Archive for March, 2007

This Is Good XXXVI

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

Think you’ve seen all the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes?

Maybe you have, and maybe you haven’t. You stand a good chance at being surprised either way. Watch.

Red Bikinis and Racist Cartoons

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

I don’t have the Google Image Search (GIS) skills needed to find a shot of Sheri Doub in her red bikini. I’m either not bright enough, or I don’t have the right aptitude…or the picture is simply not available. And I’m not alone in this deficiency, judging by my Siteminder referrals. Hit after hit after hit, The Blog That Nobody Reads hosts an inquisitive visitor combing through the world wide web in search of Sherry Doub’s swimsuit picture…and apparently still unsatisfied.

I do not know if I’m missing something. And I do not know if this image remains so well-hidden. But I do know this: I can’t find the cartoon. I can find lots and lots of people instructing me and countless others to come to the conclusion that the cartoon is racist.

Without showing it to us.

Why? More importantly, how? With what kind of befuddled, gullible readers are these pundits accustomed to dealing?

Racist the cartoon may be. But whoever directs me to think such a thing, without showing me the evidence, represents are far greater societal problem.

We’ll just have to wait to see if the cartoon surfaces in the next couple days. It will be small consolation if & when it finally does.

What incredible nerve.

Update: Here it is.

Which I suppose might get some folks in a froth. Three criminals are shown; all three, it would appear, are black. Okay, some people find that offensive and racist. Point one: Why do I need to go looking for this? People find the cartoon offensive, and that is somehow “news”; the cartoon, itself, is not? How can it not be, if the conclusion drawn from it, is? And point two: Are those frothy people, going to get so frothy about this

Before the movie spun, the motion picture industry had inserted a one minute infomercial on the evils of movie piracy and intellectual theft. To make their melodramatic point, they showed a criminal stealing a cell phone….Of course, in the pre-movie infomercial, all three criminals were white men. Which got me to thinking. In the make believe land of movies, television, and commercials, if there is a heinous crime to be committed, 99.9% of the time, it’s now going to be done by a white guy. In fact, it has to be done by a white guy.

Political correctness and the fear of offending, or worse yet, getting sued or picketed, is such, that you will no longer see blacks, Hispanics, most minorities, or even women for that matter, commit a fictional crime. No. Hollywood and the ad agencies have decided that criminal activity on film is now the sole domain of the “too successful for his own good” white male. [emphasis mine]

Maybe the shock value isn’t due to our moral sensibilities about skewed representations; maybe it’s due to our own skewed perspective about what’s normal. Criminals in movies, ads, cartoons — must be white male. And we’re just not used to seeing anything different.

Or, the guy who drew the cartoon could really be racist. But that brings us back to my original question: If you can’t spare the space for the cartoon itself, how can you spare the space to report on people getting all peeved about it, and telling your readers what to think about it?

Here and here and here and in the link up top…they just can’t quite seem to spare the column-inches to reproduce the cartoon itself. Just lots of huffing and puffing about how awful it is.

Update: Sheer coincidence, last month Neal Boortz had a similar observation to make.

I’m just waiting for the day when some home alarm company … ADT, for instance … actually has the nads to put an ad on television that shows a family being threatened by a black intruder. Have you noticed that the intruders — the people trying to break into those homes — are always white?

Boortz didn’t manage to channel much populist passion behind his little observation there, nor do I suspect he had much expectation that he would.

And yet, we’re supposed to take to the streets with pitchforks and torches in hand, up to the offices of St. Mary’s Today. Because three criminals were depicted, and all three were black.

The double-standard is somewhat offensive, but not nearly so much as this notion of journalistic elites instructing the commoners when to get offended about things, and when not to be offended — without taking the initiative to show us what’s offensive.

Update: Some more on the unfortunate Ms. Doub. Still no picture. Sorry, web-hunters.

Sheri Doub was a manager at the Citizen’s Tri-County bank on Signal Mountain. She was fired allegedly for posing in a bikini in the Lifestyle section of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press newspaper…She says everything was fine, until a picture of her appeared in the Chattanooga Times Free Press Lifestyle section in May 2005. It was part of a story on the beginning of summer and new styles in swimwear for 2005. Doub says she was fired the following day, when the bank’s president hand delivered her a termination letter and she was escorted her out of the building.

Pardon Me?

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

Via Right Coast, we learn about the latest Krauthammer column…in which an interesting point is raised…

Everyone agrees that Fitzgerald’s perjury case against Libby hung on the testimony of NBC’s Tim Russert. Libby said that he heard about Plame from Russert. Russert said he had never discussed it. The jury members who have spoken said they believed Russert.

