Archive for August, 2007

Nonsensical Rules…It Must Mean Bush

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Guess what folks, employees in an agency of the federal government now have to follow some rules, which in certain cases make little-to-no sense at all. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Goddard Space Flight Center are up in arms over a new requirement by NASA that they submit to detailed FBI scrutiny of their backgrounds in order to obtain clearance to go to work. They are claiming that the agency may be trying to control or silence them about issues like global warming.

The new security clearance requirement, which involves interviews of neighbors and checks into the distant background activities of scientists, many of whom have worked at JPL and Goddard for as long as thirty years, is puzzling because both locations have little or no involvement in secret or national security research. Indeed, by law, NASA’s activities and the research its scientists engage in are required to be publicly available.

“Almost nobody at NASA does classified work,” says Robert Nelson, a veteran scientist at JPL who heads up the photo analysis unit on the Cassini-Huygens space probe project exploring Saturn and its moons. “I think this is really all about NASA director [Michael] Griffin putting a security wrap around us.”

Yup, throughout modern history enormous, leviathan government agencies have imposed rules on the people who work for them, rules that run contrary to common sense, or to the notions of lots of people about the way things ought to work. Through all the decades hearing about such boondoggles, I had no idea President Bush was responsible for all the red tape, or that it was being wielded to put a choke-hold on global warming alarmist research.

Why, now that you point it out to me, it makes perfect sense.

I got my own idea of what this is about. The latest “Everyone Else Is Linking It, I Might As Well Too” story on global warming, of which you and I could have read just about anywhere yesterday (but my hat tip goes to Buck), does sufficient damage to the Chicken Little dogma that you just knew a backlash was inevitable.

In 2004, history professor Naomi Oreskes performed a survey of research papers on climate change. Examining peer-reviewed papers published on the ISI Web of Science database from 1993 to 2003, she found a majority supported the “consensus view,” defined as humans were having at least some effect on global climate change. Oreskes’ work has been repeatedly cited, but as some of its data is now nearly 15 years old, its conclusions are becoming somewhat dated.

Medical researcher Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte recently updated this research. Using the same database and search terms as Oreskes, he examined all papers published from 2004 to February 2007. The results have been submitted to the journal Energy and Environment, of which DailyTech has obtained a pre-publication copy. The figures are surprising.

Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers “implicit” endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no “consensus.”

The figures are even more shocking when one remembers the watered-down definition of consensus here. Not only does it not require supporting that man is the “primary” cause of warming, but it doesn’t require any belief or support for “catastrophic” global warming. In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007), only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results.

One out of 528.

That came out on a WEDNESDAY.

This National Agency Check stuff — being breathlessly reported for the benefit of a paranoid-liberal readership that has never heard of NAC before and suspects Bush skullduggery anytime they encounter something they don’t understand — came out on a THURSDAY.

Wednesday…Thursday. Discharge, ricochet. Action, reaction. Push-me, pull-you. Once again, the global warming mindset tries like the dickens to look like “science,” and ends up looking more like a religion. I’m not the first to point it out, and I won’t be the last.

As for Bush Derangement Syndrome, in three decades it will look just like pet rocks and mutton-chop sideburns do today.

Instant Karma

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Right now, the federal government hasn’t got anything more important to do than to deliver us the bodies of dead terrorists, the more the better. Maybe some inside don’t realize it, and some outside don’t realize it…and it doesn’t sound very pleasant when you say it out loud…but it’s true. More dead terrorists. More every month, than you brought in the month before. Drop ‘em at our feet like a cat with a dead mouse, then run off and go get another. All other endeavors are trivial by comparison.

It’s nice to see the bad guys helping out in that enterprise.

It’s a Dry Heat

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

I’d like to see a news story about the weather being hot somewhere…without even once mentioning global warming or climate change.

Yes, the public is more receptive to the global climate change scam when it’s hotter, or when they’re thinking about a local climate being hotter. That doesn’t mean the two are related. Because they simply aren’t.

Jewell Down

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Richard Jewell, who was falsely accused of being the Centennial Park bomber but later vindicated, has passed away.

I wonder if Ann Coulter is frustrated about that…she did a pretty comprehensive job reviewing the various episodes in the service of our nations last three Attorneys General. Jewell’s story wasn’t part of it. Deadline comes and goes on her weekly column, and almost in the minute she clicks “send” Jewell breathes his last.

Well you know what…you’ve got to conclude we’ve been sold a bill of goods when the most objective and even-handed review of Attorneys General over the last fourteen years comes from Ann Coulter. There’s just no getting around it.

On Aug. 19, 1991, rabbinical student Yankel Rosenbaum was stabbed to death in Crown Heights by a black racist mob shouting “Kill the Jew!” as retaliation for another Hasidic man killing a black child in a car accident hours earlier.

In a far clearer case of jury nullification than the first Rodney King verdict, a jury composed of nine blacks and three Puerto Ricans acquitted Lemrick Nelson Jr. of the murder — despite the fact that the police found the bloody murder weapon in his pocket and Rosenbaum’s blood on his clothes, and that Rosenbaum, as he lay dying, had identified Nelson as his assailant.

The Hasidic community immediately appealed to the attorney general for a federal civil rights prosecution of Nelson. Reno responded with utter mystification at the idea that anyone’s civil rights had been violated.

Civil rights? Where do you get that?

Because they were chanting “Kill the Jew,” Rosenbaum is a Jew, and they killed him.

Huh. That’s a weird interpretation of “civil rights.” It sounds a little harebrained to me, but I guess I could have someone look into it. It took two years from Nelson’s acquittal to get Reno to bring a civil rights case against him.
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Reno is the sort of wild-eyed zealot trampling on real civil rights that Hillary views as an ideal attorney general, unlike that brute Alberto Gonzales. At least Reno didn’t fire any U.S. attorneys!

Oh wait –

Number of U.S. attorneys fired by Ashcroft: 0

Number of U.S. attorneys fired by Gonzales: 8

Number of U.S. attorneys fired by Reno: 93

John Edwards in Lead

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Check out the first comment in the thread.

Go John, you are what the repugnants fear most. That is why they all crossed over in 2004 to vote for Kerry. They knew shrub would look like the idiot he is if he had to debate John in public.

Edwards is the candidate the repugnants fear most…oh yeah, if it’s up to me, I’ll take that bet. Go ahead and nominate Edwards.

Conventional wisdom says the Republicans are sure to lose the White House. And yet I can’t think of a single Republican candidate who looks what I would call “buffoonish”…or a single Democrat candidate who does not. I mean, think about it. If Edwards is nominated, it will be like the best thing that ever happened to the G.O.P. — but you could say the same about the not-quite-black guy and the not-quite-female person as well. All three of them are like Trojan horses…you could provide to me concrete proof that any one of the three of them is, or all three are, covert agents working for the Republican party. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. All three of them have helped Republicans more than Democrats…and all three of them I project to continue with the same-ol’ same-ol’, right on through the duration.

Maybe the time has come to seek out a left-winger and make a friendly wager. There’s got to be an opportunity to make some money here.

No Pain Ray Weapon for Iraq

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Probably a wise decision.

Next Intrusion

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

The next regulatory intrusion into the private lives of generally-responsible citizens, should inconvenience — absolutely nobody except — women with dogs. That needs to be the very next thing, and we should all insist on it. Leave the people chugging down on saturated fat products alone, leave the people in enormous cars alone, leave the actors smoking cigarettes in movies alone.

Just…women who own dogs. Disrupt them next, and until then, disrupt absolutely nobody else. It is their TURN.

All the ingredients are there. They’re all-freakin’-over the place, for one thing. It’s become a form of pollution. And that’s a legitimate reason to regulate things, isn’t it? Enough people start doing something, before you know it there are pain-in-the-ass rules in place that wouldn’t be there if fewer people did it…that’s become an American tradition, and I see no reason why dog-owning women should be exempt from this.

It’s a public health problem because women don’t curb their pets. Yes, that’s a crass and reckless generalization. And that’s fine. Regulation is made of crass, reckless generalizations — that’s what regulation is. They are far less likely to curb their dogs than their male counterparts…

…and now they are getting hurt. Bridget O’Keefe lost a finger walking a friend’s dog. The finger cannot be reattached.

She was using [a retractable leash] to walk a friend’s dog, but then, the dog tried to take off.

“I was holding the leash with my right hand, and I think it was just a jerk reaction,” O’Keefe said. “I reached with my left hand to try and stop her.”

She was holding the nylon piece of string inside the leash.

“When I reached for it, I think it retracted back in,” O’Keefe said.

O’Keefe then felt a sharp pain and looked down in shock.

“My finger was gone,” O’Keefe said. “It was pulsing, spurting blood. I know that sounds horrible.”

Surprisingly, though, this isn’t the only horror story.

“My shock was that this isn’t the only case that this has happened,” O’Keefe said.

News 4 WOAI has learned that some people have even lost eyes, and have been severely burned by these types of leashes. Dozens of cases have been cited on the internet, and now O’Keefe is no longer using her retractable leash.

That’s the last straw. Don’t you dare tell me I can’t go to a Hooter’s restaurant, or buy beer on a Sunday, until we have enough rules for dog-owning-women that you could crumple them in a wad and choke a horse. You can start with When I Start Running This Place #8 and, if & when technology permits, When I Start Running This Place #32.

