Archive for January, 2007

Long Drop

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, half-brother of Saddam Hussein, was executed by hanging Monday. He shared an inglorious fate with legendary cowboy/outlaw Tom Ketchum, in that his rope was too long and as a result his head was snapped from his body.

There’s some stuff Barzan did to end up at the end of a long rope, though. Among other things, he Irreversibled a guy. Yeah, if I’m going to try to rabble-rouse people into some frothy panic about “oh, that is SUCH a barbaric way to execute somebody, I’m oh so outraged blah blah blah,” that’s a detail I’m going to leave out. In fact I’m not even going to say what it means to Irreversible someone. Rent the movie and fast-forward to ten, fifteen minutes into it. Listen to the crunching sound of someone’s sinus cavity. You’ll get it.

You can get the lowdown on what all those skull-fuckingly screwed-up guys did over there, here.

Wet and Irritated

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Via Ronalfy we learn about a great little screed worth a chuckle or two. Too good to wait for the weekend.

Potty humor. Always funny.

The Vast Power of Certification

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Well, I have personal reasons for stopping to read news like this. We live in an accredited world. You have to have a diploma to get work…at pretty much anything. When your father’s father became a man, people told him the same thing, and they were right to. Get that diploma, son. And so back then, success depended upon sheepskin…nowadays, it likewise does…it just seems logical to assume, every single day in between it was the same way, right?

Well, of course there is that problem with the early eighties, when we got an entire industry going by a bunch of college drop-outs. And the industry actually gave us stuff. That worked. That we use. That defined what a career really was, for millions of people, including me.

Some say I have formed a personal bias from a skewed perspective. They’re right. I’ve learned some things that I just can’t ignore. Back in the olden days, I was a high school graduate…and a “champion.” Not, as in, best of the best of the best — not that by any means. I’m referring to the old-school definition of champion. The Middle English version. You want your side to prevail, you pick a knight, and you declare victory or suffer defeat, based on the victory or defeat of that knight. I was that knight. Employers would dip into their savings accounts to give me paychecks, and to earn those paychecks I would sit down in front of a computer network and make it do what it was supposed to do. I was the “best bet,” college degree or no. And I set out to make sure it was a winning bet.

And so while I do have my personal biases, my real concern is what I’m seeing happening to business. I come from a time when those who made the decision to hire, had a personal stake in seeing things come out right.

Look what we got going on nowadays…

Are highly educated teachers worth the extra pay?
Those with master’s paid more, but studies cast doubt on benefit
06:53 AM CST on Monday, January 15, 2007
By ANDREW D. SMITH / The Dallas Morning News

Dallas-area school districts spend nearly $20 million a year on extra pay for teachers with master’s degrees.

The payments make intuitive sense: Advanced training must help teachers teach better.

But scores of studies show no ties between graduate studies and teacher effectiveness. Even among researchers who see some value in some master’s programs, many urge dramatic reforms and an end to automatic stipends.

“If we pay for credentials, teachers have an incentive to seek and schools have an incentive to provide easy credentials,” said Arthur Levine, a researcher who once headed Columbia University’s Teachers College. “If, on the other hand, we only pay for performance, teachers have an incentive to seek and schools have an incentive to provide excellent training.”

Count James R. Sharp Jr. among the defenders of the programs. The first-grade teacher in the Garland school district says his recent graduate studies at Texas A&M-Commerce in Mesquite improved nearly every aspect of his performance.

“I learned to maintain discipline. I learned to manage time. I learned to communicate better,” he said. “It was a tremendous experience.”

Yet a large body of research casts doubt on the value of master’s programs, of any kind, in the classroom. A roundup published in 2003 by The Economic Journal, a publication of the international Royal Economic Society, unearthed 170 relevant studies. Of those, 15 concluded that master’s programs helped teachers, nine found they hurt them, and 146 found no effect.
“We teach practical matters: curriculum, law, reading, classroom management,” said Madeline Justice, [Texas A&M] interim department head for educational leadership. “Students tell us wonderful things about our program.”

Asked if she knew of any studies that showed systematic benefits of master’s degrees, Dr. Justice said her school was conducting a study of its master’s degree students but that data had yet to be tabulated.

William Sanders, who pioneered many analytical techniques while at the University of Tennessee, has found no clear benefit of master’s degrees from any education school.

“I did one study that compared graduates from 40 different schools of education, everything from tiny no-names to national powerhouses,” Dr. Sanders said. “Each school produced great teachers, mediocre teachers and lousy teachers in roughly the same degree.”

Look, I’m not going to sit here and type in something to the effect that a Master’s Degree doesn’t mean anything. It seems like a given that someone who has one, has achieved something that has not been achieved by someone who does not have one.

But at the same time, it’s pretty easy to see how the Dallas-area school districts got here. The requirement for a formal education, is a requirement that tends toward absolutism. In other words, you insist this position over here be filled by someone with a degree, you have to insist that position over there also be filled by someone with equal credentialing. And then you insist on the same thing for that other thing over there too. Before you know it, everyone has to have the same degree.

And position after position after position is filled this way, with no one ever called on the carpet to account for how this helps to accomplish the job at hand. Yeah, the certified people are going to be performing at-or-above the level of the non-certified people…more or less. But from working with highly educated people, I’ve noticed something over the years: A problem one of them can’t solve, tends to be a problem many of them can’t solve. Their backgrounds tend to overlap to the extent that it becomes an occasion when someone “brings something to the table” that hasn’t already been offered by someone else.

Kind of like giving your children a narrow gene selection by marrying your sister.

But of course when the higher-education folk can do everything asked of them in their positions, that is fulfilled by someone without the same credentials, is that so wrong? I suppose maybe not. The article makes mention of some $20 million allocated for teachers with Master’s Degrees. I guess whoever’s paying that $20 million would be in the best position to answer that question.

But I think that explains my concerns. There is cost; there is lack of diversity. Real diversity, as in, diversity of backgrounds and diverse personal capacities to competently confront challenges that come with the position. Thing I Know #40 is “We are a tribal species, although we’re loathe to admit it, and when people extoll the virtues of “diversity” they tend to talk about skin color and nothing else.” Obviously, I’m talking about something else, and this goes unsatisfied when a department is packed full of people with degrees, when their positions don’t actually demand them.

And finally, there is the marriage between those who make the decision to hire, and those with a stake in having the requirements of the position filled well. Performance goals being met or exceeded. The unthinking insistence on degrees that may or may not be related to the demands of the position, tends to drive a wedge between those two parties.

For example, in hiring a zookeeper, most people would be unable to articulate just how a candidate’s application could be bolstered by a degree in…let us say…astronomy. But, hey. It’s kind of technical to deliberate that issue, isn’t it? We can’t burden our human resources guy with the chore of figuring out if astronomy has something to do with hosing shit off the floor of a bear cage. Maybe there’s some overlap. Maybe there isn’t — but we know it takes something to get an astronomy degree.

So once the job offer goes out to the guy with the astronomy degree, can the human resources guy who made the decision, really bet that he’ll make a good zookeeper? That’s the question. And the answer is…well, nobody knows. You see, the human resources guy isn’t betting that. What he’s betting, is that if the candidate turns out to be a lousy zookeeper, he will not be blamed. It won’t be his fault. See, he hired someone with a degree.

That’s a ludicrous example, since of course zookeeping is a far cry from astronomy. But it’s not that distant from…botany. Or climatology. Shift the degree to those, and it becomes more realistic. And the ramifications remain the same. The human resources guy, is effectively outsourcing the vital decision-making that he’s earning good money to do. He’s leaving it up to an outside source, in the form of the degree-criterion. It’s human nature to do this. You have to make decisions day-to-day, you find ways to take the decision-making out of it.

That isn’t to say I think higher education is meaningless. But I think it’s fair to say that sometimes, we get a little too caught up in confusing “certification” with “having accomplished something related to the job at hand.” So I’m not surprised that some studies have gone out looking for payoff from hiring teachers with Master’s degrees, and have come up a bit empty.

After all, you probably don’t have too many people ready, willing or able to say, “THIS is how a teacher with a Master’s degree is going to do a better job than a teacher who doesn’t have one.” Yeah, you’ve got James R. Sharp. And I’ll wager everyone in his position, is going to say the same thing. He’s simply saying he had an experience that makes him better at his job. Hell, I’ve had lots of experiences that made me better at every job I’ve ever held. That’s what experiences do…formal ed, or other.

That doesn’t mean a prospective employer is going to come out ahead, by insisting every candidate have the same experiences. If they were to do such a thing, an honest study would come to the conclusion that employer had effectively been wasting money. And it looks like that’s what has happened here.

But there’s more…

“America has 3.2 million teachers who together make up the nation’s most powerful political lobby, and more than half of them hold master’s degrees. They’ll fight for that money,” said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based nonprofit that funds and reviews education research. [emphasis mine]

Ah…there ya go. Read back up at TIK #40. We are a — what? Tribal species, although we are loathe to admit it. It’s demonstrated that a big chunk of this “money for people with degrees” thing, is nothing more than “I want everyone to be exactly like me, and if they aren’t I just want them to go away.”

Again, it’s just how we work. Human nature.

They Were Right About MacKenzie

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

Okay…I was wise to retain an element of doubt about whether this was real or not.

We’ll just take it from the top and follow all four installments all the way through, for the benefit of the uninitiated. I, II, III, IV.

Common sense says, obviously, fake. Okay. I still feel like throwing up a little…daddeeeeeeeeeee…

American Flag Not Allowed

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

Via Fire and Hammer, via Liberalism is a Mental Disorder, we learn that the FDNY has apparently lost its mind. It all began with a “sexually explicit slogan.” I’d like to know what that would be. Firefighters do it hotter? Osama can kiss my ass? What?

