idiot liberal guy has all the time in the world to throw his cherry-picked statistics at me, his Mother Jones articles, maybe troll conservative blogs all day, but I have customers counting on me and I have to get back to work. And then after awhile the other thought enters the conservative cranium, yet again…I’m doing this to set up my retirement, get my kids headed to a brighter future, not be a burden to my family when I’m older. If only the liberal dipshits have influence on our politics, they get to shape our politics, and that will render these local efforts of mine entirely futile. The Counter-Futility. Back and forth the conservative goes, like a ping pong ball..it’s futile to do this, it is futile not to do this…
And perhaps there is a fourth factor, concealed from view. If the liberal movement consisted entirely of those with political ambitions, who want the economy to tank so there’s more widespread feeling of despair and it’s easier to elect democrats, it would be easily defeated. It’s not. A lot of liberals care greatly about the plight of the poor, illiterate, the hungry — they just don’t appreciate the story of socially-upward mobility. Every now and then you see them exposed to such a story, of someone born into real poverty who made it big. It rolls off ’em like water off a duck’s back. Doesn’t fit the narrative. They’re Narrative People. But, good-hearted. They want to help the less fortunate; they’re just not too keen on the less fortunate helping themselves. They want to feel needed. If the liberal movement consisted entirely of them, perhaps it would also be easily defeated. What we’re fighting is a mix of the two. And it could be that while these two halves have always been there, combined they have become a more potent force in recent times because the two halves have learned new things about communicating with each other. I don’t know. It’s a maybe. It’s not worth mentioning even, except for one thing: The fact that these two halves, under the surface have entirely different goals, may be the key to their eventual defeat.
Getting back to the subject at hand. We live in interesting times because communication is working better — blogging, in fact, may rescue the general level of literacy from the disaster heaped upon it by text messaging. We have aggravation and confusion on the conservative side, and real, hot, vengeful wrath on the liberal side, still wanting to get even for a Supreme Court case with a decade-and-a-half worth of dust on it.
What we have learned, so far, is this: Conservatives and liberals don’t think the same way. One of my friends over at the Hello Kitty of Blogging was amused by the graphic to the right, noting that he was wondering as a child — as was I — how Wimpy ever got his burgers. This is a clue into how conservatives and liberals don’t see things the same way.
Liberals see a guy who wants a burger; or, needs a burger. Now you can tell from just a casual glance at Wimpy that he does not need a burger, whether you’re a conservative or a liberal. So this is not scientific proof, but it is in the realm of the scientific, that liberals fail to distinguish needs from wants. And whatever gaps remain between that & real science are okay, because the conclusion is not in doubt. “Blah blah blah should be free,” they intone, endlessly listing this-and-that before the word “should.” The items are a clumsy hodge-podge mix-up between needs and wants, and the liberals don’t seem to know this, let alone care. On Planet Liberal, the idea is good, because it’s a winning idea. It’s an idea likely to win arguments. But is it true? Does anything with the word “should” in it, have even the capability of ever being verifiable as true? How would you verify?
Conservatives see the “should be free” thing the same way they see Wimpy bullshitting people about his burgers: What sort of system is being put in place here? Liberals have had a great time portraying conservatism as simple-mindedness, a sort of phobia against trying anything new. It’s a bit of propaganda that has worked well for them, you can’t blame them for continuing to use it. But it’s the opposite that is the truth; it is the conservatives who are the more capable thinkers. Conservatives see how things work moment-to-moment, and ask, Is It Sustainable? “Should be free” means someone pays, somewhere. Just as when Wimpy says he’ll gladly pay you Tuesday, Tuesday’s coming. It’s the liberals who are simple-minded, viewing all of life as a snapshot.
In this argument between conservatives and liberals, what is different is a missing dimension.
But that’s not all that’s different. Liberals are so concerned about winning-the-argument, they very regularly neglect the argument:
Can we talk? Of course not. Why bother?
When I question why we do not shut down hate mosques, you call me Islamophobic.
When I question why a baker should be forced to make a bake a cake for a lesbian marriage that she does not believe in, you call me homophobic.
When I question why we should not follow Trump and Make America Great Again, you call me fascist.
And after all that name-calling, you then dare say I am judgmental.
We have seen trillions poured into the ghettos only to have young black men kill young black men. The liberal answer is to take guns from the people who do not live in ghettos. [T]wo-thirds of federal spending is welfare and Social Security. The liberal answer is to pour more money on the bonfire.
My answer is to try something new.