And why should they not? Russert is a perfectly honest man who would not lie. He was undoubtedly giving his best recollection.

But he is not the pope. Given that so many journalists and administration figures were shown to have extremely fallible memories, is it possible that Russert’s memory could have been faulty?

I have no idea. But we do know that Russert once denied calling up a Buffalo News reporter to complain about a story. Russert later apologized for the error when he was shown the evidence of a call he had genuinely and completely forgotten.

There is a second instance of Russert innocently misremembering. He stated under oath that he did not know that one may not be accompanied by a lawyer to a grand jury hearing. This fact, in and of itself, is irrelevant to the case, except that, as former prosecutor Victoria Toensing points out, the defense had tapes showing Russert saying on television three times that lawyers are barred from grand jury proceedings.

This demonstration of Russert’s fallibility was never shown to the jury. The judge did not allow it. He was upset with the defense because it would not put Libby on the stand — his perfect Fifth Amendment right — after hinting in the opening statement that it might. He therefore denied the defense a straightforward demonstration of the fallibility of the witness whose testimony was most decisive.

The Right Coast entry raises yet another interesting point.

I haven’t followed the Libby trial that closely, but one aspect of the verdict did occur to me: How is it that Scooter Libby is facing jail time and Sandy Berger got off with a slap of the wrist. At least part of the answer is that Libby was investigated by a special prosecutor, while Berger was not. My guess is that there is more to the story of Berger as well (incompetence at Justice?)

Um…come to think of it, I heard an awful lot of pious pontificating and hand-wringing from our liberals, both famous and otherwise, about “national security” with the “outing of a foreign op” and so forth. I wonder what they think about national security when the subject shifts to Sandy Pants. Maybe not much…and perhaps this is due to a combination of factors, dealing with their desire to “win” one for America Liberalism, and just plain ignorance — can’t call it anything else — about the facts of the Berger-Pants scandal.

The more we learn about Sandy Berger’s brilliant career as a document thief, the clearer it becomes that there is plenty we still don’t know and may never learn. On Tuesday, the House Government Reform Committee released its report on Mr. Berger’s pilfering of classified documents from the National Archives.

The committee’s 60-page report makes it clear that Mr. Berger knew exactly what he was doing and knew that what he was doing was wrong. According to interviews with National Archives staff, Mr. Berger repeatedly arranged to be left alone with highly classified documents by feigning the need to make personal phone calls, and he used those moments alone with the files to stuff them in his pockets and briefcase.

One incident is particularly suggestive. By his fourth and final visit to review documents and prepare for testimony before the 9/11 Commission, the Archives staff had grown suspicious of how Mr. Berger was handling the documents, so they numbered each one he was given in pencil on the back of the document. When one of them–No. 217–was apparently removed from the files by Mr. Berger, the staff reprinted a copy and replaced it for his review. According to the report, Mr. Berger then proceeded to slip the second copy “under his portfolio also.” In other words, he stole the same document twice.

National security huh? We’re just really, really super-concerned about it, and nobody’s above the law?

I’m not the first one to group these two incidents together, and swivel my head quizzically toward the liberals with a cocked eyebrow to see how they handle the juxtaposition. In fact, I’ve watched it happen often enough to glean a pattern out of the liberals’ reaction. It’s a bubbling stewpot of subject-changing, theatrical indignation, name-calling and sarcasm. Not much else.

Certainly no rational explanation as to why Scooter’s looking at years of laundry-folding, and Sandy Pants is as free as you and me.

Then When Did This Begin?

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

“If nothing is worth dying for, then when did this begin?”

How would you word that to address, as directly as possible, the threats we face today. You wouldn’t have to change it very much. At all.

“If our best response to evil is ignorance and apathy, then when did this begin?”


Saturday, March 10th, 2007

So earlier in the week it was Penis Day over at Miss Cellania’s. Which means it’s a special day over there…or was on Tuesday. Incidentally, when you’re a single dad and your kid is over for the night, that’s work. So means I don’t get to look at stuff. It’s Friday and I’m just getting my first opportunity now to look at stuff she put up Tuesday. Hey, life’s full of little challenges.

Just my opinion, but raunchy SNL skits are hilariously funny and should be replicated by everyone, immediately. Yeah, even now.

It’s , I think I said. Got that everybody? . So don’t click if you’re at work, or have a moppet looking over your shoulder, or are one yourself. Got it? Good. On with the show.