Well, I suppose it doesn’t really matter. With a battle cry of “No city agency should permit the work place to display inappropriate stuff”, FDNY has begun cleaning…lockers. Nothing personal allowed. “Support Our Troops” banners, American flags, family photos…hey, once again. If a little of something is good, a lot of it must be a whole lot better.

If we could somehow bring the Founding Fathers back to life, and then task some panel to follow them around as they discover where we are, and explain to them how things got this way — recording the explaining part of it on a timesheet as they go — I’m sure most of the explaining would have to do with things we started doing since the education of children has become a public-sector pursuit. This would be the mother-lode of things that James Madison and Alexander Hamilton and George Mason couldn’t quite grasp. And I’m referring here to the very first time, probably in your second-grade year, you had some matronly-looking yard teacher or librarian or administrator waggle her finger in your face and intone those timeless words, “if I make one exception, I’ll have to make a thousand.”

This modern dictum appears to be the Queen Bee that gives birth to all administrative ideas…that are bad.

The point where the equation incorporates serious flaw, is obvious. Things that are different, are recognized as equivalent. Differentials are trivialized. A full-color photo of some lady’s verginer spread wide…Christmas card from Mom…all the same, in the stigmatized eyes of those who make rules. The decision-making process is hobbled to the point of complete debilitation, because the cognitive processes have been similarly hobbled. No longer can anyone do, because no longer can anyone think.

It is the single best argument we have, for abolishing the public school system. Little tiny kids are taught to think this way, and they grow up thinking this way. Like bees. For the benefit of the collective order, for the good of the hive, we shall think of the American flag as being on par with the centerfold of Hustler magazine. To preserve intra-departmental order, the good of the many must outweigh the interests of the few.

And yet, intra-depratmental order has been fractured and this little administrative string-pulling effort has ended up on Fox News and WCBS. And a zillion blogs.

The lesson: Bees are bees. People are people. It’s a mistake to make one act like another. A mistake…and ultimately, self-defeating.

Not In It For The Attention, Mind You… VIII

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

LogoThis fellow’s photo-blog is a thing of beauty. Partly because his pix are as stunning as you would expect, as he sails wherever he pleases and captures sunrise & sunset across aquatic vistas unspoiled by man. And partly because he’s living my dream. One of my dreams anyway. Perhaps it should be unsurprising that on a relative basis, he’s flooding us with traffic since he mentioned us a few hours ago.

What is it about the ocean? It could be fairly said that one picture of the ocean resembles all other pictures, ergo, you seen one you seen ’em all. But that’s hardly the way it works now, is it? Paradoxically, the old saw about no snowflake resembling any other, for all practical purposes is true…but…you can get bored pretty quick looking at snowflakes.

People don’t get tired of looking at the ocean. On the cruise last spring, I could sit outside my stateroom and watch it all day and all night, if only my ass didn’t start hurting and there wasn’t…you know, lots of stuff to do. It’s nature’s battery-charging station. Give me 36 hours — two nights and a day — with an ocean, and I can take on anything.

Most Powerful Engine

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

Now That's PowerThe Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C turbocharged 14-cylinder model is the most powerful diesel engine in the world. It’s designed to accommodate as large a vessel as might be commercially viable, which in turn can still stick to a single-engine, single-propeller design. It’s 89 feet long, 44 feet tall, and weighs 2300 tons. Each cylinder produces 7780 horsepower. Each cylinder. Total displacement, nine hundred cubic feet.

That goes for the largest model. Pictured at left is the bedplate for the eight-cylinder version.

Interestingly, in addition to being the most powerful, it’s also the most efficient. Among the features you won’t find in most smaller engines, is a crosshead design used to take the sideways force away from the pistons, which reduces the wear-and-tear to the cylinder block over time. I suppose it would have to lower the accumulation of operational heat as well.

More info here and here.

The Jaywalking Professor

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

Neal Boortz is being tough on this guy, a visitor to our shores with a tale of police brutality he’d like to tell. I don’t exactly agree with Neal’s reasoning. I simply don’t know enough about it to sign on to what he’s going. Boortz is a radio guy, and evidently he went on air and made some comments in the professor’s favor, to later retract them and apologize after reading the professor’s take on things (link requires registration when it gets in some funky mood that the web page programmer himself probably doesn’t understand). What was the infraction committed within the professor’s remarks?

He’s blaming the questionable behavior of the Atlanta Police on…aw, well who the hell do ya think?

I found that in Atlanta the civilization of the jail and the courts contrasted with the savagery of the police and the streets. This is a typical American contrast. The executive arm of government tends to be dumb, insensitive, violent and dangerous. The judiciary is the citizen’s vital guarantee of peace and liberty. I became a sort of exemplar in miniature of a classic American dilemma: the “balance of the Constitution,” as Americans call it, between executive power and judicial oversight.

I have long known, as any reasonable person must, that the courts are the citizen’s only protection against a rogue executive and rationally uncontrolled security forces. Though my own misadventure was trivial – and in perspective laughable – it resembles what is happening to the world in the era of George W. Bush. The planet is policed by a violent, arbitary, stupid and dangerous force. Within the USA, the courts struggle to maintain individual rights under the bludgeons of the “war on terror,” defending Guantanamo victims and striving to curb the excesses of the system. We need global institutions of justice, and judges of Judge Jackson’s level of humanity and wisdom, to help protect the world.

I dunno, man. It’s clear from reading the comments in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that there’s some vast untapped repository of information about this, that is outside of my reach. But a lot of the people in the Professor’s camp on this one, have a disturbing tendency to confuse “having a degree” with “being right.” Um, excuse me. At issue is whether or not America is retaining its original ideals, and chief among these ideals is the idea that you get your fair day in court here — even if the dispute in which you are engaged, concerns another party with a much higher social status. We don’t think you’re in the wrong here, just because you’re a pauper and your plaintiff is a Lord. We don’t fine you a sixpence if you’re the son of an Earl, and a half-crown or a jail sentence, for doing the same thing if you’re not so well connected.

Things just don’t fly that way here. That is what America is all about.

And here these chuckleheads are, deciding the professor must be in the right, simply because he is one.

And as Boortz points out, quite correctly, not a very good one at that. He thinks rough police handling in Atlanta has something to do with our President. I don’t know why he thinks this because he feels very little need to establish why this connection exists. But it’s gotta be messed up, whatever it is.

I’m just not willing to decide the handling against him was within-bounds, just because he’s got some screwy ideas.

But having said that, this makes more sense:

I think that we all know that a simple “I’m sorry, officer, I’ll be more careful the next time” would have been more than sufficient. Clearly it escalated beyond that. Is it possible that the good professor used some of his “George Bush is Stupid, America is violent, dangerous and arbitrary” nonsense on the cop?

Why, that would reqiure a heck of an attitude problem. Looks to me like the prof has exactly that.

Stuff That’s Tough

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

What's the Chinese symbol for I was doing that thing that our leftists say people like me never ever do, which is listen to others. The subject is Sen. Barbara Boxer, my junior delegate to the Senate. Once again, for reasons unknown to me and never ever explained to me, a sitting Senator was allowed to pretend she was making an inquiry to our Secretary of State…and drone on at length into the microphone as if she was some freakin’ valedictorian or guest-speaker at a graduation ceremony or something. She’d end a sentence with a question-mark, which on the planet from which I come, means it’s obligatory for the other party to start talking in an effort to supply the information that was requested. And then…just…keep…prattling…on.

“Who pays the price?” Boxer asked Rice, who is unmarried and doesn’t have children. “I’m not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with immediate family.

“So who pays the price? The American military and their families.”

Democrat senators, Republican senators. I don’t care. I have never understood why we tolerate this in our Congress. Questions are questions. Answers are answers. Speeches are speeches. Different things.

But I suppose I should get to the content of Sen. Boxer’s whatever-ya-wanna-call-it…since that has been shown to be much more offensive to many more people.

Well now. If she has any point to make here at all, it’s that there is a first-tier and a second-tier of people who may have opinions about the war. Perhaps people in the second tier should have some influence over things, although decidedly subordinate levels of that influence. Or perhaps none at all. One thing is for sure: If she thinks all opinions should be considered on their merits, regardless of the sources of same, or the personal stories behind those sources…her comments are confusing and useless. So the source is meaningful. The terrace-landscaping must hold. Some classes of people have “better” opinions than other classes of people, and this classification has to do with having draft-age children. It seems only through blatant backpedaling, could Boxer herself assert anything different about what she meant to say.

Disclaimer: I have one (1) nine-year-old son. We don’t know how long the war will last, so it’s a matter of opinion whether this places me on Boxer’s first tier or on her second tier.

Ask me if I give a rat’s ass.

I am so utterly sick and tired of this drawing-of-lines about which class or classes of people among us, are allowed to execute policy or form opinions about the war, and which class or classes of people are not. For one thing: It is SO fucking phony. If Dr. Rice was a Clinton cabinet official doing her level-best to get the “Bush lied people died” canard out there, and the “redeploy now” and the “Saddam Hussein was no threat” and the “it’s all for oil” and all the rest of that stupid left-wing Ted Kennedy claptrap…Boxer wouldn’t give two shits if Condoleeza had kids or not. Do I really need to prove that? I shouldn’t have to.

That’s Thing One.

Thing Two:

According to Sen. Boxer’s words, the issue is with “who pays the price.” Well, now. If having a child killed in a war involves paying a price, and I believe it does — how about being that child? How about being the guy in the wrong place at the wrong time — nineteen forever? Can it possibly get more personal than that?

Excuse me Sen. Boxer. This country has a history of drafting MEN. But not women. So going by your logic…why don’t you get your ass in the kitchen and bake me some pie, while us men smoke cigars and figure this whole thing out. No, don’t blame me, that’s your logic. Personal price, remember? In fact, you identified yourself as not exactly being in the thick of this whole thing…defending it later as “how [you] felt.”

