Archive for December, 2007

Where’s My Apology…

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

…from people who apologize way too much?

Apologies emit carbon. If there’s some fad going around to spew apologies all day every day, can we all agree to cut it short?

There are few things in life I despise more than an apology being trotted out by someone who is, in the moment the apology is being uttered, planning to do that very thing all over again that was the subject of the apology. I realize they don’t have to be evil people in order to do this. I realize a lot of them have hearts o’gold. But that just really grates on me like nails on a chalkboard — apologizing, while fully expecting to do it all over again.

If this is really a prerequisite to offering yourself for the nation’s highest offices, then God help us all. We are really teetering on the edge of a brink if that is the case.

Computer Generated Ad Cluster Mishaps

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Well, this morning’s “MSN Today” page was an interesting entry into the annals of “When did Microsoft decide I’m a woman?” Except today they seem a little undecided on that score.

Hmmm…now why would today’s males be nervous about approaching potential dates…I wonder…I wonder…

Not In It For The Attention, Mind You… XIII

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Hmm, I don’t really know what to make of this

…we’ve “arrived,” somehow?

There’s some awfully big names up there. Makes me wonder about the tabulation/voting method. Don’t really have time to research it at the moment.


Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Speaking of movies, you might be interested in knowing there’s an actual script for the one that will never be made, straight off the home page for Untamed Cinema.

Greatest superhero film of them all. Maybe I’m giving it too much credit, since it’s vaporware and therefore is spared some hurdles that “real” movies have to overcome. But when you can include the Justice League and still make it fun and engaging, to me that’s a real achievement.

Oh, and having said that, I didn’t like the ending.

Just as a reminder of the fact that we’re dealing with some wonderful work here, here’s the trailer for the movie that will never be made.

Worst Movie Endings

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Now for something from the lighter side…

worst movie endings.

Of course it’s in list form, which means we can all disagree with items on it and have some fun doing the disagreeing. My personal favorite disagreement is Brain De Palma’s “The Fury,” which I consider to be an underrated gem. The inclusion of this entry doesn’t even jive with the author’s overall theme; it delivers exactly the big finish that is lacking in the other entries. In fact, without the ending, I never would have taken notice of Fury in the first place.

And he should’ve included this.

But I agree with the rest of it. Especially this…

Seems that in recent years, Spielberg has developed a bad case of anticlimactitis, an alarmingly common affliction among pop-culture artists that causes them to either (a) overstate the themes of the film in case anyone in the audience had missed them (“Minority Report”); (b) chicken out and deliver an unearned feel-good ending (“War of the Worlds”); (c) allow the film to drag on for an additional 45 minutes beyond its organic, satisfying ending and into a protracted, agonized, unconvincing epilogue that turns everything that came before into a pseudo-Freudian nightmare (“AI”); and worst of all (d) take all the artfulness out of a powerful piece of fiction and transform it into a weirdly ritualized, lily-gilding present day with real people doing real things like lighting candles and saluting gravestones, just to underline the film’s nobility (“Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan”). It’s a frustrating trend, one that makes it harder to defend one of cinema’s most maligned directors. It also makes you long for the sight of Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider paddling for shore on the splinters of a blown-up fishing boat, great white shark guts bobbing in their wake. Now that’s an ending.

Freakin’ PERFECT. Took the words right out of my mouth.

Iraq: Best Story of the Year

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Some mad McCainiac is going through the triumphs of the United States forces in Iraq. It is truly a “High Noon” moment right now, and I hope the Hadleyville citizens who kept the shutters closed — read that as, snarked away about who a fustercluck Iraq was becoming for these past four years or so — feel rightfully ashamed, although I have my doubts.

But whatever. Grace Kelly and Gary Cooper are climbing in the stagecoach, and Frank Miller is deader than Marie Antoinette.

First, the country will now have the time to establish itself. A year ago it seemed as if American forces would have been withdrawn in ignominious fashion either well before the end of the Bush Administration or, at best, days after the next president came to office. This will not now happen. The self-evident success of the surge has obliged the Democrats to start talking about almost anything else and the calls to cut and run have abated. If the US Army remains in Iraq in strength, continuing on its present path, then deals on a constitution and the division of oil revenues between provinces will be realised.

Secondly, the aspiration that Iraq could be some sort of “beacon” in the region is no longer ridiculous. It will never be Sweden with beards, but there has been the development of a vibrant capitalist class and a media of a diversity that is unique in the region. Were Iraq to emerge with a federal political structure, regular local and national elections and an economic dynamism in which the many, not the few, could share, then it would be a model.

Finally, Iraq in 2007 has illustrated that the words “intelligent American policy” are not an oxymoron. The tragedy is that the approach of General David Petraeus could and should have been adopted four years ago in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s enforced departure. One prominent American politician alone has spent that time publicly demanding the extra soldiers which, in 2007, have been Iraq’s salvation. That statesman is John McCain. Is it too much to hope (let alone predict) that he will reap his reward at the polls in 2008?

Yeah, I think it is. McCain, for all the respect that is ritually flung his way, with no small amount of justification for his ordeal nearly four decades ago, has acted more like a double-talking politician on a whole mess o’ campaign issues than most of the other candidates.

But the point is well-taken. Jobs, in general, don’t get done by means of a whole lot of creative rationalizing for staying away from them and not doing them. Carrying out the trash involves filling some sacks, making omelettes involves breaking eggs…and all that.

(H/T: Kate, who’s on fire lately.)

You want more? Fellow Webloggin contributer Bookworm reports that Iraq is producing a lot of oil

This is good news:

Iraqi oil production is above the levels seen before the US-led invasion of the country in 2003, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA said Iraqi crude production is now running at 2.3 million barrels per day, compared with 1.9 million barrels at the start of this year.

It puts the rise down to the improving security situation in Iraq, especially in the north of the country.

Typically, the IEA goes on to put a lot of negative spin on things, but the core news is good. Even better is that revenue from this oil, rather than going into the pockets of Hussein and his minions, or into the pockets of corrupt UN officials, will, at least in theory, benefit the Iraqi people.