But you don’t want to hear it…
The mistake the liberals have made here is grave; they have defined “truth” to be whatever it takes to win an argument. It seems to be outside their capacity of understanding to realize this essentially severs whatever connection they had to the metaphysical. It essentially jettisons the idea that there is a truth grinding away, above us, beneath us, among us, meandering, writhing, going about its business entirely unconcerned about what people think. With liberals, it is all about the narrative because the narrative is what’s needed to win an argument.
This Faustian pact they’ve made imbues them with a strange intellectual ability conservatives are lacking. But it is not an ability to be coveted in any way. It is the ability to hold multiple thoughts in one’s head, contradictory with each other and utterly irreconcilable, and to take them all seriously. One of my favorites in recent years, that truly illustrates the lunacy at work, has been a quartet:
1. Premise: Liberals are better at learning than conservatives.
2. Premise: ObamaCare is named after & put together by a black guy, so everybody who is opposed to it is a racist.
3. Premise: Liberals have been working tirelessly, for generations, to banish racism.
4. Fact: In all these years, approval of the ACA has never risen above a bare plurality.
Put it all together and think on it in a healthy way, as only a conservative can, and what is the conclusion? It is quite unavoidable. Liberals need to change something, drastically, about this fight they have been engaging to get rid of racism. They have not been doing it the right way, and a drastic change in direction is required.
Do liberals agree with that? Not only no, but Hell No. This proves they are insane. Insane or…thinking about the metaphysical truth so casually, they may as well not be thinking about it at all, which produces the same results as if they were insane.
That is my one favorite way of demonstrating the insanity. But someone has put together a list of many others, based on the Socratic method.
Seeking genuine knowledge rather than mere victory in an argument, Socrates used his questions to cross-examine the hypotheses, assumptions, and axioms that subconsciously shaped the opinions of his opponents, drawing out the contradictions and inconsistencies they relied on.
The resulting list may not exactly fit the definition of Socratic questioning. But in my defense, even Socrates couldn’t possibly envision the scale of absurdity a political argument could reach in the 21st century.
Once a politician labels the truth as hate speech, can anyone trust him to speak the truth afterward?
If the poor in America have things that people in other countries can only dream about, why is there a movement to make America more like those other countries?
Why is the media so outspoken about sex abusers being priests, but avoids calling them homosexual pedophiles? Who are they afraid to offend?
How come the unselfish Americans hate their country out of personal frustrations, while the selfish ones defend America with their lives?
Why do those who object to tampering with the environment approve of tampering with the economy? Isn’t the economy also a fragile ecosystem where a sudden change can trigger a devastating chain reaction?
How exactly does dependency on the government increase “people power”?
And finally, if all opinions are equal, how come a liberal who disagrees with a conservative is open-minded, but a conservative who disagrees with a liberal is a bigot?
That’s just a small sampling. You may note that all these contradictions have been lying around for years, waiting to be noticed by either a liberal or by another party who is seeking to challenge a liberal, who would then comment on it. The noticing has been happening, and the commenting has been happening. Liberals — generally speaking — have not changed their intended travel, either in bearing or in vector.
They are insane, or may as well be. But at the same time, they’re like a house fire, or something that may become a house fire. They cannot be left alone. Their unhealthy thinking affects us. That’s the whole point of what they’re doing, if it didn’t affect others they wouldn’t be doing it. But if they could think on such things in a way that produced good results, and learn things they didn’t know before from the process of implementation, they wouldn’t be liberals.
The Unbearable Asymmetry of Bullshit
written by Brian D Earp
Science and medicine have done a lot for the world. Diseases have been eradicated, rockets have been sent to the moon, and convincing, causal explanations have been given for a whole range of formerly inscrutable phenomena. Notwithstanding recent concerns about sloppy research, small sample sizes, and challenges in replicating major findings — concerns I share and which I have written about at length — I still believe that the scientific method is the best available tool for getting at empirical truth. Or to put it a slightly different way (if I may paraphrase Winston Churchill’s famous remark about democracy): it is perhaps the worst tool, except for all the rest.
In other words, science is flawed. And scientists are people too. While it is true that most scientists — at least the ones I know and work with — are hell-bent on getting things right, they are not therefore immune from human foibles.
Yes, we do seem to be having the same troubles with our scientists that we have with women: They’re people, and people have faults. Just avoid the absolute statements about members of a class being always in the wrong, or never in the wrong, and you should be fine.
There is a veritable truckload of bullshit in science. When I say bullshit, I mean arguments, data, publications, or even the official policies of scientific organizations that give every impression of being perfectly reasonable — of being well-supported by the highest quality of evidence, and so forth — but which don’t hold up when you scrutinize the details. Bullshit has the veneer of truth-like plausibility. It looks good. It sounds right. But when you get right down to it, it stinks.
