Archive for July, 2006

On Groups

Monday, July 31st, 2006

On Groups

Thing I Know #93. People tend to change the way they think when they’re in groups. Generally, an idea generated in a group is worth a lot less than an idea someone thinks up on their own.
Thing I Know #110. Everyone’s willing to bet an unlimited measure of resources from a company, corporation, committee, council, organization or club, that the “smartest guy in the room” really is the smartest guy in the room. Because of that, the smartest guy’s ideas usually go unopposed. I have noticed it’s extremely rare that anyone, anywhere, would bet one dime of their personal fortune that he’s really that smart. This may explain why some of the best decisions I’ve seen, were made outside of conference rooms.

From third to fifth grades, I remember some experiences in which my classes did some exercises in voting. From that, we learned fundamental principles in democracy. We learned what happens when you take more than one vote about the same thing, and we learned how a vote can be split. We learned how, and why, people settle things in groups. I remember that by the time I started middle school, these things were all crystal-clear to me.

The years have done unkind things to this sense of clarity. I’m suffering, now, from a “one more time, why was this thought to be a good idea again?” kind of a thing, with regard to settling things in groups. As a species of thinking creatures, we seem to lack the ability to hold this activity aloft as some of our finest decision-making work.

The American Psychological Association is doing a great job of showing what I’m talking about. Last year, the APA enacted a policy about the work of professional psychologists assisting in military interrogations, clarifying the boundary of what is to be permitted in such a practice. This didn’t go over well with much of the membership, who apparently look upon assistance to one’s own country in wartime as something disfavorable.

The unrest stems from an APA policy, issued last year, that says that while psychologists should not get involved in torture or other degrading treatment, it is ethical for them to act as consultants to interrogation and information-gathering for national security purposes.

That stand troubles some members of the organization in light of the reported abuses at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

“The issue is being couched as psychologists helping out with national security at the same time that psychologists are opposed to the issue of torture,” said Chicago psychologist William Gorman, an APA member who signed the petition and works with refugee survivors of torture. “That stance in the present context appears to me incongruous.”

News reports have said that mental health specialists who are helping U.S. military interrogators have helped create coercive techniques, including sleep deprivation and playing on detainees’ phobias, to extract information.

The American Medical Association last month adopted what many view as a stronger stand against physician involvement in prisoner interrogation, echoing a position held by the American Psychiatric Association, whose members are medical doctors. The U.S. military has indicated it will therefore favor using psychologists, who are not medical doctors and are not bound by the other groups’ policies.

The Physicians for Human Rights, a Cambridge, Massachusetts.-based advocacy group, issued a statement Wednesday urging APA leaders to “explicitly prohibit psychologists from participating in interrogations.”
:
Some professionals, including [APA member Steven] Reisner, a faculty member at Columbia University’s International Trauma Studies program and at New York University’s medical school, want the 150,000-member organization to rewrite the group’s ethics code to bar psychologists from any involvement in detainee interrogation.

Problem: There’s no call for a group, be it a decision-making panel or a far-flung association of professionals, to make moral decisions. Moral decisions are personal by nature, and anyway, groups bollix them up all the time. They always have.

Second problem: The group setting is being used to establish a moral equivalency between the kind of thing that went on at Abu Ghraib, and sleep deprivation. The “bridge” between these two extremes is the semantic term, “torture.” It’s no secret to anyone who has been paying attention that the name “Abu Ghraib” has been highly politicized, and it appears we’re in danger of losing track of what exactly happened there. Hint: It wasn’t just sleep deprivation.

Third problem: It’s a perversion of science. Suppose I’m an APA member. If the APA revises the policy on assistance to the military during interrogations, and the new policy sharply contradicts my personal moral outlook on it, as a thinking psychological scientist-type guy I should have the confidence that the group has handed down a decision that is worthwhile. If I don’t have this confidence, the group has demeaned itself by forcing me to conclude “I know this is right, but the group has voted it wrong, so they’re all messed up” — or, “I know this is wrong, but the group has voted it right, so they don’t know what they’re talking about.” The point is, it’s not human nature to surrender moral decision-making to a group. It’s human nature to expect everyone else in the group to do it, but for ourselves, we never do it. And so, the group is going to wrestle with weighty moral implications, over which it has no real authority because nobody’s going to really surrender their moral cognitions to the group. In so doing, it will not only reveal, but highlight, what everyone already knows to be true: Decisions will be made not based on rational arguments, but based on which faction within the group screams the loudest. Well, that isn’t how you decide what’s right and what’s wrong.

And last but not least, the fourth problem is that there are consequences for making the wrong decision, and they’re not confined to the ethereal realm of the merely theoretical. If we interrogate someone and fail to extract something, people might die. Is the APA doing something to take that into account as they vote on what’s right and what’s wrong? I see nothing in the CNN article to indicate such a thing. Allowing evil to happen, by inaction, would in itself be morally questionable to say the very least, right?

Ten Types of Women You Need to Avoid

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

Ten Types of Women You Need to Avoid

Spot on.

  • 10. The woman who is obsessed with getting married;
  • 9. The woman who is always looking for a fight;
  • 8. The woman who needs to be handled with kid gloves;
  • 7. The woman who really needs to cover up;
  • 6. The woman who is a constant drag:
  • …and five others.

    In the comments section, there seems to be a debate raging amongst the female population about whether the article is sexist. I would say this debate is representative of an eleventh type.

    That was one of the things I learned early on about women to avoid — there are women out there, who don’t like men, and aren’t willing to admit that they don’t like men. The best way to pick up on this, is through TIK #58 which, I think is the basis of the complaint these females have when they say the article is “sexist.”

    Thing I Know #58. To insult a man says nothing about other men, but for some reason, anything said against one woman is perceived to be said against everything female who ever lived.

    Just carry this attitude out to the logical extension if you’re thinking about dating this eleventh type. The article is “sexist,” because it says something negative about women. Okay. So the other article magically comes out, the one that says ten types of men are jerks. Anything wrong with that according to the eleventh type? Probably not. Refer again to TIK #58. So…you may say something bad against men, but not against women.

    Now where does that lead? Well, obviously, she thinks she’s got certain birthrights and that she’s better than you. This is just a matter of consistency, and basic intellectual honesty. She belongs to a class which, it’s been declared already, is protected from criticism; you, dude, belong to another class, which is not. Is this the elegant Victorian brand of sex-discrimination, the Knights-and-Ladies variety, where women get special privileges because it’s acknowledged the men are stronger, and therefore actually good for something? Feh…don’t make me laugh. No, it’s the neo-feminist, ivory-tower-versus-primordial-muck brand of reverse discrimination. Thou shalt not say anything good about a man, nor anything negative about a woman.

    The trouble with this is, it’s absolute. To comply with the rule a mere eleven months out of the year, or 23 hours in a day, simply won’t do. The other thing is, it’s self-delusional and contradictory. To discriminate, so long as it’s in the appropriate direction, is non-sexist. To call out a woman who irritates you, by doing the same thing an irritating man just did who you also called out, is sexist — even though your demonstrated non-favoritism is the very essence of neutrality. It’s the negativity. You can’t scatter it in the general direction of a woman, any woman.

    Why is that a valid eleventh type? Well, think what life with a woman like that is like. The thoughts in your head are her business…which is fine, to a point, because she’s endeavoring to keep an anti-woman attitude from frothing up in the cauldron that is her mate. Very reasonable. The problem comes up when women do things that genuinely should piss you off and, before you comment about it, you have to check to see if your lady is out of earshot. What’s that say about womanhood? What’s that say about your day-to-day lifestyle? What’s that say about your feelings of togetherness and intimacy, as a couple? Nothing good.

    What is life like throughout the day, anyway? You’re driving down the road and some dick cuts you off with a double lane-change, and you can’t kibitz about it until you pass him to make sure he really is a dick, so you can say something…because maybe it’s a stupid-ass bitch, and you aren’t allowed to notice what an incredibly stupid and dangerous thing she just did. TIK #58. Say something against one thing female, you say something against all things female. How about going the other way? What if you want to notice something good about another woman? Like she just changed her hairstyle or her perfume, and you want to give her a compliment about it in front of your better half? That’s suicide, of course. Tell you what, forget the compliment. You just want to mention something positive to your mate, about another woman. Like the other woman has nice-looking legs, or something. Heh. Just try it. So…you cannot notice anything good about women, you cannot notice anything bad about women. You are prohibited from acknowledging the existence of other women. You must live out your life, in the disguise of a straight man who is oblivious to the existence of women. It’s like the old Rodney Dangerfield joke about “when I met you I lost all interest in women.”

    The joke is funny because it’s sad. And true. But a man whose wife says the list is “sexist,” has to be living that life. Things cannot go any other way.

    I would say his list looks more like…

  • The woman who wants an anatomically-incorrect stuffed animal instead of a real boyfriend;
  • The woman who makes it her business to know everything in your head;
  • The woman who wants a sugar daddy;
  • The woman who is afraid of being happy;
  • The woman who craves constant attention.
  • And all of these are offshoots of the one basic problem, of being generally unhappy with life and unsure of what to do with it. Basically, not being ready for a relationship. And we’re not discussing a certain percentage of women here, therefore, we’re not saying anything against women as a whole.

    The one thing I’d say about women as a whole, and it’s of enormous benefit to an available fella to understand this, is: Women have a tendency to send out the “vibes” signalling their availability for a potential suitor, with a vigor inversely-proportional to their genuine availability. That is to say, the “healthy” ones have a tendency to hunker down, not give off the vibe, and bellyache about how the good men all seem to be taken. The ones who give off the vibe, are the ones who have issues.

    Which is just another way of saying that the act of engaging in the hunt, is something best left to the gentlemen. When it was recognized as being our job, men and women got along much, much better. When it was recognized that women should “take the initiative” and start scoping the field for potential mates, and actively seek them out, the male-female relations were sent off to a low nadir. The women who did the looking, never had much confidence in what they were doing from beginning to end. The guys who got found, were never the cream of the crop.

    It also lists just one more area, wherein a fella who finds his luck with the ladies isn’t panning out that well and is honestly curious as to why this is, and what he can do about it — he’s probably going to find out the answer is to stop being so lazy. That’s what I’ve learned in my lifetime. When I’ve not getten along with women, it’s a symptom of laziness. In housework, in communication, in “self-matchmaking” if you want to call it that…in something.

    Some things are best left to women, other things aren’t. Men are wired to see what needs doing, and get it done. Thanks to technology, we live in a time where nothing actually needs doing. And thanks to feminism, we live in a time where people who actually expect good things to be done by a man, are thought to have the wrong idea — so men aren’t expected to do anything, except damage. It turns out that in modern times, avoiding the gargoyle of sloth, even by a man generally recognized as “hard-working,” is a proposition much more easily said than done.

    Anyway, that’s more a rambling than a rant. Great list. And if it passes for what’s called “sexism,” we could certainly use a whole lot more of it.

    Update 7/31/06: I left this off the original post because it didn’t seem relevant, but popular demand persists. Wilting beneath the relentless onslaught of the hot breath and screechy windbaggery of the pantsuit-termagant crowd…as, I suppose, all thinking beings ultimately must…the author of the above list provides a companion list of Ten Types of Men to Avoid.

    I’m a straight man. I have no experience dating men, and cannot comment on the accuracy of this list. He seems to be a straight man too, so I’m unsure how he was able to generate it. The much larger issue, however, seems to be whether the list simply exists or not, so there it is.

    Six For ’06

    Saturday, July 29th, 2006

    Six For ’06

    Via Boortz: Democrats want to do the “Contract With America” thing, which I find kind of interesting. I mean, was CWA a success or was it a failure? Can you say it was both, and still be intellectually honest about it? I suppose you could if you drag the concept of time into the equation, since Republicans did use CWA to kick Democrat ass to hell-and-gone, but the staying-power of the platform wilted after awhile. Well, the strategy of the Democrats doesn’t call for any staying-power at all right now. Just the ass-kicking all by itself would be most welcome; ass groping would be most welcome. They’re so far back, they can’t even see the ass they’re supposed to do something to. People, regardless of how much Democrats ridicule them for being concerned about it, want to know about the terrorists. People have figured out “George Bush hasn’t found Osama bin Laden” is not a plan. They understand the Democrat plan to deal with Islamo-fascism, is to bully and coerce and intimidate the American voter into not thinking about it. We simply don’t trust them.

    George W. Bush has screwed up a lot of stuff in the war against the Islamo-weirdos. It’s safe to say he’s gotten a lot more wrong than he’s gotten right. And yet his position in this whole conflict, is one of Marshall Wil Kane, marching through the streets of Hadleyville, while the cowardly citizens peep out at him from between the shutters. There is an element of trust involved in that, that endures unscratched throughout a devastating onslaught involving a smorgasbord of other topics, both related and unrelated; people don’t forget the tall, proud, quiet lawman marching through the streets. They understand a plan begins with this, or else, said plan has no shot at success. They don’t forget it. Even if they outwardly disagree with him, they respect him for his sense of principle in standing up for his beliefs.

    It’s the quality we are supposed to think is possessed by Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn and Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan. They don’t really have it. President Bush does. He had no more to gain from going into Iraq, than Marshall Kane had to gain from facing off against Frank Miller. Cindy Sheehan had everything in the world to gain, from seeking the publicity she’s been seeking. Hollywood has everything in the world to gain, in the form of overseas ticket sales, with their pissy and petulant attitude toward their mother country. He’s got principles, the Hollywood/Sheehan crowd is missing theirs.

    A lot of people pretend otherwise; a lot of people pretend the opposite. Deep down, everybody knows it to be true.

    That is what Democrats need to fight if they want to win.

    And so here they come with their version of CWA. Back in the day, they were opposed to the very concept. They called it “Contract On America.” So if you believe everything they tell you, but you happen to have a halfway-decent memory, I guess the Democrats want to order a hit on you. Whatever.

    The version history on this critter is kind of interesting.

    July 27, CNN: This is the version linked by Boortz. In this article CNN is a little to quick to say “Democrats have been pushing [the items] in various ways all year.” Well, I guess the “various ways” part might make it proper. But notice the first bullet. From whence did that come? It looks kinda new to me…I mean, when you compare it to things the Democrats have been pushing.

    The document, which carries the title “A New Direction for America,” is a brief compilation of six themes Democrats have been pushing in various ways all year:

  • National security
  • Jobs and wages
  • Energy independence
  • Affordable health care
  • Retirement security
  • College access for all
  • Got that? Six tidbits, like six slices out of a small pizza. Short and sweet. You could commit them to memory.

    Okay, let’s see how this thing has evolved over the last couple of months.

    Now, House Democrats web site: On the website of the House minority party, they’ve created a whole separate section for complaining about the status quo, so they can concentrate on what they’ll do to fix things. Smart move. Even smarter, the complaining is done last. Another good move. Using this intelligent structuring approach, the Democrats have managed to squeak out eleven words before falling back on the name “Bush.” Hey, that says something about attitude right there. Something good? Up to the voters to decide, I guess. Anyway, this matches what’s been listed in the CNN story…except the order is a little different. It seems in summarizing, someone at CNN, or someone responsible for providing it to them, took the college thing and moved it to the bottom. In this one, it’s Bullet #3.

    REAL SECURITY AT HOME AND OVERSEAS
    Reclaim American leadership with a tough, smart plan to transform failed Bush Administration policies in Iraq, the Middle East and around the world. Require the Iraqis to take responsibility for their country and begin the phased redeployment of US forces from Iraq in 2006. Double the size of Special Forces to destroy Osama Bin Laden and terrorist networks like al Qaeda. Rebuild a state-of-the-art military capable of projecting power wherever necessary. Implement the bipartisan 9/11 Commission proposal to secure America�s borders and ports and screen 100% of containers. Fully man, train, and equip our National Guard and our police, firefighters and other first responders. Honor our commitments to our veterans.

