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...
A decision was made to stop work on the court-ordered release of Clinton emails and start work on Powell, Rice emails. That demands answers.
The State Department, under court order to release thousands of pages of emails by January 29, explained that due to the snowstorm that hit Washington, D.C., it would need another month to come through with the goods; coincidently, some time after the New Hampshire primary.
The fig leaf drops. Politicking comes first, who’d a-thought that?
And big-government liberals want government to handle more things.
Although they pride themselves on being open-minded, liberals generally have far less contact with conservatives than conservatives do with liberals. As a result, their understanding of conservatives and conservatism is frequently a caricature. The problem is not simply that they disagree. It’s that they have little first-hand experience of whom or what they’re disagreeing with.
Yes, it ends with a dangling preposition. But there’s something to this anyway. Many’s the time I’ve been genuinely surprised, shocked even, upon discovering a liberal’s perception of his or her point of disagreement with those who disagree…like, myself for example.
Especially on the Inequality Thing. Within the liberal echo chamber, the perception of the conservative outlook is that inequality is desirable. CEOs who are “given” several hundred times more than their “workers” — yeah, sure, that’s how it’s supposed to be. A factor of several thousand times would be even better? What conservative actually thinks that?
Maybe they argued with a conservative who made the point, quite correctly, that if everything is equal within a battery then that’s just another way of saying it’s dead. That comes closest to my outlook on it; if your station in life is going to be some sort of constant regardless of what you do, then you might as well stay in bed and that’s how people are going to react. They’ll avoid extraordinary, uncomfortable efforts. Tell that to a proggie though, they’ll think you’re endorsing inequality — you’re saying society’s got to have these “haves” and “have-nots.” It’s the opposite of the truth because their coloring-book reality is a dystopia suffering from a painful lack of opportunity, and opportunity is central to the point the conservative is making. If the outcome is static and constant, there’s no opportunity. Doesn’t matter if the standard of living is high or low, people settle into a depression when they live like this. And they stop trying.
There are other examples, but a single specimen makes the point better than a lengthy listing, in this case.
Yet [Kevin] Drum misses the last and perhaps most important cause of liberals’ alienation from conservatives: their tendency to cluster in major metropolitan areas. I’m unaware of any study of the geographical distribution of ideological self-identification as such. But it does appear that Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to live in uncompetitive House districts.
Yes, there’s something: Liberals hug the coastlines, and wherever population is dense, for some reason. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? A greater population density makes people who live there liberal, or does it draw them into it from without? The consensus around the question at Quora is that the diverse backgrounds of the people who live there brings out a special sort of “tolerance,” which is only to be found in our friends, the liberals; this theory is invalidated by the experience of any conservatives who have come into contact with liberals, who found out they were conservatives. Nor does it gel with the observation above, made repeatedly elsewhere, that liberals are much more likely to stick to their own kind and shun contact with unbelievers. Yes I know that goes against the narrative. But that’s reality.
Let’s try this on for size: Liberalism requires population density. You can’t preen without an audience, and if this stuff we call “liberalism” is anything at all, it is a packaging contrary to the substance, a bit of phony showmanship, a carnival sideshow. Imagine doing work without an audience. Fixing a farm tractor out in a field, miles away from the nearest human being. Or, putting together a presentation for a meeting the next day, working very late in the office gathering data…the joys of PowerPoint. Or, you’re cleaning a gun and you want it to actually work next time you’re using it. Cleaning it, alone. Packing your parachute. Alone. Or, someone else’s parachute. You may vote like a lib, but in these situations you won’t be thinking that way. At least, I hope not…
If you’ve got a narrative that the tractor’s fine it’s just out of gas, but your experience tells you the tank is half full, the plugs are fouled — you are going to have to drop the narrative, which is something liberals cannot do.
Liberalism begins, and ends, with failure; failure and excuse-making. Excuses count if, and only if, someone is around to react in some way. When you have square miles per person instead of persons per square mile, this doesn’t fit. The tractor works or it doesn’t. Our current President does a great job of showing how this works. It’s embarrassing to listen to Him after awhile. Blah blah blah, mess I inherited blah blah blah…can’t even think properly anymore, He’s been subjected to too many environments in which words matter. Talked His mom into thinking He was actually putting the cookie back in the jar — got away with it, been getting away with it ever since. As a result, has to have the last word about everything, all of the time, and every speech is ninety minutes or more and is the Greatest Speech In All Of Human History. Every single one. But it doesn’t really work. Because where work matters, words don’t. President Obama represents liberals everywhere, who simply can’t function in any environment in which results speak for themselves. Nope. The speech has to do that, they know the results aren’t good enough.
There is an irony here: When the population density is lower, you’re actually more likely to encounter this coveted “diversity” because the encounters with your fellow humans, rare though they may be, are liberated from your own control. And when you do meet up with them it’s probably because 1) you need their help or 2) they need yours; this is something that isn’t true in more densely populated areas. Liberals have a lot of trouble with this concept, but when something is everywhere and all the time, people get tired of seeing whatever it is. That includes other people.
And as always, the real test of whether a liberal is “tolerant” of “diversity,” is a conservative. Liberals, generally, do not pass this test.
Me, in the e-mails…making reference to what is commonly referred to as “Confirmation Bias,” although I never actually used those words since I was more focused on how these people behave, what makes them act that way, how they get that way, and what can be expected next from them.
And, what are the rest of us to do about it?
…I see this is an awfully big crowd…It may even be a majority of humanity. The problem is this: They live in narratives. Before they have any relevant experiences at all, they choose a very simple “plotline” of sorts, and then as they “learn” from the experiences around them, they chuck away anything that doesn’t support what they’ve picked. And of course place an inexplicably heavy emphasis on anything that does support it. So the facts support the narrative!! Always. But it isn’t a “matter of fact,” they knew what they wanted to conclude right from the get-go…
These “narrative people” are just kind of in the way…you move them out of the way…
[T]here are ways to achieve diplomacy with them. Step One is always, find out what their “script” is. Might as well take the trouble to do so, it determines everything with them, and I do mean everything. Help them flesh out the plot, since they’ve got the key plot-points all chosen already. When their clinging does them harm, or does harm to someone else — pick your battles. Choose where, and if, you have to go through the jarring experience of prying them loose, getting them to face reality. But if it isn’t necessary then let them stew in their juices. It’s what they want. Just move them out of the way so they don’t interfere with you or with anybody else.
I’d have qualms about placing this much in public view if it was any one person who inspired the observation. And I do wish that was the case.
But…it’s not. No one single person taught me this. In fact, being this way is the default, within the human condition; having the maturity to recognize an unwelcome fact, and seriously contemplate what it might mean, what sort of conclusions are to be reached and what to do about them — that is the aberration.
My proxy-embarrassment with these people is particularly keen when they start babbling away about what will happen. Makes me wonder who allowed them to leave the residence, wild and free like that. How did they get dressed? And: What others are going to do. What you’re going to do, what I’m going to do. China will cut their coal emissions. Hillary’s going to be the next President. What is that, anyway, a request, command, prediction, bribe, threat? They don’t seem to know themselves. They only know what not to think, which is anything to the contrary.
Anything outside the narrative is to be expurgated. Ejected with great force. Not just force; fanfare.
A useful litmus-test question: Has anything at all occurred to, at the very least, open your consciousness to the possibility of X? Where X is something outside the perimeter of allowed thought, in the particular matter currently under discussion. Narrative people will have nothing to offer, because they have been proudly emphatic about the open-question-that’s-a-settled-question since Day One.
You may even get them, without trying, to say those words: “I [absolutely] refuse to consider.” Doesn’t happen often. It’s a piece of honesty, so I suppose I should wish it happens more often. But I can’t. It makes me wince.
Shoes. I’m thinking about shoes.
Same way I don’t trust liberals who don’t own shoes that cover their toes; I have a similar distrust against conservatives that don’t own any shoes with laces. More to the point: Don’t own any shoes that do not need polishing.
These are the guys putting Jeb Bush over Donald Trump, because, manners. Oh they say things about Trump being a showboat and a jerk, and they’re completely right. Where they’re wrong, is in thinking that we vote for a President to give us our manners. Silly.
In truth, we’ve been voting for a President to figure out what excuses should be used to suck money away from the industries that give us the things we really need, and where else that money should be diverted among the professions that make things nobody wanted. Republicans and democrats have both been doing it. And so the professions that give us the things we really need, while allowed to stagger on in the background while the loud people make a lot of noise, have been dwindling.
No, not software engineers. We wear lace-up shoes that don’t require polishing, but that’s just because we’re allowed to dress like we’re still fourteen. That kicks ass by the way. But let’s face it, if we’re building something you really need, we won’t know for sure for another two, three years…and that’s at best.
I’m talking about the people Mike Rowe would have been interviewing. People who have to wear actual boots.
And, their bosses who started their respective companies. Companies that bake your bread, build the bottles for your water, build the cardboard boxes for your Amazon shipments, clean the poop out of your sewer lines. Oh yeah, and put together your “transportation equipment.” Passenger jets. That’s up at the top of the U.S. exports right now, the stuff the other countries want to buy…*choose* to buy. You know what else is on that list? Software is on there…but way down. Probably doesn’t include anything I’ve written, as of yet…
Nothing liberals build, is on that list. Psychological help isn’t on it. Crazy new rules about guns, written by people who’ve sworn not to ever own any guns — those aren’t on the exports list. Come to think of it, I don’t see anybody clamoring for those things inland, either. They’re such great ideas they have to be forced.
Back to Trump. I doubt he owns any sneakers either. He’s non-specific, it is true, and he’s a bit of a doofus. And no, he’s not my doofus. What he is, is a rejection of the traditional classes of candidacy. He’s a reset switch, a spoiler, an auto-destruct device. Where liberals are divided between those who loathe success because they hate money, and those who loathe success in others because they love money and want to keep their level of prosperity exclusive and elite…and somehow these two halves emulsify just fine. Conservatives are divided between those who think we vote for a government that will give us our manners, and those who know we vote for a government that is going to take away our money and freedom, and we have to look for ways to slow this process. Maybe even stop it. Reversing it would be wonderful. These halves do not get along at all. And you can tell them apart by their shoes.
Those who ply me with all their reasons why Trump should not be my pick, are preaching to the choir. He’s not my preference. And these people, and I, have no quarrel…unless they’re part of the “We vote for presidents to give us our manners” crowd. Because that’s nuts. To them I say, man up, buy yourself some hiking boots or sneakers.
Choose somebody else? Eminently reasonable. Take him off the table entirely? Out of the question folks, sorry. We need the destruct device. The loud people who get all the air time and make all the big important decisions, have to have it. Used to be, they’d indulge in shenanigans after an election but at least would behave properly before. These days they’re not even bothering with that much. There has to be some kind of Sword of Damocles over their heads. That used to be the election process, and that’s not good enough anymore. It’s not good enough to make them wonder if they’ve still got a job. We’ve got to make the whole class wonder if it still has a job.
This is not a new idea at all. The political class that we know today, with these affluent, effeminate, slippers-and-loafers “men,” is what’s new. Washington would, today, own work boots and sneakers. So would Jefferson. Madison, Adams, Hamilton, they might have owned a few more of the shiny dress shoes than the others, but they’d have good rugged hiking boots as well. In a world that has weekends, and doesn’t rely on horses to get people from Point A to Point B, what would they be wearing from the ankles down as they chilled on Saturday mornings at the coffee shop? Or watched the big game together, maybe waited for the cable guy to arrive? Probably Nike or Adidas. And as far as how to vote…the criticism is that Trump is a kooky populist businessman who does non-politics things for a living. Who do you think started this country?
Lawyers, yes, but not the lawyers we see in Washington DC today, babbling endlessly about “reaching across the aisle and getting things done.” One of these guys got killed in a duel, that says it all right there. Sure they went along to get along…occasionally. That’s why slavery was legal when this country first got started. Fact is, the things they built that have turned out for the best, were products of steel-toed work-boot politicking. The kind that doesn’t have anything to do with getting along with anybody. The kind that involves protesting. The country, itself, is a product of self-exile, of self-estrangement, of saying “we will not be a part of this anymore.”
And leaving a room. Not giving a hang about who can or can’t hear the door close, or whether it closes at all…
In rough-and-tumble, working-man’s shoes.
As Trump haters and Palin haters begin their eighth straight day of lecturing the rest of us on the pointlessness of blind rage, while demonstrating how much of it they have…
…FINALLY, after a whole week of this and similar nonsense, I run across one thing with which I can agree completely. Aw, man. It’s like the coat hanger under the cast finally reaching the itchy spot. Preach it.
I like where he talks about the time he got shafted. Happens to all of us, but it’s how you react that really matters.
What a tragedy of wasted potential it is when people conclude “Well, guess The Man’s boot is on the back of my neck, no use trying until someone rescues me.” You’ll notice, from that point forward they burn a whole lot of energy trying to convince others of it. But only when it emerges that others have a different outlook on things, which they immediately attack. Until then, there’s no argument. That’s the tell. They’re really trying to convince themselves.
So South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley delivered a rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address. About four minutes in, she got off-topic and began scolding the supporters of her own party, with some sort of business about “the siren call of the angriest voices”…
She later elaborated, yes she was talking about Donald Trump, and others. Odd. How much is the nation to trust a political party, within which, one candidate cannot say what the problem is that the party seeks to solve, without other members of the same party jumping all over him for saying it?
She’s not the first to criticize DT for being angry and she won’t be the last. But these critics do not speak for everyone; and there is a problem with the criticism. It misrepresents what it is criticizing.
Doug Giles went off on the Haley speech…
Look, I hate to break it to the governor from SC, who begged money from Trump when she was clamoring for that job, but for your information, people are pissed and Trump’s massive rallies and Jeb’s and Lindsey’s underwhelming events prove the nation shares Donald’s rage regarding how BHO has decimated this nation.
Telling us to calm down is like telling the patriots in 1773 to chill out. You’re way out of touch, sister.
Oh, and by the way, I don’t remember your saying shizzle about Al Sharpton’s demented rhetoric when you shared a stage with that tax-evading, slick-haired, hate merchant. Why didn’t you chastise him when you were hugging him, since you’re now the self-appointed Rage-Aholic Rebuke Queen?
Say you’re overweight. Remember what it used to be like to walk across Walmart’s parking lot without having to be gurneyed to your minivan by Randy Mantooth? Remember the joy of not being able to hide small toys and half-eaten sandwiches between the folds of blubber on your body; and being able to actually see the toilet when you use it? Remember those simple pleasures? You do? Does it make you mad that you don’t get to enjoy them any longer? It does?!? There you go . . . see how positive anger can be?
Folks, this righteous wrath not only works for personal improvement, but it can also change for the better all aspects of our society—if we’ll get righteously P.O.’d in a precise direction. And there’s the rub . . . Our neutered nation tells us it’s a big no-no to get mad anymore. Especially if you’re a conservative.
Because we have allowed ourselves to be programmed by “them” to be nice and not heat up (unless, again, it is at something that upsets the left), we don’t even blink an eye when we see the base and the vile; instead we force a smile. What a bunch of bunkum we’ve been sold vis-à-vis this whole uninterrupted “nice” wave we’ve been told we’re supposed to surf. Today, people can do something appalling, say something contemptible and delve down the funnel exalting the lowest parts of humanity—and what’s to be our response? We’re supposed to stay sedate.
So, why do we show mock civility towards things that mock civility? Well, because “anger is bad.” And we don’t want to be bad, do we?
“Programmed.” Yes, that’s a perfect description. It reminds me of marital infidelity; The Left does it all the time and it seems nobody notices. It seems that way, because it’s true. So relaxed are the expectations against The Left, that The Left doesn’t, and can’t, fail them. How do you fail to achieve a benchmark that isn’t there? Don’t fuck around on your wife, and don’t get angry…The Left gets a pass. And what a short path it is, from granting The Left a pass, to doing everything the way they want it done — putting them in charge of everything.
From the comments:
Gov. Haley has fallen into the trap that comes with receiving adulation from the media. It started with the flag debacle when she caved to the PC police. The media began to laud her with praises. She got a taste of that and tried to go after more Thursday night. When you go down that road you quickly become an unprincipled RINO.
I live in a zip code with a LOT of self-righteous hippie bumper stickers. (God knows why).
One I see a lot is “If you’re not angry, you must not be paying attention!” So, apparently it’s okay to be angry if your a Prog/Commie who thinks the taxpayer owes you everything you want in life, but it’s NOT okay to be angry to see what made this country great, being tossed into the garbage. Okay, got it.
I don’t think we’re talking about anger at all. Those who promote Rubio over Trump, Jeb Bush over Trump, Clinton over Trump because Trump is too angry…how would they feel if the reaction was one of “You’re right! I’m going to vote for Rubio/Bush/Clinton, because I’m so angry!”? Let’s be honest. They’d like that just fine.
This is an argument about contentment and complacency. Anger, itself, has very little to do with problem solving, and for Gov. Haley to quibble about it is like a rescued hiker on a remote mountain trail complaining about the color of the car that’s offering him a ride. Although, it does have something to do with it; many’s the solution to a problem that was found by an angry person, that never would have been sought by a person not angry. Giles’ hypothetical of the fat, disgusting tub of goo getting mad at himself for being fat, is entirely valid.
And it cuts to the heart of the matter. Conservatives, today, don’t have to be angry at all before someone is shushing them, tut-tutting them, a good deal of the time from within their own party. Liberals can get as angry as they want. Even when they’re already running the government. Seven years it’s been, and they’re still hiding behind the excuse of “actually that started under George W. Bush” as a sort of generic, one-size-fits-all excuse.
What alarms me the most though, is the clarity-of-message that vanishes, in the blink of an eye, like a balloon being popped, with this shtick of don’t-be-angry. Let’s say that prevails. What then is the Republican position on…name it. What? Something like “If you’re wondering, go check the web site” or some such? That will win an election? No of course it won’t. It doesn’t. It hasn’t.
People don’t vote for people. They don’t have that much trust in their elected representatives. Even Barack Obama; people didn’t vote for Him because they thought He was a great guy, they voted for Him because they were afraid of what others might think of them if they didn’t approve of Him. There’s a difference.
People vote for go on some things, stop on other things. The candidate is just a vehicle for getting that done. These pushy tut-tutters and shut-uppers like Haley chanting their mindless bromides of “don’t be angry” seem to have forgotten all about that. And that’s the charitable explanation. The uncharitable explanation is that they know full well how ineffectual of a message this is to disseminate and act upon if the goal is winning an election, and they have ulterior motives in mind.
Oh yes…hope it’s real.
I can’t claim to be un-whole, bike thieves cost me, at most…oh…maybe fifty bucks, back in the 1970’s. Probably only one time. The “education” they gave me was worth far more than that.
Still, it’s just low. You wonder why they used to hang horse thieves, before you get your bike ripped off, after the experience you won’t be wondering about it anymore.
From Right Wing News.
We made an extended-family outing to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and then Mrs. Freeberg and I made a date out of seeing it a second time. We love it, and we especially like Rey, the butt-kicking female protagonist. Both the character and the actress. However — I am of the opinion that, as a model of “How to show the world that females can kick butt in movies,” the feature falls flat. My test of such offerings is not whether the female action hero beats up some bad-guys in a fight; that’s like being able to fly when you’re in the Justice League. My test is, rather, whether the balance has been achieved, by which I mean, did the female action star establish her cred without takng anything away from the guys.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens fails this test. Here is a list of what the guys do in this movie.
1. Get killed
2. Get captured
3. Get threatened
4. Get tortured and give up valuable information
5. Get depressed and frowny-faced, and take off, forcing everyone else to find them
6. Shoot some Stormtroopers dead…but let’s face it, that seems to be pretty easy
7. Throw temper tantrums
8. Become evil
9. Lose lightsaber duels
10. Get eaten
11. Take orders from females
12. Find ships that were stolen from them earlier (but it looks like the Wookie did that)
13. Talk down to other males
14. Talk about how women are generals
15. Talk about how women are royalty
16. Murder innocents
17. Torture innocents
18. Figure out…well…absolutely nothing. Zero resourcefulness demonstrated. The movie had puzzles and challenges to be solved, but the complexity of each was along the lines of “Go here.” And then the chick did that.
The item is not the eighteen points above. The item is that I went onto the Hello Kitty of blogging, and said a few words…it has since been pointed out to me, in a round-about way, that socially, I am not allowed to notice things like this.
It comes off looking like I think women suck. I’m just missing that brief flashpoint in time, in which men AND women could share an action movie together, and both kick butt. And figure out their way out of problems. When they could both be resourceful, and then tear up the sheets afterwards. Looks like that chapter’s closed. I am saddened about this, although I know it is fiction…then again, fiction does mirror real life, so it seems to me there is a lamentable event taking place on the plane of real life. Not sure when it happened, but it did happen.
And we’re not allowed to notice.
The President of the United States, to whom I sometimes refer as America’s First Holy Emperor, since He is regarded by many as a sort of “replacement Jesus” (although they don’t want to admit it, usually) is going to give His final State of the Union address in a bit over an hour.