There is something else going on here. Humans try to do, on any given day, all sorts of things some of which are scientific while some are not. All these humans have human faults. But all of these attempts are not riddled with “veritable truckloads of bullshit,” as we so often see the “science” is.
Much of the problem comes from without. Science offers a tasty morsel for the predatory. If you’re in an argument and you can say “science,” you get to impose obligatory thought upon the opposition, which has long been a lasting temptation among those who have holes in their souls. Science sides with me! Now bow down!
When the moniker of “science” is used for no better end than to prevail in an argument, what results from the concoction is neither good science nor good argument. Science, as I have so often had to remind others, is not a credential or a membership club; it is a method. As for arguing, it is a test. We all like to win our arguments, and of course losing one is detestable, but if you want to win all of the time whenever you have arguments there is a prerequisite: You’ve got to do some arguing.
Science has become less trustworthy, I cannot help noticing, during a time in which people need to be reminded of these two essential truisms, more-or-less all of the time. We see a lot of people invoking the word “science” without using, or making reference to anybody who’s using, science as a method. And we have a lot of people who want to win all the arguments without doing any arguing.
For this reason, I see science as mostly as pristine as we have known it to be — on the inside. I see it as under attack from outside hostiles.
But, then there is this…
There are many ways to produce scientific bullshit. One way is to assert that something has been “proven,” “shown,” or “found” and then cite, in support of this assertion, a study that has actually been heavily critiqued (fairly and in good faith, let us say, although that is not always the case, as we soon shall see) without acknowledging any of the published criticisms of the study or otherwise grappling with its inherent limitations.
That is contamination from within, and it does happen. What also happens from within, sends Mr. Earp on a wild tear many paragraphs long, which cannot be pruned down much by way of my amateur editorial skills.
I am referring to a certain sustained, long-term publication strategy, apparently deliberately carried out (although motivations can be hard to pin down), that results in a stupefying, and in my view dangerous, paper-pile of scientific bullshit. It can be hard to detect, at first, with an untrained eye — you have to know your specific area of research extremely well to begin to see it—but once you do catch on, it becomes impossible to un-see.
I don’t know what to call this insidious tactic. But I can identify its end result, which I suspect researchers of every stripe will be able to recognize from their own sub-disciplines: it is the hyper-partisan and polarized, but by all outward appearances, dispassionate and objective, “systematic review” of a controversial subject.
To explain how this tactic works, I am going make up a hypothetical researcher who engages in it, and walk you through his “process,” step by step. Let’s call this hypothetical researcher Lord Voldemort. While everything I am about to say is based on actual events, and on the real-life behavior of actual researchers, I will not be citing any specific cases…
In this story, Lord Voldemort is a prolific proponent of a certain controversial medical procedure, call it X, which many have argued is both risky and unethical. It is unclear whether Lord Voldemort has a financial stake in X, or some other potential conflict of interest. But in any event he is free to press his own opinion. The problem is that Lord Voldemort doesn’t play fair. In fact, he is so intent on defending this hypothetical intervention that he will stop at nothing to flood the literature with arguments and data that appear to weigh decisively in its favor.
As the first step in his long-term strategy, he scans various scholarly databases. If he sees any report of an empirical study that does not put X in an unmitigatedly positive light, he dashes off a letter-to-the-editor attacking the report on whatever imaginable grounds. Sometimes he makes a fair point — after all, most studies do have limitations — but often what he raises is a quibble, couched in the language of an exposé.
The subterfuge does not end there.
The next step is for our anti-hero to write a “systematic review”…He Who Shall Not Be Named predictably rejects all of the studies that do not support his position as being “fatally flawed,” or as having been “refuted by experts” — namely, by himself and his close collaborators, typically citing their own contestable critiques — while at the same time he fails to find any flaws whatsoever in studies that make his pet procedure seem on balance beneficial.
The result of this artful exercise is a heavily skewed benefit-to-risk ratio in favor of X, which can now be cited by unsuspecting third-parties. Unless you know what Lord Voldemort is up to, that is, you won’t notice that the math has been rigged.
A similar phenomenon can play out in debates in medicine. In the case of Lord Voldemort, the trick is to unleash so many fallacies, misrepresentations of evidence, and other misleading or erroneous statements — at such a pace, and with such little regard for the norms of careful scholarship and/or charitable academic discourse — that your opponents, who do, perhaps, feel bound by such norms, and who have better things to do with their time than to write rebuttals to each of your papers, face a dilemma. Either they can ignore you, or they can put their own research priorities on hold to try to combat the worst of your offenses.
