Archive for November, 2007

How to Be a Man

Friday, November 30th, 2007

James BondSome idjit spammer left some idjit spam on a three-year old post on Rick’s blog, but I’m glad they did because otherwise I never would have found out about something that is really a gem. Perhaps, in 2007, we’re a little bit more ready for this than we were back in ’04 — when we were seriously thinking about electing a double-talking soldier-slanderer to be our next President in the middle of a war.

The material was originally hosted, it would seem, somewhere here. It is no longer to be found. I’m sure Rick is around for the long haul, but I thought it would be good to bring the actual text in anyway…the innernets is nuthin’, if they isn’t all about change…

Right Thinking Girl has a host of tips on being a man in 2004. 10 of them here for your reading pleasure:

* Eat meat. Real men eat meat; you need the protein and iron. It makes your muscles stronger and there’s something very sexxxy and primative about watching a guy eat a steak.

* Work out. A man doing pushups…. nothing sexier. NOTHING.

* We will expect you to defend us if someone breaks into our home. You may have to kill somebody. If you’re not prepared for that, please tell us during the dating phase, before we sleep with you, so we can reject you and find someone else with better instincts.

* Know the directions. I’m not saying you have to stop and ask for directions. Lisa and I both agree it’s very hot when a guy is lost and finds his way all by himself. We love logical brains. Don’t let bitchy women bully you into asking for directions, or into doing anything else you don’t want to do.

* Let us hit your biceps as much as we want. We’re fascinated by them because no matter how much we work out, ours aren’t going to be as big and sexy as yours. It’s comforting to just ball up our fist and gently punch that really tight muscle. It reminds us how big and strong you are.

* Own a gun. Or at least a baseball bat. Or be as big as Vin Diesel. We want to feel safe.

* Do not put up with nagging. From anyone. It’s emasculating and it never accomplishes anything. (Ladies, either learn to live with it or shut up.)

* Valentine’s Day is a great time for flowers and stuff but we know you’re doing it because of peer pressure. Better to bring the flowers on a really bad day to cheer us up, and then doing something else entirely for Valentine’s Day.

* Be nice to other women but don’t flirt. It makes us cranky and you can’t get away with it because you’re pretty much under global surveillance (yes, even you). You do it and we’ll find out and it’ll be a nasty evening. Just be a gentleman.

* Help us with unweildly grocery bags, open the door for us (every single time), and say please and thank you. Manners are important. But be careful not to be her slave. You’re a man, not a servant. You’re supposed to protect us, love us, and care for us, but not be so worshipful that your body no longer produces testosterone.

She also has a ton of tips on being a woman in 2004:

* Do not nag him. He doesn’t need to hear your whiney little voice complaining about something he doesn’t want to change. Just sssshhh!

* Dress like a girl. They like us because we’re girls, not miniature boys. Skirts are so popular in spring and summer for a reason. Not only are they much cooler than pants, it gives boys ideas. They imagine that the easier access means something.

* Don’t fall into the habit of wearing sweats and a t-shirt around the house. It can be cute but if it’s all he sees you in, he’s going to start looking at the Hooters girls a little too carefully.

* Never, ever talk badly about your man. Whatever fight you had, it’s between you two. Don’t tell your girlfriends, your boss, or God forbid, your mother.

* Don’t embarrass him in front of his friends. There’s a social order to everything and if you bitch at him in front of his friends, it emasculates him. Treat him like the prince he is, even if you’re seething with rage.

* Expect him to be kind, generous, loving, gentle and sweet, but don’t expect him to be happy about running your errands every day for a month. In other words, don’t take advantage of men’s naturally generous natures.

* Men don’t like complainers, especially if there is nothing to be done about it. Guys want to help, and if you give him a problem he can’t solve (ie, you have blisters and there’s no bandaids and you refuse to take off your shoes) it makes him feel like a failure.

* PMS is not an excuse to be mean to him. Don’t be short with him or be rude. Nicely tell him you feel bad and you’re much more likely to get what you need.

* Work out. They like our bods for a reason. Give them lots of reasons.

* Seduce him. Often. He’ll feel awesome and that can only be good for both of you.

That stuff’s just golden.

Seriously though — masculinity is a lot like fire. It can be very dangerous, but at the same time, we have life because it was here, and we have a life made enjoyable because it continues to be here. To ban masculinity is just as foolish as banning fire. Actually, if we banned fire, your car wouldn’t start.

This is why you so rarely hear anybody spewing out the actual sequence of words, “I want to ban masculinity.” They don’t have the, pardon my French, balls. It would sound as silly as it really is. But we still have people who want to do exactly that…and by carefully avoiding any discussion of what they really want, they get quite far.

The thing of it is, though — you really can extinguish a fire if you work at it long and hard enough, and the fuel supply is exhausted. Masculinity is an eternal flame. And the dirty little secret is, it’s appealing to everybody when danger is imminent. In the right situation, everybody sounds like Right Thinking Girl. From the funny noise downstairs in the middle of the night, to the darn pickle jar that just won’t open, it turns out that keeping us around isn’t that bad of an idea…even if some of us are too savage and uncouth to ever apologize for being what we are.

On “YouTube Debate” Questions

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Okay, so I see that CNN has released a statement about the now-scandalized “YouTube Debate” that basically says CNN doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. “The whole point of these ground-breaking CNN/YouTube debates is to focus on substantive questions of concern to real people and to throw open the process to a wider range of Americans all around the country. CNN cared about what you asked, not who you were. This was the case for both the Democratic and the Republican CNN/YouTube debates.” This is in response to revelations that democratic “plants” fairly well saturated CNN’s selection out of the YouTube questioners, who were supposed to be representative of the much-sought-after undecided Republican voter.

My local morning radio guys, yesterday, drew an interesting analogy which I think highlights the problem quite usefully. I think this because I see the problem as being not necessarily one of bad questions; I see the problem, rather, as one of asking questions that might appear useful, but only to someone who’s made up his mind that Republicans are terrible people, and looking for reasons to think so. The analogy drawn by the radio guys involved interviewing a famous athlete and having a non-sports-fan (like yours truly) come up with the questions to ask. No one would try such an absurd thing because nobody would want to watch it, and, well, that seems to be exactly what occurred here.

Of course it is hard to get much momentum behind criticism of debate questions for being too hostile, in an age where everyone seems ready to blame our various problems on too low of a bar imposed on presidential candidates. Right now, if you come up with new and improved ways to ask embarrassing questions — the zeitgeist will be kind to you (unless, of course, you’re asking the embarrassing questions to a female candidate). But there could be a downside to embarrassing candidates just for the sake of embarrassing candidates. One thing I can think of is that in an environment where embarrassment is easy, the specimen that is left standing is the loathsome, slick, oily kind. So regardless of party leanings, I would hope we can all agree the “embarrassment for embarrassment’s sake” just might not be the magic bullet that instantly solves our national woes.

But in addition to that, there is a difference between embarrassment and inspection. David Kerr’s question (embedded) fails to inspect — or, at least, it fails to make inspection a priority over embarrassment. His primary purpose is to preach at anybody listening “you shouldn’t vote for these guys.” It makes wonderful sense if you’ve already decided not to. You could enlighten and scrutinize, every bit as productively, by asking “If you are sworn in as President, what if anything do you plan to do about the standing policy with regard to homosexuals serving in the military?” And of course, that isn’t what he asked.

This language about the situation being “the case for both the Democratic and the Republican CNN/YouTube debates” is particularly tragic, in my view. It seems to me fair to say David Kerr, LeeAnn Anderson, David Cercone and “Journey/Paperseranade” are just about as ready to vote for a Republican as I’m ready to vote for a democrat…we all have our little biases. And yet, if those questions were chosen and the objective really is to uphold symmetry between the two parties in the YouTube debate forum, I would respectfully offer these beauties for the next democrat event.

1. The Republican party was formed just before the Civil War for the express purpose of ending slavery in this country; being a dedicated democrat, do you think this was a bad thing?

2. If America is ever put under a national healthcare system and I use my personal finances to acquire specialized services not available to everybody else, how do you think I should be punished and what should happen to my doctor?

3. How much money, if any at all, do democrats think I should be allowed to keep every year?

4. Do you think there is some solid evidence worth checking out that 9/11 was an inside job?

5. If George Bush is such a freakin’ idiot, how come he continues to get his way whenever he faces off against your representatives in Congress and his dismal approval ratings run twice as high as theirs?

6. If the global warming movement fails to destroy the American economy, what do you want to try next?

7. Speaking of global warming, what do you drive?

8. How many Americans should die so that we can say America doesn’t use torture, including the infamous “waterboarding”?

9. How many little kids should be kidnapped, slaughtered and left in a field somewhere, so we can say America doesn’t allow a death penalty?

10. As blogger friend Phil points out, you need a license in the United Kingdom just to watch TV. When, in your view, should we get such a policy going here in the United States, and how big of a commission should we set aside for the busybody cops who ring the doorbells and pass out the fines?

11. When did you decide that terrorists are more deserving of these things you call “civil liberties” than, say…Republicans?

12. In what year, exactly, did the Second Amendment lose all of it’s potency and value for keeping a potentially oppressive government in check, assuming you think it ever had any in the first place?

You know, I could keep on adding to such a list all day long but I think the point is made. Questions put to candidates can be revealing, and they can be hostile; there is overlap between those two, but they’re not synonymous.

And, since we’re still in “primary” mode and Republicans are supposed to be sniffing out Republicans and donks are supposed to be sniffing out donks, the question that’s designed to open one side to inspection and appeal sympathetically to the other, it seems to me, could be postponed for awhile. But if we live in an information age and we want the political parties to reach across the aisle right-freakin’-now, it doesn’t seem to be too much to ask that the burdens imposed on them in this regard be somewhat equal. In which case, the twelve questions above or some facsimile thereof, could be seriously considered for the next go-round…and speaking for myself, I’m definitely not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.


Thursday, November 29th, 2007

We’re one plate of sandwiches away from making that monster-sized Thanksgiving turkey into history. This weekend we’re going to cut ourselves a tree. Whatever autumnal allergies I’ve suffered with the annual demise of daylight savings time, have also become a memory. I can see my breath. I can’t work my day-job early enough to head home without my headlights on, and I’m just about acclimated to that.

There are three other things I notice persistently happen this time of year.

1. I get closer to car accidents. By that I mean, I see them, or I hear about them close to where I live, or relatives suffer because of them. I think I can explain this, since back in ’96, it actually happened to me. We’ve all become accustomed to sixteen hours of daylight, and a pleasant climate to complement our driving chores/leisure activities. Mother Nature has other ideas for us and we’re sluggish in our efforts to adapt.

2. It seems year after year there are always the makings some kind of a budgetary crisis because a vehicle decided to demand attention during the Christmas shopping season. Seems every little part that can ambush me with mandatory replacement, does. I think I can explain this one too. Cars are plastic, aluminum, and…rubber. I blame this on the rubber. My sinus cavities aren’t terribly cheerful about the transition from August to December, so why should the rubber seals greet the climate change with any more enthusiasm. Things are generally chilly, and they’re also dry. Rubber doesn’t like dry and it isn’t real fond of cold.

Cell Phone3. For this one, I have no explanation whatsoever: I have to start hitting to find out what asshole is calling my home and/or cell phone and hanging up. This has slowly devolved over the years from a festering irritant to an enigmatic ritual. The turkey carcass goes in the trash, the Christmas list goes up, my phones start ringing because some dickhead programmed a computer somewhere to make ’em ring.

I would like a logical explanation for #3, almost as much as I’d like cessation of #3…almost.

Just today, I got two new phone numbers to place on my “asshole” list. This is a real list. My cell phone is supposed to ring with an innocuous and subtle “chirp chirp chirp” sound when it gets a call from an asshole. This is a most satisfactory solution, but I still have to question the sanity of a universe in which I have to play these little games with my phone.

This is where technology gets us? It’s a powerful argument for taking up the lifestyle of a 12th-century goat farmer and living in a straw hut.

I Am a Lieutenant

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 User Test: The Trekkie Test.

On the Castle Doctrine, and Race

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

The radio guys were just talking about Joe Horn’s case, our latest “Castle Doctrine” event.

Link, link, link, link.

Turns out there’s a racial angle to this. The burglars gunned down by Horn, had skin darker than his. Which gives us a lot of stuff about which to think…

Critics of the way the case has been handled say the 911 tape is proof that Horn was predetermined to shoot the men before stepping outside with his gun.