    BETTER AMERICAN JOBS – BETTER PAY
    Prohibit the Congressional pay raise until the nation�s minimum wage is raised. End tax giveaways that reward companies for moving American jobs overseas.

    COLLEGE ACCESS FOR ALL
    Make college tuition deductible from taxes, permanently. Cut student loan interest rates. Expand Pell Grants.

    ENERGY INDEPENDENCE – LOWER GAS PRICES
    Free America from dependence on foreign oil and create a cleaner environment with initiatives for energy-efficient technologies and domestic alternatives such as biofuels. End tax giveaways to Big Oil companies and enact tough laws to stop price gouging.

    AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE – LIFE-SAVING SCIENCE
    Fix the Medicare prescription drug program, putting seniors first by negotiating lower drug prices and ending wasteful giveaways to drug companies and HMOs. Promote stem cell research that offers real hope to millions of American families who suffer from devastating diseases.

    RETIREMENT SECURITY AND DIGNITY
    Stop any plan to privatize Social Security, in whole or in part. Enact real pension reform to protect employees� financial security from CEO corruption and mismanagement, including abuse of the bankruptcy laws. Expand personal savings incentives.

    June 16, Newswire: In a press release, Democrats identify “A NEW DIRECTION FOR AMERICA”. The sequence is re-shuffled significantly between then and now, but what’s even more interesting is the language. Someone was put in a position to make key decisions about the use of words in the June 16 release, and whoever that someone was, had some very definite ideas about what to use. But they were overruled by whoever worded the ones above. The odd thing is, one would think the phrases were tested in front of focus groups between June and late July, but when you go over the details, it seems the older version has a better shot in front of the focus groups. Maybe they used more focus groups, and got different results. Maybe they found the language was a little too polished.

    One other thing. No mention of national security. Zilch. Nada. In it’s place, is something that would be jettisoned somewhere along the way, “Require Fiscal Responsibility.” Obviously, someone felt their office had something to lose politically, if the official platform didn’t have fiscal responsibility. I’m going to guess whoever that someone was, had been doing a lot of bellyaching and kibitzing about all the expenditures President Bush has been approving. Maybe extending the olive branch to the Libertarians and small-government types, something the Democratic party as a whole has not been doing. Someone else, probably everybody else in the party, thought it would be politically expensive to leave “national security” out of things. The second of those two someones came out on top. Well, that was probably a good thing for them.

    But CNN says Democrats have been pounding these points all year. Perhaps. But it’s obvious they need to define some priorities.

    Democrats offer a New Direction, putting the common good of all Americans first for a change and will:

    Make Health Care More Affordable: Fix the prescription drug program by putting people ahead of drug companies and HMO’s, eliminating wasteful subsidies, negotiating lower drug prices and ensuring the program works for all seniors; invest in stem cell and other medical research.

    Lower Gas Prices and Achieve Energy Independence: Crack down on price gouging; eliminate billions in subsidies for oil and gas companies and use the savings to provide consumer relief and develop American alternatives, including biofuels; promote energy efficient technology.

    Help Working Families: Raise the minimum wage; repeal tax giveaways that encourage companies to move jobs overseas.

    Cut College Costs: Make college tuition deductible from taxes; expand Pell grants and slash student loan costs.

    Ensure Dignified Retirement: Prevent the privatization of Social Security; expand savings incentives; and ensure pension fairness.

    Require Fiscal Responsibility: Restore the budget discipline of the 1990s that helped eliminate deficits and spur record economic growth.

    I got an idea why that last one got cut: They were afraid of being found out. The language makes it sound like the budget is going to get cut, until outgo is in harmony with income. I think it would be wonderful for the country if that was actually done, but Democrats have never stood for it. How embarrassing it would be to engage in a debate about such a thing, as a Democrat, and then have your opponent inquire as to what is in your personal history that has something to do with budget discipline! Obviously, one Democrat will handle it better than another Democrat, and perhaps somewhere there is a Democrat who even has the glimmerings of a decent answer. But for the party as a whole, it’s a poison pill. Out it goes. Another good move.

    June 16, Press Release from Nancy Pelosi: The release from the House Minority Leader offers “A NEW DIRECTION FOR AMERICA”. It lists the bullets above, with identical wording, a little bit more concise on the detail. This is the first mention of the phrase that always sent Ayn Rand into an apoplectic fit, and for good reason.

    Democrats offer a New Direction, putting the common good of all Americans first for a change and will:[emphasis mine]

    Great. Any converts who once-upon-a-time read Atlas Shrugged, and eventually “came around” to voting Democrat, have just been written off. I know some former objectivist/libertarian types who became “unselfish” and started voting for Democrats. I notice this thing about all evils in public policy, coming from a misguided sense of “serving the common good” — that never goes away. The converted libertarian/objectivist holds his nose, on this particular issue, before pulling the lever for a liberal. Once you see the light there, you never forget it. It’s an empty platitude that leads to great harm. The party would be wise to drop that, I think.

    But what do I know.

    June 10, Fired Up!: Now things get really interesting. A mere six days before the press release above, Widow Jean Carnahan, who won her congressional seat in her dead husband’s name, reported on her receipt of the platform.

    I was surprised, pleased, encouraged…to read that Democrats will be coming up with a Contract-for-America-style agenda very soon. ABC correspondent Jake Tapper attributes the intel to Teddy Davis of their political unit.

    The new proposal entitled “Six in ’06″ is supposedly a pithy six-point program around which Democrats could rally�and perhaps even commit to memory — though, for the moment, there appears to be only five points, the sixth still being in limbo.

    So here�s the Democratic version of Newt�s Manual for Reclaiming the Congress:

    1. A minimum wage increase;
    2. Repeal of portion of the Medicare prescription drug law that prevents Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices;
    3. Implement all of the 9/11 Commission�s homeland security recommendations.
    4. Reinstate pay-as-you-go-budget rules;
    5. Make college more affordable, and
    6. (The sixth plank, yet to be determined) [emphasis mine]

    Now ain’t that a danged deal? You have more-or-less the same areas of concern that you will have six days from now; but look at the way things are worded. We don’t “help working families,” what we do, is specifically raise the minimum wage. Later, the raise in the minimum wage will be demoted to being just one dealy-bob within a whole package of stuff for the working families. There’s nothing, as of yet, about freezing congressional pay. There’s nothing about the childishly acrimonious attitude against businesses, nothing about ending “tax giveaways that reward companies for moving American jobs overseas.”

    National security is gone. Nobody’s even thought of it yet. But you knew that, right. Maybe it metastasized from this thingy about implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations.

    The budget discipline is worded as “reinstate pay-as-you-go-budget rules,” which within a few weeks is going to be history. Speaking as someone who wants the Democratic party to go the way of the Dodo Bird, I couldn’t be more pleased. President Bush gave them a real shot at victory here, and they chose to canx it.

    The dignified retirement is gone. Ditto for energy independence. Not sure about healthcare; I think it’s the Medicare thing.

    You know what I think is really interesting, is the college deal. It is the Alan Alda within this thing, the one item staying unchanged from beginning to end.

    I have spent a lifetime competing for jobs against the college-educated folks. Not intentionally, just being put in that position. I have found them to be incredibly insecure. I can feel them giving off the “vibe,” especially in setting where an orthodox education isn’t that important, but “thinking outside the box” is a little moreso. They would just as soon be working in a group with nothing but college-educated folks, lots of bright people but not too bright. What they want, is a guarantee that nobody else is going to come up with a good idea unless they’ve thought of it first.

    Just something I’ve noticed throughout the years. And here comes a major political party, being given all this not-quite-merited fanfare from CNN about the agenda items it’s been pounding all year. In reality, the party has been grasping at straws just trying to get a consistent list going, across six or seven weeks.

    But the one thing that stays carved in granite, is they’re going to help build a nice little ball-bearing society wherein all “working families” have received their lock-step orthodox how-to-think-like-everybody-else education, not through age eighteen, but through age twenty-two or higher. At first, it’s a platitude about making it more “affordable” — as in, more affordable to those who are truly dedicated and really want to go, like it has something to do with a career choice. Nowadays, they’ve dropped the act. It is worded as “COLLEGE ACCESS FOR ALL.”

    Someone is pushing for that, and pushing hard. It’s not news, not to me anyway, that oftentimes a college education has very little to do with being creative — a lot of the time, it is antithetical to it. Not to pick on all the college-educated folk, some of them are pretty creative. But they didn’t pick it up in college.

    Nor is it news, to anyone paying attention, that the Democratic party carries an inherent hostility to individual thinking. It gets in the way too much. Democrats say “Halliburton!,” and they don’t want to waste time sitting around jawing about, y’know, what the point they’re trying to make might be. They just like the buzz words.

    Having dealt with the jealousy and frustration of college-folk who spent all that money out of Dad’s war-chest, and gosh darn it why am I in this crappy little telemarketing job after all that booze hard work I did, and all those kegger classes I went to…having dealt with that attitude for a couple decades now, I find that interesting.

    What’s a “working family,” anyway?

    Too Close

    Friday, July 28th, 2006

    Too Close

    Via Hell in a Handbasket, we learn about the adventure of Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher G. West, 23, who just survived a car bomb explosion in Karabilah last week. Corporal West is the nephew of Ricky, CEO, Chief Cook And Bottle-Washer of Toys in the Attic. Thank the body armor.

    “When the explosion went off I couldn�t hear a thing afterwards for a couple of seconds but I remember being hit in the chest with something sharp,” said West, 23, from Calhoun. “I knew I was hit but I also knew that the body armor had stopped whatever I was hit with.”

    Spare a quiet thought or two for service members like Cpl. West, and folks like him, as well as his close relatives, and folks like them. Just imagine the experience of golfing, or blogging, or peeling potatoes or what-not, and getting news like this. Holy cats.

    Onionizing

    Friday, July 28th, 2006

    Onionizing

    Don’t know why I got out of the habit of hitting The Onion. It’s kind of like Saturday Night Live, you know. They hit one way out of the park, and then you partake in it some more, and some more…and one day you realize the material is barely worth a half-hearted “Heh.” But then they hit one way out of the park again.

    I feel bad saying that about something like The Onion, which on average is still the best satire on the “innernets.” I also feel bad including the best of the latest issue word-for-word, below, instead of teasing it right. It’s too short to tease. But down below, I do something about that.

    Report: Everything Made In Sweatshops
    July 24, 2006
    Issue 42�30

    NEW YORK�A new U.S. Department Of Labor study revealed that Martha Stewart Living housewares, Tommy Hilfiger clothing, iPod music players, forks, diapers, telephones, and every other conceivable consumer good in existence is manufactured by people laboring in sweatshop conditions. “Long hours, low wages, and unsafe work areas are involved in producing everything our civilization uses,” Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said at a press conference Tuesday. “It is now literally impossible for anyone anywhere in this country to purchase any single thing that doesn’t infringe on someone’s human rights.” Chao added that even the few items still made in the U.S., such as designer T-shirts and certain Toyota sedans, are also produced in deadly squalor, mostly by illegal immigrants. The Department of Labor recommended no immediate course of action in response to the report, which was compiled by 135 government employees in an 20-by-80-foot Quonset hut without air-conditioning working six 18-hour shifts a week for $1.15 an hour.

    Don’t miss the second-best thing on the Onion’s page, this issue. It’s almost as good. Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years Of American Independence.

    On Chicago

    Friday, July 28th, 2006

    On Chicago

    Rush Limbaugh, for the second day in a row now, as I type this is addressing the minimum wage thing in Chicago by means of the Eighth Pillar of Persuasion which is the rhetorical question. His rhetorical question is that if the minimum wage is such a good idea, why stop at ten bucks? Why not twenty-five? Why not forty?

    I find this to be persuasive, the way the Eighth Pillar is supposed to be. The power comes from the difficulty on the opposing side in composing a reasonable, cohesive answer. To say forty dollars an hour is somehow excessive, is to invite a fistful of other rhetorical questions, bound to be divisive amongst those who advocate minimum wages. Like…why ten and not forty? And…where is the line? And most damaging of all: If not forty, what are we afraid of when we stop short of forty? What’s the worst that would happen if we went ahead and did it?

    That last one would be downright disruptive. The pro-minimum-wage guy who asserted the most reasonable of responses, “businesses wouldn’t want to hire people and they wouldn’t want to keep the people they already have,” would directly contradict the most outspoken among his bedfellows. Minimum wage isn’t supposed to have an effect on unemployment.

    People cite statistical data to try to demonstrate the policy has little-to-no effect. This is silly, because when you examine it over the long term we don’t really raise the minimum wage. Not at the federal level, we don’t. We keep it in tight adherence to inflation, in fact, a point or two beneath that. This is by design, so the pro-minimum-wage people can continue to churn out studies that say it doesn’t have an effect.

    Free of any political agenda, every honest economics expert is going to tell you when the price of a commodity goes up, people look for reasons not to buy it. Nothing has been advanced to logically assert the human commodity is any different.

    You know what I find much more persuasive about Rush’s question, than the difficulty of his opposition in trying to answer it?

    It’s the difficulty involved in turning it around.

    Anti-minimum-wage people, not just Rush, ask the other side “Why not raise it to a zillion bucks an hour?” You don’t have to wait long for this point to be made. But very seldom do you hear a pro-minimum-wage person ask the opposite rhetorical question, “If you think it’s such a rotten idea, why not just get rid of it?”

    You never hear that.

    The anti-minimum-wage people would say, yup. Let’s go for it.

    They know if it came to happen, the people who say the minimum wage is a lousy idea, would be proven right.

    On the other hand, if the minimum wage is doubled — pointedly, that’s exactly what Chicago is doing — the people who say it’s a lousy idea, would again be proven right. Minimum wage is lent an appearance of credibility, through a careful sheltering from reality. It is only shown to maybe-not-suck, possibly, when & if it is kept more-or-less in nickel-for-nickel comportation with the inflation rate. Economists generally agree the minimum wage had the highest purchasing power in the late 1960′s.

    Why not just get rid of it? Why, indeed. It’s a powerful question, made most powerful because it is carefully avoided by those who would be asking it — if they really believed in what they were saying.

    NOW 40

    Friday, July 28th, 2006

    NOW 40

    This blog, which nobody ever reads anyway, would nevertheless be remiss in allowing the 40th anniversary of the National Organization of Women pass into the compost heap of history without comment.

    And, since it takes so little effort and I happen to be lazy, a link to the Wall Street Journal’s first-hand account of the festitivities in Albany, NY, courtesy of Charlotte Hays.

    Whereas younger feminists on college campuses are flocking to Eve Ensler’s hot-ticket play “The Vagina Monologues”…the exhibitors this year featured less frivolous fare: There was a stand for the socialist People’s Weekly World (successor of the Daily Worker), a midwifery booth (how I wish I hadn’t peered so closely at the frontal photo of a squatting woman welcoming a child into the world!) and a vendor of lesbian-themed quilts. New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney was the highest-ranking office-holder present. One might have thought that Sen. Hillary Clinton would show up — after all, Albany is her state capital — but she never did. Her office claimed that she had a scheduling conflict. I envy her.
    :
    For me, the most memorable session was the one entitled “Feminist Media Reform.” Although two NOW employees spoke, along with Kathy Bonk, a well-known feminist media specialist, the star of the session was Bree Williamson, who plays Jessica on the ABC daytime soap opera “One Life to Live.” (She has also guest-starred on a Toronto-based show called “Mutant X.”) Ms. Williamson, who went all pouty-face when somebody noted that TV heroines tend to be blue-eyed blondes, had a message: Write letters to producers telling them what you want to see. Talk about empowerment! If viewers of “One Life” start to see Jessica battling the patriarchy, they’ll know why. But one panelist implicitly questioned the effectiveness of such campaigns, lamenting that NOW failed to save Geena Davis’s series “Commander in Chief.” I don’t know what it means that I heard more about an imaginary female president than about Hillary during the course of the weekend.