See, now we’re muzzling a different demographic. No longer is it Bush administration officials…it’s the gals. The logic hasn’t changed. But I’ll bet — and I’m talking my bottom dollar here — we’ve got a whole different sub-selection out of those among us, who are offended. I’ll bet my rent money on that. Hey gals, it’s the Boxer rule. Personal price. What the hell were we thinking when we let you vote, anyway?

Can we just shitcan this whole you-can-have-an-opinion-but-you-cannot thing. Puh-leeze.

It’s so phony. You have to have military cred to have an opinion…until you’re a military vet who supports President Bush, and then the rules have to change. Everybody knows it works that way — seldom is it mentioned, but everyone understand this. It’s not about the creds. It’s not about military service or “have you ever traveled outside of the U.S.” and it’s not about being eligible for the draft and it’s not about having kids of military-service age. It never was about any of those things. It’s about grasping for straws, and finding another phony-baloney reason to protest the war, and finding ways to muzzle those who might support the war.

Anyway. Back to the subject at hand, I was reading through the letters and I came across this, apparently from someone who’s not too sold on the war in the first place.

It’s easy to point a finger and accuse others.

What has Boxer done to stop or prevent a war? If this is what the Democrats are becoming. I doubt that I will ever vote Democratic again.

Now, this raises an interesting question. What has Boxer done…what have any of the Democrats done…to actually prevent this war. Or, I would add, to win it. Or to do anything…something that involves “paying a price,” personal or political. Just name the agenda. Pro-war, anti-war, forcing rotten public school districts on kids who’d be able to have a better choice if only a voucher system were in place, leaving millions of barrels of crude untapped in Alaska while maniacs in the Middle East use our oil money to fund terrorism, killing babies, getting white guys fired so lesser-qualified women and minorities can be hired instead. Just go through the list.

When has a left-winger…I mean a policitally influential one, an elected one….sacrificed anything? Even done something so trivial as, subordinating one agenda in favor of a different, more important one, where the two agendas conflict? As opposed to simply declaring to everyone within earshot what they ought to be thinking and then changing the subject?

You know, we could start here. Respect for the right of women to live their private lives as they choose — the stated goal of feminism — versus, Barbara Boxer’s brand-spankin’-new reason she cooked up to bash the Bush administration. Bush-bashing-item #23,576 if I’m counting right. How about setting an example for paying this extraordinarily meaningless price — Boxer, or those who are considering whether to repudiate her asinine comments from within, could say: “We have other ways to bash George Bush and his minions. Sen. Boxer is extremely proud of using her creative energies to find yet another, but we’ll let it go in the interest of preserving this higher ideal.”

They seem to have a rule against that. There is no verticality to the things they want to get done; nothing outranks anything else. If two positions are found to be in conflict, the sheeple are told what to think, maybe a sarcastic barb is tossed out Daily-Show style to draw a titter or guffaw or two, and the subject is promptly changed.

One of many reasons I don’t think they’re going to be holding on to this gig for two long. Real life simply doesn’t work that way. In real life, conflict forces a choice, and said choice involves…well, exactly what the dingbat senator was discussing. Tough stuff. Paying a price. Big one, little one. But something. Getting rid of something you’d just as soon keep.

And real life says, when such a choice is not made, this is a lack of leadership and it summons all the plagues that any crisis of leadership will bring. I guess our liberals are dedicated to “bringing it on,” as they say. In all matters. At all times.

Swell. Get ready for a fun ride.

Best Sentence V

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

Via Hot Air, via Patterico…Allah, commenting on the sham of a case against the Duke Lacrosse players, and on the “accuser” therein, draws a reference to one of our favorite self-aggrandizing self-promoting self-disgraced liberal friends

I don’t want to be harsh, but her credibility is approaching Greenwaldian levels.


Those uninitiated can get the needed background here, and those who are in-the-know and wanting to get a laugh out of it (assuming you somehow still haven’t seen this) can go here.

Good DAY, sir.

The B.U.F.

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

Nobody ever reads this blog, so the mantra goes. But of course that leaves unexplained things like last weekend, when once again our traffic graph on Sitemeter went all spikey. We’ve been spiked much higher before. Sunday’s “surge” of traffic netted 350-or-so hits and over 600 page views, an achievement that was approximately duplicated the following day. It became clear rather quickly that Pajamas Media was responsible for the sudden boost, and they extended a hat tip to fellow blogger Rick at Brutally Honest for finding us.

How much of a lift did we get? Since our use of Sitemeter nine months ago, this blog’s record is somewhere around 2,000 page views in a day. I would regard that as somewhat low, even if it were a daily average rather than a “record.” It’s called “The Blog That Nobody Reads” for a reason. Now, while falling far short of even that modest statistic, this recent limelight event was notably satisfying. Everyone talks about wanting to gather expressions of diverse and unique points-of-view. Well, whether that got done before is something that could be debated; but this time, that’s exactly what happened.

Bush HatingThe post that generated all the hubbub was this one, and the subject is the widespread visceral hatred toward President George W. Bush. I will bottom-line it real quick: I treated this Bush-hating emotion, now entering a seventh year — just for a change of pace — as exactly that. An emotion. I called a stop to the unfounded practice of treating it as a logical conclusion of reasoned anti-Bush arguments, just because certain people want everyone look at it that way. As Rick said, I “play[ed] shrink.”

It comes down to this: Someone had to play shrink. Six long years, society’s subwoofer has been drumming out this dull roar of Bush is bad, Bush is evil, Bush is stupid, I hate Bush, blah blah blah. Six years, as the rocket of Bush hatred punches into the stratosphere, The Left insists we all presume it is carried aloft on a fiery plume of logic and reason. Throughout all six years, evidence that logic and reason have something to do with it — is completely lacking. That’s three election cycles the President’s enemies lost. Barely. With statistical insignificance. Elections they could have turned around simply by explaining what they would have done differently…and somehow, chose not to so explain. That certainly isn’t logical. The time had simply come to ponder, gee whiz, maybe jealousy has something to do with it. Perhaps, just perhaps, there’s nothing logical about Bush hatred at all.

And wow. You’d think I had blown something up, demolished something precious and strategically valuable.

I guess that’s exactly what I did. You see, I learned something. There is a breathless urgency involved in proliferating the “Bush hatred is completely logical” canard. There must be. What am I supposed to think? I’m out here, writing for a blog that nobody even reads! Simply wondering, golly, maybe when people hate Bush, it’s a result of something besides Socratean, cool, clear-headed rational deliberation about his policies and where they should lead. I’m noticing that as a causative factor, jealousy explains a lot; some of what it explains, is left unexplained by the whole “cool-headed cogitation” thing we’ve been sold. And then I jot down what’s been left unexplained, that my theory explains. And for me simply jotting this stuff down, in a blog nobody reads anyway, there are people who’d love to KICK MY ASS!! At least that’s how some of them put it. Grrrr!!

I’ve always been suspicious of this kind of thing, perhaps to a fault. The Breathless Urgency Factor — B.U.F. for short. Ideas that seem otherwise reasonable, but Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! They just HAVE to get sold. Someone desperately wants to get those ideas out there. That has always struck me as fishy. Even if you have a financial interest in an idea, if it’s true, doesn’t it tend to get out there on its own?

And then there’s the whole Occam’s Razor thing. People who hate George Bush, don’t have any problems about advertising their emotions. But they are desperate to convince everyone the emotions started as something other than emotions. Well, what’s the shorter and more-certain path; emotions starting out as reasonable thought, and leaping over that critical barrier at some point? Or emotions just starting out as emotions and staying that way?

The emotions have been emotional for a very long time now. Our current President is the first one to spend his entire presidency with the Internet, as we know it, recording and saving everything it can, notwithstanding natural attrition. Let’s see what we have in the archives, shall we?

Ann Coulter, writing in November of 2001, just weeks after the attacks:

WE’VE finally given liberals a war against fundamentalism, and they don’t want to fight it. They would, except it would put them on the same side as the United States.
Not exactly smashing stereotypes of liberals as mincing pantywaists, the left’s entire contribution to the war effort thus far has been to whine.
Frank “No, No, Nanette!” Rich recently emitted an interminable screech on the op-ed page of The New York Times denouncing the Bush administration for not solving the anthrax cases already: “The most highly trumpeted breakthrough in the hunt for anthrax terrorists – Tom Ridge’s announcement that ‘the site where the letters were mailed’ had been found in New Jersey – proved a dead end.”

As Irish playwright Brendan Behan said: “Critics are like eunuchs in a harem: They know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.”

That’s five years ago. Since then, the Bush-hating culture has gobbled up a little bit more of the voting public; a tiny bit more, just enough to cross a crucial finish line. With all the speed, and enthusiasm, and jubilation after the the oh-so-critical gobbling, as my skinny kid chowing down the previously-agreed-upon number of bites of beef steak to get his dessert. They’ve won over barely enough hearts & minds to take over Congress. To win any more hearts & minds, is as interesting to them as a second helping of steak is to my son. They’ve won what they need to win; the rest of us who remain unconverted, are just “stupid.”

But other than the Democrats retaking the dome, has anything changed since 2001? Ann Coulter, the specific Frank Rich citation notwithstanding, could have written all that at any ol’ time. It’s spooky, really.

Byron York, writing in National Review in late summer of 2003:

If you haven’t heard the news, you’re not on the cutting edge of Bush-hating. Anyone with Internet access and a little curiosity can discover an extensive network of websites like, which accuses the president and his family of involvement in “mysterious” deaths; and, which traffic in images of Bush in Nazi regalia; and and, which portray the president as a drooling idiot. Taken together, the sites, and dozens of others like them, represent the far Left’s online equivalent of the infamous Clinton Chronicles and Clinton Body Count videos and websites of the 1990s, which accused Bill Clinton of all sorts of murders and criminal deeds.

