Archive for August, 2006

On the Blah, Blah, Blah

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

On the Blah, Blah, Blah

Item!

I live in Sacramento. Due to certain events in my personal life this year, during the period from about Christmas to right about now, I have not gotten out much. I live about a mile from work, so I get to see developments on the road within that mile on a daily basis. I have to pick up my boy and drop him off again, so I get to supervise events on the freeway and backroads within, oh, twenty miles — about weekly. Outside of that, my motoring has been entirely occasional.

Which, I think, puts me in a great position to comment on trends. So, on the chattering away on cell phones by my fellow motorists: From my perspective, within the Big Tomato, it has been on a rise I can only fairly call meteoric. I would say three years ago it was one out of ten drivers, two years ago it was two out of ten, last year it was three out of ten, now it’s nearly half of them. Chatting away, 75 miles an hour, maybe 85, maybe more, blah, blah, blah.

Item!

I have gotten really pissy about drivers texting away, not necessarily blabbing away, behind the wheel. Although I’ve done it, plenty of times. It’s one of those things that is so wrong, it doesn’t matter if I’ve done it or not. But while maintaining my laser-like focus on the subject at hand, as any decent writer does, I allowed myself to wander down a bunny trail…

One more thing. When time and space permit, I’d like to expound on my little rant about talking on cell phones, without the benefit of hands-free devices.

We have studies that say when you talk on a hands-free device, your level of distraction is on par with what you’d be experiencing if you held the cell phone up to your face. Those studies are bullshit, you hear me? I live in the Big Tomato. I see people talking on their cell phones all the time — not-hands-free. Up to their faces.

It is…let me stress this properly…it is PHYSICALLY FREAKIN’ IMPOSSIBLE to do a check to your blind spot, before a lane change, while talking on a cell phone, without being completely absolutely no-mistakingly obvious that you’re doing a head-check. It is a deeply conspicuous movement you have to do. Those fuckers are not doing it, I guaran-damn-tee you. It is up to everybody else to get the hell out of their way, they know not what the hell they’re doing. I can personally vouch for this, swearing an oath to that effect, just by watching them. They are glancing in their passing mirrors — if they’re even doing that — and then breezily just sliding on over. Hope you’re not there when they do.

Item!

The Sacramento state assembly has passed a bill that would impose a $50 fine on drivers caught blah, blah, blah-ing away on their cell phones behind the wheel.

Item!

The morning guys on the radio, who — deeply distrust liberals, but aren’t all about promoting Republicans, just want to find the common-sense solution, and on the way do as decent a job as they can spotting the crooks, liars and charlatans and talking-point-peddlers — thereby ending up agreeing with me a whole lot of the time — blasted the bill, which, by the way, has my whole-hearted support. Their position is that anyone who believes hands-free devices make your phone conversation safer, such as myself, is being duped by a bunch of crooks. My position is that he who believes hands-free devices don’t make the conversation safe, is the one getting duped by a bunch of crooks.

Item!

The guys and I had a brief water-cooler conversation about this yesterday, following the radio program…the following points came up.

  • This is one of those deals where I keep hearing “studies say” or “all the studies say” but it’s a little difficult to get someone to actually trot out the study or studies…and this kind of situation comes up a lot more than most people think.
  • What could very well be happening, is the studies say “you’re still distracted when you talk on a hands-free device” and people interpret it to say “the level of distraction is just as big when you’re on a hands-free device” which is technically a far-different thing, although to the layman, it might not seem to be.
  • The consensus came to rest on a position agreeing with mine: It is wombat-rabies bollywonkers crazy to say, when you’re holding a cell phone up to your ear, and about to make a lane change, you’re no more distracted than you would be talking on a headset. Physically, this cannot possibly be true, and it doesn’t matter how many studies say otherwise.
  • Some of these “studies” have been said to conclude the level of distraction involved in using a cell phone, is on par with the level of distraction involved in being drunk, and man, you know that’s gotta be a pile of crap.
  • So anyhoo…we live in the Age of Google. I don’t have to speculate on this stuff. I don’t have to form my prejudices on extremely short-sighted and under-informed opinions like some guy living a hundred years ago. I’m a twenty-first century search-engine-literate man. I can draw upon a tiny sampling of items, and form my short-sighted and under-informed prejudices based on those.

    So let’s get to it.

    Actually, I wasn’t too surprised by what I found. Let’s take the biggest group first…I found, in reverse chronological order, this and this and this and this and this. Just what was promised; “lots of studies,” maybe even, “all the studies.” One problem: The same names keep popping up. Frank Drews. David Strayer. William Johnson. Human Events.

    This creates two issues. Issue One, whether the effort is deliberate or not, the public is being programmed. It isn’t hard to find people who consider themselves to be well-educated on this issue, willing to chirp up — even taking the initiative to chirp up — and chime in with that “independent” thought, “all the studies say talking on a headset is just as distracting as holding the cell up to your face.” Well, it really isn’t “all” the studies…although to be fair to Drs. Drews, Strayer and Johnson, and Human Events, there are some other studies saying the same thing like this one and this one. So I’m not going to go so far and say “Aha! It’s just Dr. Drews, Strayer and Johnson, and Human Events, nobody else has studies saying that!” because that would not be true.

    The point stands nevertheless. Unanimity amongst the “studies,” as is often the case, turns out to be purely an illusion. Those three are, intentionally or not, “flooding” the study pool. Note the timeframe. They went on a tear in 2003, again in 2004, again in June of this year, and again just now.

    Which brings us to Issue Two. Why do Drs. Drews, Strayer, Johnson, and Human Events keep doing this? It really doesn’t matter what their financial ties are, when you think about it. Something is motivating them to do this. They have a bug of some kind up their collective butts, and they like to do “studies” that find a certain conclusion. Well, studies aren’t supposed to be doing that; studies are supposed to find whatever conclusion the data will tell the studies to find. Could Drs. Drew, Strayer and/or Johnson set out on one of their studies, gather the data, and, looking over it to find the patterns in the most scientific, objective, unbiased way possible — come to learn something contrary to their own biases? If so, would the conclusion make it into print? Let’s just say I have my doubts.

    That you can go the other way — gather the data, look it over with a bias toward saying the opposite, and, whether influenced by the bias or not, post a conclusion compatible with that bias — has been proven. Plantronics, which makes bluetooth headsets much like the Cardo unit I use, has financial ties to yet another study two years ago that said the exact opposite.

    A new study finds that drivers’ reaction time, accuracy and consistency of speed improved significantly when they used a headset with their cell phone, compared with using a handheld phone.

    The study is one of the few to analyze physical impairment experienced while driving and using a mobile phone; to date most other studies have focused solely on the mental distraction of using a mobile phone while driving.

    The study was commissioned by Plantronics, which manufactures headsets. It was conducted by Design Science, an independent human factors research firm that has conducted other driving-related studies for a wide range of organizations including the U.S. Department of Transportation.

    Now this blog, which nobody actually reads anyway, is named after a library administrator who figured out the size of the earth before the Time of Christ, by peeking into holes in the ground. We’re all about ignoring studies…or, at least, subordinating the studies to our own observations, when studies and our observations run in directly opposite directions. And our observation is this:

    People who do lane changes to the left, when they talk on cell phones held up to their left ears, do not check their blind spots. They simply don’t. It’s provable. And it’s asserted pretty substantially, to the point you could bet serious money on it with high confidence, they’re not even checking their passing mirrors.

    They just move over.

    It’s easily observed. It’s proven. If a study says otherwise, the study is wrong. If these chuckleheads were learning as much about their blind spots while talking on their cell phones, as well as I learn about my own blind spot when I’m on a hands-free device, their body motions would be so incredibly awkward, and so easily observed, there would be no mistaking it…and they’d probably be imposing a wholly different traffic hazard just going through that snaky body motion. It borders on the physically impossible. And to do the proper head check without me being able to see you’re doing it, protrudes well into that neighborhood of impossibility. It simply cannot be done.

    And like I said the other day, those fuckers are not checking their blind spots, they’re just moving over without looking.

    This is about 99% of the folks talking on cell phones without the benefit of a hands-free device. And forty percent of the folks on the road, give or take, are doing exactly that. It’s scary, scary stuff.

    I’m pretty big on the libertarian, freedom-from-tyranny angle. I’m one of the “Where does it talk about fire halls in the Constitution, huh?” kinds of guys. But I know of no constitutional provision, state or federal, direct or implied, that calls up a problem with a state regulation against phone use while driving.

    And, much as I hate to use those four words heralding the arrival of the nanny state, the four words do apply…the time has come.

    But it should be noted, we have been here before.

    Update 9/1/06: Flashback to this great piece of faux-sexist humor from Car & Driver that was brought to my attention back in May.

    This morning on I-95, I looked over to my left and there was a woman in a brand new Cadillac doing 65 mph with her face up next to her rear view mirror putting on her eyeliner.

    I looked away for a couple seconds and when I looked back she was halfway over in my lane, still working on that makeup.

    As a man, I don’t scare easily. But she scared me so much; I dropped my electric shaver, which knocked the donut out of my other hand.

    In all the confusion of trying to straighten out the car using my knees against the steering wheel, it knocked my cell phone away from my ear, which fell into the coffee between my legs, splashed and burned Big Jim and the Twins, ruined the damn phone, soaked my trousers and disconnected an important call.

    Damn women drivers!

    Memo For File XXIII

    Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

    Memo For File XXIII

    This is about knots…with an emphasis on useful stuff you need to know for sailing…

    This Is Good XX

    Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

    This Is Good XX

    This is the paradox to writing about politics, and to writing in general as well, I think. You create something thoroughly enjoyable, and when you do, much of the time you narrow down the audience. To create material that re-opens the potential audience, oftentimes you have to water down the quality of said material.

    Our blogger pal Good Lieutenant at Mein Blogovault has a hilarious post up that mirrors what he wrote for the Jawa Report. It summarizes the whole utterly ridiculous Plamegate affair for the benefit of…well, I’m afraid, for the benefit of those who are such die-hard political junkies that they don’t need to be told what happened. So as a practical matter, the audience has been narrowed down to something needle-thin. But for entertainment value, you should head on over and take a look…

    …Joe Wilson is a liar and a hack. Valerie Plame is a super-secret media whore. Rove is a non-factor. Novak was doing his job. Russert is silent. Mitchell is silent. Bush is vindicated. Cheney is off the non-hook. Keith Olbermann is a jackass. Chris Matthews is in catatonic depression. Mark Ash and Jason Leopold are on suicide watch….

    The whole thing reads just like that.

    Comedy GOLD, Lieutenant. Your temporary field promotion to Captain is in the mail.

    Now, some nice folks out there might not be political “junkies,” like I guess I am since I understood every word of the Lieutenant’s manifesto, and was laughing my ass off about it. Other folks might, similarly, understand all of it, but might have friends and family who would not. So for those who need a “primer” on this utterly ludicrous scandal-that-never-wuz, I submit this primer put together by Christopher Hitchens. Chock full of good protein, but easily digested.

    In his July 12 column in the Washington Post, Robert Novak had already partly exposed this paranoid myth by stating plainly that nobody had leaked anything, or outed anyone, to him. On the contrary, it was he who approached sources within the administration and the CIA and not the other way around. But now we have the final word on who did disclose the name and occupation of Valerie Plame, and it turns out to be someone whose opposition to the Bush policy in Iraq has�like Robert Novak’s�long been a byword in Washington. It is particularly satisfying that this admission comes from two of the journalists�Michael Isikoff and David Corn�who did the most to get the story wrong in the first place and the most to keep it going long beyond the span of its natural life.

    Have fun. Just don’t expect the labors of your reading to actually conclude in anything of substance. Part of the reason that the summary of this whole thing is noteworthy, is, that the substance leading to that summary, is anything but.