    Feminism is supposed to be all about choice, and here it is being twisted around into a fake-grassroots movement to muscle around free enterprise and tell it what kind of actresses to hire.

    People support feminism when it has to do with women controlling their own bodies, and being paid equal-pay for equal-work. Controversy surrounds fifty percent of those two; but the fact remains that this is the doublet arousing widespread sympathy.

    Gee, I just turned forty. People like to tell me what to do all the time. After four decades of me not listening, I’m not sure why the lesson hasn’t been learned, but the advice is still forthcoming, so obviously forty is still green enough for you to keep on collecting these well-intentioned tidbits.

    So here is something for NOW. I note that my overall health, at forty years plus some change, seems to be much better than NOW’s right at the hash mark — so listen to your elder, NOW.

    Stick to the choice angle. If I haven’t discriminated against any women in hiring/promotion practices or wages or admissions, and I haven’t forced anyone to carry my baby to term, when I go to Hooter’s your wrinkly mouths stay shut. If you have anything to say at all, it’s to celebrate the choice exercised by the young ladies who choose to work there, and the female stockholders who are making a King’s ransom off the success of the franchise.

    Television shows? Pretend presidents? Midwifery? Quilts? Truly independent 9/11 investigations?

    Trouble with this movement, is it’s trudging toward zero. All crusades may start with a zero and progress toward infinity, or else, start with a degree of filth and impurity and progress toward purity. They may cruise away from a bulls-eye, or toward it. This is a fundamental distinction to make amongst political movements. All political movements. At least all the ones of which I’ve come to be conscious. They are one or the other; they approach an undefined ether from a defined point-of-origin, or else aspire to a point-of-destination from said undefined ether. They explore, or they purify.

    Political movements, however, have it in common that each generation of the movement desires to realize objectives wholly unimagined by the previous generation. This is a natural fit for movements, like the exploration of uncharted territories for example, that conquer wild frontiers, pave over them, and look for new frontiers. Fits like mustard on a hot dog. For the other category, where we aspire toward nirvana, approaching it from an outer ring of relative filth and impurity…it’s an inherent contradiction.

    The malignancies have been removed. You, ladies, can be paid the same as a man. If someone discriminates, you can appeal, and their career will probably be ruined. You can have an abortion. If someone makes a law that says you can’t, the law will be overturned.

    And yet the feminist movement, fulfilling the law that applies to all movements, searches for new frontiers inconceivable to the generations past, but it crusades toward zero rather than infinity. They do their best to overcome the inherent contradiction. Quilts. Huffing-and-puffing about “the new Supreme Court might turn the clock back.” Television shows about pretend presidents. Midwifery.

    BOR-ING.

    Trouble is, thinking people weren’t designed to trudge toward zero. We are explorers by nature. The first woman bit into the apple, and we ended up exiled from a point-of-origin, trudging toward the ether — not the other way around. And so our species is one of strangers to nirvana. We go out and not in. What our parents only dreamed of, we do; what was unimaginable to them, we dare to dream. It’s what we’re supposed to do. The instinct calls to those who have dedicated their lives to declaring an impurity cancerous, convincing those around them that it must be removed, and then so removing it. And then they have nothing to do, nothing at all, but to look around and find something else to declare cancerous.

    And they end up making themselves into spectacularly silly people.

    I feel bad for them, really. But I feel worse for society, as they get it all twisted around and lopsided, and start forcing people to do things under the banner of “choice.”

    Casey Approves Because I Said So

    Friday, July 28th, 2006

    Casey Approves Because I Said So

    Ah…finally we have a bumper-sticker slogan for the Democrats this year. Quoth anti-war protester and bereaved war mom Cindy Sheehan, about the five acres she purchased seven miles away from President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, TX.

    “We decided to buy property in Crawford to use until George’s resignation or impeachment, which we all hope is soon for the sake of the world,” Sheehan said in a newsletter set to be sent to supporters Thursday. “I can’t think of a better way to use Casey’s insurance money than for peace, and I am sure that Casey approves.” [emphasis mine]

    Casey approves, his mom said so. Let’s have a national debate about this. Examine what Casey Sheehan did in his last two or three years on the planet, and from that speculate whether or not he’d approve of what his mom is doing. Let every man, woman and child make up his or her own mind, between his or her left ear, and his or her right ear. Let those who decide, in contradiction to what Democrats want everybody to believe, face the full wrath of left-wing moonbats everywhere, in full view of everybody. Let the continent be covered with Sheehan fans flinging their spittle and their bumptious rhetoric beginning with those three magic words, “how dare you,” emphasis on the second syllable, over and over again. I can’t wait for that to start.

    I think it would be great truth-in-advertising. You vote for Democrats, you don’t vote for a policy, what you vote for is a way of thinking. So I say, let everyone see it, right before they go vote. Make it obvious that according to Democrats, you can decide what you want about what Casey Sheehan’s wishes would be, the same way as according to Henry Ford you could have whatever color car you wanted. Show that to everybody, then let’s open the polls.

    Interestingly, some news editors don’t think it’s a good idea to carry that last little snippet. Can’t imagine why.

    Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XV

    Friday, July 28th, 2006

    Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XV

    The first paragraph of this excellent Krauthammer column says all that needs to be said.

    What other country, when attacked in an unprovoked aggression across a recognized international frontier, is then put on a countdown clock by the world, given a limited time window in which to fight back, regardless of whether it has restored its own security?

    Stunning Level of Apathy II

    Friday, July 28th, 2006

    Stunning Level of Apathy II

    Monday afternoon, I had to say something about it when John Kerry claimed people wouldn’t be fighting in the Middle East if only he had won the 2004 elections. Putting words in the long mouth? Am I? You be the judge.

    “If I was president, this wouldn’t have happened,” said Kerry during a noon stop at Honest John’s bar and grill in Detroit’s Cass Corridor.

    Bush has been so concentrated on the war in Iraq that other Middle East tension arose as a result, he said.[emphasis mine]

    What I found to be amazing about this little bit of personal delusion on the part of the good Senator, personally, was the apathy. There may be conflict between Lebanon and Israel because President Bush hasn’t been mediating some kind of crisis or another, like he should (food for thought, could that be because our liberals won’t let him get involved in situations that “pose no danger to the United States”?). There may be conflict because of something that had nothing to do with the USA in any way. There may be conflict because somebody looked at somebody cross-eyed. There may be conflict because…aw, who knows what? Point is, President Kerry has no role in deciding this stuff. People wanna fight, they’ll fight.

    Kerry ended up performing a huge disservice to his supporters. He revealed how incredibly out of touch they are; no small slight, to the progressives who insist the red-staters are the “dumb” ones. Or how incredibly insulated from human affairs they are. Or how often they watch “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and how solidly they come away with the notion that mediating disputes is as simple a matter as having a fancy French pedigree, wearing a uniform, and being bald. Or some combination of the three. Either way, that was a stunningly silly thing to say.

    Well, the challenger for the Governor’s chair in my state, apparently doesn’t agree. Phil Angelides suffers from a stunning level of apathy about what the California Governor gets to decide, versus what the California Governor does not get to decide.

    “I know all about asthma. I’ve been on an inhaler since I was 5 years old,” said Kody York, 9, looking at Angelides from the stage in Fresno. “I’ve been hospitalized for it twice, and I wish the air quality would be better.”

    Angelides told the boy: “I can’t promise you that I can solve every problem — I can’t promise you that I can cure what you struggle with — but I can promise you this: I’m going to try as hard as I can to protect you and make it easier for you to breathe and to clean our air.”

    Quite reasonable. There are all kinds of things that can be done to clean the air, especially in my neighborhood — which you could say, technically, Fresno is. Kinda sorta.

    Too reasonable. Angelides did not stop; he went on.

    Angelides said that as governor he would enact policies that would result in reducing by half — or 80,000 — the number of hospital visits made by children with asthma.

    Like I was asking four days ago: What is it about being a Democrat? What’s up with these campaign issues, that aren’t issues at all because as any child could see, both sides would agree they’re good things? Why even discuss these things that depend, either wholly or in part, on external factors completely beyond human control?

    Wouldn’t it be powerful to show yourself on the campaign trail, actually making the distinction between what you get to decide vs. what you do not get to decide, if you actually win the election? Angelides himself must agree, at least partly. He thinks he’ll be more popular if he ‘fesses up that he can’t promise to solve every problem. Okay, then. Politically, it’s an issue when candidates promise more than they deliver, and Angelides appears to sign on to this. Then…he starts talking about what the statistics will say as a result of his policies. Why? What is the point? Did he discuss the policies at all? I hope he did. I see no mention of it here.

    Even if he did go into detail, which I doubt, why even talk about the 50%? If there’s a likelihood the policies will cut the problem by 50%, there’s a likelihood the policies will cut the problem by 90%. So why not say 90%? I’m sure 64,000 asthma sufferers would love that. If he’s limiting it to the lower number because he wants to limit it to what he’s in a position to guarantee, then what he said was fifty points too high, right?

    One more time…the Onion article lampooning John Edwards’ “Chris Reeve will get outta that chair” speech from October of 2004. Perfect fit. Perfect.

    If you put John Kerry and me in the White House, we’ll have each one of you in the driver’s seat of a brand-new SUV. Your bosses will be less cranky, your children will be kept in trucker hats and iPods, and your TV screens will grow even wider. Those who are bald will wake up one morning and magically find themselves with thick heads of luxurious, silky hair. You’ll open your refrigerators and 15-pound hams will tumble out. Your dog might even start to talk, and the first thing he’ll say is “I love you.” It’ll be that good.

    States I’ve Been In

    Thursday, July 27th, 2006

    States I’ve Been In

    It’s been awhile since I updated this. Go try it.

    create your own personalized map of the USA
    or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

    On Boring Jobs

    Thursday, July 27th, 2006

    On Boring Jobs

    There is a link over on FARK about university-qualified working-folks finding their jobs boring, compared to college. I find this pretty funny, because of course most of the people visiting FARK are university-qualified working-folks. They hit FARK from work because they’re bored.

    I didn’t point that out in the thread, because a lot of other folks already did. But also, where I wanna take this thing, would have been a threadjacking. And of course threadjacking isn’t nice. Not that I expect I’d get a time-out for it. I’ve gotten maybe two time-outs on FARK for threadjacking, in four years. Both times, I was innocent. At least, not half as guilty as quite a few other times I should have been sent to the corner, and was not. Personally, I think the FARK mods use some kind of eany, meany, minie moe system. Oops. Maybe that was offensive.

    Anyway. I digress. On with it.

    I have been noticing something about the “university-qualified” crowd. Now, we’ve been having a pretty hot summer, and of course there’s this movie out promoting the idea that we have been making the planet hot, and it’s a harbinger of doom for children and other living things. There is a great sense of urgency that this movie be taken seriously, and that you’re a bad person if you don’t see it and/or don’t take it seriously. Or, if you take it somewhat seriously, and dare to voice the opinion that maybe it’s a political manifesto instead of a scientific work. Heh. They got a politician-type guy instead of a scientist promoting it. But the taboo remains firmly in place. Kind of like when one southern baptist sees a UFO, all the other southern baptists are obligated to believe him. Except there’s no membership to be taken away from you if you don’t believe Al Gore’s movie, so people just huff and puff at you and talk over you.

    Anyway. I have noticed something…the folks who believe Al Gore’s movie, a lot of them have attended higher-level education and they waste no time whatsoever pointing it out to me. They are very proud of the critical thinking skills they have, and the critical thinking skills they have developed in college. It’s obvious where they want to go with this: They believe the Al Gore message, they went to college, I don’t believe in it, I attended high school — they get to pull rank.

    And my observation is this: Critical thinking, as it’s being demonstrated to me, is the process of believing things without question. That is the core of the paradigm; the “peer-reviewed studies” and the “thousands of scientists,” that’s all just glitter meant to bolster the persuasive power of what is being offered. The substance of the message is, “I went to college and my powers of critical thinking surpass yours, and this is evidenced because I am a believer and you are a skeptic.”

    Now behind the Wikipedia link, above, you’ll find a step-by-step process that includes 3. Examine these statements and implications for internal contradictions. One of my favorite examples for this, with regard to Al Gore’s movie, is the thing about cows. Cows produce a lot of methane, in the neighborhood of sixty gallons per day, per cow, every day. Methane is a greenhouse gas, besides of which it also has a harmful effect on the ozone layer.

    I get awfully silly with this, but there’s a grain of serious discussion behind my comments. The point is that questionable effects on our climate, are not limited to techno-industrial activities; the agricultural sector has a few things, and some of them are pretty bad. When you’re talking about 1.0 to 1.5 billion cows all the world over, this is a lot of methane. It’s pretty potent stuff. Scientists say — remember, you’re supposed to stop everything and start genuflecting when someone begins a sentence with “scientists say” — it’s about 25 to 30 times worse for the climate than carbon dioxide. The factor is a reference to methane’s potency as a greenhouse gas.

    This is a contradiction. Nobody’s standing up to the beef industry. Oh, they ramble about SUVs and gas-powered chainsaws and leafblowers just wonderfully, but you can drive that SUV all day long and not emit as much greenhouse gas as just one filthy fat cow. Dirty, burping farting whores, is what they are.

    It injects levity into the discussion. But it’s also a fundamental exercise in skepticism. And it raises a valid contradiction. The college-educated critical thinkers, are definitely not along for the ride. They just want to believe. Well, wanting to believe is not critical thinking, and that’s the point I wish to make. And here’s something else I notice: The college-educated critical thinkers, faced with a piece of critical thinking cloaked in levity, with potential to add scrutiny to the discussion as well as to take the tension down a few pegs, will exploit neither opportunity. They use the levity to change the subject, and to indulge in what I was taught was called an ad hominem attack.

    I’m not sure what’s going on in universities. These people definitely have a clear and crisp viewpoint of what “critical thinking” is. Like Montoya said in the Princess Bride, I do not think it means what they think it means.

    And I got a gut feel this is why they’re bored at work.

    Brittany

    Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

    Brittany

    Seems like just last Thursday, I was getting a big-ass gut-chuckle out of some story about an eighth-grade girls’ volleyball team having to come up with names like “Britney #1, Brittney #4, Brittainey #8, Brtny #10″ etc. etc. etc. because all the incredibly unimaginative parents wanted to give their kids the same name. Brittney…and I think the other name was Jasmine. Danielle, maybe.

    This was before the unstoppable pop-music juggernaut who went on to marry that K-Fed redneck guy. Before anyone heard her name.

    Heh. Now lookee here. The model on the bottle of St. Pauli Girl, in front of me, is Brittany. Freaked me out. I thought I picked up St. Pauli N.A. by mistake…yech. I dunno why. She just looks so wholesome. Like if Doris Day was reincarnated or something.

    Now that, I think, will make you feel old. Scratch that; I know it makes you feel old, because it’s working on me. By the time I figured out St. Pauli Girl was my favorite beer, the “Brittany” craze was just hitting the hospital nurseries. Now one of them has grown up, filled out, and there she sits on my label trying to entice me into opening the next bottle. Makes me feel all dirty and stuff.

    Citizen Diplomats

    Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

    Citizen Diplomats

    From my blogger friend Phil: Anybody else see something fishy about this?

    With anti-American sentiment at unprecedented levels around the world, Americans worried about their country’s low standing are pushing a grassroots campaign to change foreign perceptions of the United States “one handshake at a time.”