Noting that Horn is white and the suspects were dark-skinned, Quanell X, a Houston activist, has accused the authorities of bias. “Mr. Horn did not have to kill those people,” Quanell X said at a protest on the street where the men were shot. “Mr. Horn became judge, jury and executioner.”

This is just so unbelievably phony. What’s going on here is there are two kinds of people who want to see Horn strung up by his balls. There are the “veal calf state” people who want to get a cultural contract going in which nobody is authorized, or able, to provide for their own defense. With a little bit of diligent reading-of-news day to day, you’ll see this spans a number of issues: We’re supposed to wait helplessly for some state agency to provide our…childrens’ education, our medicine, our next pay raise, our home defense, a retirement plan for our parents — everything. The one thing that doesn’t get nearly as much inspection as it deserves: If the “veal calf state” folks get their way, and we get some gargantual plan going to make sure “everybody gets” whatever goody is being discussed, and you don’t think it’s enough for you and you want to use your own billfold to supplement it…that’s not allowed. This element always seems to be present in all these plans; either already here, or coming soon. I think most rational, middle-of-the-road people, open to the plan but not yet having made up their minds, would deem that worthy of prolonged discussion. But most of the folks who are in business to dish out the stuff we call “news,” tend to gloss right over it.

I can see a good argument for the “thou shalt not supplement with thine own” doctrine in home defense. I don’t sympathize with it, but I can at least see it. I can’t see it with medicine. Or education. But that doctrine is always there. This, it seems to me, ought to make people generally more suspicious than they usually are.

The other group of people who want to see Joe Horn flushed down the tubes, of course, would be the reverse-racists. You know the type. The ones who say it’s not possible to even be a racist, unless you are a caucasian. Nobody will ever admit that burglary is a way of evening up some kind of racial score, of course…but these types will never fail to act that way, when it comes time to discuss what should happen to Mr. Horn.

But here’s what I think is really interesting. In the case of Mr. Horn, these two camps of people are united. Easily and effortlessly. Seamlessly. Obviously, if they were to be divided instead of united, the thing that would bring that about would be — some white guy broke into a black guy’s house, and the black guy pulled out a shotgun and ventilated him. Or…pulled out a crowbar. Or a knife. Used some implement to enforce the Castle Doctrine.

Does this never happen in a country with three hundred million people in it? I find that to be unfathomable. For one thing, a public agency capable of responding to personal emergencies, effectively, reliably, much as a staple as that ought to be, is something more easily acquired by the affluent. And I continue to be told our minorities are generally subjugated to the lower economic strata. This is, I’ve been informed, what led to the Katrina disaster in New Orleans…”George Bush doesn’t care about black people” and all that.

Now, I know exactly where I stand on Joe Horn. I think it’s very important to everybody else, that this guy walk — and if he was black, I’d be saying exactly the same thing. Quanell X, and the people who like to carry Quanell X’s ravings to the airwaves and newspaper pages, may see this as a racial issue; I do not. Nor am I the only one disagreeing with that. Nearly everybody who agrees with me on his situation as it exists now, I daresay, would follow me in staying consistent on the issue if the skin colors were reversed. My viewpoint is simply a desire to return to the old social contract: If you kick in someone’s door to take his stuff, nobody can say what’s about to happen to you and nobody should be able to say what will happen to you, because it’s something you aren’t supposed to do. In other words, in our desire to make things safe, and working with the limited resources to make everything safe, we prioritize appropriately by making life safer for the law-abiding. Black, white, green, purple, paisly I don’t care.

But that other side…the side that favors either reverse-discrimination, to even up “historic wrongs,” or continued propagation of the “veal calf state”…would be deeply split if a story came to light about a white redneck going to the Jailhouse in the Sky when breaking into the house of someone with darker skin. That side would be split. My side would stay unified.

So where’s the story? How come every one of these vigilante episodes that make the news, is a remake of the Bernhard Goetz incident?

To dismiss this casually, you’d have to insist dark-skinned people are committing all the burglaries, and that white people have all the guns. I think we can dismiss those outright. Therefore, this means something.

See, this is strong evidence that our news is being filtered. But it’s also strong evidence of something else: The unity of that other side…this sloppy conglomeration of “payback against white people” activists, and “get rid of every smallest tincture of independence and self-sufficiency” activists…is not being challenged because someone has calculated it would not be able to survive such a challenge. The fissure would be split clean through, and the split would be fatal or near-fatal.

I guess if I’m less cynical, I’m to suppose everyone in journalism wants to win a Pulitzer over the next story that busts the racial divide wide open. And that would explain why, if Joe Horn had darker skin than the two burglars he neutralized, we would not have heard about this. Our reporters are keeping their eyes and ears open for the next Bernhard Goetz or Rodney King incident and they think this might be it.

But if I’m to allow for that, I’m to allow for something else as well. Perhaps there’s something in journalism that makes professionals in that business, sympathize with the veal-calf-state people. It’s always made sense to me that citizens of a veal-calf-state, need the stuff we call “news” a lot more than citizens who take care of themselves. People who are invested in their careers, common sense says, will sacrifice anything to keep those careers going. This theory isn’t so paranoid — it simply says journalists are no different than any other professional. They’ll become activists for whatever political movement will make their commodity more economically viable, and in greater demand from the rest of us.

The racial angle, it seems to me, is simply a powerful engine affixed to this primary agenda, to give it propulsion. It’s really about demolishing the Castle Doctrine. I struggle to remember the last time I heard of a news reporter or editor passing up a chance to show hostility to this doctrine, or any other doctrine that makes people self-sufficient, self-responsible and independent. They just don’t want it. They want a society in which people depend on something external to themselves…because that makes people hungry for this stuff we call “news.”

And so this incident that really has nothing to do with race at all — positions a microphone in front of the mouth of this Quanell character so that we can read a bunch of reverse-racist drivel. Once again, in a world wherein information travels quickly, racial disharmony is to ensue where, if information did not travel so quickly, it would not. A simple situation is about to be made glaringly complicated.

But it isn’t complicated. At all. You don’t want to get shot, don’t take people’s stuff.

Update: I find it to be patently absurd, but sadly somewhat unsurprising, that the Los Angeles Times, or whoever fed this to them, would run a story so casually inserting a quote form Quanell X without delving at least a little bit into his history. How in the world could the quote have been newsworthy and the background not?

Hey Peaceniks, Can You Be Thankful For This?

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Aw man, you voters had better not let the the peacenik crowd skate past this one

As violence declines in Baghdad, the leading Democratic presidential candidates are undertaking a new and challenging balancing act on Iraq: acknowledging that success, trying to shift the focus to the lack of political progress there, and highlighting more domestic concerns like health care and the economy.
“The politics of Iraq are going to change dramatically in the general election, assuming Iraq continues to show some hopefulness,” said Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who is a supporter of Mrs. Clinton’s and a proponent of the military buildup. “If Iraq looks at least partly salvageable, it will be important to explain as a candidate how you would salvage it — how you would get our troops out and not lose the war. The Democrats need to be very careful with what they say and not hem themselves in.”
Lately, as the killing in Baghdad and other areas has declined, the Democratic candidates have been dwelling less on the results of the troop escalation than on the lack of new government accords in Iraq — a tonal shift from last summer and fall when American military commanders were preparing to testify before Congress asking for more time to allow the surge to show results.

This is a delicate matter. By saying the effects of the troop escalation have not led to a healthier political environment, the candidates are tacitly acknowledging that the additional troops have, in fact, made a difference on the ground — a viewpoint many Democratic voters might not embrace.

What have I been telling you. This country, like any free nation, lacks the ability to withstand the existence of a party such as this one. It has gambled on our defeat. It seems to have lost, but it is foolish to think the lesson has been learned. The “hurry up and surrender or we just might win” party is deeply invested in the vision that America should be defeated and humiliated any time she tries to do…anything. Bring down a tyrant, make a profit, defend herself, express an opinion, negotiate a treaty — do anything except give money away.

This has been an amazing feat accomplished by our military. And for the last four and a half years, it has been made unnecessarily difficult for them, and deliberately so, by our flying-toaster-screensaver people and all our limp-wristed politicians and journalists pandering to them.

Those thousands of soldiers who came back home in coffins, weren’t suckered into becoming cannon fodder. They gave their lives toward a noble purpose, and were ultimately successful. Their memories, and their families, are owed a huge apology by everybody who so much as lifted a finger to give this seemingly-unstoppable “give peace a chance” juggernaut a little extra momentum.

That’s millions of people. I’ll be surprised if I see so much as one single apology from anyone. I don’t expect to see it at all. This political faction has made a point of refusing to admit it is ever wrong, while accusing the other side of exactly that. It’s truly a national disgrace.

I just hope during Thanksgiving, whatever peoples’ political biases might be, they managed to spare a thankful thought for these people who did the actual work to get our country’s efforts this far.

Chickenhawk on the Battlefield of Truth

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

I think I just saw something remarkable on Google. I was up rattling around between 4:30 and 5:30 this morning, and I hit the search engine to find some news about T. Boone Pickens’ million-dollar challenge to disprove anything in the Swift Boat ads from three years ago, and Sen. Kerry’s acceptance of same. Then, now, 7:30 to 8:00, I did it again. I’m seeing in the first two pages of results, not less than six or seven entries are worded exactly the same: “Pickens ‘backtracks’ on SBVT dare” — I don’t think it looked like that two hours ago.

Maybe, earlier, I just went straight to the “News” link with that search term. And maybe it’s just my imagination. But the replication of this one headline is interesting. Clearly, there’s a hierarchy involved in distributing these, and clearly that hierarchy works to the benefit of The Left. It’s not news to anyone who’s been watching this kind of thing for awhile, but strangers to it might find it enlightening. And if those strangers do find it that way, they certainly need to.

But to zero in on this challenge: I was pretty intrigued when I heard about it. To refresh your memory, I’ll just dial up a news website, that polishes over the recent history with the now-customary cliches, at random

Obama’s response accused Clinton of “Swift Boat politics” — a reference to the 2004 attacks on Kerry’s military record by a group calling itself the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Kerry stayed quiet, a decision that some advisers fought at the time and that in retrospect turned out to have devastating consequences for his image in some swing states. [emphasis mine]

The SBVT group is a 527 non-profit. What tends to be lost in the news filter is that the more controversial claims by the SBVT have to do with Sen. Kerry’s war record, and the circumstances under which he won his medals…issues which the Senator brought up in the first place when running for President.

Also lost in the mix is that there very well may be no way to prove one way or the other what actually happened, since the argument deteriorated clear back in 2004 into a he-said-she-said. It could very well be a case of Rashomon syndrome. In fact, it very well may be that among the real veterans who were actually there, everyone is being a hundred percent truthful about their recollections of events even as those various recollections conflict with each other directly.

But the SBVT used their 527 money to get the word out that Sen. Kerry’s recollection of events, was not by any means uncontested. I could be wrong, but to the extent of my knowledge that’s just about the most unkind word they had to say about him…which is a stark contrast to the Senator’s now-infamous 1971 testimony before Congress, the one where he mispronounced the name of Genghis Kahn.

It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit, the emotions in the room, the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam, but they did. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

Kerry’s testimony-about-testimony shocked a nation back in 1971, and again, in quite a different way in 2004.

But of course, the real issue isn’t whether or not words can be used to hurt or shock people. The issue is truth. We were reminded of this with the phone-testicle-taping testimony after it was thoroughly discredited…although a lot of people, still just as passionate about that issue as they ever were, have yet to know about that. But back to the subject at hand, and the truth involved in that subject: How did John Kerry win his medals? And what did he personally know about wires from portable telephones taped to prisoners’ nut-sacks? What did he personally verify about blowing up bodies and razing villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Kahn? In fact, what does he personally know about Genghis Kahn?

What I found intriguing about Pickens’ challenge was that it dealt in this truth. Enough with the cheerleading; enough with the fanfare and the name-calling and the cherry-picked “eyewitnesses.” Once such an issue has deteriorated to he-said-she-said, cherry-picked witnesses bring very little value to the table. Just prove stuff. I know it’s tempting to read one’s own motives into the players who are more central to the drama one is watching, but I would like to think Mr. Pickens grew just as weary of the group-cheering and the holding-of-court as I did. Just stop appealing to emotions and prove what you’re trying to prove.