This President has dark skin. He is, by descent, half-black although our mainstream media often refers to Him as “black.” I am grateful to Him for ending an era that has extended for far too long, in which when movies take place in the future and lazy, lazy scriptwriters want to find lazy, lazy ways of reminding the lazy, lazy audience that the story takes place in the future — they show that the President of the United States is black. I’m so thankful to Barack H. Obama for bringing that disgraceful period to an end. It is His one positive contribution to our country, our society and its culture.
Everything else, I think He’s been a disaster. He is, to leading this nation, what my first wife was to managing a checking account. That is not a compliment.
The item is: Because His skin is black, we are not allowed to notice.
Squid-like denizens of the Internet, filling out a group of unknown size and refusing to disclose their backgrounds, occupations, fields of knowledge or the like, and against my advice sharing a single account by the name of “Zachriel,” have taken it upon themselves to defend the long-discredited theory of “Nixon’s Southern Strategy,” a.k.a. the theory of “the two parties, Republican and democrat, switched sides sometime in the 1960’s.” I’m feeling lazy about embedding links at the moment, so I will leave it to the reader to look up the results of the presidential elections in 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972. Also 2012. Keep an eye on how the Southern states voted. Yes it is true, they used to vote democrat and they don’t do that anymore.
The theory is that the South is, and has been, heavily saturated with bigoted “conservatives.” When Barry Goldwater ran for President in 1964, these “conservatives” stopped being democrats and started being Republicans. So a Republican in 1964 is what a democrat was in 1963, and a democrat in 1964 is what a Republican was in 1963. Kennedy got shot, and in that blink of an eye the ideological polarity got reversed, or something.
Quoting Severian on this:
I don’t have Zachriel’s mad mind-reading skills, and I sure don’t have them at the distance of a century and a half, but I do know that the Democratic Party was only an electoral force in American politics thanks to its domination of the South…where Democrat governments passed Jim Crow laws, which increased inequality (freedmn going from “running places like South Carolina and Louisiana, and representing them in Congress” to “..slaves in all but name”) in the period 1866-1877 surely qualifies as “..increased inequality,” don’t you think?). It is truly, truly fascinating to hear that this “..conservative” result was brought about by a tiny minority.. in every Southern state… in every year from the end of Reconstruction (that’s 1877 in the standard textbooks, kids) to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I mean that, kids — it’s fascinating. You have evidence for these extraordinary claims, of course, so you should type ‘em up and send them on to the History Department at the nearest college. It’ll revolutionize our understanding of Gilded Age politics.
There is, of course, an answer to P_Ang’s “..magic party switch,” and the Cuttlefish actually know it, since they cite it all the time: Nixon’s “..Southern Strategy.” On their reading, Richard Nixon realized that the South was stem-to-stern racists; the natural home of racists is in the Republican Party; therefore, he openly said “..vote Republican to put the blacks in their place.” Ok, fine, but even if you grant that, it entails a huge problem — why oh why did all those liberal Democrats, whom we are informed on no less an authority than Zachriel him/her/their/itself were the majority in the Solid South, suddenly embrace their inner racist and vote GOP?
If you buy what Zachriel has been telling us, Jim Crow laws were imposed on the South by a tiny minority of “..conservatives” inside the otherwise pristinely liberal Democratic Party. But if that’s true, how did the great unwashed masses — who, remember, have always been liberals — suddenly find their voice and vote Republican? Remember, it’s not that the the tiny, Jim Crow-imposing “..conservative minority flipped and gave their states to Richard Nixon; Zachriel assures us that there was a “..massive demographic shift.” Which must mean — logically — that all those former liberals who couldn’t keep their states from imposing Jim Crow in the Gilded Age suddenly klanned up and went Republican in the years 1964-8, in the process somehow seizing the power that had been denied them all those years.
It connects back to the previous items this way: If one is to take the time to interview the knowledgeable, but make the mistake of interviewing the emotionally-invested who happen to lean left, one is almost guaranteed to blunder into all sorts of baffling bullshit. I refer back to my admonition that the reader should research the four or five elections mentioned above.
What do these three items have in common? They have this:
There is an identified class of oppressed persons: Females, blacks, democrats. There is a scheme hatched to bring these oppressed classes up to the level of the non-oppressed…and then, there is a narrative codified to confront any who do not whole-heartedly buy into the scheme. If you do not stand on your feet in the theater and fist-pump the empty air as Daisy Ridley kicks male rubber-mask butt in the new Star Wars movie, if you do not unflinchingly believe every talking point and bald-faced lie coming out of the lips of our black President, if you do not accept that the two major political parties switched sides in the 1960’s, then you are an “ist.” Racist, sexist, misogynist, cisgender, galvinist, Calvinist…blasphemist.
The democrats took the side of the feds, against the state sovereignty of the southern states, with the Civil Rights Act. Which was passed, mostly, with the support of the Republicans. But the Republicans were about fairness; the democrats were all about sticking it to the state sovereignty of the southern states. Since then, the democrats have had a tough time getting any support from the South. Shocker, right?
I’ve kept my silence on this aspect of it, since I was born in 1966. I don’t want to speak at length outside the perimeter of my personal knowledge. But today is within the perimeter of my personal knowledge…and today, liberals and democrats cannot distinguish between “I am opposed to the specific angle of attack you have assumed against this particular problem” and “I don’t want the problem to be solved.” They can’t see the difference between those two things. Even though a child qualified to graduate from the third grade, can.
This means, democrats figure — today — if you are opposed to the way they want to solve the problems, you must be a sexist and a bigot. And when this mythology first started about “the two major political parties switched sides in 1964,” they believed the same thing.
Should we buy what they’re selling? Well…it’s an addiction. We do not allow alcoholics to decide for us what alcoholism is. We do not allow kleptomaniacs to decide for us what kleptomania is. Any so-called “study” that looks into this, that does not specifically exclude self-identified “liberals” from the specimen, or from the expert conclusions, is invalid. Oh yes, I am heart-attack serious about that. Liberalism is the addiction, conservatism is the cure. You don’t ask addicts about the cure.
People disagree with me about that? Let them. I’m in the minority about that? So be it. Right is right even if nobody believes in it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone subscribes to it.
I have more items though.
Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm puts up quite the link-list, yesterday. First thing he wants to know:
It goes like this…
But to Sanders and others on the Left (another example is Elizabeth Warren), the financial business is the embodiment of evil. Here is the Washington Post yesterday, quoting a Sanders campaign speech:
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders took aim at the nation’s financial sector in a fiery speech Tuesday, declaring that “fraud is the business model of Wall Street” and calling for regulatory reforms to address “a lot more illegal behavior than we know of.” Speaking just blocks from Wall Street, Sanders vowed to break up banks that are “too big to fail,” jail unscrupulous Wall Street executives and provide an array of new protections for consumers.
“Fraud is the business model of Wall Street” — where does he come up with that? He is accusing multiple hundreds of thousands of people of systematic illegal conduct. Does he have any evidence to point to? What I know is that the Justice Department and U.S. Attorneys spent billions in the aftermath of the 2008/9 financial crisis in a lawless political quest to pin the crisis on Wall Street scapegoats, and they came up almost entirely empty handed. Yes there was a series of shakedowns of the big banks, in which those banks seriatim paid a billion or two or five to settle some endless phony investigation, in almost every case without any actual individual getting charged with wrongdoing. And there was Preet Bharara’s insider trading jihad, which substantially fell apart when the Second Circuit finally ruled that a huge part of it did not represent a violation of the law at all.
Like a Dark Linus at Negative Christmas, I grab my blanket and intone “Yes Charlie Brown, I will explain to you why they loathe the successful”…
…and in order to do so, I draw on the wisdom of Captain Capitalism.
Criticize her as you may, Oprah [Winfrey] is a genius because she realized people would rather feel good than actually achieve good in their lives. And thus, she went out and told millions of women for over 20 years what they WANTED to hear, not what they NEEDED to hear.
You’re not fat, you’re beautiful inside!
Your husband should love you for who you are!
Follow your heart and the money will follow!
You deserve it girl!
For this she was rewarded billions of dollars in net worth.
The problem is high IQ people (unless they jettison their morals) simply can’t do this which puts them at a disadvantage in the employment world.
First they cannot keep up the charade or façade of emotional interest. It just isn’t in their nature and it’s simply too taxing mentally. High IQ people can plainly see a problem for what it is, what logical decisions need to be made in order to solve it, and can remove any emotional or psychological preferences they might have about it. They offer direct, blunt, emotionless solutions that are guaranteed to solve the problem, but unfortunately step on people’s precious little toes.
This then leads to a second problem, because not only does the majority of clients prefer good feelings over production, but so too does the majority of co-workers and bosses. Your entire employment environment is driven by everybody’s insistence you place feelings and emotions over reality and truth. This is simply maddening for smart people because what needs to be done in the real world counters what your boss, co-workers, and clients are demanding of you.
Posted the following to the Hello Kitty of Blogging:
If you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket. That’s just how it works.
And if want to win ALL of the arguments…well…Step One is, you have to do some actual arguing. That is how it works.
You could take that to be one of my many assaults on the “rednecks”…for whom I know, I should be using a different word. My complaints are against those who do not build, who seek to destroy, those who see disgrace in investing any effort into anything. Those who glorify laziness.
I know I should not use this word to describe those people. There are rednecks who work their asses down to the pelvic bone, I know this. I have met them.
But…we do need the word, if “redneck” is not it. We have those people who seek to win arguments — who cannot define any notion of “truth” any other way, they’re just going through life, alienating people, “So-there!!”-ing their way toward the tumultuous end of every conflict that arises, which is something that happens several times daily.
They want to win all the arguments without doing any arguing.
The President of the United States is due to begin His State of the Union speech, His final one, in 26 minutes now. He works so hard to look like He doesn’t think through His various problems like some hayseed hick. I’m deeply ashamed when I realize He does exactly that, labors long and hard to fool people about it, seems to think He is successful in this pursuit. It’s embarassing to watch. Like seeing an ostrich flee its predator by sticking its face in the sand.
What the above items have in common is that they are argued by people who cannot argue. They say “accept what I have to tell you, and I shall accept you, otherwise I shall reject you.” They can offer fellowship in some unspecified group, or enclave. They can’t offer anything else, and they can’t argue the point.
Someone posted the following Monty Python clip, from way back in the 1960’s:
Sorry to say, accurate as this was for its time, it has grown obsolete. Today it is about as current as a four-barrel carburetor. People don’t argue just for the sake of arguing anymore…and we wish they did.
Today, it’s all about “That’s the way it is! And if you don’t agree then there’s no point discussing it with you!” That’s what passes for arguing these days, in the Obama era…
…and Socrates wept. Spun away, like a turbine, in whatever passes for his grave. Ideas no longer arise to challenge other ideas. Today they seek to claim the high ground, and immediately after that, to ostracize. So that their advocates do not have to concern themselves with facts, conclusions, logic, mutual exclusives, Occam’s Razor, any of that tedium. We’re just way too busy. Today, it’s all just: Accept what I have to say, unhesitatingly and uncritically, or you shall be banished from further discussion.
When we reverse-course and pull out of the cul de sac, that’s when life starts getting better again.
The headline is wife-language for “could you please build me a desk like that?” My reward for finally finishing the desk-project. That translation, in itself, is another representation of something else, that could be further translated: “I take back every eyeball-roll I ever did since you started, you are the King Stud of homemade desks.” The go-live date was in early afternoon, on the 31st of December. I didn’t plan it that way, it just turned out I burned all of 2015 on the project, minus a handful of hours…and a double-armload of other projects.
The back-story goes all the way to when we closed on the house, a year and a half ago. A homemade desk was already in the project pile. This never evolved past the blueprint stage, until six months ago when I had a setback that invalidated the plans. “Natalya,” the homebuilt Sandybridge PC around which the new desk was designed, finally made her opinion known about my non-existent computer-cleaning regimen by…well, catching fire. Kinda. She put out an awful lot of smoke anyway. I had to play it safe by immediately pulling out all the power cords, and not inspecting her since. The backups were already functional and in place, so we didn’t have any data drama. Just all the other drama: Have to get a new computer, have to scrub the blueprints, start with new ones…
The new computer, “Sergei,” is a Broadwell NUC. This is not exactly a home-built, more of a factory-built but bare bones. These are wonderful little units, about the size of two tuna fish sandwiches stacked on top of each other. You have to score a hard drive, laptop memory and an OS, so you’re looking at somewhere around $700 by the time you’re done. I worked the project of just getting the computer to go from about mid-July, after Natalya’s meltdown, to three months later during which time I monopolized the dining room table with my Lenovo Yoga 11 unit for all computing tasks. Mrs. Freeberg was the embodiment of patience during this time. Probably because she knew the “battle bridge” situation was as aggravating to me as it was to her, if not even more so.
I remember it was eleven months past our receipt of the miter saw, when I finally installed it on the work bench, fired it up and started cutting. I remember saying so to someone. This would place that stage of the project around November. The saw turned out to be as good as gold, although I’m sure there are superior models available for more money. What we’ve got is good enough. The keyboard tray turned out to be as solid as a brick.
In a departure from Natalya’s desk design, I abandoned the roll-out keyboard in favor of a stationary build. I had a flash of sanity that these devices are fragile by nature, and therefore don’t belong on a piece of furniture you intend to last a decade plus. Also, that roll-out keyboards don’t actually do me any good.
By now, the plans were sufficiently solid that I could cut some of the planks to the proper length and begin staining them. Hence the complaint that is the title of this post. This is Kona, just one shade lighter than Ebony, several notches darker than Walnut or Mahogany. It’s consistent with the overall design, which labors toward the objective that is a rhetorical question: What if men really did rule the world? How different would computer desks be?
The desk is dark — a man’s concern about colors, mostly has to do with things that don’t give you a headache when you look at them while recovering from a hangover. And, at the Freeberg Manor, space is at a premium. Those are the two salient facts here. So, plank after plank for the new desk, went onto a carefully apportioned section of the garage floor, with cardboard underneath to protect the concrete, and received their staining of Kona. No more than one or two at a time. The blueprints were just barely mature enough by then to allow for this.
One advantage of homebuilt furniture is that you can make it fit just so. The allocated space for this item is 54″ wide by 35″ deep. The design calls for the planks to reach all the way across, left side to right side, so that math is easy: 54 minus 0. Another advantage of this is that you can build them where they go, as in, when the finished product is too large to fit through the doorway. And that applies here. It makes things incredibly awkward, when you engage in this “ship in a bottle” construction, but at least you can accommodate.
But, awkward it was. As in, with December underway and Christmas coming, we entirely lost the use of our home office because of my desk building shenanigans. Fortunately, our yuletide plans had to do with road travel. We were looking forward to the junior member of our household, who throughout the year isn’t even in the house, arriving by train. Then with the younger generation in tow we would proceed Northward, almost up to the Canadian border, to celebrate the holiday with the older generation. Fun times. Means there’s no tree…but there is a lot of planning involved, some of it on the home computer.
Throughout this chapter, Sergei hummed along happily, in his badass sandwich-sized self, kinda floating along on top of a big pile of cords and wires under the old desk. Updating spreadsheets, making hotel reservations, writing e-mails following up on train tickets, et al. And, arguing about planning. I suppose that gets into a whole different subject. Why are some people afraid of planning anything? But I digress…
Or do I? Building a desk is all about planning things isn’t it? It’s the difference between ending up with something you can use, versus ending up with a piece of crap. Hmmm…I sense a theme in something that was supposed to be without theme…I suppose life is like that.
I was grateful to have the younger Freeberg generation here for the few hours and days. The desk-building project became an inter-generational thing for a bit — which is something it needed to be, since fastening the planks was not a one-man operation. This is the most controversial part of the newer blueprint, it calls for a “picnic table style” top, making use of a dozen pine studs. Seems everyone has questions about that. What the heck? How do you write on such a desk? Well…that brings us back to the rhetorical question that drives the design, what would computer desks look like if men really did run the world? Perhaps, if men ran the world 150 years ago the way feminists say, desks would still have smooth writing surfaces. Regardless, though, it is not 150 years ago, now is now…and how often do you actually write on a desk? Be honest.
Besides, the keyboard tray, as you can tell from the pictures, is not only as durable as an iron ingot, it’s enormous. It’s 34+1/2″ wide by 13+1/2″ deep. In practice, if I have to do something like that, I just move the keyboard out of the way. Which I find myself doing, much more often, for the purpose of using a second computer simultaneously, compared to doing it for the purpose of writing with pen and paper. Writing with pen and paper hardly ever happens. The picnic-table top design has turned out to be a net win.
But of course, the far bigger win was the singular feature around which the entire desk was designed: The beverage pillar, with the beer-bottle opener and metal canister to catch the caps. It should have been the very first thing on your mind when you saw the question “What would computer desks look like if men really did run the world?” And, there is your evidence that we don’t. We never really did. You want a computer desk with a beer bottle opener on the front, the way the Good Lord intended, you have to build it.
Or, depending on your point of view, maybe men do run the world and the Good Lord intends for us to build our own things. Either answer works.
In the end, I’m pleasantly surprised 2015 saw a workable conclusion to the project. I would have lost money betting on this, and in truth, if there was any term of time in which I was honestly thinking to myself “I see light at the end of the tunnel, I think we’ll make it!” — it wasn’t very much time at all. Just like any other hardware project, I suppose…you run back to the hardware store a few times, chastising yourself that three trips should’ve been two, and two trips should’ve been one. People wonder if you know what you’re doing, and then…eventually you win. Just keep plugging away at the problem. Life is a lot like that, too.
Perhaps the happiest aspect of this item is that its construction, and launch, involves so many memories that could outlast the furniture itself. Or, since it’s built so solidly and so well, with this construction-credo of “it’ll be here in one piece when the sun goes nova,” let’s amend that to say the memories have a decent shot at doing this. The eighteen-year-old so-called “boy” showed up just before our road trip to go see his grandfather, so there was no time for him to do anything with the desk at that point other than look at it. Early on the morning before I was to fetch him from the train station, I got an e-mail from my brother with the one subject line you never want to see: “Dad fell.” Yup…Friday the eighteenth, that’s four days before we were to arrive for the Christmas celebrations, my Dad fell and broke his hip. Looked like a Christmas in the hospital for sure. We called to ask if we should revise the trip, maybe head up a little bit earlier, and that was a negative so we stuck to the schedule. Against all expectations, the doctor discharged Dad from the hospital the exact day we arrived. This surprised everybody involved, especially those among us who had actual experience with oldsters falling and breaking hips. Miracles of technology, and just maybe, miracles of prayer.
December 2015, for us, is twenty pounds of potatoes crammed in a ten-pound bag. We held off on watching the new James Bond movie until the young man could join us, and we also managed to get the new Star Wars movie in the mix as well. Helped out with making the Bellingham house wheelchair-accessible for Dad, came back home, scooted the new desk back in its designated space in time for the New Year’s festivities. Lots of plans, some of them came to fruition, some did not. The ferry ride up in Washington State obviously couldn’t happen. Back here in California, the “take the S&W pistol up into the hills and teach those wine bottles a lesson” exercise didn’t happen. I’m more regretful of the missed opportunity to burn gunpowder, than about the ferry ride. We’ll see how Dad’s doing at some later time, for that. We’ll spend a few rounds in the hills, later. What can’t happen now can happen later. Of course that isn’t certain, but what is? You hope for the best and you prepare for the worst.
Oh you thought I was going somewhere specific with this? Sorry to disappoint, this one’s just a busy concoction of how things have been going lately. Desk, planning, life, life’s exigencies, plans getting disrupted, plans coming to fruition anyway…planes-trains-automobiles, movies, guns, what-if-men-ran-the-world. Somewhere in all of the above is a valuable lesson for us all, I suppose. Probably has something to do with the old adage about changing what you can, accepting what you can’t, and God granting you the wisdom to know the difference.
Remaining to be done:
But all that can wait. Now we proceed to my spectacularly patient wife’s (cherry-wood finish) desk. But gee…part of the reason I built this computer desk, was there were other projects that were supposed to happen on the computer. Well, I suppose in 2016 I’ll have to find a way to do more than one thing at once. Again. And so it goes…
We tend to forget that our so-called “leaders” are just flawed human beings like everybody else. They have vices, they have temptations…some even have bad intentions…
The Authoritarian Impulse
Under President Obama, rule by decree has become commonplace, with federal edicts dictating policies on everything from immigration and labor laws to climate change. No modern leader since Nixon has been so bold in trying to consolidate power. But the current president is also building on a trend: Since 1910 the federal government has doubled its share of government spending to 60 percent. Its share of GDP has now grown to the highest level since World War II.
Today climate change has become the killer app for expanding state control, for example, helping Jerry Brown find his inner Duce. But the authoritarian urge is hardly limited to climate-related issues. It can be seen on college campuses, where uniformity of belief is increasingly mandated. In Europe, the other democratic bastion, the continental bureaucracy now controls ever more of daily life on the continent. You don’t want thousands of Syrian refugees in your town, but the EU knows better. You will take them and like it, or be labeled a racist.
The Rule of the Wise-people
Historically, advocacy for the rule of “betters” has been largely a prerogative of the right. Indeed the very basis of traditional conservativism—epitomized by the Tory ideal—was that society is best run by those with the greatest stake in its success, and by those who have been educated, nurtured, and otherwise prepared to rule over others with a sense of justice and enlightenment. In this century, the idea of handing power to a properly indoctrinated cadre also found radical expression in totalitarian ideologies such as communism, fascism, and national socialism.