    The idea is to turn millions of Americans into “citizen diplomats” who use personal meetings with foreigners to counter the ugly image of the United States shown in a series of international public opinion polls.
    :
    “Whether you are student sitting next to a foreign scholar at your university, an athlete playing abroad, an elected official welcoming counterparts, a rock star or a business representative overseas, you are a citizen diplomat and can make a life-changing difference” [said Sherry Lee Mueller, one of the movement's leaders.]

    Not even the most optimistic delegates to the Washington meeting, billed as the first of its kind, thought citizen diplomacy could soon reverse a trend that has accelerated sharply under President George W. Bush, many of whose foreign policy decisions have been criticized as unilateralist and arrogant.

    Distaste for America runs so deep that, for example, at the recent World Cup in Germany the American team was the only one asked not to display its national flag on the team bus. In South Korea, traditionally a U.S. ally, two-thirds of people under 30 said in a recent poll that if there were war between North Korea and the United States, they would side with North Korea.

    Phil goes on with the musing, “I imagine that most of this Citizen Outreach has more to do with apologizing for America and swearing that they didn’t vote for Bush rather than articulating defenses for it, despite the fact that there are defenses a-plenty.” Mmmm, hmmm. I’m not a betting man, Phil, but I think I’d rather put my chips on your side than on the other. It would have been nice for the Reuters article to clear this up for us. I would think a “citizen diplomat” would want the citizenry-at-large to know what exactly he’s saying on our behalf.

    You know what impresses me, though. I have been relentlessly instructed that I am supposed to believe America suffers from both ignorance and apathy about other countries. A large number amongst us have never been outside of the country in our lives, and I am further relentlessly instructed to believe that if any of us have, Canada and Mexico do not count. Okeedokee, with that criteria, I imagine I’m one of the “offenders” or “problems” or whatever it is you choose to call us.

    This is the observation I wish to make: Americans don’t appear to be in a good position to extend a diplomatic visit, quite so much as to receive one. If I am typical, then we are relatively cloistered, and have been put in the position of forming many of our opinions about other countries over the last five years.

    This does seem to be the case.

    It is exceedingly rare that I am part of a consensus. I shall celebrate by continuing to speak for “us.” After all, if my own naivete and inexperience says something about my countrymen, my opinions must say something too, right? Nothing wrong with speaking on behalf of everybody else in your country, anyway. That’s exactly what the “citizen diplomats” are doing, so all I’m going to do is take my turn. Except in this case, my comments are out in the open. So let’s go.

    The information that has been presented to us thus far, since the invasion of Iraq in the Spring of 2003, on the subject of how other countries see us, exceeds my wildest expectations of what we would ever wish to know. It has not escaped our notice that with current technology, it is physically impossible to run door-to-door over the surface of the earth, querying each and every single household; and yet logically, this is precisely what you would need to do in order to knowledgeably and sincerely say things like “We were seen by the world as rescuers; now we are seen as invaders and occupiers and conquerors,” or my personal favorite, “half the world considers the United States the leading terrorist in the world.”

    Nor have we Americans remained oblivious to the fact that our own opinions about other countries are, shall we say, rather obscure. We can’t remember the last time one of those worldwide pollsters knocked on our door and stuck a microphone in our own faces. Energy spent in gathering our sentiments, and delivering them overseas, has been rather dwindling; the energy spent gathering sentiments from over there, and delivering them here — why, that’s in a whole different category altogether. That particular campaign may bear much of the responsibility for global warming all by itself.

    Not that we Americans long for said pollsters to finally show up, and make this monolog into a little more of a dialog. That would be more fair than the what we see today, in which some nameless, faceless consortium of unaccountable individuals has determined European opinion of America must reverberate unceasingly, while American opinion about Europe remains uninspected. Yes, that would even the playing field. Problem: Just because there are good reasons for the enterprise, doesn’t mean the enterprise would be easy. The worldwide impression of Americans, that Americans like to go about their daily lives, and rankle at being disrupted by things outside of their narrow spheres of concern…well, it turns out that’s quite correct. Door-to-door solicitors, and phone-by-phone telemarketers, have amusing conversations with me — always shorter than they would like, always culminating in the outcome they didn’t want.

    Speaking for other Americans, I say we Americans are impressed with how much we’ve learned about other countries since late 2001. It is more precise, I think, to say we are impressed with how little we knew about those other countries before that time. We Americans are bothered by the news that other countries think poorly of us, rest assured of that. But what bothers us, is not so much these unflattering opinions, but the organizations, the syndications, the consortiums, and yes the mega-corporations, who have invested so much of their resources in telling us about those opinions. We had little clue prior to five years ago, that such a Mafia existed. And although we have a marginal concern about the acrimony towards us overseas — all smoke must have fire — it is but a mooncast shadow compared to the concern we have about this twenty-first century Mafia dedicated to tearing down our image, as that image is perceived both here, and beyond.

    Yes, Mafia. That is precisely what it is. Just as the Corleone family constructed its own alternate system of justice, for those who could not or would not use the “real” one, this one constructs its own alternative system of “truth.”

    We are impressed by the difference between the Europeans we read about in newspaper articles, and the Europeans we meet for ourselves in chatrooms. The previously-noted Mafia possesses a breathless urgency in notifying us about European officials who announce America “must” do this and that and some other silly thing, as well as European commoners who are simply mad at us. The Mafia, makes Europe look petty and petulant, which means a lot because the Mafia doesn’t appear to be trying to do this. But the Europeans we meet for ourselves, are relatively “cool.” A lot of Britons, we’ve noticed, are actually in favor of American action in Iraq. The ones who are not, explain their positions to us, patiently, thoughtfully — almost philosophically. And very clearly. In ways we notice anti-war Americans, certainly never would and probably never could.

    But most of all, we notice this.

    “Handshake Diplomacy,” from there to here rather than from here to there, would be most welcome. And, I think, highly productive. We admit our ignorance. We are eager to learn more. We are reluctant to form iron-clad decisions about what Europe is like, based on what we have learned from 2001 to 2006 — although, pointedly, this is encyclopedic knowledge compared to what we learned prior to 2001.

    And, at the same time, what we know to date about Europe, is a tad bit less than flattering. This is meaningful to us, even if it is meaningful to nobody else. We are happier that we declared independence from Great Brittain, today, than we were about the same subject in 2001. We have learned over the last five years that the American passion for thinking-for-onesself, and deciding for onesself what is to be done about matters personal to onesself, seems to be a distinctly American value. For this, we are not so much proud, as sad. We had been laboring under the premise that this was endemic to all of the human race.

    We would like to see evidence that our first idea, was the correct one. Much interest has been demonstrated by the Mafia, in presenting to us an artificial construct of what the rest of the world thinks. And, therefore, although the Mafia didn’t intend this, an artificial construct of what the rest of the world is like.

    And yet, we Americans have very little information. What little information we do have, we know is bad.

    So let’s see some handshake diplomacy come back the other way. One of the few things I’ve learned about other countries, in which I’m willing to put some confidence, is that there appears to be a lot of enthusiasm in pointing out what Americans do not know. I expect, therefore, my request to be greeted agreeably. Come on over. Educate us. Show us what you’re really like. Tell us what you think we should know, that we’ve demonstrated we probably do not yet know.

    Just don’t tell us what to think about things. That’s a subtle distinction even here; and based on what I’ve learned since 2001, it seems to be an even more subtle distinction over there.

    Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XIV

    Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

    Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XIV

    First, a few notes for my own benefit, and for the benefit of those who might need the edification, which is completely understandable.

    As of the 13th of July, two days before my fortieth, Glenn Greenwald was “some lawyer asshole”. It’s thirteen days later, I’m an old man, and “Greewald” is an Internet verb. Or a noun, maybe. The dictionary has exploded just a little bit more, or my horizons have been expanded, or some combination of those two. If you have a care about which one is the case, form whatever opinion you will; I declare all disparate conclusions to be equally worthy. Wiki has a rather impressive article on Counselor Greenwald, which links to video at Think Progress, promising a debate between Greenwald and law professor Robert Turner. In what I saw, only Greenwald spoke, so no debate was forthcoming.

    Which is worthy of comment, because Greenwald is addressing a point of law that certainly is debatable, and a plurality of liberal bloggers and thread-posters have chided me while educating me on the notion that the Greenwald point of view is the point of view, definitive, unanswerable, incorruptible. No debate is possible. This is why it would be interesting to see what the other fellow has to say, which, sometime, I’ll have to see if I can’t get ahold of the entire video. Anyway, with his words being the be-all-end-all, no debate being possible, this is why Greenwald is being attacked…

    …which brings us to why Greenwald’s name is fast becoming an official augmentation to the English Language. When, where, and on what basis is Greenwald being attacked? Well, I should tease some background on this, because although nobody ever reads my blog, the few people who do come by, are known to be studious folk who are willing to plod through a few paragraphs if there’s a point to them — but may be as unfamiliar as I am, when it comes to rapidly-evolving “innernets” terminology.

    To recap: Greenwald did a funny thing.

    Your background story is in many places, but I think the best summary exists here at Patterico’s blog. Patterico uses exerpts of other Internet denizens to make his point; you’ll have to click the link and go to his page, to read the exerpts.

    See if you see any similarities between the following comments, from three completely different people. (Or are they?) Listen to their amazing praise for the great Glenn Greenwald…and note how similar all the comments sound.

    First, we have this comment on Ace�s blog, from “Ellison”…and this comment on Dan Riehl�s blog, from a completely different person named “Sam Mathews”…and this comment on Jeff Goldstein�s blog, from a completely different person named “Wilson”…Boy, we sure do have a dedicated Glenn Greenwald fan there.

    Or should I say “fans”? Because these comments are, after all, from three completely “different” people. Again: the first comment is from a guy named “Ellison.” And the second is from a different guy, named “Sam Mathews.” And the third is from a different guy still � one named “Wilson.”

    But here�s the weird part: they all sound so very similar! All of these various fans of Glenn Greenwald seem very familiar with his curriculum vitae. And they seem to emphasize the same points. His New York Times best seller. His amazing success in just 9 months of blogging. The fact that Senators read from his blog during Senate hearings! The fact that he breaks stories that appear on the front pages of newspapers!

    And here�s the very weirdest part of all: Ellison�s IP address is the very same IP address as that of one Glenn Greenwald. [emphasis in original]

    Patterico goes on to provide what eventually becomes a roadmap to Greenwald’s alleged shenanigans…which include using “sock-puppetry” to e-mail himself, i.e., “I e-mailed Greenwald yesterday about this, and asked Greenwald if it was true. This is what I just received in response.” Heh. Anyway, as thorough a job as Patterico has done to get this all jotted down, the saga just wouldn’t be complete without WuzzaDem’s sock-puppet show about Greenwald and his sock-puppetry codswallop. It’s a riot. Don’t miss. Click to view.

    So anyway, where was I going with all that. Ah, yes. Greenwald used his high posture and weighty moral authority to talk down to Jeff Jacoby about what a “chickenhawk” is supposed to be. Now, I’m sure you’ve heard this term before if you haven’t been living in a cave; I’m sure you’ve got a good idea of what it means. Well, you don’t. Greenwald is re-defining it on the spot, and hoping nobody notices, or if they do, they wilt like a shrinking violet before his towering stature.

    In sum, Greenwald was doing what we, here, at The Blog That Nobody Reads, talk about quite a lot. He was telling his followers what to think.

    And for this, he got busted at Right Wing Nut House. Pretty soundly. Again, you have to click the link to get the exerpts…

    …instead of addressing the meat of Jacoby�s argument, Greenwald once again raises the bar by redefining the term and restructuring the chickenhawk narrative so that it can be applied in as broad a manner as is possible:…That last part of Waldo�s “definition” � “Chicken-hawkism is the belief that advocating a war from afar is a sign of personal courage and strength, and that opposing a war from afar is a sign of personal cowardice and weakness” � is a brand spanking new addition to the word�s meaning. And it was appended to the original meaning by none other than the Great Waldo Sock Puppet himself (or one of his many admirers).

    How do we know? This is a cached version of the Wikpedia page defining the term “chickenhawk” from just two days ago (7/23)…Here is the Wikpedia definition as seen today � after more than 50 revisions to the entry in the last 24 hours…

    Go on, click it open. It’s quite amazing. And amusing.

    For the record, Greenwald’s opinion that actually started all this, on the illegality of President Bush’s wire-tapping program (Think Progress video, above), is…well, I think it’s most accurate to call it the least weak out of all the other stuff he’s been flinging up. To say it is unanswerable, is overstating things, to say nothing of being unhelpful in my point of view. And to say it is so unanswerable, that the unanswerability is the reason poor Greenwald is being picked-on, well, I probably addressed that best in a FARK thread recently. I said to call this statement bovine poo, was an insult to bovine poo. Why I said that, should be obvious — the man has been sock-puppetting, and he got thoroughly busted for it in front of everyone. It’s like pissing yourself a full barracks while you’re wearing paper-bag pajamas, and then being strung up by your ankles, while digital cameras pop away. No other reason to pick on the guy, other than the unanswerability of his arguments? Pul-LEAZE.

    This could very well have been yet another “What Is A Liberal?” posting. Greenwald plus his real fans, as well as his sock puppets, have been providing a lot of instructions to people lately of the “How DARE you criticize Glenn Greenwald” variety, and the “Don’t you know who he IS?” variety. That’s what got Greenwald in trouble with the sock puppets…these phantoms reciting the same curriculum vitae over and over again (from the same IP address). Greenwald’s argument about George Bush, like I said, has some merit — although his argument over the meaning of “Chickenhawk” doesn’t. If he would simply run through the merits of his argument, as Jacoby has done with his, instead of indulging in this Don’t-You-Know-Who-Glenn-Greenwald-Is nonsense, none of this would have happened.

    Sadly, that’s the way today’s liberals see things now. It’s like a big ol’ game of chess. A certain piece is a “Queen” — and I don’t mean that as a disparaging remark about Greenwald’s sexual orientation, I mean it in the literal sense, as it pertains to the game — able to move in any direction, superior to all others on the board. And that’s just the way the rules are. Everyone playing the game, should respect the rule. And so the liberals deliver the smackdown, be they flesh-and-blood, or hand-in-sock, to anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the Greenwald piece can move seven spaces in eight directions, because, after all, that’s the “rule.” Move the pieces without respecting the rules, and you must be corrected, else you might disrupt the game. You might call it the MENIMOHDA doctrine — ad homimen spelled backwards. You make an argument that may have merit, or it may not have merit, and I can use the “classic” ad hominem to disparage you and thus avoid exploring the argument. Or, I could use MENIMOHDA to put you on a pedestal, again, to avoid exploring the argument. That’s what the sock puppets did. And the real fans too…I’m sure there were some of those in the mix.

    Beyond that, I have nothing more to add. Other than that in my own dealings with people, as well as my research into historical events about people, this seems to be the most potent and influential way to make a bad decision. Some guy, somewhere, has a really cool CV, including credentials that are beyond reproach. So no other chess piece can take him down, no matter what; the political repercussions of doing so, or of trying to do so, are simply too great. Well, that isn’t the way real chess is played, and this kind of chess-playing seems to lead to trouble more often than not.

    Feelings First, Education Second V

    Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

    Feelings First, Education Second V

    Off in the sidebar you’ll see a link called “Nealz Nuze.” It is one of two “platinum” resources, which means it’s got that shiny white-colored block next to it. Platinum means, not only is this a star-status type of link, but it is addictive. Neal Boortz is a good guy. I like the way he looks at things. I like his fiery insistence that our government should be afraid of the populace, rather than the other way around. I like the way he stands up to Republicans, when Republicans start to offend the notion of self-governance. I like the way he stands up to Libertarians, when Libertarians start to snark away against our military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. And I really like the way he stands up to Democrats, for…well, for being dicks.

    Neal agrees with me about a lot of stuff. He agrees with me a lot more often than your average Republican or Democrat agree with me. And it’s worth pointing out, too, that he seems to agree with Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton more often than your average Republican or Democrat. Me, Neal, and a bunch of old dead white guys — we’d get along great.