Ideologically-motivated Iraq critics have an uneasy coupling with history right now. History will have to look at Iraq as it exists now, and then at the end of 2002. You can make up stories Micheal Moore style about flying kites and catching butterflies and drinking from sweet milk chocolate fountains in downtown Baghdad under Hussein’s old regime until you’re blue in your fat disheveled mustard-stained Michael Moore face…but the world community desperately needed this thing to happen, and now that it’s happened it is the very picture of success. All those explosions and stories of sectarian violence between the bookends, tragic as they may be, in the final analysis end up looking like what they are: Partisan propaganda.

King Endorses Thompson

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Iowa Congressman Steve King, known as a leader among anti-amnesty hawks, has announced his endorsement of Fred Thompson for President.

I’ve been as consistent in my support of Fred Thompson as the Ron Paul bloggers have been in their support of “Congressman No.” If you couldn’t vote unless you had a blog, it seems to me the race would boil down to some kind of Thompson/Paul match-up…with Thompson eventually coming in second, possibly a distant second. And it further seems to me, that if you’re undecided or if you’re pushing someone besides Thompson and Paul, it would be an interesting exercise to scour the Thompson blogs and the Paul blogs and take note not so much how many bloggers are going with each candidate, but how they go about arguing their points.

Simply put, the average Paul blogger, much noise as he may make about the Constitution, barely knows what it is. And he certainly hasn’t read it.

The Thompson blogger, on the other hand, ends up supporting the Constitution in a kind of round-about curve-ball way, using a longer arc that demands not only knowledge about the Constitution and original intent, but a somewhat cynical, albeit cheerful, bullshit-detector. And right now, we’re pretty pleased because the Republican party is going through a badly needed shake-up. Right now the front-runners are Giuliani and Huckabee. Two weeks ago it was Giuliani and Romney. Fred’s holding at about third or fourth, maybe even fifth, but a lot can happen.

Except for Paul actually getting the nomination. Those other candidates are like ping pong balls in one of those lottery machines, and Congressman Paul is sort of like a lead weight tossed in there. Well, good. Congressman Paul is a just-plain-bad candidate. He’s a twenty-first century Jimmy Carter. With spam.

I’m hoping for slow-and-steady. I gather the impression Giuliani fans are a little tired of Giuliani and Huckabee fans are tired of Huckabee. Fred-fatigue is something that, if it exists at all, works pretty slow. He’s a charming guy. He’s the last guest you’d kick out of your house as the party winds down to a close, and he’s highly unlikely to be hanging around that long.

I think this works well with the Average American Voter, and his armpit-high fatigue factor with everyday politics bullshit, particularly with the immigration flap. We have, among Malkin’s linkage, a story in American Spectator about an Average American Presidential Candidate and his — unfortunately — extremely average nonsensical ravings about immigration policies, which I feel reflect poorly on most of the other people running, from both parties.

On immigration, [Mitt] Romney was utterly Clintonian. He said that when in November 2005 he described the Bush/McCain approach to immigration as “reasonable” and “quite different” from amnesty, he wasn’t endorsing the proposal, but just describing it. He hadn’t formulated his own position on immigration at the time. That’s right up there with Hillary Clinton saying in the debate that she didn’t say she supported driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, but she just said that a proposal to do so “makes sense.” Even if we were to get into the Christmas spirit and be extraordinarily generous by granting Romney that an elected official saying pending legislation is “reasonable” doesn’t constitute support for the legislation, it still doesn’t get him off the hook. His description of the proposal was that it was “quite different” from amnesty, and yet during this year he has ceaselessly leveled attacks on McCain by accusing him of supporting “amnesty.” So even being generous to Romney, this constitutes a major change in position, not just from some long ago Senate race in 1994, but from late 2005.

I’m not with the majority much. But I think I’m with the majority when I express my disdain for complicated answers to things that are, in fact, actually simple.

Tragically, we’re having a debate in this country about whether illegal immigration even is simple. This is like a poison in America, and it contaminates many more things than just illegal immigration. We have certain rules — some of which I admit are unprincipled and silly, and uphold no high ideals until it is time to practice equal enforcement. And then when it is time to practice equal enforcement, then even the unprincipled and silly rules become sacred.

A lot of times, we find out if & when the rules are equally-enforced against certain classes of people, it causes pain.

And then we’ve developed this unfortunate mode of thinking in which we say the issue is “complicated” when it isn’t. And we know the issue isn’t complicated at all. We just use the c-word to try to shake things up a little, to produce a different outcome for selected individuals and groups of people. Almost always, to help those individuals and groups of people.

But America doesn’t pass out licenses to break the law. We like to run around saying things like “nation of laws, not of men” and “no man is above the law.” If the illegal immigration issue is indeed “complicated,” it is only complicated to the extent that it involves genuine compassion for some people who really do need it; that, and a whole crap load of money flowing to unethical businesses that exploit cheap, illegal labor.

But I’m like Al Pacino with that c-word. Don’t tell me it’s “complicated,” because that insults my intelligence.

I think this will work out well for Fred. I get e-mails all the time, in the comments section here as well as off-line, from some people I consider very dear friends who want me to give Giuliani a third, fourth, fifth look. Or…Romney or Huckabee. That triumvirate of inconsistent, waffling Republican candidates have all been embarrassingly inconsistent on this issue, which in my eyes (and nobody’s been able to make a rational, well-thought-out, left-brain argument to the contrary) is as simple as anything else is. They’ve all equivocated. They’ve all talked out of both sides of their mouths.

But not Fred. And you know what’s really cool about Fred? As he went about enforcing this law, he’d do it somewhat compassionately. Not ass-hole-ish-ly. Not in a way that would involve tar & feathers & catapults and television cameras. At least, he’d be a lot less likely to do something like that, than…maybe, a President Freeberg.

Because I’ll be honest here. I see stuff like the clip you see below, and I kinda go a little nuts. Reasons why, we’ll leave undiscussed here. But people like me, we have stories to tell too, and we have reasons to take this very seriously.

You can’t extend compassion to the innocent and the guilty, both. You must choose.

Fire Ants Versus Iraqi Spider

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

One week to Christmas, we’re just about to hit the home stretch…

…so here is your final brief respite from Christmas-related stuff. One last gulp of air. Oh, and you’ll never guess who wins.