Yes, it’s not Bridget’s dog. That’s not the point. The point is, in all other aspects of life, when a “critical mass” of people all start doing the same thing and then some of them get hurt doing it…that’s all it takes. Rules pop up like dandelions on Easter Sunday after a good morning rain. Half of them, if not moreso, stupid. The woman-and-dog thing shouldn’t be exempt.

It’s troublesome, because dogs are capable of recognizing one, and only one, master. If that happens to be a woman and she’s a pushover, it’s misery for everybody else. Now, in 2007, Al Gore wants us to have a carbon footprint of zero — so the rest of us are struggling against “leashes” plenty short enough, in all other aspects of life. It’s well past time to reign this one in.

Just be careful doing it, don’t burn or cut yourself.

Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot… XVI

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

One Dubya-Tee-Eff episode rises, like Venus out of the ocean waves, from another. Must mean a Clinton is involved.

Noted “Hillraiser” Norman Hsu is a fugitive on the run from justice. No, really

Democratic donor Norman Hsu said Wednesday that he would “refrain from all fundraising activities” until he resolved an outstanding warrant for his arrest stemming from a 1991 criminal case in San Mateo County.

Hsu, a major fundraiser over the last three years for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and other Democrats, issued the statement through his attorney after the Los Angeles Times reported that he had been a fugitive for 15 years.

Prosecutors in California said Hsu disappeared in 1992 after pleading no contest and agreeing to serve up to three years in prison for defrauding investors in a Ponzi scheme.

Meanwhile, Clinton’s campaign said Wednesday that it would donate to charity $23,000 in direct donations from Hsu, a New York apparel executive. And other recipients of his donations distanced themselves from the businessman.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California and Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry of Massachusetts; Reps. Michael M. Honda of San Jose, Doris Matsui of Sacramento and Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania; and Al Franken, a Senate candidate in Minnesota, said they would divest their campaigns of Hsu’s donations.

If I jotted this down as fiction, surely no publisher would accept it. And yet, here we are.

Memo For File XLV

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

I was watching some stupid show on cable television last night on one of those retro-channels, and nodded off.

Woke up somewhere around one in the morning. There was some other stupid family sitcom from about twenty-five years ago, give or take. The matriarch of the household was studying for her G.E.D. so she could get a better job, and the Lord of the Manor was throwing some kind of hissy-fit that she hadn’t consulted him first, and trying to stop her…to lay down the LAW. She started out all meek and submissive, and then chose to assert herself.

I nodded off again, this time until the coffeemaker went off. This time there was an entirely different family sitcom, in which the woman wore a black wig over her blond hair and the man was having some kind of conniption, once again trying to lay down the LAW. She once again, started out contrite, and then again, chose to assert herself.

It’s interesting watching what passes for comedy in one eon, through the lens of history in some “future” eon. It helps to restore your perspective. Like for example — how is it an entire society got fooled, for a whole generation, into thinking this was entertainment? Some hotshot television producer who doesn’t know jack-squat about real domestic squabbles, assembles a theatrical troop to tell those filthy commoners what they are arguing about in their living rooms, and a bunch of other bigwigs who also wouldn’t know a real domestic squabble even if it bit ‘em square in what passes for their testes, get together and green-light it.

I’ve married and dated some dimwit women in my time, and it’s probably fair to say of all the tiffs you can possibly have with each other under a roof, I’ve participated in…well…probably most of them. Which is not a badge of honor by any means, but after such a sumptuous banquet I doubt there are too many dishes left from which I haven’t sampled. Trust me. TRUST me…I have never, ever, squabbled with a woman about her hair color, or thrown some kind of bitch-pitch because she wanted to acquire some new skills and make herself a better person.

This is where I get e-mail from petulant women who actually went through the experience. Save yourselves some time; I’m sure here and there, it’s happened, just like lightning strikes people sometimes, and sometimes jet planes crash into mountains. My issue is with how often such things happen — the frequency. Already, the patriarch who has some kind of beef with his wife or paramour making more money, is Number One on my list of Things I Doubt. I don’t personally know of any man who has this peeve, nor have I ever. It can’t be that common.

Why make that the point of something that is supposed to be comedy? Is this some kind of hidden agenda? Kind of a “we’ll pretend to be entertaining you, but what we’re really going to do is lecture you to be more supportive of that womens’ lib stuff.” Now and then, this can be overlooked I suppose. “Comedies” can be poignant, and every now and then they can stop being funny. I can see how this adds depth. But why should an entire generation have been defined this way?

It’s fair to say some pudgy middle-aged guy falling asleep in front of the retro-channel when he should be in bed, jolting himself awake every two hours to see what’s on the boob tube at that minute, is something of a “random sampling.” And if it’s fair to say that, what does it say that my random sampling continually ambushes me with another snotty, whimpering lecture from the Hollywood ivory-tower types, who are essentially complete strangers, that we should stop being such chauvinists and bigots? That isn’t what I call “now and then”; this is closer to what I would call “all the damn time.” And at that point, it ceases to be comedy.

It has to, right?

One more thought: If what we’re seeing here is some definition of what feminism really is, or is supposed to be, I have to ask if it was supposed to add to this assortment of other definitions, or replace them. If it is additive, well then that was quite the menagerie of agendas we went through all those years ago, wasn’t it? Given that they were all arranged under the singular banner of “feminism”? I mean, what are we up to…equal pay for equal worth; womens’ right to abort pregnancies; women going to work if they want to; smashing the glass ceiling, which is a somewhat different item from allowing women to work in the first place; coercing men into doing more chores, even if their wives are among the ones who DON’T work; promoting cultural icons of heroes who are more sensitive and less masculine, and heroines who are more caustic and unfriendly, and less feminine; making it artificially difficult to open strip bars, or to patronize them.

To that overly-complex stewpot we should toss in some other issues that seem, on the surface, to be gender neutral — but are designed to appeal to the female mindset. Things that wouldn’t have had a prayer of passage before suffrage. Nanny-state stuff. Wage and price controls, universal health care, hate crime laws, mandatory sensitivity training.

And now we have: Encouraging family squabbles about hair color and other such trivial nonsense.

Looking back on the feminist movement — if it was more sincere, wouldn’t it have been somewhat simpler?

I oppose illegal immigration. Some people agree with me, because they’re a bunch of damned racists…and people like me, are engaged in a never-ending struggle to promote our cause, while separating ourselves from people like them. That job is NEVER done. Well…some feminists support equal-pay for equal-worth, because that’s fair — and other feminists genuinely hate men. The sitcoms I saw last night, were put together to appeal to people of both sexes who genuinely hate men. People who like to indulge in extravagant fantasies about men ordering their wives around, make your hair this color, don’t get an education, don’t work. I don’t think equal-pay for equal-worth has an awful lot to do with that. This was hate, pure and simple, disguised as something that was supposed to draw laughter.

Not as bad as feeding Christians to lions…but sort of meandering off in that general direction. And we’re still tolerating it after thirty-five years.

How come equivalent pressure wasn’t put on the feminists, and still isn’t put on them to this very day, to clarify the message so the rest of us can be assured that hate isn’t part of it?

Bloomberg: Give Poor Cash for Good Behavior

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Yeah, why didn’t we think of this before?

[New York City Mayor Mike] Bloomberg says that after years of fighting poverty, the government has little to show for its efforts. Now it’s time to try something new. Why not offer incentives to poor people to do things that can benefit them, such as attend school, get a library card or go to the doctor?
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Bloomberg points to the incentives the government already offers to the rich. For instance, there are subsidies to farmers to stop planting corn or energy companies to drill — or not drill — in certain places.

“You can argue that a lot of the things Congress subsidizes, people should do anyway,” he says in an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep. “But the truth … is, when you have a bonus, you tend to work harder and do more.”

Bloomberg, a billionaire, says New York City will try the incentives as an experiment using private money, including some of his own.

It’s a funny thing about the nanny-state. Whenever a “bold” new idea is proposed, like this, both sides of the argument cite precedent. The protagonists point backward, the antagonists, forward.

Those who are supportive say things like, heck, we already do (such-and-such). Notice the nod back to Roosevelt’s Agricultural Adjustment Administration and the paying of farmers not to grow corn, to slaughter cattle, to pour cream into ditches, etc.

And the antagonists pose the rhetorical question: What’s next? I could ask this. Hey, I make some pretty smart decisions. Where’s my handout from Bloomberg’s personal treasure chest?

Aren’t all nanny-state initiatives, the conventional as well as the more adventurous — just like this? To make them look like great ideas you have to say 1) we’re simply following through on earlier precedent, and 2) it STOPS here. Which is essentially arguing against the scientific principle of inertia.

One thing I do find encouraging here is that the program is being sold on the strength of some of the money…just some…coming from Bloomberg’s personal checkbook, at least in the experimental phases. If he could guarantee that the program would stay this way, I could support that. Not that I would predict success, but I would at least hope for it, and I’d support the rights of persons wishing to join him, throwing their own money into the hat. Mistake? Probably. But I’d support the right to make it.

Of course that would be a “foundation,” and government wouldn’t have a single thing to do with it. So for the city government to get involved, something is going to have to go beyond volunteerism. Government is not about selection, it is about force. Opting-in to and opting-out of things, that’s what the private sector is for.

Just An Observation III

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

There seem to be an awful lot of young people who believe in global warming.

I should qualify that. By “believe in global warming,” what I mean is:

1. Believe that there is such a thing as a meaningful, measurable global temperature;
2. Believe that such a metric ought, properly, to stay more-or-less static;
3. Believe that it is sailing off the charts in the moment that I type this;
4. Believe that the skyrocketing global temperature spells some kind of doom;
5. Believe that the human race is mostly, almost completely, or completely responsible;
6. Believe that the global temperature change is on such apocalyptic levels, that we are now teetering on the edge of the point of no return.