    Makes me feel bad. I seldom directly mention Mr. Boortz, except for those occasions on which I think he got things wrong.

    Now I don’t think he got it wrong, per se, on this issue; if anything, he’s to be credited with being more consistent than I am. He’s taking a principled stand, whereas I’m walking a tightrope. But I must say, in my defense, sometimes walking a tightrope is the right thing to do. And it comes down to this. Like Neal, I’m a big Tenth-Amendment guy. But at the same time, I’m a big pro-No Child Left Behind guy. Oh, I have more sympathy for the opposing arguments that can be expressed concisely (and so I do it breezily, below). But I still think it was the right thing to do…and it came far too late.

    The burden is on me to reconcile, for these passions run in somewhat opposite directions. Let me explain.

    I am opposed to investing any special “vertical” authority in the federal government in matters of education. The constitutional underpinnings are simply not there. And yet it seems to me the tenth amendment falls short of defining the state governments with absolute sovereign power over educational standards. I would have to say that if the tenth amendment did such a thing, we would have to come up with an amendment to the amendment.

    NCLB injects a lot of things into our educational process, some of them unpleasant, but most of them needed. It has a standard, it has tests conducted pursuant to that standard, it has unpleasant surprises coming from the tests, and it has penalties.

    Boortz says, “Here we go with our fantastic government indoctrination folks. The federal government wants all of its students to be ‘the same.’ What can be easier to control than a nice little homogeneous society?” Hmmm…yeah. He’s right to articulate the danger. George Washington, who said government by its nature was a dangerous servant and a fearsome master, would come down on “Nealz” side of things. The General would remain entrenched there, I suppose, probably for good. Why not? After all, in 1799, education of the next generation had nothing to do with government. Nothing at all.

    But today, it does. This is a simple fact. And for the foreseeable future, it always will.

    So if the argument is that NCLB is to be dropped, with nothing to take its place, and this stoppage is to come about because the tenth amendment has to be upheld, I cannot come along for this hayride. Such an argument proposes that the tenth amendment is strong enough to keep the federal government out of the standards business, but at the same time, state governments are to be insinuated into the business of educating children even when said state governments do a crappy job. Essentially, such an argument would ask me to suspend my suspicion of popularly-elected government long enough to let them determine how kids are going to think, but then resurrect that suspicion of government in time to keep government from fixing the mess it made.

    Those who would repeal NCLB and go back to the status quo before it came along, are imposing on me the belief that it’s all right for government to indoctrinate kids and get the kids all bollywonkers and stupid, but when government tries to indoctrinate them to get them smartened-up again, now we’ve got a problem. Well…attention Neal, et al. You may have my support, possibly. Soon. If & when you come up with a substitute for NCLB. Some watchdog thing, to call out to us when the localities do a crappy job of educating kids. Some independent oversight thingy. Something that is not the feds. That would be…swell. Meanwhile, if your nightmares are plagued by a dystopian society rising from a generation of anti-intellectual veggie-heads, NCLB stays where it is.

    Anyway, what brought this all on was the news about Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. Da Lady ain’t takin’ no mo’ kuh-rap from da states, I’m afraid. She promised “flexible” enforcement of the NCLB provisions, and now she’s changing her tone. Getting tough. Laying the smack down. Da fangs comin’ out.

    …Spellings, who took office promising flexible enforcement of the law, has toughened her stance, leaving several states in danger of losing parts of their federal aid.

    In the past few weeks, Ms. Spellings has flatly rejected as inadequate the testing systems in Maine and Nebraska.
    :
    “In the early part of her tenure, Secretary Spellings seemed more interested in finding reasons to waive the law�s requirements than to enforce them,” said Clint Bolick, president of the Alliance for School Choice, a group based in Phoenix that supports vigorous enforcement of provisions that give students the right to transfer from failing schools. “More recently, she seems intent on holding states’ feet to the fire.”

    In an interview, Ms. Spellings acknowledged her shift in emphasis.

    “I want states to know that Congress and the president mean business on the law,” she said. She has stressed that message in part, she said, because the deadlines, which expired this month, were not met, and because lawmakers have been asking her whether states are meeting the law�s requirements.

    “I�m enforcing the law — does that make me tough?” she said. “Last year it was, ‘We�re marching together toward the deadline,’ but now it�s time for, ‘Your homework is due.’”

    Let me just briefly re-cap this the way I see it.

    No Child Left Behind provides for a federal standard for school districts to perform, to make sure that kids aren’t being taught (although nobody calls it this) just a bunch of bullshit that won’t help them later in life. Tests are administered to see how the localities conform with the federal standard. With the broader standard gauged against the student bodies that the localities are graduating, or are poised to graduate, we come to find we have a problem. Especially in Maine and Nebraska, but also in at least seven other states as well.

    A standard is applied, and the status quo fails the standard nine times. This reflects poorly on…the standard?

    I’m sorry. I fully appreciate where Neal is going with this, and where his tenth-amendment cohorts are going as well. I agree with them in sentiment, but I’m afraid they’re snuggied-up with some curious bedfellows on this one. The best argument against NCLB, the one with the greatest potential for canxing my support of it, would be an argument that it is extraneous. That it is unneeded.

    That the localities are succeeding against it, just fine & dandy. That it’s a waste of money.

    If it’s failing — IT is not failing, the localities are failing. The schools are teaching our kids a bunch of extraneous goo, or nothing at all. Or something better than nothing, but still something at half-strength.

    Now, this isn’t purely an accident. Quoth a very wise and highly accredited education expert genius type…whoops, no, sorry. Just me. Let’s try that again. Quoth me, about my own son’s K-through-2nd-grade career:

    That’s when I found out about the prevailing viewpoint in the public education system, that education has less-and-less to do with learning as time goes on. Nowadays, “how to socialize with others” is the most important thing. It’s probably not too off the mark to say that nowadays, a child who socializes with his peers but can’t do the work, is a success, and a child who does the work and can’t socialize with his peers, is a failure. A generation ago when I was in school, the reverse was true. I think that was better.

    This is not an isolated episode. Lots of parents are going to back me up on this experience, re-living the “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?” moments they themselves experienced, upon discovering that education is an option in the modern system. Hard as it may be to believe, there is a controversy churning away under the surface of public education, about whether reading-writing-rithmetic is Job #1. A lot of educators don’t think it is. A lot of educators think children are there to learn how to say hello-goodbye-please-thankyew, and everything else is secondary.

    So the kids learn, basically, dookey-puddin’ about how to actually do things, and ho-hum, they just graduate to the next grade no questions asked. The problem is REAL.

    There should be a device in place so that we know this is going on, right? Of some kind?

    Otherwise…we do have an excellent chance of leaving lots of kids behind. I guess what I’m saying here is, if you don’t like NCLB, let’s see the alternative.

    Memo For File XVII

    Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

    Memo For File XVII

    I keep forgetting to link The Jawa Report. It’s not a deliberate slight, it’s just pure, ongoing neglect. I’m even remiss in visiting it, let alone linking to it, even though I keep hearing about it over and over again. And everything I hear about it is good. Time to correct the oversight.

    Good Lieutenant, no doubt flush with the victory he shared with me over that liberal half-wit — who finds this blog to be incredibly boring but keeps visiting it anyway — makes some observations about the print media.

    One of the things I learned in early newswriting classes was to “write so that even a sixth-grader can understand the story.” If this meme has held true, then papers are already doing this. That is precisely the problem with papers – most are written in a patronizing, pseudo-juvenile manner that emphasizes style over substance.

    I was always told that too, and it never made much sense to me, either. In fact, what I was told was that if you write for the twelfth-grade level, that’s good writing, but if you write for the eighth-grade level, that is even better. The best writing of all was crafted for consumption by a fifth- or sixth-grader.

    It’s advice out of time, I’m afraid. The sensibility behind it, is that promulgation is a paramount concern; verity is an afterthought. People read your stuff, and for whatever reason have to pull out a dictionary before they can read further — HORRORS! — they might stop reading. And this, somehow, makes your writing bad-to-mediocre…even though you were already writing for the eighth-grade level, and the reader dislayed seventh-grade skills. Your problem, not his.

    You know, I don’t begrudge people for indulging in twentieth-century fickle fashion. What I begrudge them for, is indulging in such a fickle fashion, and calling it a “style,” and then treating it like a science, or a study, or a discipline…something that will be unshakable until the end of the human race, something like, when you mix blue dye and yellow dye you get green, or when you put hydrogen and oxygen together you get water. People should have been able to see, it’s just not so — not everlastingly. You get fixated with the science and style of promulgating messages as quickly and as universally as possible, and everybody else perfects this science-and-style as well…change must come. The inevitable has to happen. We’re going to get fed up with rapidly- and widely-broadcast messages, that turn out to be bullshit. And then like a little kid losing his interest in Puff the Magic Dragon, and becoming enamored with pretty girls, we’ll be interested in something else: Veracity.

    This is just a natural progression of events. Unavoidable. Were artificial ecosystems to be constructed, and the human experiment repeated a dozen times therein, perhaps in parallel…it would happen, again, a dozen times. We’d be interested in mass communication, for a little while — and then we’d lose our interest in it, and shift our fascination to how to verify what’s true, and refute what isn’t.

    One person wrote to me through the e-mail, chastising me for failing to reach as many people as I could, since not everybody knows what “opprobrious” means. Commodiously large words betray an obsequious predilection on the part of the person writing, and may be deleterious to the mission of delivery, teasingly didactic though they may be. Another person (with a different IP address and a different time zone) wrote several months later, similarly chastising me, for using too many, far too many, commas, in, my sentences.

    I don’t mean to contest the truth of what these critics are saying. They’re right. But with what audiences have in mind when they choose to read something, and the mission to be undertaken by them when they do the reading, to say nothing of by the author when he writes to them — “ease” has slipped mostly off the radar. “Ease,” after all, is an objective realized best by sitting down with the Play Station III for another hour or two, instead of reading stuff.

    Write for the sixth grade? Why should I?

    My stuff is on the “innernets.” Whoever reads it, has an online dictionary one click away.

    Regarding the original subject at hand. Jawa Report has linked to me. I shall link to them.

    And regarding my original subject: Newspapers. Under this particular post, Commenter #1 has an observation sufficiently concise, and delicious, that this Memo For File would be incomplete if said nugget were not highlighted.

    What readers want are the facts presented fairly without bias, especially political bias.

    What journalists want is to “change the world” thru specious editing, omissions, mis-statements, and outright lies. i.e., by ‘altering’ truth

    There ya go. The newsprint forum may not be futile quite yet, but it’s sliding down in that direction, for manufacturer and consumer are after two different things.

    Scary Peace-People II

    Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

    Scary Peace-People II

    Now here’s something weird about the way we think. In fact of all the ways we think, that are weird, I think this might be the weirdest one.

    You think your new car looks nice. I say it’s ugly. In your mind, I don’t know what I’m talking about. You know what else? I could say another car looks nice…and had you never met me, you would also think the other car is nice…but now, since I think your car is ugly, and this other car is nice, you’ll go so far as to decide the other car is ugly just because I said the opposite.

    That’s a little bit screwy. But there’s more.

    You can now follow me around all week long while I announce my opinions about things that have nothing to do with cars. I like latex better than oil-based. I like stripes better than plaid. I like to dunk chocolate cake in my milk. Coffee black. Local channels. Toilet paper over the roll. And you’ll experience a strong emotional inclination toward the polar opposite of everything I say, even if some of it may be specialized, technical and alien your own preferences or experiences.

    Now, behold. This is where things really go over the edge.

    Mister X comes along. Who is Mister X? You don’t know. Mister X comes up with a piece of paper…and he signs it. The piece of paper has my name on it, and says a bunch of other stuff, something about fulfilling requirements, certified for something-or-other. What exactly does the piece of paper say? You don’t know. What does it even look like? You don’t know. All you are told, is that the piece of paper exists, and that it is signed. And it’s mine.

    Now your car is ugly! You won’t dare to argue otherwise. Morgan, the certified assessor of ugly cars, has said so.

    The process of trying to stay honest, while at the same time forming an opinion people will respect, will drive you insane. You will question every little notion you ever had, about what makes a car ugly, versus what makes a car not. But you know nothing. Morgan has an opinion about your car, and X has an opinion about Morgan. That is all you know. Two opinions. You know very little about my background, notwithstanding the piece of paper. And you know absolutely nothing about X.

    Ah, but what if it’s Morgan’s job to make determinations upon which important things depend? Morgan’s going into the business of figuring out if a bridge can be walked on. Morgan says the bridge is good…some guy walks on it, falls, cracks his head open.

    Why, then Mister X is placed in a position of real responsibility.

    Assuming that he is. Assuming he can be prevailed upon to financially cover this colossal blunder made by Morgan.

    But let’s face facts…you don’t even need to know if X will return your phone calls before you surrender all your cognitive and cogitative processes to Morgan, the guy with the piece of paper signed by X.

    And you know what else? The bridge analogy doesn’t even hold…not where the Nobel committee is concerned. By the way, who is on that committee? Do you know? Do you know who sat on it thirty years ago, when they gave the Peace Prize to Betty Williams? Neither do I. For all practical purposes, nobody knows. Nobody will bother to find out. Nobody cares.

    Well, guess what Betty Williams is spouting off about. Remember: I don’t have a Nobel Peace Prize; you probably don’t either; if you or I said this, we might be expecting a visitor soon.

    NOBEL peace laureate Betty Williams displayed a flash of her feisty Irish spirit yesterday, lashing out at US President George W.Bush during a speech to hundreds of schoolchildren.

    Campaigning on the rights of young people at the Earth Dialogues forum, being held in Brisbane, Ms Williams spoke passionately about the deaths of innocent children during wartime, particularly in the Middle East, and lambasted Mr Bush.

    “I have a very hard time with this word ‘non-violence’, because I don’t believe that I am non-violent,” said Ms Williams, 64.

    “Right now, I would love to kill George Bush.” Her young audience at the Brisbane City Hall clapped and cheered.

    I don’t know how I ever got a Nobel Peace Prize, because when I see children die the anger in me is just beyond belief. It’s our duty as human beings, whatever age we are, to become the protectors of human life.”

    Ms Williams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 30 years ago, when she circulated a petition to end violence in Northern Ireland after witnessing British soldiers shoot dead an IRA member who was driving a car. He veered on to the footpath, killing two children from one family instantly and fatally injuring a third. [emphasis mine]

    What is it about Peace-People? It seems nobody anywhere says anything scarier, than what comes shooting out of the mouths of people who are supposed to be all about “peace.”

    And what is the deal with awards? I say I know something, people will argue with me about it all day long just to be seen arguing with me. Someone else says I know something, and everybody’ll go along to get along — while knowing butkus about me, and even less about the guy who said I know something.

    Thing I Know #17. A man may not kill a fly for a cause he believes is right; but he might do terrible things for a cause he believes is righteous.

    Update: Neal Boortz has a novel idea for the Nobel Prize Committee: Just make “Hating the United States” a category. Hmmm. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but I like the truth-in-marketing angle.

    Update 7/26/06: Michelle proves how smart she is once again, by saying the same things I said. Good going.

    Toward Zero

    Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

    Toward Zero

    Continuing with the theme of the post previous, about people being able to unilaterally change society in ways we’d never tolerate our elected leaders unilaterally changing it, simply by claiming they’re personally offended by things.

    This is a process of sterility. Those in favor of it, as well as those opposed, would have to agree to this. It’s an endeavor of purification. Impotence is the goal, and is imposed uncompromisingly, relentlessly. To knock a foreign substance down from a hundred parts per million to ten parts per million, is just as desirous a task as knocking it from ten parts to one part. The paramount objective is zero — nobody should ever be offended by anything, anywhere. And yet, if/when that goal is realized, no further progress is possible. When your goal is a zero, rather than an infinite, your journey must be limited.