War on God

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

They aren’t even bothering with facts anymore. Tony Snow says there is a “War on God,” and our leftists just ritually denounce it as a big bunch of empty ravings as if Snow simply imagined the whole thing.

Well, Snow didn’t imagine the whole thing. We have become quite brittle and inflexible about the completeness of our secularism. Last year, for example, a valedictorian was unplugged during a graduation ceremony — for mentioning God.

Clark County School District officials and a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union say administrators followed federal law when they cut the microphone on Foothill High School valedictorian Brittany McComb as she began deviating from a pre-approved speech and reading from a version that mentioned God and contained biblical references.

“There should be no controversy here,” ACLU lawyer Allen Lichtenstein said. “It’s important for people to understand that a student was given a school-sponsored forum by a school and therefore, in essence, it was a school-sponsored speech.”

I find the ThinkProgress write-up interesting because it is sufficiently brazen to just come out and tell people what to think, with no foundation whatsoever…while accusing Tony Snow of doing exactly that. And the MSNBC write-up is interesting because it pretends something might be in violation of “federal law,” when it’s impossible to logically sustain that this is the case. That is, assuming the “federal law” is the First Amendment to the Constitution. The only specific rule of any kind mentioned by the article is a “policy” (which seems to have required that Ms. McComb be allowed to continue speaking).

To deny there is a War on God is, in my view, just plain silly. I think everyone with an attention span that exceeds any pre-existing agenda, would have to concede the word “God,” or any statement supportive of any monotheistic faith, has become a real hot-button item in any public forum whether “state-sponsored” or not. I think most of us have a lot of concerns about how distantly a non-religion-neutral thing can be related to state sponsorship, and still manage to generate this friction over church-state intermingling. Look how hard that school voucher thing was fought. You say I wanna take my kid out of public school, the district gives you a voucher for two or three thousand bucks, you use it to pay the tuition at a parochial school — oh dear oh dear, we have an establishment-clause issue. Yeah, the Supreme Court injected reason into it, and perhaps cemented it in, but why did the issue ever get that far?

Whoever is willing to be reasonable about this, would further have to concede this is a modern-day event with organized effort behind it. It’s not about original intent with regard to the Establishment Clause. Gosh & golly, if that were the case, let’s inspect Mr. “Wall of Separation” himself, Thomas Jefferson. Just dig up any of his correspondence. Choose some at random. Written while he was President, before, after, during his service as Secretary of State…anything you want. Pluck out the “Wall” letter to Nehemiah Dodge and the Danbury Baptists, if you want. See how he signs off. God, God, God, God, God, God, Heavenly Father, Father of Man, blah blah blah…this wasn’t a guy who thought we should sanitize our society, even our government sponsored society, from mention of a deity.

Nor did anyone of any importance imagine such an unyielding interpretation of the Establishent Clause for the next, oh, century and a half. The Day of Infamy speech, President Roosevelt says “with the unbounding determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.” [emphasis mine]

A generation later, give or take, something happened. This is undeniable. You can’t make a speech like that now. Not without a lot of bellyaching and grousing sure to follow.

If that isn’t a “War on God,” then what do you call it?

Update: Roger Simon, coming across a transcript of the Hugh Hewitt show with West Wing writer Lawrence O’Donnell as guest, makes some interesting points about this. It seems, perhaps, the War on God not only exists — but exists because it is a War of Least Resistance.

HH: Okay. And do you believe, would you say the same things about Mohammed as you just said about Joseph Smith?

LO’D: Oh, well, I’m afraid of what the…that’s where I’m really afraid. I would like to criticize Islam much more than I do publicly, but I’m afraid for my life if I do.

HH: Well, that’s candid.

LO’D: Mormons are the nicest people in the world. They’re not going to ever…

HH: So you can be bigoted towards Mormons, because they’ll just send you a strudel.

LO’D: They’ll never take a shot at me. Those other people, I’m not going to say a word about them.

HH: They’ll send you a strudel. The Mormons will bake you a cake and be nice to you.

LO’D: I agree.

HH: Lawrence O’Donnell, I appreciate your candor.

I appreciate O’Donnell’s candor too, but perhaps not in the way that Hugh meant. In fact, when I first read those statements, my mouth dropped open.

They are particularly disturbing if you compare the estimated number of Muslims in the world (1.5 billion) to the number of Mormons (12 million) and the likelihood of either group being responsible for, say, a bombing in the New York subway. Of course, O’Donnell is clearly aware of this – all too clearly. And he has decided to opt out.

This means he has opted out as well of a whole series of the most important questions of our time, such as are there moderate Muslims, can Islam be reformed, what is the relationship between religious doctrine and violence, what is jihad, what is dhimmitude, can true democracy exist under Islam, is it terminally expansionist in its ideology, can women and homosexuals achieve their rights under Sharia law, what happens when Sharia expands into Western society, etc.

Huh. And they call us chickenhawks.

For The Anti-Death-Penalty Types XIII

Monday, December 17th, 2007

This blog, which nobody actually reads anyway, makes a point of revisiting the point whenever there is occasion to do so: Opposition to the death penalty is not something people do because of personal principles. It is something people do out of ignorance. Ignorance of the potential of the human species for evil.

Sadly, there are situations in which you can’t show your compassion to the guilty and innocent, both. You must choose. It’s an ugly thing to have to acknowledge, and not everybody is up to it. That’s fine by me…all I ask, is that if people can’t come to grips with how ugly and depraved human behavior can be, to what depths it can sink — they should politely excuse themselves from the process of figuring out what is to happen. They don’t belong in it. And the people who engage in these heinous acts, don’t belong on the same plane of existence as the rest of us. Sounds terrible when you put it that way, but it’s true.

And unfortunately, we are reminded yet again.

A premature baby delivered after his mother was kidnapped and set on fire during the robbery of a Polk County insurance office died early Sunday, authorities said.

The 1-pound, 2-ounce baby, delivered by Caesarian section Thursday night, died at an Orlando hospital, Lake Wales Police Chief Herbert Gillis said. The child was born more than three months premature.

The baby’s mother, Juanita “Jane” Luciano, 23, and his aunt, Yvonne Bustamante, 26, were set on fire during a robbery Thursday at the Nationwide Insurance office where they worked, police said. Both remain in extremely critical condition.