It’s a lose-lose situation. Ignore you, and you win by default. Engage you, and you win like the pig in the proverb who enjoys hanging out in the mud.
That last is illustrative of a dire situation that confronts us, a situation that wasn’t here a generation ago. Science has begun to collide with politics. Perhaps it is more precise to say: Bad science has begun to collude with bad politics.
Think back to decades ago when our liberals commanded us to question authority, as opposed to agreeing with authority all of the time to prove we’re not racists. I don’t mean in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, I mean more like Vietnam. In those days, politics became the dominion of liberals. Conservative parents wanted their liberal kids to get haircuts, and jobs. The liberal kids wanted to protest. From this split came a situation in which the liberal kids concentrated on getting, keeping, and using a voice, and the passion persisted until they were no longer kids. Conservatives, meanwhile, figured out the chickens weren’t going to gather their own eggs, the roofs weren’t going to repair themselves…they didn’t have time for this shit.
Throughout this time, you see the liberals still lost elections. But they lost them after having won the previous elections, after the public got a good clear view of the harm that comes from liberal policies. These decades represent repeated laps around the unnecessary-mistake track; laps taken by, unfortunately, the entire country.
Now we are at a critical juncture. The conservatives who clean the crap out of the sewer lines and lay the foundations upon which buildings will be erected, that will house all sorts of publicly funded liberal-egghead think tanks, have come to the unpleasant realization that previous generations never quite learned: They have to make the time for politics. They’ve got to attend to it, as if it’s yet another chicken with eggs not yet gathered, otherwise everything else they’ve done is for nothing. They’ve got to write the code that works, they’ve got to build the diesel engines that successfully contain the explosions, they’ve got to manufacture the action boxes for 9mm pistols that don’t rupture under the stress, and do all the other things that liberals can never do. Then, they have to participate in politics like the liberals do. And the conservatives have to grow all our food.
Can you imagine a liberal being a potato farmer? It would never work. He would decide “this soil is good for growing potatoes,” and then he would do what liberals do all the time: Promulgate the narrative. The very last thing to figure into his actions would be the lingering question of whether or not the soil is any good…and come harvest time, there’d be no potatoes. If you want a big bundle of excuses about how everything is Republicans’ fault, liberals are your guys. Or, gals, or zhers or whatever. But if you want something to actually work then that’s not where you go. It’s not their bag, baby.
If liberals ever toil away under any sort of standard, their first move is to re-negotiate the standard. They’re so busy re-defining things, they’ve made themselves into strangers to the concept of ever getting any actual work done.
So conservatives have to make things work…food that can really be eaten, code that can really be run, combustion chambers that really do contain explosions…then they have to make time to argue with liberals who don’t have to worry about any of that. Wrestle with the pigs in the mud.
What has to happen with the science is the same thing as what has to happen with the politics. The issue is control of the theater of operations. For a generation or two now, the politics have been monopolized not quite so much by liberals, or conservatives, but rather by those who loathe definitions. What’s happening with science is that this rot has spread. We’re seeing the same things happen there that we’ve been seeing elsewhere in years past.
Statements about “X = Y” are no longer X = Y. They’re more like: If we presume A, B, C and D then it could be inferred that X is functionally equivalent to Y. And then it falls to those we call “conservatives” to ask the questions adults should be expected to ask, like: Why, pray tell, should we be presuming A, B, C and D? And if X is treated like Y when it’s not really the same thing, resulting in a cost of Z, who pays that?
Was reading back over severian‘s recap of something…
I’ve often said that the fastest way to expose a leftist talking point is to take it completely seriously. For instance, lefties claim that all sorts of economic problems are caused by “deregulation.” Watch what happens when you ask them, “which regulations?” They don’t have the slightest idea. “Wall Street fatcats make obscene profits!” What’s the profit obscenity threshold, to the nearest $1,000?…
I’m drawing a blank here. Many have made this observation before, that there are arguments out there so fragile that they require outright-denial from the opposition in order to survive; merely take those arguments seriously and you devastate them structurally.
Raising the minimum wage is another such argument. “Okay you’ve convinced me! $15 an hour! In fact, let’s raise it to $30, and why not $60?” This is reductio ad absurdum. At some point, the advocate of the errant argument will have to admit to the deleterious effect the policy called out by its opponents, which is productive because after that there is agreement that some line has to be drawn somewhere. After that, discussion can proceed about the where and why and how…and, what’s the functional difference between fifteen and a thousand? What’s the moral difference? What’s the defining difference?