Back then, the Clinton compilations troubled liberal observers and spurred a series of disapproving articles — not to mention armchair psychoanalyses — about Clinton-hating. Today, there appears to be less concern. But perhaps the political world should take more notice. Yes, some of the Bush-hating sites are obscure, but others are not, and given the upcoming presidential race and the intense passions it will likely generate, it seems reasonable to predict that they will all become better known. And it seems just as likely that some of the material they publish will inexorably seep into the wider political discussion. Bush-hating, already intense in some circles, could well become a growth industry in the coming year.

Howard Kurtz, writing in the Washington Post a short time after that:

The words tumble out, the hands gesture urgently, as Jonathan Chait explains why he hates George W. Bush.

It’s Bush’s radical policies, says the 31-year-old New Republic writer, and his unfair tax cuts, and his cowboy phoniness, and his favors for corporate cronies, and his heist in Florida, and his dishonesty about his silver-spoon upbringing, and, oh yes, the way he walks and talks.

For some of his friends, Chait says at a corner table in a downtown Starbucks, “just seeing his face or hearing his voice causes a physical reaction — they have to get away from the TV. My sister-in-law describes Bush’s existence as an oppressive force, a constant weight on her shoulder, just knowing that George Bush is president.”

Again, this could have been written anytime. November of 2000. Last night. Any minute in between.

The words tumble out, the hands gesture urgently. But it’s rational thinking and not raw emotion, they tell me. Why am I to think such a thing?

They are indignant about me considering anything to the contrary; even more indignant about me writing it down where others can see it. “Man…I hope this guy’s not my next door neighbor!!! …CAUSE I WOULD KICK HIS ASS!!! WITH MY PACIFIST…HANDS!!! What an asshole…” Yeesh. Much to my relief, this fellow corrected himself once someone pointed out that hands usually don’t have much to do with kicking peoples’ asses. The issue is my uncertainty about Bush-hatred being grounded in clear-headed thinking. A threat to kick my ass with pacifist hands, needless to say, did very little to address the concern.

Zossima DisapprovesAnd then there is Zossima. Liberal gadfly, seldom correct but never in doubt, always present on Brutally Honest. He’s like a flea, nibbling away on the blood and dander of Rick’s blog, determined to get the first bite, last bite, all bites, and to make sure everyone knows he’s biting…recently he’s jumped over here. Boing! Well, we’re happy to have him. Life gets boring quick if everyone agrees with you all the time. And I think Zossima has grown from the experience. He’s well known for being a little bit too certain about what meets his approval and what does not meet his approval, and it has not been unusual for him to seek all justification in some of his arguments, solely through that — the fact that he personally disapproves of something. He doesn’t like the graphic I made up for his benefit, and I can see why. He protests that it no longer applies. I agree.

The tactic he’s taken here, is slightly more-evolved. He disapproves of the “theory” I’ve been entertaining, and insists that I need to go look up what a theory is. If you read through his comments, you’ll see in his world, theories have to prove things. In fact, I need to prove things. Everything. I need to prove things that are, for all intents and purposes, settled. At one point, the whole notion that President Bush is hated to an extent meaningful in American history, is brought into question, with benefit-of-doubt withheld until proof is forthcoming. At another point, if memory serves, the notion that Bush is hated at all is brought into similar question. Again, nobody is allowed to presume this is the case, until scientific proof has been produced.

Now that is a strict standard.

It doesn’t apply to the things Zossima wants to think, though. Saddam Hussein being harmless, President Bush lying to get into Iraq…you can go ahead and jump to conclusions there. So you could say, whether or not Zossima approves of something, is still meaningful, but now we have a more elegantly crafted architecture to our thinking, that is based upon that. And it works through a standard of “proof” that shifts back-and-forth, according to — yeah, you got it — whether or not Zoss likes it.

But back to the theory about emotions driving Bush-hatred, more than reason and logic. It would appear I raised peoples’ cackles not so much by simply describing just that…but by reading something sexual into it. Something Freudian. Masculinity, you see, has a profound and ancient meaning. It has to do with being strong, of course, and it also has to do with supplying protection. Disciplined protection. And, in some cases, being a “bad boy.” In the final analysis, it has to do with following some rules and rejecting others. Essentially, it’s got to do with being ready, willing, and able to use strength to defend weaker people — or to simply get them out of a jam.

I compared Bush hatred to the intense feeling a rejected husband would have after his wife has found someone more virile. It seems this is what really, really, set people off. Perhaps I timed my comments poorly; the Democrats have just launched a campaign to instruct people to believe that they’re manly. It’s got lots of B.U.F. to it, the Breathless Urgency Factor, but as far as I’m concerned you can decide whatever you want about it. I just can’t help noticing they have a need to do this. I just defined masculinity as being ready, willing, and able to use force to defend weaker people; the Democrats have made a consistent platform out of carefully avoiding any of those three. Give money and benefits to, yeah. Coddle, placate and patronize, yeah. Insult the intelligence and resourcefulness of, sure. Defend — no way. Our liberals must indoctrinate people on the perception that they are manly, because they haven’t been behaving that way.

Regarding House of Eratosthenes’ latest day in the sun. The statistics were pretty modest this time, but I’m very happy it took place. The piece was linked here and here and here and here and here and here, and it even got Dugg. I got to meet people who don’t agree with me about things. That is when we grow. And it keeps coming back to me how “well-put” that other post was…even people who disagree with it, here and there have commented on this. I really don’t understand this. I’ve never understood it. I don’t get how people decide what posts are worth citing and linking and broadcasting, and others are not. And I’d have to be a little tougher on myself, in assessing whether that piece was well-written, because there are parts where I respectfully disagree. But I’m a wiser man for reading what people had to say, especially the ones who disagree.

Does that mean the theory has suffered and lost some of my confidence? Heh…I don’t like to write things to deliberately piss people off, and I know this will. I’m afraid the gap has been closed up, somewhat, between the current level of certainty and the Zossima’s high threshhold of proof. In my world, theories don’t prove things, and so we’ll never get there. But is Bush-hatred rooted in Freudian jealousy?

Freudian jealousy seems to be exactly what was paraded before me this week. Draw whatever conclusions you will.

And Would You Like Fries With That?

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

Our New SenateSen. Durbin would like the KOS kids to tell him what they want for the direction of the whole friggin’ country. Well, it’s nice to see our leaders listen to the people who elected them. I’m sure the KOSsacks are going to keep all kinds of diverse cross-sections of this long, broad country in mind as they figure out where we’re all going from here.

And throughout the election, I was worried the Democrats knew exactly what they wanted to do once they got in, and were just afraid to say. Apparently, I was afraid of the wrong thing all along.

Oh yeah, the answers? Nothing to be surprised about. “Redeploy” from Iraq, don’t give any grants to faith-based stuff because Gawd Is Badd, M’kay…healthcare for everyone, and global warming global warming global warming. And impeach, and do something about global warming.

They needn’t have bothered with that first one.

Illegal immigration? Don’t hold your breath. Actually, if you scan the thread from top to bottom, you’ll see an emerging “vacuum platform” — a growing list of things Sen. Durbin should get our government to stop worrying about. Ostrich stuff. Just stop saying anything about these problems and they’ll go away. The KOSsacks say so. I think I saw the illegal immigration issue in there. Hey. Good to know.

I wonder what would happen a year ago if a high-ranking Republican official went on record and said “If the Democrats win, you’ll see Sen. Dick Durbin ask the DailyKOS people for instructions on where to take your country.” Can you just imagine the cat-calls after that. It would have made Kerry’s botched joke look like a mid-speech hiccup by comparison.

And yet…here we are. Did you know you were voting on this?

The Boortz Santa Drive

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Just read, fer cryin’ out loud.

The older I get, the more value I place on it when people who go out of their way to do good things, are the beneficiaries of other good things other people went out of their way to get done. It’s just plain nice to see.

Thank you, Neal. If I weren’t already a fan, I’d become one just because of this. You da man.

Update 1-9-06: Neal has an interesting tidbit in this morning’s “Nooz”:

Last year during a six-month period we ran a little experiment on the Boortz show. We asked listeners to call in with examples of conservative bias in the news coverage on Fox News Channel. I can’t remember one legitimate [piece of] evidence of conservative bias in news coverage that was presented by any caller. What did we get? We got call after call telling us about Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity .. proof that Fox News is biased. These people just didn’t understand that O’Reilly and Hannity aren’t newscasters, and that they are not required to be objective in their coverage. I even received an email from one particularly brilliant person who told me that since Sean Hannity gets to express his personal opinions on the air, there is no reason why Katie Couric shouldn’t be able to do the same thing. This highly educated person (just ask her) doesn’t know the difference between a newscast and a show about the news featuring commentary.

Saddam Hussein’s Last Negotiation

Monday, January 8th, 2007

On Saturday I was citing a Gallup poll that says — essentially — none of us trust the media reports from Iraq. I would argue this is about the only correct decision people are making on a large ocean-to-ocean scale nowadays. We’ve come to realize the reports from Iraq are saturated with unsubstantiated, personal opinion from those who bring them; more often than not, the bias is apparently injected without the conscious knowledge of those who are the source of it. It seems Iraq would be a big mystery-land, a “Dark Continent” of sorts, save for one thing and one thing only. It has to do with everyone having an opinion about what to do about it. None of our politicians seem sufficiently talented to shape these opinions into a course of action that will appeal to a critical mass among us — it looks like a chore not unlike building a castle out of dry sand. And, among the individuals, what to do about Iraq is a matter of principle. And so, with the vortex that appears between those three forces, we have a situation where we “know” what to do about it, without achieving a good understanding of what’s happening there.