Update: As if John Corzine himself was scanning the pages of The Blog That Nobody Reads trying to find new and improved ways to do stupid crap that doesn’t make sense…this post goes up, and then over the radio I hear the New Jersey Governor has just signed legislation that will ban the death penalty in that state.

This is crass social elitism of the sort America was founded to oppose. You prune back on penalties for violent crimes, you get more violent crimes — and yes, that includes banning the death penalty. Once you have more violent crime, those of the most modest economic means are victimized first. And that neatly excludes the plutocrats who make the rules, like John Corzine, and decide our “civilized values” are incompatible with the death penalty.

The opposite is true. Our values represent the height of civilization, and they say the people who make the rules should uphold and cherish the same principles as those who must live the most rustic lifestyles, and are the first to be exposed to unseemly side of society. And that means we remove the monsters that have been proven to walk among us, time and time again, from the equation so they don’t injure the innocent. In the manner described above. And worse.

Is that so hard?

All-Ethnic TV

Monday, December 17th, 2007

I think I finally figured out what bothered me about this. It’s not that it is a negative thinly disguised as a positive — although it is exactly that. When you say a thing is “all-(blank),” you are saying something that is oppositional to (blank) has been declared an undesirable agent, and providing reassurances that the thing has been cleansed of that corrupting agent. In this case, the corrupting agent is people…

But no, what really bothers me is the substance. It’s been hard for me to define what’s distressing about it, because the substance is left undefined. That this is an asset to Sacramento, is just sort of…implied. On how the asset actually is an asset, the article is silent. We’re talking about “KBTV, Sacramento’s all-ethnic TV station.” What — exactly — is the point to this channel? Can the mission statement be presented in plain terms, using active-voice, without straying into something nasty?

Ben Reyes, a Sacramento graphic designer, spent a recent Saturday night curled up in front of “Star In My Heart,” a Korean soap opera dubbed in Spanish.

“Star In My Heart” can be seen weekends on KBTV, Sacramento’s all-ethnic TV station.

“It’s a good family drama, the way American soaps used to be,” said Reyes, 45, who’s of Mexican, Greek, Seminole, Jamaican and Arabic descent.

Like Reyes, KBTV Global Television reflects the Central Valley’s many flavors with programs in Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Spanish, Hindi-Punjabi and Hmong.

“We are the face of California – it does not have a color,” said advertising director Edgar Calderon, a Nicaraguan immigrant. “We are a bridge between different communities – we are the community.”

Unlike other ethnic stations available to Sacramento viewers, KBTV mixes locally produced shows with nationally and internationally syndicated programming. Some local shows are produced by station staff; others are by local producers who buy airtime and sell their own advertising.

Calderon, who says he watches “Star In My Heart” for “the good-looking señoritas,” said KBTV’s viewers range from teens who tune in for music to “older folks who are great fans of news and cultural events.”

The station was born in 2005 when former newspaper executive Frank Washington and a group of investors bought the station for $1.5 million.

“I was inspired to do this when I found out there was this huge Russian-speaking community here I didn’t know about,” Washington said. “This is a way to open conversation and provide some understanding of who these people are and what they’re about.”

I just don’t understand how a huge Russian-speaking community is assisted by a resource dealing in Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Spanish, Hindi-Punjabi and Hmong — nor will the article explain it to me. Seems to me some kind of line has been crossed; there’s an agenda dealing more with exclusion than inclusion.

The headline to this story, as it appears in the Sacramento Bee front page, is “ALL-ETHNIC TV HAS GLOBAL VOICE.” Sorry…speaking as a six-foot straight white guy with ten fingers and ten toes — maybe my opinion isn’t wanted here — my initial impression is that a global voice would be truly inclusive. Something that facilitates easy communication amongst a variety of cultures, both now and in the future. If an immigrant family comes here, some of their members need some individual counseling in order to learn English faster and they receive this assistance…THAT would be in keeping with a “global voice,” to me.

The glimmerings I get from this story are that “ethnic” is some kind of polished diplomatic slang for “Not English-Speaking and White.” And it’s tough for me to see how you can bring such a product to market and find consumers who are demanding it, without involving negativity and prejudice somehow. If I’m here in Sacramento and I’m Russian and I speak Russian, and I’m too lazy to learn the native language of the country…I want Russian. Right? Same goes for Mandarin, and everything else on the list. Some fruit-salad of “all ethnic” isn’t going to do me a whole lot of good.

Not unless my problem has more to do with personal likes & dislikes, than with language barriers. As in, those darn English-speaking American white people, I just want to get away from them when I watch TV in my own home.

I dunno. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe “all ethnic” stuff is the pathway to racial harmony after all.

But if that’s the case, then can someone please explain to me the thread (of nine comments, as of this writing) that appears under the story on Sac Bee’s website? I’ll save you some time: It’s a whole lot of finger pointing about who is & isn’t being a racist. You know, I didn’t make it that way. I didn’t even participate. But I honestly don’t know how a different result can come from a story like this. It contains zip, zero, zilch, nada definition for the word “ethnic” and it’s up to the reader to presume the E-word is a reference to all cultures present in the Sacramento area SAVE ONE.

I don’t know for sure that that is the intended meaning. But one thing I do know for sure, is that the story promotes the use of lots of different languages in a community as a good thing.

You know, the last time I recall the use of Sacramento’s zillion languages being promoted as a good thing, was the occasion of that goofy Time Magazine article that conferred a “most diverse” award on us.

70 Languages, One System
Three weeks ago, Yun Qian (Cindy) Zhong, a sixth-grader assigned to Randy Helms’ homeroom, walked into William Land Elementary School for the first time. She had all the gifts of a model student—intelligence, friendliness and an eagerness to learn. There was just one problem: Zhong, an immigrant from Canton, China, didn’t speak a word of English.

Helms didn’t panic. His students and their parents hail from as far away as Vietnam, Mexico, Germany, Portugal, Panama and, fortunately, China. By the end of Zhong’s second week, Helms, with help from the Cantonese-speaking students in his class, had taught Zhong to count past 10 as well as to answer yes and no to questions translated for her.