And that things would be so much better if Al Gore won Florida, and the White House, in 2000.

A lot of folks think all this stuff, but a whole lot of the under-thirty crowd thinks all this stuff. I’ve gathered the impression, which I can’t verify easily that a bare majority of people-of-all-ages think all this stuff…but if you count only the folks 30-and-below, the percentage ratchets up to somewhere in the eighties or nineties.

Well. It’s a little bit difficult to know what a snail darter is when you haven’t yet blown out thirty candles, huh? Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe we need to come up with a new term…something like “Snail Darter Politics.”

Phrases are wonderful things. They aren’t like words. If you use a word, and nobody knows what the word means, that’s your fault even if the word can be found in the dictionary. Believe me, I know. Phrases are magical…if you use a phrase, and someone doesn’t know what it means, the onus is on them to go look it up. When you think about it, in a rational world that’s the way it would work with everything. You’re ignorant of something — that’s your problem. Go fix your ignorance and quit bothering people.

Snail darter politics. I like it. That’s exactly what global warming is…snail darter politics.

Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot… XV

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Democrats have received $200,000 in donations, $45k of that going to Sen. Clinton, from six individuals specifying this bungalow as their address:

The donations have been been coming in since 2005. Two hundred large over two years…that’s…eh, that’s some damn good investing. Hey, there seems to be something familiar about this…

That total ranks the house with residences in Greenwich, Conn., and Manhattan’s Upper East Side among the top addresses to donate to the Democratic presidential front-runner over the past two years, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of donations listed with the Federal Election Commission.
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Kent Cooper, a former disclosure official with the Federal Election Commission, said the two-year pattern of donations justifies a probe of possible violations of campaign-finance law, which forbid one person from reimbursing another to make contributions. “There are red lights all over this one,” Mr. Cooper said.

Damn straight.

Well, let’s just see what happens. If the name was “Romney” or “Thompson” instead of the C-word, I damn well know what would happen…as it is, I’m not so sure.

Zahn Rule

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

I’m not keen on the sole-source, especially when it deals with the private lives of celebrities and one can easily see it’s giving far more air-time to one side of a dispute than the other. So I’m inclined to ignore this…but lacking that level of dignity, I’m inclined to believe only part of the article without the customary heavy-questioning. Just two things: That Paula Zahn carried on an affair behind the back of her husband of twenty years, for a significant chunk of that time, and that she’s trying to put the screws to him in court. Seems to me if either one of those was a falsehood, there’d be little profit in spreading it and it would have been easily detected before the presses were fired up.

The illicit, years-long love affair between Zahn and business big Paul Fribourg was sizzling even as Fribourg hit the golf links with Zahn’s real-estate magnate husband, Richard Cohen, sources told The Post yesterday.
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Sources declined to discuss any details of Zahn’s “love book” or where exactly it was found, except to say, “She was indiscreet.”

The former CNN anchor’s affair with Fribourg became public knowledge in April, when it was announced that Zahn and Cohen were parting ways after 20 years.

“He’s told friends her affair just took his heart out,” the pal said.

Friends said Cohen had believed the relationship was a recent development, but Zahn’s book shows their relationship was much more “long-term” than Cohen had ever suspected.

Let me just state for the record that I am absolutely, positively opposed to criminalizing marital affairs. BUT…

Zahn, 51, and Cohen haven’t yet filed divorce papers, and Cohen’s friends said he thought they were trying to work out an amicable agreement until Friday, when Zahn socked him with a lawsuit demanding he account for the whereabouts of her estimated $25 million in earnings over the past 20 years.

The suit accused Cohen, who’s acted as Zahn’s financial manager since 1986, of putting much of her money into “highly illiquid limited liability companies.”

It also charged that “some of her earnings had been diverted to Mr. Cohen’s individual account . . . for his own use and benefit.”

…there is something especially unseemly about swimming through life like a shark, grabbing what you can, and then once the feeding frenzy comes to a stop for whatever reason suddenly insisting that everything in life should pasteurized and it all ought to be fair. Regardless of my personal preferences about what people should & shouldn’t do, I’m impressed with the realization that an institution that has degraded to this level, cannot possibly endure long. That goes for the institution of marriage, and it goes for civilization as well.

Does that mean unfaithful spouses should leave a marriage with just the clothes on their backs, and be happy they got just that? Well…yes. I guess that’s exactly what I’m saying. Husbands too.

What kind of integrity can we bring to contracts we sign in all other aspects of life — apartment leases, auto loans, mortgages, employment contracts, whatever — if it’s codified into civil law that people can enter into marriages, and just live the parts of the marriage that they happen to like, abandoning the rest? To allow that to go on, redefines adults into children.

I say, let’s start respecting choice. If adulterers want to live a life of adventure, we should let them…and make it so they can keep “their” property right up until they get caught. Seriously, what is the downside of that? Think of the alternative. The alternative is to say that one party in a contract can exploit the other party, by declaring when life is a “Lord of the Flies” chapter — and when life is to be utterly sterilized of anything that might be regarded as unfair…simply by being the first between the two parties to so declare. It would be saying whoever gets the pork chop is the first one to grab it off the plate. That is the antithesis of civilization itself. It’s NOT a private matter, it affects us all, in fact it’s a shame on all of us that we’ve put up with this.

Adulterers are scum. Unfaithful husbands, unfaithful wives — if they don’t like their lives, let them start new ones. Fresh, clean, and possession free, like the minute they were born.

Three Point Five

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

I think I’m gonna be sick.

This has mushroomed throughout Monday into one of those “Everyone else is linking it, I might as well do it too” things. Which isn’t sufficient to put it on my radar by itself, and at any rate my attitude was “aw, cut her a break, she’s a teenager and she had to think on her feet.” Butterflies in the tummy and all that.

Well, screw that. The 3.5 GPA, for those who may not know, is on a scale of four. You can tell by the way the young lady draws out the word “beleeeeeve,” that over the years she’s been given mad props for so opining, which is fairly typical for attractive young women. The tendency is for attractive young people, females especially, to be given the same credit for articulating their opinions that less desirable social creatures would be given for researching and validating hard fact.

Which, of course, I’m in no position to do at the moment. I don’t know this is her history for sure. But in life, there are some things that may be presumed because most of the signs are there. And in this case, ALL of the signs are there. She’s an idiot who’s been given a free pass, and then some, because she’s gorgeous. Gorgeous, with a knockout body, blond hair, white skin, straight teeth. Her artificially sky-high grade-point is a disservice to her schools, to everybody else, and to herself especially.

Update: Heh…you’ve just gotta see this.

Tortured Debate

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Alberto Gonzales has resigned from his post as U.S. Attorney General, as Charles Krauthammer and I thought he should’ve a long time ago.

This makes me think about something:

I was on a thread somewhere and I got into a bit of a dust-up with some rabid left-wingers on the torture thing. I was pointing out something no different from what I had pointed out in other places, before: I’m not completely sold on the idea that this is “wrong,” and I find it deceptive to lump “humiliation” together with the stuff that comes to mind when you use the T-word. Namely, bodily mutilations, fire and steel. I don’t see these as the same thing and I don’t think there are very many people, at all, who see them as the same thing. To pretend these are on the same footing, in any way, is fundamentally dishonest.

And in my assessment of the argument, the “Torture Is Wrong” doctrine depends completely on those two things being the same. Once you acknowledge they’re different, you realize something: This really is all about de-fanging the United States. It’s about making sure we can’t do anything to win the war, besides getting shot at. Just because a lot of “Torture Is Wrong” people aren’t after that, doesn’t mean there’s some other motive behind it. There isn’t. It’s about emboldening one side of this war, by putting the other side — us — on a short leash, and letting them do whatever they want.

Now, this argument doesn’t have much currency. In the dust-up in which I lowered myself to participating, the left-wingers expressed their horror at my different ideas so all the other left-wingers could see them doing it, and that was the end of it…in short, they argued from personal incredulity…

…but my argument doesn’t have currency outside of left-winger-land, either. People, to their credit, are generally very keen on the idea that governments are corrupt and it’s up to the people represented by those governments, to straighten them out and keep them straightened out. This is a noble goal. Of course, the immature mind is selective about this; he is more receptive to this when the party opposed to his, is the one in power. In other words, the dullard falls prey to the “My guy is okay, the other guy is messed up” mindset.

That’s where our left-wingers are coming from right now. The other guy is in power…so now, the government can do bad things. Alert Mode On. Once a “good guy” is in the White House, we can get back to worrying about confiscating guns, images of Moses in courthouses, price-gouging in the kids’ cereal market, not enough blacks on cable TV sitcoms, and are the taxpayers paying enough that Grandma can buy medicine and dog food for her dinner. And naturally, if any of these problems go unsolved — and trust me, all of them will remain essentially unchanged, no matter how much time is spent solving them — it won’t reflect poorly on that “good guy” in charge. He’ll be “trying.” It’ll be like the nineties all over again.

But for those of us who want the United States to win the war, one issue remains. I’m not sure what you can do to get information out of a “detainee,” if 1) Torture is wrong, and 2) Torture includes everything less-than-comfortable. What then? You’d have to just sit around waiting for him to feel talkative, wouldn’t you? I mean, what else is there?