Some of us believe in making any conflict go away by simply ignoring it, and thus setting an example for those engaged in the conflict. Others of us believe this is foolish. We believe in Churchill’s definition of “appeasement”: “An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile hoping it will eat him last.”

And that brings me to Deb Saunders’ latest. She’s noticed, about Saddam Hussein’s execution, exactly what I’ve been noticing. We have all been instructed to believe it was “botched.” By contrast with an American execution, Saddam’s last public performance had some chaotic elements to it that could inspire a reasonable observer to think it was botched, but it’s oversimplistic to simply ponder whether the adjective applies. It’s disingenuous. Saddam’s execution was pre-botched. Those who tell us it was botched, were ready to tell us this, breathlessly, probably since Saddam was wrestled out of his spider-hole.

These days, the first rule of war coverage is that nothing — not even military victory — will improve Iraq’s prospects.

The second rule is that everything is botched. So Hussein’s trial was not fair, the appeals process was too swift and the execution was insufficiently solemn.

In the 24-hour news cycle, you can kill your own citizens with impunity, subject them to starvation and lead them into an avoidable war. But, if later you are brought to justice, coverage of your trial will be not so much about the carnage as about the “deeply-flawed” trial.
Indeed, critics are so busy trying to transform Iraqi prosecutions into an O.J. Simpson trial that they fail to notice that the families of Kurds and Shiites who were tortured and murdered for rebelling against Hussein now know that the Butcher of Baghdad can no longer hurt them. That’s why there was dancing in Dearborn, Mich., home to a large community of Iraqi Americans who fled their homeland while under Hussein’s rule. Hussein cannot come back, as he did in 1963 after he fled to Syria and Egypt. He will never terrorize his countrymen again. He will hold no more power on this earth. Somehow, that’s no biggie.

Don’t ask me to explain it. I do think we have something broken in our system of reporting anything. The problem goes beyond Iraq. Those of us who are not in journalism, get to read things online and watch television and buy newspapers, and learn what’s going on from people who are in journalism — as they see it.

And they don’t see things the way “real” people do. It’s like the old joke where God decides to end the world, and they see women-and-minorities as hardest hit. Superman himself could be swooping around Iraq fishing kittens out of trees, and they’d say that was botched too.

War of Endurance

Monday, January 8th, 2007

Victor Davis Hanson on where things go from here.

Creating new political systems on the ground is far more difficult than simply blasting away terrorist concentrations. Such engagement demands that American soldiers leave the relative safety of ships, tanks and planes to fight subsequent messy battles in streets and neighborhoods. Once that happens, the United States loses its intrinsic military advantages.

First, the Islamists have just enough Western arms – automatic small weapons and explosive devices – to achieve parity with individual Americans on the ground. Our billions spent on aircraft carriers, drones and stealthy jets were not intended to fight hundreds of terrorists hiding in houses.

Second, when losses mount, they are viewed differently by the two sides. Violent death and endemic poverty are commonplace in the Middle East, but not so in the West. We aim to avoid casualties in our war making; the Islamists want only to inflict them, whatever the cost to themselves.
Imagine this war as a sort of grotesque race. The jihadists and sectarians win if they can kill enough Americans to demoralize us enough that we flee before Iraqis and Afghans stabilize their newfound freedom. They lose if they can’t. Prosperity, security and liberty are the death knell to radical Islam. It’s that elemental.

Lots of good analysis in there, which we’ve come to expect from Hanson articles. It all goes to support the old “Wasps’ Nest” paradigm: You’re never stand a greater chance of getting stung, than when you knock the nest down. But only the brain-damaged would cite this as a reason to leave it up. What it’s a reason to do, is to hold the nest-knockers in very high regard and esteem, celebrate their return home and mourn the loss of those who won’t be coming home.

I would add to that, explore better, safer and more effective ways of knocking down more nests.


Monday, January 8th, 2007

Lynx ads are funny. I like Lynx ads.

Whatever Happened To Dungeons? III

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

If it’s real, I’m undecided about the brother who is holding the camera. He’s a dick…or he deserves some kind of medal for keeping the camera on. I’m thinking both apply. Assuming this is real, I’d like everyone screaming at him to turn the camera off, to somehow suffer. Not sure how.

Apologies in advance for that whining that’s going to fill your head all day after watching this. You’ll understand that reference after you watch it. Just watch it. Go on.

Dungeons. Scaffolds and Stocks. Someone explain to me why those are gone now? Something to do with being “civilized”? Oh and come to think of it…dowries. Think of the dowries. Why would a prospective son-in-law not insist on an enormous one, like, something that could buy an entire air force? Wouldn’t it be in the family’s interest to offer one?

Why The Hatred

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

Not Going To Hell After AllPresident Bush is hated. I think it’s fair to say President Bush is the most hated persona to occupy that high office, probably since the office has been there. The time has come to ask why this is. In nearly four years following the invasion of Iraq, and six years after he took office, none of the explanations make any sense whatsoever. I have been repeatedly preached and scolded and counseled and upbraided and reproached, that I must do certain things and vote certain ways because this emotion exists. I think deep down, everyone agrees it’s unwise to do things because of emotions even when emotions are understood easily. The more I learn of this emotion, the more convinced I am that I don’t understand it, and I don’t think anyone else does either…even the people who advertise that they have it. A lot of people stand to gain an awful lot if they can get people like me to understand what’s going on here. And after all those years, no explanation has been forthcoming, satisfactory or otherwise.

Oh yeah, why I’m supposed to join the ranks of those who hate him — people tell me that. They have a catalog of reasons. They add to it whenever they think of something, and they seem to think there’s something wrong with reciting just a piece of it. The whole list must be rattled off. And replication must be instantaneous; if one Bush-hater thinks of something new, all the other haters must add it to their own catalogs. So I hear these items fairly often. But the thing I want, continues to be left out. It’s like an itch I can’t scratch. Why George W. Bush is a walking superlative in the history of hated-people…such a rich history that is…no one’s given any justification for this.

I’m going to try to do it here.

He got 3,000 American troops killed, they tell me. The notion that these deaths are really his fault, is subject to reasonable debate. The notion that, if he has some blame for these casualties, he’s going to have to share it with others — is something that can only be subject to unreasonable debate. A lot of people could have done a lot of different things, and those dead troops would be smiling and eating and laughing and joking and burping and farting like you and me. But allowing for all this anyway — we’ve had other Presidents who got many more troops killed. Many, many more troops. This is according to the same logic. They weren’t nearly as hated. So that’s not it.

He “waged an illegal and unjust war.” That’s a matter of opinion…but allowing for that, again, going by the same logic, we’ve had other Presidents wage illegal and unjust wars. In the minds of some, anyway. They weren’t so hated.

He’s pro-life. We’ve had other Presidents who were pro-life.

He’s from Texas. We’ve had other Presidents from Texas.

He is thought by some to have shirked his military duty. We’ve had other Presidents thought, by some, to have shirked their military duty.

He swaggers. We’ve had other Presidents who have swaggered. One of them was in a wheelchair.

He spies on people, in the process, alienating them from the rights to which they are guaranteed by the Constitution. That’s what I’m told. Is anybody going to advance the assertion that this is unprecedented? When President Bush is said to “wipe his ass with the Constitution,” this is a figure of speech…invariably, it is pronounced without a citation from the U.S. Constitution in mind that is being violated. Other Presidents BLATANTLY violated specific amendments and/or articles/sections. Unapologetically, and without precedent. That includes the wheelchair-guy by the way. They weren’t so hated.

The economy is lackluster. In America, the economy has been quite a few measurable notches below lackluster, and we’ve had sitting Presidents who were decidedly at fault for some terrible economies. We’ve had Presidents who actually wrecked the economy with their bad policies — economies that would certainly have done better if something different were done. We’ve had Presidents who were still in office when the chickens came home to roost and there was broad agreement about the link between the poor policies and the sputtering economies. President Bush is hated more than those Presidents were…so…we continue looking for the underlying reason. It’s clear we have not yet found it.

A lot of people say he’s a dimwit. That seems, at first blush, to be the answer; I rarely hear anyone confess their hatred of President Bush, without throwing in the apparently-essential scolding that he’s anti-intellectual and stupid. But there are problems with this. Throughout recorded history, if the human equation has shown one consistent sentiment toward simpletons wielding real power, that sentiment would be tolerance. Tolerance to a fault, actually. We can adapt to dimwit bosses, and as a species we have done so many times before America came along. Based on the information I’ve reviewed, if President Bush has managed to arouse bumptious demands for his removal from office based on his addle-mindedness, with all other motivations for the acrimony being decidedly subordinate, he’s made history. Human history. It’s really hard to make that kind of history. I don’t think that’s it.

He’s inarticulate. So was Lincoln, according to some contemporaries. Benjamin Harrison was characterized as speaking in an annoying, high-pitched squeaky voice. Grant was shy. Coolidge didn’t say much.

None of these Presidents were quite so hated.

I think, what it is, is he took a bad guy down. We’ve had Presidents do that before, too…but President Bush did it in the modern age, when good & evil are supposed to be matters open to individual interpretation. In an age where evil is supposed to be a subjective viewpoint…he targeted someone. He’s an unwelcome paradigm shift, and the shift is in an direction that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Once you go down the road of insisting there is no such thing as “absolute” evil, you can stay there as long as you choose to…until someone else comes along, defines evil as being really evil, and does something about it. This makes the nihilist/anarchist crowd look bad.

It hurts their P.R. You stand there “helplessly” watching a house burn, you look okay. Someone else grabs a hose while you sit there on your ass watching…now, you’re embarrassed. If the other guy didn’t happen along, the house would have burned to the ground. But you’d look good. Nothing else really counts, right?