A William Land education doesn’t come easy. The school is located in a poor community downtown (90% of Land’s kids qualify for free lunch), the classes are big (Helms alone teaches 32 students) and language barriers are routine (many kids’ parents speak no English). Kids are tested for English proficiency within 30 days of enrolling; most score from 1 to 5 out of a maximum of 10. Across Sacramento, educators face similar challenges. How does a school district of 53,400 students communicate with a parent group that speaks more than 70 languages? And perhaps even more pressing, how much do cultural differences contribute to the fact that Latino and African-American children do not perform as well on standardized tests as white and Asian kids in the city’s integrated schools?

The whole article read like that. When the time came to fixate on the advantages and challenges of such a diverse community, the facts rained in heavy on the challenges and very light, to be charitable about it, on any advantages. With the investment of a great amount of effort, a girl might be brought up-to-speed on a very utilitarian use of English, and it was already time to hand out the applause and cigars. With much hard work still ahead.

And you know, I’m sure the applause is deserved. But this is not the story of a strength, it’s quite the opposite. It’s a handicap. It’s an overburdened public resource with too many languages in it. To celebrate this, is just bizarre. It’s like a recovering alcoholic throwing a house party to celebrate, not the fact that he’s been clean for a year, but that he became an alcoholic in the first place. Or a cancer patient throwing a bash not to celebrate that she’s still among the living, but the anniversary of discovering her first tumor.

When Armstrong & Getty pursued exactly that train of thought, our illustrious mayor sought to engage a letter-writing campaign to invite the FCC to clamp down on them. One of the things I remember them saying, was something I thought was pretty reasonable — you are “nuts” if you think it is a good thing, or any kind of “progress,” to have seventy languages in one school. Apparently, that was enough for Heather Fargo to try to get ’em off the air. Huh, that’s funny. This was about a year after the September 11 attacks. Ever since that time, I keep hearing how “dissent is patriotism” and that the War on Terror is responsible for the death of freedom of speech, and a whole mess of other constitutional liberties that are supposed to be in peril.

It doesn’t look that way from where I sit. I’m seeing the biggest shot of Orwellian nonsense coming in from the P.C. side of things, and in late 2007 I perceive it to be rounding a corner. Exclusion is inclusion, fragmentation is cohesion, umptyfratz-many languages is wonderful intra-community communication, and “ethnic” is double-plus good.

But most of all, I worry about this message that hatred is love. Half the stuff I read in the paper, it seems at times, if you were to simply take all the skin colors mentioned and reverse them it would be noxious bigotry of the kind no reasonable mind could possibly deny. I’m still trying to keep an open mind. But it looks like the folks who make the decisions about what kind of messages are to be put out about this stuff, and how much of a boost the messages get as they travel far & wide — they don’t seem to want the “common people” to share thoughts and ideas easily. They seem to want to be leaders of masses that are fractured, living in distantly different communities, unable to reach across the boundaries, prone to confusion and language barriers as thick as can possibly be managed. It’s like our municipal, county and state leaders have something to hide, and they know a “diverse” electorate that speaks a hundred different languages, will have a tough time catching on to whatever shell game is being played.

I know, I shouldn’t think stuff like that. But I just can’t shake the thought out of my head. If I had a magic wand, and I waved it, and tomorrow morning everybody would wake up wearing exactly the same skin color they already have…but suddenly speaking ALL THE SAME LANGUAGE — would this cause a panic? Would someone possessing great amounts of power have a lot to lose from such a thing happening? I dunno. I’ve had the feeling that that is the case, before; I have it still, after reading this “story”; after living in this city for a decade and a half, it seems I should have been able to shake it by now — were there nothing to it. But in the meantime, I read about this local push to drop academic standards so that the kids in these schools can graduate, with anemic grasps on things like…language and reading comprehension.

I’m afraid we’ve all been feasting on something very nasty and toxic for a very long time, in large doses. And we’re just getting sicker and sicker on this steady diet of whatever it is. I know it doesn’t have a lot to do with “color-blindness”; that’s a pretty easy thing to define, and it is certainly not what I see in front of me here.

Common Ground Between Atheists and Christians

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

AtheismThis is a list of ten things upon which atheists and believers agree, or on which they ought to agree. Supposedly.

I agree with every single item on the list.

Except the ones that deal in some way with my supposed fallibility, of course…since I am perfick.

And Number 9. Number 9 is pretty much crap. Well…it’s half-right, half-crap.

Atheists do so much whining lately. Not all of them, but most of them. A bunch of douchebag whiners. You can’t be much more of a big droopy pathetic whining bitch than filing lawsuits to get everything into line to comport with your personal viewpoint of the universe and just keep on filing ’em year after year after year until you get your way…like a little brother whining to his mommy about losing his stash because he landed on Park Place with a hotel on it.

But I should add, as a disclaimer, there are some cool atheists out there. Some. A few. Okay…end of disclaimer.

Oh, and Number One. I really do super-agree with Number One. Great point. One that should be remembered more often. I agree with that preamble point about people dying, even more. Nails it shut.

Suddenly Susan

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

America's HatWe were following a trackback and we stumbled across this thread on Moorewatch.

I’ve already been scolded elsewhere for using the word “canuck” — some people feel it’s on par with the n-word. Well, this dimbulb woman is certainly a silly canuck.

Canadians are like citizens of any other country — they’re individuals. Kinda. Sorta. Actually, that sort of runs into some problems…you round up a thousand Canucks, and ask them about Michael Moore, you won’t really get back a thousand different opinions. To the extent that these problems do exist, in my mind this is just evidence of the damage that socialism inflicts on the individual.

That just goes to show what a kick-ass place America is. For now. Until the damn dirty socialists can make some inroads on this place. But for now, for some real bonehead statements, I mean for a reliable supply, we’ll have to rely on that idjit canuck Susan.

Oh and by the way — can we all agree that the definition of treason is undergoing a change, given that we can’t lock Michael Moore up for anything? I mean, let’s all just decide our separate ways whether or not this is a good thing. But I think everyone paying the slightest bit of attention to what’s going on would have to agree that if Michael Moore can walk around as free as you and me, there’s a change going on. All these dirty foreigners are typing their smarmy crap into these forums on the innernets, with these smug smirks on their faces because they’ve been watching these phony-baloney “documentaries” put together by Michael Moore…an American citizen…enjoying American protections, including constitutional freedoms and protection by the United States military.