Hopefully, the liberal might see the conservative viewpoint, which is that the “How dare you tell me what I should pay” umbrage must begin at a penny an hour, because it can begin nowhere else. (Tellingly, that’s also the conservative position about when life begins, but that’s a whole different topic.) That’s not too likely though. Devastating an argument so quickly and so completely is not unlike pouring ice cold water into a glass emerging too soon from the dry cycle in the dishwasher. The likely outcome is a bunch of BadFeelz and contention and consternation…which, in a populated environment, is going to be blamed on the person who did this “devastate it by taking it seriously” thing every time. This happens a lot. Liberal arguments are incubated over time, and they’re incubated in environments in which people aren’t responsible for their bad thoughts, bad deeds or bad ideas. Someone else is to blame. Always. That’s at the heart of liberalism itself, on the philosophical plane.
Speaking of philosophical planes. Some of what belongs in The Blog That Nobody Reads, will now & then start out on The Hello Kitty of Blogging, which is a bad habit I have. Not that there isn’t a method to the madness. Jesus said to go where the sinners are. There is also value to it, too, occasionally; I am sometimes baffled by the storm of “likes” I get by things that I was sure would amount to nothing more than wind-shouting. This observation about the recently departed Justice Scalia’s viewpoint on textualist interpretation of the Constitution, to my great surprise, drew ten likes within a few hours, most of those within just a few minutes…
The disagreements between conservatives and liberals exist on many layers, and some of these layers are philosophical. They have to do with different recognitions of truth itself. This goes all the way back to the founding of the republic.
Back then, the “liberal” argument had to do with a “liberal” interpretation of “all men are created equal.” Then, as now, the liberals did their thinking backwards — “Okay, our conclusion is to be that slavery is allowable even though the document that declares our independence has this ‘all men created equal’ thing in it…how do we get from here, to there?” And then, as now, they came up with a whole bunch of “if”. Like, If we accept that all of the legal authority is tied up in the Constitution, which just has “WE THE PEOPLE” and not that business of all-created-equal…and If we proceed from the premise that these aren’t people at all, they’re property…THEN we can reach the conclusion we want. And keep our slaves. Aren’t we smart??
See how nothing has really changed?
And then, as now, the whole thing was undone by conservatives who asked what they continue to ask now: “Uh…why should we assume these things? Also, if you’ve got these rationalizations to deprive that person of his rights today, why am I not to assume you will be coming after mine, tomorrow?”
So I go on some rant about all the hot teevee weather girls being in other countries, while America’s weather girls look like boring old banker-ladies about to deny your home equity loan…nobody bats an eye, I guess I’m marching down that road all by myself. How come that is, anyway? “Weather girls,” in America, have to look like they’re at work? At a stuffy law firm or a bank? Who decided that? Looks like laziness…shouldn’t we be calling them “weather women” if we’re playing the don’t-tick-off-the-feminists game? But what’s wrong with a weather girl who’s pleasing to the eye? How come that’s a crime? And only in the USA?
But I get philosophical about interpretation of the Constitution, here comes an avalanche of the coveted “like.” You know, go figure. Anyway, to re-emerge from the bunny trail within the bunny trail…that’s the allure of social media. Fact is, none of us really know for sure what’s going to happen next. We just didn’t accomplish as much, before the medium came along, as we thought we had. We don’t really know that much about each other. I suppose that’s a good thing in a way. If we figured everybody out, and instantly, there’d be no desire to know more.
On the “aren’t we smart” thing. This is the truly toxic thing about liberalism. So enamored have liberals become of the tired old litany…”We can see a dimension or two past the quaint, flat world of conservatives, as is evidenced by our disagreement with them over here“…like, the above-mentioned minimum wage. AND the thing about “If we’re all free, then that must include slaves.” It often lures them into a bad habit of their own: Figuring out what common sense would say, and then lunging for the opposite.
Barack Obama: “You didn’t build that.”
There are more examples to be found and not much would be accomplished through any effort to add them here. It’s a persistent pattern. Liberals find out what common sense would say, choose something that goes in the opposite direction, and then start cherry-picking the evidence to support this conclusion that goes against common sense. As noted in the Facebook post, they do this exactly backwards, starting with the conclusion they want to reach first and then figuring out how they can get there. But “there” is inclined to be something antithetical to common sense. So the big takeaway is: They’re doing more-or-less twice as much damage as they would be doing, if “there” was a position chosen at random.