Now, that was earlier this month. A week ago Sen. Kerry made some real headlines by accepting the challenge.

No, he didn’t supply the proof Pickens demanded. That would come later. He made a show of accepting the challenge, and then he was heralded with great fanfare as if he already presented the proof.

In other words, he appealed to emotion yet again.

This is not the way I would have handled things. If someone challenges me to prove something, and I accept the challenge, I’m offering the proof. Especially if the proof exonerates me from being a purple-heart showboater and short-timer. If such an accusation was made, and I knew it to be false, that would strike me as a very personal offense — whether I was running for President or not.

I would never have dreamed of “announcing” I was accepting the challenge. I’d swat it down on the spot.

Now, I don’t know what exactly I was expecting when I heard that Pickens issued this challenge. Part of me was wishing that after spending an entire election campaign season AWOL from the battlefield of truth, in which facts actually matter more than grandstanding, and things formerly wondered about are proven — or refuted — Kerry would finally “enlist” and be seen in action on that battlefield.

Perhaps I should have known better. It’s time to prove things, and all we see out of him is more showing-off. More speeches. More aren’t I wonderful and aren’t they rotten.

I would request that your check be made payable to the Paralyzed Veterans of America which is doing incredible work every day to meet the needs of veterans returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan. My hope is that by sending this money to such a dedicated organization – founded for veterans, by veterans – some good can come out of the ugly smears and lies of the orchestrated campaign you bankrolled in 2004 in an attempt to discredit my military record and the record of the men who served alongside me on the Swift Boats of the Mekong Delta.

I would be more than happy to travel to Dallas to meet with you in a mutually agreed upon public forum, or would invite you to join me in Massachusetts for a public dialogue and then together we could visit the Paralyzed Veterans of America in Norwood and see firsthand how we can put your money to good work for our veterans.

I look forward to setting up a visit at the earliest possible, mutually convenient time. I trust that you are a man of your word, having made a very public challenge at a major Washington dinner, and look forward to taking you up on this challenge.

Yes, Kerry was in Vietnam. Yes, a lot of Republicans were not. But if he’s that stoic and fearless about running on to battlefields, I’d sure like to see him storm this one. Whatever the outcome. Just see him step onto it — for a change of pace. So far, he’s proven to be just as talented in staying out of that kind of “combat,” as anyone else, anywhere.

What do the facts actually say, Sen. Kerry? And if this isn’t the time to be answering that question, when is? Do you even have it in you?

I don’t think so. I think on the battlefield of facts and evidence and proof and disproof, Kerry has always been, and always will be, a chickenhawk. He goes through the motions of pretending to use logic and common sense and “nuanced” thinking, but I had an entire year to watch him try to persuade myself and others with his rhetoric, and he stayed on the emotional plane the entire time. Every single minute. And I should have realized this from the get-go — Sen. Kerry will throw a lot of stuff at Pickens’ challenge, but none of it is going to have any more to do with proving or refuting anything, according to reason or logic, than a day-old box of donuts.

He simply doesn’t work that way. He’s AWOL.

On the War Between Toymakers and Parents

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

“They must hold a contest at the loonie-bin,” said my Dad, “to see who can come up with the craziest idea for a toy.” The year was somewhere between ’72, when we moved from Arizona to Washington State, and ’76 which was our nation’s bicentennial — I can’t pin it down any more exactly than that. The occasion was a commercial advertisement for the toy, or something very much like it, that was and is the Fisher-Price Shake ‘N Go Smashup Speedway. If memory serves, Mom actually sucked in her breath in abject horror. The cars would zip around this figure-eight track, two of them, at slightly different speeds. Sooner or later they would meet at the intersection, and — built to fall apart — both vehicles would send their respective parts flying in all directions, perhaps hundreds of them.

Now, I wanted the toy as much as any other pre-pubescent moppet kid, but I was accustomed to not getting what I wanted. “Puh-LEEZE!?!?!?!?” didn’t work too well in my childhood. And although I would never have admitted it at the time, I could see my mother’s position to a certain point. I had already gone through the heartbreak of rendering many a prized possession useless by losing this-or-that seemingly insignificant part to it. But of course this wasn’t foremost in my mother’s mind, she was worried about the vacuum cleaner.

It’s a generation later.

And I’m just in shock at what I just heard from my son. McDonald’s has this toy they’re distributing with their happy meals, and the toy is this-or-that “Shrek III” character in molded plastic. You take the top half off the bottom half, and there’s a slot in which you put these annoyingly small playing cards. Down under the ass of whatever character it is, there is this red lever, and I had been operating under the assumption that you gently press the lever down to elevate the playing cards so you could take out one at a time.

And I was dead-flatass wrong. It’s a card launcher. The red lever is a “stomp-em” type thing. You give it a good whack, and the “launcher” launches the cards up, toward the ceiling, to float down to the floor God-knows-where.

There’s no use trying to explain this to me. I’m not going to get it.

See, in my world, “cards” are things you play with. You play for fun, you try to win money out of people, you try to get them to take off their clothes. If you really want to push your limits, you use clothespins to pin them against bicycle spokes so that they make funny sounds when you ride your bike.

“Card” and “launcher” don’t have anything to do with each other…in my world. Like my father before me, I’m wondering about contests at the local loonie-bin. You spew these laminated cards up toward the ceiling…for what possible purpose? It’s time to face facts. Someone has to be trying to give someone else a migraine…on purpose.

There is this program called Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends. It has been, for three years at least, one of my son’s favorite shows. It is no longer allowed in my house — because of “Blue.” Blue used to be my favorite of all the imaginary friends. I thought that was so cool — he was so simple. A little blue imaginary friend, presumably dreamed up by a very young child who liked the color blue.

BlueWe were watching it one day, and Blue started launching in with — I’ll never forget this — “I’M GOING TO THE ICE CHARADES! I’M GOING TO THE ICE CHARADES! I’M GOING TO THE ICE CHARADES!” And then Blue did the unthinkable: He repeated it…some more…six…more…times.

This was unforgivable. It was explained to me, both by my son and by my girlfriend, that the whole point to the exercise was to show that Blue was becoming annoying to the other imaginary friends. But that didn’t cut it with me. If this was the intended message, Blue could have repeated himself three times. Maybe even just two times. He did it NINE times…which had one, and only one, possible purpose. To give parents headaches.

Playing cards…ultra-miniature playing cards, no larger than the smallest size of Post-It Note…are being launched toward ceilings. This has what to do with what? Once again, our toy-makers seem to be going out of their way to give parents migraines. Giving the children something fun to do, perhaps educating them, giving them a few more angles of perspective from which to perceive the world and broaden their horizons — this is all secondary. Too many of our toy designers and toy makers seem to regard it as a primary mission, to make parents’ hair fall out of their heads.

The war is on.

Where do we go from here? Well, it seems to me that scattering little bits of laminated cardboard around the room is far too random. Not nearly destructive enough.

I have an idea for a robot. As soon as the technology becomes available, the robot should be able to make some educated judgments about how much things cost. This loveseat is worth maybe fifty bucks…that sectional over there is brand-new, retails at $1700. Given that, it should wander over to the sectional and spew raspberry jam, or blue ink, all over the sectional. Then it could waddle out to the garage, walk straight past the $1500 Toyota, over to where the $80 thousand Porsche Targa is parked, and do a number on it with steel wool.

You know, take the randomness out of it.

Another idea I have is for “stink balls.” They’re made with fish guts. About the size of little spitwads, you add water and they’ll start stinking to high heaven forty-eight hours later. You then pack them in a cardboard tube aimed at the ceiling, put an explosive charge in the breach, and you scatter about fifty of these things all over the living room. Under the couch, behind the television set.

Again — take the randomness out of it — the mission is to get parents more stressed-out and maybe get them to drink more. Just stop pretending you’re trying to do anything different.

What is it that separates my ridiculous ideas from reality? Not much, in the Christmas season of 2007. Just a little bit of candor, maybe a touch of technology that isn’t quite here yet. An elimination of randomness, and a willingness to admit that our toymakers and our parents are not allies after all.

Seriously though. Why do we put up with this? Who made this rule that a child’s toy has to be annoying to his parents?

Being Anti-Human

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

The Christmas season has begun. Christmas is all about Christ, and Christ is all about being pro-human. Tragically, this has come to be the time of year when the arguing really ramps up…which makes absolutely no sense at all, until you stop to consider that Christmas is a pro-human holiday.

Some folks don’t like that…

The video above is linked to VHEMT, the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement with the catchy tag-line, “May We Live Long and Die Out.” They promote zero, and negative if possible, population growth. Their philosophy is that humans are harmful to the ecosystem and therefore must go away. In other words, environmentalists that are more straight-talking than most of the others. VHEMT literature seems to like to talk about those among their membership who are parents, and therefore apparently hypocritical. Their explanation is that these people became parents before they became “aware,” and since then have pledged to not have any more.

Blogger friend Rick found out about a crazy woman who really took the initiative. I guess when we’ve multiplied just like those cancer cells and killed off the planet, at least everyone will know it wasn’t her fault! We can spend our dying moments thinking about what a good person she was.

Well, there are some trends going on that do make that look appealing. But this is exactly what people were thinking a hundred years ago with the “eugenics” movement. It was commonly thought that those among us who were the “lowest” were the ones who were breeding fastest, and something had to be done to proliferate the good strains of people and keep the bad ones in check. It hasn’t looked that appealing anymore since World War II and the purges of Stalinist Russia. You know, there’s a reason for that. This anti-human stuff has been tried before. You want to talk about metastasizing, well, it metastasized. Into something ugly. Many times.

It turns out, you can be pro-human or anti-human, there is really no in-between.

This blogger over here discovered this, and his essay is worth reading.

Beware of extremist green movements. Give them a wide, wide berth. They’re like the aliens in that “It’s A Cookbook” episode.

Update 11/25/07: A link to a profile of Toni Vernelli — living proof that some of our most hardcore environmentalists are, whether they admit it or not, simply opposed to people…being around. Living. Existing. Thanks to her big mouth, a great many more among the rest of us, are starting to wake up and see what it’s all about.

Encoding the Personality Test

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Buck says Aiiieee! in response to the scoring method for the Morgan Personality Test. And he’s right, so I came up with some Visual Basic Code you can use to create a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel, 97 or later (probably as far back as 5.0, although I don’t know that for sure).

Whoever doesn’t have some kind of tool like that, will have to put up with the nightmarish manual scoring method. For now.

Here’s my result:

Here is The Honey’s after she gave the answers herself…a little different from what I had done for her earlier…

…and here is The Boy’s. It should be noted that questions 38 and 52 have questionable relevance for ten-year-olds, and probably don’t apply to children of any age.

Please note, if you want to do something similar and have the colors saved off and hosted on a site like that, you need to use 24-bit RGB (TrueColor) format, or a “lossless” compression format…which means JPG usually isn’t going to cut it.

Yikes! IX

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

I was just reading this newsclipping from 1900. The setting is a football game just after Thanksgiving between Berkeley and Stanford. With the cheap seats right over a roasting hot glass furnace full of liquid glass at five hundred degrees. A roof full of spectators, mostly young boys, collapsed. Oops.

It occurs to me, once again, how incredibly vaginalized we have become. Over a century later, we have rules upon rules upon rules, and I’m sure you could make a credible argument that this awful accident occurred because of the lack of some kind of code that since then has been put in place. Therefore, in theory at least, such a thing is what might be called “impossible.”

But of course it isn’t impossible…and if & when such a thing does happen, there are other rules in place to keep it from being described in the way this one was. I mean, just this…

While aiding in removing the dead and wounded from the scene of the disaster, T.J. PARKER, a fireman, recognized in the blood covered face of one of the sufferers the features of his own son. Francis Joseph PARKER is the name of the injured boy. He was taken to the City and County Hospital, where it was found that his skull was fractured and his right arm broken. He suffers from internal injuries, and will probably die.

How many of our modern-day journalistic rules are violated by these three sentences? And yet, with the rules in place, are things better…what if it happened now, what could you find out about this from reading the newspapers. Not very much.

Young Master Parker was among the casualties injured by impact and not by the incredible heat. So be mindful of what you are about to read when you click the above link, it is not for the timid.

Update 11-23-07: Adding the link by which I found out about this, H/T: FARK.