    I guess that’s politics for ya. We keep on assuming everything will make sense in the end. From where do we get that notion? We’re constantly left asking ourselves this…and the next thing that pops up, we go right back to assuming it again.

    Imitation is the Sincerest Form XV

    Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

    Imitation is the Sincerest Form XV

    Thing I Know #138 is: It’s very difficult to acquire good judgment without experience. It’s very difficult to acquire experience without bad judgment.

    Now, I don’t know if Dr. Thomas Sowell reads my blog. I would suspect hardly anybody does. But how, then, do you explain this gem which appeared within the good doctor’s “random thoughts” yesterday on Townhall.

    Someone said that good judgment comes from experience — which in turn comes from bad judgment.

    I’ve been robbed, but I’m not calling the police. I’m quite flattered…besides of which, I can’t claim credit for inventing this in the first place. All I can claim to have done, is to have personally verified there’s a lot of truth in it, and I suspect many others can make the same claim.

    But now we’re settling into a pattern of suspecting, with no small amount of self-deprecating humor, that perhaps Doctor Sowell is among the “nobodies” who never read my blog. Eh, perhaps it’s a remote possibility, but it’s fun to think about. And in all seriousness, it would be a high honor if it were true.

    We’re All Such Independent Thinkers

    Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

    We’re All Such Independent Thinkers

    Everybody wants to be an independent thinker, it seems. So many people appear to think it’s easy. Well, it isn’t. Being an independent thinker takes a lot of — and you could never guess this if you were not experienced with it — humility. That’s because everyone has what it takes to digest a talking point, regurgitate it without fact-checking it, and believe against the evidence that they’ve mulled it over. You have to learn from experience to be an independent thinker. You have to admit when you’ve been duped.

    And the sad fact is, most people don’t do this. Most people haven’t even spent time in an environment where they can be duped…and, subsequently, be placed in a situation where they’ll be forced to admit that’s what happened. Most people are cloistered within happy lifestyles in which they can be duped, blissfully, six different ways before breakfast, and never become aware of it.

    I can prove this easily.

    A society chock full of critical thinkers…we wouldn’t have, or tolerate, anniversaries of terrible events like Hurricane Katrina. What in the BLUEFUGG is the point of an anniversary? It is nothing more than a commandment from a layer of elites way-on-high, down to the dirty-unwashed commoners, to spend lots of time thinking about a certain thing, masquerading beneath a costume of “news.”

    It’s a year after Katrina. How does this affect you? Maybe pretty drastically — if you happen to be living one year ago. But you’re not. You’re here. You’re now. The hurricane isn’t happening. This is not news; it simply isn’t.

    Now, how many “Katrina, One Year Later” stories have you seen this week? On the boob tube? On the “innernets”? On the radio? In newspapers? In magazines? It’s freakin’ everywhere. Those in the news, really aren’t doing an adequate job of talking about anything else. Nothing else going on? Come on, now, you can’t seriously say that. Compared to the one-year anniversary of something that happened a year ago and isn’t happening now, we got a lot of stuff going on that, quite simply, is more important.

    Ah, but anniversaries affect how people feel. Yes, I’m sure that’s it. The oh-so-unbiased and oh-so-objective editors who have no political axe to grind whatsoever, are simply being sensitive and responsive to the way people feel on the first anniversary of a hurricane that’s not around anymore.

    Okay, let’s go for that.

    In less than six months, we’re going to have the sixty-fifth anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066 in which thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned in violation of their constitutional rights.

    Gee, that should arouse some pretty spicy feelings, right? Especially now, in this day & age wherein President Bush is oppressing the civil liberties of American citizens by signing executive orders authorizing their intern…

    Whoops, that’s right, I forgot. He’s not doing that. Nothing close to it.

    Yeah, but I’ll bet he’s going to do it any day now! The Founding Fathers wanted us to be deeply suspicious of our government doing stuff like that, waking up every single morning expecting our government to encroach on our civil liberties, regardless of what a wonderful job the government did vindicating itself the day before. Right?

    Right. That’s the essence of a patriotic attitude here in America.

    So…a 65th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 would be pretty constructive. And patriotic. What a useful reminder that would be, of where we might be going.

    Maybe even a useful reminder, for those who care to observe it, of the decent job the current administration has done balancing security against liberty — when viewed against the backdrop of history, and previous presidents who executed a far clumsier, and downright inferior job, of this delicate task.

    And we’re big into the “lessons learned” thing, which is why we’re having a Katrina Plus One media orgy in the first place. That is what it’s all about. Right? Right?

    So…bring on that 65th anniversary. I’m sure it’s coming. The letters G-O-O-G-L-E will be tastefully wrapped in barbed wire when you go to the search engine’s main page. Time Magazine will have a splash cover with a sinister looking FDR looking down into the camera, with the smoke from his jauntily-angled cigarette swirling maliciously in the air around him, while in the foreground a pathetic little Japanese kid peeks out from behind a fence. Editorial cartoons will pockmark the newspapers, all about this terrible thing Roosevelt did 65 years ago. Perhaps a special-issue dime will come out in 2007, with Roosevelt’s face taken off the heads-side and big letters that say “WE ARE SORRY” stamped in his place. Maybe we’ll even have a movie or two.

    No…no, I don’t think so. Let’s step back in the real world for a second here. It’s not happening. That isn’t what “anniversaries” are all about. They are simply cogs carefully installed in the machinery to spin a certain way, mesh a certain way, and control what the dirty little people think about things, according to what the watchmaker has in mind.

    The anniversary is just one device among money in the mystic’s toolbelt. Think on this. How many times a year are we told “everybody” is concerned about something? And what machinery do we have in place, to lift such sentiments, accurately, from the bedrock social strata that really is “everybody”? We are given messages like this constantly. Multiple times weekly, let alone annually. And on what “everybody” is really thinking, we don’t know a tenth of a percent about anything. Nor, when you think about it for a while, should you really even care.

    But in a democratic society, big, important people have a great deal invested in what “everybody” is thinking. Or…what “everybody” can be fooled into thinking that “everybody” else is thinking.

    And so we have anniversaries of things. That is all they are supposed to be, and that is all they are.

    Must-Tards IX

    Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

    Must-Tards IX

    Annie Althouse has earned my respect. However, on this one…well, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree.

    Yahoo News reports that Matt Stone — one of the two “South Park” creators — says that marines guarding Saddam Hussein have forced him to watch their movie “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut,” which depicts Saddam in hell having a sexual relationship with Satan.
    :
    Let me add that I love the movie. And I’ve always assumed the Saddam watched the movie himself on his own in the days before we invaded.

    But showing it to him now is just an attempt to annoy and humiliate him. We should be above that. [emphasis mine]

    It’s not that I out-and-out disagree…but I am just so gawdawful tired of that threadbare cliche. This country really isn’t “above” nuthin’, and I’ve gotten a little bit jaundiced about the idea of supposing that we “should” be “above” such things.

    There is something “humiliating” about being the only entity involved in a conflict of any kind among several disparate entities, who is called upon to follow certain rules the other parties are not being called upon to follow. Now, it is true that you can embrace a certain kind of nobility by lashing yourself to a shorter leash in some situations, and inspiring your counterparts to rise to your level. Some situatoins are like that. This one is not.

    There are people who hate us. And if we follow certain rules of civility and decorum and non-humiliation…guess what? They’ll keep hating us. If we put on pink tutus, they’ll keep hating us. If we bring the prisoners at gitmo a nice chocolate cupcake for breakfast every day, they’ll keep hating us. If we change the Pledge of Allegiance to “One Nation Under Allah” they’ll keep hating us.

    Get my drift? It don’t matter. So…what in the hell is the point?

    Anytime you use the word “should,” you should be able to define what happens if the “should” isn’t done. That remains true for all “should” sentences, including the foregoing. So, let me just say, when you start “should”-ing people to death and “must”-ing people to death, you raise the question — what happens if we don’t do what you want? And in this exercise, Prof. Althouse fails to articulate what happens if we continue to humiliate Hussein (assuming we’re doing that).

    And failing to articulate that, she’s denigrated herself into simply being an unthinking mouthpiece. A mouthpiece brilliant in other areas, maybe, but a mouthpiece nonetheless. We make Saddam Hussein watch a movie…or we don’t. As a practical matter, it makes no difference one way or t’other.

    Dr. Melissa Clouthier, another female whose intellect I admire (yes, they’re out there), addresses this with a handy quote from one “Sam”:

    Cripes. I can’t imagine a moral universe where law professors defend the imprisoned Saddam Hussein from teasing that pales in comparison to that routinely absorbed by fat twelve-year-olds.

    Actually, having his dignity defended by sissy moralists must be as least as humililiating as a South Park episode. Stop it, Ann. Your motherly coddling of Saddam cruelly mocks his swarthy manliness. Have you no decency?

    Eh, I say we cut Professor Althouse some slack here. She’s probably having an off-day. Other than that, I stand with Sam.

    Teasing. For a mass-murderer. Who gives a rat’s ass.

    On Karr

    Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

    On Karr

    Thanks to Boortz, we have a theory about John Mark Karr. A theory that actually makes some sense. Well…some sense. More than any other I’ve heard so far.

    Here’s Mark Karr in Thailand. He’s just been fired from a teaching job. Perhaps he feared that he was facing charges in Thailand involving his sexual obsession with children. How hard is it to figure out that you would much rather face misdemeanor charges in California than who-knows-how-many years in a Thai jail? So …. confess to JonBenet’s murder, get a taxpayer-funded ride back to the U.S. while sipping on champagne and gobbling prawns, then give up the DNA sample, watch the case fall apart, and head to California to face your misdemeanor charge. Plus .. he gets all the publicity and fame he so badly wanted! He was even talking about Johnny Depp playing him in a movie!

    I find it to be really sad, and at the same time somewhat comical, that Occam’s Razor says this is the real deal. All other theories involve entities multiplied beyond their necessity. This one defines the baseline necessity. Well, so far.

    So far.

    Why We Don’t Believe You

    Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

    Why We Don’t Believe You

    Via blogger friend Buck Pennington of Exile in Portales, I come to find out about this excellent essay by Mary Katharine Ham called “Why We Don’t Believe You.” Chock full of lean, fresh meat…critiquing some stuff from the mainstream media that is supposed to be lean fresh meat, but is mostly crap. They’ve been called on this stuff already, but Ms. Ham does a better job than most. Good find, Buck.

    A Poll I’d Like To See II

    Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

    A Poll I’d Like To See II

    Back in May, I came up with a poll I’d like to see. Now, I don’t know why none of the poll-makers, not even one, have taken the hint and put out an actual poll with some of my questions on it. The polls we do see just ask the same questions over and over again, and most of those have to do with the approval ratings of some guy who’s going to stop being President in about 28 months. The irrelevance is striking, but the lack of creativity is even moreso. So it seems, to me, the pollsters would have done well to steal a few of my questions for their polls, just to keep the polls fresh and fun, if for no other reason. But I don’t want to tell them how to do their jobs.

    Well it seems every time former President Jimmy Carter opens his mouth, not that I have long to wait for that to happen — he gives me more ideas for a poll I’d like to see. Now in all fairness to Jimmy, you do realize, don’t you, that he’s quite a long way from whistling in the wilderness on this stuff right? We have a lot of people who think his points about President Bush and Prime Minister Blair are right on the money. So far as I can tell, all of these people, or nearly all of them, were born sometime after we fired Carter because we couldn’t stand his policies anymore. But they’re old enough to vote now. Yeah, that’s how old you and I are, if you can remember what a terrible President he was.

    Here’s something even more impressive: I have yet to hear — once! — a statement to the effect of “Former President Carter is right and the current administration needs to listen to him, because if we don’t do as he says, we have no hope of achieving the wonderful results Jimmy Carter did like for example…” I haven’t heard that one time yet. Not even in reference to the Camp David accords.