Friday, March 9th, 2007

Blogger friend Bullwinkle takes down E. J. Dionne, who in turn claims to be giving former President Clinton some harsh treatment. Bullwinkle finds this questionable. Decide for yourself.

You Didn’t See Nuthin’

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Woman Honor Thyself has a post up about the French Constitutional Council slapping a ban on…uh, well…

The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday.
Senators and members of the National Assembly had asked the council to rule on the constitutionality of six articles of the Law relating to the prevention of delinquency. The articles dealt with information sharing by social workers, and reduced sentences for minors. The council recommended one minor change, to reconcile conflicting amendments voted in parliament. The law, proposed by Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy, is intended to clamp down on a wide range of public order offenses. During parliamentary debate of the law, government representatives said the offense of filming or distributing films of acts of violence targets the practice of “happy slapping,” in which a violent attack is filmed by an accomplice, typically with a camera phone, for the amusement of the attacker’s friends.

The broad drafting of the law so as to criminalize the activities of citizen journalists unrelated to the perpetrators of violent acts is no accident, but rather a deliberate decision by the authorities, said Cohet. He is concerned that the law, and others still being debated, will lead to the creation of a parallel judicial system controlling the publication of information on the Internet.

Well, no kiddin’. What a patently absurd explanation — what are these acts of violence down upon which the French government wishes to crack? Ah…what does it matter. French government wishes to crack down on them, so they criminalize the filming of the acts.

I’d hate to be the P.R. guy tasked with convincing people to believe that. I wonder if anyone anywhere is falling for it.

Best Sentence X

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

…is at A Tangled Web, about which we learn via Maggie’s Farm, about which we learn via Anchoress.

If you want an absolutely first-rate example of the sheer scale of moonbat-twittery, of the depths of illogical non-argument to which the left will happily descend in order to defend at all costs its sacred doctrine of anthropological global warming, then this simply takes the biscuit. No, actually that’s an understatement: It grabs the whole biscuit tin, removes the lid and bats itself over the head with it, while feeding the biscuits into the DVD player.

The subject is global warming. Or rather, Weird Al’s hypocrisy about it…and the notion that said hypocrisy might be a good thing. I’m serial. Go read the whole thing.

Memo For File XXXIX

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

The name of the song is Ailein Duinn. Karen Matheson sings it in this movie, which is highly underrated, at 0:47:46.

It is the same hymn you hear in this video game as soon as you boot it up. And, when Lara is in a motorcycle chase in Kazakhstan. And Paraíso.

It’s the same music. Not very many people know that.

How To Get Your Girlfriend…

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

…to play video games with you.

That’s Not Good

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Poor Dumb Bastard.

Moose Versus Helicopter

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007


Kanye West Doesn’t Care About Poor People

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007


Fifteen Strange Products

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Check out this list, within which the “Girlfriend’s Lap Pillow” is Number Eleven…
Girlfriend's Lap

This rather unique pillow, known as the Girlfriend’s Lap Pillow, is supposed to let us chaps feel at ease by snuggling up to it when our partners are not at home.

And, whilst by no means a substitute for the real thing, I can see a number of bonuses – namely that it has a flat top on which you can place a cold beer (which a big plus point in my book) and that it is highly unlikely that it will ask if you love her every five seconds followed by a not so subtle hint that the dishes need doing or the floor need vacuuming (and that it’s your turn).

That said, I cannot help but wonder what your mother would think if she found one of these stuffed at the back of a cupboard.

That’s More Like It

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Ah…maybe I don’t need to become omnipowerful ruler of this country after all, if we get more studies like this one.

OLDER men who drink moderate amounts of alcohol may function better physically than either those who abstain completely or those who abuse alcohol, a new study suggests.

Moderate drinkers tend to be healthier in general than teetotalers or problem drinkers, Dr Peggy Cawthon of California Pacific Medical Centre in San Francisco and colleagues said.

There is also evidence that moderate drinking may reduce inflammation.

Science is on one side of the fence…fun is on the same side.

To paraphrase Sen. McCarthy, the “laws of probability dictate” that this should have been the natural outcome, fifty percent of the time. Yet after a century or more of science forming an unholy alliance with the institutions of mass communication, this remains an isolated and anomalous incident. Science has shown a heavy-handed proclivity, over the last ten decades or so, of being a killjoy. Stories like this one, are news because they are unusual. I think regardless of our biases and initial inclinations, everyone paying attention would agree with that.

Cemetary Piddling

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Is it unfair of me to read something in to this?