In contemporary North American and the EU, the ascendant controlling power comes from a new configuration of the cognitively superior, i.e., the academy, the mainstream media, and the entertainment and technology communities. This new centralist ruling class, unlike the Tories, relies not on tradition, Christianity, or social hierarchy to justify its actions, but worships instead at the altar of expertise and political correctness.
Ironically this is occurring at a time when many progressives celebrates localism in terms of food and culture. Some even embrace localism as an economic development tool, an environmental win, and a form of resistance to ever greater centralized big business control.
Yet some of the same progressives who promote localism often simultaneously favor centralized control of everything from planning and zoning to education. They may want local music, wine, or song, but all communities then must conform in how they operate, are run, and developed. Advocates of strict land-use policies claim that traditional architecture and increased densities will enable us to once again enjoy the kind of “meaningful community” that supposedly cannot be achieved in conventional suburbs.
In the process, long-standing local control is being squeezed out of existence. Ontario, California Mayor pro-tem Alan Wapner notes that powers once reserved for localities, such as zoning and planning, are being systematically usurped by regulators from Sacramento and Washington. “They are basically dictating land use,” he says. “We just don’t matter that much.”
The new progressive mindset was laid out recently in an article in The Atlantic that openly called for the creation of a “technocracy” to determine energy, economic, and land use policies . According to this article, mechanisms like the market or even technological change are simply not up to the challenge. Instead the entire world needs to be put on a “war footing” that forces compliance with the technocracy’s edicts. This includes a drive to impose energy austerity on an already fading middle class, limiting mundane pleasures like cheap air travel, cars, freeways, suburbs, and single family housing.
What causes this? I detect two factors: Phobia and strategic graft. There is a certain personality type that can’t stand the idea that someplace, at sometime, someone might know what they’re doing. By and large, these are not intellectually vigorous people. Once they find out cars have to be assembled, the conflict begins as they gradually realize the cars are not being assembled the way they think it should be done. But as long as you allow them to think cars grow on trees, there’s no conflict. That’s the phobia.
The graft is the sale of influence, by way of actual dollars or quid pro quo. We are, unhappily, living in a time in which our so called public “servants” are beginning to anticipate several steps ahead, their own transgressions of graft. You just can’t attach too big of a price tag to the decision to do things a certain way across a township, or municipality, or county. But a state? Now you’re talking. The thing of it is though, to get that done you have to lay some groundwork. You have to pass some “everybody in this vicinity does it this way” rules. The easiest way, is probably to establish a board. Once you get a board deciding things, without any available means of appeal, you can appoint people to that board and…kaching, kaching. Haven’t you noticed? When we discuss the boards that make the biggest decisions, that’s when we know the least about who’s sitting on them. Thanks to this alone, we are rapidly becoming a passive-voice, “I know what was done but I dunno who did it” society.
What people tend to forget is, there really aren’t too many credible arguments against local control. Although there are some. Localities can be held to a centralized (higher) standard, and in some situations this might — conceivably — benefit everybody, within & outside of the locality. And, coordination. But those arguments are not advanced too often as we wrangle away, year after year, with some spiffy new centralized commission of overlords that wants to lift more power away from the local level; the advocates for centralized control tend to rely much more often on bumper sticker slogans, and bogeyman stories about “If we don’t act now, the climate will slip out of control past a tipping point” or some such.
Also, efforts that involve local autonomy can, and probably will, bring these desirable aspects of centralized control themselves, the better performance and the coordination. It might take a few more steps, but it isn’t a slow process by any means. The accelerating communication due to improving technology, is on the side of helping this process. Two counties, side by side, harvest corn. One brings twice as many bushels per acre at harvest time, as the other. Two hundred years ago it would be hard to measure that, and harder still to bring about change because of that. Now? We measure just about everything. And we talk about it at the speed of light.
This mania, this drive, to have intimate aspects of everyday life directed by centrally located better-people, when you get right down to it, is a relic from the past. It’s Roman Empire stuff. That, and a psychological enfeeblement, or something that should be diagnosed that way.
Was going through old e-mails, noticed some clumps of unread messages overly-invested in notifications of comments over at the Hello Kitty of Blogging. Rather than bulk-delete, I combed through them and discovered a particularly ingenious (and unusually well-worded) missive from myself.
It is a rebuttal to a point made by a lefty, who was trying to set up his fellow lefties as the sole innovators of technology, coming up with all sorts of useful contributions to humankind while the conservatives, I dunno, sit in huts made of mud, banging rocks together or something…
Certainly, I cannot refute the point directly. Who wants to provide evidence for the counterpoint that the iPhone was actually “invented” by Michael Savage fans? The assertion that the iPhone geeks predominantly leaned left, although probably not recorded and probably not provable, is probably true.
The younger generation of engineers is “educated” like no generation has been ever before. The problem is in the content of their education, not in its coverage.
And because of that, the iPhone is a bad example of what you’re trying to prove. The iPhone didn’t get “invented.” It is a particularly hotly-selling confluence of evolutionary stages of features introduced in other products, years earlier. If it demonstrates something you can accomplish with liberal thinking that you can’t accomplish with conservative thinking, the proof makes liberals look like what conservatives say liberals are: Starry-eyed, intellectually slothful types overly obsessed with “Hey wouldn’t it be wonderful if X.” And X has a lot more to do with not-worrying-about something, than a human actually getting some kind of useful work done.
It’s a shame that the layman looks on these “campuses” of buildings full of engineers, as percolating hotbeds of creativity. I used to look at them that way myself. A little bit of logic, common sense, everyday math upsets that rather jarringly. Two hundred to five hundred heartbeats to a floor of a building…let us say, that is an even one hundred actual engineers. Two to five floors to a stylish, modern, tech building, ten buildings to a campus. Multiply by another ten to cover the whole company, you have 25,000 engineers…that’s just about right.
Living out the adrenaline rush that surrounded them in their teenage years, in the world of adulthood, all the way to retirement, every day of every year, all 25,000 of them. How many new ideas per year per engineer? Going at my relatively lethargic “hey I just had and idea” pace, let us say 2 or 3. And let us say 90% of those fail somewhere along the line…90% of what’s left, is folded up into bigger, more overarching ideas that become products. We should still be seeing, if our “hotbed of creativity” generalization was anywhere close to accurate, hundreds of new ideas every year. Hundreds, perhaps breaking into the thousands. Per company.
I didn’t realize this until I was working inside one of those buildings…and then called-upon to explain to my boss, why my code didn’t look like the code that might’ve been written to solve the same problem, by ten other engineers. Or twenty. My explanation was that I was using the design patterns to make the most of object-oriented programming and design, so that the code would be more easily maintainable and modifiable later on — something the team had often talked about researching, but upon which it had progressed very little. Because I made the decision to research and progress, my code looked different. And, I was introduced to the very n00b concept of, “If your code is more maintainable, but nobody else understands how it works, it isn’t maintainable.” Well that’s true, of course. Then again it is an architectural software design pattern. You are supposed to read up on how it works before you understand it. And failing that, you aren’t necessarily supposed to understand it; you have to do some reading. That’s an intrinsic part of design patterns. This defense really didn’t help me though. Maybe that’s why the team hadn’t gotten into them too much.
Employees have complained about this since long before the tech revolution. It’s called “Not Invented Here,” or NIH. It happens when one learns, far too late in cases like mine, that one’s particular occupational placement has nothing to do with creativity. What you did, meets all the goals, but the boss doesn’t understand it and now you are to be punished. Point is, if I was laboring under this expectation, that means the same must be true of the other thousands upon thousands; at least some of them. Most? Nearly all? That just stands to reason, and the results speak for themselves. A lousy iPhone? Years and years, campuses upon campuses, buildings upon buildings? Tens of thousands of heartbeats? The cream of the crop?
But then as I pointed out above, there is the matter of what the iPhone does. Surely you can come up with hundreds and hundreds of anecdotes, some imagined but credible, others real and documented, of the iPhone making something constructive happen that otherwise would not have happened. But it will be much tougher to come up with such a story in which some other device could not have netted the same happy outcome. And here we come upon an unsavory question: If the iPhone is a lousy example of what my opposition was trying to demonstrate (as my opposition ended up partially agreeing) — if it fails to stand as a decent specimen of most-modern and most-recent creative spark — then, what’s a good example?
I might offer, as a most-recent, the USB connection. How’s that? Or maybe, the alpha channel on a two-dimensional image. However that, like the iPhone, is more of a recent marketing effort than a recent technological innovation. In concept, it has existed for quite awhile. For the today-stuff, the true “gee whiz,” I’m seeing a lot of items on the published click-bait list fail to qualify as true “Hey, I just had an idea…” things. “Magic Leap,” “Nano-Architecture,” “Car-to-Car Communication,” no. “Project Loon,” “Supercharged Photosynthesis,” maybe…possibly.
But, no to the iPhone. That is a branding, not an invention.
And I’m not sure what sorts of practical things you can do, thinking like a liberal, that you can’t do thinking like a conservative. These are the people who say “climate change” and “income inequality” are pressing problems; and vote fraud, imbalance of separation of powers, swelling public debt and Islamic terrorism, are not.
Challenged to identify “What’s Wrong With The World?“, I said, among other things…
You’re hired into a job, you are hired to be and not to do. If you’re fired, you’re fired for your failure to be and not to do. If not — when you get another executive in charge of the company, if you open your company’s web site and read his biography, you’ll probably read a great deal about what he is…not so much anymore about what he has done.
That was a long time ago. Since I wrote that, the nation has elected a black guy to be President of the United States, in fact anointed Him as some sort of Holy Savior, mostly because of His blackness — and seen how that doesn’t work for anybody in the long run. Then it re-elected Him. Would it do it third time if it could? Either answer would be speculation, doomed to never be anything more than speculation, unprovable, irrefutable. But, I’m thinking not. I’m seeing encouraging signs. Tiny ones, anecdotal ones. Listing them wouldn’t do any good. But they’re there. We seem to be going through a thaw, after a long winter. People are starting to figure out that virtuous acts have rewards, not-so-virtuous ones have consequences. People are realizing that what they do, matters. What others do, matters.
But then I see stuff like this…
According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans named Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton the “Most Admired Woman, 2015.”
Clinton has received the title 14 times in the past 14 years, 20 times overall, the most times an individual woman has been named most admired since Gallup began polling the open-ended question in 1948.
Well she’s far from the only one. A lot of public servants just hang around, making speeches now and then, launching into bizarre tangents of thought to try to steal credit whenever something good happens. It’s embarrassing to watch after awhile. You wish someone would ask something like “So what is it about you, specifically, that makes you so awesome?” One begins to suspect there’s no answer. After awhile it becomes hard to think otherwise. All these speeches, nothing about virtues? What would you like to pass on to the next generation? Your intellect? Patience? Persistence? What? They don’t say.
They cherry pick statistics and then comment on something like “I presided over a three percent increase or decrease in whatever…” That’s what passes for doing, these days, in our highest echelons of power. Which means it reflects on us all. Nobody’s doing much of anything at all. “That happened on my watch!” scores the biggest bragging rights. It looks phony and fake, because it is. A real doer would have some passion about teaching what exactly he has done. He would say: No copyright here! Steal from me! I want everybody doing the same thing! It’s been so long since we’ve seen anyone say something like that, we’ve forgotten what it looks like. Oh yeah that’s right. The big-state libs do it all the time, I forgot. Raise taxes! Make the rich pay their fair share!
So allow me to self-correct: Our one example is just pure nonsense. Want to make the economy take off and really hit its stride? Put more burdens on it.
We seem to have forgotten: We’re not supposed to favor, or disfavor, demographic groups. Voting for a woman to be President just because she’s a woman, is just like voting for a black guy because He’s black. That’s wrong. We’re all supposed to have been in agreement, a long time ago, that that’s wrong. As 2015 retires though, we’re still waiting for our wise elders to let us know if it’s wrong or not.
If I could be allowed to dictate what gets fixed next, I would call that out as the one loose nut on the valve cover. Other ones are tight, but this one is so very loose. It’s wobbling. Such strangers we have become to the idea of anybody actually doing anything, we betray our own non-discrimination “principles” right in mid-sentence as we articulate them. We seem to have reserved all the meaningful decisions about hiring and promotion, for the bean-counters among us, who work long and hard about aggravating their own passions about counting the beans. Never has our obsession been keener, over what people are — and we can’t even agree about what they are. Nor shall we, so long as we are prohibited from siding with reality on the question…
In the latest, astonishing act of draconian political correctness, the NYC Commission on Human Rights have updated a law on “Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Expression” to threaten staggering financial penalties against property owners who “misgender” employees or tenants.
Incidents that are deemed “wilful and malicious” will see property owners face up to $250,000 in fines, while standard violations of the law will result in a $125,000 fine.
Meanwhile, we have other triggers in place in our grand bureaucracies, ready to fire as soon as we make up our minds on what a person is…while the question of what they do, continues to languish…
A woman who failed the Fire Department of New York’s running test six times will get a seventh opportunity to become a full-fledged member of the department, according to a published report.
The New York Post says that Wendy Tapia, 34, is among a group of EMTs promoted to probationary firefighters. The group will start an 18-week training academy Monday.
The Post reported that Tapia was allowed to conditionally graduate from the Fire Academy on May 17, 2013, despite being unable to run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes or less. At the time, she blamed her slow going on a foot injury.
After she was sworn in, the FDNY gave her five more chances to pass the test, but Tapia was unsuccessful in all five atempts. After her sixth failed attempt, in November 2013, Tapia resigned and returned to EMS never having worked a full-fledged shift.
FDNY members who spoke to the Post predict that Tapia will be allowed to pass the running test by FDNY brass, who fear a gender discrimination lawsuit.
“She’ll graduate, no question,” one FDNY member said. “The department doesn’t want another black eye.”
Perhaps I should add it to my list of suggested New Year’s resolutions (although bullet #5, I see, partially covers the concern): Definition about what people DO, over and above what people ARE. Appreciation for their positive contributions, excoriation for their negative impacts. We have a problem arising from this, which has to do with a shortage of shame. People do shameful things and there’s no shaming, because that has to do with what people do, and our obsession is with what they are.
It is almost as if…EXACTLY as if…the collective realization was one of, “nothing I do matters, so I may as well articulate socially attractive points of support for other appealing individuals and appealing groups of individuals, so that my standing becomes elevated.” And if ever the staple resources come up short and have to be rationed, those who have done the most preening will be the last ones to be ostracized.
Exactly the mindset embraced by rats, as they scramble around on a sinking ship.
Very well. We want to obsess over what people are, do we? Well we’re not rats. And we’re not on a sinking ship. We’re people, an intellectual species, a privileged (in a good way) and dignified species, and we should act like it. But I guess I’m just old fashioned like that…
Are we saying that 2015 was the worst year ever? Are we saying it was worse than, for example, 1347, the year when the Bubonic Plague killed a large part of humanity?
Yes, we are saying that. Because at least the remainder of humanity was not exposed to a solid week in which the news media focused intensively on the question of whether a leading candidate for president of the United States had, or had not, made an explicit reference to a prominent female TV journalist’s biological lady cycle.
…NBC suspends Nightly News anchor Brian Williams after an investigation reveals inaccuracies in his account of being in a military helicopter under fire in Iraq. “Mr. Williams did not actually come under fire,” states the network. “Also technically he wasn’t in a helicopter in Iraq; it was a Volvo station wagon on the New Jersey Turnpike. But there was a lot of traffic.” A contrite Williams blames the lapse on post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from killing Osama bin Laden.
…there is troubling news from Baltimore, where the death of an African-American man in police custody touches off a conversation on race that lasts several days, resulting in 250 arrests and extensive property damage. The Rev. Al Sharpton rushes to the scene but is unable to prevent things from eventually calming down.
In a historic decision on gay rights, the nation’s highest legal authority — Kim Davis, clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky — overturns the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that state laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, in what is widely hailed as a brave and courageous display of bravery and courage, a 65-year-old woman allows herself to be pictured on the cover of Vanity Fair wearing only a corset.
Meanwhile the Republican candidates’ debate on CNBC takes a lively turn when Ted Cruz, responding to a question about the federal budget agreement, throws a chair at moderator Carl Quintanilla, setting off a round of applause so loud that it awakens Jeb Bush, who notes that as governor of Florida he had a strong record of promoting furniture safety.
Well, I dunno, it doesn’t look like a bad year to me. Although I do understand how someone could see it that way.
I can’t write funny stuff like Mr. Barry, but I must have some talent for noticing things, since I get in trouble so often for noticing things I’m not supposed to notice. Human behavior, for instance. The pattern is pretty clear: People see a problem, they come up with a wrong solution, they chase that for a little while…or a great while. Maybe forever. But if they’re capable of learning something, they eventually figure out the solution they’ve been chasing is the wrong one, and they go to work on their solving skills and start chasing a solution that is, at least, not quite so wrong.
Yes, Barack Obama won re-election in 2012. That doesn’t really prove anything, though, other than for a lot of people it took more than four years to figure out they’d been chasing the wrong solution. For the people like Mr. Barry who see 2015 as a year of pain, the feeling is not imaginary. It is real. This paradigm shift of figuring out you need to re-evaluate the solution, that you’ve been chasing after the wrong one, is never a comfortable one. It is the scraping of the blade of theory getting shaped and sharpened against the stone of practice. And 2015 seems to have taken form as the year of the Great Sharpening.
The sharpening is not over. The blade is still dull. This year, after all, saw a man win the title of “Woman of the Year”. You can’t get much less-real than that, since men are not women. But on this I refer to a particularly inspiring sentence we heard from the audio book version of Glenn Beck’s The Christmas Sweater. Paraphrasing from my increasingly fallible memory, now loaded up beyond capacity with useless holiday details. The passage pointed out that the most challenging part of a journey is before the first step, wherein the traveler makes the decision that he is worthy of the journey.
That’s where we are. “Hope! Change! I want to be a part of this thing! Fundamentally transform!” These are all just code words for “I’m not worthy of the journey, I want someone to pick me up and carry me.” Another flawed mortal, playing God; the blind leading the blind. The discomfort of 2015 is growing-pain, a mass figuring-out among all of us, or at least most of us. Maybe only some of us, the loudest and most outspoken “some.” The much needed paradigm shift. No other flawed-mortal is carrying us. Flawed mortals can only pretend to do so. It’s up to us.
Recently, a “physicist” by the name of Lawrence Krauss claimed that “all scientists should be militant atheists.” On the contrary, any scientist who is not a theist is incompetent.
Let’s define “God” as the “supernatural being who created the Universe.” That is, God is the cosmological singularity. To see this, unpack the definition of “God.” The word “supernatural” literally means “above nature,” or outside of space and time, and not subject to the laws of physics…the cosmological singularity is the cause of everything that exists, but is itself uncaused.
So now that we know that God is the cosmological singularity, the question of God’s existence is now a question of physics: Does the cosmological singularity exist?
If we accept the laws of physics, the answer is yes.
It’s an interesting summation of the argument. One might accuse Tipler of transmogrifying the dispute away from “Is there a God?” to “Is there a causative agent existing outside of space and time?” But if you’ve ever watched people wrestle with these accusations that the faithful are the ones displaying incompetence, you know that this is exactly what’s being debated. It’s chicken-and-egg, with “things that exist in space and time” being the egg.
I’m less interested in the final answer, than in the methods being used in the argument. Those who assert that the secular types are the ones who have it right, look exactly like what the Christians say we all are: flawed mortals, stained with the sin of Adam and unable to do anything about it, flailing around within an earthly dominion for an answer that exists well outside of it, with our understanding of what lies beyond limited in ways we can’t even assess. We don’t even know the true magnitude of what we don’t know.
From the comments:
Anyone that believes in an invisible sky wizard are [sic] insane.
Those who doubt, at least share the doubt with swelling ranks of sophists like this one. Rhetoric-people. The ones who place all their faith in the cosmetic outcomes of shouting matches, ignoring the metaphysical.
Many among them have this perception that the belief in God is merely a wallowing-around in comforting pablum, a belief in a deity not very much different from a child’s belief in the Tooth Fairy. Atheism, supposedly, is something outside of religion, the final embracing of the scientific method. Yet they do not object when their ranks are infiltrated by persons like the above, who do not use the scientific method.
And ask them how the universe came to be, sometime, without God. They do have an answer, and the answer defies the cosmological singularity, asserting that all things existing within space and time, were caused by other things within space and time. But you will quickly find that this doesn’t use the scientific method either, it uses the method of “It is that way because I say it is that way,” just like “they’re insane because I say they’re insane.”
It isn’t a trivial task to come up with proof that there is a God, but I find it way-easy to provide the proof that atheism is a religion. It is far easier than proving a liar is telling a lie, because when you look at how people arrive at their opinions and how they comment on it all, you see people tend to be consistently and refreshingly honest about this. They’re all too eager to share the innards of how they came to think a certain thing. Even when there are no innards. “I just decided that, and look how emphatically I’m repeating it, look at all the passion I have about it.”