A couple generations ago, he’d have had the life expectancy of a July snowball fight. And we’ve made him into a gazillionaire.

Let’s just file that one under “America ain’t perfect.” Hey, humility is a good thing sometimes…even when it gets a little tough to hang on to some of it.

We Are What Is Wrong

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Via Gateway Pundit, we managed to find out about the exploits of erstwhile super-secret Republican campaign adviser Albert Arnold Gore Jr., who has been paid massive amounts of money to share his opinions on things and has finally managed to distill the ultimate message from the party we have been told we should presume he’s representing.

As befits the cinematographic auteur of An Inconvenient Truth, Mr Gore’s speech was a rhetorical tour de force.

“We, the human race, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilisation that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here,” he said.

“The Earth has a fever, and the fever is rising. The experts have told us it is not a passing affliction that will heal by itself.

We are what is wrong, and we must make it right.” [emphasis mine]

We are what is wrong. We, as in “the human race.”

You have this issue of ManBearPig, which is all about humanity being a blight on an otherwise pristine landscape. Sometimes the Church of the Scary ManBearPig says the planet is heating up. Sometimes it says it’s cooling down. Sometimes it says it’s simply changing…sometimes it’s because of carbon dioxide, sometimes it’s because of other greenhouse gases, sometimes it’s CFCs — but always always always the cause of it all is — man.

This thing we call “global warming” isn’t about science, it’s about how to look at science. How to cherry-pick little nuggets out of what the scientists might be saying, and from that piece together an indictment against “the human race.” See, it all makes sense now. And we have this secret Republican political operative named Al Gore to thank for pointing it out to us.

In fact, the more evidence we gather, the more sense Al’s tirade against humanity, in fact, makes. We have this other ideologically-dividing event that takes place over here, that is riveted in both the God-versus-Not-God and Guns-versus-Not-Guns splits…and isn’t that interesting. The Not-God people say that we God people are self-destructive because we seek protection against life’s daily challenges from some deity that isn’t really there, instead of relying on ourselves. Except the Not-God people tend, overwhelmingly, to be Not-Gun people as well. Meaning when trouble’s on the town you’re supposed to head for the hills…or dial 911…maybe both. On the other side of the fence, out of ten God people, nine of those will be Gun people — probably more. So it seems this fails. Believing in God is all about believing in yourself, both in theory and in practice.

But getting back to this stealth Republican political operative Al Gore. He makes good sense here, and his proposal for a Republican vs. Democrat theme for next year seems a lot more potent than any other I’ve heard thus far. I mean, think on this long and hard, what he has said. Go through issue by issue by issue…all the things about which tighty-righties and lefty-loosies are doing their arguing.

It stays consistent, what he said, does it not? We really do have one ideological camp that says humanity is worth something, like among other things, a vigorous defense involving deadly force if necessary…and another ideological camp that says no, we aren’t worth any such thing.

Let’s take Al Gore’s advice, I say. Let’s have an election about that. Quit beatin’ around the bush…so to speak.

Man Argues About Evolution and Removes Himself From It

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Okay now this leads to, in fact I would say makes absolutely compulsory, a fascinating train of thought…

English backpacker Alexander Christian York, 33, was on Friday sentenced to a maximum of five years jail for the manslaughter of Scotsman Rudi Boa in January last year.

Mr Boa, 28, died on January 27 after being stabbed by York at the Blowering Holiday Park, near Tumut.
The Scottish couple and York, neighbours at the caravan park, were becoming friends and spent the night of January 27 drinking at the Star Hotel in Tumut.

However, towards the end of the night, an argument between York and the pair about creationism versus evolution escalated into a shouting match at the pub.

The couple, both biomedical scientists, had been arguing the case of evolution, while York had taken a more biblical view of history.

The creationist stabbed the evolutionist in a crime of passion.

Now, let’s figure out what this means based on the things we have good reasons to think. Yesterday, remember, we came across a clip by the late Dr. Carl Sagan that gave us occasion to discuss what we are and how we think things out that we want think out…inspired by an ancient experiment to calculate the size of the earth, we think what we have reason to think here. Not what we want to think, or what others want us to think. We evaluate the evidence and give it our best shot in terms of pondering what’s really going on.

So these guys are becoming fast buddies but the “molded from clay or grown from slime” argument put a fast stop to things, with a manslaughter charge. What happened?

Well, I see the Dawkins disciples are coming out of the woodwork, and the consensus among them seems to be “I checked the article to make sure it was the bible-thumper who lost his temper, and I was right. I’m not surprised.” The obvious implication is that the evolutionist guy tried to use reason and common sense, whereupon the fundamentalist zealot lost his cool, raised his voice, flung spittle around the room, and eventually pulled a sharp weapon and made a martyr out of his opposition.

Problem: I don’t have the luxury of being told by others how these things go down, and just believing it. I’ve seen them first-hand too many times.

I’ve yet to see such an exchange in which all the childish desperation, all that voice-raising and all that adrenaline, is reserved for the faithful, while a reasonable, dispassionate evolutionist tries to talk sense into him. Oh, I hear things encapsulated that way for a re-telling quite often. I’ve yet to see it.

What I see in such dialogs, is derision and plain ol’ snottiness. It emerges on the evolutionary side. It seldom fails. The evolutionist, after all, comes to his conclusion by awarding benefit-of-doubt to a certain place. He engages in the dialog not to persuade by means of reason and fact, but by means of an instruction that all others should award benefit-of-doubt the way he does. If others present fail to heed his counsel, sarcasm is about the only place he can go, from there. He can’t go anywhere else.

The problem is that he arrived at the argument with a lack of evidence, rather than with an abundance of it. God is not supported with evidence, therefore I don’t believe in Him and you shouldn’t either.

I’ve grown weary of such exchanges and have participated in, maybe, ten or twenty percent of all the ones I’ve personally seen. Of the ones I’ve seen, I’d say the phrase “sky fairy” has been used in, oh, maybe two-thirds or three-quarters of ’em. In what context — well, just take a guess. In fact, looking back over all of them, it seems to me the evolutionist understands fully at the very outset that this is a dialog in which nothing can be proven or rebuked, indeed, nothing can be logically attacked or substantiated. With the benefit of the knowledge I’ve gained by watching these exchanges, I see them as exercises in aggravation and nothing more. One-sided aggravation. Like poking a dog with a stick. Or “cat fishing” with a ball of yarn, or a laser-pen. Sorry, but to envision it as anything else, would be to forget the things I’ve seen.