Well, it turns out this was prophetic. Now that a successor will have to be nominated for Gonzo, we’re about to be dragged through the torture debate. The newspapers and the cable television and the alphabet-soup-network commentators have their own ideas — make that “idea” — about the angle on this story. As usual, the bloggers have a more interesting, enlightening, and multi-point perspective on the issue. Simply put, we have a few more questions about it.

I wish to contribute my own questions to the discussion. The question I thought of since the dust-up was:

What if we were to abolish torture, and not tell anybody?

You see, over the years I’ve noticed something about people. When they say “you shouldn’t do X” and the only answer they can provide as to why, is “because X is wrong” — they typically don’t give a rat’s ass whether or not X continues to be done or not. What they really want, is to be seen intoning to someone that X ought not be done because X is wrong. They’re performing. Style over substance. So my question is…what if we were to do exactly what they want, but only on the layer that deals with substance?

What if the world were to continue to believe we were torturing people, and meanwhile, behind the scenes, we didn’t do it? What if someone were to be completely deserving of the credit of making us stop torturing people…but not get any of the credit for stopping us? That would be like going to the golf course alone and getting a hole-in-one with nobody around to see. But if it’s about right-and-wrong, that’d be okay wouldn’t it?

Granted, this would violate the Living With Morgan Rule #1, in which, deploring false accusations, once I’m accused of something I want to be guilty of doing it. But leaving that aside. Suppose the world community is left to conclude we’re waterboarding these guys and subjecting them to the batteries-in-a-pillowcase debriefing sessions. But meanwhile, behind the scenes all we do is wait hand and foot on Ahmed and Muammar like waiters in some five-star restaurant…all day long, and then the next day we do it again. If they want to talk, we listen. If not, we serve up another banana-nut muffin and make sure there’s a good selection between grape jelly and orange marmalade.

Now, would that be okay? I mean, we wouldn’t be doing anything “wrong”; just, a lot of folks would be laboring under the misconception that we are.

I would have to expect, realistically, my plan wouldn’t get a lot of takers. It would, however, have a unifying effect on those who place more importance on reality itself, than the popular perception of that reality. Those on the “right wing” would rightfully conclude I’d be throwing in the towel on the prospect of getting any information out of these guys. They’d say, as a direct result of this, people will die. I don’t have any information that would contradict this; I don’t think anyone else does either. And those on the “left wing” who ought to be celebrating at our government somehow becoming “ethical,” would doubtless find something else that isn’t up to snuff, and start complaining about that.

Of course, for those who are concerned about image, by design the situtation would remain unchanged. I expect they’d go on and on about polls, and disapproval, and international-community this and we are seen that.

I would expect something else, though.

A lot of substance-over-image left-wingers, would hop the turnstyle. They’d start to worry more about image of what’s going on, than about what’s actually going on. I mean, that’s the part of it that would still suck…so they’d simply change what they find important.

At this point, let’s end the mental exercise. It has achieved what it was tossed out to accomplish. The torture debate has nothing to do with what is actually happening; it has to do with the public image of what is happening. It’s all about perceptions. Let me repeat: The debate is ALL about perceptions. It has butkus to do with reality.

When people say “we should not torture because it is wrong,” what they really mean is “we should not torture because it can be presented as being wrong” or “we should not torture because I can get lots of people agitated over the idea that it is wrong.”

Torture really being wrong, has nothing to do with it. That’s why nobody’s going to stick their neck out and sign on to the idea that “if we stop torturing people we will become noble.” Nobody’s saying that, and nobody will say that.

But they’ll sure as hell say the opposite. They’ll say “people despise us because we torture,” even though they’ll never say “people will start liking us if we don’t torture.”

So their argument is lacking in substance, because it isn’t about substance. It isn’t supposed to be. This is why my “solution” wouldn’t be any solution at all. It fixes the substance while leaving the image unchanged…in what is essentially a public-relations issue.

But the P.R. guys don’t have a solution either. Before we started arguing all over the world about torture, we were arguing all over the world about the invasion of Iraq. How many people do you know who have negative feelings toward the United States over this torture issue, who didn’t have negative feelings against the United States about going into Iraq before we started arguing about the torture issue? I mean, count everybody — people you know, public figures, celebrities…can you think of anyone? I can’t think of a single person.

It’s not exactly a hot news item when liberals and democrats rally around an issue that is phony. This one has captured the mainstream, what you might call the “heartland.” It’s easy to understand why, because who wants to be strapped to a waterboard? It doesn’t seem very appealing. But when you dissect this issue, it turns out, surprisingly, to be more phony than most others. The substance-angle is nonexistent, and the style-angle is ineffectual and goes nowhere. It’s just a talking point in circulation among America’s enemies — those who fight us overtly, and those who insist they’re “patriotic” but never seem to have a kind word to say about the country.

Of course it is an effective talking-point, and it is around, posing problems for us, because of our actions. But since bringing a stop to those actions — in style, as well as in substance — wouldn’t make anything any better, I’d like our senators to do a good job explaining to us why they’ll be debating it, before they do so debate it. I’d like to see them do an excellent job justifying this. I have strong doubts they’ll even perform an adequate one.

Disagreement

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

I got back a very thoughtful off-line mini-essay from John at The Expanding Introverse, with whom I disagree about certain things. He points out that he and I do agree about other things, although on balance I think we disagree about more things. But John has the balls to also disagree with other folks, with whom he’d be inclined to agree, since those other folks also disagree with me.

Follow? The guy thinks for himself.

This is becoming something of a lost art, I’m afraid. One of the reasons I’m glad to have met the nobodies who don’t stop by to not read The Blog That Nobody Reads, is occasionally they have the big brass ones to disagree with moi. “Out there,” away from blog-o-ville, you don’t see that often anymore. What goes on with alphabet-soup-network television commentary, and to a lesser extent in newspaper commentary, is more like “I agree with you, you agree with me, we both disagree with the guy behind the tree, now let’s just get together and say so over and over again.”

Disagreeing takes BALLS. Disagreeing, I mean, as a conclusion of reasoned thought — not as an agenda item, something you knew you were going to do before a single word was spoken, simply because of the identity of the person with whom you chose to disagree. Real disagreement takes balls, and I’m afraid even with the medicinal balm of the blogosphere arriving in the nick of time, it’s still on life support.

John’s still wrong about some things…but I’ll get that fixed in time. Meanwhile, he’s more part of the solution than part of the problem. Welcome, sir.

On Attacking Real Men

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

Someone was wondering about the 200+ things I know, and asking if there was any theme that permeates through all of them, or most of them. I would say if there is a core theme, it’s got to do with the way people tend to work. If they themselves operate according to what is widely accepted of them, and they see someone else “coloring outside the lines,” if you will — they’ll use up an excessive amount of energy reigning the maverick in. They’ll do this without any cost-benefit analysis of any kind. Without understanding the point of the rules they’re practically enforcing, or satisfying themselves that anybody else understands the point.

And if we can’t bring people into line with rules we don’t understand, we will ostracize those people.

There is a name for this. It is called TTWWADI.

In short, we are wired to live in villages. It is in our genetic programming. We’re pre-disposed to live in villages with rules we may or may not understand, and to banish people in those villages if they don’t conform to the rules we don’t understand. But what I’m calling out, goes a little bit further than simple TTWWADI; there are other tragic habits we have, too. When we meet strangers, we are programmed to reach a series of inferences that have to do with whether the strangers live in our tribe, or could be accepted into our tribe.

This is in conflict, generally, with what our parents taught us about strangers. Most of us were brought up by our parents to treat all strangers as — well, you know, strangers. You’re supposed to look at him as someone who could be a good guy, might be a bad guy, in all likelihood is okay, but don’t trust him too much. Most of us think we’re doing it the way Mom and Dad told us to. But very few of us do that, because the genetic programming is more powerful and effervescent than the environmental. That printed-circuit in our brains compels us to reach a snap-judgment about the stranger, one which our parents never told us to try to reach.

He’s on our side, or else he’s with those other guys.

What is really unfortunate about this, is this programming inclines us to re-define truth according to that tribal compatibility. We tend to presume someone is lying or is mistaken, if we’ve already concluded they’re incompatible with our tribe — even if the subject on which they’re speaking is well outside of our understanding. If we’ve already concluded they’re part of our tribe, or could be part of our tribe, they could wax eloquently about the most bloated nonsense for hours, and we’ll believe them without question.

When people behave this way, it logically follows that the first thing they attack is whatever might lift them — might have already lifted them — out of the existence of some stoop-shouldered grub-sucking savage. They tend to punish invention and creativity. That’s what is so dangerous about blind conformity — it disguises itself as a necessary agent of life, but really it attacks life. It’s a step down. And that is the core theme to all the things I know. It is not so much an epiphany, as it is a criticism. It is a criticism of civilization’s unfortunate tendency to tear itself apart, to deprive itself of all the things that made it possible in the first place. Of civilization’s intrinsic leanings toward a sort of patricide.

So if there is a “vanguard” Thing I Know, one item that represents most of the others but speaks more clearly than any of those, it would probably be Number 130.

REAL menSome of us refuse to act this way. When we’re told we’re “supposed to” do something, we want to know why. We don’t do this so we can be seen acting smarmy; we do this because it makes sense. When we buy things that require assembly, we (within reason) throw away the instructions as part of the first step. In short, we trust our ability to think rationally. To play chess with life…if you are hip with that metaphor. We figure that ability, and the using of it, are indispensable parts of our purpose on this planet.