    Yet Carter blabs away about what he doesn’t like. Toward what end, nobody knows; even his most ardent fans, seem unable to articulate what goals are to be reached, if we expunge our national policies of all that is offensive to him.

    So here is a poll I’d like to see.

    It would be more useful than handicapping a President who is going to have the same status as Jimmy Carter 875 days from now, I think. A lot more useful.

  • Whereas other former United States Presidents have kept their silence on national policy for purposes of civility and decorum, Jimmy Carter has been an outspoken critic of the current administration. This is a comment on a) Current President George Bush, and his unpopular policies; b) Former President Carter, and his lack of restraint and discretion; c) both; d) neither.
  • I mean, hey, one man’s opinion is just as legitimate as any other’s. But sometimes the nose-counts say something important about what’s going on in our society. It seems to me that question would highlight something going on. I’d really like to know how the percentages stack up. My interest in that question wouldn’t be to influence what’s happening — at least, not completely. I’d really like to see how it shakes out.

    What else, what else…well, let’s take a look at some of the things Mr. Carter had to say.

    “We’ve never before had an administration that would endorse pre-emptive war – that is a basic policy of going to war against another country even though our own security was not directly threatened,” he said. In his book, President Carter writes: “I have been sorely tempted to launch a military attack on foreigners.” But had he still been president, he says that he would never have considered invading Iraq in 2003.
    :
    Asked why he thinks Mr Blair has behaved in the way that he has with President Bush’s belligerent regime, Mr Carter said he could only put it down to timidity.

    That’s worthy of a poll question right there. Timidity…drives a coalition of nations to launch an attack against a filthy butcher like Saddam. Presumably, if you’ve got some real ballz, you leave the mofo right where he is so he can keep on stirring up trouble, but at least you can brag about having stood up to the big bad George W. Bush.

    You know, it occurs to me that if people think the current American “regime” is a “belligerent” one, and most pointedly in comparison to Hussein’s old regime, they can jolly well come out and say so. A lot of people appear to be anxious to do exactly that. But they never quite get around to doing it, nor are they called upon to say that. Let’s have a poll question that asks.

  • When the Coalition of the Willing took down Saddam Hussein’s old regime, the regime that should have been changed, was the one in a) Iraq b) N. Korea c) Libya d) The United States e) Liberia f) Cuba g) None of the above — stop after Afghanistan h) None of the above — not even Afghanistan i) None of the above — just duct-tape Former President Carter’s mouth shut
  • Again, I really wanna know. How many people who call themselves Americans would pick d? I mean, really?

    And there’s more fresh meat up at the top of the article. Let’s see a poll on this one.

    Tony Blair’s lack of leadership and timid subservience to George W Bush lie behind the ongoing crisis in Iraq and the worldwide threat of terrorism, according to the former American president Jimmy Carter.

  • Former President Jimmy Carter knows the following about how to get rid of terrorism: a) A whole lot b) A fair amount c) Some stuff d) More than me e) Not as much as my plumber f) Not as much as my dog g) Butkus
  • If Great Britain were to get rid of Tony Blair, with his timid subservience to the Bush administration, worldwide terrorism would do the following: a) Nothing b) Party like it’s 1999 c) Look for a bigger victory somewhere else d) Like a cartoon character, paint a hole in the ground, jump in, and pull the hole in after itself
  • I mean, I’m trying to give these questions a humorous spin, but when you stop and think about them for a second or two they are deadpan, flat-ass, heart-attack serious questions.

    Some folks have deadpan flat-ass heart-attack serious opinions about the answers. But I can’t help noticing, among those, the folks sympathetic to former President Carter’s point-of-view, only advance those answers in settings where there is a social benefit to be realized from doing so. Protest rallies. Move-On-Dot-Org block parties. Left-wing political conventions. I’d like to see them answer a poll, with some of the ideas they have…and then, I’d like to see the poll tabulated.

    There is a reason why I want to see this. From my perspective, when Former President Carter opens his big ol’ cakehole, the newsworthiness of the cakehole-opening event is completely invested in the question of how many people agree with him. What Former President Carter thinks…is something I already know. How well it works when it’s translated into policy…I know that too, and I have no desire to see it again. Whether or not we want more of that policy…that was decided in the fall of 1980.

  • I want America’s Democratic party to take over the U.S. Congress this year, so that a) America stops spending so much money b) America does a better job securing her borders c) America is re-submerged in the baby-killing soldier-spitting toothpaste tube of liberal goodness d) America starts doing things the JIMMY CARTER way e) I don’t want the Democrats to take over the U.S. Congress.
  • I think that question is the most serious one, right there. And it is pivotal in determining the relevance of Carter’s remarks. If a majority don’t pick d, then he is just one more cantankerous curmudgeon who won’t shut the hell up. Nothing more. Kind of on par with some guy writing posts for The Blog That Nobody Reads…except unlike Carter, I haven’t been fired after my one-term as President quite yet.

  • Former American President Jimmy Carter is a) concerned; b) foolish; c) diplomatic and tactful; d) dignified; c) partisan; d) jealous; e) grief-stricken; f) filled with rage; g) resentful; h) bored and lonely; i) just wanting some peace, like the rest of us; j) senile. Check at least one but no more than three.
  • I want to know: For how many of my countrymen does this bitter old fart speak?

    Isn’t that what we all want to know?

    No DWTM

    Monday, August 28th, 2006

    No DWTM

    I don’t text message behind the wheel anymore. It used to be, the whole thing made a lot of sense. I text messaged with T9 on a Seimens S46, which, also, seemed to make a lot of sense. Letters made into words. Cool. And then I upgraded to a Treo 650, and text messaging behind the wheel made even more sense. No need to double-check stuff. Except I was double-checking anyway.

    A couple of times I got done sending stuff, looked back up out my windshield and thought to myself, “would I be prepared for whatever I saw here, no matter what it was?” And I had to admit, the answer was: Maybe not. And so I’d reign my bad habits back in, which is what “good” drivers do. You dance on the edge, when you make a habit of dancing further out, from time to time you should make it a point to dance further in, too. Push the envelope now-and-then…not constantly.

    But then, of course, I’d get cocky again.

    And I’d think to myself, you know, in my lifetime, I’ve never made it a habit of getting cockier and cockier, without disaster following. This is the one exception. How long will it stay an exception?

    But, I didn’t think too much of it…until disaster happened. NOT to me, thank goodness.

    And I’m so glad both of the folks involved appeared to be walking around just fine. Must’ve been a wake-up call for me. Lady in front of me, crashed into the guy two cars ahead of me. She: 50 m.p.h. Him: Zero. Yeeesh. They must have had air bags.

    Here’s my whole deal. You may opt in to being her — if, and only if, you want to keep on DWTM. Driving While Text Messaging. But to be him, you don’t have to do squat. Just drive. Get into a congested situation, a parking lot, which, if you live in a major metropolis that just involves driving to work every morning.

    I know from experience that my logic can sway people, but my written words, in conveying that logic, oftentimes fall short of doing this. So let’s just link to this story to help illustrate the gravity of the situation.

    Allen Park Officer Hit In Crash Caused By Text-Messaging Driver
    POSTED: 9:57 am EDT August 28, 2006

    A suburban Detroit police officer was injured in an accident caused by a teenage motorist sending a text message on his cell phone.

    Michigan State Police said a 17-year-old male driver hit the rear of an Allen Park police car, which was policing an earlier crash Sunday afternoon.

    The crash caused the police car to spin around and hit the officer, who was thrown into the air on an Interstate 94 ramp.

    One more thing. When time and space permit, I’d like to expound on my little rant about talking on cell phones, without the benefit of hands-free devices.

    We have studies that say when you talk on a hands-free device, your level of distraction is on par with what you’d be experiencing if you held the cell phone up to your face. Those studies are bullshit, you hear me? I live in the Big Tomato. I see people talking on their cell phones all the time — not-hands-free. Up to their faces.

    It is…let me stress this properly…it is PHYSICALLY FREAKIN’ IMPOSSIBLE to do a check to your blind spot, before a lane change, while talking on a cell phone, without being completely absolutely no-mistakingly obvious that you’re doing a head-check. It is a deeply conspicuous movement you have to do. Those fuckers are not doing it, I guaran-damn-tee you. It is up to everybody else to get the hell out of their way, they know not what the hell they’re doing. I can personally vouch for this, swearing an oath to that effect, just by watching them. They are glancing in their passing mirrors — if they’re even doing that — and then breezily just sliding on over. Hope you’re not there when they do.

    I loathe nanny-state rules. I really, really do. I’m kind of iffy about motorcycle-helmet laws. But we absolutely, positively, need those two. No text messaging, and no talking on it without a hands-free.

    We’ve run out of excuses for not having such laws. What does a hands free device cost now? Fifteen bucks? And are there really any cell phones that can’t accommodate them?

    Memo For File XXII

    Sunday, August 27th, 2006

    Memo For File XXII

    One of the planks in the Democrats’ “Six for ’06″ platform is to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission. Howard Dean keeps mentioning this to me in his e-mails that begin with “Dear Fellow Democrat.”

    You might be wondering what the recommendations are. You might be wondering how many of them there are. Especially if you’re a Democrat. Speaking just for myself, I’ve long been wondering why Democrats don’t seem to care what exactly it is they say they want done. They’re supposed to be incredibly angry that it isn’t being done, and yet, very few of them know this item is in the platform, let alone being able to rattle off a few 9/11 commission recommendations that have not yet been done. So why so testy?

    Here’s a link…

    This Is Good XIX

    Sunday, August 27th, 2006

    This Is Good XIX

    Not everybody will find this outrageously funny. Only those among us who have lost work to a computer freezing up…ever…over, let’s say, the last twenty-five years.

    Everybody else will be clueless about the humor.

    My reasons for lacking any sympathy for Mr. Gates, whatsoever, have very little to do with computers. I hope he felt as uncomfortable as he looked.

    Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot… III

    Saturday, August 26th, 2006

    Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot… III

    Via Caerdroia, via Instapundit, via Ace, via the notorious Huffington Post…let us allow the words of Russell Shaw to speak for themselves. Heavily edited for brevity, but the conscious sentiment is being left unchanged, I think all would agree.

    I hope and pray we don’t get hit again, like we did on September 11. Even one life lost to the violence of terrorism is too much.

    If I somehow knew an attack was coming, I wouldn’t pause for a second to report it in order to prevent it from occuring.

    But on the other hand, I remind myself that…If the Nazis had prevailed, tens, if not hundreds of millions more would have been killed.

    That realization has led my brain to launch a political calculus 180 degrees removed from my pacifist-inclined leanings…What if another terror attack just before this fall’s elections could save many thousand-times the lives lost?
    :
    If an attack occurred just before the elections, I have to think that at least a few of the voters who persist in this “Bush has kept us safe” thinking would realize the fallacy they have been under.

    If 5% of the “he’s kept us safe” revise their thinking enough to vote Democrat, well, then, the Dems could recapture the House and the Senate and be in a position to:

    Block the next Supreme Court appointment, one which would surely result in the overturning of Roe and the death of hundreds if not thousands of women from abortion-prohibiting states at the hands of back-alley abortionists;

    Be in a position to elevate the party’s chances for a regime change in 2008. A regime change that would:

    Save hundreds of thousands of American lives by enacting universal health care;

    Save untold numbers of lives by pushing for cleaner air standards that would greatly reduce heart and lung diseases;

    More enthusiastically address the need for mass transit, the greater availability of which would surely cut highway deaths;

    Enact meaningful gun control legislation that would reduce crime and cut fatalities by thousands a year;

    Fund stem cell research that could result in cures saving millions of lives;

    Boost the minimum wage, helping to cut down on poverty which helps spawn violent crime and the deaths that spring from those acts;

    Be less inclined to launch foolish wars, absence of which would save thousands of soldiers’ lives- and quite likely moderate the likelihood of further terror acts.
    :
    If you knew us getting hit again would launch a chain of transformative, cascading events that would enable a better nation where millions who would have died will live longer, would such a calculus have any moral validity?