A television photographer who was fired for urinating in a cemetery while covering the funeral of an Iowa soldier was denied unemployment benefits. Gerry Edwards, of Center Point, was dismissed in December by KGAN-TV in Cedar Rapids.

In November, Edwards urinated near a monument at a cemetery while he was there covering the funeral procession for 23-year-old Sgt. James Musack, of Riverside, who was killed in Iraq, court records said.

Another journalist photographed the incident, and it was e-mailed to Edwards’ managers. Records said officials escorted Edwards out of the building within hours and gave him a choice of resigning or being fired.

I think the most accurate answer I can give to that question is: Kinda. A little. But not completely.

I see the tombstone piddling as metaphorical. I see it as a microcausm of everything our Fourth Estate, and our angry anti-war leftists, have been doing for the last four years. They whip out their cameras, point at the three-thousand-plus casualties and damn George Bush to hell for sending our brave soldiers in to harm’s way. And then after the cameras have shut down, they piss on tombstones. The whole lot of ’em. Gerry Edwards, and his antagonistic colleague who took this action to end Edwards’ career, acted out this little conflict in the middle of a solemn ceremony. They were dispatched to that ceremony to arouse the passions of the rest of us. Passions borne of decency. Decency which neither one of them reflect.

Isolated incident? Perhaps. But why am I to think so? Really?

Gerry Edwards disgusts us not because of the vile fluid that came out of his body, but because of his willingness to dispense it in such a hallowed place. I think there’s nothing unique about him. I think he’s just the guy who couldn’t hold it any longer…and got caught.

Trackposted to Bullwinkle Blog

Phil Knows Some Stuff

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Blogger friend Phil is following our lead, starting a page of things he knows. He’s being modest and stopping at one thing, for now.

We know a little bit more than that. Trouble is, it isn’t an intelligence test; it’s a list of things upon which we’ve figured, whether we’re right or wrong, any further debate has crossed the point of diminishing returns and we’re done entertaining said debate. The matters are settled in our minds.

So…we’re not smarter than Phil. Maybe instead, a little bit less cautious. He’s got a pretty good “thing” — he makes up in quality what he lacks in quantity.

Somewhere in between us is sidebar newcomer Daniel Franklin, who knows fourteen things.

Of course, you don’t need to have a thing proven, in order to “know” it. This raises the possibility that a thing may be disproven, after such time as it has been declared to be known. How many things have we been forced to repeal?

None at this point. That could mean we’re slow to learn things, or stubborn to cling to them in the face of hostile evidence. Or, perhaps we were so slow in writing them down, that we’ve recorded them only after the matter was mostly settled. We would prefer to think the last of those three is what applies — but this is purely a matter of faith.

The point is, a man’s mind is more like a bear trap than a parachute. It’s useless when it’s closed all the time…equally useless when it is fused open. Sooner or later, grown-ups have to decide things.

How many things do you know?

Justice Thomas

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Via Boortz, a rare interview.

Debunking Things

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Texas Rainmaker debunks the Lancet Survey.

A pro-global-warming guy debunks the notion that a generation ago, our eggheads insisted another ice age was coming.

Do those look like equally solid debunkings to you? Because the second one I’m still trying to figure out. I’m over thirty; I can remember the seventies; I remember the magazines and news clips very well. That guy’s trying to tell me it didn’t happen. Some of his links, in fact, support the notion that it did.

I guess debunking things is like opening a bag of cereal, you can do it well or you can do it half-assed.

I Am Milk

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Which bodily discharge are you?

You’re milk. You are creamy and tantalizing, and very nurturing. You are not always present, and you make people work in order to reach you. You are private and won’t let just anyone take a sip. You slosh around and never seem take any true form…Find some direction in your life, milky man!
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |
Join | Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

…and another thing, I am from Saturn.

You Are From Saturn

You’re steady, organized, and determined to achieve your dreams.
You tend to play it conservative, going by the rules (at least the practical ones).
You’ll likely reach the top. And when you do, you’ll be honorable and responsible.
Focus on happiness. Don’t let your goals distract you from fun!
Don’t be too set in your ways, and you’ll be more of a success than you ever dreamed of.

H/T to Miss Cellania for that planet one. I think. If memory serves.

I Knew There Was Something About Her

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

I wish it were easier for me to get ahold of hard news and information about Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo.

She’s a Democrat; she’s a woman; she’s anti-war; she’s got names in her rolodex and other folks have her name in theirs; and, she has an illness. So my local newspaper won’t say too much about her that isn’t fawning and glittery. Very little that is issue-related.