To which they would object, I’m quite sure, that the above is the very definition of a church service. And that’s a fair point. But it’s like declaring yourself to be a transformative figure after you become President of the United States, and then spending your entire time in that office hiding behind the “other guy did it too” defense after every misstep. Atheism, in a very similar way, overpromises and underdelivers. It says: “Stop forming beliefs using the religious method, use the scientific method instead — gather the facts, form the theories, validate them by way of experimentation, decide what you believe after all of that. Like this…” And then it doesn’t do it.
“Conservatives, avoid accusing your liberal friends & relatives of reading from canned talking points. It can be hard, especially when they’re bringing laptops and tablets to the dining room table, and reading from them…Liberals, try actually discussing, rather than reading from talking points at the dinner table.”
From a brain fart I had over at the Hello Kitty of Blogging, which drew five likes. Not many, but far more than I expected. One of those things that resonated.
1. Go light on the booze, unless & until you’re sure everybody can handle it.
2. If you MUST talk politics at the dinner table, swivel onto something else when it seems like the time is right.
3. Conservatives, avoid accusing your liberal friends & relatives of reading from canned talking points. It can be hard, especially when they’re bringing laptops and tablets to the dining room table, and reading from them.
4. Liberals, try actually discussing, rather than reading from talking points at the dinner table. Use something besides mockery, just to shake things up a bit, and to see if you’re up to the challenge.
5. Don’t neglect your guests to defrost the freezer. By hand. With a screwdriver. For three hours or more.
6. If the guests are going to be bringing Christmas presents, move stuff out of the way. Like, beforehand. Prioritize.
7. Toilet paper in all the bathrooms. You know, act like you’ve been looking forward to your guests arriving, and being there.
1. Contribute! Bring food. And wine, both red and white. Drink responsibly. Designate a driver.
2. Get ALL the work done for the year, before heading to the Christmas party. Don’t be that guy pecking furiously away on his laptop off in the corner because this just has to be done first of the year.
3. If you’re a child, that goes for your schoolwork, too. FRONT-load the effort. Get it done so it doesn’t impose on others.
4. If you’re a vegan or are allergic, shoulder the burden. Discuss. Ask, don’t tell.
5. If church services are on the agenda and you’re a secular type, or belong to a different denomination — bend, flex, and zip. Embrace the embiggened horizons.
6. If there’s a viewing of a Christmas movie on the teevee, participate. Don’t talk about the funny thing your BFF said about the wart on the back of your hand when Scrooge is being dragged down to Hell, or Hans Gruber is falling from the top floor of the Nakatomi Plaza.
7. Help out in the kitchen.
8. Leave ‘em wanting more. Check the body language of your host(s). If any of them are horizontal, with their eyes closed tight, and snoring, it might mean you’ve stayed too long.
It was from a few days ago. Some relatives, and I, have differences of opinion about the virtues of basic planning. Just venting a bit of frustration, and attempting to put some positive course-correction on it, so maybe others could benefit or at least get a chuckle. You’ll have to take my word for it, I knew nothing about this, although I’m sure it likes like I must’ve known something…
It used to be that Harvard produced some of the best and brightest minds in the world. Now, those minds are so fragile and delicate that have to hide behind talking points on a placemat when they’re talking with their own families over the holidays.
It bears repeating: I knew nothing about this. It was just something I said. “Liberals, try actually discussing, rather than reading from talking points at the dinner table.” Sometimes, I guess, I just don’t know how right I am…
But what-ho, what’s this? Every action has an equal and opposite reaction? Or no, not equal in this case…superior.
Remember we told you about the Harvard talking points placemat that the school’s office of “diversity, microaggression, and ZOMG – HELP ME, I’m being triggered!” gave to their special snowflake students who can’t handle talking to their families over the holidays? Harvard Republicans came up with their own version of the placemat. And I have to applaud these guys and girls for their ingenuity and humor…
Well played, Harvard Republicans. Well played.
Update: Oh dear…President Clinton’s Labor Secretary wants to get in on the action. Well his arguments are not good ones, so he’s sending his fan base into a joust with a short lance. But, it’s a free country.
These things are ailments, moral shortcomings, other set memberships that have the effect of blinding those on the inside. When we discuss what is going on with these things, we value the opinions of people who are not part of them. If you are part of these things, we do not, and should not, value your opinion about that thing.
5. Personality disorders and other behavioral health issues, including homicidal ones
6. Government regulators
7. People who fall for scams
8. Tyrannical dictators
10. Any sort of addiction
These things are religious denominations, ideologies, associations that determine some ways of looking at life. They are situations in which, you have to be on the inside to comment credibly. A question about “What does X think about Y,” where X is any one of the following, is equivalent to a question of “What did YOU mean when you said something?” You don’t ask people on the outside about what people are thinking on the inside. That would be daffy.
5. Gun owners
6. Software engineers
7. Boy Scouts
These things may belong on the first list, or on the second list, depending on the person. You can’t generalize about them, you have to take it on a case by case basis.
2. People who scam other people
3. Environmentalist whackos
5. Homosexuals and homosexual activists
6. Public school teachers
7. Radio talk show hosts
8. Bloggers, commenters on social media
9. People who are opposed to illegal immigration
10. City engineers responsible for designing really bad intersections, like the one on Bidwell in Folsom, by the Highway 50 overpass, in front of Starbucks
I’m sure nobody is going to agree with me entirely about the content of the three lists. But I would hope we can achieve near-universal agreement among thinking persons who observe the behavior of other human beings, and ponder what it means, about the concept. Sometimes you rely on the comments from the people on the inside, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you merely probe; maybe find a polite way to ask “What the heck are you people thinking?”
I’m also reasonably sure someone who had something to do with city street planning in Folsom, was dating someone who had something to do with Starbucks, and got dumped.
…borders on the obscene. I doubt very much that a Christian was responsible. Such a Christian would have to be capable of sketching, coloring and finishing something that demands a great deal of time and attention to detail, without ever reading up on Luke 2:1-7. Nobody really seems to know who first created or displayed the image. One commenter took on a search, which he says was not exhaustive, and the oldest embed at the end of that search was was here but that doesn’t look like the true origin.
There are those Christians who rely on their faith to think through their various problems in life, some of them going so far as to say it’s required for clear thinking. I don’t find that objectionable at all; I’m probably in that camp myself. And it’s mostly because of stuff like this. I see non-Christians forming ideas about Christians, apparently without ever once talking to any of us. Crazy. No I mean that literally; to presume it makes sense to do it this way, these people have to be off their nut.
They’re not following my three lists — which is fine, they’re mine. Someone else’s lists are going to be different. But, they’re not making any such lists, not stopping to ask themselves “Who knows something and who doesn’t? Whom should I be asking?” They just do what feels right and good.
Most troubling, since a lot of these people are in real positions of authority to say what is true, what is happening. Like cartoonists, reporters, politicians and those who write speeches for them. They consistently get Christianity backwards; they fantasize about what it means to be one, without ever thinking about becoming one, or asking anybody who is one.
They get the conservatives and liberals backwards a lot, too. 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. And they make up a lot of stuff that isn’t true because, again, it feels right and good. That’s their idea of gathering facts. Why would you ask them?
Related: Kirsten Powers: Becoming a Christian Ruined My Love of Christmas — But then I learned to see the beauty of Christ’s coming like never before (via Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm).
Yesterday afternoon was crazy. I suddenly realized 1) I’m working on five things at once, 2) a lot of these things were put on my plate by somebody else, 3) because they realized I’m going to be clocking-out and hitting the road real soon, 4) and that nobody else can do it, and 5) I’ve helped them before, so why not hit me up with the latest crisis?
I suspect other people who actually get things done, have this problem at this time of year. I don’t want to disparage the people who were piling stuff on my plate, some of them were trying to be considerate and respectful — in fact, in one case, the crisis existed because they were being too respectful. I was the one in error, having procrastinated on their project too long. Nevertheless, there’s a problem. There has to be a problem if all this stuff is getting thrown into the pot, in “crisis mode,” at the eleventh hour. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Put the following up on the Hello Kitty of Blogging, before I realized it’s a better fit here. (The people who really need to see it have unfriended me and can’t see it; of course they don’t read this page either, I don’t think…but still…)
Two weeks from now people will be wondering about what resolutions they can make. I suggest these.
1. FRONT LOAD the effort. If the current block of time you’re using, as in right now, this very moment, is not allocated toward a defined purpose already, find something on your unfinished-tasks list that will fit into it. The time has to be burned somehow. If you have stuff that has to get done, burn the time on getting the stuff done. Simple, right? Procrastination is cute and all, but when it leads to consequences that impact others, that means you have taken it too far.
2. Don’t be a helicopter mom. Whup whup whup whup whup…don’t enable others. Helping is alright, but be mindful of when the targets of your help are ignoring consequences and ignoring deadlines, because you’re allowing them to do this. That means you’ve gone too far.
3. If you have found someone to be a valuable source of assistance to you, treat them with respect, not like some dumb beast of burden that hasn’t got anything else to do but stand around, chew a cud and wait for your next crisis.
4. Your observance of #1 and #3 should lead to this one: Think about prerequisites. Figure out what you’re going to need people to do. Do this early, so you can ask them how your latest need, should they choose to accommodate you, can fit into their schedules best.
5. DEFINE. I notice when collaborating with people on things, if I make a list of any sort I often hear this smack-down: “Looks complicated.” Or “You’re over-thinking it.” Or “I find it overwhelming.” Alright alright, I’m sure in a lot of cases I am guilty. Probably most of the time I’m guilty. But when the list is nothing more and nothing less than what it needs to be — five things that have to get done, and the list is of those five things — you will hear me offer a rebuttal something like this: “It is what it is, I didn’t make it that way.” The fact of the matter is, too many people among us have reached adulthood, taking on responsibilities, with other people counting on them to get it all done, without ever having learned to define what has to get done — let alone getting it done. They see a list of any kind, they turn up their noses at it, figure they’re too good for something like that, think of it as “nerd” stuff. THERE IS NOTHING OVERWHELMING ABOUT A LIST. It’s just a list! You want overwhelming? Lists are just the first stage. Man up, Nancy.
6. PRIORITIZE. If everything is important, then nothing is.
7. SCHEDULE. You generally should be doing the high priority stuff first, but that isn’t necessarily always the case.
8. PLOT AND SCHEME. When did these become evil words? Go ahead, be evil, plot, scheme. There’s nothing nefarious about figuring out whether the Dry Cleaners open at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. This is the age of Google, sit down and do your research.
9. LEAVE THE COMFORT ZONE. Don’t be Beaky Buzzard!
10. Begin with the end in mind. What exactly is it you’re trying to do? Are you laboring toward a goal — see #5 — or are you just frittering away time doing whatever you like to do?
These are things we often don’t discuss, under the premise that it’s a person’s private business to manage his time and his projects the way he wants to manage them. The reason we think about it that way is we want to be considerate to others. But when people neglect this stuff, they end up being inconsiderate to others, so in situations like that, the objective defeats itself. And of course, there is nothing intrusive about suggesting New Years’ resolutions, even to strangers — if you don’t like ‘em, ignore them. Just keep blowing deadlines, having crises, imposing on people who have helped you the most…
When you break #5 and don’t define, you offer a powerful motivation in others — the persons upon whom you are counting to get the work done — to break #1, to start procrastinating. Think about it: If they’re giving you solid deliveries so that they become your “go to” guy, then they’ve become someone else’s go-to guy as well. If you’re giving them things to do without offering specifics they need to do it, it just makes sense for them to attend to the other stuff while waiting for the necessarily details to, just maybe, possibly, somehow, materialize. It would be ludicrous to expect something different, am I right?
If the thing you’re doing involves the word “each,” or “all,” or “none,” then the thing you are doing demands a list. First thing you need to ask yourself is how many things are on the list. Ten? Twenty? Five hundred? If you don’t know the answer, then that means you don’t have access to the list yet, and the first step of your task couldn’t possibly be clearer. So are you at least in the process of making the list? If you aren’t, then you aren’t doing the thing, you’re just deluding yourself into thinking you’re doing the thing while you watch YouTube clips about cats, or playing games on your phone, or whatever.
Lists are necessary. Nobody is really too tender to work from a list. The next step up from a list is a sequenced list, and the next step up from a sequenced list is a matrix, or grid, a two-dimensional version of a list. That’s still entry-level stuff, and most things worth doing in life, if represented in a way that fulfills #5, are represented most accurately on a grid. If it pays money, and uses your head as something other than a hat hook, it’s going to involve performing each and every single one of X actions, upon each and every single one of Y objects. That is most work. The mundane sort. It can still be quite boring. The challenging stuff demands even more complex levels of tracking framework.
I do have to confess, in this bracket of life I’m fermenting a higher level of contempt toward people who balk at the supposed excessive-complexity of a list. I’m seeing it as the purest form of balderdash. I’m seeing it as, with the layers of bullshit stripped away, a confession that they don’t really do any work at all. I can hold seven things in my head without jotting any of it down, maybe, and that’s if I’m not juggling other projects, which I usually am. Seven. No more. You probably can’t hold any more than that either. How the fuck are you doing anything that involves more than seven tasks without making a list, you poser?
And on that note, I must make preparations to begin the day, lest I be guilty of breaking #10.
A timeless anecdote about flawed problem-solving…it is timeless because it has accurately reflected the reality of human behavior for awhile, and continues to reflect it, to our discredit…
A few night ago a drunken man — there are lots of them everywhere nowadays — was crawling on his hands and knees under the bright light at Broadway and Thirty-fifth street. He told an inquiring policeman he had lost his watch at Twenty third street and was looking for it. The policeman asked why he didn’t go to Twenty-third street to look. The man replied, “The light is better here.”
We, like the inebriated fellow in the tale, know exactly where the watch went missing…
…[P]erhaps the most important question about racial preferences is one that’s not directly raised by the case: do they even work? Do they help underrepresented minorities to achieve their goals, and foster interracial interaction and understanding on elite campuses? Or do large preferences often “mismatch” students in campuses where they will struggle and fail?
Scholars began empirically studying the mismatch issue in the 1990s, but in the past five years the field has matured. There are now dozens of careful, peer-reviewed studies that find strong evidence of mismatch. None of the authors of these studies claim that mismatch is a universal or inevitable consequence of affirmative action. But in my view, only demagogues (of which there is, unfortunately, no shortage) or people who haven’t read the relevant literature can still claim that mismatch is not a genuine problem.
It does me no pleasure to report from personal experience, that six-foot straight white protestant guys still in possession of all twenty-one digits can be “mismatched.” It’s not at all hard to do, and it’s no picnic.
But someone on the Supreme Court read about the problem, out loud, and in so doing committed thought-crime.
“Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday took to the Senate floor to attack Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s comments during an affirmative action case as ‘racist,’ ” CNN reports:
“These ideas that he pronounced yesterday are racist in application, if not intent,” Reid said. “I don’t know about his intent, but it is deeply disturbing to hear a Supreme Court justice endorse racist ideas from the bench on the nation’s highest court. His endorsement of racist theories has frightening ramifications, not the least of which is to undermine the academic achievements of Americans, African-Americans especially.”
Here’s what Scalia had to say yesterday, during oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas (we’re cleaning up some repeated words):
There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less—a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. . . . They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them. . . . I’m just not impressed by the fact that the University of Texas may have fewer. Maybe it ought to have fewer. And maybe when you take more, the number of blacks, really competent blacks admitted to lesser schools, turns out to be less. And I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.
In denouncing Scalia, Reid was following the lead of the liberal media. A New York Times editorial accused Scalia of positing an “offensive premise”—never mind whether or not it is true—“which has not gotten such a full airing at the Supreme Court since the 1950s.” The paper’s Adam Liptak reported that Scalia’s remarks “drew muted gasps in the courtroom.”
Living up to its reputation as the Times for infants, New York’s Daily News put Scalia on its front page, with a headline that screams “SUPREME DOPE.” The subheadline reads “Justice Scalia’s racist rant ripped.” Below it is a paraphrase of what Scalia said, which the News misleadingly puts in quotation marks.
The lead paragraph of the News’s “news” story by Adam Edelman: “What a supremely outrageous thing to say.” Edelman’s story includes this dubious appeal to authority: “Scalia’s comments…troubled civil rights activists across the country, including the Rev. Al Sharpton.”
Well now, there is a litmus test for you.
There is a term to describe this, and it fits so well that those who aren’t aware of it are derelict in their duties as learning, thinking humans not finding out about it; those who knew of it already, like me, have been derelict in our duties of using it at least some portion of all the occasions in which it fits, so that others may learn about it. Not only does it fit occasions, which aren’t even occasional, I would go much further to say it governs our entire existence as an information-based society.
Or not so much governs, but hangs around it like a bad stink.
…“The window shifts to include different policy options not when ideas change among politicians, but when ideas change in the society that elects them.”
The Left — dominating the media, the academy, and pop culture — is unmatched at moving the Overton Window. Consider gay marriage, a subject once so far outside the mainstream that less than 20 years ago, Republicans and Democrats united to pass the Defense of Marriage Act to define marriage under federal law as the union of one man and one woman. Now? That view is such an anathema that it’s difficult to get — or retain — a job in entire sectors of the economy if you openly hold to the traditionalist position on marriage.
The leftward pressure on the Overton Window has been relentless, with conservatives reduced to applying herculean effort to simply maintain the cultural and political status quo. Yes, the Tea Party has nudged Republicans just a bit to the right, but it’s a sign of the success of the Left that a relatively unchanged GOP can be labeled as ever more extreme and “reactionary.” And few realities show this leftist success better than the fact that the Window now enables expressions of overt leftist hatred and bigotry — against Christians, against conservatives, against whites, and often against Jews.
Then along came Donald Trump. On key issues, he didn’t just move the Overton Window, he smashed it, scattered the shards, and rolled over them with a steamroller. On issues like immigration, national security, and even the manner of political debate itself, there’s no window left. Registration of Muslims? On the table. Bans on Muslims entering the country? On the table. Mass deportation? On the table. Walling off our southern border at Mexico’s expense? On the table. The current GOP front-runner is advocating policies that represent the mirror-image extremism to the Left’s race and identity-soaked politics.
But is Donald Trump rolling over the window with a steamroller, really? Or is the window rolling over him with one?
According to the famous satire site The Onion, we’re still waiting to find out which is which:
‘This Will Be The End Of Trump’s Campaign,’ Says Increasingly Nervous Man For Seventh Time This Year
Repeating identical comments he had made in June, July, August, September, and twice in November, increasingly nervous local man Aaron Howe responded to Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. Monday by once again stating this would be the end of the Republican frontrunner’s campaign, sources confirmed. “Well, that’s it—you just can’t say those kinds of things and expect to be taken seriously any longer,” said an anxious Howe, his voice quavering slightly as he spoke aloud the very same words he had previously uttered in reaction to remarks about Mexicans, women, the disabled, former POW John McCain, and a number of other targeted parties. “That’s the final nail in the coffin right there. There’s no way he’s coming back from this one.” At press time, a visibly tense Howe was steadily amassing the angst and exasperation that would be unleashed in his seventh expletive-filled exclamation of the year when he catches sight of the newest set of GOP poll numbers.
Yeah…”GOP poll numbers,” I get it. Bashing Republicans as being racist. Well, not all “onions” can be “fresh,” all of the time.
Fact is, there is something going on here that is much, much bigger than the Republican party. It’s going into my imaginary, but ever-thickening file, of things you could never explain to a space alien renting space in your laundry room. Just imagine: Thoroughly unacquainted with our culture, but adequately intelligent and curious, he approaches you and asks you to explain — CANDIDATES want to be seen as problem-solvers. VOTERS want to be seen as problem-solvers. EVERYBODY is making a great show of being sick and tired of the problems…they seem sincere about it…but when it comes time to actually come up with solutions, so few people are coming up with any solutions, and so many people are declaring the solutions already suggested to be unacceptable. For every Donald Trump putting solutions “on the table,” there are perhaps millions of opinionated busybodies yanking solutions off the table. And not putting any other ones back on the table, in their place. And all these people are in line, demanding their high-fives for being problem-solvers when they aren’t solving anything.
Question: Could this be how you Earthlings “solve” problems? You wouldn’t be able to answer. I wouldn’t be able to answer. Actually, I’m genuinely starting to wonder myself.
When these problem-not-solvers yank the solutions off the table, offering their bumper-sticker-slogan-sized statements of rationale for doing so, they can’t even manage do it with any accuracy:
President Obama claims that restricting immigration in order to protect national security is “offensive and contrary to American values.” No-limits liberals have attacked common-sense proposals for heightened visa scrutiny, profiling or immigration slowdowns as “un-American.”
America’s Founding Fathers, I submit, would vehemently disagree.
Our founders, as I’ve reminded readers repeatedly over the years, asserted their concerns publicly and routinely about the effects of indiscriminate mass immigration. They made it clear that the purpose of allowing foreigners into our fledgling nation was not to recruit millions of new voters or to secure permanent ruling majorities for their political parties. It was to preserve, protect and enhance the republic they put their lives on the line to establish.
In a 1790 House debate on naturalization, James Madison opined: “It is no doubt very desirable that we should hold out as many inducements as possible for the worthy part of mankind to come and settle amongst us, and throw their fortunes into a common lot with ours. But why is this desirable?”