They end up painting themselves into a corner this way. Usually, the way that works is they find themselves propagating a talking point about “right wing extremism,” when to anybody who takes the time to find out what this adversarial right-wing position is, they’re going to find — far from any sort of extremism — a textbook case of sensible moderation. In the case of minimum wage, what they find is the foundational principle of economics itself, that when something costs more you need to expect fewer willing people are going to buy it.
But my question is: What is the name for these arguments? Arguments that are so fragile, that you completely ruin them just by taking them seriously. “Yes feminist sister, you are right; gender is a big nothing, an artificial societal construct, an illusion. And one of these genders is so much better than the other.”
I always assumed there was a name. We have names for the rebuttals, like the reductio ad absurdum mentioned above. But what about these overly-delicate, beached-whale arguments themselves, structurally incapable of bearing their own weight?
Related: I left it out on purpose because it shouldn’t be necessary…that was kind of the point. But I suppose I should go ahead and link to the actual facts regarding this business of “Experts say raising the minimum wage causes faster job growth.” As stated before, the position being taken is essentially that you have more buying when the price of something is pushed up, so we don’t need to get into some huge back-and-forth about whether our experiences would bear this out, in a situation that could be isolated from all other factors. It’s not worth the argument, that’s just not how economics works.
I’m pushing fifty, so these comic book movies are never going to make me completely happy; the people making them shouldn’t try. They know how their bread is buttered and it comes from kids. Young kids. Way young, too young to understand the value of a dollar I’m afraid…
There is a problem here. Although my hopes for this film remain high, and “Batfleck” is starting to win me over a bit, I can’t shake the perception that something is missing and the members of the audience, as well as the producers, remain a bit in the dark about what it might be. Perhaps I’m the only one frustrated so there’s really no problem. Then again, perhaps I’m the only one frustrated because I can see something. And don’t we all want to get a bit more enjoyment out of our movies, especially our comic book superhero movies?
Let’s think on this a bit. Why is DC so much better than Marvel? Hey wait…come back…
We’ve gone over this ground a bit before. Marvel heroes — apart from the Fantastic Four and Captain America — do a lot of whining. The problem is not the frequency with which they do it, or how many of them do it. The problem is that this whine-theme is ever-present, like a bad smell. There are ways to avoid acknowledging it, sure, but the real problem is…emphasis on…the source of the tension of the story. Stories have to have tension. They have to make you wonder what’s going to happen next, or else they fail. In the Marvel universe, generally speaking that is the tension. “The public won’t accept me.”
Back to the central-three within the Justice League. This public-won’t-accept-me thing is more of an exception than a rule. Sometimes it happens when the writer is young, overly-indoctrinated, starry eyeballs filled up with X-Men story-lines. Government trying to make up its mind about the JL, public isn’t quite sure if they’re friends or foes. Maybe they have too much power. Such a storyline has potential but it’s been done too much, and elsewhere. Check out the old Super Friends cartoons, that wasn’t the tension that drove the stories. Alright sure they were dumb stories, but still. Point is, this “Let’s have DC borrow a page from X-Men” thing is a relatively new phenomenon, and whatever staying power it has, has not been earned through actual success.
It seems, however, that that’s not what is driving Dawn of Justice. What I’m seeing here is: Is Batman getting way too old for this shit? And how can he possibly have any hope for survival, let alone victory, in a head-to-head against Superman? And what’s up with this girl in a gladiator costume? I hope that’s enough to carry the movie. It probably is, with the characters being introduced…
But there’s the problem. Movies being carried aloft, across the finish line, on the strength of characters being introduced. We pony up the cash and hope the lift is sufficient to overcome the drag.
I’m pushing fifty, unique in my vision of a certain problem; because I’m unique (and relatively ancient), perhaps there is no problem and I’m just yet another old man yelling at a cloud. But still, it’s my blog, my show here. Once I write it, it’s up to the reader to figure out whether I deserve indulging. You can always skip.
There are other DC superheroes who are not Marvel superheroes. They don’t wallow away in their angst about being mutants and how society will never accept them. But, they’re not Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman. Their stories are, frankly, a bit boring, they’re not the Big Three and it isn’t possible for them to take on that stature, ever. Those three have something in common. And I’m afraid the “Dawn of Justice” movie is missing out on what it is.
They are transplants. Fate moved all three of them, from something, to something else. All three of them had destinies laid out for them that were mundane and halcyon. And then something happened, completely out of their control. Except for Wonder Woman who did some of the choosing, but not with completely open eyes. She was taking a leap of faith.