Memo For File XLIX

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Thanksgiving TurkeyEvery year Rush Limbaugh reads over the air, a portion of the sixth chapter of his second book in which he recounts the first Thanksgiving (membership required). The book in question was published in 1993. Wouldn’t it be a devastating broadside to Mr. Limbaugh if someone could take one of his many assertions, and prove it false — or, at the very least, demonstrate his fact-checking to have performed beneath par.

After fourteen years, I know of no such rebuttal having been advanced, let alone having been successful. I’ve been trying to attack this myself here & there, and the only problem I see is that the circumstances surrounding the death of William Bradford’s wife, Dorothy, seem to have been lost to history. The date of the demise is in December, which is compatible with what I assume is Limbaugh’s conjecture. There are alleged to be some bits of semi-contemporary documentation suggesting she died from drowning and not starvation.

My tentative conclusion is that the telling by Limbaugh, and the more conventional Thanksgiving chronicling he attacks, are BOTH guilty of dredging up whatever hard facts may be found and using personal leanings to fill in the blanks. But his overall point is that the conventional chronicling is ripe for revisiting, and that does seem to be the case…and that the revisiting will yield a hearty argument for capitalism and free markets, which also seems to be the case.

The Ludwig von Mises institute has a less entertaining, but perhaps more clinical, essay as of three years ago that inspects the episode and this ends up supporting Limbaugh’s telling of the story, if not of the specific events involved:

The fruits of each person’s efforts went to the community, and each received a share from the common wealth. This caused severe strains among the members, as Colony Governor William Bradford recorded:

” . . . the young men . . . did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong . . . had not more in division . . . than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors and victuals, clothes, etc . . . thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And the men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it.”

Bradford summarized the effects of their common property system:

“For this community of property (so far as it went) was found to breed much confusion and discontentment and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort . . . all being to have alike, and all to do alike . . . if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them.”

How did the Pilgrims move from this dysfunctional system to the situation we try to emulate in our family gatherings? In the spring of 1623, they decided to let people produce for their own benefit:

“All their victuals were spent . . . no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length . . . the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. . . . And so assigned to every family a parcel of land . . . “

The results were dramatic:

“This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness and inability, whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”

Now, if you are within ten years of my age you probably went to school to learn all about how the Pilgrims sat and gave thanks to Squanto for teaching them how to plant corn and catch fish. There may be some truth in this, and to be fair about it it’s not realistic to expect capitalism to be championed over collectivism in a union environment, which after all is what a public school is. Even if the facts would support it. But since Limbaugh’s book came out all those years ago, I’ve been surprised at how little we actually know about the first Thanksgiving, and how much mythology has been inserted where hard facts have been lost.

But from what little we do know, it seems Limbaugh’s right — the original settlers tried a collective economy, it failed, they replaced it with an individualist-based economy, that was a stunning success and then they had their first Thanksgiving. To envision this holiday as a celebration of the wonderful things free markets can accomplish, INCLUDING the feeding of the hungry, would be quite appropriate.

I’ve been wrestling for years now about the whole idea of leaving my son in a public school, and whether I should start going into hock to get him into a private one. I expect many parents are in a similar situation. Whatever is to be decided from one year to the next, this is definitely something that should be evaluated as part of the decision. Intentionally or otherwise, the events from the first Thanksgiving have been distorted by the public school system somethin’ fierce.

Fixing Dr. Phil’s Test

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Received this in the e-mail a few days ago. It was not the first time I saw this, and it’s always interesting to run through it.

Below is Dr. Phil’s test. (Dr. Phil scored 55; he did this test on Oprah – she got a 38.) …This is a real test given by the Human Relations Dept. at many of the major corporations today. It helps them get better insight concerning their employees and prospective employees. It’s only 10 Simple questions, so grab a pencil and paper, keeping track of your letter answers to each question.

Make sure to change the subject of the e-mail to read YOUR total. When you are finished, forward this to friends/family, and also send it to the person who sent this to you. Make sure to put YOUR score in the subject box.

Ready?? Begin.

1. When do you feel your best?

a) in the morning
b) during the afternoon and early evening
c) late at night

2. You usually walk…

a) fairly fast, with long steps
b) fairly fast, with little steps
c) less fast head up, looking the world in the face
d) less fast, head down
e) very slowly

3. When talking to people you.

a) stand with your arms folded
b) have your hands clasped
c) have one or both your hands on your hips
d) touch or push the person to whom you are talking
e) play with your ear, touch your chin, or smooth your hair

4. When relaxing, you sit with..

a) your knees bent with your legs neatly side by side
b) your legs crossed
c) your legs stretched out or straight
d) one leg curled under you

5. When something really amuses you, you react with…

a) big appreciated laugh
b) a laugh, but not a loud one
c) a quiet chuckle
d) a sheepish smile

6. When you go to a party or social gathering you…

a) make a loud entrance so everyone notices you
b) make a quiet entrance, looking around for someone you know
c) make the quietest entrance, trying to stay unnoticed

7. You’re working very hard, concentrating hard, and you’re interrupted…

a) welcome the break
b) feel extremely irritated
c) vary between these two extremes

8. Which of the following colors do you like most?

A) Red or orange
b) black
c) yellow or light blue
d) green
e) dark blue or purple
f) white
g) brown or gray

9. When you are in bed at night, in those last few moments before going to sleep you are…

a) stretched out on your back
b) stretched out face down on your stomach
c) on your side, slightly curled
d) with your head on one arm
e) with your head under the covers

10. You often dream that you are…

a) falling
b) fighting or struggling
c) searching for something or somebody
d) flying or floating
e) you usually have dreamless sleep
f) your dreams are always pleasant


1. (a) 2 (b) 4 (c) 6
2. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 7 (d) 2 (e) 1
3. (a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 5 (d) 7 (e ) 6
4. (a) 4 (b) 6 ( c) 2 (d) 1
5. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 2
6. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 2
7. (a) 6 (b) 2 (c) 4
8. (a) 6 (b) 7 (c) 5 (d) 4 (e) 3 (f) 2 (g) 1
9. (a) 7 (b) 6 (c) 4 (d) 2 (e) 1
10. ( a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 6 (f) 1

Now add up the total number of points.

OVER 60 POINTS : Others see you as someone they should “handle with care.” You’re seen as vain, self-centered, and who is extremely dominant. Others may admire you, wishing they could be more like you, but don’t always trust you, hesitating to become too deeply involved with you.

51 TO 60 POINTS : Others see you as an exciting, highly volatile, rather impulsive personality; a natural leader, who’s quick to make decisions, though not always the right ones. They see you as bold and adventuresome, someone who will try anything once; someone who take s chances and enjoys an adventure. They enjoy being in your company because of the excitement you radiate.

41 TO 50 POINTS : Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who’s constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who’ll always cheer them up and help them out.

31 TO 40 POINTS : Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful & practical. They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest. Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who’s extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expect the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you re alize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over if that trust is ever broken.

21 TO 30 POINTS: Your friends see you as painstaking and fussy. They see you as very cautious, extremely careful, a slow and steady plodder. It would really surprise them if you ever did something impulsively or on the spur of the moment, expecting you to examine everything carefully from every angle and then, usually decide against it. They think this reaction is caused partly by your careful nature.

UNDER 21 POINTS : People think you are shy, nervous, and indecisive, someone who needs looking after, who always wants someone else to make the decisions & who doesn’t want to get involved with anyone or anything! They see you as a worrier who always sees problems that don’t exist. Some people think you’ re boring. Only those who know you well know that you aren’t.

I found it consistent with what little I know of Dr. Phil’s methods, but it struck me as suspicious that “Dr. Phil’s Test” was not associated with the Great Doctor with much greater visibility. Why would the protege of Oprah rely on the e-mail to carry his wonderful test to the four winds, when he already had “Human Relations Dept. at many of the major corporations today” already using it?

Since this had nothing to do with Al Gore, I decided the great oracle that is Snopes would be able to dispense a reasonable and well-researched answer. I consider David and Barbara Mikkelson to have very reasonable opinions about pretty much everything that isn’t Al Gore. Plus, by this point they’ve written up just about everything. I thought I might find this test at their site. I was right.

Although popular psychologist Dr. Phillip C. McGraw (better known to millions of television viewers as “Dr. Phil”) has appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show many times over the last several years and now hosts his own nationally syndicated TV show, we don’t find any evidence (by reviewing program listings and transcripts) that he ever offered the test shown above on either program.
The best way to regard this test is to consider it similar to a horoscope or a fortune cookie: all of them make broad, general predictions which seemingly apply to a great many people. The skeptical dismiss such predictions as random shots which occasionally hit their marks (in the same way that a stopped clock is still right twice a day); the credulous marvel over their accuracy, find ways to make the results apply to themselves, and overlook the parts that don’t fit.

Well, I’m skeptical and I didn’t even get that far because I found the test to be inaccurate. I scored a 43, which means people are supposed to see me as “fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who’s constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well balanced not to let it go to their head.” Well, people don’t say I’m fresh, they say I talk like Eeyore the Donkey. Nobody thinks I’m lively or charming. People complain constantly that if they ask me what time it is I’ll tell ’em how to build a damn watch, so I think we can dismiss amusing and interesting, and I’m not very sure at all about practical. “Constantly at the center of attention” is something we can safely out-and-out dismiss as a fortune coookie that should’ve gone to someone else.

When it comes time to vote on who is least well-balanced, I’ve got my share of trophies to line the wall.

But I become more jaundiced about this test when I read through the other categories and evaluated what other scores, higher and lower, are supposed to mean. It is, plainly, a one-dimensional test, capturing gradients along a single axis of some personality attribute. And it seems to me that attribute is kind of a messy hodge-podge of being extraverted, being energetic and being capable.

Now, I don’t have the background to properly design a test like this scientifically, but it should be noted “science” has very little to do with such tests. If you want to do it the “right” way, if “the science has settled” on anything it has settled on the MMPI, or Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. My one criticism of the MMPI is that it is a poor specimen of what we call science, or rather, what we are supposed to be calling science. It can’t really be criticized. Unlike this e-mail parlor-trick personality test, the MMPI runs around with it’s guts all covered up by opaque skin. I don’t know how it works and you probably don’t either. These computations are kept in a “black box,” supposedly to preserve the integrity of the test — if it was widely understood how the MMPI worked, it could be all bolloxed up somehow.

That very well may be true. But it’s the opposite of what we are supposed to be calling “science.” So there it is: If one is to evaluate our current state of technology with personality tests based on the MMPI, according to the classical definition of science, one would have to conclude the current state is, for all practical purposes, at zero. We got this nifty thing we’re supposed to presume works really well, but we have no reason to think so and we’re not allowed to get hold of the information we’d need to conclude such a thing.

So I thought I’d jump in and fix it all. Introducing the Morgan Freeberg Personality Test.

Yikes! VIII

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Oh, dear. That’s not good at all.

An Orange County tree trimmer feeding branches into a wood chipper was pulled into the shredding machine and killed.

The name of the worker is being withheld until relatives can be located.

The Wednesday afternoon accident in Tustin is being investigated by the California Occupation and Safety Health Administration.

Police called to the residential area just after 4 p.m. found the landscape worker’s body inside the wood chipper. It isn’t clear if the victim was a man or a woman.

Sandee Westgate Reviews Oceans 13

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Can’t remember a word she said about it though.

The Insanity of Bush Hatred

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Last week blogger pal Phil sent me an offline with a link to a new editorial in the Wall Street Journal. It was written by Peter Berkowitz, a college professor now serving on Rudy Giulliani’s campaign and it had some interesting observations and conclusions about Bush Derangement Syndrome, or BDS:

Hating the president is almost as old as the republic itself….Bush hatred, however, is distinguished by the pride intellectuals have taken in their hatred, openly endorsing it as a virtue and enthusiastically proclaiming that their hatred is not only a rational response to the president and his administration but a mark of good moral hygiene.

My reply to this was something to the effect that if you really want to see some Bush hatred, start a link on this story over on FARK. So I set out to prove it. Of course, the results were just as satisfying in retrospect as they were predictable in prospect (since the link was not greenlit, you need TOTALFARK access to view it — well worth the money overall, but if all you want to do is see this then I wouldn’t recommend it).