It’s up to the bloggers. Hey, that’s one of the nice things about being alive right now. Thanks Jen.

I just knew there was something about Her Honor that rubbed me the wrong way.

Talking About Crime Commissions

Last week I wrote about Sacramento’s useless Mayor Heather Fargo, and her idea of fighting crime and gangs: A Youth Commission of Sacramento Area high school students to keep City Council abreast of “Youth-related issues.”

Instead of adding more cops to the already pittiful number (668 on the street), Heather and her merry band of Council Nitwits want to talk more about the problem. In what amounts to a typical liberal response to a very real problem, Sacramento City Council lead by Mayor Heather Fargo established a “youth czar” position to coordinate prevention and intervention programs.

Secrets They Don’t Tell Their Husbands

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

I think #4 on this list should be obvious to any man who’s learned how to pay attention to things. Ditto for #7.

An Issue for 2008

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

There are some issues more important than this one. Just a few. But certainly, this should be in the top five.

Planet Earth warming up by 1.2 degrees over the last century — that can wait while we put this in order. Because if this goes unchecked, we have no law.

The hundreds of thousands of immigrants working in the United States illegally are still expected to pay income taxes. The program works by providing a special tax identification number instead of a Social Security number — and participants are guaranteed that the information can’t be used to deport them.

But the program’s critics say that it amounts to the Internal Revenue Service abetting illegal immigrants.

More than 1 million non-U.S. citizens will file their taxes this year. One of the reasons that those who are living and working illegally in the United States want to file taxes is that they see an opportunity to prove their economic contribution and document their residence.

Last year, 1.4 million people used the special numbers. The last time the government checked, more than half of the people using an individual taxpayer identification number, or ITIN, were illegal immigrants.

Maybe this is why our leaders, Republican and Democrat, are so incredibly dishonest with us about this issue lately. Ya think?

Thing I Know #161. Justice depends completely on truth; anarchy, not so much.

An Amazing Story

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Just read it.

Geekiest Tattoo Ever?

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Yikes! IV

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

I think if you send a kitten to your ex-girlfriend, you should do it all at once. In one piece. But that’s just me.

A man accused of mailing the severed head of a kitten to his ex-girlfriend was ordered to stand trial on stalking and animal-cruelty charges.

Benjamin Gregory, 30, of Pittsburgh, allegedly sent the gift-wrapped package in January because he was unhappy that the relationship had ended, police said. His ex-girlfriend is an attorney who volunteers at animal shelters.

Jesus Would Hate America

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

One of the many things our liberals have been teaching me for the last two-to-four years, give or take, is that America is always wrong. Another thing is, whenever somebody notices our liberals think America is always wrong, that somebody is guilty of putting words into liberals’ mouths. The liberals always have some deeper and more precise meaning, and their words are not being parsed fairly. Always, always, always…there is a little bit more hair-splitting to be done, a little bit more “nuance” to be extracted. And the middleman is always missing out on some crucial meaning.

Poor liberals. So oppressed.

But isn’t it funny? Think how much harder it would be for these middlemen to put words into the liberals’ mouths — if only once in awhile, a high profile liberal went on record and said some good things about America. Not America as our liberals want her to be; America as they find her. Some compliment. Just one. It would make that right-wing smear campaign so much more difficult. So much less effective and practical.

If only.

Well how’s this for a right-wing smear. John Edwards, who ran as the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee in 2004, says Jesus would be disappointed in the United States. The Lamb of God would be appalled at America. There I go, putting words into their mouths. Failing to properly split the hairs.

Huh. Really?

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards says Jesus would be appalled at how the United States has ignored the plight of the suffering, and that he believes children should have private time to pray at school.

Edwards, in an interview with the Web site, said Jesus would be most upset with the selfishness of Americans and the country’s willingness to go to war “when it’s not necessary.”

“I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs,” Edwards told the site. “I think he would be appalled, actually.”

It all looks pretty clear to me. Maybe our blue-staters are right, there’s some “nuance” there I’m just not bright enough to see.

Memo For File XXXVIII

Monday, March 5th, 2007

Here it is. This is the thing to which Ann Coulter was apparently trying to make reference in her clumsy, not-really-lovable way.

Now it’s rehab over Grey’s new “f-word”! – TVgasm
by Tabloid Baby

The Grey’s Anatomy offscreen soap opera has now entered the realm of the absurd, as star Isaiah Washington has gone into rehab in an effort to save his job.