It’s like the guy watching a woman being mugged and raped, making a calculated, brazen decision to allow the attack to commence uninterrupted because it’s “not my concern.” Inaction resulting from purely pacifist interests. He looks all right…until someone else gets involved. And then the pacifist looks bad. And silly. And cowardly. And impotent. And then the pacifist begins to harbor some decidedly un-pacifist feelings, toward the other fellow who made a decision to help out.

Come to think of it, the anger these leftists have toward President Bush, is not at all unlike the anger felt toward a masculine, self-assertive, virile interloper, from a cuckold, whose lonely and bored wife has finally been reminded what a real man can do. It’s not unlike that kind of anger at all.

One exception, though. In our society, we do not value the idea of strong, effective men stealing women from weaker men. We do not raise our sons to sleep with other mens’ wives. We do raise our boys to stand up for what’s right; to get involved, to lend assistance if evil is sure to triumph for lack of that assistance. That is what President Bush did. I’m glad it was done, and history will be glad for it too.

To those who insist on hating him and continuing to build that reasons-for-hate catalog, I say, go ahead. Hate him if you want; hate him all you want. I think it would be good for your own mental well-being to identify, in your own mind, WHY it is you hate him. If you come up with the reason, and are too ashamed to admit to anybody else what it really is, you’re still better off than the guy who hates President Bush but won’t put the effort in to figuring out why.

I Don’t Want To Be Them

Saturday, January 6th, 2007

I don’t want to be a liberal mover-and-shaker right now. Someone in charge of deciding where we go from here. What would that be like? Before the very first burps and farts from the champagne-and-scrambled-egg breakfast morning after election day, the headaches start — what did we just get voted in to do? Who voted for us?

They’d probably agree with me that this poor deranged fellow is a better amalgamation of their constituents than most folks, although perhaps they’d argue about the problem this creates. Just look at the poor sap. He has the big brass ones to lecture Cindy Sheehan and tell her to “put a sock in it” so that the “Democrats [can] demonstrate they can govern and be a real counterweight to Bush” — and yet, who is he to say? Cindy Sheehan knows what she wants done. She’s said what she wants done. The guy telling her to cork it up, has no idea what he wants done…or if he does have an idea, he won’t say what it is. Probably because he can’t.

Democrats are just now assuming control in Congress, with a full plate of agenda items facing them, ranging from ethics and lobbying reform, reinstalling pay-as-you-go budget rules, changing our energy policy towards self-sufficient alternative sources, and fixing health care and taxes, holding hearings on Iraq, and making Congress more consumer friendly. And already Cindy Sheehan threatens to derail the Democrats before any of this can get started.

I know many of you support Sheehan and may want the Democrats to focus immediately on shutting down this war or impeaching Bush. Please, let the Democrats demonstrate they can govern and be a real counterweight to Bush, and let them fulfill the agenda they ran on, which has large public support before demanding they rush headlong into actions that will cripple the leadership before it can establish itself. Having Sheehan disrupt and shut down a House Democrats’ press conference doesn’t advance one damn thing, and does nothing to bring the war to a close any sooner. Let the hearings take place, let Bush walk the tightrope of justifying an escalation and let Henry Waxman, Joe Biden, Carl Levin, and Charles Rangel among others drag administration officials out in the open over the next 90 days to explain the last six years.

The agenda they ran on, has large public support, huh? Ethics and lobbying reform: How is it to be reformed? Before Al Gore’s first cherry-picked recount, Democrats have told me and told me and told me what they want. All I’ve heard in six years is that the public treasury should be paying for more advertising so no one is “beholden to the big corporations.” That’s not ethics or lobbying reform. Reinstalling pay-as-you-go rules? That’s just a cynical piece of political machinery designed to make it harder to keep tax cuts in place. I’ve heard a lot of that from left-wing leaders, most of them actually serving under the dome; not one word of it from the voters. Or bloggers. Or letter-to-editor writers. Or even television pundits for that matter.

Self-sufficient energy sources? Fixing healthcare? Making Congress more consumer-friendly? Now these, I’ve heard.

Was the election of 2006 was about these things? Really? Does anyone anywhere think so?

If I’m a Democratic senator and I do all three of these things singlehandedly…and then say one nice thing about George W. Bush, what happens to me? Let’s say, if I simply compliment him on his necktie? Do I get re-elected because of my wonderful accomplishments with energy independence and healthcare reform and putting a big happy-face on Congress?

I don’t think so. And that’s why I don’t want to be one of those guys right now. In fact, if I was one of them, I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in the public’s disaffection with Iraq. Changing the course, sure…the public is unhappy with the way things are going. But this giant change-the-course plateau is already splintering up, with a Grand-Canyon-sized fissure snaking its way between the “Let’s Get The Hell Out” folks and the Surge Brigade. It’s making for some pretty bad feeling out there.

Anti-Surge Protests Against McCain, Lieberman
By Sarah Wheaton

Don’t expect Senator Joseph I. Lieberman and anti-war activists to be kissing and making up anytime soon. Demonstrators were out in full force, despite the light sprinkle of rain, to protest his appearance at the American Enterprise Institute here in the nation’s capital. The self-styled Democrat-Independent joined Senator John McCain to speak about Iraq at the conservative think tank, and their call for more troops in Iraq was a foregone conclusion.

“Hey John, hey Joe, escalation has got to go!” and “John McCain, John McCain, escalation is insane!” were chanted pretty much constantly for about an hour by sign-waving activists with, a grassroots group that leans left and generally aligns with Democrats, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker group. On top of that, a choir of the Lyndon LaRouche Youth Movement was singing satires about their arch villain, Vice President Dick Cheney, and other hymns.

Yeah, we hate Dick Cheney. Somehow, I doubt that sentiment does much to heal the divide.

I have to seriously question whether the public wants out of Iraq. Unhappiness with our being in there — sure. How can you not be unhappy, when the situation is by nature unhappy? Hell, I’m unhappy about it, as much as anyone…but I’m for it. I would have voted to go in, and I’d do it again.

I guess it has to do with upbringing. I was raised to think whether something is pleasant or not, has little bearing on whether it has to be done. Maybe this is a piece of maturity that a lot of people never learned.

I think most people are on my side of this one. Most people were brought up to understand that while life is better when it’s entertaining, nobody ever promised anybody that it would be. But George Bush lost a big chunk of this crowd for a good reason: Since his re-election, the situation has been mostly unchanged. We’re still there. We still have control of the place. Terrorists don’t want us to have control of it, and they’re making public-relations moves the way terrorists do that…with things that go boom. The body-count is infinitesimal by the standards of previous engagements…but it’s still trickling upwards, past multiples of a thousand, past the official body-count from the September 11 attacks, which I was previously told were entirely unrelated to Iraq. And the media is taking advantage of this to do public-relations the way they do public-relations.

I hate to seem cynical, but none of this really means as much as a lot of people would like it to mean. That we’re occupying a place, means our country has taken control of it. I think if you could travel back in time to, say, somewhere around 1995 to 1998, most reasonable people from there would say this is a good thing. That our troops continue to be blown up by IED’s, simply means that this piece of turf is strategically important. There are arguments to the contrary; some of them are highly creative; but none of them hold much water. Placing bombs by the roadside and blowing up American troops, entertaining as this may be to an unsettled mind, is hardly something one would consider just for the sake of sport. Besides, it costs money. Someone in a position of power, someone with interests contrary to ours, is none to fond of the status quo. Once you acknowledge that, you have to acknowledge our country has accomplished something important.

And yet the Americans are unhappy. Is the status quo equally disaffecting to them? Is it really because of the situation itself, or is it with uncertainty about it?

Well, Americans don’t trust the media, according to the latest Gallup poll.

A new Gallup poll released today reveals that most Americans — some 56% — believe that the news media’s coverage of the war in Iraq is generally “inaccurate.”

But in what way? Of those who feel that coverage has been inaccurate, 61% feel it has painted too negative a picture there, while 36% say it has pictured it as too positive.

That means that overall, about one-third of Americans believe that the news media present too negative a picture of what is happening in Iraq; one out of five believe that the news media present too positive a picture, and the rest say that news media coverage is about right or have no opinion.

Looking at the partisan divide, Gallup explains: “Two-thirds of Republicans believe that the news media’s coverage of Iraq is both inaccurate and makes the situation there appear worse. Only one-quarter say that news media coverage is accurate. [emphasis mine]

I think this is pretty important. How could it not be? Twenty-five percent of us trust the media coverage of what’s going on over there. This is even more confounding when you realize there’s a certain bedrock, and it isn’t too far below twenty-five. Under the worst possible scenario, a “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” type of moment…how many of us would still trust the media, after it had been proven according to empirical evidence that we should not? Five percent? Ten? Fifteen?

So it all comes down to this: We don’t know what’s going on, we aren’t in a good position to find out, and we understand this to be a problem. This isn’t the kind of thing that makes people happy. Now, no matter what your party affiliation, it makes good sense that you’re going to gather more useful information about what’s going on if a different party takes over Congress, than if things stay as they are — especially if the President’s party remains in control of Congress. With that in mind, it makes good sense that a different party should be put in charge.

So I have no beef with the folks who voted for the baby-killing soldier-slandering tax-the-rich party. I don’t even have a beef with the folks who run it…nothing that rises to any level of significance next to the pity I have for them. The only beef I really have, is with the propaganda artists who work at misconstruing this as some kind of mandate, consciously or otherwise.

But hey, they’ll always be around.

This is no mandate for “fixing” healthcare or taxes, solar power, lobbying reform or +++snort+++ pay-as-you-go budget rules. But really, nobody needs me to point that out. Certainly not loyal Democrats. They said exactly this thing after the elections of 1994, when Newt Gingrich’s party won twice as many seats in the House as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s party just won. Except this time, we have a war; wars have a saddening, fatiguing effect on people, and what a wretched lot of nasty people we would be if this were not the case. And sad, fatigued people simply don’t vote for the status quo.