No, not because “diversity” is our greatest value. No, not because Big Business needed cheap labor. And no, Madison asserted, “Not merely to swell the catalogue of people. No, sir, it is to increase the wealth and strength of the community; and those who acquire the rights of citizenship, without adding to the strength or wealth of the community are not the people we are in want of.”
Madison argued plainly that America should welcome the immigrant who could assimilate, but exclude the immigrant who could not readily “incorporate himself into our society.”
George Washington, in a letter to John Adams, similarly emphasized that immigrants should be absorbed into American life so that “by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures, laws: in a word soon become one people.”
In fact, the case could be made…at least, to anyone open to having a case made to them…maybe in lieu of discriminating against any one particular religious denomination, we should just slam the doors shut for now altogether. We are overdue, after all, the same way I find myself overdue for a salad diet when my jeans don’t fit.
…[A] lot of Americans have very legitimate concerns about assimilation, the massive amount of crime committed by illegal immigrants, and whether our government can properly vet immigrants. Additionally, given what’s happening, we should all be worried about American citizens losing out on jobs. Right now, the workforce participation rate in America is 62.6 percent, which is the lowest that number has been in 38 years. America DESPERATELY needs to focus on getting those Americans back to work instead of bringing new immigrants to take those jobs or alternately get on welfare themselves.
After all, it’s not as if the United States hasn’t already done our share when it comes to taking in immigrants. Currently, we have an all-time record population of 41.3 million foreign-born citizens. That’s an enormous increase,
“The 41.3 million immigrant population (legal and illegal) in 2013 was double the number in 1990, nearly triple the number in 1980, and quadruple that in 1970, when it stood at 9.6 million.”
Given how many Americans are out of work, how many immigrants are on some form of government assistance and how poor our vetting system is, doesn’t it make sense to halt the flood of immigration into our country for a few years?
That would give us time to get more Americans hired, fix our vetting process, secure the border and set up a merit-based immigration system that would assure we’re consistently getting the cream of the crop instead of bringing people here to take advantage of our welfare system.
Immigration has been a tremendous boon to America in times past and it can be again, but under our current system immigration can only make America weaker.
The issue isn’t quite so much that the situation has deteriorated to some meaningful level; the issue is that nobody with any clout, and interest in preventing harm from being done, is keeping an eye on it. We aren’t keeping an eye on it. Someone like Trump will say something, and the alarm bells will sound, screeds will be written, all sorts of pundits paid and unpaid will opine about the remarks, on Sunday talk shows and on social media, blisteringly. They’ll preen and preen some more…as they, almost systematically, and in the same breath as professing to be super-duper concerned about the stated problem, proceed to yank solutions off the table. It’s like someone forgot to tell them: That problem is not yet solved. It isn’t getting better. We don’t even know if we’re ever going to see it solved, that’s still a lingering question. The impression somehow didn’t get made on them, that we are not suffering from a glut of workable solutions to this, we’re toiling away under a scarcity.
And smack in the middle of an election campaign season — that, nowadays, lasts just short of two full years. Well that would mean we’re in “campaign season” all of the time, or close to it, which is a whole different problem. But it still raises a question: If we can’t come up with solutions now, as opposed to eliminating them, then when can we? And can we really claim to be concerned about solving problems if the noisiest and most opinionated among us are not, you know, coming up with solutions to them? When all they can manage to do is crawl out of little holes in the ground, like skunks, spray their “That guy isn’t as good a person as I am” stink-spray in as many different directions as they can manage, and scurry back into the hole again? That doesn’t make anything better. But we seem to have become accustomed to seeing something like that, nothing else, and somehow, coming away from the experience not demanding something more or different. The problems “addressed” this way continue to deteriorate and rot…and there’s little-to-no genuine surprise manifested anywhere about that, which I suppose stands to reason.
No, I can’t completely support the Trump plan “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” and I also cannot support House Speaker Ryan’s rebuke against it, that it is “not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for.” Both statements have dangling prepositions at the end. But there are worse things than that involved with both of them; and, it just so happens, these worse-things are things that the dangling prepositions are connected to.
The snooty, snotty, condescending phrase “that’s not who we are” has overstayed its welcome by a good long stretch, much like the house guests reminding of the dictum that “guests, and fish, smell after three days” — and then continuing to squat for another year or two. It’s at the point where we all should start asking ourselves how it came to be that we tolerated it this long; it reflects poorly on the nation. Aren’t we supposed to have guts and conviction in this country? And can you claim to have them, if some gasbag at a podium can persuade you to engage, or even consider, a complete one-eighty-degree course correction by throwing out some paternalistic, hackneyed catchphrase? The solution makes more of the same problem, for that is not who — you know the rest.
Seriously, I’m ready to cock-punch the next one who uses it. Inside or outside the teevee. Leave it in the dirt where it belongs, Speaker Ryan; leave it to that fellow up the street.
Apologists for an overly lax immigration system should be the least-entitled to use this. You want to open the borders and then, anyone who wants in can just waltz through the gate, whether they intend to assimilate into our society or not — alright, if we do things your way, and the argument can certainly be made we’re doing them that way already…who and what are we? It’s impossible to say. That’s kind of, you know, the whole point. If we aspire to be anything definable, there are going to have to be some restrictions. That’s how any organism or construct declares what it is, by way of rejecting the unlike, not by way of embracing the like. It says “I’m absolutely incompatible with that thing, over there,” and the definition is made. Such things also protect themselves against threats this way, by forming policies, written and unwritten, essentially saying “I’m not going there, and if it comes here, I’m moving.”
Speaking of definition, Trump is not completely in the right either: Until our representatives can figure out what’s going on? What exactly does he mean by that? There’s no question, or not much, that such a proposal is legal and constitutional, and it’s clear what it is intended to prevent — but what is it intended to do? Exactly what questions are to be answered that, at this point, remain unanswered? I can’t think of any.
But he’s opened a very worthwhile debate that his opposition, perhaps deliberately, has turned into a very silly one. The citizenry has been led down a primrose path here; a lot of people don’t understand how much precedent such a plan has, or how unprecedented our current “Hoover Vac” immigration policy is.
So I think it would be very useful and helpful here just to review a little history to let you know that what we propose today and what many Americans support today is actually traditionally American. It is not new. It is not unprecedented. It is historical. No immigration, 1924 to 1965. The reason was that we had seen a flood of immigrants to the country and we had to assimilate them. We took time to assimilate those who had come to America. They wanted to be Americans. They wanted to assimilate. They did not want to establish Balkanized beachheads of their countries. [emphasis mine]
We hear often that we should be seeking not the Republican answer or the democrat answer, but the American answer to our problems. This is one example in which that’s really true. And, therein lies the problem. The “American answer” is one that is open to immigration — open to the possibility of accepting each immigrant who wants to take on the associated responsibilities, to assimilate. But, Americans think about what they’re doing. We weigh consequences. We look down the road — and that, right there, if you look at history, that’s what has made things work here.
The American solution is to look at what sort of immigrant is trying to make a life here. What kind of life is to be made? And what nobody is discussing is, the democrat solution: Go ahead and look into it, and make sure that life is one of dependency. To get on the welfare systems, stay on them, and create whole new generations of second- and third-generation immigrants, also made dependent and embracing dependency, from the crib to the crypt. So that democrats can win more elections.
That is the plan they’re trying to sell, and that’s the real reason they’re trying to stir up rage about Mr. Trump’s comments about this. As for whether or not that is who or what we are, well, I guess that’s for the rest of us to decide…
As far as the theatrical outrage about crossing some uncrossable line of bigotry, or some such. I find it thoroughly revolting that anybody, anywhere, would reach up to take solutions off the table, before it’s been made clear in any way that there are still solutions on the table that might work. Or even, that anything will work. This is not a fight our country has won yet, so who are these people working so hard to eliminate possibilities? It’s become such a regular thing, nobody seems to question it anymore; it’s yet another primrose path down which we have been innocently toddling, for years, decades, generations — we approach a particularly vexing problem that has evaded any promising solution for some indeterminate length of time, and before anybody can shed some rays of hope upon it here comes some jackass trying to make himself sound more important with a lot of “No no, oh heavens no, win or lose we can NEVER do X.”
Real Americans might say something like that…maybe. After the battle has been won. But not until then.
Because that, ladies and gentlemen…really and truly…is “not what we are.”
The nonexistent case for progressive taxation
Progressives are increasingly preoccupied with income inequality, and their current hero, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), favors increasing the tax system’s progressivity. So, in this 103rd year of the income tax, it is timely to note that there still is no intellectually sturdy case for progressive taxation.
Arguments for it are invariably arguments for increased equality of social outcomes. Because individuals have different vocational desires and different aptitudes for adding value to the economy, inequality is inevitable. Because individuals have different social sensibilities, opinions will differ about what degrees of inequality are intolerably unlovely. But inequality, even when unlovely to some, is unjust only when it arises from unjust social arrangements…
“Individuals have different vocational desires and different aptitudes for adding value to the economy” — that is being most charitable. We don’t talk too much about what interferes with that. Every now and then some politician or pundit will make some noise about “education,” when they may or may not be referring to the process of actually educating anybody, because the buzzword affords an opportunity to force the expenditure of Other People’s Money.
But “adding value to the economy,” when you get right down to it, and in the context of what ordinary people expect to be discussed under such labeling, has to do with people helping other people. There are those among us who simply aren’t into it. So for the altruism-challenged, the free market forms an attachment between the helping of others and the enrichment of oneself; it’s an incomplete solution, for there are some among us who still aren’t interested.
We deal with that particular problem, by refusing to discuss it. You won’t see it inspected or probed, or even mentioned, on Sunday morning talk shows. It’s up to crazy wild-eyed right-wing bloggers like me. Which is a bit odd, really, because doesn’t everyone have one friend or relative like this? At least one?
There are people who hate money. No seriously. They bring it home, and figure the odds are stacked against them because after they’ve paid the essentials and made the minimum payments on the credit cards, which are maxed, there’s nothing. If this is ever discussed anywhere, it leads to some dirge about how the situation came to be, the high debt is the aftermath of some health crisis or what-not…but, nobody ever plotted a decent course forward by looking back at where he’d been. The real issue is that if the debt wasn’t high, they wouldn’t know what to do. If the debt was somehow gone tomorrow, and they had ten grand in the checking account, they wouldn’t see it as the end of a calamity but rather as the beginning of one. The money would represent an unfinished task, an unsolved problem.
Hand them $50, they start looking for things that cost $60. These are people who will never have money left at the end of the month. Ever. Because the simple fact of the matter is that isn’t what they want to have happen.
Such people have a comfort zone. It’s over there. Starting a savings plan and sticking to it…that’s off someplace else. High debt and low cash reserves, that’s all part of the zone. If they’re making as much as they’re ever going to make, and “happy” with that, because developing a new skill and finding new ways to help other people would be becoming a cog in “the machine” and that’s just a non-starter — well then, the simple truth of the matter is that there’s no journey ahead of such people, no road for them to travel, they are where they want to be.
Sometimes they put things on the backs of their cars to show off their insanity…things like this…
Isn’t that funny? Makes you want to say something like…”Ooh! I’ll vote the way you vote then, and maybe I can be poor too!”
We’ve done nothing to “fix” this; even worse, we haven’t even begun to discuss it. Haven’t even come up with a name for the mental illness. Our “solution,” thus far, is to mold and tailor the capitalistic system to suit people who have no desire to participate in it. This is a plan that can “accomplish” a lot of things, but making the system healthier can’t be one of those things. But there is no defined goal, anyway. What should a progressive taxation reform be trying to accomplish, exactly? Poor people end up with more cash? Rich people end up with less? Both? Neither?
Progressive taxation reduces the rewards of investments and the real rate of return on savings, thereby encouraging consumption over saving and hence over capital formation. When progressive taxation slows economic growth, it makes inequalities of wealth more durable by retarding the accumulation of new fortunes. And by encouraging constant tinkering with the tax code to perfect equity, progressive taxation gives a patina of altruism to rent-seeking by economic factions, whereby government enriches those sophisticated at manipulating it.
Because other arguments produce only “uneasy” cases for progressive taxation, this is the argument of last resort: All striving occurs in, and all success is conditioned by, a social context. Each individual’s achievement, like each individual, is derivative of society, which is entitled to socialize — conscript — whatever portion of each individual’s acquisition that society calculates is its rightful share. Because collective choices facilitate individuals’ strivings, the collectivity, represented by government, can take as much of created wealth as it decides it made possible. Being judge and jury in its own case, government will generously estimate its contributions and entitlements.
Bull-eye. Progressive taxation creates a government-to-citizen relationship that is purely parasitic, and no longer symbiotic. The host must live within its means, whereas the parasite is in a position to simply demand more, and — should a shortfall continue to ensue from any newer arrangement — blame the host. In the end, nobody prospers except for opportunistic politicians with careers built on the creation of new jealousies, and the further aggravation of existing ones.
In the education case of Fisher v. University of Texas, at least four Supreme Court justices appear ready to strike down affirmative action.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a pivotal test of affirmative action in education, will hear arguments on December 9 for the second time that Abigail Noel Fisher was discriminated against by the University of Texas.
A blanket ruling outlawing racial and ethnic preferences entirely would follow Chief Justice John Roberts’s 2007 dictum, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” from the opinion in the 4-1-4 vote case of Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1.
The Court at the time found the public high school district’s racial tiebreaker plan unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Justice Clarence Thomas has steadfastly supported a ban on affirmative action, but swing voter Justice Anthony Kennedy has consistently upheld the validity of the theory of affirmative action, even if he has voted to strike down specific practices as unconstitutional.
I don’t know why Justice Kennedy, or anybody else, upholds “the validity of the theory” now or at any other time. It is a so-called “theory” that unequal treatment is, when the rubber meets the road, equal treatment; it is a theory that calls for opposites to become equivalents. Any argument that persuades toward acceptance of such a theory, if effective, you’d better bottle that stuff quick and keep it around for a good long time — because that could be applied to any and all premises that are wrong, no matter how wrong they are. Such an argument, in seeking to assert that a thing is the opposite of itself, seeks to triumph against the ultimate test of delusive, mistaken arguments.
Or rather, you’ll notice, in practice it doesn’t seek any such thing; like the mold that covers your bread, it confines its existence to a picky sub-spectrum of environments in which it can hope to survive. High courts, committees, and other adjudicating bodies in some position to accurately anticipate the outcome of what limited avenues of appeal there may be, hiding behind the lectern of “Our Finding Is.” Or, in situations in which the avenues of appeal are not so limited, something more like “I/We Feel”:
Not only I don’t find affirmative action unconstitutional, I believe it’s the proper action a government should take in case there are severe disproportions in society. We can argue if present general social status of certain ethnicities is or is not a consequence resulting from slavery and oppression in the past, but the fact is both slavery and oppression took place. Let’s consider affirmative action a form of repatriation.
That’s where the argument is stated, and not only does it fail to directly address the question of “does Affirmative Action Violate the 14th Amendment?” with anything other than a flat, unreasoned “no” — it fails to address the opposing argument, that there is in fact a violation here:
Well, as you know the 14th Amendment says very clearly that “no state shall deny any person equal protection under the law.” That means that all laws passed by the 50 states have to apply to everyone, equally. Affirmative Action gives a racial preference to some Americans in hiring, in school admissions and other competitive areas. If an individual American gets a preference, then he or she is not being treated equally with everyone else. It’s simple as that.
This nets six votes, to zero for the argument of “let’s consider it a form of repatriation.” But of course six votes is not many, and there are many environments, some natural, some constructed artificially, in which it could go the other way.
Supporters of Affirmative Action, I notice, fail to see their own argument as what it is: Suspension, and therefore betrayal, of the written code to which unwavering fidelity had already been pledged. The structure of the argument is “Yeah, yeah, I know, the Constitution says that…but I want to appear compassionate. THEREFORE I FIND that this preference does not violate the written word (that it would otherwise, undeniably, be violating).” Like I said: If this stuff works, you’d better bottle it, because if it can work here it can work anywhere.
Losing argument goes on to say: “You made several very valid points where I couldn’t agree with your more. I’ll get into that later. Firstly, let me say I understand your frustration…”
Hoo, boy. Anybody ever talk with a bureaucrat, one who’s clearly in the wrong, before? They do that a lot. You point out, what you’ve just stated is the wrong answer, it’s this simple — up is up, down is down…and they come back with “I understand your frustration” as if what you just stated is feeling, not fact. Might as well say “I understand your frustration and now I’m going to add to it.” Except they seem to have missed, what you just explained was not frustration. They’re being taught how to do that, I suppose.
Anyway, getting back to the main article, there’s another passage that is not quite so much frustrating, as despairing:
The arch-supporter of affirmative action on the Supreme Court is expected to be Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a child of Puerto Rican immigrants who won acceptance and a full scholarship to Princeton based at least partially on affirmative action. In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, she stated: “Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: ‘I do not belong here.’”
To those who understand how the world, and the people in it, actually work — it inspires despair. The sentence clearly articulates exactly what the problem is that the policy is supposed to solve. First flaw in her reasoning is, the problem is unworkable because it is unmeasurable, it’s proggie leftists announcing their grievances in passive voice, yet again, no identifiable individual or group engaging in the incorrect behavior. So you can proclaim “It’s still happening” until the sun goes nova, and beyond…which is kind of the point. “Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action” — if you need a coalition to defend it, you probably intend to keep the coalition around, justifying its own existence with all sorts of legalistic hooey, forever. And why do you need a coalition to defend it, anyway? I said someone should bottle up the infinitely effective, wrong arguments, for use later, and it looks like someone did exactly that.
The second, and far greater, flaw: Affirmative Action inspires these “snickers,” in no small measure. And it’s rather useless to blame those who do the snickering. Whenever anybody of any national origin, sex preference or skin color is elevated to a position of any sort of power, it goes without saying they’re going to have to be making some decisions that someone else will not respect. Have we collectively lost sight of that point? There seem to be an awful lot of people with power, great and small, nowadays who have it on their minds “Now I have power, everyone has to respect me” — that isn’t the way it works, not even close. There will always be people who disrespect you because you have some sort of power. Because you can make your decisions stand when they think, for whatever reason, those decisions should not stand.
Affirmative Action creates an environment in which, when the white guys do this, dissenters continue to wonder endlessly “How the heck did that fuckwit get this job, anyway?” — and when someone of a different demographic does exactly the same thing, the unidentifiable dissenters mutter to themselves “Oh…I see, I get it now.” Since there always will be dissenters, no matter what decision is being made or what type of human is making it, the Sotomayor-supported solution works against the grain of the Sotomayor-stated problem.
Now that it’s late enough in the year that we can play Christmas carols, we’re thinking an awful lot about environments. You probably are, too. This is the season for, among other things, guesting and hosting; if you’re hosting, you’re constructing an environment, and if you’re a guest you’re going to be venturing into one. If you are neither a guest nor a host, your environment is certainly changing. Stores and streets are getting decorated. There’s a whole different genre of music being played wherever you go. Environments change people. That’s why we change our environments. It is, when you get right down to it, a method of communication. It is messaging.
We also tend to think a lot, this time of year, about material needs and wants, placing emphasis on filling them and relaxing the concerns we would usually have about how the resources are being depleted. We think a bit more about poverty, and we focus on curing it in the here-and-now, not thinking too much about whether it will stay cured in the new year, or what caused it in the first place. For the conservative mindset, this is a seasonal change of pace. It might be a bit uncomfortable to some of us. And, given that it’s a bit under a month out of the year, it might be a healthy thing. We’ve been working our butts off to try to increase the savings, or at least not reduce them, and pay down the credit card balances — all year. We can go a tiny bit in the other direction for a week or two, right? For good causes: Charity, fellowship, happiness.
I don’t know what liberals do about Christmas. There is so much required & expected paradigm shift, anywhere on the outside, that within their stately pleasure-dome is just business as usual. They think about spending, and neglect long-term consequences, all the time. They “cure” poverty, without a care in the world about whether it’ll stay cured, using other people’s money — all year long. No wonder they have a tough time getting into the spirit.
And getting back to that thing about environments: They think about that all of the time, too. That’s what these Yale and Mizzou protests were all about, right? “Safe spaces” and what-not. Lefties love to complain, even when there’s no substance to the complaint — when things are already being done the way they want…
By my rough count, Yale offers 26 courses on African-American studies, 64 courses on “Ethnicity, Race and Migration, and 41 courses under the heading of “Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.” I am probably low-balling the real numbers (they don’t include independent study) and the extent of the indoctrination, since you can be sure that many seemingly conventional courses are chock-a-block with left-wing treacle. How many courses are there on the Constitution? Well, from what I can tell: two…
As for safe spaces, there is already an Afro-American Cultural Center, a Native American Cultural Center, an Asian American Cultural Center, La Casa Latino Cultural Center, and the Office of LGBTQ Resources. Included among the 80 or so official student organizations:
– A Learning and Interactive Vietnamese Experience
– Asian American Students Alliance
– Asian American Studies Task Force
– Association of Native Americans at Yale, Undergraduate Organization
– India at Yale
– IvyQ (as in “Queer”)
– Japanese Undergraduate Students at Yale
– Latina Women at Yale
– Liberal Party
– Reproductive Rights Action League at Yale
– Sex and Sexuality Week Planning Board…
And the response from the activists? A loaded-diaper tantrum about how Yale is a hotbed of bigotry against people of color and women.