Word came today that ABC executives have ordered him to undergo psychological assessment to find out why he called co-star T.R. Knight a “faggot” during a spat on the set back in the fall–or else!

Everything had quieted down until last week, when Grey’s won a Golden Globe and Washington, in the grand tradition of Hollywood lying and spin control, Washington denied having uttered the slur. But in denying it, he used the word again! He didn’t direct it toward anyone, only referring to the word he’s been accused of saying.

Washington has already apologized twice, met with gay leaders and offered to make public service announcements. But rehab? Granted, it beats a prime tiem spanking by Dr. Phil– but didn’t anyone at ABC listen to the words Roseanne Barr used to scream from her office all those years? Washington confirmed it in a statement today:

Sez Isaiah:

“With the support of my family and friends, I have begun counseling. I regard this as a necessary step toward understanding why I did what I did and making sure it never happens again. I appreciate the fact that I have been given this opportunity and I remain committed to transforming my negative actions into positive results, personally and professionally.”

Am I trying to excuse what Ann said this weekend? I’ll leave that up to the reader. Did she do something wrong? Absolutely. It was wrong in principle, and wrong in tactics. She made herself just as bad as Howard Dean when he went glaringly off-topic to insult white people and Christians, and when he yelled into the microphone. Good thing she never ran for Prez…

Do I think the Grey’s reference matters? Yeah, absolutely. I think if you’re going to start pontificating and speculating about what Coulter holds in her heart, you’ve made Mr. Washington’s episode part of the story. That seems obvious.

And yet…a Google search on “rehab faggot,” as of this writing, returns 208,000 results and, as far as I can tell, not a single mention of Isaiah Washington. Interesting the way we ponder these things.

Are conservatives going to do a better job of policing their own? You mean, in contrast to the job the liberals did when Dan Rather insisted his report about forged documents was “fake but accurate”? Or when Al Gore got caught being a hypocrite, in the most caughtingly-hypocritical way possible? Compared to those?

Yeah. They’ve started already.

Do I think Ann deserves the scourging she’s about to receive? Yeah, I do. Sure, she’s being taken out of context over and over again. And it doesn’t rise to the little-brother-playing-Monopoly standard of “fair.” But when you speak in public about politics, it’s your job to anticipate that people will try to hurt you, and by extension, those who support you. That is THE JOB.

And the fact of the matter is, she really doesn’t have any defense. I’ve got a good idea how her plan was supposed to work. She’d be nailed for using that word, and her defense would be something like “I didn’t use that word, I was quoting someone else” — or something similar to that. It isn’t working because her enemies get to decide whether we’ll be discussing the ABC/Washington flap or not; they get to decide that, and predictably they’ve decided it’s all about Ann. Why would they decide it any other way?

Of all the people who hate Ann Coulter today, practically no one has even heard of Isaiah Washington. Or, anyway, what his connection to this is. So Ann’s job was to see this coming, and she pulled a “gaffe” because she executed that job incompetently.

If I were gay, would I stop supporting conservatives over this? I dunno. Maybe.

So yeah, Ann. Thanks. Loads. Stick to writing.

Update 3/6/07: Some guy thinks Bill Maher’s comment is far worse than Ann Coulter’s. Must be part of that right-wing attack machine.

Sidebar Update X

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

Okay, we’re gonna bookmark this guy. And it’s probably obvious why.

Here it is a weekend, he’s managed to get his right-blogger-brain workin’, and I have not done the same. So he’s worthy just on that basis. But also, while maybe he’s not as smart as we are over here — he’s only noticed fourteen things compared to our hundred and eighty-six — at least he was sufficiently forthcoming to take the time and scribble ’em down. So I like the way he thinks.

We’ll go ahead and sidebar him now, and figure out if he’s a pinko-commie Clinton-lovin’ baby-killin’ liberal later.

Nurseries of Tomorrow’s Leaders

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

Thing I Know #90. A committee is a group of four or more people, each of whom are invested in an all-consuming mission to appear more important than the others. Through their dedication, good judgment, and continued persistence in these efforts, they have an excellent chance at making the committee itself utterly useless.
Thing I Know #93. People tend to change the way they think when they’re in groups. Generally, an idea generated in a group is worth a lot less than an idea someone thinks up on their own.

Very frequently in life we run into an event which, in the aftermath, presents us with an unpalatable decision. We may comment audibly on what it is we have just seen, which is to commit the grievous sin of belaboring the obvious. Or we may keep quiet, which raises the very real specter of yet another lap on the ol’ merry go-stupid.