One of my litmus tests for what Professor Berkowitz has been talking about, is the substitution of caustic wit for even-handed analysis — BDS has convinced many an otherwise reasoned intellect that no matter how complicated a subject, if it can only be connected somehow to George W. Bush then a biting snarky bumper-sticker-sized one-liner will sum up everything about it, leaving no worthy detail unmentioned. To help demonstrate that I worded the headline as Hating President Bush might inflict damage on your intellect. If you’re ready to type in a snappy comeback, it probably already has.

I was hoping to snag some haughty directions from some of the dedicated leftists, of the “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” variety. To my surprise, the dedicated left-wingers skipped right past that and busied themselves with proving the point, with snarkisms such as “What’s wrong with hating him simply because he’s a stupid asshole?” But you know, FARK is always good for giving you additional perspective on something. And it wasn’t long before user VictoryCabal tossed up a “rebuttal” by…drum roll please…Glenn Greenwald.

Okay, well this was interesting. Glenn Greenwald is pretty much the opposite of what I was talking about — you can’t get too much more distant from a one-liner bumper sticker slogan than Greenwald. He’s earned a reputation for grinding out monster treatises, that make my own ravings look like knock-knock jokes by comparison…no mean feat, that. But at least when you’ve finished a Greenwald piece, you know pretty much everything about a given subject that you’ll ever want to know.

Ah…actually, that last statement was a bit of humor. It’s not really true. It would probably be more accurate to say when you’ve read a Greenwald piece, you’ll see Mr. Greenwald’s intended thesis supported by cherry-picked evidence in every way that thesis can conceivably be supported…which is in itself a tragedy, because the core thesis to a Greenwald column is invariably something Greenwald himself would not confess. The thesis is always something ridiculous.

In this case, if stated, it would read something like this: “I intend to demonstrate that the Wall Street Journal is something you should not be reading if you’re a good liberal like me, and that since this editorial came from the Wall Street Journal, you should not be reading it unless you’re ready for me to call you a bad person for having read it.” Or…something like that. I read this Greenwald “rebuttal” top to bottom, and believe me, it attempts to prove or support absolutely nothing outside of that narrow scope.

The logic used by Mr. Greenwald is rather embarrassing. What he’s arguing is the essence of the argumentum ad hominem logical fallacy: He hopes to make his readers less enlightened, by pitching to them that they shouldn’t be reading the Wall Street Journal, showering them with anecdotes from the mid-1990’s in which WSJ was either caught off-guard, snowed, joshed, bullshitted — or observed being more inspective and critical of this-or-that Clinton scandal than Mr. Greenwald thought they should have been.

About GreenwaldOn the actual content of Berkowitz’s editorial, Greenwald is silent. So calling this a “rebuttal” is kind of like calling a Michael Moore film a “documentary.” It’s not altogether bad, what Greenwald wrote. It’s just poorly described. It should be given a different title, something like what I said above. Something like “I avoid WSJ and so should you.” But it is a rebuttal to nothing.

What’s embarrassing about Greenwald’s logic, is that it would be devastating to it’s author. Greenwald is the guy who got caught sock-puppeting last year. Ace of Spades compiled as decent a write-up on the episode as anyone else, and if you don’t know what sock-puppetry is you will by the time you finish. But since those articles investigate their selected subjects to the extent that Greenwald intends to investigate his, they come up a bit dry. A little short on entertainment value. So if you’re after that, you’d probably prefer Wuzzadem’s illustrated parody which has become an Internet classic.

In short, Greenwald is a self-promoting fraud, a self-flatterer, a show-off and if he isn’t an out-and-out liar, the best that could be said about him is that he regards blatant deliberate deception very casually if it is friendly to his goals. Allowing an energized zealot to cherry-pick your facts for you is always a bad idea, but allowing an energized zealot like Greenwald to do it is a very bad idea.

This is to be concluded not from apocrypha or legend, but rather from observed and documented events.

Glenn Greenwald, this time you have blown your foot off. At the neck. And, in so doing, you demonstrated Prof. Berkowitz’s point for him. BDS is damaging to the intellect of those who allow it to fester. Giving your “rebuttal” a fair hearing, we see someone with a very high opinion of himself who promotes himself as an accomplished scholar of constitutional law, setting out to refute the professor’s point, and rather sturdily proving it instead.

Pac Man

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

Medieval Tech Support

Sunday, November 18th, 2007


“I Ain’t Gonna Let Them Get Away With This”

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

Well, I certainly don’t wanna be this guy, but it’s going to be an interesting case to watch:

A dramatic 911 call from the Pasadena man who allegedly shot and killed two men accused of burglarizing his neighbor has been released. The dispatcher tried to talk him out of it.

At about 2pm Wednesday, Joe Horn called 911 from inside his Pasadena home. He says he saw two men break into his neighbor’s house. Horn tells police that he is armed with a shotgun.

The link above has the full audio of the seven-minute 911 call. Mr. Horn carried the phone outside with him during his confrontation with the perpetrators, and continued to talk on it as the officers arrived at the scene.

“He’s coming out of the window right now,” said Horn to the 911 dispatcher. “I gotta go, buddy. I’m sorry, but he’s coming out the window.”

“Don’t, don’t , don’t go out the door. Mr. Horn? Mr. Horn?” said the dispatcher.

“(Expletive), they just stole something,” said Horn to the dispatcher. “I’m sorry. I ain’t gonna let them get away with this. They got a bag of something. I’m doing it.”

I’ve got a question about this kind of stuff and I think it’s the question everybody has on their minds, they just don’t want to admit it.

Here and there, we have gone full-tilt with the left-wing method(s) for controlling crime. Listing examples would be quite useless. We could go back to the late sixties and early seventies for enough examples. Suppose, just as an intellectual exercise…we were to go full-tilt with the right-wing way? You make a citizen’s arrest, you have the right to enforce your arrest with a legal instrument of lethal force. And of course since bluffing would be dangerous, you will have the right to back it up. Just be ready to prove you gave fair warning in case someone calls it into question.

In your house…on your lawn…on your neighbor’s lawn…on the bus downtown.

I remember during the early nineties that if you were to suppose out loud that such a system would lead to rampant violence, with average citizens huddled beneath their covers for fear that the next shooting frenzy would leave them ventilated in a ditch if they dared step outside, your fantastic musings would spread like wildfire. Many highly-visible politicians so mused. Suc ponderings have, within the information that has found it’s way to me, never panned out in reality. Michael Moore thinks America herself is living proof of this, but he’s been exposed as an unabashed self-loathing reverse-racist and his ramblings are so embarrassing nobody with a name worth defending will agree with him about it.

It’s a different world now. You can’t automatically win an election anywhere just by promising to get those nasty guns “off the street”…or “lying around,” as Mr. Moore likes to say. The message has caught on that a man with gun doth not a lunatic make.

So what would happen if we went all-out?

Common sense should tell you that crime would have to plummet. What kind of human dreck would place himself in such a situation, save for the residual debris here and there that natural selection hasn’t quite gotten around to handling?

Yikes! Did I really type that. Well yeah, I did. For all our fanciful social experiments with crime, the one truth to which we find ourselves returning time and time again, is that crime is committed by relatively few individuals. When we lock up the people who do it, crime goes down, and when we let them out again it goes back up. It’s really something that’s complicated only in our minds.

As for Mr. Horn, I hope he comes out of this okay. He’s right you know. Having to sit and watch a burglary at two in the afternoon, is just bullshit. Yes…being fatally blasted by a shotgun is a punishment disproportionate to the crime. I just don’t see it that way. Being blown up or burned alive is a punishment disproportionate to the crime of using a Bic lighter to check your gas tank — but when it happens, we don’t think of it as an example of injustice, we think of it as an anecdote of extreme stupidity. That’s how I see this. It’s unrealistic to saddle gasoline vapors with egalitarian and utopian notions of social justice; it’s equally unrealistic to saddle those expectations on an adrenaline-charged concerned neighbor suddenly finding himself a witness to a situation someone else made.

H/T: Riehl World View.

On That First Milestone

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

Something meaningful and profound has just happened. This event will change absolutely nothing, I’m quite sure. But it’s bound to be educational for many of us, in important ways, because it will prove something I think a lot of us already understand to be true and at this point aren’t quite sure why it is true. I intend to keep watching it closely and I believe everyone else should do the same.

This is going to be an exercise in frustration, I’m sure. It will be the opposite of the Plame scandal, which was an effort to target certain individuals — failing at this month by month, year by year, it nevertheless became impossible for everyday people to go weekend to weekend without hearing about it. No, the polar opposite of that is something that means everything, which will vanish before our eyes right before it gets to the good stuff. At least that’s what I think will happen. I intend to follow it like Ahab tracking his whale, and find out.

John Kerry, Senator from Massachusetts and 2004 democratic nominee for President of the United States, has announced his acceptance of the challenge of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Senator John F. Kerry, whose 2004 presidential campaign was torpedoed by critics of his Vietnam War record, said yesterday he has personally accepted Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens’ offer of $1 million to anyone who can disprove even a single charge of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

In a letter to Pickens, who provided $3 million to bankroll the group during Kerry’s race against President Bush, the Massachusetts Democrat wrote: “While I am prepared to show they lied on allegation after allegation, you have generously offered to pay one million dollars for just one thing that can be proven false.”

Kerry, a Navy veteran and former prosecutor, said he was willing to present his case directly to Pickens and would donate any proceeds to the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Pickens issued his challenge Nov. 6 in Washington, while serving as chairman of a 40th anniversary gala for American Spectator magazine, according to two Internet accounts of the gathering and Kerry, who said he spoke to people who were there.

There are many reasons to believe this event is the climax of the story — that this is the last we’ll ever hear of it. That, like Ahab’s whale, it will dive beneath the waves, and we have to do whatever we must to keep following it.

First of all, we know from the campaign three years ago that John Kerry has either passed the first step to insanity, or solidified a career in speaking to others who have passed it. More than any other public figure in recent times, he has consistently dispensed remarks treating the subjective as the objective, and the objective as subjective. By about summer of 2004, this had become his regular schtick: He’d look at things that were measurable, like the fact that a bunch of crazy people around the world are trying to kill Americans, and treat those things intellectually as if they were dependent on the viewer’s perspective, susceptible to a complete re-write if evaluated by someone different. The “nuance”; the “shades of gray” and all that. And then he’d look at things that were matters of personal belief — most frequently, what exactly it is that “this country deserves,” although there were many other examples — and speak of them as if his own take on each of them, was the only legitimate one to have.

He treated the measurable as immeasurable, and vice-versa. All…year…long. And pretty much every time I’ve heard of him opening his mouth since. That’s the first step to insanity, and Kerry has personified it like nobody else has, to the best of my knowledge. He is, in my view, “Mister First Milestone.”

So this is patently silly. And bound to lead to something entertaining…IF we are given the information we need to keep following it. John Kerry may have formed an understanding of what the word “prove” means, from his days as a former prosecutor, but it’s clear he is dedicated to avoiding any actual use of that definition. His modus operandi has become one of appealing to insane people, or people who’ve moved past that first milestone anyway…and doing what can be done to move more people past it. He has no more business accepting a challenge to prove something, than a dog has in taking out a mortgage.

Speaking of confusing the subjective with the objective…

New sidebar addition GoldSpider highlights a an absurd, self-mocking and self-parodying editorial by Justin Silverman that purports to analyze Hillary Clinton’s campaign…an editorial that reads something like this…

Sen. Clinton’s practicality is not a fault

Sen. Clinton is the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination of 2008 and rightfully so. She has earned this position and has proved herself over the years that she can make the American public recognize her as the most practical choice for the presidency of the United States.

Many claim that Hillary does not stand out on her own on any issue. She is only noted for caring about the smaller topics or following in the steps of other political leaders on the bigger issues. There are those who insult this act of conformity. It can be said of Hillary that she is a follower — but not a follower of her constituents but rather of the people and what are the democratic leaders in our government if not a representation of the people’s thoughts, ideals and interests?
Some say the Clinton establishment is thinking too small, as far as ideas are concerned. This is not a flaw in her political platform, this is an advantage. Quoted in Newsweek, James Carville, the longtime advisor of the Clinton administration, has even said that the American people have “seen the consequences of having too many big ideas.”

Facts too friendly to the opposition, presented as squishy judgmental opinions; opinions friendly to the intended core thesis, presented as hardened, verifiable facts. Like John Kerry, and embodiment of the first milestone on the way to insanity.