There is justice in this. As Bret Stephens wrote in the Wall Street Journal,
For almost 50 years universities have adopted racialist policies in the name of equality, repressive speech codes in the name of tolerance, ideological orthodoxy in the name of intellectual freedom. Sooner or later, Orwellian methods will lead to Orwellian outcomes. Those coddled, bullying undergrads shouting their demands for safer spaces, easier classes, and additional racial set-asides are exactly what the campus faculty and administrators deserve.
Not a very festive thought. But then again, universities are supposed to — are entrusted to — build a better world of tomorrow, to benefit their students along with all of society. And they’re hardly fulfilling the promise by working according to Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.
Amid these thoughts of Schadenfreude, and the self-inflicted knuckle-rapping that arrives right afterward given how unfitting it is for this time of year, it’s easy to lose sight of another point. That The Left actually deserves credit, on no small scale, for taking the initiative. They understand the very first point I made, up top, that an environment has a powerful effect on the people in it. This is another thing conservatives just begin to understand, and exercise on a regular basis this time of year, but as a novelty — whereas the liberals understand the same thing, and do the same thing for the same reasons, all year long. And year after year it works that way, too.
Consequently, our environments are liberal. If you’re unfortunate enough to sit in family court, you sit in a liberal environment. Even if you don’t, you probably have to go to work. Surely that must be a conservative environment, since liberals don’t work…right? Wrong. Unless your “office” is someplace outside, and you have to wear heavy gloves on your hands to do what you do, and you get dirty doing it, it’s safe to say you work in an environment liberals have created for you. And furthermore, they did that because they know it has an effect on you, what you think about, how you behave. And furthermore, although you don’t want to admit it, it’s probably working.
Can you put a picture of Jordan Carver or Kate Upton on the wall, in all their swimsuit-wearing wonderfulness? No, you can’t? Well of course not. And why not? Because of the Yale/Mizzou issue, the “safe spaces.” This is a relatively new thing. It comes from Meritor Savings Bank vs. Vinson, Harris vs. Forklift Systems, Robinson vs. Jacksonville Shipyards…and other acts of judicial terrorism. Yes, terrorism. The word applies, accurately, perfectly.
[T]he use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
So an image of Kate Upton in a bathing suit where it can be seen…an image of your wife in a bathing suit where it can be seen…can end your career. As an extension of that, any visual reminder that you’re a straight male who appreciates the imagery of women in bathing suits, can end your career. Acting too much like a straight male can end your career. Liberal-looney-ville on steroids. And people tend to forget: We’re not talking about some geographic region, or family court, or traffic court, or some stuffy living room in the house of some loathed lefty-liberal sister-in-law or any sort of edge-case like those. We’re not even talking about government offices. Liberals know where to hurt us: We’re talking about all workplaces, anything potentially under the authority of the American judicial system.
Any vocation that is not overwhelmingly male-dominated, they’ve got men living in fear. They’ve even got men talking in pitches a whole octave, or more, above what’s natural for them.
We’re going to be on the road this Christmas, visiting; we plan to grab one household by the scruff of the neck, meld it with our household, and drag it to yet another household. That’s a net of three, which is quite the cocktail. As we put together the plans for what we might be doing and how we might be doing it, we have been constantly reminded that people have been spending all year long functioning in different environments, and so they have become acclimated to thinking differently. We’re not liberals, so this is a novelty for us. The rest of the year, we have goals, then there is an environment that might make some of the goals a bit more difficult, and we think of the environment as just an “oh, well.” Like driving through bad weather on your way to work, or trudging up a hill on your way to a corner grocery store: The environmental factors might make things a bit more challenging but they’re not going to stop us. That’s how conservatives think about environment. It isn’t something you try to control, or build, more like something you endure. It isn’t going to change what gets accomplished at the end, worst-case it will only slow it down a little tiny bit.
Liberals are much smarter about this. They never stop thinking about environments. That’s because when you engage this messaging to your fellow humans by way of controlling the environment, it’s purely a monologue and not a dialogue. This is exactly the sort of conversation liberals like to have, and all the time. Purely one-way. Even when they call it a “dialogue,” that’s what they have in mind. So it is natural that they think about this all of the time, whereas to the conservatives, it’s a change of pace to be thinking about it at all.
The irony is that, to the leaders of the progressive movement, this is as easy as taking candy from the proverbial baby. Just keep walking through Alinsky’s rules, keep the resentments sharp, keep the jealousies high, do a lot of complaining, get others to do a lot of complaining. Everything is on your side — five justices on the Supreme Court rule your way, the very next day you can lose that five-vote majority and the decision is already locked in to the nation’s jurisprudence, for all practical purposes forever. The followers of the movement, on the other hand, never actually get what they want, because the people around them won’t be behaving the way liberal doctrine demands they behave. People don’t lose their fondness for an object because they are denied access to it by way of an artificially created shortage, nor do they acquire a new fondness for something because they are deluged with it by way of an artificially created abundance. That just isn’t the way the human condition works.
So when liberals take control of an environment to change human behavior — all year long — they are engaging a plan that works great for the leaders of their movement, but never can possibly work for any of the rest of them. A year later, or in two years, or ten, they’ll still be nursing exactly the same grudges about “society expects such-and-such” or “it objectifies me” or “shoving religion down my throat” or “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Be that as it may, they do at least get the practice hours in at this, which keeps them smarter than their friends and relatives who are conservative. Or, not-liberal. To us normal people, it takes all of the time between Thanksgiving and Boxing Day to get adjusted to the idea that an environment is something we can affect. And we use up most of that time trying to adjust to the belated discovery that our extended-family relatives, having spent all year long in different environments, don’t think the same way, don’t cope with life the same way. It’s particularly challenging when we see this is as the root cause of some of the gaps in material wants and needs, that for the holiday season’s sake, we’re trying to cure. The festivities require that this train of thought be confined to the here-and-now, since it’s a drag to be thinking about January and onward. That’s challenging to the conservative mind, which when laboring to come up with a solution to a problem, tends to place undue emphasis on…yeah, it’s crazy-talk, I know…actually solving it, like, as in, for reals.
According to a piece in the Huffington Post, the word “too” is sexist and hurts women by constantly making them feel like they’re not good enough.
In a piece titled “The 3-Letter Word That Cuts Women Down,” University of Vermont freshman Cameron Schaeffer explains that she had an “epiphany” about the word after talking with a friend about how she should cut her hair.
“Our conversation ended with, ‘Well you don’t want it to be too short or too long,'” Schaeffer writes.
“There is no proper way for a woman to cut her hair, let alone do anything right in this world…Everything is too this or too that,” she continues.
Now, when she says “everything,” of course what she really means is “everything as it applies to women.” After all, the very real damage inflicted by this word is yet another tragedy that only affects us: “In my experience, I rarely hear too thrown around about men,” she explains. “You hear someone say, ‘He’s short,’ but you seldom hear ‘too short.'”
“I never realized how deeply a three-letter adverb could cut,” she writes.
Alright, we’ll have to stop using that adverb then…along with maybe all adverbs? Soon as we get it figured out what we’re not supposed to use — don’t want to cut anyone, after all — we’ll just tack it on to the list.
Which arouses a rather fascinating question: What list?
For the natural disasters we’re supposed to be blaming on climate change, I see we do have a list, although I notice it doesn’t look like any one of the thousands of climate change advocates, paid or unpaid, could be bothered to compile it; seems to be the work of someone who’s sympathies are not with the movement. I know of no counterpart registry of items found to be offensive lately. No, not just lately. We wouldn’t want to forget about all the things we’ve already been taught are offensive, right? We should stop using all of them. Well, in order to stop using all of them, you have to know what “all of them” are.
Here and there, you find someone has taken the time and trouble to accumulate a lot of them…
Am I taking the complaint too seriously? Not at all, judging by what I’m reading here, and I can only judge by that. Schaeffer herself writes,
So what can we do? Well, there are an avalanche of issues women face — from rape to pay inequality to the defunding of Planned Parenthood. I would love to wake up tomorrow morning and see a completely egalitarian world outside, but I am not naive. Women are still objects to a disturbingly large number of people. If society continues on in this way, women will always be unfairly judged. But there are small and achievable steps we can take. We should call on both genders to cut the word too from their vocabulary when discussing women. If we ever want an end to the way females are put in boxes, this is the beginning of an important and tumultuous journey ahead.
Seems to me, it’s only reasonable to ask, at “the beginning of an important and tumultuous journey ahead,” where the journey ends. Banishing the adverbs should involve plenty enough tumult, but that’s only one complaint out of maybe thousands. Soon as the adverbs have gone the way of the Dodo bird, we’re going to have to remember what Item #2 on the list was…and so on, and so on, until we reach the end and women are no longer put in boxes.
And then there’s racism! “Hard Worker,” along with zillions of other things, is racist. Again the question arises: What are the zillions of other things, exactly? If we’re supposed to labor tirelessly to get rid of all of something, then what is it? Where’s the high-level map? How do we add things to the list, or check things off the list?
Is it web-enabled, where we can all get to it? Hosted in the cloud somewhere? Or would that be “ist” too? Er, I mean, also?
Related: If James Madison had been a liberal, Crowder supposes he might have seen the necessity in jotting out the entire list right there at the very beginning…and taken a pass on it, since a quill pen on a parchment can only do so much, right?
Two e-mails yesterday, one from Media Matters and one from the DNC, referring me to this site and this site, respectively. So that I can figure out how to argue with my “Republican Uncle” during the Thanksgiving feast.
It would be interesting to look into what, exactly, do these starry-eyed young proggies envision as the link between winning these arguments, and fixing problems. I think I can see what the DNC has in mind: All across the country, the idealistic young progressive crusaders will argue their slope-foreheaded, doddering old Romney-voting senior relatives into stunned silence — and next year that will translate into more votes for Sanders/Clinton/whoever. But, then what? Because I’ve noticed, voters on both sides of the fence look at elections differently from the way these candidates, campaign-managers, advocacy groups, et al look at them. They don’t see an election as the end-game. More like a down payment, from them to the politicians, and then the politicians are supposed to start making life better. So, Media Matters and the DNC wish to remind the starry-eyed democrat voters that their interests are different from the voters’ interests?
Did they think this through all the way?
No time available for me to make any sort of exhaustive cross-reference between these two lists of bullet points. I did notice, however, that under “climate” they both rely on the throughly discredited “97% of scientists agree” thing…so if you find yourself embroiled in a silly talk over the mashed potatoes with young idealistic crusaders from your family tree, with stars in their eyes and air in their heads, and you catch wind that they have been imbibing intoxicating elixirs from these lists; go easy on ‘em.
I haven’t got a single e-mail from a rightward-leaning organization of any sort, offering me some sort of talking-points list that goes the other way. Don’t think it’s going to happen. Which is indicative of a lot of things, I’d say. The right wing seems to be operating from the a premise that if the point has to be prepped and carried into such discussions, such that it takes shape without any direct involvement in what was actually said, it’s probably not a point worth making. Also, they’re concerned about actually making a living. Yes, even today, on the day before. Some of us have accepted the responsibility of bringing some portions of the feast…main course perhaps, jellied cranberries, squash, maybe some of the firewood. Whereas, the left wing is making preparations of its own. To win arguments.
I think that says quite a lot, don’t you?
Update: This is a rare example of me catching up on what’s happening slightly ahead of others. I heard Rush Limbaugh discussing the “Republican Uncle” retort-supply website, for a few minutes this morning, and then James Taranto had a few thoughts to add as well.
There’s an asymmetry here. After all, if liberals have annoying right-wing relatives who pick arguments at Thanksgiving dinner, it follows that conservatives also have annoying left-wing relatives who do the same thing. But as far as we know, the “How to Win Thanksgiving” genre is the exclusive province of the left.
If we were offering advice on how to talk politics at Thanksgiving (or in other ordinary social settings), it would come down to two points: 1. Think for yourself. 2. Be respectful, and prepare to back off or change the subject should things get heated.
The latter point runs counter to the spirit of the left-wing advice, which treats conversation as a contest and futilely aims at victory. The former runs counter to its substance—namely, prepackaged talking points. Liberals have no monopoly on truculence, but the need to be told what to think does seem to set them apart.
Limbaugh went a bit further. Quite a bit. So far, in fact, that he started in on what I had been thinking all along:
The thing that is striking about all of these is that the Washington Post and the New York Times and the DNC all assume that their readers are rational and reasonable, and it’s only their family members who are the kooks and the extremists and the racists. But remember: To other families it’s quite likely the person reading the Washington Post or the New York Times is the kook in the family.
It’s quite likely that the liberal reading all of these advice pieces is the real kook in the family, and the rest of the family is trying to figure out how to deal with this wacko showing up armed and loaded for bear after having read all this liberal talking point stuff to get ready for Thanksgiving dinner.
Ah, her poor dumb inevitableness…the jokes just write themselves, don’t they?
Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported. https://t.co/mkD69RHeBL
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 23, 2015
Well, unfortunately for Queenie, the jokes don’t need to write themselves. We have the Internet, all ready to jump in and remind people of things. Should they ever need it.
And, someone on Hillary’s staff did. Could this be some sort of clever ploy I’m not bright enough to understand? Well, humility is important…Hillary’s side is running things, right now, kinda-sorta. But simplest explanations are usually the best, the millennials are running quite a lot too. And, by definition, they had not yet achieved awareness way back when. Or adulthood anyway. This shows all of the signs of someone having their finger on the “Tweet” button, thinking they knew exactly what to say, when they hadn’t heard the back-story. I’m rather likin’ it. Hillary tends to champion a lot of causes that don’t have my support, and in this case she’s suffering massively from ignoring something I think should be getting a lot more attention, which is the problem of rape hoaxes. The “victim deserves to be believed” ploy has a back-story of its own, going back quite aways in our society, enjoying all along the support of those with authority. Well, of course they don’t mean due process should take a back seat! They don’t, do they?
But there’s something else going on here that’s escaping notice. We’ve got this Thanksgiving holiday coming up, in which relatives will gather around a dining room table, start arguing about politics, of course very little will be actually learned by anyone, very few minds will be changed one way or the other…certainly it’s a lot less likely with the time limit imposed by the Cheesecake Nazis, or someone reaching up to drown out what they see as a lot of petty bickering with some classical music, or pop tunes, or heavy metal or whatever. Before that happens though, the subject of the Syrian Refugees is going to surface…and with that, a lot of dishonesty, since it’s pretty easy to cherry-pick some statistics that make it look like President Obama’s taken the correct position. And let’s face it, cherry-picking statistics to get that done, is what a lot of people in media seem to see as their guiding mission, each and every day. But this is not a statistical issue, it’s a national security issue.
It’s also a philosophical issue, and this is where it ties back to the “Hillary says rape victims deserve to be believed” thing. Awhile back, off-line in the e-mails, a couple of my blog brethren and I delved a bit deeply into the difference between the sophists and the dialectics, and how each one of those two sides sees truth.
The bottom line is, sophistry — boiled down to its crude essentials — is winning the argument, period. Not quite so much at the expense of the winning argument being a useful one, but more like, with complete apathy toward that. An example would be…well, we can go back to the last time I blogged about something. A dead lawn looking cool — there isn’t much truth involved in that, since dead lawns look like shit. But the statement has a good shot at being the winning argument, if the value embraced has something to do with laziness. No need to water a dead lawn; no need to cut one either. A dead lawn is the lawn of a do-nothing. It is also the lawn of a sophist. You get to look cool (even if your lawn doesn’t), and act smug.
It is the contrast between the Architects and the Medicators, the former of whom think about things the way one must think about them, when one sets about the task of trying to build things that will actually work. And, to the latter of whom, the point of life is to be happy. The former demands thought, the latter involves feeling.
After seven or eight years of man-crush on Emperor Obama, an entire generation has figured out a new way of “thinking” and it isn’t healthy. You can’t create anything that will actually help anyone, thinking this way. You can’t grow turnips, or rice, or tomatoes, or slaughter some beef, pork or chicken, thinking this way. “This soil is good for growing grapes! Not only is it good for growing grapes, but it is the best soil for growing grapes on the WHOLE planet! And if you do not agree, unhesitatingly, my friends and I will all get together on Facebook, and mock you!” Just like “survivors of sexual assault deserve to be believed.” As is the case with sophistry, the conclusion has nothing to do with whether the soil is really good for growing grapes, or whether the survivor of a sexual assault really did survive a sexual assault.
What Hillary — or her staff — did here, though, is arguably outside the realm of sophistry, since classic sophism is all about Arete, or “moral virtue“. It looks like this fits the definition as far as intent, if not achievement. But there’s something else, isn’t there? Authority figures, and advocates, who drone on about this “victim deserves to be believed” stuff endeavor to create a symbiotic relationship of sympathy, which persists even when the objectives of truth and justice are not being served, and there’s nothing morally virtuous about that. Their message to the rape-hoaxer is quite clear: Don’t worry about all that stuff, sweetie. You’ve got me. My loyalty goes above and beyond, and outside of, the evidence and the truth it speaks about what really happened. This is a prominent feature of what’s being offered, not a hidden one. It is a part of the packaging as well as the substance.
Oh what, she didn’t mean it? Well there were other ways to word the statement, and it was “tweeted” the way we see it above. Now there are two good reasons to wish things had been left unsaid, not just one. Hey, that Hillary Clinton is a real savvy political figure, right? Smartest woman on the planet.
This “deserves to be believed” aspect of the modern American progressive’s flavor of Arete, seems to have achieved dominance. Just as a belief that the accuser really did survive sexual assault, has nothing whatsoever to do with this conviction that she “deserves to be believed”; so too did a belief that Barack Obama would serve as a healing balm of the country’s race relations problems, have nothing whatsoever to do with the conviction that He deserved to be seen that way. It’s just like the crappy, toxic soil that deserves to be perceived as excellent for growing the vineyard — best on the whole planet! And don’t you dare say otherwise! Or even hesitate to believe it! Or we shall mock you!
The sophists of millennia ago who aroused the enmity of Socrates and Plato, would have stopped short of this. There is no “moral virtue” involved, cosmetic or genuine, in claiming to have been named after Sir Edmund Hillary. What there is, is a weird sort of group cred. Just like sophistry, it ignores truth, or rather makes a fair-weather friend out of truth, showing support for truth only when truth happens to take the side of the superior goals. But its goals are unique.
Today’s liberals have adapted themselves to take a place within a society in starvation mode. They believe the soil is the best in the world for growing the doomed vineyard, not because such a belief is in line with the truth, and not because once they’re seen professing the belief they’ll have a better chance of ensconcing themselves within a cloister of elites wielding real authority. They’re more like rats on a sinking ship, climbing over each other to reach the highest ground. Even their political animals drunk on power, like Hillary, are in this mold because we see them lose their enchantment with power as soon as it involves some actual responsibility. Hillary is just an example of this, but she’s a good one. For decades now, when power involves the power to remember key events in her latest shenanigans, and her butt is in a seat before a Senate hearing trying to figure out what really happened — she’s lost her famous lust for that particular power. Power will have to wait ’til tomorrow, today I’m a victim. Help me! I’m melting!
This is a fine distinction. It is between a desire to ingratiate within a peer group for the purpose of wielding this power and running everything; versus, for the purpose of mere survival. To be among the last to be cast out of the fortress on the eve of a deadly winter.
The takeaway? It could very well be that rape hoaxes are nothing more than a thing of the past, from here on every single accuser can be believed; and furthermore, that the Syrian refugee crisis is not being used as a Trojan Horse gambit by our enemies, and every single case can be safely admitted without negative consequences. And, that Muslims have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. But it doesn’t matter — these are not the people you want in charge when the ship really is sinking, or whenever there’s a reef, iceberg, another ship, or anything else that might sink it. These are not the people you want running things when there is a threat. Because containing and managing a threat, like dispensing justice, or growing a vineyard or building a bridge, is something you do competently only reckoning with real truth. Measurable truth, dialectic truth. “Doesn’t matter who’s cheesed off about it” truth.
And these people do not belong in the front seat, that’s not their bag, baby. They are political-animals through and through. Every now & then they are guilty of pretending otherwise, pretending that their hands really do belong on the steering wheel, but only rarely and only weakly. Behind closed doors, they’re probably amazed they’re getting away with so much, that it’s taking the country so long to come to grips.
Are we not?
Things to do if you buy the conservative narrative:
1. Work hard
2. Find ways to enhance your skill set, so you can make more money
3. Spend time with your family, let your kids see what responsible adults do
4. DON’T turn in your weapons
5. Pay your taxes, but get angry when they’re wasted
6. Hold politicians accountable for wasting money on useless social programs
8. Give to charity
9. CHOOSE your own charities!
10. Start a business, if you’re really sure the time is right
Things to do if you buy the liberal narrative:
1. Support Obama’s latest plan to do X
2. Don’t resist
3. Go on Facebook and help us argue with people
4. Sign Joe Biden’s birthday card!!
5. Did we mention, don’t resist?
6. Do less something, do more nothing, emit less carbon
7. Get angry at businesses for…you know, being in business
8. Wait until WE tell you to work hard! — Keep waiting…
9. Send in extra money after you’ve paid your taxes! Nah, just kidding…
10. Just, like, you know, whatever liberal politicians say from one day to the next…just do that, whatever it is…
Point is, liberals talk a great game about “coming together and working together.” Very often they’ll get busted for trapping schoolkids in some activity that will never promote the growth of any sort of useful skill, and their defense will be “Well the little cherubs are learning to work together, and that’s worth at least as much as all that data, electricity, stuff.” But when you look at what they want people to do, you see there isn’t much opportunity for us to work together.