If someone needs help, we help. If we need help, we analyze how it is we came to need the help, and resolve to do things differently next time. If someone helps us, we reward them, make ourselves more like them, and encourage others to be more like them. We are not parasites…

…we are men. We are REAL men.

We observe, we perceive, we conclude, we question. When one-two-three instructions are readily available and easily obtained, we insist on figuring things out for ourselves. Others point at us and laugh…but they are around to do the laughing, only because of us, or people like us, or someone who did things the way we do them. We know this. Those who point and laugh know this. Everybody knows this, we just don’t talk about it out loud: Following instructions, doing things for reasons you don’t internally comprehend but someone else somewhere might — has to do with getting yourself accepted into something…and nothing else. It has butkus to do with blazing any kind of trail. It has butkus to do with helping people, or building anything. It has butkus to do with finding something, and leaving it in better shape than the way you found it. To do any of those things, you’ve got to turn on your brain and think like a big boy.

I’d like to record two links about real men. No, they are not porn. They are long, windy epistles. They are both, insofar as I can gather, about men the way I have just defined men, above. Not nerds, not jocks. Not even male people, strictly speaking…I personally know of more than a few women who are “real men,” in the way they look at the world, and they are wonderful people — remarkably feminine when they want to be.

So you see, being a MAN is a state of mind. It is a way of living life. We owe everything — everything — to real men…and we’re engaged in a process of trying to get rid of them, a process nobody can logically explain.

The first essay is Is There Anything Good About Men?, by one Professor Roy F. Baumeister. We learn about it from blogger friend James at News Blog Central. And the other, which we find via our other blogger friend Misha at Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, is The Pussification of the Western Male by one Kim du Toit.

My advice is to make time…read them…both. And when you’re done, take a long, hard look at the bandwagon-people, the folks with such strong opinions about how other people should do things, just because that’s the way things should be done. People who try to cudgel you into agreeing with them, not by arguing their positions logically, but by citing polls that say how lonely you will be otherwise. People who don’t know what it’s like to go against the crowd, have never known this, and don’t want anyone else to know what that’s like either.

And then look at the “fem-bigots,” the people who — whether they realize it or not — harbor some pissy, juvenile desire to get rid of all real men. People who insist on advancing safety at the expense of opportunity, and furthermore, insist that everyone everywhere do exactly that. People who are never fully satisfied in their mission to make everyone around them think this way…and look at the world this way. People who will push and push and push for this, until we’re all just plodding through life, solely for the purpose of hanging around a little while longer, and for no higher reason than just that. People with seemingly-infinite inventories of mens’ liabilities, and would respond only with paralysis and a sneer if asked what might be good about men. What Prof. Baumeister referred to as “gender warriors” when he wrote, “gender warriors please go home,” or half of his intended reference, anyway. The “man-bashers.”

You’ll see something interesting about these two groups of people: They’re the same people. Not always…but almost always. You’ve got to work at it for awhile before you find someone who qualifies for one of these descriptions, and not the other. Conclusion: Whether the authors of the essays realize it or not, and whether their man-bashing critics realize it or not — this is not about homo sapiens who have reached maturity and are equipped with penises and testicles. It is about persons, of both genders, who think independently. Real men, and women who think like real men. I expect things have always been this way and always will be this way. The non-real-man people — people who want to do all their thinking through the “tribal council” — will want everybody else to do their deep thinking through proxy as well, because that’s what they’re doing.

Real men, it turns out, are just as scary as they’ve been popularly believed to be. But it isn’t the muscular body of a real man that is scary, or his need for deoderant, or his hairy chest…it is his mind. People who don’t use their brains, are terrified of people who do.

Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot… XIV

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

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

I guess our democrats are now on the “righteous” side of that fence. Hat tip to Dr. Melissa Clouthier.

Seriously, what in the hell is the matter with these people? What exactly is it they are trying to do, and do they even remember what that purpose once was? It seems to have been pitched out the window by now.

Poll: Anti-American Sentiment Grows Worldwide

Friday, August 24th, 2007

…especially when compared to the European Union

European and world views of the United States and President George Bush have dramatically worsened since 2000; the trend has intensified since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. There has been a decline in perceptions of the United States throughout the European Union, including in such traditional U.S. allies as the United Kingdom and Poland, and in Muslim and Latin American countries, according to annual polls undertaken by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Pew Research Center and the BBC World Service.

I got one comment on this: I believe it unreservedly. Let’s say we’re talking about another country, a country with which I’m not associated in any way at all. I’m forming an opinion of Country X. A bunch of people from Country X, maybe serving in that country’s legislative body, appear in front of cameras and say stuff to the effect of…Country X should have less power, the guy who leads Country X is a liar and a simpleton and wasn’t even legitimately elected…

…and then, just to be fashionable, start indulging in a whole lot of self-deprecating pablum about more trivial matters. Our country tells other countries what to do, we’re a big bully, we torture people, we use up all the world’s resources, we do more than our share of polluting, our people are rude, blah blah blah. These are the leaders from that country.

Do I really even need to do some research on Country X to decide it sucks? You could hardly blame me for skipping that part of the exercise, huh.

So taking this at face value, I see it as a great argument for going back to the whole “politics stops at the water’s edge” thing. I mean, America is being compared to the European Union…or at least, our image is being compared to the image of the E.U. When is the last time you’ve heard leaders of the E.U., come out and opine on an international forum about how much the E.U. sucks?

American leaders do it all the time. Maybe the time has come to stick a sock in it.

Not that this article could be agenda-driven or anything…

Anti-Americanism has ebbed and flowed in the past. The current wave has arisen in reaction to the perceived and actual policies of the Bush administration and the invasion of Iraq. In the 1980s and again today, anti-Americanism became mainstream. In the 1990s, anti-Americanism was marginalized, and this is likely to happen again, with the arrival of a new U.S. president and the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq.

Yeah, no ax to grind here!

Who are these people all over the world who seem to hate us most fervently when we defend ourselves and support our own national economy? It seems to me there’s no self-policing mechanism involved with these haters; no self-imposed limit on how much hating they can do, given the right circumstances and the right opportunities. And it also seems to me they make lousy friends. Food for thought?

This Is Good XLII

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Wow, did Hillary Clinton ever get under this guy’s skin:

My opinion? A little dignity wouldn’t be a bad thing to add; nobody’s mind was ever changed by having someone call them a stupid idiot. But the message is a good one once the emotionalism is taken out of it. For example, you could seal this up in a time capsule to let people from the future know what kind of team-oriented politics we have going on right now. And yeah, in that statement I am criticizing Hillary’s fans, not the people who criticize Hillary or her fans. Team politics — they, and she, are what those are all about. My team’s great, the other team sucks, whatever my team wants is good, whatever the other team wants is bad…all I care about is points and touchdowns and the clock and what quarter we’re in, nothing else matters. That’s Team Hillary for ya.

The guy simply has a great point. Hillary criticizes the clemency order for Scooter Libby, and she’s hoping people will forget about what her husband did. She hopes for that — to someone with a working memory of inconvenient things, her comments have significant problems — and why shouldn’t she hope for it? Those people are out there. They’ve been mobilized by left-wing blogs and left-wing columnists and left-wing producers of “documentaries.” They think all you have to know about American politics is that Bush is Emperor Palpatine…and there simply isn’t anything worth knowing beyond that. Joe Wilson is caught in lie after lie after lie, real lies not phony ones — assholes in head scarves are trying to kill us, bake us to death in skyscrapers to make political statements — none of it matters. All for the team.

And she goes out there and manufactures all this anger and parades it in front of people. Anger and showmanship. Kind of like the guy narrating this movie himself, ironically…except with a much greater audience, a much greater conviction of self-entitlement to power, and a much greater prospect of directly impacting the lives of everyday people, whether they want her to or not. And unlike the narrator, missing even a cosmetic pretense for even-handedness in these matters. Just rah rah rah, hurray for our side, and down with the other guy.

In short, exactly what people are supposed to be sick and tired of. On the public wanting cooler heads to prevail in politics, my “news” will have no hesitation to clue me in…but I could grow very old waiting around for them to hang it around the neck of her Hillary-ness.

And what in the world is up with that nasal resonance of hers? It’s like she’s talking through the beak of a goose. A metal goose.

This is what scares me about Hillary: That is her appeal. The negativity. People who like Hillary, do not like Hillary because of her readiness, willingness or ability to improve people’s lives. They like Hillary because they expect her to injure certain targeted individuals and classes of people. They want her to hurt someone.

Her husband, crook that he was, and as bad for the country as he was, at least was seen by some of his fans as a medicinal balm. They supported him because they thought he would deliver a better life to people who desperately needed one. Hillary has only token residue of that kind of appeal, if she has it at all. She’s here to take some kind of dirty-rotten-bastards down a peg, and that is all she is here to do; that’s the kind of candidate she is.

Maybe to be a successful female candidate, that’s what you have to do and that’s what you have to be. Sort of a super-weapon candidate. There may be a kernel of truth to that. If there is, that’s unfair and we should change it. But I strongly doubt it’s an airtight thing. I think if you’re a positive person who is a woman, and you want to run for office and make our country stronger and improve the lives of people who live in it, and stand up for what you believe without being a total theatrical bitch like Hillary — I do think, if you’re sufficiently energetic and resourceful and creative, you’ll find a way to get it done.