Age has something to do with this. Show me a man whose heart has beat for four decades or more, and I’ll show you someone who’s tired of the ride, and would rather belabor the obvious than go ’round again. We’re over forty, so belabor it we shall.

So what really happened two years ago, when the events were put in motion that would eventually cost Larry Summers his job as President of Harvard? You remember, don’t you. The former Treasury Secretary under President Clinton made a comment or two about the paucity of successful women in science and engineering pursuits. He said it might be symptomatic of an aptitude differential between the sexes. In other words, perhaps there are innate differences between men and women.

Everything after that was just yet another chapter in a book we’ve already read many times. He apologized, he apologized again, he apologized again-again, he apologized for his previous apologies, and then he left to go spend more time with his family.

Which provided rich ammunition for conservatives. President Summers did not say the ladies were suffering in their academic achievements because they didn’t have what it takes to succeed. He did not, by any account, say anything about the extent to which their potential was limited in an engineering field. In fact, it seems he didn’t deny anything about traditional gender discrimination that might be taking place, in the present, in hiring and acceptance decisions. And that is where the story gets rich. Summers was commenting that perhaps what we’re seeing is a combination of several factors at work; discrimination — and some other stuff too.

For that kind of comment to cost him his job, sends the unmistakable message: A hundred pounds of underrepresentation, is a hundred pounds of discrimination, not an ounce less. Thou art not to think of anything else, or thine career is forfeit.

You can’t extrapolate any other message from the Summers flotsam-and-jetsam. Of course, it makes it a little sticky when there are no transcripts of what Summers actually said; you knew that too, didn’t you? No, really. Think back. You might have read here and there about the substance of his comments, as interpreted by some reporter for the Boston Globe…or what someone told that reporter. Maybe a friend-of-a-friend type thing. But you didn’t read any hard quotes.

Searching for some, I did trip across this thing which purports to be a word-for-word transcript. It may very well be exactly that. One problem with that is, several stories have come out about this putting the words “innate” and/or “innately” into hard scare-quotes, as if he used those words, and I don’t find them in the transcript. A mistake must have been made somewhere.

But the transcript does look impressively…complicated. It has the appearance of being the product of some kind of recording device. I’ll assume it’s genuine, not that it matters much I suppose.

So accepting that, let’s take a look at what he said.

There are three broad hypotheses about the sources of the very substantial disparities that this conference’s papers document and have been documented before with respect to the presence of women in high-end scientific professions. One is what I would call…the high-powered job hypothesis. The second is what I would call different availability of aptitude at the high end, and the third is what I would call different socialization and patterns of discrimination in a search. And in my own view, their importance probably ranks in exactly the order that I just described.

Now, ya got that? Summers is saying what we seem to be looking at, is a mixture of three different forces at work. The most impactful factor is that when you have a “high-powered job,” more will be expected of you, and overall men are going to have an easier time integrating such a professional life with the other aspects of their lives. The second biggest factor is that women and men bring different sets of aptitudes to those demanding jobs. And the third factor, least important among the three, is good old-fashioned discrimination.

Summers’ failure to skip the first two of those, and leapfrog down to #3, was just too much for Nancy Hopkins. “When he started talking about innate differences in aptitude between men and women, I just couldn’t breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill,” the MIT professor said.

Well, there must be a prevailing viewpoint at work, otherwise Summers would not have been forced to resign. And clearly the prevailing viewpoint was aptly represented, in some way, by Hopkins’…gag reflex, I guess.

If we shall belabor the obvious, let us do so by examining all the elements minus the one that arouses all the emotion. We got a bunch of college eggheads in a room somewhere and the college eggheads are tackling a problem. Let us say the problem is — a business is making widgets and people aren’t buying as many of the widgets as they used to. Egghead One steps up to the podium and says hey, I see three things the business can be doing better, and in order of importance here they are. One, Two, Three. Egghead Two gets all pissy because Egghead One cited three things instead of just one. Egghead Two loses her lunch and Egghead One has to resign.

Now what are we to think of such an environment? That it takes very little to make people barf, isn’t a fair conclusion to draw; my hypothetical, by design, removes a situation that gets a lot of people very excited, and justifiably so. However — it is quite fair to draw the conclusion that, for whatever reason, we have an enviornment here that looks at simplified solutions. And it uses some teeth when it looks at the simplified solutions. Summers said, gee, let’s look at this thing and that thing, and that other thing over there…end result is he’s out on his ass.