    Any at all?

    I didn’t know raising the minimum wage and supporting mass transit had anything to do with preventing deaths. I wonder how many pro-minimum-wage pro-mass-transit people feel that way.

    Now this other stuff might be thought of as life-saving stuff, I imagine, at least in the minds of Mr. Shaw’s peers who support them. Abortion laws leading to saving the lives of women who would otherwise turn to illegal, back-alley abortions…pretty far-fetched, but I’ve heard it before. Cleaner air preventing deaths…that’s been said outright, and might have more favorable treatment from the facts available, than any of his other theories.

    But like Vito Corleone said in the first scene out of The Godfather: Let’s be frank here. Liberal policies aren’t about saving lives. Liberal policies represent a means unto their own end. Liberal policies are all about liberal policies. They’re all about that smug sense of satisfaction liberals feel when everything is done their way.

    This is easily proven through an exercise of, simply, getting down to “brass tacks” and looking at the commonality amongst the liberal policies. Letting gays into the military doesn’t have an awful lot to do with getting more babies aborted, does it? No, it doesn’t. And what does universal health care have to do with making it illegal to hire someone for less than seven bones an hour? Nothing. Even in the minds of the liberals who support such policies, there is no common theme.

    It’s just a big ol’ mish-mash of baby-killing soldier-spitting Heather-has-two-mommies poor-schoolteacher-retaining job-outlawing segregationist anti-semitist ponytail-waving dictator-appeasing progressive-taxing Birkenstock-wearing Clarence-Thomas-bashing mediocrity-promoting liberal goodness.

    I wonder how many progressives are represented by this guy. He’s on a path to self-delusion, clearly, if he thinks banning certain types of jobs leads to saving lives. And his delusion stretches to the extent that in his mind, maybe another 9/11-type attack would end up saving more lives than it would at first cost — IF such an attack would lead to that hated George W. Bush and his cronies being tossed out of power, so the big ol’ baby-killing job-outlawing mishmash can be installed.

    So there is a faction of progressives, I infer, evaluating the “cost-benefit” of another 9/11 attack. And concluding the evaluation, they’re leaning toward the benefits outweighing the costs.

    How big is the faction? Who knows. Who’s to say. It’s probably not inclusive of “all” liberals. Probably not. But we know it’s there. We know it; it’s an established fact.

    One of the liberal causes is to invent new rights for terrorists. Invest in those terrorists, the rights our Constitution affords to American citizens, even in cases where the terrorists are clearly not American citizens.

    Liberals want to give terrorists legal rights in court, that the terrorists don’t even have. And they want another 9/11 style attack, because they figure the political benefits of such an attack, for them, would be worth the death toll.

    Hmm.

    Am I reading something into that, that I shouldn’t? All who think so, tell me so; support the thesis with a proof. Can’t wait to see it. Can’t wait.

    Intergenerational!

    Friday, August 25th, 2006

    Intergenerational!

    Now, THIS is scary.

    We got inter-generational blogging goin’ on. This blog, which nobody actually reads anyway, is partnered up by blood with this other blog over here.

    Who’s the father? Who’s the son? Choose carefully…

    What Is This, Sir?

    Friday, August 25th, 2006

    What Is This, Sir?

    Time-sensitive responsibilities preclude me from adding anything to this, but it isn’t necessary for me to do so. Have a great Friday, everybody.

    Man Charged After Telling Chicago Airport Security His Penis Pump Was a Bomb
    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    CHICAGO � Prosecutors say a 29-year-old man traveling with his mother desperately did not want her to know he had packed a sexual aid for their trip to Turkey.

    So he told security it was a bomb, officials said.

    Madin Azad Amin was stopped by officials on Aug. 16 after guards found an object in his baggage that resembled a grenade, prosecutors said.

    When officers asked him to identify it, Amin said it was a bomb, said Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto.

    He later told officials he lied about the item because his mother was nearby and he did not want her to hear that it was part of a penis pump, Scaduto said.

    Amin has been charged with felony disorderly conduct, said Andrew Conklin, a spokesman with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

    Amin faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

    Guy on the radio has some kind of a report that says the guy just kind of mumbled “pump,” the way you would, I guess, when your mother is standing nearby; and the guard misunderstood. Whatever.

    Air Marshals Dress However They Want

    Friday, August 25th, 2006

    Air Marshals Dress However They Want

    In a sane world, this would be one of President Bush’s biggest weaknesses, and would have been ever since 2001.

    Air marshals were told Thursday they will be allowed to dress the way they want and choose their own hotels in order to protect their anonymity while on missions.

    Federal Air Marshal Service chief Dana Brown, who has been in the job for five months, said he was changing the rules, starting Sept. 1, after listening to air marshals’ concerns.

    In a memo to the air marshals, Brown said the dress code was changed to “allow you to blend in and not direct attention to yourself, as well as be sufficiently functional to enable you to conduct your law enforcement responsibilities.”

    Air marshals had complained that Brown’s predecessor, Thomas Quinn, insisted on a too-formal dress code that allowed people to pick them out. The marshals said, for example, that being forced to wear a jacket and collared shirt made them stand out on flights to Hawaii.

    Not sure what the argument is, going in the other direction. I’ve read things about it, here and there. I’m just too lazy to go out and find those quotes at the moment. Not worth my time. They’re all stupid.

    I’m expecting more; I’m expecting an attitude of “if you do something to thwart what terrorists’ plans, or plans that may be potentially made by terrorists, we will do anything and everything to protect you and what you do.” An attitude like that going all the way up to the Oval Office. The kind of attitude, from Republicans, that benefits unborn babies and baby-like constructs, i.e., stem cell lines. The kind of attitude, from Democrats, that benefits union goons, and piss-poor schoolteachers. The kind of attitude that says, “if everybody else likes it, but it has only a marginal chance of getting in your way, we will oppose it with every fiber of our being because we think your mission is so important.” That; not this “we support the troops but oppose their mission,” or tolerance of same.

    This shouldn’t be a Dana Brown decision. It should have come all the way from the top, from the very beginning.

    Scientists

    Thursday, August 24th, 2006

    Scientists

    I’m not sure what a “neo-con” is, but I think I am one. I want Saddam Hussein’s head mounted on a wall. I want bin Laden’s head next to his, and Kim Jong-Il’s next to bin Laden’s, and the “I’m a dinner jacket” guy’s head next to Il’s. And then I want us going out looking for a fifth head. That would be a great start.

    Not “machismo.” Just common sense.

    Some would say if I want that, I should be enlisting. To them I say…whatever. Your point is off-topic. You think it isn’t, but it is. Here’s a great way of demonstrating how off-topic it is: If those psychopaths should be allowed to run around, don’t the people who argue and yell and bicker and fight to keep them running around, have the job of living closest to them? Shouldn’t they be taking the “yeah Hussein was a threat, but not to America, so that makes him all okay” talk and sticking it? Shouldn’t they be the ones living in Tel Aviv? Especially if they’re insisting people like me should be enlisting, or else shutting the hell up? Aren’t they the ones who are hypocrites?

    Anyway.

    There’s this theory running around among “neo-cons,” I’m told. The theory goes like this: Osama bin Laden took out the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, because he was getting desperate and frustrated. He did the thing with the USS Cole, he did the thing with the Khobar Towers, and we didn’t give him any attention for it. And he ended up in this “What in the hell is it going to take” mode.

    I got a theory of my own. I think this is the mode scientists are in. They come up with explanations for the things we can observe, which is their job…and then us little people take their hypotheses out of context, waggling our fingers in each others’ faces, intoning, “I am right because the scientists agree with me.” Which is a terrible misuse of science when you think about it. Scientists, when the rubber meets the road, don’t “agree” that “the evidence supporting evolution is overwhelming.” That isn’t their job. They don’t “agree” that “global warming is real.” And it doesn’t help that some unscrupulous scientists are out there, promoting the idea that science is an ivory tower, wherein “pristine” opinions are formed; opinions that the dirty, unwashed masses had better just co-opt as their own, or else if the dirty unwashed masses dare to disagree, then they become dirty stupid unwashed masses.

    I think there are some slightly more scrupulous scientists who understand that’s a perversion of science, but are not above starting a “backburn.” And so they shake science up. Which is healthy in a certain way, because science serves truth best when it engages in a game of “King of the Hill” — the longer a theory stands, the more aggressive should be the effort to challenge it.

    But it also helps to stymie this finger-waggling exercise. It makes it harder for us to waggle our fingers in each others’ faces, citing the proxy opinions of those oh-so-smart scientists, if the scientists change their minds every once in a while. And so the scientists — no, I’m not comparing scientists to bin Laden, but — are engaged in the “what is it gonna take” mode.

    Alar on the apples. DDT. Oncoming ice age; no wait, global warming. Oops, we were wrong, oat bran doesn’t do anything to cholesterol. Pluto isn’t a planet after all.

    If my theory has some merit, what is it we’re doing to get those scientists so agitated? I’m going to take a wild guess it’s probably this: Science says something, and the commoners think of themselves as engaging in “critical thinking” and “skepticism” if they — get ready for this — believe it. Those among us who ask bothersome questions about it, and show reluctance to believe it, are called “Bushbots” and “sheep.”

    The definitions of “skeptics” and “sheep” are one-hundred-eighty degrees reversed.

    If I was a scientist, that would bug the piss outta me. Well, I would try to discipline myself to not pay attention to it. But as a human scientist, I’d still be bugged about it.

    Believing something, without reservation, because someone else says it is so, makes you a critical thinker?

    Flesh! Oh, No! IX

    Thursday, August 24th, 2006

    Flesh! Oh, No! IX

    Pajamas Media blogger Pamela, who is Atlas, video-blogs from a beach in her bikini.

    Cracks me up. She’s a right-winger. Not known for being politically correct. And she video-blogs all the time. Now she does it in a bikini, and we have this buzz throughout the “blogosphere” about whether that’s proper or not.

    No, it’s not like we’re drowning in that kind of screaming and bitching, there are plenty of people who have no idea who she is. Before the beach scene as well as after. But the carping is out there. I won’t go out gathering links, and I won’t post a screen cap. No time right now.

    Lookin’ good, Pamela. But you knew that.

    As Seen On TV

    Thursday, August 24th, 2006

    As Seen On TV

    Fireflies in the Cloud: The Top Ten Stupidest “As Seen On TV” Products. Good stuff.

    The product works like this. You first shape yourself a nice, fat hunk o’ ground beef. Then, like a Play-Doh mold, you plop the device on top of the meat, squish it down, and swish it around on the counter where the balls form in the individual compartments. VOIL�! You have yourself some tasty, raw, I-can’t-believe-what-a-mess-this-leaves-on-my-countertop meatballs. And just to remind you where meatballs go best, it comes with four “pasta” forks.

    Yes, it’s a blatant rip-off of Retrocrush. I don’t care. It’s great work. Made me chuckle.

    Whatever Happened To Dungeons? II

    Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

    Whatever Happened To Dungeons? II

    The continuing lifetime and usefulness of the “innernets” is in danger, and we have to lock up all the women. No wait, that’s not progressive enough…not all the women. Just the ones who can read. Sorry, gals; in ya go. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

    Too harsh, you say? Well wake up. They’re ruining the “innernets.” Want proof? Just look around. Actually, let’s try this. Let’s make something up. Make up a completely ludicrous example…something that would prove, beyond all reasonable doubt, that too many ladies are reading what’s on the web, and the web is contorting itself into mystical entanglements, destroying its own content, in an effort to please them. Kinda like guys wearing their baseball caps backwards. The “innernets” is dressing themselves up all funny, trying to please the ladeez, and when all’s said and done, looks like they dressed in the dark or something. Like overgrown little-boys.