Here & there they’ll build whole narratives around some activity they want us to do together, but when that happens you’ll notice the “what are we doing together” amounts to just a big ball o’ nuthin’. Like #6 in that second list.
Follow the liberal narrative, and what happens is, to the extent any of us are doing “work” at all…ironically, it ends up being uncoordinated work. Stovepipe work. There’s a lot of chatter involved in coordinating, but that’s about all it is, chatter. Regurgitating Item #1, “Call your representative and tell him to support Obama’s plan.”
Comparing them to the workplace, liberals are — and they really wouldn’t have much chance to learn this, since it’s a workplace analogy and all — just like that guy who talks up a great game about how he did this, he did that…he’s got no clue what you’ve been doing, you don’t know the workings of whatever it is he’s doing, wouldn’t be able to coordinate with him if you tried. And behind closed doors, he’s telling the bosses “And this place would fall apart without me!! These other guys, I dunno what they do around here. I’m the guy who makes it all happen!!” If that guy has any influence, layoffs follow him around, like a shadow. Whether he does or not, bad morale follows him around like a shadow. Because, while he may talk a lot about teamwork, he does nothing whatsoever to promote it, and quite a lot to diminish it.
The Syrnian-refugee thing? Just another example. What is there, should we decide to follow the liberals’ plan, for us to DO?? Nothing. Just support Obama. Don’t oppose, don’t resist. Log on to Facebook and help us argue with people.
I got three e-mails from the DNC this week. They were asking me to host a Syrian refugee in my home…oh no, just kidding, no they weren’t. They were asking me to sign Joe Biden’s birthday card.
What inspired this? So much! The Biden birthday-card thing…the G20 remarks from America’s First Holy Emperor and the whining that was subsequent to that. A little bit of family stuff. And some frankly rather idiotic ideas I’m seeing about gun control, making college campuses more “safe” and infantile…
It’s not that the people peddling these ideas are looking down the road and saying, “Yes, I want people to be completely defenseless when a madman opens fire in a crowded public space.” I think they’re being honest, for the most part, when they focus on what they say is the big payoff…in that case, “If nobody has any guns, it won’t happen, because nobody will have any guns, like duh.” I think they really do have faith that that’s going to work somehow. Some of them, anyway.
But a lot of them aren’t looking down the road at all. This is the trouble with preening. All of this effort being plowed into shaping and molding a narrative: “Good thing we were here! See how much better we are than those other people?” Just like that hot mess on the workplace I was describing up above. Good thing I was here! Got no idea what those other people are doing boss, why do you bother paying them?
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. The beginning of all learning is “I don’t know,” and you can’t say that when you’re preening. Because when you’re preening, you already know everything. Just like the guy who’s had a few too many, is the best dancer in the room and his jokes are all funny.
For an example of how practitioners of The Preen behave when confronted with these flaws, I can’t think of anything better than what I saw yesterday over at Obamacare Facts. The comment thread is absolutely priceless. Especially the contribution, directed toward the moderator who was scrambling around trying to polish the turd, from sue on 11/5/15:
You’re on glue. You have the stupidest solutions and suggestions I’ve ever heard. Just be honest and admit this is a sham, a shake down of hard working citizens and the freedom of this country. This is a cash cow for the government and the health care industry and we’re all held hostage and being forced to buy into something we don’t want and can’t afford.
We see this with discussions about: Social programs, income taxes, foreign policy, refugees, abortion, religion, campaign finance, free speech issues, gun control, the savings-and-loan mess, climate change, prayer in schools — pretty much everything.
And it wasn’t always like this.
What’s different, I think, is that people are grasping at straws for ways to show what good people they are. We have an epidemic of GoodPerson Fever which is really nothing more than a spike disrupting the supply-demand equilibrium. A generation or two ago, there were ways to naturally show what a good person you were, that didn’t require any actual showing: Pretty much, the ten items on that first list.
Nowadays, they’re all getting more difficult to do, and people are being offered incentive after incentive to not do them. So they’re stuck. Preening. Can’t do anything else, other than maybe vote for a black guy to be President to prove they’re not bigots. Or a woman, to show they’re not sexists.
It’s been a constant drumbeat for a decade, it’s never left us for more than a day or two at most in all that time. It has ruined just about everything…
If it gets any worse, we’re going to have to start considering that maybe it’s a real problem.
A rather fascinating discussion unfolded this last week under the comment thread under the “Were the Nazis Right Wingers” post. Severian was challenging some of my definitions, trying to figure out where I stood, making me go “hmmm” here and there; eventually he went back to the Rotten Chestnuts site, and jotted down some of his thoughts about the whole left-wing right-wing thing. Some of what I’m doing doesn’t quite fit in the orthodoxy, because with the left-wing you have to separate outcome from intent — the ideology has yet to achieve, in any significant measure, any of its stated goals. And I’m going by outcome.
This brings about a perception of orientation that has attracted some questions, since scholars tend to classify ideology by intent. Left-wing, according to that, should be about the elimination (or at least, the toning down of the effects) of social classes. In America, we see it always seems to follow the same pathway: “Social class” is re-interpreted to have something to do with actually working for a living, or not. Continuing on with that train of thought honestly would then mean, “Well then, let’s see to it that everyone who wants a job, has one.” Politicians on the left often say something similar to that, but their policies make it much harder for anyone to find work. So we see them taking the path of least resistance — raising the standard of living of those who choose not to work, and diminishing the standard of living of those who do work. That much “equality,” and that’s about all. As far as political power? That’s a bust. Sure, advocates on the left do work hard to increase the number of people who have power; but only insofar as bringing into the fold, people who are likely to agree with them. That’s not a real test of commitment, is it?
So as far as I see it, the distinction in ideology has something to do with maturity. At the extreme “left” people want what they want when they want it. If someone gets in the way, well, they shouldn’t be there. Toddler Rules. Dictatorships, therefore, are inherently left-wing, at least from an American perspective, because it is in our heritage that government power should be shared and not concentrated into a single point.
“Liberal,” according to the more orthodox definition, is supposed to have something to do with equal rights. It is a rejection of primogeniture. If you get a month in jail for jaywalking, and the son of a high government official gets just a stern lecture for exactly the same offense, that’s supposed to be an offense against liberalism. Doesn’t work, does it? We only have to recall how “liberals” reacted with Bill Clinton was caught in his shenanigans with a White House intern, to pop that soap bubble. Liberals are also supposed to reject absolute monarchy…which in the Age Of Obama also doesn’t work. Here in the United States, liberalism is associated with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program, and all that went with that. And herein lies an irreconcilable contradiction with that “absolute monarchy” business, since FDR had to threaten to pack the Supreme Court in order to get his way. For his plans to be adjudicated impartially, wasn’t good enough for the American Caesar. This is the trouble with judging by intent; you have to go by stated intent when you do that, and in politics, statements of intent are so unreliable.
“Conservatives” are supposed to be all about retaining social institutions. This is supposed to make them more resistant to new ideas, which are welcomed by the liberals. Well, Greg Gutfeld came up with three good exceptions to that one, those being school choice, flat taxes and market-based health care reform. There are others though. Conservatives came up with the idea of welfare block grants to the states, teaching girls and women how to use guns, the Laffer Curve, and the Balanced Budget Amendment — many of which, like Gutfeld’s three, pose threats to liberal-friendly and liberal-favored “social institutions” like deficit spending and teachers’ unions.
In other countries, there is a distinction to be made between “liberal and conservative” and “left-wing and right-wing.” The Left Wing opposes social inequality and social hierarchy, is friendly to communism and socialism, as well as to anarchy. It is much friendlier to the welfare state. Again, because of the historical backdrop involving FDR’s programs, these terms “liberal” and “left-wing” mean much the same thing in America, although it’s important to remember that these meanings diverge in different directions once you start talking about elsewhere.
The “right wing” defends, not so much inequality itself, but rather the institutions that might have contributed to it: Natural Law, economics and tradition (as in, a royal blood line). Communism intends to create a classless society, the “right wing” opposes communism. But then, see, there is that problem again: Intent. What communist society was ever class-less? Ten, maybe twenty hippies toiling over a garden patch back in the sixties; any bigger of a “society” than that, you have classes. And just maybe, the “right wing” is resisting that because they can see where it’s going.
In the United States, we have additional meanings for these terms since we have federalism, or at least, are supposed to have it. Liberalism, in the U.S., has a lot to do with undermining that particular constitutional concept. This gets back to that thing about a dictatorship again, the Toddler Rules. If the feds say it should be a certain way, it should be that way — nice and simple. The right wing, pain-in-the-ass that it is, keeps going on about “states’ rights” which the left wing says is just a code-word phrase for re-instituting slavery, or racism, or something. The right wing, on the other hand, points out that when the federal government can practice supreme authority over the states in all transactions, interstate or not, it invites abuse and that’s why the left wing likes it that way. Which side to believe? Well…we know abuse flourishes in the U.S., whereas slavery has been abolished. But I guess that’s a side-issue. Again, these are uniquely-American complications, so it’s important to maintain an understanding of whether we’re talking about global left/right-wing, or U.S. left/right-wing.
What is written above has to do with definitions made, or recognized, elsewhere. What follows has to do with the observations we can make about the events around us, and how they may affect those definitions.
We see certain behavioral characteristics in those who affiliate with The Left, of course. Joe Biden, before he became Vice President, let loose a famous “racist slip” when he talked about how you can’t go into a 7-Eleven without an Indian accent or something like that…yeah, that’s stereotyping, something left wingers aren’t supposed to do. But he stereotyped because he was grasping at straws for something positive to say that might have a connection with the person he was meeting, and he seized on a group, not an individual, accomplishment. And that’s textbook American left-wing thinking, that groups accomplish things, individuals don’t. Furthermore, that the accomplishment is decidedly bereft of any true excellence, just “fastest growing” and that’s it. It’s just one of many examples. On Planet Lefty, groups, not individuals, accomplish things; and groups, not individuals, have rights. This is distinguished from Classic Liberalism, which is concerned with the rights of the individual.
Rights, in turn, are not necessarily “rights” as you and I know them to be. You have a “right” to a free college education, if we can make enough people angry that this right doesn’t exist yet, nevermind that someone else has to provide it somehow. Or a right to get married, which actually isn’t a right at all. And far from obliterating social classes the way liberals and the left are supposed to be wanting to do, all around the world, American lefties are power-drunk on group privileges. It’s their bread and butter. Chief among these privileges is the privilege of bellyaching about statistical deprivation. Example: Female engineers are paid less, on average, than male engineers — that’s a thing. Heterosexuals are, on average, less well-educated and paid less than homosexuals. That’s not a thing, not worth mentioning. So there is a “bellyaching privilege” enjoyed by some classes and not other classes. And that privilege, in the Lefty Pocket Universe, is a “right.”
If defining is all we want to do, and we only need the definition to work in the United States, we can define the Left Wing around a sort of fairy tale, the Leftist Fantasy that is never quite told all the way. There is the status quo, in which the richer are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer; all is despair and darkness. Then comes the revolution. A hero, or band of hardy compatriots, busts open the walls of the treasury with their battle axes and sledge hammers and what not, inviting all of the poor, oppressed villagers to gather around and scoop up as much of the golden coins as might be practically carried. Which the villagers do, then they haul the lucre off in their aprons back to their humble mud huts. After that, all is lightness and good, and there is equality. The defenseless are defended, the guilty are punished, everybody is on equal footing and all is right with the world. That’s the fantasy.
Their difficulty is, it’s hard to keep an awareness of the concept of time while you’re telling this story. The Toddler Rules say, they want everything the way they want it, all of the time. So if the revolution is happening tonight, then that means tomorrow there won’t be one. It’s like trying to drug yourself into a high without crashing afterwards, or trying to have sex without a real orgasm. That darn “time” thing, it says that if this is your moment, then the moment’s going to end soon. They can’t quite get with that part of it, so they live out their entire lives on a hairpin-turn of sorts.
Because a “right” is whatever a regional society declares it to be, The Left has an awful lot of trouble with the whole “good and evil” thing. They have a deserved reputation for failing to see evil when it’s right in front of them. And when the job is one of confronting it, these are not the guys you want leading the sheriff’s posse. They’re great for when non-aggression is the right answer, the problem is they can’t tell when it stops being the right answer. The enmity that they bear, as an ideology, against George W. Bush for the invasion of Iraq is a lifetime superlative. Political anger isn’t supposed to be something that’s measurable, but by any measurement, this is at the top. And the funny thing is, they can’t say why. “Illegal, unjust war” they say. Illegal how? They can’t answer. What would’ve happened if the U.S. hadn’t invaded? They can’t answer that either.
As easy as it is for The Left to proclaim brand new “rights” here and there, even when they cost actual money, they’re not quite so quick to figure out if they’re affordable rights, or who is going to be affording them. It doesn’t even rate an afterthought to them. Health care is a right that should be free? You’ve just revived the institution of slavery, and imposed it upon health care workers. College education is a right that should be free? You’ve just done the same thing, to the college professors. Oh wait though, no…doesn’t quite work that way for the profs. But anyway, this is yet another adequate distinguishing characteristic of the Left Wing in the US of A. Such-and-such is a right, we don’t know who’s paying for it, and we don’t very much care.
They do, though, put some thought into sticking the bill to classes of people they don’t like. “The one percent,” in the case of the video clip linked above. So there’s that.
Their level of commitment with running a check on the distribution of politcal power, or lack thereof, ties into this. You don’t have to study this very long to figure out their game plan: If the indigent have more power at election time, democrats win more elections. This creates, for us, another distinguishing characteristic. Anyone with some common sense, and a desire to see the republic endure, would have to have some feelings of dread about “One Man, One Vote”: Should work out fine as long as a majority of people can see fit to back some plans that are good for the community as a whole, and resist plans that are not good for the community as a whole. But as long as there are economic classes, it stands to reason that the classes with the greatest class membership will be the ones more further removed from actually producing anything. What is to be done to protect this system of government from the wreckage that may result? The Left Wing may be distinguished by their answer to this: Nothing, and isn’t that great? And, by their desire to exacerbate the problem. Greater political influence is to be placed on those who don’t actually pay the bills. All in the spirit of “One Man, One Vote” of course. But The Left would be plum-peachy with the idea of depriving the producers in society, of that one vote, so that isn’t really what motivates them.
And you see this, all throughout the modern world. Wherever you have a “leftist regime,” you’ll see a configuration that has become most familiar to us throughout the twentieth century: One man has all the power in the country. And still, there is some sort of phony charade going on, where they can pretend it’s all about one-man-one-vote. In fact, the dictator just recently won 100% of the vote in some sham election. I’m talking about who, exactly? I haven’t even offered enough criteria to narrow down these regimes just yet — could be any one of ‘em. One guy, self-promoted to Sooper-Dooper Field Marshal Ten-Star-General Supreme Blah Blah Blah…sinuses long-ago eaten away by cocaine, mind half-gone with venereal diseases, since the whole damn country exists solely for his amusement, and men like this are running out of ways to amuse themselves. If any one of his entourage looks at him funny, he has them shot or worse. Thus, my remark that led to the question that is the title of this post.
The American Left, far from being in favor of any sort of “equality,” is all about castes. The apex of the power pyramid, with his syphilitic problems and his weird military title and funny hat, is the dictator. Easily identified — “no one is above the law,” but if the law ever comes into conflict with his will, the law changes on the spot. He’s in charge of separating the nation from reality. If the question is “square root of sixteen” and he says five, the answer becomes five. Then you have his entourage, climbing all over each other for the coveted position of second-in-command. And then, within the enclave, those who support the dictator — and, those who do not. Those are the four castes in a leftist regime. Dictator, entourage, supporters, pariahs. Again, I’m talking about who exactly? A plurality of regimes, and far more than just a plurality in fact, fit; so it’s a generalization, but as generalizations go it’s not unsafe.
Lack of critical thinking is a key ingredient of the Left Wing, a core requirement. They live in the ad hom, even while they project this onto their opposition. Many who have endured the frustration of arguing anything with them, or merely discussing anything with them, have seen this-or-that subtopic come to an abrupt halt within a cul de sac of sorts, with “Oh you can’t put any credibility on that, it came from Fox News!” or, “Are you seriously going to question this, when 97% of climate scientists say it’s the right answer?” Point after point after point they throw out there, for which there is no rebuttal — and no way to agree, either, really — and you’re constantly asking yourself “Yes maybe, but what can we do with that within this discussion?” The question does have an answer: Nothing. These are weighty matters, for the Pharaoh and his entourage to solve, not fit for discussion among the riff raff. Our place, in the leftist universe, is merely to support what the powerful have decided. Remember our place. The science is settled. In fact, any definition of the decisions made by the powerful elites, more granular than what the elites are willing to provide, is anathema. Definition of their strategy is very often not forthcoming, and it is wrong to ask the question. It isn’t even fitting to ask for a qualify definition of the problem they’re trying to solve. The Left, in general, is opposed to definitions. They like ‘em so long as they may lead to broader and/or more passionate public support. Outside of that, the process of defining anything is to be shunned, along with anyone who calls for it. Quoting myself on where the definitions fit into it:
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.
Such passion The Left holds against definitions, that it seeks to obliterate definitions that don’t even pose any sort of a problem for it. Like gender. They hold that this is nothing natural, nothing more than an artificial societal construct, and yet at the same time there is one gender that is vastly superior to the other one. How to reconcile all this? You don’t. You’d have to define things to recognize the problem in the first place, and they’re opposed to defining anything. They think, correctly, that definitions get in the way of what they want to do, which creates fascinating conundrum because the question that naturally arises is, what exactly is it they want to do? And you’re not allowed to ask it. Not unless you’re prepared to take their stock answer word-for-word, and move on to the next question like a good leftist, with total apathy about the conflicts kicked up as this stock answer brushed up against reality. The People, it turns out, are just a bother when they ask too many questions. In fact, people are a bother anyway, a pestilence upon the planet. Children are to feel good about themselves, all of the time, but what are they really? Just an expense. They don’t have jobs, paying or otherwise, other than to sit, do as they like, feel happy. But they cost an arm and a leg. When they reach adulthood, they become what the rest of us are: A blight. A plague upon the planet. Not really part of nature.
Because they refuse to define anything to any useful level of detail, and are perpetually intent on dismantling the definitions we already have, they are a hot mess upon what they themselves call “the economy,” which they constantly brag about strengthening — somehow. A typical argument between a right-winger and a left-winger about the economy, in the Age of Obama, might go something like this:
Right: It stinks.
Left: You think so, because you won’t stop watching Fox News. Truth is, we have X many more jobs this quarter than last quarter.
Right: Yeah, that’s because if someone lost a good full-time job due to ObamaCare, they have to take 2 part-time jobs and that counts as 2…
Left: You just have to stop watching Fox. And anything else I’ve decided you shouldn’t watch.
What’s interesting in this exchange is that the Right Wing antagonist has left himself open, with some speculation entirely (or mostly) unfounded. We don’t really know that this is what’s happening, we just have some data that supports parts of it. A good enlightening discussion could unfold from that, probably with some good points made on both sides. But The Left will have none of it. They’re missing the mark of the educated mind:
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
They can’t manage it. They’re fanatics. Control-freaks, too: “Don’t watch anything I’ve decided you shouldn’t watch.” Just like a controlling husband telling his wife which friends she shouldn’t have.
The idea that the economy is doing better when there are more jobs, is one that has outlived its usefulness. You don’t have to be a practicing economist to see that this has done us great harm, by being what it is: A metric that is just plain wrong. It’s not unlike pulling a car out of a ditch by attaching a cable to a part of the car that’s not part of the frame. Is it possible to construct a scenario in which this flawed metric is doing just great, while the “real” economy is capsizing? Absolutely. In fact, it’s easy. We’re living it now. You just have lots of people “employed,” busting their butts doing work that doesn’t actually help anyone — provides no useful service, manufactures no valuable product. Then you leave the citizenry to wonder, year after year, why the standard of living seems to be on a long, slow decline, even though they’re working their fannies to the bone. Sound familiar? And here we have another distinguishing characteristic: The Left thinks that’s just wonderful. They think the “economy” is “strong,” when there is a lot of activity.
Part of that is because their appreciation of “hard work” is nothing more than fakery. They don’t really believe in it; if they believed in it, they’d have been doing it at some point. You haven’t long to wait to listen to an impassioned leftist describe, in graet detail, the evilness of the “Koch Brothers,” but so many of them couldn’t even get started on telling you what the Koch Brothers did to make their money. The truth is, they don’t think there’s anything noble about making it. They think the nobility is in being impoverished — not just in poverty, but dependent. That’s important. A mountain man who has figured out how to get by on zero dollars, therefore labors under the burden of poverty but not dependence, brings them no value. They value the inner-city dweller, the panhandling bum. Same income level, different level of dependence. The panhandler is the yardstick by which we measure the compassion of society, as such he possesses infinite importance. The mountain man, on the other hand, can be ignored. It’s all about getting democrats elected. So their value system is fixated on the impoverished, so long as they’re properly dependent.