    This is a direct contradiction to the nature of what is being done. Once an offensive thing has been removed, the search must begin immediately for another offensive thing. Whoever seeks to be offended, and fails to find something, by implication betrays all the others who seek to be offended. And so those who share this adventure, must continually find offensive things, decade after decade after decade. Some eighty or a hundred years ago, whoever sought to banish blackface Vaudeville skits from American culture for good, would have little comprehension as to how “Eeny meany miny moe” could possibly offend anybody; and yet, here we are.

    It is a non-stop journey. One foot goes in front of the other, until all limits are transcended and infinity becomes possible. And yet, the nature of the goal, is zero rather than infinity. The crusaders toward the zero, desire the endless journey, the journey that expands into the uncharted; the journey of the frontiersmen of old. But the frontiersmen of old trudged toward infinity, not sterility.

    And I think this is the real reason why offended people are offended. They’re doing it to themselves; their quest is a conundrum of intrinsic, one-hundred-and-eighty-degree self-contradiction. Once an environment becomes sanitary, movement must eventually cease as life is made impossible. That’s what a truly sanitary environment is. Dead. Silent. Still.

    Impotent.

    The nattering nabobs of political correctness want a “progressive” movement, which essentially means each generation undertakes a new wave of tasks unimaginable in size and scope to the generation that came before. You can’t have that when you trudge toward zero instead of toward infinity. So because the nabobs are dissatisfied with themselves, the rest of us must become embroiled in phony controversies about billboards and nursery rhymes.

    The Truth has another example for us, you might say. I’ll let the blogmaster speak for himself.

    We all know that FDR had polio during WW II, but the press kept this fact from the public and the world. He also spoke the following words in white and the rest is from a forwarded email:
    “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked.” One elderly woman read the words aloud: “With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph.” But as she read, she suddenly turned angry. “Wait a minute,” she said, “they left out the end of the quote. They left out the most important part. Roosevelt ended the message with “so help us God.’” Her husband said, “You are probably right. We’re not supposed to say things like that now.”

    What the press and the PC people are now trying to do is to put a veil back on words he and other national leaders spoke, especially their references to God. This “newspeak” that was introduced in the book 1984 is deception by omission, which is a lie. Walter Duranty was guilty of this type of deception which covered the killing of seven million Ukranians by Joseph Stalin.

    I have been amazed at the cognitive dissonance maintained by true fans of President Roosevelt. Our current government is supposed to be completely transparent, we need Bill Keller to tell us all about everything the government is doing. Undersecretary of Defense tells Bill Keller, hey, don’t print that — it could jeopardize the safety of some of our agents. Keller says, okay, I weighed both sides, and decided the public has a right to know. Nobody is allowed to argue with Bill Keller…and yet, six decades plus change ago, we did not need to know the President needed a wheelchair. We were supposed to be imbibing deeply this new technology involving photographs, and we were supposed to believe we were being presented an accurate visual of our officials in power. And yet, whatever the powers-that-be decided we shouldn’t be looking at, we weren’t allowed to even know about.

    Yeah, the President being in a wheelchair is a trifling matter, and the argument that it’s entirely irrelevent, is a convincing argument. My observation isn’t that something relevant was being cut out; my observation is that the people who manufactured the news, rather than the people who consumed it, were placed in the position of deciding what was relevant.

    We wouldn’t tolerate that today. That’s what all the screaming is supposed to be about in the liberal circles: The Press is the administration’s “lapdog,” they don’t “speak truth to power” often enough, blah blah blah. Hey guys. Roosevelt’s men took cameras away from people. They gave orders that the lenses be covered until the hoist was down and the President was solidly on the ship, behind a desk. Our 43rd President chokes on a pretzel, and you think your civil rights are violated if you don’t know every detail.

    And the God thing. That, right there, is what I’m talking about. Separation of Church and State, they say. An American value cherished and enshrined in our culture since the founding of the republic. And yet…who they kiddin’? Nobody was crusading for the continual sanitization of all mentions of The Almighty from public view, back in 1789. Nobody is trying to assert such a thing. But should this not be so asserted, if the argument is that religion-neutrality, as we define it today, is indeed a cherished American value?

    It’s an inherent contradiction, from an inherently contradictory quest: A continually progressive inter-generational journey — toward zero.

    In America, you have a perfect right to engage in things that are bound to frustrate you, and you’re even empowered to recruit others to help you and therefore to become so frustrated. You don’t have the right to inflict it on the rest of us.

    And that is a cherished American value.

    Who Is To Say Otherwise?

    Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

    Who Is To Say Otherwise?

    My e-mail folder is a wonder to behold. There are over eight thousand notes of congratulations for how the Good Lieutenant and I handled that liberal half-wit the day before yesterday. Also, a half a dozen additional requests for interviews from the Washington Post, the last couple of them with a promise to put my blog on Page A-1 above the fold. Michelle Malkin, social butterfly that she is, wants me to come over for dinner just so she can brag about having been in the same room with me, and of course Al Franken has finally admitted that I’m right. About everything.

    None of this is up for challenge from anyone, because it’s in my e-mail. Only I have the password. The contents of my e-mail are whatever I say they are. Logically, it therefore follows that whatever is to be inferred from these contents, is whatever I say it is. Nobody else is in a position to assert anything different.

    And that, right there, is the power of being offended.

    A friend pointed out an off-color billboard on top of a building at Westport Road and Southwest Trafficway.

    Apparently people hadn�t learned from the bad publicity generated a few years ago from a lawsuit involving Southwest Airlines.

    The Boulevard Brewing Co. beer billboard uses the racist rhyme “Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe…” Each word is positioned with a period over one of four foam-filled glasses of Boulevard�s popular Wheat, Pale Ale, Bully Porter and Dry Stout beer.
    :
    Bob Sullivan, vice president and chief marketing officer with Boulevard Brewing, said no one had complained about the beer billboard. “It�s a choice campaign,” he said.

    “It has nothing to do with race, color or creed,” Sullivan said. “You would be the first person who�s brought that to our attention.”

    The billboards started going up in different Kansas City locations in May. They will remain up until October, Sullivan said. The ads ran for two years in other media in 11 states.
    :
    The history is too fresh. The rhyme still evokes the N-word, and no amount of beer will wash that down.

    Now I think we can all agree that history is irrelevant. Or at least we can agree with the vital parts of that. If the rhyme has a racist history, but nowadays doesn’t offend anybody, it should be permissible. If the rhyme lacks any racist history, but neverthless still has the capacity to offend people, it should be forbidden. So the debate is about capacity for offense, not about history.

    But like the messages in my personal e-mail folder, the residual effects of personal offense, are for each person to state, and nobody else is in a position to contradict.

    Somehow, the assumption rises up from relative oblivion, that when people make statements as to how personally offended they are, they must be speaking the whole truth. Nothing but the truth. Now way would they ever dream of saying they’re offended by something not offensive.

    And yet once they say they’re offended, whatever the color of their skin happens to be, they have been empowered if & when something like a billboard is dismantled on the strength of their words.

    The citation of the Southwest Airlines lawsuit doesn’t help. The Wikipedia entry includes a footnote, pointing to a Google-cached copy of the court’s order ejecting the lawsuit. Laughing it out of court, as they say. Good for me, since this is the way I recalled the events, so no CAT-scan for me just yet.

    Plaintiffs contend that the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Southwest on their claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and plaintiff Fuller’s claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. This court reviews the district court’s grant of summary judgment de novo, viewing the evidence and drawing reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Gossett v. Okla. ex rel. Bd. of Regents for Langston Univ., 245 F.3d 1172, 1175 (10th Cir. 2001).

    After reviewing the record, we conclude that the district court properly granted summary judgment on plaintiffs’ claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court correctly enumerated the elements of and burdens of proof for a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress under Kansas law. It also correctly applied Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) and the law to the summary judgment evidence, to reach its conclusion that the announcement was neither extreme and outrageous, nor had plaintiffs suffered any severe emotional distress. See Sawyer v. Southwest Airlines, Co., 243 F. Supp.2d 1257, 1273-75 (D. Kan. 2003). As such, we affirm the court’s summary judgment order.

    The Wiki article linked above also poses a problem for the notion that the rhyme is inherently racist: “Some believe that the modern version is a politically correct version of the “nigger” version, but no versions of the rhyme are known to predate the oldest examples of “tiger” versions.” [emphasis mine] Personally, I found the “talk” page highly amusing on this particular entry. It is recognized that whether or not you can pin an inherently racist undertone on the nursery rhyme, depends strongly on the genesis version from whence all other modifications came. If the N-word is the “Eve” of all other variations, perhaps then the claim can be made — participants then start to provide personal anecdotes.

    A demonstrably futile exercise, since the racist version would be so ancient, you’d have to be in your 160′s or 170′s to have witnessed it’s heyday.

    In the end, it’s a matter of personal taste. You may say the nursery rhyme offends you because you’re black, in the same way I may say the word “diversity” offends me because I’m white. Our blackness/whiteness is a matter of fact, but who on earth is to say we are not offended? Like the content of personal e-mail, this is a matter for individual discernment.

    The power to change public things according to this discernment, therefore, is the power to affect public policy unilaterally. In America, we rankle at the idea of a single pair of hands being able to inflict that kind of change, even if those hands are attached to someone elected and accountable. Should we worry any less, when such change is made at the behest of an unaccountable, unelected private citizen, just because he says he’s offended?

    Thing I Know #52. When angry people make demands, the ensuing fulfillment never seems to bring a stop to their anger.
    Thing I Know #106. Making sure no one is offended, virtuous as it is, seems to be antithetical to real achievement.

    Memo For File XVI

    Monday, July 24th, 2006

    Memo For File XVI

    Hmmm, this just started. It’s a blog put together by a husband-and-wife riding a Goldwing across Canada.

    I’m not quite sure I’d be doing it this way. Buying a used bike in July, and starting your big adventure the very next month? Ah, well…I’m sure it’ll work out fine. Hope the blog stays up-to-date. This is my kind of thing.

    Not a big fan of the bright yellow color, but other than that, what a gorgeous bike. If the object of the exercise is to arouse jealousy, they’ve definitely succeeded.

    Godspeed, you two. Ride safe.

    Stunning Level of Apathy

    Monday, July 24th, 2006

    Stunning Level of Apathy

    Running for national office as a Democrat has got to be an interesting experience. There’s no way you can emerge from such an adventure with anything close to the same mindset as what you had before it all began. The level of apathy these candidates have, about what is within their control, versus what is outside of it, is just breathtaking. It is stunning. I’m hard-pressed to think of another thing you can try to do, public-relations or otherwise, with such a level of apathy and still possess even the most remote shot at success.

    As an insulin-dependent diabetic who wears an insulin pump 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and who is already suffering some complications, and faces a future filled with such delightful thoughts as impotence, amputation, blindness, and eventual death, I hope and pray every night for a cure.

    But I don’t, I can’t, trust John Edwards and John Kerry. There is plenty of research into stem cells going on — Bush is only imposing limitations on federal funding of certain types of research.

    And I’ll be goddamned if I’ll let myself be used as a political prop by anyone. Go to hell, you damned ambulance-chasing louse — it’s you and people like you that makes my insurance rates so damned high and my doctor so paranoid.

    Thus speaketh “X” as of October 2004, in a Wizbang! thread under the story about John Edwards’ speech the day before. Edwards was going on about all the good stuff about to unfold when/if a Kerry/Edwards ticket was to be sent to the White House…stuff that any third-grader can tell you, the President of the United States doesn’t actually get to make happen. Specifically, the ability to stop “juvenile diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other debilitating diseases. … People like Chris Reeve will get out of their wheelchairs and walk again.”

    I touched on this recently with the “Moral Authority” issue, with my flabbergastedness that this late in the game, we still get to hear that doublet of words, about anything…let alone, continue to see the doublet worn down to a such a threadbare cliche. The object of said flabbergastedness was none other than Democratic Committee chairman Howard Dean, opining, with no small amount of bullying undertone, about how with a Kerry presidency in place, fighting in the Middle East would surely have stopped by now.

    If you think what’s going on in the Middle East today would be going on if the Democrats were in control, it wouldn’t, because we would have worked day after day after day to make sure we didn’t get where we are today. We would have had the moral authority that Bill Clinton had when he brought together the Northern Irish and the IRA, when he brought together the Israelis and the Palestinians.

    On this, I stand on the reflections I had originally made.

    …if a challenger comes along who can solve a complicated problem, the first attribute he’s going to display is a working knowledge of what would be within his control as the problem-solver, and what would not be. People who babble on about M.A., are advertising that they lack the ability to make this distinction, and are apathetic about acquiring it.

    Reminds me of one of my Boy Scout experiences, one in which my troop was introduced to the concept of leadership. We were at Camp Black Mountain and I believe the year was ’78 or ’79…could be earlier. The camp counselor was addressing us, and it was late in a summer afternoon, so that the sun blasted our eyes from behind the lake as we squinted in his direction from the bleachers. And he began to tell us about authority. Not moral authority, just authority.

    He said he would demonstrate it for us.

    He spun around on his heel, and screamed over the lake as loud as his lungs would permit, “YOU SET, YOU SUN!!!”

    Then he turned around and said, now, just wait a little while.

    You know the difference between that, and what Democrats do? I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now…the sun, after a little while, actually set. Oh, and his little-white-lie was based on some measure of humor, not a desire to actually deceive people.

    Contrast that with John Kerry’s obsequious babblings while stumping for Jennifer Granholm in Michigan this weekend.

    U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D- Mass., who was in town Sunday to help Gov. Jennifer Granholm campaign for her re-election bid, took time to take a jab at the Bush administration for its lack of leadership in the Israeli-Lebanon conflict.

    “If I was president, this wouldn’t have happened,” said Kerry during a noon stop at Honest John’s bar and grill in Detroit’s Cass Corridor.

    Bush has been so concentrated on the war in Iraq that other Middle East tension arose as a result, he said.

    “The president has been so absent on diplomacy when it comes to issues affecting the Middle East,” Kerry said. “We’re going to have a lot of ground to make up (in 2008) because of it.” [emphasis mine]

    Christ on a pogo stick, can’t he stop if he wants to? Come to think of it, a President Kerry would actually have it in his power to do…quite a lot. The President can get a lot of stuff started, and get a lot of stuff stopped. Thinking back on it all, I’m hard pressed to recollect any action the President is constitutionally empowered to undertake, that John Kerry has actually said he would do…or not do. His plans and pledges seem to be carefully confined to the workspace of things over which the President has no actual power.

    Everything goes back to what he wanted us to do, that we didn’t want to do. Can you imagine what a fun teenager John Kerry must have been? “Mom…Mom…you really should have let me borrow the car this weekend. Mom, you know what? The Doctor wouldn’t have diagnosed you with ovarian cancer if you let me borrow the car this weekend. Hey Mom, Dad wouldn’t have run away with the maid if you let me borrow the car. Mom, you know what? The cat wouldn’t have swallowed those rubber bands and stuck you with a five hundred dollar vet bill if you let me borrow the car this weekend. Anyway, can I borrow the car? Mom? I’m sorry the boss laid you off. It wouldn’t have happened if you let me borrow the car.” Headache City!

    Surely we’d all have to agree Mr. Kerry is now in the territory of self-parody. The only thing about which there could be disagreement among sane, mature adults, is at what point he crossed that boundary. It would be sad enough if this was his personal quirk, but as his party Chairman has already shown us, to say nothing of his former running mate, this appears to be what being a Democrat is all about.