    What might our imaginary example entail. I know. Let’s say an advice column comes out…you know how women love advice columns. And they love to see guys admit their mistakes, and/or get called out for them. Okay, so a guy writes an advice column and addresses it to other guys. He chirps away at them, as if he’s their mothers or something…or maybe their ex-wives…or bigger sisters…and tells them what to wear. Wait! What to wear on a first date! And then, let’s just make it crazy-ass woman-friendly. Let’s have the male advice columnist to tell his male readers…aw hell, I dunno…let’s have him tell them — hell, let’s go for broke — to wear little itty-bitty hearts on their socks!

    And then let’s have him give a cutesy little sign-off that will make the psycho ladies just titter and cackle with evil delight, like the witches from MacBeth.

    Our fantasy complete, let us now scour reality, top to bottom, to see if we can find something to line up with this preposterous example.

    As Emeril Lagasse might say…BAM!!!

    Men: How to dress for a first date
    By Matt Schneiderman

    Let�s face it: Women love clothes. Why else are they constantly shopping and complimenting their girlfriends on that incredible new top or pair of pumps? And while you may be wondering, “What does this have to do with me?” I’ll tell you: More and more, women are expecting, even demanding, that the men they date look more like the “after” images on Queer Eye than the “before.” In other words, showing up at a swanky martini bar in your college hoodie and lucky sneakers may make that first date your last.
    :
    Paying attention to the particulars is what will really convince a gal you�re a cut above average. “What you wear should speak to your individuality,” says [Stuff Magazine Fashion and Groom Director Kelly] Rae. “If you�re wearing a shirt with French cuffs, wear interesting cuff-links.” And don�t overlook your socks. “White gym socks belong at the gym,” says Rae. “Anything with a pattern can be fun.” Look for something with a design, like hearts or diamonds. “If he can pull the right socks off, he�s a winner.”

    Matt Schneiderman is a New York-based freelancer who has been known to show up for dates wearing clothes his mom picked out for him.

    Let’s get real for just a second here. This is nothing less than rat poison dropped in the giant kettle of clam chowder that is our civilization. Stuff Magazine is a monthly periodical that rolls out to subscribers, for money…a custom that was invented by bright, energetic, hard-working and creative men who did not have little hearts on the socks they wore. The article is written up, and translated into HTML which is an OSI Layer 6 page description language invented by men who didn’t have little hearts on their socks. The article is then read by people who use TCP/IP, a Layer 3 protocol developed by men missing little tiny hearts on their socks, where it is then displayed on computer monitors, invented and built by men who don’t have little tiny hearts on their socks, after passing through a computer processor, which was painstakingly designed by hard-working and dedicated engineers who wore socks that had no little tiny hearts on them.

    We don’t owe anything to people who follow these silly rules! Not even the many, many things that made writing and reading this article possible!

    Drives me nuts. So, ladies. Kindly stop tearing apart our society, and all the things it has that are needed for all the things you say you like to have. Honor the sloppy man, who has given you so much. Cease and desist from marrying the grizzled tattooed big-bad-boy, and pressuring him to change into some clean-cut nice guy who kisses your mother on the cheek after taking you to dinner and staying up late to watch “Will & Grace” re-runs with you. Literally, and figuratively.

    You love the technology, respect the uber-masculine guys who brought it to you. Men is men, teddy bears is teddy bears. The two are different.

    Now kindly get inside that iron door so I can lock it. We need to save what’s left of masculinity while it’s still here. Tried our best to preserve your freedom at the same time…looks like that’s not going to work. You keep looking at web pages, and pussified she-males like Matthew Schneiderman find out you’re out there, and then they fill up the web with crap, trying to please you. Enough is enough. We’ll send some hard, masculine, grizzled, poorly dressed men to bring you some meals on a regular basis, and after awhile I’m sure you’ll come to appreciate them. If your cuisine is some fresh-killed game that they shot and gutted and cooked themselves, maybe you’ll learn to appreciate raw masculinity even more.

    It can come in handy. Seems at this point it’s been proven beyond all reasonable doubt: Brittle, whiny controlling women, need the sloppy, fashion-oblivious knuckle-dragging manly-man — or, at least, all this neat shit he’s been creating over the centuries — much, much more than the knuckle-dragging manly-man needs the whiny controlling women.

    Now, get in.

    Thing I Know #140. Some of the worst ideas a man has, have to do with getting admiration from the ladies. The worst ideas among those, are the ones that eventually succeed at this.

    Memo For File XXI

    Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

    Memo For File XXI

    Before I get into the guts of that goofy wiretapping decision, let me first express my high admiration for two fine legal minds, one dead, one living. The dead-white-guy comes first. See if you can recognize the source of these words; you would be well-served to be able to.

    It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each. So if a law be in opposition to the constitution: if both the law and the constitution apply to a particular case, so that the court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the constitution; or conformably to the constitution, disregarding the law: the court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is of the very essence of judicial duty.

    If then the courts are to regard the constitution; and he constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the legislature; the constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply.

    Those then who controvert the principle that the constitution is to be considered, in court, as a paramount law, are reduced to the necessity of maintaining that courts must close their eyes on the constitution, and see only the law.

    This doctrine would subvert the very foundation of all written constitutions. It would declare that an act, which, according to the principles and theory of our government, is entirely void, is yet, in practice, completely obligatory. It would declare, that if the legislature shall do what is expressly forbidden, such act, notwithstanding the express prohibition, is in reality effectual. It would be giving to the legislature a practical and real omnipotence with the same breath which professes to restrict their powers within narrow limits. It is prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure.

    That it thus reduces to nothing what we have deemed the greatest improvement on political institutions-a written constitution, would of itself be sufficient, in America where written constitutions have been viewed with so much reverence, for rejecting the construction. But the peculiar expressions of the constitution of the United States furnish additional arguments in favour of its rejection.

    The judicial power of the United States is extended to all cases arising under the constitution. Could it be the intention of those who gave this power, to say that, in using it, the constitution should not be looked into? That a case arising under the constitution should be decided without examining the instrument under which it arises?

    This is too extravagant to be maintained.

    The subject is the ability of the Supreme Court to declare a law unconstitutional. I’ll let you in on who the author is, but first, I want to go after the pattern of logic here. Take a good look at what’s happening.

    The author first establishes that what greets us, is an either-or scenario, no “middle ground” being possible. Of course, his example gets that going automatically, so he doesn’t need to articulate it. Now, you can pick A or B; both may not apply, and one or the other must; the author is a proponent of B. He does not write about how the sun will shine every day if B prevails, or about the rivers flowing with chocolate or mountains made out of marshmallows, or Hatfields and McCoys playing hopscotch together happily. He doesn’t tell you the air will be fresher if you pick B, or how much better the food will taste. He doesn’t tell you that Christopher Reeve will get outta that wheelchair and dance a jig if you pick B.

    No, he writes about what happens if you pick A. The option he doesn’t want.

    And then he writes about the consequences in the most flattering terms possible — for his opposition.

    In short, his words are intended for that opposition. He doesn’t call them a bunch of poo poo heads or anything like that…he simply takes their position, and pursues it, extending it into the most generous possible, yet unappealing, and unvaoidable, consequences. It’s simply devastating. It is logic. Learn it, live it, love it.

    So, that’s what Chief Justice John Marshall had to say in 1803, handing down the Marbury v. Madison decision that defined the Supreme Court’s authority to declare things unconstitutional to begin with. It is logic we don’t see today, from Republicans or Democrats — certainly not from the latter. It is not “Hooray For Our Side” type stuff, by any means. This is the kind of thing that is done right before minds are changed. Yes, it is possible. We tend to forget, but once upon a time men were expected, if they were adequately educated and sufficiently articulate with the written word, to make enemies into allies. Resentful allies, maybe, but allies nonetheless.

    Today, we don’t even try for it.

    Okeedokee. There’s your dead-and-decomposed legal mind. Now for the still-living one.

    Ann Althouse has written extensively on this decision, here and here and here and here and here and here. Of course, she isn’t doing what John Marshall did, she’s just snarking. But it’s good, solid snarking. Besides, when you’re a District Judge and you hand down a written opinion about controversial subjects, you should expect a snarky snippet or two. You’re asking for them.

    Conservative columnists have not let Judge Diggs Taylor down here. They’ve been snarking away. But most of the stuff boils down to this, I’m afraid: “This is a stupid decision because I don’t like what it says (and I haven’t read it).” Not very compelling. And it certainly doesn’t rise to the Marshall standard.

    Nor does Ms. Althouse…but she’s still far superior. Plenty good enough for me. She has a fine legal mind and, in the links above, makes some great points. Read up.

    Now, for whatever it’s worth, from reading the decision myself, these are my impressions.

    Pages 1 to 17 are pretty mundane, although they nevertheless are remarkable for two reasons. One, they recount the history of prior cases in which the rights of citizens to have their days in civil court, and of The People to be represented in pressing criminal proceedings, conflicted directly with the urgency in keeping state secrets under the protections deemed proper. Kind of interesting stuff, there. Two…they prove Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has what it takes, to research into matters of fact, and recount them. This becomes relevant later.

    On page 18, the Diggs Taylor locomotive begins to slip off the track of reason. The issue is whether the plaintiffs, ACLU et al, have standing to bring suit against the defendant, the NSA.

    The ability to communicate confidentially is an indispensable part of the attorney-client relationship. As University of Michigan legal ethics professor Leonard Niehoff explains, attorney-client confidentiality is “central to the functioning of the attorney-client relationship and to effective representation.” He further explains that Defendants’ TSP “creates an overwhelming, if not insurmountable, obstacle to effective and ethical representation” and that although Plaintiffs are resorting to other “inefficient” means for gathering information, the TSP continues to cause “substantial and ongoing harm to the attorney-client relationships and legal representations.” He explains that the increased risk that privileged communications will be intercepted forces attorneys to cease telephonic and electronic communications with clients to fulfill their ethical responsibilities. Defendants argue that the allegations present no more than a “chilling effect” based upon purely speculative fears that the TSP subjects the Plaintiffs to surveillance. In arguing that the injuries are not constitutionally cognizable, Defendants rely heavily on the case of Laird v. Tatum, 408 U.S. 1 (1972).

    In December 2005, the President publicly acknowledged that the TSP intercepts the contents of certain communications as to which there are reasonable grounds to believe that

    * (1) the communication originated or terminated outside the United States, and

    * (2) a party to such communication is a member of al Qaeda, a member of a group affiliated with al Qaeda, or an agent of al Qaeda or its affiliates.