Silverman seems blissfully ignorant that another mindset could legitimately look at the same situation a completely different way. But GoldSpider reminds him elegantly, summarizing the situation thusly: “I tried to recall when ‘practical’ and ‘efficient’ replaced ‘insincere’ and ‘calculating’ in the dictionary.”

You know, this is kind of what I was thinking about as I was coming out of REM sleep early this morning. I have these strange moments of clarity at that time, as if my brain has managed to connect with the meaningful reality behind all these issues that are supposed to demand our attention, and yet remains too foggy and sleepy to connect with all the parasitic agents placed in orbit around those realities so that those agents may distract.

What I woke up thinking about was this — and it connects to this First Milestone in an interesting way.

Worldwide, there are three fundamentally unique ways to govern a society. They are distinguished by how people see themselves and intend to relate to one another for the purpose of creating and maintaining a culture. Governments, therefore, are based on humanity and it’s vision of itself. That’s what the fighting is about. The three views of humanity have been around for a long time, but the world has shrunk to the point where there isn’t room for three.

First of all: You can place the emphasis on authority, and unapologetically intertwine religion and government, which are simply two different tools for substantiating that authority. Make clerics into judges and judges into clerics. Which must unavoidably result in carrying out punishments with fire and steel.

ManBearPigYou can keep religion and the state separate, letting the people vote for their leaders, who then have nearly unlimited authority in deciding what the people are & are not allowed to do. The leaders, then, will tell the people what the big boogeyman of the moment is, and of course the people will have no choice but to believe what they are told. Ultimately, in this model the leaders tell the people what to think and in so doing, end up indirectly voting for themselves when it’s time to run for re-election. This model pretends to be a “democracy” because it’s got voters and ballot and so forth, but it ends up simply going through the motions. The people casting the ballots, end up being nothing more than a hydraulic agent, a force through which things that are “supposed” to happen, are made to happen. This second form of government, ultimately is every bit as hostile to liberty as the first.

Finally, you can opt for that second model but place limits on what the government is & is not allowed to do, when it tells the people what they are & are not allowed to do. This is a careful blend, and it’s a revolutionary idea. It is causative of, and also a result of, mankind’s right to recognize a deity on an individual level. The deity is necessary. Governments will not restrain themselves from power voluntarily, so a government that recognizes nothing higher than itself, will ultimately decide everything. Also, it is causative of and symptomatic of society’s recognition of the right to live freely — for the sake of one’s self, not for the sake of others.

The first two models are elegant in their simplicity, but through the lens of history we see a little more complexity is needed because the two models have had their shot and they always lead toward systematic oppression. This is because systems of government unerringly honor their fathers; they position themselves to create more of whatever cultural cement made their existences possible. And those first two models work through fear — the first one through fear of the government itself, and eternal damnation. The second one works through fear of whatever the government says is a threat agent at any given time. That’s usually hunger. Re-elect your glorious leader and he will give you a government that will put food on your table.

In both those cases, the people have a way of relating to each other, the government is a result of that way of interrelating, and once government is here it does what it can to reinforce that interrelationship method.

The third model, the careful balance, is the wave of the future I think because it stands on an interrelationship method that deals with strength, not weakness. Decisions about life’s priorities, are left up to the individual. The system of government says, let’s achieve a careful balance here — come together and pledge our material resources just long enough to put up a system of defense, and then go our separate ways to attend to our personal lives in whatever manner we choose.

That first model now seeks to take over the world. It seeks this because it must. When one nation is deprived of freedom, and is placed in proximity to another nation that enjoys freedom, it’s citizens will naturally want to defect. And so societies that embrace freedom have always been threatened by neighboring societies that abhor it, for if the abhorring society did not so threaten, it would then be the one threatened.

This is simple human nature. Individuals who are missing some noble virtue, have always bitterly resented other individuals who had, nurtured, and made use of that same virtue.

In the country we call “America” in the twenty-first century, the second and third governmental models are in a bitter spat over what to do about the first one. It’s such a big country that it has two cultures, and two systems of government. Some of our people are cemented together by a fear of whatever the authorities have told them to fear…global warming, the Social Security system running out of money, Graeme Frost not getting his SCHIP benefits, everybody dying of AIDS, etc. Others of us are cemented together by confidence in our ability to live our lives, worship in whatever manner we see fit, tend to our responsibilities in whatever way makes sense to us. Kind of an organized anarchy, if you will.

You promisedThe culture that supports this second form of government, that rules out of fear much like the first form, has now started to lecture the culture that supports the third form of government that the third form is based on fear. In other words, George Bush is inventing terrorists that don’t really exist so he can get more support for a Republican form of government. The flaw in this is that terrorists have actually killed large numbers of people, whereas global warming has not. And that is the “big reveal” to what is really going on: You can’t believe that terrorism is a marginal concern, subordinate to a bunch of other petty threats that are harmful only in theory, unless someone in a greater position of authority is telling you what to think. Because this involves confusing the subjective with the objective, and forgetting things occurred that actually, objectively, factually, measurably occurred.

And this is why I think the war we’re fighting, is already won. If you look at married couples you’ll see there are some that stay bound together, over time. Till death do they part; no coercion involved, and if they had it in them to live a thousand years or more, they’d stay together throughout that time. What these couples have in common is that they know each other through their strengths, just like in that third form of government we know our fellow citizens, and they know us, through our strengths.

Other married couples know each other through their weaknesses. They don’t stay together long, because the human spirit has a drive to achieve new strengths that did not exist previously, to expurgate known weaknesses from the equation over time, and to solidify and reinforce strengths already achieved. Only an utterly crippled human consciousness, defeated and crushed to the point of becoming a near-vegetable, can fully renounce this drive — even for the sake of sustaining a supposedly “beloved” marriage, OR system of government — until that point, this drive is like an eternal flame in each and every one of us.

And when people do that, the first- and second-model systems of government are threatened. The third one is reinforced.

And so we’ll win, ultimately. But it isn’t an assured thing; it requires active participation from a strong people. And this is provable. America’s great shame is that in the eighteenth century, it was started as an enclave, isolated from a former mother nation at great personal cost to those who fought to make it happen, completely and utterly dedicated to that third model of government, deliberately “sever[ing] the ties that bind” it to a second-form model of government. Two hundred and thirty years on, it’s gone all wobbly. trying to make up it’s mind between the second and third forms. What’s even worse is that the first form of government is at the gate, like the wolf of the children’s legend huffing and puffing. It’s time to come together for the sake of defense, to make our individuality possible.

And that second-form of government, under first-milestone-insane people just like John Kerry, is busy giving us instructions about what to believe as all second-form governments constantly must — so that a sufficient number of us can be persuaded to disregard the real threat.

That’s why it’s the first milestone toward insanity. It truly is the gateway to the damned. It is the method by which formerly sane and clear-thinking people, can most reliably be compelled to believe silly things.

Yup, It’s a Quagmire Alright

Friday, November 16th, 2007

H/T: Bullwinkle.

The Third Most Important Issue

Friday, November 16th, 2007

I have mentioned more than once that this country has two critically important issues for next year’s elections, that are running neck-and-neck in terms of how much attention we should be paying them. Which one of them claims the booby-prize, is a question that ends up being just a real squeaker. But ultimately they have to be listed in this order:

1. Who is going to bring me the biggest pile of dead crispy terrorist carcasses each year?
2. Is the democrat party represented by people who are ignorant or careless with reality, or full-blown crazy?

The third-most-important issue, I have commented as I reiterate this short list, is not even close. Whatever that third-most-important issue may be. I’ve said that on a few occasions too.

Well you know what. After listening to some rebroadcasting of Sen. Barack Obama’s comments on illegal immigration last night, I am ready to amend that. There is a third most important issue, and it is almost as important as the first two. And like those first two, I can state it with something that ends with a question mark. It is a question. It’s a question we should be asking a LOT. And I’ve not yet heard of anyone asking it…not even once…not anywhere…not yet.

The question is this. It is the third-most-important issue of next year’s election.

How does a candidate for President of the United States, or any other high office for that matter, even begin to form an enlightened opinion about what illegal immigrants might or might not be here to do?

I mean, the last occupant of any office of that stature who was something even hinting at a paycheck-to-paycheck individual, was Newt Gingrich just before he was Speaker of the House. The last one before that, would have been Governor (not President) Bill Clinton. These folks aren’t exactly the first to be exposed to the dark seamy underbelly of society. They have got to be talking out their asses — there is no other explanation — since they aren’t enjoying any kind of access to the information that would be needed to decide such a thing.

Unless they somehow are…which must mean someone’s about to confess to a Linda-Chavez type of nanny situation. You know, when you’re running for President, I think that’s supposed to be bad news. Last I checked, President was above Labor Secretary.

But seriously. Since we don’t have any logical reason to suppose a bazillion and a half illegal aliens are here to “follow the law and work hard” and “do the jobs Americans won’t do,” and we’ve got this enormous wad of politicians telling us exactly that and few-to-none of them are asserting any way they could possibly know such a thing…this is something that needs some inspection. More than it’s been getting. A whole lot more.

The most incriminating thing about the word “illegal,” when you think about it, is that it is indeed synonymous with the euphemism “undocumented.” That’s the worst thing about it. “Illegal” means YOU DON’T KNOW. You could be hiring Pablo to work at the waffle restaurant, or the daycare center, or at the landscaping business…you might have gotten hold of Pablo’s records to make sure he’s got a clean history…and you have no way of knowing if you’re looking at the real Pablo.

We’re talking about twelve million people here. To say they’re “all” out to do anything, or “none” of them are trying to do something else, is as silly as things get.

Thing I Know #35. The individual attribute ascribed to the aggregate entity, manifests a weak argument ripe for re-thinking.

Third Birthday

Friday, November 16th, 2007

Third BirthdayWell folks, he went and did it to me again. Last year, blogger friend Buck went and observed his first anniversary blogging and we over here went and joined in the applause…and then thought, hey, waitaminnit when did we get started doing this? So we checked the archives and figured out the date is November 12. That is the date. November 12, 2004. which means we’re one year older than Buck. Uh…his site, not him. But anyway, we resolved we weren’t going to forget next time.

And we kept that resolution for eleven and a half months.

Well…it’s that time again. Buck earlier this week put up a post dutifully observing his own second birthday. And with all the memory retention of a cat napping in the sunbeam, we joined in the applause — silently, this time — and thought to ourselves, well that’s really neat. Buck’s blog just gets better and better and he’s developed a real following. Say, I wonder when our…?

Well, it’s simple math. And human nature, apparently. Hey I got some swell excuses…there’s the anniversary I met the sweetie, my kid’s birthday, my own birthday, all them holidays, the day I gotta pay child support. I only gots memory for so much.

See you next year, Buck.

Twenty-Three Six

Friday, November 16th, 2007

Okay donks, here are your big-three choices for next year…

…good stuff, all.

H/T: Jawa Report.

Naughty Girl, Happy Parents

Friday, November 16th, 2007

I can only repeat the sentiments expressed at the site where I found this: “This is one of the creepiest videos I’ve seen lately, but it does have a weird sense of humor, I give you that.”

Pretty hard to forget, and that’s the point isn’t it. – Watch more free videos

Once again, I’m happy my “daughter” popped out with extra equipment attached. Ten years on, he’s going to the archery range with me this weekend and sometime before Christmas we’re going to build the third pinewood derby. Nice and simple.

Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot… XVII

Friday, November 16th, 2007

CartoonAw isn’t that cute, the Ninth Circus just discovered Thing I Know #1: Very few people who have four-wheel drive have any reason to expect they’ll need it. Ever.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration failed to address why the so-called light trucks are allowed to pollute more than passenger cars and didn’t properly assess greenhouse gas emissions when it set new minimum miles-per-gallon requirements for models in 2008 to 2011.

The court also said the administration failed to include in the new rules heavier trucks driven as commuter vehicles, among several other deficiencies found.

Judge Betty Fletcher wrote that the administration “cannot put a thumb on the scale by undervaluing the benefits and overvaluing the costs of more stringent standards.”

I have very little sympathy for people who drive these big cars just because they “like to sit up high,” and I’m the first to ring the alarm bell that it’s become a growing problem. I do not sit up high, and sometimes I have to sweep, sweep, and sweep again just to find my car, simply because other people do like to sit up high.

And I want a clean environment. I’m the first to bitch and moan here in the Sacramento valley, when the sun sets on it and you see this ugly brown pea soup crap from the El Dorado foothills to the Yolo causeway. It’s GROSS.