And if I’m wrong, if that is absolutely impossible, that what I’ve just discussed is a luxury to be reserved for us dudes because it’s our world everybody’s living in and we’re too privileged to realize it — then until that’s fixed let’s just keep men in the White House. Having our first female President in this half of the century, just isn’t worth it. It’s not worth having someone, of either gender, waking up every morning in that mansion and saying to themselves “who am I going to hurt today?”

After the terrorists are dead, our nation could use some time for healing. From what I can see of Hillary, with her we get neither one of those things. With her in charge we get to continue arguing about matters ranging from all-important to comically trivial, and our enemies get to continue killing us.

Best Sentence XVI

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Hemp FestThe Best Sentence I’ve Read Lately Award today goes to Vexorg, a commenter on Gerard Van der Leun’s website, American Digest. Thanks to blogger friend Buck, we found out about Gerard’s romp through our old stomping grounds of Seattle, where he was able to capture an impressive photo album of the hippie exhibit Hempfest 2007 shindig.

Guitars, old moldy clothes, moccasins, knit caps, tattoos, metal piercings, more metal piercings, and more metal piercings. Old glory days, old Woodstock veterans, and newer enthusiasts trying to repeat an exercise that predated them.

It’s the “sweet sixteen” Hempfest down by the sound in ye olde Seattle. Yes, sixteen years of celebrating reduced cerebration busts loose in Myrtle Edwards Park; a slim strip of grass, driftwood, and a breakwater bracketed by genetic research institutes and the world’s worst modern sculpture park.

It’s a strange celebration and not only because the thousands attending are strange by birth, design and recent inhalation, but because the drug it celebrates is officially not in attendance. It’s like an Oktoberfest without the beer.
:
…to judge by the furtive deals going on down by the breakwater, the “Drug Free” zone is an illusion. The drugs here are anything but free. Ditto the burritos, bongs, and hemp brownies. Other than that, the crowd — running to type and overwhelming predictability — underscores the last line. No matter what else may be going on, This is not a free zone. It’s a zone bounded by ritual and tedium.

I no longer remember, if I ever did, exactly what we had in mind at the San Francisco Acid Tests or the Human Be-In, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t anything as obvious as all this. We were, I believe, trying to “change the world,” not sell it a hemp t-shirt.
:
The other theme that knits this bizarre replication of the middle ages together is the overwhelming presence of “artisan handcrafts” in the form of the hand-blown glass bong. Somewhere, probably in an obscure province of China, whole villages are dedicated to blowing molten glass and shaping them into these items. And all along the waterfront here today endless vendors are displaying them in all shapes and sizes.

Now you might think that everyone attending Hempfest already has their own personal bong, but evidently that’s not the case. There’s a brisk business going on. There’s also a lot of testing of the new bongs on the side as the local police wisely decide to wander only intermittently through the crowd.

And on the seventh comment, along comes our champion with a one-liner that easily snags the Best Sentence award.

This is the type of religion you end up with when you think you don’t have one.

Not In It For The Attention, Mind You… IX

Monday, August 20th, 2007

The Village Voice lied. They told a big fat fib.

I say that with a wink and a nod; I don’t really mean it. The story begins with a guy named Rudy Giuliani, who is running for President of the United States right now. He’s been saying a lot of stuff the Village Voice doesn’t like: He has a competitive level of experience dealing with terrorism; New York City was better prepared for the 9/11 attacks than any other place in the country; putting the command center in World Trade #7 was not my fault; Democrats don’t understand the nature of the terrorist threat; and, every effort was made by Mayor Giuliani and his staff to ensure the safety of rescue workers at ground zero.

Now, the Village Voice has come into some evidence that raises problems with all five of these. And so they chose to — I dunno why, maybe someone made a hasty judgment, didn’t get enough sleep, got in a fight with their wife that morning — anyway, they chose to publish their problematic facts & factoids about these statements under the headline…

Rudy Giuliani’s Five Big Lies About 9/11
On the stump, Rudy can’t help spreading smoke and ashes about his lousy record
by Wayne Barrett
with special research assistance by Alexandra Kahan
August 7th, 2007 9:44 PM

Why are these things lies? Well it turns out, the five things Giuliani said — are opinions. They are subjective. They are communicative of personal sentiments, which are not directly substantiated by concrete facts, nor are they directly refuted by concrete facts. They’re simply doctrines of belief.

And without descending into Socratean dissections of philosophical classifications of things, I thought I’d scribble down a few of my thoughts. I think I did a reasonably articulate job of it — unlike some people — so I’ll just let those words stand as they were written originally.

I had to save this article from The Village Voice because it’s a source of perpetual amusement to me how the liberal mind defines the word “lie.” If they like chocolate chip mint ice cream, and I say plain vanilla is better, that qualifies. At an even six feet, if I make the statement that I am not a tall man, and they can rustle up someone to showcase who’s 5′10″, that qualifies too.

I think just about everyone would agree if I borrow a dollar from you, and promise to pay you back tomorrow with absolutely no intention of doing so, that would be a lie. But they always want to go further.

Further, as in saying: No, you don’t need to engage in intent to deceive, in order to lie. You’re a liar when we say you’re a liar.

Chocolate chip mint ice cream, versus vanilla, is a matter of personal preference. Six feet tall being tall, is a matter of relativity. That is the meaning of subjective: Conditional on the viewpoints of an observer. Not necessarily measurable. Sure you’ve got tape measures that say “Six Feet Zero,” but that’s an absolute measurement, not a relative one. When you define someone as being a “liar” based on six feet being tall or not being tall, the issue under consideration becomes relative. These are elusive matters to a simple mind, especially to a simple mind that has already settled on the mindset desired, and therefore has little practical reason to take more complex things into account.

I could’ve gone further. “That Bob in the cubicle next to mine, is a crook and he should be fired.” That is two subjective statements, each of which may seem to be objective in nature, if and only if you are a raging simpleton. One is an inference; the other one is a proposal for a course of action. Both may be “correct,” but both are almost certain to be opposed to other proposals that may be equally valid. If you think you caught Bob stealing something, maybe what happened was the stockroom had a different inventory of pencils and sticky-notes than what you thought. As to whether he should be fired, well, even if he did lift a pack of erasers and take them home, perhaps the case can be made that he should be kept on anyway. Maybe Bob makes a lot of money for the company.

The point is, when a subjective statement goes masquerading as an objective one, it’s always good to do a little extra investigation. Taking someone’s word for it? Eh…I wouldn’t do that. Odds are, the person telling you what to think, wouldn’t do it either.

Well anyway, I guess VV picked up a significant amount of traffic and referrals from this hatchet job on Giuliani, so on Friday they took an extra lap around the track to accept their kisses and rah-rahs and applause…and then they did something rather bizarre.

Hate Us or Love Us
posted: 6:38 PM, August 17, 2007 by Michael Clancy

“Hate Us or Love Us” is a weekly look at the hate and the love that people show the Voice. Bonnie Ruberg served up a two-week double-shot of the love, and, of course, the hate. Look for it every Friday.

The New Republic and CBS—along with political blogs and bloggers alike—hailed Wayne Barrett’s “Rudy Giuliani’s Five Big Lies About 9/11.” TNR said the story “absolutely devastates Rudy Giuliani’s claims about fighting terrorism.”

Matthew Yglesias and Ross Douthat at The Atlantic wonder what effect the piece will have on liberals vs. conservatives.

Meanwhile, Republican voices grumble something about lies and chocolate chip ice cream. [emphasis mine]

This subtle commandment to the Village Voice readership about what it is they are supposed to fail to comprehend, is almost a divinely-ordered manifestation of the truism of one of the more wretchedly worded Things I Know, namely #14.

The brain is not the only part of you that has a tough time absorbing arguments you don’t like. When you read such things the words seem blurry. When you hear them the syllables run together.

I was thinking someday I should re-word that altogether. Something with an almost Shakespearean lilt to it, about how quickly your attention span shrivels up when you sense something isn’t going to appeal to your prejudices. No matter how the wording is improved later, I think the sentiment is clear. Many among us, make conscious or all-but-conscious decisions to plead intellectual fatigue, when exposed to new ideas we don’t think we’re gonna like — such as, in this case, maybe what Giuliani told weren’t really “lies,” but simply articulations of belief with which some self-important pundit or commentator, somewhere, has a problem.

To the mindset that has already judged Giuliani to be a shameless liar and staked some kind of political capital on it, there is no simple way to word this. You can plunge deep into “Dick and Jane” levels of juvenile sentence constructs…it won’t be simple enough for them. It will be contrary to the prejudices. So the eyes will tear up, and the auditory canals will swell shut.

Suddenly, as if on queue, the Village Voice which did all this digging about Giuliani’s statements, and unearthed all this documentation about where the emergency headquarters in New York City should go, and who said so, and when…suddenly, they have the attention span of a flashbulb. Something about chocolate chip ice cream…indeed. Heh.

Meanwhile, I’m just flabbergasted at the notion that I have a role to play in representing a demographic of grumbling, ice-cream-eating “Republicans.” Memo to Village Voice, Giuliani isn’t even my guy. Really, it doesn’t get any more complicated than what I said:

How the liberal mind defines the word “lie,” is a source of amusement to me. Perpetually. It never ceases to make me chuckle — somewhat sadly, but you have to giggle a little bit if you don’t want to cry. You pick out some interior paint with the wife, you like ivory white and she likes eggshell…does she then get to call you a “liar” whenever you say ivory has a nice look to it? Reasonable minds would have trouble signing on to that. From where I’m sitting, it seems Giuliani’s “lies” fall into the same category. He thinks democrats fail to comprehend the terrorist threat; you would like it if people showed resistance to this. Candidates you like, would suffer if the electorate agreed with Rudy on this point, and candidates you dislike, would probably prosper.