    In Laird, the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief on their claim that their rights were being invaded by the Army�s domestic surveillance of civil disturbances and “public activities that were thought to have at least some potential for civil disorder.” Id. at 6. The plaintiffs argued that the surveillance created a chilling effect on their First Amendment rights caused by the existence and operation of the surveillance program in general. Id. at 3. The Supreme Court rejected the plaintiffs� efforts to rest standing upon the mere “chill” that the program cast upon their associational activities. It said that the “jurisdiction of a federal court may [not] be invoked by a complainant who alleges that the exercise of his First Amendment rights is being chilled by the mere existence, without more, of a governmental investigative and data-gathering activity.” Id. Laird, however, must be distinguished here. The plaintiffs in Laird alleged only that they could conceivably become subject to the Army�s domestic surveillance program. Presbyterian Church v. United States, 870 F.2d 518, 522 (1989). The Plaintiffs here are not merely alleging that they “could conceivably” become subject to surveillance under the TSP, but that continuation of the TSP has damaged them. The President indeed has publicly acknowledged that the types of calls Plaintiffs are making are the types of conversations that would be subject to the TSP. Although Laird establishes that a party�s allegation that it has suffered a subjective “chill” alone does not confer Article III standing, Laird does not control this case. As Justice (then Judge) Breyer has observed, “[t]he problem for the government with Laird . . . lies in the key words ‘without more.’” Ozonoff v. Berzak, 744 F.2d 224, 229 (1st Cir. 1984). This court agrees with Plaintiffs’ position that “standing here does not rest on the TSP’s ‘mere existence, without more.’” The Plaintiffs in this case are not claiming simply that the Defendants� surveillance has “chilled” them from making international calls to sources and clients. Rather, they claim that Defendants� surveillance has chilled their sources, clients, and potential witnesses from communicating with them. The alleged effect on Plaintiffs is a concrete, actual inability to communicate with witnesses, sources, clients and others without great expense which has significantly crippled Plaintiffs, at a minimum, in their ability to report the news and competently and effectively represent their clients. See Presbyterian Church v. United States, 870 F.2d 518 (1989) (church suffered substantial decrease in attendance and participation of individual congregants as a result of governmental surveillance). Plaintiffs have suffered actual concrete injuries to their abilities to carry out their professional responsibilities. The direct injury and objective chill incurred by Plaintiffs are more than sufficient to place this case outside the limitations imposed by Laird.

    Got that? Here, I’ll bottom line it for you: Alleged violations of the Fourth Amendment, based on no evidence, just speculation…plus a “chilling” effect from that speculation, upon whatever you do professionally — from representing legal clients, to running a church, and I must presume everything in between, and beyond — equals…standing to sue, under the auspices of Laird v. Tatum (1972).

    Zowee! Professional responsibilities. Huh. So…if I have “professional responsibilities” to run a shop, and I want to hire some kid to sweep the floors for three dollars an hour, and the kid is willing to work for that wage, I can sue to havve the minimum wage laws overturned as unconstitutional. Right? I have standing, right? Anna Diggs Taylor must agree with that. How about logging? What if I’m a lumberjack who has “professional responsibilities” to cut down old-growth trees, and the Endangered Species Act keeps me from doing that. Standing to sue, right? Judge Diggs Taylor surely must think so!

    I mean she has to…because right after that, she goes on to cite an example that is the direct opposite of the lumberjack example above. For every action there has to be an equal and opposite reaction, right?

    The instant case is more akin to Friends of the Earth, in which the Court granted standing to environmental groups who sued a polluter under the Clean Water Act because environmental damage caused by the defendant had deterred members of the plaintiff organizations from using and enjoying certain lands and rivers. Friends of the Earth, 528 U.S. at 181-183. The Court there held that the affidavits and testimony presented by plaintiffs were sufficient to establish reasonable concerns about the effects of those discharges and were more than “general averments” and “conclusory allegations.” Friends of the Earth, 528 U.S. at 183-184. The court distinguished the case from Lujan, in which the Court had held that no actual injury had been established where plaintiffs merely indicated “‘some day’ intentions to visit endangered species around the world.” The court found that the affiants’ conditional statements that they would use the nearby river for recreation if defendant were not discharging pollutants into it was sufficient to establish a concrete injury.

    The whole decision reads like this. It’s not Marbury v. Madison by any means.

    It all comes down to this. If I start reading the Diggs Taylor decision, starting at Page One with the unshakable belief that the TSP is unconstitutional, and that George Bush needs a good come-uppin’s…I will like what I read. I will feel better about having the opinion that I have. I will giggle like Roscoe P. Coltrane after finally busting Those Duke Boys for running moonshine…especially when I read stuff like this on page 40…

    The Government appears to argue here that, pursuant to the penumbra of Constitutional language in Article II, and particularly because the President is designated Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, he has been granted the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, itself. We must first note that the Office of the Chief Executive has itself been created, with its powers, by the Constitution. There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all “inherent powers” must derive from that Constitution. [emphasis mine]

    If I’m solidly in the defendant’s corner, or if I simply don’t have my mind made up yet…or even if I have warm sentiments toward the Judge’s decision, but am not quite completely sold on it yet…I don’t have firm support for the idea being sold here. I’m not firmly sold that “The Government appears to argue here that…[President Bush] has been granted the inherent power to violate…the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, itself.” I do not know that. The Judge has not sold me on this — not unless I was already sold on that. This is hooray, rah-rah-rah, cheerleading stuff.

    Nor am I sold on the idea that “[t]here are…no powers not created by the Constitution.” Not if I didn’t start from that premise. I know what Anna Diggs Taylor wants me to think, but that’s not the point. The point is how well she’s substantiated it. And here she has confronted an issue that has been subject to prolonged and raucous back-and-forth debate in the legal community, for generations now. And within the scope of her decision, she’s just settled it, by simply announcing what she thinks and moving on. Onward! To the next issue!

    What a freakin’ pinhead.

    As for the burning question “What in tarnation is this gutter-sniping about hereditary Kings in America?” I’ll leave that to other bloggers. NO, I’m not going to try to convince blog-readers who doubt that this is a personal attack, more toward my point-of-view. It’s just my opinion, that’s all. I have high confidence in it. President Bush is the first U.S. President in, like, 170 years or so who is the son of another President. In my estimation, it is obvious it’s a personal attack on him. Whoever doubts it is insincere, a dimwit, or both. If the Judge came out tomorrow, and insisted the blood relationship between the two Presidents was simply a coincidence — I’d look on that as being a coincidence the way Vito Corleone was an olive oil salesman. Suuuuuuuure.

    But my really big deal is the rah-rah-rah “Hooray For Our Side” cheerleading stuff. The recognition that this decision, is not intended for the eyes of anybody, save for those who already agreed with the decision. If Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has one quarter of the intellectual acumen I think you should have to even be considered as a District Judge, she should have realized it would be to her benefit to write for the opposition like Chief Justice Marshall did two centuries ago…and practice mental Judo against them, persuading their center-of-gravity toward the edge of their vertical supports, and then knocking them down. And if she has a third of that above-mentioned bare minimum of intellectual acumen, she should have been able to do exacty that.

    Instead, she has cooked up an entree that is garnished, as a parting shot, with the following…

    As Justice Warren wrote in U.S. v. Robel:
    Implicit in the term ‘national defense’ is the notion of defending those values and ideas which set this Nation apart…It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of…those liberties…which makes the defense of the Nation worthwhile.

    HELLO Judge Anna Diggs Taylor. You are on page 43 of a 43-page decision. If you ain’t convinced me by now, you ain’t convincing me with one single cherry-picked quote from a former (thanks Ms. Althouse for pointing this out) CHIEF Justice, not simply “Justice,” of the Supreme Court.

    To sum it up, if I’m alive in 1803 and I don’t like Chief Justice Marshall’s decision, and I want to argue against it, what’s my situation? It’s awkward…extremely awkward…untenably awkward. Most sane men would call it unworkable. More than a few would switch sides, because of the persuasive power of the words written, and for no other reason.

    If I’m all cranky and angsty about Judge Diggs Taylor’s decision, and want to argue against it…and boy howdee, get outta the way, that line is winding around the block, take a number…what is my situation there? Where do her cherry-picked quotes from only-tangentially connected prior cases, and her “that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it” pronouncements leave me?

    Not in an unworkable situation at all. In a quite comfortable one. With the proper legal background and credentials — and in reality, I don’t even have those — I’m left more than a little anxious to show up and make my point. I’m probably parking by the courthouse an hour and a half early, chomping at the bit to get started. Probably fighting with a bunch of other lawyers for the opportunity to do it. She’s left me in the position of a hungry alley cat toying with a crippled mouse.

    So yeah, Judge Diggs Taylor. Nice work. I won’t beat up on you any further, I think you’ve already done a fine job doing that to yourself.

    Update 8/23/06: Someone was commenting that the fifth installment to the continuing series about my Yin and Yang theory, has a direct tie-in here. Which is correct, because this is the installment about the different ways the Yin and Yang argue. Even by itself, this one chapter is quite a windy thesis. I’ll bottom-line it: Maturing later in life, the Yin place themselves in a position of relative apathy about the feelings of those around them, placing more emphasis on their internal cognitions. To the detriment of their social skills, they have a tendency to become superior independent thinkers, and as a result are able to consider both sides of a given argument. Their opposites, the Yang, have a tendency to “win” such contests by, once you get down to the bare essentials, whipping up their own compatriots into some kind of emotional frenzy and not doing a whole lot else. And so without knowing exactly what they are doing, the Yin leave themselves “losing” the argument in any kind of public forum in which a crowd’s cheering and cat-calls decide the victor, while at the same time doing a superior job of adhering to Aristotle’s definition of an educated mind: “…to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

    Anchoress

    Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

    Anchoress

    I have never given The Anchoress any fanfare. Let’s fix that by linking to her thrashing and trashing of the New Yorker that she handed out yesterday. President Bush reads stuff, The New Yorker feels the need to correct him about what he’s reading.

    Let’s also give link-credit to aup at Just Muttering who says she’d give many eye teeth to have written the Anchoress’ piece.

    Me, I just wish I could claim credit to four words therein: “What a foppish snot.” That is just a great sentence, right there. The rest of it isn’t bad either.

    996 Bloggers, 23 Days

    Sunday, August 20th, 2006

    996 Bloggers, 23 Days

    Nobody ever reads this blog, of course. But when people do, a great many times, they turn out to be…bloggers. Many among those are “blogger friends” of mine. Good friends. People who blogrolled me after I blogrolled them. Or vice-versa.

    Won’t you please give a read to the post linked. We’re close…so close, yet so far.

    996 And 23 Days

    That�s what�s left.

    A few minutes ago Jess of It�s my life laugh if you must signed up and became the 2,000 the participant in 2,996. Her welcome email told her she was #2,021 but we�ve had some entrants deleted due to bad sign-up info.

    The first 1,000 took 57 days. We made the jump from 1,000 to 2,000 in 25 days.

    Now we�ve got 23 days to get the last 996.

    I think we can do it.

    What’s this about? To the uninitiated, the project’s masthead sums it up nicely. If you’re not already signed up, and are ready+willing+able to help out…please consider doing so. Thank you.

    2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

    On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11. Each person will pay tribute to a single victim.

    We will honor them by remembering their lives, and not by remembering their murderers.

    This Is Good XVIII

    Saturday, August 19th, 2006

    This Is Good XVIII

    There’s an unfunny side to this…you kind of have to wonder why life isn’t really this way. Not so much, what societal forces are at work to keep such a thing from ever happening, or what is to be inferred about us since it has not happened — but more like, what would be wrong with such a thing if it did happen.

    Good material for some deep, philosophical musings. But never let philosophical musings get in the way of some healthy humor. So on with the show.

    If Men Wrote Advice Columns

    Q: My husband wants to have a threesome with me and my best friend.

    A: Obviously your husband cannot get enough of you! Knowing that there is only one of you he can only settle for the next best thing your best friend. Far from being an issue, this can bring you closer together. Why not get some of your old college roommates involved too? If you are still apprehensive, maybe you should let him be with your friends without you. If you’re still not sure then just perform oral sex on him and cook him a nice meal while you think about it.

    Oral sex? Nice meals? What the hell is the problem? Ya gotta admit, as far as one-size-fits-all solutions to problems in relationships, this guy’s answers show a lot more promise than most. Certainly more than…aw, what the hell is it they say…confronting…talking out your feeeeeeeelings…counseling…

    Note to self: When the time comes for the deep philosophical musings, the following is worthy of thought. We have no way to grade advice columnists. Hell, you can assess the average performance of a fortune teller, better than you can assess the average performance of an advice columnist, easily.