And so I see these discussion, taking place in a bar, or a family kitchen, or on the Internet, as nothing more than exercises in kind of a sick game. It’s a rather simple parlor trick. The result is supposed to be that the religious zealot does more yelling and ends up looking wild-eyed and crazy. Confronted with this, some among the faithful can rise above it. Not everyone can. And so we drink a toast to the memory of the late Mister Boa. But we’ll not participate in this charade that things are proven, scrutinized, revealed or debunked in such exchanges. Nobody ever promised such a thing.

Which means — every now and then, arguing evolutionary theory with one of us wild-eyed religious zealots can end up being a deadly thing. The question with which we are left, therefore, is not how such an insane thing might have happened, but why it doesn’t happen a lot more often. After all, they’re English & Scottish. Alcohol was involved. Do the math.

Now at this point we could engage in a debate about who is more homicidal, the creationists or the evolutionists. We could go at it from that point-of-view…hauling out evidence that indicates Christians are here to protect people and anti-Christians are here to inflict harm. But a higher calling beckons so let’s instead proceed from this point according to the evolutionary theory. Because that is the mark of a well-balanced, sane mind. Being able to view things through the lens of your opposition.

Mr. Boa did some arguing about gene pools, and ended up removing himself from one. The implications are profound.

According to what we call “evolution” in 2007, micro- and macro- are necessarily intermixed because the ultimate goal is not to surmise new & interesting things about biology and zoology, but to disprove the existence of God. Therefore, all of evolutionary theory is intertwined with unified common descent. You have the one-celled creatures, and all of us vertebrates and invertebrates, warm-blooded animals and cold-blooded animals, are descended from the amoeba.

This is done by means of, every now and then, a specimen from one species or another will acquire a trait by means of random mutation. If the trait assists is the competition for food and other resources, all of which are limited, and/or with the activity of reproduction, he trait will make this specimen stronger. Presuming the trait can be inherited by the next generation, therefore, we will over time surely see the trait become more commonplace and eventually it will achieve complete saturation within that species.

On the other hand, if the trait interferes with this acquisition of finite resources or with the process of breeding, all specimens among this species sharing this trait will surely die off and the trait will be relegated to the cruel dustbin of evolutionary history.

Well, it seems Rudi Boa had a trait of arguing about evolution with creationist-types. Probably, according to track-record, using choices-of-words, mannerisms and tactics calculated to be infuriating. Mr. Boa ended up demonstrating the weakness of this trait in the process of propagation of the species.

According to evolutionary theory, therefore, we should not be seeing any more of this behavior. But…thanks to the publication of an entire miniature-library of atheist books in a relatively short time, we’re rather up to our armpits in it for the moment.

The poor Scotsman seems to have dealt a blow to modern evolutionary theory.

How to explain it? Well, one would have to conclude the process of evolution is not yet complete. One would have to further conclude that the gene pool is, therefore, still polluted. With weaker genomes, due for an appointment with Darwin’s Ghost, due to be plucked out from the shallow end, having not yet arrived for the meeting.

No, I’m not advocating violence any more than any other evolutionist guy who says the same sort of stuff. Like any good little Darwinist, all I’m calling for is the identification of weaker specimens, those unfortunates whose time in the evolutionary ecosystem is limited. You can spot them taunting the faithful with words deliberately chose to taunt and to aggravate, like the above-mentioned “sky fairy.” They drive around in cars that have Darwin-fishies on the back bumper with little feet growing out from under them.

They don’t belong here, by their own logic. They are the weaker link.

I Am Perfick

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

I don’t make any mistakes at all. Because to make a mistake you have to get things wrong, and I did everything just write. I got a perfick score, so anybody who disagrees with me about anything is wrong and I half to be rite. C?

You Scored an A

You got 10/10 questions correct.

It’s pretty obvious that you don’t make basic grammatical errors.
If anything, you’re annoyed when people make simple mistakes on their blogs.
As far as people with bad grammar go, you know they’re only human.
And it’s humanity and its current condition that truly disturb you sometimes.

H/T: Buck.

Cute Hamster Gift

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Yeah…I hate hamsters and I hate flowers. I just wanted to bookmark that cool site. Just stumbled across it when I was looking for something else, and later on I tried to find it, tried to find it, tried to find it…

…doncha just hate that? It’s like the claw hammer in your junk drawer. In the way, when you’re looking for something else, and then when you really need it you end up banging on nails with an old shoe.

Our Funny Name

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Peek Into ItWhat is the point to The Blog That Nobody Reads? And what is up with that name nobody can pronounce? Howssa Verra Toss The Knees? ‘Sup wif dat? How come it’s got that funny logo you see to the left?

The late Dr. Carl Sagan explains all. Well, not really, he didn’t know anything about The Blog That Nobody Reads. Doubtlessly, if he did he’d disapprove of much of what we say & do. But he tells the story about what the name really means, at least, what we have in mind for ourselves when we use it…

You see, Eratosthenes walked what is, today, a very fine line. He didn’t think like everybody else, but neither did he make a “grunge” fashion statement out of trying to think differently. He thought for himself and conducted himself according to The Oath.

He took note of something — in this case, a mundane detail that one would show perfectly sound judgment in not noticing at all. Something that didn’t mean anything until he pondered the ramifications, at which point it meant quite a bit more.

He used logic to eliminate possibilities. And then he used fairly simple mathematics to nail that sucker shut.

Scientist? Not really. We do know Eratosthenes had the training, but we also know his day job was as the administrator of a library. Which, back in those days, one might say was more-or-less the same thing. But my point stands — we call Eratosthenes a “scientist” because of what he did and how he thought things out, not because some accrediting institution saw fit to slap some kind of label on him.

Actually if that were the case, smart money says said institution would revoke such a seal of approval, or threaten to do so, the minute he published the findings Dr. Sagan is describing here.