But come on. This is crap.

All the other curmudgeons who gripe and grouse away about not enough people riding bicycles, should join me in denouncing this. It’s CRAP. And I’ll tell you why it’s crap: Because…it’s not…about…cleaning the environment. Can everybody just get that through their thick heads? It’s not.

Everybody whose words say it’s about that, with apparently no exceptions, has some actions to PROVE this isn’t so. More often than not, documented actions. Arnie the Governator is a great example. Running up and down the state, winning all those lefty votes from deranged left-wing weirdo freaks, babbling his nonsense about carbon emissions and global warming. Hey, Arnie used to like to brag about his Hummer. Does he still have it? Dang’d if I know. But it wasn’t that long ago. When did Arnie wake up and figure out carbon emissions were a problem? And if he does still have it, why? Nobody will ask.

And then there’s Al Gore. He gets a pass too. He was our Vice President for eight years. He spouted his nonsense about glowbubble wormening before those eight years…and during them, what’d he do? Huh? Did he beg and plead with Bill Clinton to make the Clinton administration the “global warming” presidency, to no avail? Because what I remember about the eight years and Al Gore’s contributions to it, are things like…reinventing government. Iced tea defense. Economic stimulus package. Lock box. Education bills. Not an awful lot of environmental activism. Did the cat catch his tongue? Surely he had to have known about the term limits. His movie paints a picture of a weary, desperate old man anguishing about the future of our planet and the lives and welfare of his grandchildren, and ours. This slipped his mind during the eight years? Or he thought it would all work itself out?

Actually, to the best my memory serves…Al Gore wrote that book of his and then he became the Vice President. Didn’t say butkus about it. Ran for President, debated George W. Bush about “Dingall Norwood” and a zillion other not-global-warming things. Got his ass kicked, went away for awhile, came back thirty pounds heavier and guess what? The planet was in danger!

Again. Nobody will ask about this stuff.

And don’t even get me started on what the judges at the Ninth Circus are driving. I’m not going to bet my next meal they’re riding skateboards or driving old AMC Pacers. No, my money says they like to “sit up high” just like anybody else.

Isn’t it interesting? Before the global warming thing, even our most enthusiastic proponents of “judicial activism” would never have been able to come up with a way for Ninth Circus judges to tell us what to drive. Not without us, as individuals, doing something to end up in front of them. But now with global warming, they can.

There ya go. That’s the real global warming right there; that’s what it’s all about. Power.

You aren’t surprised, are you?

Words Fail

Friday, November 16th, 2007

H/T: Gerard.

Slower Brain Maturity Seen in ADHD Kids

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

It’s the “tock” after the “tick”; the “haw” after the “yee”. For the last ten years prescriptions of psychiatric drugs to children have skyrocketed, usually for some variant of the learning disability ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) — if you utter a peep of protest to this, toward the phenomenon as a whole or in relation to a specific case, in the wrong audience you WILL be subjected to some haughty lecturing and second-hand anecdotal evidence that it “definitely exists.”

Even though you probably didn’t say anything contrary to that.

I remember the five-hour meeting in which I was beaten up about this, as a parent. It ended not when we ran out of things to talk about, but when the daycare center was about to charge me by the minute for not picking up my son. The part that I’m not going to forget any time soon, was when we reviewed the test scores that said he was in the “third percentile” of showing symptoms associated with Asperger’s.

Now, I wanted to make sure I understood the data the school psychologist was presenting to me, so I validated the way I validate everything of considerable complexity that might be easily misinterpreted — I restated it in a synonymous way, to show my brain was working it over and to display the results it had cooked up.

This kind of connects back to the post previous — a relatively innocuous but unpredictable event, thoroughly messed things up. Third percentile, I had supposed, was three percent. HOw many symptoms the boy had showed, compared to what might have been used to diagnose Asperger’s, was left unstated — that could be anything. But among a hundred boys showing behavior identical to my son’s…or more accurately, providing the same score on the test my son took…three percent of them were subsequently diagnosed with Asperger’s, which effectively means there’s a three percent chance my son “has” it, assuming you regard a “diagnosis” as an event constituting absolute “proof.”

“I thought third percentile meant there was a ninety-seven percent chance,” one of the teachers said. All momentum was lost. The school psychologist checked his notes. He wasn’t sure which one it was.

Four years later, my son was diagnosed as not having Asperger’s. But the meeting is what I’m talking about. The lack of curiosity about how things work, what things mean. Now that this has infiltrated the ranks of people who actually have degrees, we’ve lost the part of our social contract that says you get special training to figure out how things work…and therefore, to make sure things run right. Nowadays you get that higher-level training to become a better-paid process-follower.

And also in the post previous, I said…

The ultimate consequence is that people who understand how things work, or want to figure it out, have to be treated like freaks. Which, with a personal bias I’m ready to confess freely, it seems to me that we are.

And yes, I’d like some cheese with that whine.

But it isn’t quite so much me about whom I’m whining. It’s the younger set. The elementary- and middle-school-aged kids, mostly boys. The process-followers don’t understand how the toaster-disassemblers think about things, and so, they have been drugging us up to make us go away.

Last year in the United States, about 1.6 million children and teenagers – 280,000 of them under age 10 – were given at least two psychiatric drugs in combination, according to an analysis performed by Medco Health Solutions at the request of The New York Times. More than 500,000 were prescribed at least three psychiatric drugs. More than 160,000 got at least four medications together, the analysis found.

Many psychiatrists and parents believe that such drug combinations, often referred to as drug cocktails, help. But there is virtually no scientific evidence to justify this multiplication of pills, researchers say. A few studies have shown that a combination of two drugs can be helpful in adult patients, but the evidence in children is scant. And there is no evidence at all – “zero,” “zip,” “nil,” experts said – that combining three or more drugs is appropriate or even effective in children or adults.

“There are not any good scientific data to support the widespread use of these medicines in children, particularly in young children where the scientific data are even more scarce,” said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

It’s difficult to exaggerate just what kind of trend has been taking place here. If you have kids, you are almost certain to know someone whose child has a learning disability and is taking medication for it — and that is understating the issue considerably. The childhood learning disability has materialized over the last dozen years as something between an epidemic…and a fashion statement.

A lot of people will object to that, I’m sure, because they agonized over the decision to put their own child on such a cocktail and don’t consider it a fad by any means. But the fact of the matter is, the prescriptions have skyrocketed. We did get along for several generations without these drugs. Nobody over age forty is going to ‘fess up to having been perfectly well-behaved at this age…a source of zero problems…which in my mind is conclusive proof that society at one time faced the same problems, and came up with a different solution involving far less expense and long-term agitation.

Fact of the matter is, the medication is a substitute for that swift swat in the butt that people can’t dish out anymore.

It’s also implemented as a solution for behavior that is not destructive or even punishable — but not easily understood, either. Again, there is nothing new about the phenomenon of parents discovering their children have personalities different from their own. It wasn’t always something that demanded medication. “I’d give anything to peel back Morgan’s skull and see for myself just what is going on in there!” — my own mother said on more than one occasion, in a variety of moods ranging from the curious to the maternally-pleased to the exasperated. She wasn’t alone among mothers.

But she’d be alone in saying that today. Mothers, now, understand their sons perfectly. They must. If they don’t, the boy will go on medication to make him understandable.

But ADD does exist. It exists as a specimen of something that has become a pet peeve of mine: Disorders with handy names and acronyms, that the lay-person believes to apply to a specific, medically-understood and possibly physiologic problem — but that, in actuality, applies to a bundle of symptoms and nothing more.

I would cite as an example, autism versus Asperger’s. Autism falls outside of this because, for however much we still have to learn about it, it is generally understood to be a brain development disorder. It is a neurological problem. Asperger’s, which has in the last few years come to be considered and then recognized as part of the autistic spectrum, is much cloudier. Like ADD, it remains little more than a list of observations, about what some subjects do.

Now, I don’t work in the field and I don’t have access to the stuff that goes into the medical literature, nor would I be notified if the situation were to be meaningfully changed. But it seems to me this is a critical difference to make, and I’m wary of our medical community for their lack of candor in pointing it out: If I’m a doctor and I diagnose your child with ADD, that is a completely different thing carrying completely different ramifications from diagnosing your child with Autism.

Think of a vending machine that counts quarters as nickels. A diagnosis of ADD is like an expression of opinion, based on the similarity in behavior between this vending machine, and other vending machines that do the same thing. A diagnosis of Autism is a far more clinical thing. That would be like isolating the gadget that sorts the coins, and maybe some set of levers, one of which or some of which might be bent — and announcing with some scientific confidence, “the problem lies somewhere here.” Of course in both cases you have the option to junk the machine and get a new one, or replace the faulty part. We can’t do that with kids. But the analogy still holds, and there is this widespread misunderstanding, I’ve noticed, among parents as well as among educational professionals…anytime the word “diagnosis” is used, it must be representative of that last scenario. This is not necessarily the case at all, I’ve found, especially with learning disorders. The word “diagnose” turns out far too often to be an expressed opinion, by someone with letters after their name, that a subject’s behavior sufficiently resembles the behavior of other subjects, that the cause is probably similar.

And there are gender politics at work here. When parents squabble over whether or not to put junior on the juice, I notice the Mom tends to be in favor of getting it done, and the Dad is the killjoy. The situation is carefully couched in languaged designed to confuse: Mom is not “for” the prescription, she just doesn’t see any other way. But at the high, summary level, the situation is consistent. The female mindset seeks to make everything secure, predictable and non-unique. Kids that go on the psychiatric drug most quickly, come from single-parent households, or households in which the father is confined to a submissive role in decisions like this, and is expected to acquiesce.

Thing I Know #179. Children seem to be “diagnosed” with lots of things lately. It has become customary for at least one of their parents to be somehow “enthusiastic” about said diagnosis, sometimes even confessing to having requested or demanded the diagnosis. Said parent is invariably female. Said child is invariably male. The lopsided gender trend is curious, and so is the spectacle of parents ordering diagnoses for their children, like pizzas or textbooks.

My tentative conclusion is that this is just a continuation of post-modern feminist hostility to masculine things. Manly-men, before they hit their pubescent years, are sloppy things and always have been. They are rowdy, disorganized, and more often than not a little bit smelly. Never easily understood. This has been the way things are for quite awhile…”snips, snails and puppy-dogs’ tails,” remember that? What’s happening, I think, is that since the early 1990’s we’ve had quite enough of the puppy dogs’ tails and the snails. We’re not terribly pleased with the snips either.

Well guess what. The newest research is placing some uncertainty on the supposition that kids displaying “symptoms,” who “need” the medication because their mothers “can’t see any other way,” …may not be so flawed after all.

Crucial parts of brains of children with attention deficit disorder develop more slowly than other youngsters’ brains, a phenomenon that earlier brain-imaging research missed, a new study says.

Developing more slowly in ADHD youngsters — the lag can be as much as three years — are brain regions that suppress inappropriate actions and thoughts, focus attention, remember things from moment to moment, work for reward and control movement. That was the finding of researchers, led by Dr. Philip Shaw of the National Institute of Mental Health, who reported the most detailed study yet on this problem in Monday’s online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Finding a normal pattern of cortex maturation, albeit delayed, in children with ADHD should be reassuring to families and could help to explain why many youth eventually seem to grow out of the disorder,” Shaw said in a statement.
The research team used scans to measure the cortex thickness at 40,000 points in the brains of 223 children with ADHD and 223 others who were developing in a typical way. The scans were repeated two, three or four times at three-year intervals.

In both groups the sensory processing and motor control areas at the back and top of the brain peaked in thickness earlier in childhood, while the frontal cortex areas responsible for higher-order executive control functions peaked later, during the teen years, they said.

Delayed in the ADHD children was development of the higher-order functions and areas which coordinate those with the motor areas.

The only part of the brain that matured faster in the ADHD children was the motor cortex, a finding that the researchers said might account for the restlessness and fidgety symptoms common among those with the disorder.

Earlier brain imaging studies had not detected the developmental lag, the researchers said, because they focused on the size of the relatively large lobes of the brain.

What I find interesting is that in these couples-squabbles where the Mom wants to put the kid on the sauce and the Dad doesn’t, one thing that keeps coming out of the strongest and most stubborn fathers is the phrase “he’ll grow out of it.” This, like nothing else, has been precursorial to the poo-pooing and the wildly off-topic “it definitely exists” lecturing I referenced earlier.