    Update: There is a subtle political commentary about this kind of “I know what to do!” codswallopedness in the 1988 movie, Die Hard. Right after the hostages are taken, this ferret-faced guy announces that he knows what to do. I have no idea what this guy’s name is. But anyway, he just decides, on his own, he’s going to go talk to the bad guys. He’s going to make the bad guys listen to reason. With great fanfare, he goes in to start his jolly unofficial negotiation session. In the subsequent scene, which is carefully calculated to show just what a heartless “mo-fo” Alan Rickman really is, the ferret-faced guy gets a bullet right between the eyes.

    The purpose is not to show that being a European-wussie, reality-challenged control freak can get you killed; it’s to show, simply, that your crap just don’t work. I’m not a big fan of taking lessons about reality from the cinema, but this one happens to work pretty well. There is little correlation, if any, between the outward level of confidence people show in their solutions working on pre-defined problems, and how well those solutions do, indeed, work. Nobody shows this more vividly than Democrats. Two or three years after they get elected, everything that happens is beyond their control. But just a little while before that, while they’re still hitting that campaign trail oh-so-hard, nothing is.

    Another Update: Via Best of the Web, our memories are refreshed about the excellent parody made about John Edwards’ “Get Chris Reeve Outta That Chair” speech, in The Onion. What I am articulating by dry, tedious, heavy quasi-philosophical musings, they have managed to hash with some easy-to-read and excellent scathing satire.

    If you put John Kerry and me in the White House, we’ll have each one of you in the driver’s seat of a brand-new SUV. Your bosses will be less cranky, your children will be kept in trucker hats and iPods, and your TV screens will grow even wider. Those who are bald will wake up one morning and magically find themselves with thick heads of luxurious, silky hair. You’ll open your refrigerators and 15-pound hams will tumble out. Your dog might even start to talk, and the first thing he’ll say is “I love you.” It’ll be that good.

    Did I mention… the tax cut? John Kerry and I support a nice, big, fat, fucking tax cut for you, because let’s face it, nothing good can ever come from taxes. They’re a big pain in the ass! We’ll do fine without ‘em! There! I’m feeling so cheery, I wouldn’t be surprised if a friggin’ unicorn stepped out on stage and started humpin’ my leg!

    Say, anybody out there a fan of… the Green Bay Packers? All right! Cool!

    Zing. It wouldn’t leave that nasty red welt, if there wasn’t a lot of truth to it.

    Buckley’s Interview

    Monday, July 24th, 2006

    Buckley’s Interview

    William F. Buckley says President Bush is not a true conservative. I’m going to have to agree with that.

    “I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as the absence of effective conservative ideology � with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress,” Buckley says. “And in respect of foreign policy, incapable of bringing together such forces as apparently were necessary to conclude the Iraq challenge.”

    In fact, I will do Mr. Buckley one better. If you are to define a “liberal” as a public official who, when he or one of his initiatives is in a spat of trouble, responds first-and-foremost by spending money to ingratiate himself with those who might make much better allies than foes, President Bush has been the living illustration of that. He has been a fiscal conservative up until the point where he must spend political capital to keep the funds in the treasury where they belong. And quick as a whisper, the funds are spent, along with his fair-weather conservatism.

    Buckley also says our current President is going to be a failure, that he will have no legacy. His litmus test for such a thing is crystal-clear.

    In particular, Buckley views the three-and-a-half-year Iraq War as a failure. “If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we’ve experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign,” Buckley says.
    :
    Asked what President Bush’s foreign policy legacy will be to his successor, Buckley says “There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush. I don’t believe his successor would re-enunciate the words he used in his second inaugural address because they were too ambitious. So therefore I think his legacy is indecipherable”

    I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with this. Why? Because Buckley’s definitions of success are external. They depend on the points-of-view of others. This isn’t Europe.

    This is not to say that the zeitgeist (see FAQ, Question 10) lacks importance. The zeitgeist, as it applies here, is a special one. Like the prevailing notions of any other era, it has lift, and it has drag. The modern notion that Iraq is a failure, Bush has no legacy, etc. etc. etc. is popular, no doubt about it. But it has a lot of drag. Why do I say this?

    I say this because the net prevailing notion, the notion that a change of course is needed, is a struggling one. President Bush may be faced with a hostile Congress during the last half of his second term; or, he may not. It’s too soon to say. And yet the lift has been extraordinary. Day after day after day, the Hollywood glitterati hold their rolling fasts and what-not; the print media opines endlessly about our “quagmire” and “Abu Ghraib,” and it’s plain to see the newspapers and magazines would just-as-soon we stayed out of Iraq altogether. We are bombarded with their agendized invective day after day.

    To say that Iraq is going to cost President Bush his legacy, is to say it is self-evident that Iraq is a failure. If it was self-evident, the prevailing viewpoint would be more like a paper-airplane, not a 747. All this heated consumption of fuel, exhaust fumes, greenhouse gases, incredible heat, would be replaced by a simple flick-of-the-wrist. Such a notion would launch, and soar over all our heads…naturally.

    That isn’t what is happening here. If Bush has a legacy, he needs no artificial force to keep it going. If he does not have one, then his enemies need no artificial force to keep it suppressed. They do need this artificial force; people of all ideologies, who’ve been paying attention to what’s going on, must agree on this. I’m not quite sure about whether he needs the same for his interests.

    Come to think of it, conservatism is supposed to be about — I thought — rejecting the prevailing notion, in favor of recognizing truth for onesself. This is exactly what liberalism used to mean awhile back (see FAQ, linked above, Question 6). Buckley says Bush’s venture has been a failure, because if he was a European leader, he’d be expected to step down. Not to dispute the correctness of his hypothesis, but how does that matter?

    Prevailing viewpoint is dangerous. We take it as a given that we all have influence in deciding what it is, and it rests completely in no single pair of hands. This is an extravagant notion to try to maintain, for if a sentiment is truly embraced by us all, there would be little or no need to communicate it. Collaboration would be an option. And yet the prevailing viewpoints that are supposed to prevail most aggressively, are the ones that are expressed with the greatest urgency by those who express them. Resources are spent, for no purpose other than to get the collaboration done, and then more resources are spent, and more, and more.

    I’m having a great deal of difficulty with the notion that President Bush’s legacy has wilted to the point of oblivion, and at the same time, there is a pressing need to make sure everybody understand that it is gone. To put it concisely, why is there a pressing need to tell people what they’re supposed to already be thinking?

    Things Are Not As They Seem

    Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

    Things Are Not As They Seem

    Philadelphia is rapidly earning a reputation, as far as I’m concerned, as a place where few things are as they seem.

    This is a real pity, because the people I have met from Philadelphia, impress me as a “genuine” sort of folk. You know where you stand with them. And yet, the people who actually run things in Philadelphia, I must tentatively conclude, are a wholly different sort of people. First we have the kindly old gentleman with the cheesesteak sandwich shop, Geno’s, being muscled around by City Hall because his placard supposedly violates the city’s anti-discrimination laws. It says, “This is AMERICA: WHEN ORDERING PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH.” An assertion, and a request. Well, the assertion seems to be spot-on; last I checked, Philadelphia was within America. As for the request, this seems to just make sense. If I’m taking your order, and you want to bitch and moan and scream if/when I get your order wrong, and I’m mono-lingual, maybe you should just order it in my language.

    The city says we can’t have retail establishments deciding what language is to be spoken when said retail establishments take orders. Goodness gracious, poor Geno’s. Who is to decide how many languages are to be in effect, and thus, how many translators the restaurant is to hire?

    Well, as I commented a week or so after my original comments last month, there is a distinctly different reason why the city might be picking on the Geno’s sandwich shop, and it doesn’t have a lot to do with languages. Quoth the Coalition of the Swilling, narrating their own trip to Philadelphia to sample the fare of the now-much-talked-about sandwich shop:

    And then it struck me. Right in front of me was the real reason why the “concerned” folks in Philly are upset with Geno’s. It really has nothing to do with the “Speak English When You Order Sign”, though I’m sure they see that as another proof of the owner’s dementia. No, my friends, the real reason Geno’s is in trouble with the City of Brotherly Love is right there on his Hummer…

    The Free Mumia crowd has declared war, as Officer Faulkner’s picture is everywhere you look at Geno’s, as are window case after window case that are filled with police badges from around the country and around the world, from Anoka County, Minnesota to Australia.

    Now admittedly, this is not proof. Perhaps it’s news to the Philadelphia city council, just as much to anyone else, that there’s an homage to Officer Faulkner in the display case at Geno’s…as well as on the Hummer operated by Geno’s. Perhaps, just perhaps, this really is all about civil rights. The Constitutional right, which the Founding Fathers held sacrosanct, to come over to this country and jibber-jabber away in whatever nonsensical dialect suits your fancy, and expect everybody from post office clerks, to pharmacists, to hot dog vendors, to sandwich shop owners to work through correctly so they can nail your bagfuls of consonants and vowels right the first time out of the chute. Yes, surely, that’s what America is all about…or it should be. Makes perfect sense to me.

    In a pig’s eye.

    Yeah you’re goddam right I’m being sarcastic. Coalition’s theory makes perfect sense to me.

    Of course I could be wrong. But here comes another example of craven duplicity on the part of city hall. The Cradle of Liberty Council, which provides scouting services to 75,000 boy scouts, 40,000 of whom reside within the city limits of Philadelphia, has been served with papers that their rent-free occupation of headquarters is about to come to an end.

    The city of Philadelphia told the third largest Boy Scout Council in the nation to either stop discriminating against gays or their free ride will come to an end.

    City Solicitor Romulo L. Diaz Jr. wrote a letter to the Cradle of Liberty Council saying their discriminatory policies, which do not allow gays to be troop leaders, violate city policy and law. If they do not change they could either be evicted from its publicly owned headquarters in the city or made to pay rent.

    This AP Wire story, taken from information in the Philadelphia Inquirer, provides a little bit of background on the property from which the Boy Scouts are being ejected.

    The organization has made its headquarters on a half-acre property in the upscale Philadelphia Art Museum area since 1928, when City Council voted to allow the Philadelphia Boy Scouts to use the property rent-free “in perpetuity.” Despite paying no rent, the scouts pay for the upkeep of the building.

    Well now, I’m sure this is on the up-and-up. Government is all about non-discrimination, or should be all about that anyway, since it represents all citizens. Can’t have government discriminating, or tolerating someone else who does. It just makes sense that the city government should draconically impose notions of membership standards upon a private organization, whom the Supreme Court has ruled has a right to those membership standards. If city governments aren’t all about forcing private organizations to operate in the way those city governments should think the private organizations should operate, why, I don’t know what else those city governments should be doing. It seems ridiculous to suppose a city government should focus efforts more along the lines of, say, parking enforcement, fines for littering, getting the garbage picked up on time, making the traffic lights work the way they should, or any of that other boring stuff.

    Well yeah, that does seem to be such a simple story.

    Until you go to the Inquirer story from which the AP took the information, and read the last two paragraphs.

    Real estate prices have boomed in the burgeoning neighborhoods along the Parkway in Center City.

    Across the wide avenue from the Boy Scouts, a 47-story condo tower is planned at the site of the Best Western Center City Motel at 22d and Spring Garden Streets.

    Awww…lookee here, turns out when you cut through all the crap, it’s all about the bling-bling.

    Come to think of it, from whence came this supposition that the city council is acting on high-minded, utopian ideals in busting the Boy Scouts? Why are we to think that’s what gets this ball rolling? Why are we to assume that the Boy Scouts operate from pure cynicism and pragmatism, and those who stand opposed to them, operate from pure altruism? That’s just what’s printed on the paperwork, and what the Boy Scout Busters say they’re doing when people come asking.

    I call shenanigans. There’s something terribly bigoted about some of this hateful invective flung around about Boy Scouts. Try this on for size…just try it. Suppose, just take this as a hypothetical, that from sea to shining sea, we all wake up one morning, and resolve to everlastingly support the Boy Scouts and their antiquated membership policies. Tighty-righties and lefty-loosies. Not adopt the Boy Scouts’ moral sensibilities as our own, mind you…just resolve to respect the Boy Scouts and their intrinsic membership requirements. All actions against them are dropped, and the Boy Scouts keep their facilities guarantees “in perpetuity” — as originally promised — not only in Philadelphia, but all over the world. The Boy Scouts continue to do what some misguided souls call “discriminating” and suffer zero, zilch, zip, nada repercussions for doing so. From anyone. Anywhere.

    Who suffers?

    Nobody can answer that question. Not satisfactorily.

    I Know Why It Looks Like This

    Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

    I Know Why It Looks Like This

    I think I just figured out why the New York Times stock price has been doing what it’s been doing. (Thanks for the graphic, Bullwinkle Blog!)

    Yeah yeah, you don’t care what my thoughts are on the New York Times stock price, and why it’s been doing what it’s been doing. Well, in a round-a-bout way, that’s kind of the point I wish to make.

    Maureen Dowd writes in “The Incredible Lightness of George W. Bush”,

    The open-microphone incident at the G-8 lunch in St. Petersburg on Monday illustrated once more that W. never made any effort to adapt. The president has enshrined his immaturity and insularity, turning every environment he inhabits � no matter how decorous or serious � into a comfortable frat house.

    No matter what the trappings or the ceremonies require of the leader of the free world, he brings the same DKE bearing and cadences, the same insouciance and smart-alecky attitude, the same simplistic approach � swearing, swaggering, talking to Tony Blair with his mouth full of buttered roll, and giving a startled Angela Merkel an impromptu shoulder rub. He can make even a global summit meeting seem like a kegger.

    Catching W. off-guard, the really weird thing is his sense of victimization. He�s strangely resentful about the actual core of his job. Even after the debacles of Iraq and Katrina, he continues to treat the presidency as a colossal interference with his desire to mountain bike and clear brush.

    In snippets of overheard conversation, Mr. Bush says he has not bothered to prepare any closing remarks and grouses about having to listen to other world leaders talk too long. What did he think being president was about?

    The world may be blowing up, and the president may have a rare opportunity to jaw-jaw about bang-bang with his peers, but that pales in comparison with his burning desire to return to his feather pillow and gym back at the White House.

    The link to the article requires a TimesSelect subscription. Or…you can just lift it out of a blog somewhere.

    And that’s really the point I want to make. The New York Times has a lot of stuff in it, including Dowd’s opinion. Some of it I can read online for nothing, some of it I can register to read, but for which I am still not expected to pay any money. The opinion of Maureen Dowd, oh, that right there is the Mother’s Milk. That right there is the Keys to the Kingdom. I must pay for this one, and if I’m not willing to pay for it, I shouldn’t have it. That other stuff, I can have for the asking.

    Good logic? Well, let’s look into it.

    What kinds of things do we call “news”? What, exactly, am I selling to you when I print up a newspaper, and you buy it? Let’s see…President Bush may have brokered some important deals at the G-8 summit, and then he might have rubbed Chancellor Merkel’s back and gotten that hilarious reaction out of her (which unbelievably, I’m told, some people have not actually seen so here is your link). Anyway, I could tell you about the deals to which President Bush agreed, or I could tell you about the Merkel incident, or I could tell you about both. If I choose to tell you about both, I put the deals in one section of my paper and the backrub in a wholly different section of my paper. Or not. In making that decision, I use the very best judgment I can muster. This is the job of the editor, and it is one of anticipating what it is you are going to want. It is an objective of “superior mediocrity”; there is no standard for excellence in what I’m doing, only adequacy. What I’m endeavoring to do, is avoid the catastrophe of you buying my paper, reading it, and then being told elsewhere about something you would like to know, and learning about it for the first time even though you bought my paper.

    This is why newspaper editors aren’t very happy people, I think. There really is no way to be an excellent newspaper editor. The very best newspaper editor, out of all of ‘em, is going to be the best because he makes the decisions most generally expected of him; if he wants to be better than some other editor, he has to wait for that other editor to make an anomalous decision, and then make the equivalent decision himself without the anomaly. There is no other way to compete. It is a profession of superior adherence to orthodoxy, a profession of non-deviance. Non-deviance, from a standard that isn’t actually defined anywhere.