Because of that — and some guy named Mark Foley, remember him? — Madame Speaker enjoys a majority of sixteen seats out of 435. Enjoy ’em while you can, Nan.

On Groups II

Friday, January 5th, 2007

I finally tracked down that disgusting and reprehensible leadership training exercise I attended ten years ago, which more-or-less marks the pivotal point in time where I realized something about the world was going horribly, horribly wrong. It’s called “Wilderness Survival” and you can find it here.

This petulant hostility to the way individuals think — I do not know where it comes from. It seems to be coupled with an ignorance of history, since it can be fairly said we don’t have anything in our lives that make life more bearable, that wasn’t created or inspired in some way by an individual. To the things that came from groups, we owe very little. Why this perpetual allegiance to “brainstorming” sessions where they’re not necessary? I have some ideas. First, people thinking in groups do make things happen; more often than not, a group of people will control purse strings. And so, groups appropriate money for things. This creates an illusion that groups make things happen. But for coming up with the idea in the first place, and validating it as a truly worthy idea capable of solving an identified problem — these are the domains of the individual. Groups can’t do this. One of those things everybody understands to be true, you’re just not always allowed to say so out loud.

Also, the group setting is good for identifying attributes to a platform that are offensive to one important faction, albeit innocuous and harmless to a different faction. The group deliberation process, therefore, is roughly akin to sandpaper. It removes protrusions that would be otherwise offensive. And an individual, no matter how bright he or she is, can’t do that. But — you don’t build with sandpaper. You don’t even shape things with sandpaper, not really.

The exercise has to do with crash-landing in in the wilderness in an extremely remote location in the Arctic. Subsequently, you have to make decisions about things in order to survive. The point of the exercise…at least, this was the point a decade ago, when I went through management training…was that people make better decisions in well-managed groups, than they do by themselves.

There are many flaws involved in this argument.

Flaw #1. Who leads the group. You’re going to make a different choice about your leader, under the flourescent lights of a comfortable conference or training room, than you would in the Arctic Circle. An innocent demonstration of what a fun party-animal you are, maybe a witty joke or two, an anecdote about that time you got rip-roaring drunk and pulled over by a cop…these are going to do wonderful things for your candidacy as the group’s leader when you’re in a comfortable office environment. They show you have this thing called “personality.” It won’t mean jack-shit out on the tundra.

Flaw #2. Individuals and groups are both capable of making bad decisions, and groups are decidedly inferior when it comes to self-policing. An individual makes a bad decision, and he or she may put it to some kind of test. If so, the bad decision will be shown for what it is, and the individual will say “well, that sucks donkey balls” and try something different. After all, if there is a price to be paid for implementing something bad, the innovator will bear that burden personally. Now, groups do this too. And when it comes to making sure the test is applied, rather than overlooked, groups are actually superior. The problem comes up when there is a “consensus” that the idea is so good, that any skeptical tests that might be applied to it, must be “bad.” And when that happens, the group inherits all the weaknesses of an individual and adds another weakness. The new weakness is that awareness of a test that remains un-applied, no longer translates to assurance that it will be applied. In a group, if a test is worth leaving un-applied, it’s worth forgetting about entirely. On the other hand, if an individual knows a test is worth applying and has not yet been applied, the individual will either apply it or remain instinctively aware that something has not yet been tested, and therefore should not be used.

Flaw #3. Groups are incapable of having “excellent” ideas, since they tend toward moderation in what they do. Therefore, if you define “excellence” as something mutually exclusive from being “ordinary,” rather than being a subset of what’s ordinary…and I do define it that way…this is entirely outside the domain of a group process. Extraordinary things — all extraordinary things — are going to be left undone. Think of the Wankel rotary engine, just as an example. Once you get a piston-driven internal-combustion engine working, as far as any group environment will be concerned this is what an engine is. If the Wankel is to be invented, it will be done on a piece of paper taped to the drafting board…of an individual. And like any idiosyncratic idea, this design will survive until it reaches the group, at which time its life-expectancy will be placed in significant doubt. Groups of people simply don’t innovate well. Where there is evidence available to demonstrate that they do, it’s usually because a group stole something from an individual and claimed credit for it.

Flaw #4. Although they are often given credit for drawing on the common experiences of the individuals who comprise them, in my experience it’s more accurate to say groups draw from the common experineces of sub-groups of two or three or more. Which, generally, is a good thing (see Flaw #5). The fact remains, the “drawing from individuals” paradigm is overly simplistic. Groups, more often than not, need a critical mass. The group environment will require a co-sponsor, someone to say “yeah, I think that might be a good idea.” Until then, the idea suggested by a solitary individual, tends to be non-existent in the mind of the group unless that individual happens to be the “ringleader” or an immediate lieutenant.

Flaw #5. Having a group come up with meaningful decisions, is a little bit like a car drawing gasoline out of the bottom of the tank. Crap after crap after crap, just keeps flowin’ on down the line, as participants struggle to prove the criticality of their continuing participation. They want to be invited to the next meeting. And so a beefy filtration system is needed, and invariably, it is forthcoming. But to filter ideas effectively, you need to do a lot of thinking. A group of people filters ideas, and what they do isn’t really “thinking.” Approvals and rebukes are muttered most quickly, with the greatest volume and enthusiasm, when they’re most obvious — but the filtration system is most important to the session overall, when the decision is not so obvious. The eventual result? An individul builds a statue of a horse by carving one part at a time, and fitting them together; the group starts with a block of marble and chisels away whatever doesn’t look like a horse. Each of these methods has its place in certain things. But when you’re stuck in the wilds and freezing to death, with dwindling resources, you’re going to want to build the horse one leg at a time.

Flaw #6. Groups crave approval. That is what they are supposed to do. They anticipate what an identified audience is going to like or dislike, and they jump ahead of the parade to “lead” it. If you want to construct an exercise where the group consistently produces inferior results compared to the individual, all you have to do is find a scenario where the approval of an outside party is either meaningless, or decidedly subordinate to something more important. Rescuing a drowning swimmer, or birthing a baby; maybe deciding at what moment the cord of a parachute is to be pulled. In situations like those, nobody wants a group to decide a damn thing. Everyone who gives it a few seconds of quality thought understands this to be the case.

On What We Call “Science”

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

I keep on hearing that science is in danger of being destroyed by politics. I believe this has already taken place.

People we like to call “scientists,” or whom we insist on embracing the belief that they have something to do with what we call “science,” are voting in groups on what to allow and what not to allow. I have a rather eccentric, and lonely, idea of what a “scientist” is, and the group-thing doesn’t have much to do with it. I notice I don’t owe very much to groups of scientists; groups of anybody, for that matter. I’ve got all these useful things sitting around me as I type this that I got because of science. A flatscreen computer monitor, a coffeemaker that grinds my beans fresh at a pre-selected time-of-day, a hot plate that keeps the coffee cup hot and fresh as I type away. These things were not developed because groups of people voted on what worked and what did not work. These things came about because somewhere, an individual fiddled around with something until it became something else, and started doing something.

This is how we get things. Everything we use, I daresay. Groups vote here & there on what to do with these things, and maybe, to take credit for the things coming into existence; they do not actually make the things. It’s up to individuals to do that. Go on, try and find an exception. If you think you’ve found one, you probably got snookered.

And so, when a scientist — what I think of as a scientist — sits in a room full of other scientists voting on something, I expect he or she is usually going to be a wallflower, waiting for the proceedings to be over so that some research in an empty room or cubicle somewhere can be resumed. The guy that’s doing the talking, or holding court, or trying to get some kind of coup going against some hated morsel of existing policy or what-not…that isn’t a scientist. That’s a politician. Credentials or not, that’s a politician wearing a scientist’s coat. To put it simply, trying to get a group to approve or deny something, is not scientific work. Science is the study of nature, and nature is going to do what it damn well wants.

Science often goes and stops according to the presence or absence of funds; sadly, where those funds go, is a question often put before large groups. And so, you see, if I’m wrong about science being dead — I’m certainly correct about it being subordinated to other things. Other things that are anti-science. Call it “Cinderella science,” something forced to mend dresses and sweep floors for ugly stepsisters.

I was given cause to think about this about a month ago when Mary Cheney, the homosexual daughter of our current Vice President, announced her pregnancy.

No Republican in Washington is more beloved by social conservatives than Vice President Dick Cheney, who with his wife, Lynne, has backed and breathed every issue dear to them for six tumultuous years.

News that Cheney’s lesbian daughter, Mary, is pregnant has therefore touched a raw nerve, as advocates for conservative family values struggle to reconcile their loyalty to the Cheneys with their visceral opposition to same-sex relationships — and particularly to raising a child without a father.

Credit goes to blogger friend James Bostwick for sniffing out the first piece of bull poo in this mini-essay. Do you know any “social conservatives”? Quick, think of five…five, who hold Vice President Cheney in affectionate esteem above & before any other public figure. Aw hell, just think of one. Know anybody like that? While it’s fair to say some conservatives don’t despise Mr. Cheney quite as much as the average left-wing liberal, I can’t think of anyone who regards the veep as “beloved” because of his social positions. Whatever the position on social issues, the conservative viewpoint is invariably that Vice President Cheney is some kind of traitor — in one direction, or in another. The SFGate writer has erected a straw-man argument, to lend importance to her article that doesn’t really exist.

But the fireworks were just starting. I had a fascinating off-line dialog with John Rambo for the last month or so about this one. “JohnJ” is a featured writer at Bullwinkle Blog and blogs his own stuff at Right Linx, both of which are excellent resources worth your time to peruse here & there. Like a handful of other folks who are sufficiently self-disciplined to pay attention to things that don’t fit on MTV, Rambo has developed a curiosity about my still-natally-developed “Yin and Yang” theory and recalled the essentials of it after James Dobson’s guest column appeared in Time Magazine.