But the research summarized above, validates exactly that. In a post-modern society tailored to the needs, whims, expectations and sensibilities of the female, the children who have been willed by God to to go through life as male things, are naturally out-of-place and adapting to their surroundings slowly. The task that has confronted them is a considerable one, made so by us. Most of these kids aren’t learning-disabled at all; they’re simply masculine. And just as confused by our draconically-feminized society, as our society is about them.

But they’ll get it. Their fathers have been saying so for quite awhile, and now the propeller-beanie egghead researchers are figuring it out too.

Something We Learned When We Got Our Degrees

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

This blog, which nobody actually reads anyway, has from day one had a burr up it’s butt about the way people, as a whole, go about doing things. Our wish is not that everybody do things the same way; quite to the contrary, we fear this is what has already taken place. You might say we’re “pro-diversity” in this matter. We’ve been looking around, seeing that people tend to do everything the same way — more importantly, those who decide how things will be done, are more concerned that everything be done a certain way than that it be done at all — and we’re displeased.

There is irony in this. In opining about the problem for the last three years, we’ve found we’re not alone. And this is curious. The world wants to be consistent in how things are thought through, and how things are done; we say “this is not right, this is not good”; and everyone with an opinion worth expressing, minus a few disaffected individuals who’ve proven themselves inept at arguing their dissenting viewpoints, agrees with us.

Our gripe can be defined quite easily if one takes some time to watch young children working things through together. In school, at recess, it makes no never-mind. Adults have a tendency to do things the same way — this is the problem. We aren’t growing up. I expect everyone who’s learned a new computer application inside & out, and then had to teach it to someone else, will see where I’m going with this…the “nevermind how it works, just tell me what keys to press” thing. It’s become far too prevalent, and it has begun to interfere with the continuation of our society.

Grown-ups are encouraged to defer a self-education about how things work, until sometime later. Placed in a position where they must receive instructions in order to do a job, they insist on the bare minimum. What they end up demanding is instructions for children. Do this; don’t do that. Step one, step two, step three.

There is economic logic in this. It is far less expensive to train someone that X is good, Y is bad, step 1, step 2, step 3, than to provide instruction about how all the parts fit together — and how to straighten it all out when there’s gum in the gears. This should make complete sense to anyone who’s seen their order at MacDonald’s hopelessly screwed up.

This is our gripe. You go shopping, and over an extremely busy and expensive weekend you pass by ten cash registers. How many times would you expect to see a cashier ask her supervisor over to straighten something out? It should happen just once or twice. Nowadays, it happens more than half the time.

This is emblematic of what is happening everywhere, not just in retail.

We’re seeing ourselves. We know what keys to press. We don’t know why. Once something goes wrong, help must be summoned from somewhere else. This is considered normal…but it doesn’t take a cataclysmic event to put a hitch in the giddy-up. Handing over a five-spot and three pennies when your bill is $3.88, will do the trick just fine.

I’ve often been under the impression you can see this in your fellow motorists. My favorite maneuver to watch is a start from a dead stop; when people don’t understand how a car works and don’t care to learn, even though they depend on that twice a day through half their lives, you can see it. Pistons, gears, suspension — they don’t care about any of it, and you can tell they don’t. They want to go sixty miles an hour, they’re currently going zero, all they know is go and stop. Off they go.

Their cars are always newer, of course. If they have no respect for the laws of physics they’re just going through the motions of servicing the car properly, if indeed they’re doing that at all. Like any well-designed machine, the car will treat them the way they’ve treated it.

Fellow Webloggin contributor Bookworm has been noticing something like this, and she came up with a quote from Dennis Prager, who I guess says this on his radio program frequently. I hadn’t heard it before: I prefer clarity to agreement.

Wait’ll you see what leads up to that:

I attended a meeting at the school today for one of the management committees that sees parents and teachers working together to come up with specific details to implement long term strategic plans. All of the long term goals and the details are memorialized in a document that was remarkable for its generous use of passive voice and all education jargon. There is, of course, no reason why I should understand education jargon, because I’m not an educator. Nevertheless, to the extent I was supposed to vote on the document, it seemed to me that I had an obligation to try to understand what it was talking about.

So, I zeroed in on one phrase and asked “What does this mean?” There was a moment of complete silence. Then, one of the teachers said, “I’ve always understood it to mean…” and embarked on a laborious explanation that didn’t mean anything. Another teacher jumped to her aid with more words, less meaning. I thanked them.

Another phrase, another question: “What does this mean?” More silence. One of the teachers said, “Well, that’s something we learned when we got our degrees.” Oh. “Thank you,” I said, completely unelucidated.

And this gets back to what I was complaining about in Paragraph One. What we’re looking for is a little diversity — say, half of us have taken the time to understand how a thing works and therefore comprehend cause-and-effect, the other half of us follow processes and summon help when a gizmo doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.

Back in what was once called the “olden days,” that’s how things worked. And a “degree” was a thing you got when you’d taken the time to understand how things work, and wanted to get credit for it and therefore a higher standard of living. It worked well, because it gave people the freedom to engage life on the terms they chose. Followers of process are vital in their own way; we need them. We also need people who not only understand what’s going on in the car engine or the DVD player, but have nurtured a lifelong passion for figuring it out. So in our yesteryears “diversity” program, we gave both these halves the ability to function, and therefore to work together.

You must conform!No more. In the twenty-first century, we’ve started passing out degrees to people who follow processes. People who think like children. This is a way of insisting everybody should think that way — no exceptions.

The ultimate consequence is that people who understand how things work, or want to figure it out, have to be treated like freaks. Which, with a personal bias I’m ready to confess freely, it seems to me that we are. Also, it takes very little to foul up a relatively simple transaction or task, and an unnaturally high level of effort to fix it.

Update 11/17/07: Via the sidebar crawl on Van der Leun’s page, I stumble into this reminder that I’m not the first one to be complaining about this. Albert Jay Nock, delivering one of his lectures during a tumultuous time in American politics, academia, and intellectual achievement, 1931 at the University of Virginia:

As we have observed, very few people are educable. The great majority remain, we may say, in respect of mind and spirit, structurally immature; therefore no amount of exposure to the force of any kind of instruction or example can ever determine in them the views of life or establish in them the demands on life that are characteristic of maturity. You may recall the findings of the army tests; they created considerable comment when they were published. I dare say these tests are rough and superficial, but under any discount you think proper, the results in this case are significant. I do not remember the exact figures, but they are unimportant; the tests showed that an enormous number of persons of military age had no hope of ever getting beyond the average fourteen-year-old stage of development. When we consider what that average is, we are quite free to say that the vast majority of mankind cannot possibly be educated. They can, however, be trained; anybody can be trained. Practically any kind of mentality is capable of making some kind of response to some kind of training; and here was the salvation of our system’s theory. If all hands would simply agree to call training education, to regard a trained person as an educated person and a training school as an educational institution, we need not trouble ourselves about our theory; it was safe. …What we did, then, actually, was to make just this identification of training with education… [emphasis mine]

He then goes on to expound on this. At great length. The core subject of this lecture is the intermingling, and then the substitution, of training for education.

Could’ve easily been written today. I can listen to someone bloviate at length about how incredibly, breath-takingly, heart-stoppingly important it is that a certain person doing a certain thing must must must have such-and-such a degree. And not once will anybody think to stick in a remark about what such a person is able to DO, or what he would know, that he would not be able to do or would not know without that background.

All too often, it simply isn’t part of the agenda. The letters after the name have to do with conformity and compliance, not knowledge or capacity for absorbing same.

This breezy, casual replacement on the sly, presents us with a grave danger. The danger is that one is a study in excellence and the other is a study in mediocrity, which is the opposite of excellence. Left to our own sensibilities, most of us would probably probably think of such a replacement worthy of greater fanfare.

I mean, do you want your brain surgeon to achieve, or conform?

Ron Paul’s Jewish Problem

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

A month ago, after looking in to the word neocon, what exactly it is supposed to have meant and what exactly it has come to mean, I came to the conclusion that this is so important that it defines a modern ideological split that has entirely replaced the traditional Republican/democrat schism. We have Republicans that are numerous and passionate, disagreeing viscerally on some issues on which their opponents are equally Republican, numerous and passionate. Abortion rights, gay marriage, grabbing guns, spending money. And you can say the same about the donk party — withdrawing from Iraq and impeaching the 43rd President.

The Republican/donk split pre-dates the civil war. It hasn’t kept pace with the times.

We are now neocons and socialists. And a neocon, used there, is anybody who is not a socialist.

This creates a lot of problems…for certain people. Problems which are ultimately of their own making. And Ron Paul, I’m looking right at you.

Now fed up with the neocon’s wars abroad and the diminishing of civil liberties at home, many conservatives are rallying behind Paul, whom they view as the only Republican candidate who isn’t in the pocket of the Israel lobby. They have helped him become an Internet sensation — the Republican Howard Dean, if you will — who in the last quarter raised over $5 million, outpacing more mainstream candidates like John McCain.

Even with his hardline protectionist stance, Paul has managed to garner the support of Jewish Republicans and Libertarians alike, some of whom have banded together to form an ad hoc coalition called Jews for Ron Paul, which condemned the RJC’s decision to bar the Congressman from their Candidate’s Forum.

Yet, much to his Jewish supporters’ chagrin, Congressman Paul’s willingness to stand up to the neocons has also had the effect of making Paul a popular candidate among those from whom Presidential candidates would typically not desire support: Bona fide antisemites.

Indeed, Ron Paul has become the most popular candidate among right-wing extremists, including white separatists, neo-Nazis, and conspiracy theorists who believe that “the Zionists” were behind 9/11. This group includes Frank Weltner, creator of the antisemitic website, who in a YouTube video, accuses the “Zionist-controlled media” of attacking Paul’s candidacy. Paul has also received favorable coverage from the Vanguard News Network, a White Nationalist news organ, members of Stormfront, an online neo-Nazi community, as well as the National Alliance, the “mainstream” White Nationalist group featured prominently in Marc Levin’s 2005 film Protocols of Zion.

Of course, Congressman Paul cannot be held accountable for the views of his extremist supporters, unless he publicly acquiesces to those views. Yet, when his extremist supporters begin providing a substantial amount of campaign funds, things get a bit dicier. And that’s Paul’s biggest problem.

According to the Lone Star Times, White Nationalists have become a noticeable source of financial contributions to the Paul campaign. Indeed, even Don Black, the founder of Stormfront, and one of the most notorious neo-Nazis in America, has personally contributed $500 to Paul’s campaign.

Though it’s true that Paul’s campaign has no control over who sends them money in advance, once it becomes apparent that a neo-Nazi leader is sending money, any sensible politician who does not wish to be identified with neo-Nazism should send the money back. Not so for Ron Paul, however, whose campaign is still making up its mind as to whether or not to return Black’s money.

Does Ron Paul deserved to be slimed over this?

I think he does. He’s not nearly as crazy as people say he is, and he’s been in Washington a long time. He’s built his career lately out of opposing the “neocon” threat, and it’s not demanding too much to expect he should have as decent an inventory as anybody else as to who is unsympathetic to neocons: It’s a ghastly menagerie of zealots each clinging to an issue that is cosmetically autonomous from all the others — yet, in reality, and Congressman Paul knows this, those issues have a relationship with each other.

Eye Hayt Boosh. U.S. and Israel are bombing and killing Palestinian babies. We have to legalize pot. Abortion on demand. Capital gains. Roll back the tax cuts. Increase the minimum wage. Unions never do anything wrong. There is no god. Glowbubble wormening ManBearPig. Give peace a chance. Kids’ TV shows should have less violence and more sex.

Show men ten people who believe in any one of those things, pick any one of the others, and I’ll show you nine people who believe in that second thing. You know it as well as I do. The cohesion is amazing. It’s a direct consequence of ingrained hostility toward independent thinking.

And antisemitism is woven thoroughly in there. I expect more from Ron Paul than jumping at the chance to return the money (and he’s failing to do even that); I expect him to have anticipated this. Yes, the “neocons” have a lot of enemies, but some of those enemies are good enemies to have. I know I wouldn’t want them as friends.

Ron Paul doesn’t seem to be quite so decisive about this.

H/T: New Republic, by way of Instapundit.