    Now, what if, just taking this as a hypothetical…you could grade an advice columnist. Suppose you had to get a license before you could be an advice columnist, and the minute you got that license the state started tracking each person to whom you gave advice, and kept track of where their relationships went. Supposing we had more diversity in our advice columnists…men…women. And of course the men would give out advice like you see above. Husband promised for a year to fix the garage door, and hasn’t yet…blow job…nice meal. Husband won’t stop wearing those awful plaid pants that went out of style in 1971…blow job…nice meal. Husband chews tobacco and it’s disgusting…blow job…nice meal. Lady advice columnists — just keep up the same ol’ crock. “Get counseling.” At the end of the year, we compare statistics and see how everybody’s doing. What kind of advice leads to happy relationships? And from what “flavor” of advice columnist, does such advice flow?

    Heh. I think deep down everybody KNOWS how that would shake out.

    It’s Bad, Mmmkay?

    Saturday, August 19th, 2006

    It’s Bad, Mmmkay?

    Religion == bad, and thanks to FARK we come to learn of a study that actually comes out and says so. Or at least, gives us a push off in that direction.

    The Institute for Humanist Studies has an article up that points to a study by Gregory S. Paul, in Baltimore, Maryland…a place known to me as a wonderland where people don’t know how to get the hell out of the way when there’s a car coming down the road. Eh, okay that was nasty. Sorry. You jaywalkers need to be called out on the “innernets” for your own good. Darwin can take a break sometimes. Anyway. There’s some data out there that sets up a good solid statistical connection between people of certain countries believing in God, and people in certain countries committing suicide, and getting pregnant, and killing each other, etc. Guess what? God makes people kill each other.

    Well, the language is a little more scientific than that, but in sum, that is what it says. Secular societies are shining little utopias compared to the knuckle-dragging societies where people are actually religious.

    The data are pretty sound.

    Of course, it IS cherry-picked; on that, there can be no doubt. The history of the world, especially the post-industrial world, is packed with stories of communist societies killing people, a phenomenon that enjoys no similar counterpart in faith-based societies or “faith-flavored” societies. It’s sincere cherry-picking, or it could be, I guess. But it’s cherry-picking nonetheless. The secular communist societies aren’t in the study. Bad things happen to the correlation, of course, once you put them in, because they done some bad stuff.

    There is another problem of which I have come to be aware, one that applies to all studies that compare the United States with other countries and conclude with an unflattering light being cast in the direction of us Yanks. It doesn’t have anything to do with suspicions cast upon the motives involved in such studies — although those suspicions are there, and the problems they suggest are all too real. It has to do with comparing industrialized countries with a super-industrialized specimen amongst them.

    Whether our religious beliefs have a causal relationship with our financial success, or not, it seems difficult to argue against the financial success having a causal relationship with the metrics being studied. My acceptance of that premise, has a lot to do with my regard for any “America-versus-X” study as being contaminated to the point of uselessness. To say, so-and-so per thousand people are murdered every ten years in America, and compare the same metric in, let us say, Norway — well, that just doesn’t work. Any school of statistical thought that would observe such a comparison, and place confidence in a theory derived from it, would discredit itself. It’s like comparing homicides per thousand people per decade in the financial district of a large city, versus out in the suburbs of that same metropolitan area. It’s apples-and-oranges.

    America, for now, is in a class by itself. Anyone who works with statistics, and doesn’t treat America that way, isn’t working with statistics very well. They may do a great job of sticking to proven facts and applying scientific principles, but without common sense tying it all together it’s still just so much nonsense. Kind of reminds me of the Water Humor letter from the early nineties.

    Still, it’s an interesting read if nothing else.

    BONUS: A couple of FARKers got into it about something I thought was off-topic, at least, until you start to form conclusions from the study and want to argue about how much something has been proven. The one who I thought was doing a poorer job of sticking to the subject-at-hand, came up with this essay about correlation versus causation. It’s a red herring, but packed with some good lean meat and makes some great points.

    Consistency

    Friday, August 18th, 2006

    Consistency

    I have a question for those who stand with our thirty-ninth President. On anything. And my question concerns the word “morality.” Does this describe a relative concept, or an absolute one? In other words, is this thing that is described by that word, something that applies to us all universally, equally, regardless of the different perspectives upon which we draw in recognizing what it is? Could it be incumbent upon one person to apply another person’s sensibilities of what is “moral” and what is not? Or are we all free to figure out for ourselves what is moral, recognizing the different opinions of our commanders, statesmen, religious leaders and celebrities with lip-service, empty platitudes, and nothing else?

    It’s a heady question. It introduces the idea of freedoms coming at loggerheads. You have the freedom to prosecute others for violating your moral code, whether they agreed to it or not — or, you have the freedom to define your own set of moral taboos however you wish. Both cannot apply; and, one or the other, must.

    Jimmy Carter lives in a funny world, I think. He seems to think one answer applies to some amongst us, and a different answer applies to the rest.

    Via Boortz, I come to find out about a column written by David Limbaugh called “Sympathy for the Devil.” It would appear Limbaugh is describing an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel; I tracked down said interview here. And I must say, as Carter goes off on his latest tear against the current administration, it strikes me as a bit odd — the man who made me a registered Republican for life by showing me what bad policy looks like and the enormous damage it can do, directly addresses the conundrum with which I opened this post.

    The fundamentalists believe they have a unique relationship with God, and that they and their ideas are God’s ideas and God’s premises on the particular issue. Therefore, by definition since they are speaking for God anyone who disagrees with them is inherently wrong. And the next step is: Those who disagree with them are inherently inferior, and in extreme cases — as is the case with some fundamentalists around the world — it makes your opponents sub-humans, so that their lives are not significant. Another thing is that a fundamentalist can’t bring himself or herself to negotiate with people who disagree with them because the negotiating process itself is an indication of implied equality. And so this administration, for instance, has a policy of just refusing to talk to someone who is in strong disagreement with them — which is also a radical departure from past history. So these are the kinds of things that cause me concern. And, of course, fundamentalists don’t believe they can make mistakes, so when we permit the torture of prisoners in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, it’s just impossible for a fundamentalist to admit that a mistake was made.

    Go back and read that again. Carter makes an comment about what he calls “fundamentalists” which appears to be based on his own observations. In his first point, all he’s doing is clarifying what a fundamentalist is, and what ideas they have about my question. The ensuing nasty tidbits about fundamentalists are things that, according to him, just logically derive from that first one. “And the next step is: Those who disagree with them are inherently inferior…”

    So Carter, it would appear, has an answer to my question. And it is a definite one.

    But not a universal one.

    The other principle that I described in the book is basic justice. We’ve never had an administration before that so overtly and clearly and consistently passed tax reform bills that were uniquely targeted to benefit the richest people in our country at the expense or the detriment of the working families of America.

    “Basic justice,” huh? What does that adjective mean, “basic”? Easy to understand? Good heavens, I hope not. I’m still trying to figure out what is “just” about people making much better decisions than mine, and then before they get to reap the profits of those wise decisions, being fleeced to fatten up my sorry ass.

    No, I don’t think even Carter would define “basic” that way. I’m going to go waaaaaaaaay out on a limb here, and based on the context, postulate he is defining “basic” to mean “you can’t argue with this because I’m not going to let you” or some derivative of that.

    But wait! I thought imposing your morality on others was wrong! I thought it led to you thinking others are inferior and lead meaningless lives, blah blah blah.

    Perhaps that doesn’t pertain, somehow, to Jimmy Carter. I’d like to see some evidence it doesn’t; I’ve been watching the old goat for quite awhile. Depending on who you’re talking about, he does seem to think that some among us get to define morality, and others amongst us have the privilege of simply practicing what the first group has defined. One thing is for sure: If morality is something that prevails in a singular direction upon us all, according to Carter, we don’t all get to vote on it. Another thing is sure: He, himself, definitely has a say. And it looks like a lot more than just a “vote.”

    What I find odd, is that the people Carter calls “fundamentalists,” seem to have an answer for me, and it’s a pretty good one. They say this thing called “morality” is up to God, and not man; in fact, man intrudes upon God’s domain, committing a grave offense against Him, by usurping this authority. Man, similarly, commits a grave offense against Him, by violating what that authority says. This is The Word of He Who Put Us Here; if you’re not willing to abide by it, then what good are ya? It’s a solid, logical question — once you accept the premise there is a He. And, if you are placed in a position of interpretive authority by other men, should you then permit others to violate this morality, or choose the dictates of your man-made office over that morality — again, what good are ya? What in the world would inspire Him to keep you here…other than, moment-to-moment, it’s not quite yet worth His time to kick your ass to oblivion, kind of like I haven’t quite gotten around to running the next load of dishes yet?

    Great rhetorical questions, they do what rhetorical questions should do. They’re unanswerable. The theory is placed under assault, often, supposedly for contravening logic. The notion that it contravenes logic, is supported by nothing whatsoever, save for the fact that the theory has something to do with God. As far as starting with a premise and proceeding forward with one cognition after another cognition, and arriving at a conclusion about rules we should follow — I find it to be very strong. I’m told that it isn’t. I’ve yet to figure out why.

    Carter talks about “traditional” values. He should go back and read the Declaration of Independence. This is the “basic” argument that justified our independence from Great Britain in the very beginning. Ooh! I’m so sorry, to all those I offended…er, no I’m not. It’s the truth. That’s just the way it is. That’s the design of the machinery.

    Now, to my first question. What is morality? Does it have a place in a society where some people make rules, and others abide by them?

    Or does each person decide this for him- or herself?

    I’m at about 28 years, give-or-take, not having a shred of respect for Jimmy Carter’s opinion about anything. There are a lot of people behaving as if they’d like to dislodge scales from my eyes, and inspire me to listen to the curmudgeon’s ramblings. Whether they realize it or not, what they’re trying to tell me is that at age ten I was right after all, and my exposure to real life, stupid people, evil people, narcissists, thieves, charlatans, boneheaded mistakes on my part, bills to pay, etc. etc. etc. has just made me dumber. They’re saying I knew something then, and don’t know it now. To them, I say a great first step in changing my mind would be to get an answer to my question about morality; a consistent one. Straight from him, would be great; something that somehow comports with all that he says — all that he says, about anyone — would be almost as good.

    But consistency is the vital attribute to such an answer. If someone wants to change my mind about the man who received my last Democrat-party vote in this lifetime — thank goodness I was too young to actually cast it! — I’m going to have to insist on it, or don’t bother answering. Seems like so little to ask.

    TWISI

    Thursday, August 17th, 2006

    TWISI

    So this guy who keeps asking me if I mention him in my blog…he shows up at work every day with a cup from Starbuck’s which, nine to noon, is his bucket o’swill, and from noon to five is his tobacco receptacle. Gee, I wonder how many guys now will think that sentence is directed at them, huh.

    A note about my patronage of Starbuck’s. For me, things are a little different…I shun the cardboard. I think it makes the coffee taste different. It’s a trifling matter when the cost and quality of the product mirror your experience at Dunkin’ Donuts, but of course, at Starbuck’s, that is not the case. So…

    ME: Hi. I’d like a drip, Venti, dark, for here, IN A MUG, no room, and a copy of that liberal snot-rag over there. (Maybe for sake of clarity I’ll call it “the newspaper.”)

    Cashier, WAY too peppy: Sure! Oh…uh, you mean a regular coffee?

    ME: Yup.

    Cashier: Okay! That’ll be $2.05 (unless it’s Sunday, in which case it’s $3.15).

    ME: (Pleasantly as I can manage, at 5 in the morning.) Can I get that in a MUG, please?

    Cashier: Huh? (Looks down at their hand which is holding a cardboard cup.) Oh! Right! Um…you said that! Ha!

    ME: (All smiles.) No problem!