And this is where the phony science comes in. It’s fascinating watching what happens from this point; almost like a chemical reaction. Try to leave the emotion-charged social issues out of it, and focus on the thought process…as any decent scientist would.

In the December 13 column, Dobson starts out…

A number of social conservatives, myself included, have recently been asked to respond to the news that Mary Cheney, the Vice President’s daughter, is pregnant with a child she intends to raise with her lesbian partner. Implicit in this issue is an effort to get us to criticize the Bush Administration or the Cheney family. But the concern here has nothing to do with politics. It is about what kind of family environment is best for the health and development of children, and, by extension, the nation at large.

With all due respect to Cheney and her partner, Heather Poe, the majority of more than 30 years of social-science evidence indicates that children do best on every measure of well-being when raised by their married mother and father. That is not to say Cheney and Poe will not love their child. But love alone is not enough to guarantee healthy growth and development. The two most loving women in the world cannot provide a daddy for a little boy–any more than the two most loving men can be complete role models for a little girl.

Dobson is saying, here, that the child will be raised without a father. Is that scientific? Maybe yes, maybe no…but does it even have to be? Unless there’s something else going on that we haven’t been told, it looks like the matter is settled. There is Mary, there is Heather…no male influence in sight, and certainly no need to have such a figure present in the essentials of upbringing. Dobson seeks to examine how this will affect the child at the developmental stages, and this is the part that touches on Yin & Yang — and it also gets him in no small measure of hot water with the community of what we have come to call “scientists.”

The unique value of fathers has been explained by Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale Medical School in his book Fatherneed: Why Father Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child. Pruett says dads are critically important simply because “fathers do not mother.” Psychology Today explained in 1996 that “fatherhood turns out to be a complex and unique phenomenon with huge consequences for the emotional and intellectual growth of children.” A father, as a male parent, makes unique contributions to the task of parenting that a mother cannot emulate, and vice versa.

According to educational psychologist Carol Gilligan, mothers tend to stress sympathy, grace and care to their children, while fathers accent justice, fairness and duty. Moms give a child a sense of hopefulness; dads provide a sense of right and wrong and its consequences.

And, almost as if you’d been hearing a dull shrieking noise overhead for a few seconds, there emerges a thunderous BOOM. Dr. Pruett would like to say something about this.

“Time Magazine should take Dobson’s article off the web and pledge that they will never again use his group as a source on family issues,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “Focus on the Family has damaged its credibility and should stop misleading Americans by misquoting respected researchers.”

TODAY, Pruett wrote the following letter:

Dr. Dobson, I was startled and disappointed to see my work referenced in the current Time Magazine piece in which you opined that social science, such as mine, supports your convictions opposing lesbian and gay parenthood. I write now to insist that you not quote from my research in your media campaigns, personal or corporate, without previously securing my permission. You cherry-picked a phrase to shore up highly (in my view) discriminatory purposes. This practice is condemned in real science, common though it may be in pseudo-science circles. There is nothing in my longitudinal research or any of my writings to support such conclusions. On page 134 of the book you cite in your piece, I wrote, “What we do know is that there is no reason for concern about the development or psychological competence of children living with gay fathers. It is love that binds relationships, not sex.” Kyle Pruett, M.D. Yale School of Medicine.

What of the other researcher? Dr. Gilligan is similarly agitated and has a similar beef:

The issue has to do with distorting the findings of science and distorting the conclusions of research. These meaningful words are used in the video, above, over and over again. Shame on Dr. Dobson.

Now, take a look at what we got going on here.

EVERYTHING is orchestrated by this “Truth Wins Out” outfit, which appears to have been acting in a way similar to Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead. Hey, Dr. Pruett and Dr. Gilligan, did you know your work is being cited this way? Do you know what kind of parties you won’t be invited to because of this? If you like, we can produce a video for you…

Is that science?

How about guitar music playing in the background of the video? Is that what we call “research”? How about the heavy implications that Dr. Dobson is engaged in some kind of a pattern of falsification going back-a-ways — but, if you listen to the words, you see this all comes from the single piece in Time Magazine about the Cheney pregnancy? Science has a lot to do with identifying trends and patterns of things. Was that done accurately here, or was this implication done to appeal to people’s emotions? Is it scientific to appeal to emotions?

How about Dr. Gilligan’s use of the actual word in the video? You might want to watch it again; she uses it several times. Is she referring to a discipline where you prove and/or refute things by means of research and experimentation? It does not appear so. In fact, I’ve noticed James Dobson’s guest column simply prints two short sentences each dealing with the two disaffected docs. He does not say Dr. Pruett is opposed to homosexual marriages or non-traditional families. He does not say this about Dr. Gilligan. He does not say a single word about what the researchers have concluded from their research. If he did, why would I care about that? No, he simply reports what they have learned.

Pruett and Gilligan angrily retort that he has “cherry-picked” and “distorted” their research. Listen and read very, very carefully. They could have said Dobson’s article is wrong. They could have said NO. Dr. Pruett’s research was “distorted” as saying “fathers do not mother.” Pruett could have said “my research indicates that fathers DO mother.” Or, he could have said “my research has no indication on whether fathers are capable of mothering, or not.” Gilligan’s research was “distorted” with the summary that “mothers tend to stress sympathy, grace and care to their children, while fathers accent justice, fairness and duty.” Again, Dr. Gilligan could have said NO. She could have said this directly contradicts facts. Why not? She’s accusing Dobson of distortion…show us a concrete distortion. She could have said mothers and fathers share completely interchangeable roles. Or, that she doesn’t know — jury’s still out on that.

No, it seems — at the behest of this TruthOut outfit — Drs. Pruett and Gilligan object to the conclusions drawn from their research, which, on its own, was reported accurately.

Science is getting into the opinion biz. People throw the S-word around…and they aren’t really talking about “science” anymore. Look at Dr. Gilligan’s video one more time. What she calls science, is not a process but a simple exercise of argumentum ad authoritarian fallacy. Dr. Gilligan does not oppose gay marriage. Her research shows that fathers and mothers tend to contribute different things to a child’s upbringing, but you are not to use this in advancing an argument hostile to gay marriage. If you try to do this, she will stop you. She says so.

I don’t want to be too hard on the scientists, I’m sure they’ve got “reputations” to worry about. As I said at the beginning of this posts, scientists decide things in groups nowadays; that’s what creates the problem with calling them “scientists.” And I’m sure when Dobson comes to a conclusion out-of-favor with the scientific peerage, and he uses the work of “respected” (read: accepted into the clan) researchers, to them it feels like slander. So on an emotional level, I suppose you can’t slight them for wanting to treat it that way.

But based on what he wrote that I read, their objections are just plain silly. He’s taken what they said — and he’s reached conclusions, based on what they said, that they don’t like. And so they’re insisting on playing traffic-cop, with their scientific credentials, on the conclusions to be reached from the work they did. According to what we used to call “science,” that’s utterly invalid.

It’s like me agreeing to the terms of a credit card, charging things up on that card, and then objecting to the balance on my bill at the end of the month. Hey, it’s a conclusion drawn from your research; it’s not the research itself. You don’t have to like it, and if your reputation is being somehow tarnished because of the conclusion someone else drew from your work, it shouldn’t be. And if your invitation to a cocktail party somewhere has been withdrawn, or your grant money for some project is no longer forthcoming, well you know what? That’s just tough. It says more about the person who made the decision to withdraw or revoke than it does about James Dobson.

Update 1/5/07: Additional contribution from Rambo, George H. Taylor speaking on “consensus science”. Must-see.

On Generous People

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

We’ve covered this before. But this is still a good thing to bookmark.

“The further to the left you are — particularly to the secular left — the less likely you are to donate your time or money to charity.”

B-b-but waitaminnit, aren’t people on the left the ones carping away about people being greedy, wanting people to be more generous, share all their toys, etc. etc. etc.?

Why yes, yes they are…and this is what psychologists call Projection. In fact, I daresay, if you were to evaluate the evidence ninety-nine more times — honestly — you’d see the same result ninety-nine more times. People who do the complaining about other people being stingy, are really complaining about themselves. Not a liberal or conservative thing, by any means. It’s just the way people work.

Wish For 2007

Monday, January 1st, 2007

Happy New YearMay the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Old Irish Blessing

I would update this to say, let us all stand guard against those who would erode our freedoms, under the guise of protecting us; and, from those who would expose our jugular to the blade of our enemies, under the guise of holding us to some inchoate standard of higher morality.

And if you can’t quite remember what we just finished up, thanks to Instapundit we have tripped across the traditional Year In Review From Dave Barry. I’ll just tease this by extracting…


… when [Senator John] Kerry’s “joke” causes widespread outrage, prompting Kerry, with typical humility, to insist that it was obviously humorous, and anybody who disagrees is an idiot. Kerry is finally subdued by Democratic strategists armed with duct tape, but not before many political analysts see a tightening of the race to control Congress.

As the campaign lumbers to the finish line, the Republicans desperately hope that the voters will not notice that they — once the party of small government — have turned into the party of war-bungling, corruption-tolerating, pork-spewing power-lusting toads, while the Democrats desperately hope that the voters will not notice that they are still, basically, the Democrats.

The first major casualty of the GOP defeat is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who, the day after the election, is invited to go quail hunting with the vice president. He is never seen again. As Rumsfeld’s replacement, the president nominates — in what is widely seen as a change in direction on Iraq — Barbra Streisand.

In other celebrity news, Michael Richards, a graduate of the Mel Gibson School of Standup, responds to a comedy-club heckler by unleashing a racist tirade so vile that even John Kerry realizes it is not funny. A chastened Richards apologizes for his behavior, citing, by way of explanation, the fact that he is a moron.