Nevertheless, there are reasons for people to come to the same conclusion as Mr. Giuliani. As I commented in my original write-up, the democrats have been working awfully hard to get people all worked up about non-terrorism-related issues. It could be reasonably asserted they’ve placed more energy into this effort, than into any other. In 2007 they’ve become kind of the “Don’t Worry Be Happy” party when it comes to international terrorism.

So can you call this one of Rudy’s big lies? Really? I suppose you could, if you expand the definition of “lie” extravagantly enough, expanding that bulls-eye to “Rosie-O’Donnell’s Ass” dimensions, so that anyone with opinions different from yours is telling “lies.”

But would that be honest? Really?

Well, I’d better stop here. Wouldn’t want to prattle on longer than you can pay attention.

Tough Time For the GOP, Too

Monday, August 20th, 2007

And in the equal-time department, this guy says it’s the end of the Republican Party has we know it. Gee, if he’s right this will shape up to be an interesting election season.

Maybe I Should Sign

Monday, August 20th, 2007

Dave Lindorff is putting together a petition to challenge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and put pressure on her to be kookier than she already is.

Not sure what my thoughts are about this. The country is in some terrible danger from the democrats being kooky; but what really makes it a formidable threat, is the democrats show signs of being able to sell the public on the idea that they aren’t that kooky. Deep down, I think everyone with an IQ of room temperature or above, recognizes FDR’s Party of the People has diminished into just a big, financed, unthinking angry mob, unable to think its way out of a wet paper bag. There is no reason to elect democrats, none whatsoever. Pressed to provide one, all the party can do is spend an entire election cycle smearing and slandering the opposition, so that when the cycle closes they can say “vote for me because I’m not that other guy.” That’s all they got.

And like I said, I think most people get this.

Question is, on a Tuesday in November, how many can be made to forget. It really is the number one threat facing the nation right now. Another term for Jimmy Carter, or someone more-or-less just like him in the White House…after that I think you could stick a fork in us. As a country, we’d be just about done. So the argument could be made, maybe everybody should sign.

The thing holding me back, is such a plan would rely — completely — on the prospects for exhausting the capabilities of the democrats to be able to sell silly things and make those silly things look reasonable. I’m not quite so sure there’s a ceiling on that, let alone that such a ceiling could be reached. Their “big tent” is so awkwardly big…especially on the subject of God, on which they welcome with open arms Protestant fundamentalists, as well as the secular-types who hate the fundamentalists so much…the elasticity of the fabric seems to defy all known limits recognized by science as we know it.

But when they lose, historically they lose because people say to themselves “that’s it, I just can’t take any more kookiness.” That, and their failure to step back from the big-tent nonsense for just a day or two, and commit to an actual plan to address the issues they just keep identifying over and over again. “Yes, our candidate has a plan, just go to his web site and find out” was the refrain in ’04 from Kerry’s people…and Kucinich’s people…and Dean’s people…and Clark’s people. That, coupled with their kookiness, is how they lose.

Maybe we already have that in ’08 without this petition getting any more signatures. Maybe not.

I’ll have to think on it some more. It’s really about making democrat craziness more transparent to everyday people…getting the word out that the donkey is rabid. Everything depends on it.

I Made a New Word V

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

CalCUCKODOX (n.) : A male movie character whose wife or girlfriend cheats on him. In spite of this, the producers of the movie fully intend that you somehow sympathize with the slut who started sleeping with someone else without leaking to her main man a single syllable about any reservations she might have had about their relationship. He is a rustic construct representing nothing more complex than simplistic rules, tradition, convention, all with an air of stuffy patriarchal mildew. A portmanteau of “cuckold” and “orthodox.” As a fictitious character, he is inserted into the story for the purpose of representing a value or system of values, and the rival for his affections is also inserted to represent a system of values and not much more. His role is to impose traditional rules of behavior on his sweetheart, and to be dumped by her once a more exciting and unkempt stud comes along, who is almost always from a lower economic class.

In Titanic it is Cal Hockley, played by Billy Zane. In Legends of the Fall it is Alfred Ludlow, played by Aidan Quinn. In The Piano it is Alisdair Stewart, played by Sam Neill. In Braveheart it is Edward, Prince of Wales, played by Peter Hanly.

In spite of the abundant screen time and depth of emotional interaction building the character, and the mesmerizing complexity of the story overall, such a character plays absolutely no role whatsoever besides being dumped and getting pissed about it. He is simply a cog in a vast machinery constructed to promote rebellion over tradition.

I’m just jotting this down for my own benefit. This is a “woman’s movie” cliche…now that I’ve gotten attached to a wonderful, mature and intellectual lady who doesn’t go for this kind of crap, I may never figure out what it takes to construct these popular chick flicks. But it’s clear to me there is a formula going on. It is not a very complex formula at all, and the Cuckodox plays an important part of it.

Well, we know it can’t take a lot of real empathy to construct such a thing. If you were to task me to come up with the most misogynist persons of all time, living or dead, James Cameron would have to come up near the top of the list — he of Titanic fame. Titanic, the most profitable dumb-womyns’-movie ever.

He dumped his fourth wife for the woman who would become his fifth wife…who he met on the set, fer chrissakes.

But that’s just one sample. The slutty-womans’-movie keeps on chugging along, like an Energizer Bunny of movie genres, even today. You need more ingredients than a Cuckodox to make one…but not too many more. It’s a pretty simple stew, and one day I’ll put together the complete recipe. Then — I dunno what. Maybe by then these things will have finally gone out of style.

But I’m pretty sure this is a staple ingredient.

First…And Better

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

FrankJ’s “peace plan” should be required reading in all grade-school classes, from third on up to about tenth. And of course beyond that, for the benefit of folks who still somehow don’t get it…which, sadly, many do not. Go read it now.

His premise is that it is an intrinsic quality of the human condition that a target must be acquired, and attacked. In my personal experience, those who are most vehement in denying this, actually do the best job of enshrining and sustaining this passion and then psychologically projecting it onto others. He goes on to point out a second intrinsic compulsion, which kicks in when the target is being selected, to put the cross-hairs on the “weenie.” Which, in the status quo of world politics…is the United States. Yes, we’re a “superpower.” Yes, we still have the greatest military might and our standard of living is the highest. But we are the world’s weenie because we are engaged in the most intense effort to avoid conflict. A bunch of loudmouths around the planet, most of them nameless, faceless, anonymous and unaccountable, have saddled us with the responsibility to engage in this conflict-avoidance — which means, they have proposed that if we are found to be locked in conflict with any other entity, the fault is to be automatically assumed to be ours.

And we have accepted this burden.

Picard vs. TazThis is somewhat parallel to, and perhaps identical to, the Picard vs. Tazmanian Devil Doctrine we observed here…much later, and not nearly as articulately. Wherever conflict occurs between two parties, one of whom is more “civilised” than the other, the more cerebral party is dependent on diplomatic resolution whereas the savage is not. If the conflict degenerates into a physical contest, it’s not necessarily the mightier party that prevails, but the one more willing to use force. Which means that, while the diplomatic alternatives are explored, the more powerful of the two contestants is going to be the one least interested in participating — this is true of all employment/contracting situations, marriage engagements, anything cooperative — and again, this will be the savage.

So the philosopher/poet guy, you see, is going to be screwed every time.

FrankJ accurately points out that on the schoolyard playground, it is the “nerd” that is put in the cross hairs. It isn’t because of his physically diminutive stature, or his lack of fashion sense, or his social awkwardness…although these all do help contribute somewhat. The primary motive is the target’s reluctance to engage in conflict.

The little nerdling endures the torment, waits for one of his tormentors to let his guard down, and delivers a swift chop to the solar plexus — the bullying stops. The nerdling does not grow six inches taller overnight, or sprout new muscles. But the bullying stops then & there. Trust me on this. I was that nerdling in fourth grade, and then (new school) in the seventh grade. Lay down one wallop…just one…and the bullying stops.

I should also add that school administrators, like any other authority figure, have a way of laying down cross hairs just like any bully. They’ll pick on those they’ve pre-judged to be most interested in avoiding conflict. And so the nerdling will end up in the principle’s office, receiving a stern lecture for that one whallop, that the pudgy former-tormentors never received throughout the course of perhaps hundreds of noogies, lings, wet-willies, indian burns, pink bellies, etc. etc. etc. Part of this is because the nerdling is far less experienced than the bullies at figuring out when the teacher isn’t looking. But that’s a tiny part of it. Most of it is that people in authority tend to be cowards. They wield that authority over the entity most likely to yield.

Just as a sailboat has right-of-way over a power boat, the likely victor in a conflict is the unthinking one. FrankJ pointed it out years before I did, and he did it better.

Update: I was given cause to think back on these pre-dawn ravings of mine a few minutes ago when the cashier of a major national retail chain noticed my tee shirt…one of the more clever anti-Clinton designs you can purchase here. She didn’t take exception to it, actually sympathized with it so I would assume she’s no fan of the Clintons. But she launched into an anti-dirty-rotten-scoundrels rant of sorts, about how “it never seems to get any better no matter who we put in” and so forth. Well, I had to agree with that one, and maybe that was my mistake. She started going on about how the one we got now is the “worst ever.” And then looked back at me with a mixture of snickering and pleading, waiting for me to agree to that too.