And in real life the situation is a little more complicated than that. The President of the United States, a Republican widely seen as an easy target for removal and disgrace, had just been re-elected with the greatest number of popular votes in the nation’s history. Our liberals wanted some blood and fresh meat. It’s a funny thing about our liberals; when they win, they want blood — and when they lose, they still want blood. Always, no matter what happens, the onus is put on everybody else to appease the liberals because of something that just happened, whatever that something may be. It seems there is no situation possible, in theory or in fact, that will ever make liberals shut up and go away even for a little while.

But anyway, George Bush had just been re-elected and the liberals wanted to be placated.

And yet. What does this say about Harvard, and about higher education in general? Over and over again, we are told that a higher education allows you to see the permutations of “gray” in each situation that comes along, that our academic hallways are places wherein situations can be reviewed for the complexity involved in them, and solutions evaluated with vigor, with peer-review and the like. Such tolerance at work, nothing is shunned save for the concept of the overly-simplified solution.

But — how does it shake out? Larry Summers says “you know what, maybe the cat isn’t bathing because he’s old AND sick.” And for this, out he goes. To seriously entertain multiple causes of a common perceived problem, it would seem, is something best left to the world outside the ivy-covered walls. Inside, we’ll stick to our monochromatic diagnoses, thank you very much. There’s that nausea to think about, ya know.

So that’s one thing. And the other thing is even more obvious…and I really don’t want to make anyone up-chuck here, but here it is.

The issue is innate differences between the genders. Summers lost his job because he didn’t think innate differences were off the table. He went ahead and discussed them, and shame on him. Well, now — suppose the subject had turned to the development of those differences, and someone stepped forward to point out that girls mature faster than boys. Which, in just about all the ways that matter, they really do. Watch girls and boys sometime, you can see it. Take a given age, and a girl has more going on in general, than a boy…and this impacts later development in a number of ways.

It’s an innate difference.

Would anyone have lost their job for pointing that out? Heh. Don’t count on it.

Now, that’s a bias. There’s really nothing wrong with having a bias in & of itself, it’s the way people think. I would compare it to achieving old age: At first blush it seems like a pretty bad thing, but it’s wonderful when you consider the alternative. But it is still a weakness, and when it is sheltered and nurtured, even as it is used to justify the removal of a high official simply for pointing out possible causes to a problem that has been proven to be difficult to solve, and to involve a lot of permutations — something is busted. It’s even more busted when the purpose of the conference is stated to be “National Bureau of Economic Research Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce,” and people are being ousted simply for discussing more than one causative factor insofar as the diversity desired has not yet been achieved.

To put it more simply, if you’re just going to sit around and jaw about good ol’ discrimination, then what the hell is the point?

I have my own biases against higher education and I have my reasons for having ’em. And so the question that remains, is something along the lines of: What else is broke? The spectacle of Nancy Hopkins getting ready to kneel before the porcelain god and blow chunks, is quite a silly and distracting one, but it threatens to conceal multiple layers of intellectual dysfunction beneath the surface. Educators at all levels are frequently heard to say “I’m not here to teach you what to think, I’m here to teach you how to think.” They mold and shape the minds of tomorrow’s leaders.

So…how are they teaching students to think? It seems “don’t do it” would be the most accurate answer to that one.

Is this what the boardrooms of tomorrow are like, then? All the most luminous and educated minds in a given organization meet to re-investigate some perplexing problem…dealing with sales, marketing, diversity — perhaps the defense of the nation? Perhaps halting the spread of AIDS, or the curing of Cancer, or whatever plague has replaced those two? And…if-and-when any one amongst them dares to say “Hey, I notice there may be one or several ancillary causes to this problem we should think about inspecting” — he’s out on his ass?

That seems pretty dire. And more than a little ridiculous. But, but, but. Why should I not ponder such a thing? This is Harvard. Creme de la creme of our educational community. They suffered a little bit of embarrassment for a little while, and then I have to assume they went back to their usual way of doing things, eventually replacing Larry Summers with a Radcliffe feminist. So we know how they work, and there’s no reason to think there are too many universities that work any differently.

All those who acknowledge the truism of Think I Know #93 above, and wonder why it is so. Behold.

Nurseries of tomorrow’s leaders. Concerned? Should we be? How much?

More on the Summers thing:

1. Larry Summers and Women Scientists
2. Summers’ Comments on Women and Science Draw Ire
3. Sex, Summers — And The Return of Human Nature
4. The Larry Summers Show Trial
5. Don’t Worry Your Pretty Little Head: The Pseudo-Feminist Show Trial of Larry Summers
6. Harvard Womens’ Group Rips Summers