Does that mean they don’t want the economy to do well? Why yes, it does; it means exactly that. How are you going to get democrats elected, when the average American citizen sees a pathway to his own prosperity, by way of thinking for himself, and providing valuable products and services to others?
They don’t think money is earned. They think it’s distributed. They themselves will have no qualms about admitting this, since with each new election cycle, the economic plans put forward by their politicians are concerned mostly with tinkering with the distribution. Tinker, tinker, endlessly; so-and-so has “slipped through the cracks” and we need to “shore up” something. Oddly, this doesn’t mean we should ever revisit any plans of theirs that were implemented before. They can’t ever bring themselves to admit that reality fooled them. I suppose that’s true of all politicians, but The Left is an interesting case study because their politicians are essentially trotting out more-or-less the same plans every two to four years. So if they could ever bring themselves to admit, hey we tried fixing this, our fix didn’t take because of this thing we’ve learned since then; it would sound perfectly credible. I think they avoid doing this because they know if they’re going to do that 2 or 3 times about the same problem, they might as well do it 30 times, and by the time you say it that many times people will start to figure out you’re either lying, or don’t know what you’re doing.
Those would be the two messages The Left wants to avoid most avidly, because there is some truth to both of them. Truth is dangerous to a leftist.
No, each new plan has to be inspired by new outrage. The classifications of the outrage do not change: Someone died in police custody, or someone else has too much money, or power, or racism still exists, or women aren’t making as much money as men. Fresh anecdotes bring value to the leftist, because their real estate is limited there, and as the election cycles tick by they can’t keep feeding on the same ground. They need these stories of discrimination lawsuits getting thrown out of court, so they can stir up fresh, new outrage.
Those are the distinguishing characteristics of The Left; the politicians, advocates and voters. The Right comes into conflict with them, mostly because The Right — being composed of people who actually work for a living, build things that have to work properly so they can get those things sold — is concerned with something that doesn’t even rate an afterthought to The Left: Sustainability. The Right looks further down the road. Their mindset is the one that says: “If I paint this brick and sell it as a gold brick, it might work one time but that buyer won’t be back, so what good does it do over the long term?” Their understanding of human nature is vastly superior to The Left’s, which doesn’t say very much at all really. They may be repulsed by the newer generation’s music, but they’re not going to write angry letters to the radio station to stop playing it. They’ll just turn the dial and listen to something else. Partly because that’s practical, but partly because they know that if Katy Perry fans go months or years without being able to get access to her music, those fans will just start to miss her and they’ll like her music even more. This sets them apart from The Left, which is constantly inundating us with things they want us to learn to like, and scheming to deprive us of things they want us to learn to dislike. We’re looking for distinguishing characteristics to support our proper definitions, and in this case we get two-for-one. The Right is more mature; they understand absence makes the heart grow fonder. And they don’t work so hard to try to control others.
The Right is much less likely to be satisfied with “experts say” statements, even when such statements happen to be friendly to their pre-existing biases. If the details are missing behind such a statement, rightward-leaning people are going to want to have those details; they’ll at least go through the trouble of initially wondering about them, which is another characteristic that distinguishes them from The Left. The latter, upon hearing “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists believe in global warming” will ask very few questions about that. This gets them into trouble over and over again, as they use the “hammer” for its intended purpose, ending arguments once and for all, only to be confronted with these bothersome questions for which they’re unprepared, like: Do 97% of climate scientists agree we can head off a calamity by moving money around the way Al Gore wants us to move it? The Right Wing is much less likely to make this mistake, although it still does occasionally. It has nothing to do with intellectual capacity or intelligence. It is the curiosity that naturally arises when you build something upon which you, yourself, will be depending later. Did I tighten the lug nuts on this wheel? They understand that the same goes for any effort to build anything that possesses genuine value: You have to define things.
The Right doesn’t see the “leaders” or the experts as part of any sort of deity class. They just see these people as people with jobs. And they see them as strangers. Trust is earned, not given. Politicians, climate scientists, pundits — if these people have influence, that just means these people have the ability to break things, just as much as the ability to make them any better. So these impressive offices filled with these impressive people with impressive titles, to the Right Wing, are just nothing more than responsibilities. Which might not be met. And We, The People also have a responsibility, to keep an eye on those people. They’re our servants. They work for us. It’s a tradition that goes all the way back to George Washington. No royalty here; we don’t need it.
The Right is further distinguished from The Left, in that its adherents are much more likely to have actually read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. As such, they know this country is not founded on any sort of fundamental premise that government provides our rights; it is the place of government to merely recognize that we have them. The way The Right sees it, humans are sacred, dignified creatures; we are a part of nature, in fact we’re the most important part of it. And children are not just expenditures, or cudgels to be used against estranged fathers by vindictive mothers. Children are precious. You put them all together, and you have the generation that will be living in, and leading, the world of tomorrow. That’s another natural consequence of The Right looking two steps down the road, whereas The Left can see only as far as one step.
Because people are sacred, it logically follows that the work they do is also sacred. This puts The Right in the position of being far more open to the likelihood that work can help others. The Left very often envisions The Right as retrograde, some sort of throwback to a past time — “conservative.” This is as fitting a situation for that observation as any other: The Right hails from an earlier chapter in our developmental history, in which profit was a way of assessing the net value of work. The Left seeks to depart from that plane; and this isn’t helpful. Profit is how we figured out what activities were worthy of blossoming into businesses, and what businesses were worthy of launching leviathan industries. The Right still sticks to that, and assesses the performance of the economy by how easy it is to make a profit. That’s our “yes” and “no” signal, it tells us where to steer the economy, allows us to figure out what is worthy of greater investment, and what should die on the vine. The Right Wing dreads the day when, anytime and anyplace an investor makes the inquiry by participating in some new venture, the answer that comes back is always no. They understand that on that day, the oxygen supply will have been cut off for all of us. It comes back to definitions, again. If you invest in something and make a profit, not only do you know that there must have been a demand for that product or service, but you also know there had to have been some quality work and some good decision-making involved too. You have to have all of those things to make a profit.
If there aren’t any profits, that’s exactly like a network device acknowledging every single packet with a failed checksum. With the behavior unaltered, the sending peer will re-send so many times, and then come back with an error that the transmission couldn’t be completed. Then you could reprogram it, but how do you alter the behavior? There’s no right answer. Network no go. The same is true of our economy, and The Right is unique in understanding this. Some things, every now & then, are going to have to work. “Investment” is really nothing more than a question, “Profit or Loss” is an answer. That’s how we find our way around, figure out where to go. On The Left, these are dirty words.
Because you can only make a profit if you make correct decisions, there is a certain nobility about being able to provide for yourself. Like the network packet checksum, it shows everything is aligned and working, in the correct sequence. There’s no such thing as “excessive profit,” because more profit simply means more productive, hard work, and more correct decision-making, more investments that are possible. See, The Left has spun this highly successful deception, this Big Lie, that because they’re looking forward and the Right Wing is looking backward, they must be the ones for progress. But you can’t be for progress if you see profits as evil, or good only in certain situations, in which the level of the profit has to be contained beneath some limit. That’s not progress, that’s anti-progress. Also, the Right Wing’s political leaders are not committed to selling more social programs for the benefit of the indigent classes in order to ensure their longevity — therefore, there’s no vested interest in increasing the population of the indigent classes. This is supposed to be heartless, or lacking in compassion, or some such. That’s actually the way it’s supposed to work. Successful, strong economy, that means more rich people, easier to make a profit, fewer indigents. That’s the desired outcome.
Because The Right has this check routinely run against their suppositions, whereas The Left only has its beliefs, its zealous statements in support of those beliefs, and navel-gazing self-appreciation for how it makes these statements, it follows that The Right is much more strongly tethered to reality. Anybody who’s ever tried to do anything that relies on a strong tethering to reality, will be able to attest to the fact that it isn’t always easy to maintain one. Constant testing and re-evaluation, these are important things, the most precious tools in the toolbox. And you can’t continually test and re-evaluate without the strong definitions, mentioned previously. Gender is not something to be “re-assigned” or re-thought or torn apart, or anything of the like: It is a part of nature. Our place is not to meddle with it, but to accept it for what it is. The Right, also, has a much better understanding of this thing we call “science”; they understand that it is a method. It’s not a club of credentialed elites, it’s not a great dusty thick sealed-shut book full of engraved catechisms. It isn’t a seal of approval affixed by some authoritarian body. They understand that science is a means of discovery, and they understand that when someone says something asinine like “The Science Is Settled,” that person is either trying to hoodwink someone else, or has been hoodwinked himself.
Those are the available distinguishing characteristics between Right Wing and Left Wing; at least, the ones that come to me, and apply in the United States. Again, you see (thanks to FDR) we here in the U.S. have the luxury of conflating “liberal” with “left wing” and “conservative” with “right wing,” which doesn’t work so well in other countries, for a lot of reasons. Primogeniture never really was much of a thing here, so we don’t have “conservatives” harkening back to a bygone era in which the firstborn son got to live in the castle and pass the title down to his firstborn son, etc. etc. If anything, they’re merely “harkening back” to the bygone era in which people aspired to work for a living.
Still and all, it’s a bit wordy. So I would distill all of those paragraphs down to the following three broad categories of distinction.
Cultural Drive: The Right Wing seeks to drive our culture in one direction, where the Left Wing seeks to drive our culture in the opposite direction. We could pose to each side, or to an opinionated-person of unknown orientation, the following question: Is work just for suckers? This lacks the virtue of tact, but certainly does get right to the heart of the matter. Leftists will certainly object to it, but it would be silly and counterproductive to try to deny that they look at “work” very much differently compared to their Right Wing counterparts. To them, if someone has to work in order to survive, and work harder than they’d like to be working in order to survive, that means something is broken and needs fixing. The Right Wing, on the other hand, figures that if it’s “work” it goes without saying that you’re going to have to do some work, and you’re going to have to do some things you don’t want to do — that’s why they call it that. If you got to pick everything, it wouldn’t be work.
Relationship Between People and Government: One of my left-leaning Facebook friends said he doesn’t believe there is any such thing as “Natural Law,” and as I mulled over this I realized this is a good way of locating the surveyor’s twine, to draw the boundary. Is there such a thing as N.L.? This leads up to a question that has been asked, for ages, by Americans who couldn’t be bothered to read the Declaration of Independence: Do our rights come from government? And that leads to: What is a “right,” anyway? Is a right a right, if someone else has to pay for you to have it?
Foreign Policy: Where the above two have to do with domestic matters, The Left is divided from The Right (as well as from common sense) when it comes to overseas situations, and how to handle them. Having been born in the sixties, I’ve often had the impression I’d have a better idea how this came about, if I were born, oh, somewhere around three decades earlier. Liberals don’t define “peace” the way normal people define it. They seem to understand that for a peace to endure, someone has to do some compromising; but they don’t want to be the ones doing it. So if there is peace, but they’re not getting everything they want, then there can’t be any peace. Somehow, this means every military conflict that comes along is the fault of their opposition. It’s all unnecessary. They seem to go so far as to say, without saying it, that the military itself is a useless relic from an earlier time, and if we work at it we can get rid of all armed conflict, like Smallpox. They don’t say so; and this would directly contradict their hero-worship of FDR, who “won World War II” and so forth. But such a belief would pose no contradiction whatsoever, against the ideas they have for the problems that confront us in the present. In fact, going by the policy proposals they advocate for foreign policy today, it’s difficult to see any use they have for international borders, at all. And that would make sense. Borders are, among other things, definitions.
So these are the meanings I have in mind; the long and the short of it, literally. Severian objected, at least at first, to the realization that under this perception of what the ideologies really mean, every dictatorship in the history of the human race, going all the way back to the Pharaohs, would be “left wing.” To which I say, yes of course this is true, how can it go any other way? “Right Wing” is a belief in, among other things, Natural Law — which would get in the way of a good, honest dictatorship.
To which he replied, with his description of the five buckets. This is great stuff. Had to Facebook it right away. His explanation of it:
Imagine that we set a whole bunch of famous leaders down and gave them a pop quiz: “What is the purpose of government? What is the State for?” Then we sort them into buckets.
One common answer would be “the State exists to create Utopia here on earth,” and guys like Lenin, Hitler, Mao, and Obama would be in that bucket. Their Utopias would all look different, and they’d employ different means to get there, but all those guys would agree that their governments are trying to create a perfect world.
Another bucket contains guys like Oliver Cromwell, Suleiman the Magnificent, Charlemagne, and Ferdinand and Isabella. Their answer is something like “government exists to give greater glory to God, and/or punish His enemies.”
A third bucket is full of guys who answered “the purpose of the State is to give me and my entourage the highest possible standard of living” — Genghis Khan, Louis XVI, pick your ancient empire-builder.
A fourth bucket reads “the State exists to keep the natural world in balance.” Egyptian pharaohs and Confucian emperors fit here — they have to do their daily rituals or the world falls out of whack.
A fifth — very small — bucket reads “Government exists to protect its people’s life, liberty, and property.” Here you find George Washington, Jefferson Davis, William Pitt, and (arguably) guys like Pericles and the consuls of the Roman Republic.
I’d argue that the guys in the “state as utopia” bucket are the Left, and the “protect the people’s rights” bucket are the Right. That leaves the vast majority of all governments that have ever existed in the middle three buckets. Doing it this way, I think, helps clear up some of the confusion about behavior and attitudes — Obama, as you note, behaves as if he believes His presidency has kept the seas from rising, but I don’t think He actually does. Nor do His followers.
Here, I think we are wrestling with another question that, although it might not serve adequately as a distinguishing characteristic, nevertheless highlights the difference between how left-wingers and right-wingers think: Believe. The more we look into it, the more we return to that pivot-point, like a homing pigeon, which is the difference in consequence. The Right Wing has to work with it, the Left Wing does not. It’s almost as if…I would say, exactly as if…the Left Wing formed its relationship to reality, when it got busted by its mom for taking cookies out of the jar, and pulled a fast one on her with a bit of nonsense about “Actually, I was putting it back.” And that worked, either because the small-em mom wasn’t into confronting them about the obvious falsehood, or she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the drawer.
Whereas the right-winger, in the same situation, ended up having to carve his own switch.
Truth, therefore, to a left-winger is whatever successfully sells the pitch. Belief is a dedication to whatever that “truth” is. It is only the right-winger — and, true, genuine centrists — who see truth as truth, something that is inextricably fastened to consequences. This brings us back to the analogy of “Did I put the lug nuts on the wheel the right way?” It inspires a whole different way of thinking, a whole different direction of thinking.
So it is belief, but not as we know it. Over here. They do “believe” that Obama has something to do with the rising of the seas. They’re willing to say it…and there’s nothing more to it than that, in their world. Say this thing, get to keep my cookie.
Anyway, as I said at the beginning, Severian found the topic sufficiently engrossing, as do I, to go over to the “daughter site” and jot down a few extra thoughts. “Three Signs You Might Be a Secret Leftist.” The three signs are:
1. You think the world is perfectible.
2. You never trust your own lying eyes.
3. You claim dictatorial powers for yourself, because you’re the victim in everything.
It seems to me that he and I disagree about the “Pharaoh,” because we see different things in that example. It’s too late to psychoanalyze Ramses The Great, but we can put together some crude profiles of dictators more recent, and the traits we see in dictators we know are pretty much the traits we should expect to see. Toddler Rules. There is an atrophied ability to resolve conflict, or no ability to resolve conflict at all, because there’s never been any need to do so. “I want what I want when I want it.” They do a lot of twiddling once they’re in charge of things, but they don’t grapple with consequences, don’t spend a lot of time wondering “did I tighten the lug nuts,” since they don’t put in a lot of lug nuts, and in any case won’t be the ones driving the car.
I should say something about their destructive impulses. Somewhere I noted that the leftist regimes we see here in the U.S. recently, over the last forty years or so, all have it in common that they make a big show out of building something great and grand, but can never quite articulate what exactly that is. If you were to ask them “All fine and good, but what are you destroying?” they’d be able to tell you. Now if someone can tell you what he’s destroying but can’t tell you what he’s building, doesn’t seem to have that figured out himself, that might be a good tip-off that this person is a destroyer and not a creator. The Left Wing, in our country, can’t quite make that leap. They want to think of themselves, and be thought-of by others, as creators and not destroyers; but, that seems to be nothing more than spinning a wild yarn about putting the cookie back in the jar.
Yay. Yes, we’ve slowed down quite a bit as of late, but we’re still ticking, at 8,079 posts and 25,806 comments.
Video footage of Yale students losing the plot over a faculty head and his wife, who said everyone should calm down about Halloween, has caused much head-shaking in liberal circles. And it isn’t hard to see why. The head’s crime was that his wife sent an email suggesting academics and students should chill out about ‘culturally insensitive’ Halloween costumes. It’s okay, the email said, to be a ‘little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive’ on this one day. For his wife issuing this mildest of rebukes to over-sensitive over-18s, the head was accosted by a mob of students insisting the email made them feel unsafe. When he told the crowd that he thinks university is about providing education, not a ‘safe home’, they screamed at him to ‘step down!’. ‘Who the fuck hired you?!’, the most unhinged of the students cries.
It’s unnerving, odd, a terrifying snapshot of the new intolerance. We could see the culture of ‘You can’t say that!’ in all its swirling, borderline violent ugliness. It wasn’t a whispered or implied ‘You can’t say that!’, of the kind we see all the time in 21st-century public life, in response to people who criticise gay marriage, say, or doubt climate change. No, this was an explicitly stated ‘You can’t fucking say that, and if you do we’ll demand that you be sacked!’ That it was stated at Yale, and in response to a bloody email about Halloween, has added to the hand-wringing among liberals, who want to know what’s gone wrong with the new generation.
Okay, fine. It is indeed interesting, and worrying, that students are so sensitive and censorious today. But I have a question for the hand-wringers, the media people, academics and liberal thinkers who are so disturbed by what they’re calling the ‘Yale snowflakes’: what did you think would happen? When you watched, or even presided over, the creation over the past 40 years of a vast system of laws and speech codes to punish insulting or damaging words, and the construction of a vast machine of therapeutic intervention into everyday life, what did you think the end result would be? A generation that was liberal and tough? Come off it. It’s those trends, those longstanding trends of censorship and therapy, that created today’s creepy campus intolerance; it’s you who made these monsters.
I think it’s even worse than that, though. The prior generation is not acting just as an enabler of this sort of behavior; it has been a forerunner. The ramifications of this are heavy, in that they would mean this whole lunacy is inter-generational, it didn’t just start this year because it’s never really stopped.
I’ve also noticed something about it: It’s theater. Correcting whatever caused the offense is not nearly as important as manifesting that the offense took place. Also, the drama that ensues has a lot of value nobody ever seems to discuss, as a diversionary tactic; the expression of offense alters the outcome.
The perpetually offended, therefore, have a loathing against whatever conclusion would most likely have been produced, had the discussion not been interrupted. It’s not just an isolated defensive outburst against “offense,” it’s a whole way of life. Down in Missouri, that Melissa Click woman who called for “muscle” to block that reporter from covering a protest — I’m still having trouble with the concept of a protest that isn’t supposed to be seen — just did it again, citing “death threats” as the reason for canceling her class as she deals with the ensuing troubles. Death threats, yes it’s always death threats…
Losing the argument? Stir the pot a bit. Death threats, not feeling good, sprained ankle, being offended. These are people who start arguments, and figure they ought to be the ones to finish them. If ever it doesn’t go that way, they reach for a sort of “ejection seat lever” and there’s your real cause of offense. That’s why we’re seeing so much of this. It isn’t an ever-evolving society reaching new heights of sophistication and learning that certain things should be taboo, and it isn’t even (completely) a thing with thinning skin, upon those who are getting offended. It’s a tactic. A tactic used by those who just want to skip ahead to the fun part, where they win the argument, without slogging through that boring thing that involves some actual arguing.
Viewing it through that lens, we see this embiggens the ramifications involved somewhat. Quite a bit, actually. These are not isolated incidents at Yale and Mizzou. Like Rush Limbaugh said, “It’s only getting started here, folks.” Even that isn’t completely right, “it” isn’t just getting started.
These are people, being groomed to run the world of tomorrow, to make all of the Big Decisions That Really Matter within our society of the near future — being taught how to start arguments and not to, in any civil way, finish them. Now think of that. That’s really not much different than teaching a whole generation of passenger airplane pilots how to take off, but not how to land. Tomorrow’s executives, professors, politicians and other authority figures are being taught how to hit the emergency-eject button when they figure out they’re losing the argument, so they can get their way even when they find out in mid-course that they’re wrong. Taught that, by the precious snowflakes of yesteryear, who were taught precisely the same thing, and have been getting offended constantly since then — and have taken over academe.
The point is, nothing significant just happened, except that we’ve been forced to give a greater share of our attention to something that’s been happening already, for a long time. When we bring it to a stop, that’s when life starts getting better for everybody.