These heroes have enduring questions. Superman didn’t know he was a transplant until close to adulthood, but on the way he had to notice certain things seemed a bit off. With the big reveal that he never was of this world, and his puzzle solved, his questions are only just starting. Poor fellow has no idea what to do with Lois Lane, who is in love with him but only when he’s in costume. He really wants her to love Clark Kent. This is why, in every incarnation, the stories start getting lame as soon as Lois finds out the truth. After that, they’re just “Mr. and Mrs. Superhero” on their latest adventure.
Wonder Woman is wondering why when she walks down the sidewalk, everyone’s looking at her funny. And why are they wearing so much? What’s up with this thing called “money” and how do you get it? She also has the hundred or so other questions causing such confusion in Mork from Ork, and Jeannie, and My Favorite Martian, and the Third Rock guys…
Batman doesn’t even know for sure if he wants to survive the next encounter, he’s trying to figure out if he’s suicidal. He is perhaps the most fascinating of all of them because he’s teetering on the edge of sanity. The goal that keeps him in check is to clean up Gotham, but what sort of a goal is that? He’s never going to get it done, can’t even assess whether he’s taking two steps back for every one forward. And he may very well be like the dog chasing the car, wouldn’t have any idea what to do if he caught it.
All the other DC heroes are “real” comic book heroes. They have some sort of state of Nirvana, a situational calming, to which all objects and states are to be returned by the time the reader reaches Page 22. That can stay intriguing for a bit, or it can go on indefinitely; but it cannot do both. That’s why these three are the best of the three. They don’t belong where fate has put them, and as such not a one among the three has any genuine restful state. This is not tragedy. It’s just something that approaches the reality of what we’re living, out here. That’s why we identify, at least partially, with them, in ways we cannot identify with Green Lantern, Flash, Wendy, Marvin, Wonder Twins…
But who knows? Maybe the movie will catch on to this…or, provide an adequate replacement. Anyhow. That’s how I see it. It’s a voice from the past; whether it’s foolishness from the past best abandoned, or wisdom from the past cluing in the present generation on why they’re not getting the enjoyment out of the genre we used to know, I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide.
Update: Maybe the makers of the Wonder Woman movie kinda get it…
I have a current friend and former work colleague who is very much into football. This time of year, there is occasional friction between us if I don’t keep my opinions to myself about it. Which I suppose is fair. It’s a pastime, and as such it isn’t about Republicans, democrats, religious denominations, secular types. In fact as I understand it, that’s part of the appeal: People from all walks of life come together. Unless they’re rooting for opposite teams, but there’s a certain togetherness involved in that.
I recognize and respect the stillness of this pond, into which the “fishermen” do not want any rocks thrown. This Beyoncé person, however (video ad auto plays behind the link) evidently is not that considerate…
We had some of our annual dust-up when the football fan pounced on me for not keeping my opinion to myself. He’s since figured out I’m on his side on this thing, my point being that football should just be football. And although I didn’t watch the game, you really can’t help but pick up the aftershocks of what happened at halftime, and it isn’t hard to detect a certain invasion underway. Is football about an approaching revolution, a razing of civilization to the ground so another civilization can be put in its place? No, and it shouldn’t be. Shouldn’t be about keeping the one we’ve got, either. It should be just about football. And yes, my opinion about what football should be, ends there. But I can tell Beyoncé went over the line. That’s part & parcel of living under a rule; you aren’t ignorant when others have violated it, and she certainly did.
But this is part of a long-standing trend: Things like football, that have nothing to do with political statements, being trespassed-upon by persons who have political statements to make. I suppose it is in the nature of all political statements to give it a try, find more ways to establish outlets, get the message communicated. It’s going to be that way, and by that I mean until the sun goes nova. It’s hard to envision something as being a problem if there’s no solution possible. So political elements encroaching upon non-political things, or at least trying to do so — while regrettable — is regrettable like gravity. Occasionally it’s inconvenient, but what of it?
The problem is that the rest of us have a certain tolerance for this, and it’s a selective tolerance. It favors the negative, the destructive. Those elements within politics that seek to build nothing, and desire to destroy much. Not that we’re ignoring it entirely. A firestorm has been lit by Beyoncé’s so-called “performance”; but, that’s not rejection, that’s just noise and excitement which is doing little besides raising the profile. To see what I mean by this, try this thought exercise: A halftime show imploring the football fans to turn to God and Jesus to solve their problems. Or: Just to work hard at keeping promises, being better husbands to their wives and better fathers to their children. That would inspire not just controversy, but rejection. There would be apologies. And heads detached. It wouldn’t find the level of tolerance Beyoncé’s halftime number did manage to find.