    But my objective is to define why the New York Times stock price is slipping, not why newspaper editors in general are unhappy.

    So I may deliver to you, some facts, and I may categorize those facts in such a way that you, a reader endeavoring to learn certain things, may easily find them. This is valuable. But it is on a downslide, because if you don’t learn about the Merkel Massage from my paper, you may learn about it from a zillion other places. Now, if it’s two centuries ago and you and I are both travelling on foot, in opposite directions, and meet up — now we’re having a different conversation. I know something you don’t know, and within minutes we’re exchanging precious things. We will alter our travel schedules for it by setting up that night’s camp on that spot, and probably form a lifetime companionship. Life goes on, however, and in 2006 news isn’t quite that valuable anymore; at least, news from a particular source is not that valuable anymore.

    Okay, next. I may form an opinion about the state of affairs, from the news. And therein lies my critique. The New York Times appears to be run as a kingdom, like any other printed newspaper; a kingdom in which those who gather the facts, may ascend to the rank of mere knights, whereas those who form opinions from the facts, soar to the highest levels of nobility. Bush is a frat boy. Bush is anti-intellectual. Bush does not take his job seriously.

    These all may be true, but here in real-life-land, they’d still be relatively worthless. I’m sure the hardcore left-wing moonbats would have to agree with me about that. Fresh off their latest gut-chuckle from watching the Merkel-backrub video yet again, propositioned to sacrifice their opportunity to have learned about the clip in exchange for simply getting Maureen Dowd’s take on it second-hand, there’d be few takers.

    Yet The Times acts as if Maureen Dowd’s personal opinion is the premium product amongst their offerings. If the New York Times is a watch shop, this is the thing that goes in the lockable cabinet, which you may not inspect until you ask for the help of the staff.

    And then there is the point of Dowd’s column. One of those shining, jeweled opinions about the state of affairs, that isn’t even an opinion about the state of affairs. It’s yet another European-style opinion, encrusted with that wonderful lodestone, the word “should.” The opinion about what other people should do. The opinion of what Maureen Dowd would be doing if she were President, which she is not.

    If the Dowd product is the creme de la creme from the New York Times catalog, said lodestone is the creme de la creme within that product. In real life, this is the most ordinary out of the ordinary.

    This is worth even less than the inference drawn about the state of affairs. This is exactly like the beverage order of the person in line behind you at your local Starbuck’s. To a consumer of the New York Times, this is simply a personal preference, formed by a person who is not him. Nothing more.

    My own FAQ addresses this in attempting to answer the question I get most often, “Why do you call yourself ‘The Blog That Nobody Reads’?”

    Humility: I have a blog. That doesn’t make me more correct about things, or even for that matter smarter, than someone who doesn’t have a blog, or even someone who’s never heard of a “blog.” My blog started out as a way to make notes on things, and record hyperlinks supporting those notes, on the web where I could get to the information from any location. It was never really even designed, as a primary objective, to be read. People are reading my blog now. I notice other people, who are watched by lots and lots of people and know they’re being watched by lots and lots of people, gradually swing around to the supposition that they are smart because of this, and therefore don’t need to research the opinions they have. Hey, look at all the people watching me, I must be right. I don’t want to fall into that trap.

    This is reason #1, out of many. Anyway, Maureen Dowd, it would appear, has fallen into that trap. Along with her employer.

    Now all of the above, you might say, is just a windy rant about how I shouldn’t be forced to purchase a Times Select subscription just to get Maureen Dowd’s opinion. But my personal opinion about what the Times should do, is worth nothing more than Dowd’s opinion about what the President should do. What might be worth just a little bit more to the nobodies who come by to read my blog, I suspect, could be the connection I make between this and the steady trend of increasing alienation between the Times, and the people who read it. This still isn’t worth much, because I’m not the first person to notice it. And of course, there’s always that troubling possibility that I’m completely wrong.

    But it’s an accurate reflection of what I, myself, am after when I crack open a newspaper. And I suspect I’m not alone. Stuff that happened, I’d like to know, and I’d like to know early on. What I’m to think about what happened, you know what? I can figure that out for myself thank you very much.

    That’s life. But fortunately for the nobility of the newspaper empires, such as Duchess Dowd, real life is not reflected within their kingdoms. The nobility, therein, manage to pull in much bigger paychecks, and I suspect claim much better parking spaces, than the knights who figure out what’s actually happening, and thus offer a substantially more valuable product. The Kingdom is supposed to be plugged in to what “everybody” is thinking, but if it were, the knights would be enjoying positions of prestige and power, while the nobility would clean up after their horses. But the walls are up, and the cloistered court is in place. If the nobility manages to appreciate this, I have doubts about their gratitude being shared by the New York Times stockholders.

    Update: The left-wing website Common Dreams gets ahold of an editorial in a paper from my old stomping grounds, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which in turn tries to draw a parallel between the Merkel thing and that other deal where President Clinton received sexual favors from a much-younger female subordinate, while on the phone to members of Congress about troop deployments to Bosnia, and coached his secretary to tell investigators “we were never alone, right?” And perjury before the grand jury, perjury in the Paula Jones civil suit, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power. The editorial also makes an argument that our current President’s behavior constitutes sexual harrassment according to some busybody United Nations rulebook. Draw your own conclusions.

    For The Children

    Friday, July 21st, 2006

    For The Children

    Sen. Hillary Clinton has demonstrated the wisdom of TIK #108.

    Thing I Know #108. People give each other unlimited allowance to live their personal lives however they will, until it comes to the raising of children.

    You skip Christmas and celebrate Kwaanza, it’s your business. Fly the flag upside-down in your front yard, that’s your decision. Start a new religion that involves covering your naked body with chocolate syrup and mayonnaise and baying at the full moon at midnight, more power to ya. The rest of us will keep quite, or babble incoherently about how wonderful it is to have freedom of speech and our strength lies in our diversity.

    Let your kids watch too much television or play too many video games, and everybody — everybody — has an opinion about it. And, suddenly, no, we’re not all that interested in letting you do your stuff the way you’re going to do it. We have to think about the chiiiiiiillldrreeeeeeeennnnnnn……..

    Which, for the record, I’m not saying is incorrect. But I find it a little hypocritical to say we honor diversity by allowing everyone to live their own lives however they will, and suddenly we want to slap a bunch of rules on how they raise their kids. It makes me question the level of commitment we have to protecting the private decisions people will make. It’s like we grant license to others to disagree with us culturally, so long as they keep it within a single generation. That’s the boundary.

    And Sen. Clinton opines…it makes one wonder what the event is that got this started, hmmm…

    Madison Ave. ad execs are so bent on taking control of America’s children, they’d put computer chips in kids’ brains if they could, Sen. Hillary Clinton said yesterday.

    Saying advertisers have found so many new ways to get at kids through video games and the Internet, Clinton warned that we’re verging on a society out of a grim science fiction novel.

    “At the rate that technology is advancing, people will be implanting chips in our children to advertise directly into their brains and tell them what kind of products to buy,” Clinton said at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

    The New York Democrat said the country was performing a “massive experiment” on kids who average more than six hours a day with media and advertising, soaking it up through TV, computers, games and iPods. She said the fastest growing advertising market is the 6- and under set, and that children’s health is already being hurt by products like Camel’s candy-flavored cigarettes and junk food sold with tips for video games – used to sell more junk food.

    “People are spending billions and billions of dollars enticing children basically to be obsessed with food,” she said. “These foods are almost universally unhealthy.” Clinton has offered legislation to study the effects of the “advertising-saturated, media-intense” world on kids.

    Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University, said Clinton and other politicians like to attack advertising because it’s easier than trying to ban bad food products or fund broad education programs.

    “To go after advertising really makes no sense,” he said. “It’s sort of a backdoor tack, but it’s the safer one politically.”

    Also, for whatever it’s worth, as far as the general concern I agree with the Senator. Our kids are being made more vulnerable to suggestion. Anybody who watches a japanese cartoon with them, for a minute or two, can see it’s true.

    Not that I have room to complain. I wasn’t sitting there like a little version of Spock, or Sherlock Holmes, indulging in crystal-clear, cool-headed forensic thinking when Bill Cosby was trying to push chocolate pudding and jello on me between segments of Wiley Coyote chasing the Road Runner. I was half asleep. I probably drooled on my pajamas.

    Which is kind of encouraging in it’s own way, since it’s difficult to assert the problem is really getting worse.

    Fine Line

    Friday, July 21st, 2006

    Fine Line

    Go to T.F. Boggs, Bored Soldier! If you spent your day on the “innernets” surfing elsewhere, and didn’t go see this guy, rest assured you could have spent it better. He’s on his second deployment, voluntarily, which makes him a hero in my book.

    And in his latest post he makes me think. He starts out saying something with which I personally disagree, and by the time he’s done I’m persuaded toward his point-of-view. YES, it can happen. You guys from work, and all you ex-wives, you just shut up m’kay?

    Many patriotic Americans want to say that it is impossible to support the troops while not supporting the mission they are currently undertaking. They think if you argue against the war there is no possible way that you can possibly appreciate the work soldiers do day in and day out. I disagree. I know my saying this will probably anger more than a few of my readers but bear with me and consider my reasoning.

    Not too long ago I was a subscriber to this train of thought. I often wondered how people could support what we were doing if they thought what we were doing was wrong. It sounded like a logical impossibility to me. There is no way I could support someone while they continued to do something that I wholeheartedly disagreed with. That would be like supporting Nazi soldiers at concentration camps who didn�t necessarily agree with what they had to do but did it anyway because they were commanded to. How could anyone do such a thing?

    Over the past couple of weeks though, I have come upon two individuals that have changed my opinion: Ben Stein and Cher.

    Like any thought that brings new value to a somewhat moldy contemplative process, Sergeant Boggs cuts a fine line but it’s a line worth cutting. His litmus test is…

    What makes Mr. Stein�s and Cher�s disapproval of the war while at the same time applauding the troops okay in my book is their unwillingness to undermine the war effort. There is a difference between disagreeing with the war on reasonable (or not so reasonable in most cases) grounds and disagreeing with the war while at the same time providing aid and comfort to the enemy like so many people do when they publicly denounce the war and America for fighting it.

    So if I can rephrase where he’s going with this: It is okay to support the troops while opposing the mission, so long as you are supporting the troops as well as the goals of the mission, or at the very least, not actively working against the goals of the mission — limiting your opposition to the policy that results in the engagement of the mission, and perhaps the tactics of the mission.

    Once you go beyond the reasonable territory to which Ben Stein and Cher have respectfully limited themselves, and start to undermine the objectives of the mission, actively, passively, or simply by lending your celebrity name to others who would undermine it — you’re in a whole different ball game. At that point, you can’t support the troops, and remain logically consistent. At that point…well, the Sergeant says it best.

    …when you cross the line like Code Pink and ANSWER have done you are no longer a supporter of the troops: you are a corroborator with terrorists and are just as responsible for the blood of Coalition soldiers as those who pull triggers and lob mortars.

    Artwork

    Friday, July 21st, 2006

    Artwork

    Two pieces of my amateurish artwork, free to download. One displayed previously, the other one not.

    I don’t know where we got this notion that there’s something wrong with questioning the patriotism of people after they’ve been going on and on about America, multiple paragraphs without saying a single good thing. Where’d we get that from? Doesn’t free speech mean you can question whatever you want, in whatever you choose to question, regardless of whether your question is even reasonable or not?

    Noonan III

    Friday, July 21st, 2006

    Noonan III

    Peggy Noonan hits it out of the park yet again. She’s much more willing to accept the word of the elitist academics about MMGW (this blog’s acronym for “Man Made Global Warming”), but in mid-swallow she feels something getting stuck in her throat.

    During the past week’s heat wave–it hit 100 degrees in New York City Monday–I got thinking, again, of how sad and frustrating it is that the world’s greatest scientists cannot gather, discuss the question of global warming, pore over all the data from every angle, study meteorological patterns and temperature histories, and come to a believable conclusion on these questions: Is global warming real or not? If it is real, is it necessarily dangerous? What exactly are the dangers? Is global warming as dangerous as, say, global cooling would be? Are we better off with an Earth that is getting hotter or, what with the modern realities of heating homes and offices, and the world energy crisis, and the need to conserve, does global heating have, in fact, some potential side benefits, and can those benefits be broadened and deepened? Also, if global warning is real, what must–must–the inhabitants of the Earth do to meet its challenges? And then what should they do to meet them?

    You would think the world’s greatest scientists could do this, in good faith and with complete honesty and a rigorous desire to discover the truth. And yet they can’t. Because science too, like other great institutions, is poisoned by politics. Scientists have ideologies. They are politicized.

    All too many of them could be expected to enter this work not as seekers for truth but agents for a point of view who are eager to use whatever data can be agreed upon to buttress their point of view.

    And so, in the end, every report from every group of scientists is treated as a political document. And no one knows what to believe. So no consensus on what to do can emerge.

    If global warming is real, and if it is new, and if it is caused not by nature and her cycles but man and his rapacity, and if it in fact endangers mankind, scientists will probably one day blame The People for doing nothing.

    But I think The People will have a greater claim to blame the scientists, for refusing to be honest, for operating in cliques and holding to ideologies. For failing to be trustworthy.

    I have nothing to add to this. Or, it’s more precise to state that I do have a few things to add, but if I were to start doing so, I wouldn’t finish by lunchtime. And I happen to like eating.

    Well, I do have one thing I think I can slice off from my giant mountain of skepticism, and stick on to this subject in the form of a modest molehill. Among the seemingly-endless list of things people are doing, that they wouldn’t be doing if they really believed in MMGW…and the things people are not doing, that they would be doing if they believed…are the things dealing with cows. I’ve commented before on the methane that comes out of both ends of the cow.

    Did you know methane is twenty-five times more harmful to our climate than carbon dioxide? Did you know a cow gives off 280 liters of methane each day, more if there are issues involving the low quality of said cow’s diet? Did you know that as of the year 2000, there were estimated to be about 1.3 billion cows on this planet, and the number is growing steadily?

    Environmentally, they’re filthy, disgusting animals. Like I said before, they are burping, farting whores, and we should be trying to get rid of them. Thinning the herd. Thinking up new ways to get along without them. Goat cheese. Veggie burgers. Shrimp tacos. Soy milk. Government-funded transition programs to get those cattle ranchers breeding rabbits, or chickens, or maybe planting some corn and potatoes. And if you really, really, honest-to-gosh need to have that sirloin barbeque to celebrate the arrival of a relaxing weekend…thirty-five dollars an ounce for low-grade chuck. Let’s just see how much you want it.

    Seriously, why aren’t we doing that, or something like that? This is supposed to be a real threat, you know. How come I can buy a cheeseburger for the light-side-of a buck, anytime I have a mind to do so? Isn’t our planet supposed to be in jeopardy? The welfare of our children and our children’s children? How ’bout it?

    Timberframe Home Guy

    Friday, July 21st, 2006

    Timberframe Home Guy

    It may not be the most fascinating blog on the ‘net to the community of net-denizens as a whole, but it’s got a great shot at being the most underrated. The “Building A Timberframe Home from Scratch” guy about whom I was giving fanfare three weeks ago, got to take a helicopter ride over his house.

    Cool beans.

    From what I know about such a thing, I would expect such stunning pictorials to be a rarity from here on in, now that the frame has been finished. But for the technically-minded who are really into building houses from scratch, the fun is just starting, I should think. Anyway, whatever floats your boat, he’s got pictures of everything that’s been going on, since he and his wife were first scoping out the site for the foundation. Interesting read.