    (Negotiations may ensue about “actually we just broke our last Venti mug” or “actually someone just walked off with our last Venti mug” or some such…)

    Cashier: HEY! That is a cool card thingy you got there!

    ME: Yup.

    So I digress. The point is, I hate cardboard. I hate it. Cardboard is for the drive-through. Cardboard is what you use when portability is an absolute requirement. Coffee in cardboard is like beer in a can. The product within assumes the temperature of the surroundings far, far too quickly, and I find that to be gross. So I don’t use cardboard.

    My chaw-chewing colleague, therefore, has reacquainted me to the Starbucks The Way I See It campaign. I and some others call it TWISI. The goal is…

    To get people talking, �The Way I See It� is a collection of thoughts, opinions and expressions provided by notable figures that now appear on our widely shared cups.

    And there’s some kind of snippet on each cardboard cup — which, of course, at this moment I do NOT have in front of me — that says the company wants “to bring conversation back in the coffee houses.”

    But some people don’t like that. They point out that the quotes have a liberal bent.

    Moments after picking up a venti vanilla latte from a St. Petersburg Starbucks, Sam Maston removed his cup’s cardboard sleeve to inspect a message printed beneath.

    “America’s national debt is now $7.5-trillion, and it’s skyrocketing, even as America’s population ages,” the cup read. “There will never be a better time to start paying off this crippling debt than today.”

    The quote, from environmentalist Denis Hayes, didn’t faze the 29-year-old Maston.

    “I’m a pretty hardcore Democrat,” said Maston, who wore a black rubber wristband bearing the words I DID NOT VOTE 4 BUSH. “I think they should put that stuff on there.”

    Not everyone agrees.

    The Seattle coffee chain has raised some eyebrows over its “The Way I See It” campaign, which prints quotes from thinkers, authors, athletes and entertainers on the side of your morning machiatto. The goal, according to the company, is to foster philosophical debate in its 9,000-plus coffeehouses.

    The quotes aren’t all that inflammatory, though several mirror Starbucks’ hallmark tall-grande-venti pretentiousness. Take this one from film critic Roger Ebert: “A movie is not about what it is about. It is about how it is about it.”

    The problem, critics say, is the company’s list of overwhelmingly liberal contributors, including Al Franken, Melissa Etheridge, Quincy Jones, Chuck D. Of the 31 contributors listed on Starbucks’ Web site, only one, National Review editor Jonah Goldberg, offers a conservative viewpoint.
    :
    Company spokeswoman Valerie Hwang said the goal is not to stir up controversy. She said the company has lined up 60 contributors with “varying points of view, experiences and priorities” in an effort to promote “open, respectful conversation among a wide variety of individuals.”

    Each cup also bears a caveat letting customers know that the quote is “the author’s opinion, not necessarily that of Starbucks.”

    “The program is such that we’re not requiring our customers to read,” Hwang said, “but rather the quotes are there for our customers to discover and enjoy.”

    Several liberal blogs, like this one and this one have identified conservative backlash, right-wingers threatening not to buy Starbucks products anymore, because of TWISI #43:

    But one particular quote — #43 — blatantly pushes the homosexual agenda. It�s by Armistead Maupin, who wrote �Tales of the City,� a bestseller-turned-PBS drama advocating the homosexual lifestyle, and it reads: “My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long. I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don�t make that mistake yourself. Life�s too [expletive] short.”

    Well, Ms. Hwang, it looks like the program is a success because TWISI #43 has promoted open, respectful conversation among a wide variety of individuals. Well…open conversation anyway.

    And from this we can learn much.

    We seem to have a lot of fire from the right, thanks to people who would like to borrow a page from the liberal-activist handbook and use commercial pressure to control the public forum, expurgating from it certain things they do not like. That’s an educational thing to take in, I think, and we owe it to TWISI.

    We’ve got a lot of people on the left, who would take the observation about people on the right, above, and from this form the conclusion that controlling the public forum, is a conservative attribute. In other words, by implication, they hold the liberal viewpoint to be unconditionally friendly to ideas of all kinds. This proves that the left is jam-packed with people who either don’t know what is going on, choose not to pay attention, or are just plain nuts. Another valuable and educational lesson we owe to TWISI.

    We also know there is an unhinged sentiment floating around out there in liberal-land, reeking of cognitive dissonance, inspiring sort of a “backburn”: scoldings directed at ideological opponents, who would deign to scold. Comments like “just fucking drink your coffee and keep your hate inwards, thankyouverymuch” showcase mankind’s seemingly endless capacity for waging battle against incendiary invective, through the dubious tactic of using that very invective. This is revealing. We owe the lesson, largely, to the hateful leftists…and TWISI.

    What is to be said about the folks on the right who would airbrush the homosexual-friendly TWISI #43 from our viewpoint? Feh. From where I sit, it’s purely a freedom-of-speech issue. And I hope I’ve made it plain where I am on that; Starbuck’s is a private concern. These censor-wannabes are after something they can never have.

    The question that remains, is how many of them there are. From the links above, in the comments section of some of those blogs, and the quotes in the news story, obviously there are a couple here & there. I see no evidence at all that the quantity of individuals within such a class, rises above any more than that.

    But “bendygirl” seems to do a much better job of representing the left, than the “Ban TWISI #43″ cabal does of representing the right: “‘I want to enjoy your product without having Earth Day Network propaganda thrust at me.’ Earth Day Network is propoganda…about what…the earth?” Thus ends the point made by bendygirl. It is a point made through sarcasm. It is a point that seeks to carefully avoid actually making a point. It seems TWISI seeks to promote dialog, and bendygirl seeks to bring it to a close.

    How many liberals are like bendygirl?

    I can only go by experience. And my experience is, with some noteworthy exceptions, practically all of them are. Liberalism appears to be an ideology borne out of a limited attention span, and a drive to form opinions out of sarcasm.

    That would be purely an article of faith on my part. Something purely unsupported. If it were not for the free and open discussion promoted by TWISI. Which just goes to show why I’m opposed to the folks on the right-wing who would expose the TWISI content to the rigors of social activism, hoping to cut out the TWISI bits they happen to dislike. Those far-right goo-gooders, are reflecting poorly on themselves, as they openly campaign against the rights and privileges of folks on the left to reflect poorly on themselves.

    I hope TWISI continues to grow and to thrive, Snippet #43 and all. Even if every coffee cup that rolls off the press, pops out with a hardcore Earth-day-friendly homosexual-agenda-promoting far-left bumper sticker slogan…stuff that makes #43 look like a picnic…now and evermore. It promotes the discussion, and from the discussion we see how people truly think.

    Missing The Smugness

    Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

    Missing The Smugness

    Last Friday, I wrote about today’s ecology activists and I’ll let my words speak for themselves.

    I remember thirty years ago there was a big-time environmental movement going on. The Ad Council put on television commercials, with an image of an Indian crying over a littered cityscape. Some people did ecologically-friendly things, most people did not. The people who did, acted smug. Sanctimonious. Better-than-you.

    I miss the smugness.

    Because their successors, today, can lecture you about how the planet is doomed — the planet is doomed! — and if the two of you happen to walk past a Hummer H2 while he’s flinging his environmentalist spittle in your direction, he won’t bat an eyelash. And nobody has the cojones to say, it seems: Hey, you just talked about the human race coming to an end and the planet becoming uninhabitable. Have you no comment on this machine we just walked past? None?

    Now, here’s the bee up my butt. I don’t have anything against the tree-huggers of yesteryear for being smug. And for being craven hypocrites, I don’t bear any malice against the tree-huggers today. My jaundiced eye beats down, instead, on people who believe what the environmental activists of today tell them…everything…without even blinking.

    Because, let’s just admit it. In my hypothetical about the spittle-flinging environmentalist, going on about global warming, and greenhouse gases, and George Bush this and Kyoto Treaty that, blah blah blah, and the two of you are walking along and you pass the H2 and he has nothing to say about it whatsoever — let’s just agree outright, you’ve got better than even odds the environmentalist has nothing to say against the H2 because it happens to belong to him.

    That’s the situation we have today.

    You doubt me? Well, let’s take a look at what we have going on here. Via Drudge Report, via Boortz, we come to find out about a speech delivered by the distinguished Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

    Illinois Senator Barack Obama warns citizens at his 50th Town Hall meeting about gas guzzling, WPSD-TV reports.

    It was among many points made to the standing room only audience at the Metropolis Community Center. Obama spoke on everything from DC politics to global warming.

    He says part of the blame for the world’s higher temperatures rests on gas guzzling vehicles. Obama says consumers can make the difference by switching to higher mileage hybrids.

    Today the Senator said, “It would save more energy, do more for the environment and create better world security than all the drilling we could do in Alaska.”

    “After the meeting… Obama left in a GMC Envoy after admitting to favoring SUV’s himself,” claimed local News Channel 6.

    MORE

    Tommy Vietor, Senator Obama’s press secretary, explains: “What Senator Obama has long advocated is the use of vehicles that are more fuel efficient, including but not exclusively hybrids.

    “The vehicle senator obama travels in while in illinois is a Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV), which can run on e85, a blended fuel made of 85 percent ethanol.

    “So he in fact was practicing what he preached at the town hall meeting in Metropolis yesterday when he said we must drive fewer gas-guzzling vehicles.”

    But it does not appear that GMC’s Envoy is E85 ready.

    Developing…

    See what I mean? I don’t blame Sen. Obama and people like him; I blame people for believing the hype.

    People are talking about the planet’s looming failure to continually support life as we know it. Well, not all of them. But show me someone who thinks we should “take global warming seriously,” and I’ll show you someone who…at the very least…is advancing the notion that humanity, as a whole, faces — if not extinction, then health risks. Physical injury of some kind. All of us, everyone with a pair of lungs and a beating heart and a patch of skin.

    People aren’t going to start thinking critically just because I wish they would. But when you have a high-profile senator giving a lecture on our gas-guzzling ways and how we contribute to global warming — for the fiftieth time! — and then, afterward, hopping into a gas guzzler and lumbering away, that’s just silly. And not a little bit. It’s up to Monty Python levels.

    And there is nothing unusual about it. This is not an isolated incident. To simply wish for a global warming guy to behave as if we have a problem here, about as serious as what he’s claiming, is to wish for something you won’t be getting and just about everyone can tell you, you ought not expect. And then the bullshit comes cascading down upon us, and half of us are ready to dive in with spoons, and beg for seconds.

    You folks who like to all fall for the same crap en masse, because it gives you that sense of togetherness…can’t you find something else? I’m sure there’s something in your personal e-mail from a guy who wants you to help him smuggle money out of Nigeria, why don’t you think about goin’ for that one?

    This Is Good XVII

    Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

    This Is Good XVII

    Via Snopes, a true rarity. A slightly-corny joke I had not heard before, that is acually pretty decent humor-wise…

    Lawyers should never ask a witness a question if they aren’t prepared for the answer.

    In a trial, a Southern small town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grand-motherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?”

    She responded, “Why, yes I do know you, Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper-pusher. Yes, I know you.”

    The lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?”

    She again replied, “Why yes, I do. I’ve know Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He’s lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can’t build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.”

    The defense attorney almost died.

    The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench, and in a very quiet voice said, “Neither of you bastards better ask her if she knows me.”

    Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XVII

    Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

    Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XVII

    Via Deb Schlussel we come to find out about yet another golden needle that should not pass into the blogosphere haystack without being captured. Great work, I have nothing to add.

    WHEN will the Muslims of Britain stand up to be counted?

    When will they declare, loud and clear, with no qualifications or quibbles about Britain’s foreign policy, that Islamic terrorism is WRONG?

    Most of all, when will the Muslim community in this country accept an absolute, undeniable, total truth: that Islamic terrorism is THEIR problem? THEY own it. And it is THEIR duty to face it and eradicate it.