How did we get here? This has become routine for us. Destructive political agendas invade realms that are apolitical, that provokes a big nothing, maybe an “aw gee I wish she hadn’t-a done that” — at most. A political agenda that has to do with people working hard, telling the truth, teaching children to be productive members of society, commits a similar infraction…now you’re talking a completely different situation, a whole octave higher on the pitch scale of WeShallNotPutUpWithThat and WantToSeeBloodOnTheWater. It’s been a gradual and subtle change, but the change is certainly there.
I believe we have lost sight of what it means to contribute to — something. What it means to contribute to society, to a community in which one lives, to any assemblage of persons bigger than the one. It’s a common mistake. Our commonly-mistaken perception, at large, is that the right way to contribute has something to do with inspiring any sort of positive feelings in others, regardless of whether those feelings are meaningful or not. They could be fluffy, superficial, spiritually empty feelings. Or failing that, just go with the crowd, be a person who is in attendance of the whatever, and at least doesn’t do damage. And smile. That shows what a positive person you are.
This is dangerous because it leaves us vulnerable to missing the recognitions of two confounding realities: The participant who seeks to destroy much and build nothing, but smiles a lot; and, the one who builds things we all need to have built, but doesn’t smile enough. As a Christian, I believe Christ arrived at our mortal plane because of common misconceptions about what behavior was & required of people to fulfill the vision of the intelligence responsible for creating everything, to achieve the Design Intent. Much of the New Testament scripture reinforces that view. But as a thinking Christian, I doubt very much Christ possessed the mannerisms that our most successful so-called “leaders” possess. We know He wasn’t ultimately treated very well by humanity as a whole. It is true that He was the leader of a small band of people, and we know He gave sermons but we don’t have any indication that His personality had much, or anything at all, to do with getting those congregations assembled. He probably smiled about as often as that old guy in “Up.”
That is speculation. What we know for certain is that there was no obvious ambition at work, for Him to try to do what we commonly try to do, to fulfill our modern vision of contributing — make sure every single syllable uttered makes people feel good, none of it makes people feel bad. That was obviously not the objective. Pick a quote from the gospels, at random. See? It’s about finding the right path, rejecting the wrong one, fidelity to truth. Not feeling-good.
As Beyoncé has shown, destructive urges certainly do make a lot of people feel good. That’s the hazard right there. But there’s nothing helpful in our learning this because there’s nothing new about it. We knew that already. And no, I’ll not pretend she’s inconvenienced me in some way since I didn’t watch the game. And now that there’s this huge rolling-controversy going on about her gig, that still doesn’t inconvenience me either because I can ignore it if I choose to and eventually it’ll roll on by, life will go back to normal. Ignoring this is costless.
It’s the proclivity of those around us to say “meh” — while, simultaneously, vigilantly standing guard against any message resonating that is actually positive — that is rather like the living room drapes catching fire. It’s a house fire that’s already been ignored for so long, and yet, still has yet to do the bulk of its damage. And we can’t fight that fire until we put a little bit more disciplined thought into what it takes to contribute. We, as a society, have been under-performing here because we have been under-thinking.
In the past month, more than 360,000 left the work force, which follows a total of 284,000 who did so the previous month. To some degree this is to be expected because people get seasonal jobs around the holidays. But remember, these are people who want jobs but have hit a dead end in their search. The fact that they had seasonal jobs and left them doesn’t mean they’re happy about it.
The current labor force participation rate is just 62.7 percent. It actually just went up one-tenth of a percent, but the ballpark we’re talking about here is the lowest we’ve seen since – not surprisingly – the Carter Administration.
And this is not an unforeseen consequence of Obama policies. It’s the idea. Obama policies have always aimed to make it easier for people not to work. You can stay on unemployment longer. You can stay on your parents’ health insurance until well past the time you should be gainfully employed. Recently he proposed to have the taxpayers reimburse you if you take a pay cut.
Every incentive of the Obama economic program is against work, against productivity and against profit. So why should anyone be surprised that more than 94 million people who should be in the workforce are not?
And when you’re only producing 151,000 new jobs per month, how do you expect to bring 94 million people back into the workforce? You can’t. You need real growth policies that are friendly to productivity and corporate profits, which we’ll never get from Obama — and which we’ll obviously not get from Hillary or Bernie. [emphasis mine]
BLS website shows Cain is correct. Provably, in the snapshot of the current participation rate. And as far as the goal of Obama policies, well…the trend line on this particular metric certainly doesn’t cast any doubts. The thing about President Obama requesting taxpayer-provided compensation for reduced pay is true too, and this is evidence of an administration that is either unaware of this long-term trend, doesn’t care about it, or — the worst, and most likely scenario — is counting on it.