I giggled a little as I signed off on the sale, and muttered an audible “…so they tell me.” Incredulously, she wailed at me “well, look around! Can’t you tell?”

Yeah…I’m a passionate believer in recognizing when something is busted. Some of my friends who are perpetual optimists, end up in conflict with me in this area. They know something isn’t right, I know it isn’t right, I complain about it, they lecture me that I shouldn’t be occupying my energy with it unless I have a solution. This is where I can start to see their logic; you see, I have ugly bedfellows in the pessimism department. I want to bitch and moan so I’ll stay motivated to spot a solution, if & when one manages to float within arm’s reach. Some other people like to bitch and moan just to bitch and moan.

And you have to join that crowd, and you must have already lost all of the perspective they are in danger of losing, to live in 2007 America and snark and snipe away about how tough we have it especially in contrast to the generations who came before. Sorry, I don’t care who’s in the White House, I can’t join in on that.

Go on, try to do some bitching. What’ve you got? The price of gas just went down and you’re afraid it might go up again…the environmentalists have just discovered bottled water is bad for the environment…there may be a square mile on this great continent with fewer than eight Starbuck’s coffee shops in it…and the global warming ManBearPig. The number of persons uninsured for their health care is in eight digits, a figure that can be obtained only by counting all the young adults who don’t have health insurance because they’d rather be spending the cash on other things.

Now, perhaps I could’ve inspired a welcome paradigm shift in my newfound gloomy friend, but there is the matter of the Golden Rule to consider. See, when I’m in line waiting to buy something, and the person ahead of me wants to be a Chatty Cathy with the cashier, it pisses me off. It’s wrong, and see above — when I notice things are wrong I complain about them. I bitch and moan and squeal…and you see, I’d have to stop doing that if I were to make the lady in line behind me wait longer. You can’t complain about other people doing things if you yourself are going to be doing that same thing.

So, I simply smiled and said “well…I dunno about that.”

The cashier beamed, handed me my receipt, and wished me a nice day. Later I’m sure she’ll brag to her friends about how she got a knuckle-dragging red-state Republican to be sheepish by speaking truth to power. I suppose she’d be right about that. I did what it took to keep the line moving. Someone had to.

But it occurs to me. Above, I’m discussing some of the personal dynamics that go on when one side of a negotiation process is saddled with all of the burden to avoid conflict. That’s exactly what happened in my dialog with the cashier, when you think about it. I could have reminded her that things aren’t so bad, challenged her world view, and the process by which she places blame on the President for whatever grievances she thinks she might have. These are positive thoughts. But there’s no way to express them positively. There simply isn’t any way to reply, substantially, while keeping things pleasant.

WEP40So I think an important battle has been lost here. You can say some incredibly vicious things about President Bush now, and about Republicans in general, and still be widely perceived as a pleasant person saying pleasant things. To inject some logic into such a dialog, is something you can’t do without being perceived as some kind of a nasty little butt hole. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. The retail establishment I visited, after all, is unionized…which is going to have a big effect on things. You go on one of those six-times-a-day smoking breaks, you get tired of making idle chit-chat about the weather, the next subject is politics. And so reality takes a back seat, as you manufacture lots of make-believe codswallop so you can do some bitching.

And the level of comfort people feel, that everyone around them is going to have exactly the same take on things as they do, is pretty alarming. And as I keep saying on this blog that nobody actually reads anyway — President Bush’s aptitudes, his depth of character, his moral leanings…is well on the way to being irrelevant, and is all irrelevant already insofar as we need to decide how to vote next year. None of it matters.

Which means any & all bellyaching about President Bush — is political sloganeering for the benefit of paid political strategists. Nothing more, nothing less.

But there is something else going on. This woman was much older than I was. I doubt she was 260 years old — which is about the age you’d have to be to say “this is the worst President ever” and know what you’re talking about. But six-times-a-day union-mandated smoking breaks aside, I’m sure she was old enough to understand we’ve had at least one President that was worse.

Memo to FrankJ: I have two of your tee shirt designs already. If we can work something out with John Cox who did the drawing, I’ll just throw in the design to the right. I will gladly renounce any material claim I might otherwise have. Call it yours, do whatever you want. But speaking for myself, I would love to have a tee shirt that looks like this. I doubt like hell I’m the only one.

Best Sentence XV

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

This morning’s Best Sentence I’ve Seen Lately award goes to the Only Republican in San Francisco, who’s managed to trip across a rather interesting Zogby poll and shares his thoughts. Keep reading ALL the way to the bottom, to the tidbit inside the parentheses.

…being the local political minority that I am, I found this to be credible:

When asked which political party most Americans believe to be responsible for many of the gravest problems facing the world:

o War: 62% blamed Republicans vs. 14% Democrats
o Global Warming: 56% blamed Republicans vs. 10% Democrats
o Prejudice: 52% blamed Republicans vs. 22% for Democrats
o Poverty: 49% held Republicans accountable; 29% Democrats
o Corruption: 47% blamed Republicans vs. 31% Democrats
o Crime: On this issue, respondents reversed the trend, with 42% blaming Democrats vs. 23% Republicans

Now, I would have voted with these majorities. I do think that people blame “Republicans” for just about anything. When I hear this kind of talk (which is pretty much every day ’round here), the first thing I think is that the person talking has trouble forming their own opinions. (I also think “swap ‘Republican’ with ‘Jew’ to see how progressive your ideas really are”.) [emphasis mine]

It’s a brilliant point. I have absolutely nothing to add to it, not a single word…which is a little out of character for me.

How many people do YOU know who might learn a thing or two about themselves from reading it?

Rudy’s Big Lies

Friday, August 17th, 2007

RudyI had to save this article from The Village Voice because it’s a source of perpetual amusement to me how the liberal mind defines the word “lie.” If they like chocolate chip mint ice cream, and I say plain vanilla is better, that qualifies. At an even six feet, if I make the statement that I am not a tall man, and they can rustle up someone to showcase who’s 5’10″, that qualifies too.

I think just about everyone would agree if I borrow a dollar from you, and promise to pay you back tomorrow with absolutely no intention of doing so, that would be a lie. But they always want to go further. Get a load of #4.

4. ‘Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us.’Giuliani blames what he calls Bill Clinton’s “decade of denial” for the mess we’re in, and uses it to tarnish the rest of Clinton’s party. “Don’t react, kind of let things go, kind of act the way Clinton did in the ’90s” is his favorite way of characterizing the Democratic response to the threat of terrorism. “We were attacked at Khobar Towers, Kenya, Tanzania, 17 of our sailors were killed on the USS Cole, and the United States government, under then-president Clinton, did not respond,” Giuliani told the rabidly anti-Clinton audience at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. “It was a big mistake to not recognize that the 1993 bombing was a terrorist act and an act of war,” he added. “Bin Laden declared war on us. We didn’t hear it. I thought it was pretty clear at the time, but a lot of people didn’t see it, couldn’t see it.”

This is naked revisionism—and not just because of his own well established, head-in-the-sand indifference to the 1993 bombing. It’s as unambiguously partisan as his claim that on 9/11, he looked to the sky, saw the first fighter jets flying over the city well after the attack, and thanked God that George W. Bush was president. Bob Kerrey, the former Democratic senator who sat on the 9/11 Commission, put it fairly: “Prior to 9/11, no elected official did enough to reduce the threat of Al Qaeda. Neither political party covered itself in glory.”

Read it top to bottom. Eight paragraphs of red herrings…the summary of which could be stated as “Giuliani said something that Bob Kerrey doesn’t like, we believe Bob Kerrey and we think you should too.” Lookee: They caught Rudy in a lie!

Well, nice try is all I can say. There’s an election year coming up, for which the campaigning has started early. Can anyone paying attention say Democrats understand the danger? They’ve been delivering stump speech after stump speech after stump speech, imploring anyone listening to worry about something besides terrorism. It’s become an official party platform, or an all-but-official one. To say they don’t understand the gravity of the threat, is a little like saying water is wet.

Anne Hathaway

Friday, August 17th, 2007

…being naughty. Careful, .

It Doesn’t Pay to be Smart

Friday, August 17th, 2007

SmrtSo this Jay Zagorsky guy out in Ohio, we learn via USA Today, is doing a study that says just because you’re a genius, doesn’t mean you’re going to be rich. I like this. It explains a few things about me. I expect a lot of other people who fancy themselves to be smart, and are wondering why they aren’t independently wealthy just yet, will like it too. Of course I just described practically everyone, so this will be a very popular study.

“Being more intelligent does not confer any advantage along two of the three key dimensions of financial success (income, net worth and financial distress),” Zagorsky finds, looking at the data with statistical tests. Income does weakly correspond to intelligence test scores, he finds, where “a one point increase in IQ test scores is related to an income increase of $346 per year. But at most, that same one-point increase in IQ leads to “a net worth increase of at most $83, but probably zero.”

And when it comes to financial distress, smarts are no help at all. People with 140 IQ scores (a score of 100 is average) missed payments and maxed-out their credit cards more often than their lower IQ counterparts. They went bankrupt at a rate, 14.1%, close to the rate of people with an IQ of 80, 15.2%. “Only among people slightly above-average does an increasing IQ score lead to a reduced chance of financial distress,” says the study.

I don’t mean to mock his study in any way. Not only does it let me off the hook, but there’s a certain logical sense to it. An individual decides the IQ; an individual decides the personal value in the labor market. Whereas, net worth is decided by the marriage, so one should expect a certain failure in correlation to take place. Perfectly natural, when you think about it.