The Blog That Nobody Reads strives to preserve a tradition of thinking…which is dying off. The kind of thinking where you look at things as they are and figure out what they mean for yourself. Simply put, nobody’s going to pop up behind your shoulder and tell you what keys to press. The kind of thinking that says life is a puzzle for you to solve, big-kid-style, without help. Peek into the water well, not at the paper belonging to the smarter kid sitting next to you.

The Global Warming Test

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

What do you know about the globular wormening ManBearPig? Take the handy test to find out.


Saturday, December 15th, 2007

You know I’m pure evil, because I couldn’t help thinking about Tipper Gore when I ran across this. Wonder how many credits she bought.

A Web site is offering people the chance to offset their infidelity by paying random strangers to remain faithful in a satirical bid to highlight its view of carbon offsetting as an “inadequate” and “misguided” response to climate change.

Cheatneutral began as a joke amongst three friends–Beth Stratford, Alex Randall and Christian Hunt – and works in two ways to tame fast females and philanderers.

Users can freely sign up to become a Cheatneutral “project”, meaning they agree to remain single or monogamous in order to neutralize the cheating of somebody else. Or they can offset their own cheating by sponsoring a “project” with a one-time $2.21 payment.

The site suggests that jealousy and heartbreak are a natural part of modern life, and that no matter how hard we try to reduce the amount we cheat on our partners, it is just not possible to remain faithful.

“That’s why we help you neutralize your cheating,” the site says. “Your actions are offset by a global network of fidelity developed by us. By paying Cheatneutral, you’re funding monogamy-boosting offset projects – we simply invest the money you give us in monogamous, faithful or just plain single people, to encourage them to stay that way.”

Beth Stratford said Randall and Hunt came up with the idea one night in a bar.

“All winter we’d been talking about how carbon offsetting is such an inadequate and misguided response to climate change. We realized that launching an infidelity offset service – and then filming the public and media response – would be an entertaining and seductive way to draw people into the debate.”

H/T: Boortz.

I Made a New Word X

Friday, December 14th, 2007

Inspired by this news story about steroids in baseball, I came up with a brand new word. Actually, I came up with two new words. I came up with these words because the steroids-in-baseball thing — you know, we have been hearing about this for a long, long, LONG time.

Making Progress?My son was asking what the deal was with steroids in baseball. And I told him the truth.

I said baseball was essentially a contest to see who could play the game the best, and steroids were like medicine that helped you play better, except there were rules against taking them. So the authorities in charge said, that’s a no-no. That means when someone takes steroids, they have an advantage over everybody else, but they have to make sure they don’t get caught. And so this makes baseball into a contest to see who can hide things the best and who can lie the most convincingly. We don’t like to admit that’s what baseball has become, and so we go through the motions of “getting rid of steroids” without really doing it.

Un∙solve (v.)
1. To toil away at a problem, without making any progress toward solving it.
2. To give the appearance of trying to solve a problem without really trying to solve it.
3. To present onesself as engaged in an effort to solve a problem, while engaged in activity irreconcilable with the supposed intent to solve the problem, or any serious supposition that the problem really is a problem.
4. To form alliances with people under phony pretenses by feigning readiness, willingness and/or ability to solve a problem that concerns them, or is expected to be of concern to them.
5. To present a phony problem as a problem more serious than it really might be, for political purposes.
6. To present a former problem as that has already been solved in relative terms, so that it can be regarded as not-yet-solved, for political purposes.

Un∙prob∙lem (n.)
1. A boogeyman.
2. A real or imagined problem that is presented in exaggerated proportion for political purposes.
3. Anything that highly visible officers or candidates discuss, in great exuberance and with great frequency, as a problem they are engaged in fighting, but with the passage of time and with minimal change in rhetoric, is revealed as a problem that is not actually being fought.

When one makes a study of all our various unproblems, one is exposed rather harshly to the realization that more & faster communication is not necessarily a good thing. Since mass communication has become rapid, efficient and cheap, we’ve been buried in unproblems. Problems we are told to think are very serious, and that this-guyy and that-guy are working very hard to solve — but the status of such worthy endeavors, never seems to change. Ever.

Prior to the information revolution, history presents us with very few examples of unproblems. Politicians that presented us with problems, and themselves as noble warrios engaged in battle against those problems, in the days of old had to actually solve them. Or, at least, achieve some incremental and demonstrable results in fighting the stated problem.

One notable exception to this is FDR and his phony efforts to battle the Great Depression. Roosevelt was the founder of America as a capitalist/socialist hybrid enclave, and the onset of dilatory and lackluster cognitive thinking is quick in a socialist enclave. So in that way, it could be said that Roosevelt doesn’t really count. Is there another example prior to, say, 1960? I really can’t think of one.

Nowadays, we’re so buried in unproblems that we’ve become accustomed to them. Politician says “I’m going to fight such-and-such a problem…” and two years later, deep down we all expect to hear the same rhetoric, about the same boogeyman, with the boogeyman exactly in the same position he’s in now. We don’t think it will be different — ever. Not anymore. Not in our heart-of-hearts.

A few of the unproblems we have in 2007…and these are just off the top of my head…

1. Shoring up Social Security
2. Global Warming
3. Drunk Driving
4. Steroids in Baseball
5. Money in Politics
6. California’s Budget
7. The Energy Crisis
8. Women and Minorities Being Oppressed — C.A.L.W.W.N.T.Y.
9. A.I.D.S. and Cancer
10. World Hunger

You can’t get elected to anything anymore without promising to do battle against all these dragons. Or most of them, anyway. And yet, we simply accept that year after year, not a single one of these battles will be lost, won, or even changed so much as one iota from exactly where they are now.

Solving any one of these unproblems, and more as-yet-unlisted here, has become just an empty ritual. No wonder it isn’t being done. It’s our fault, not the fault of the people we elect. We just don’t know what achievement looks like anymore.

An Ad I’d Like To See

Friday, December 14th, 2007

File this one under “Priceless Advice Republicans Can Have For Free.” Are they listening? I hope they’re listening. You lose the election next year, Republicans, and you haven’t used what appears below…I hope whoever’s running the show stays unemployed for a good long time.

Don’t come cryin’ to me.

Here’s the television commercial I’d like to see.

There’s this line of people that stretches off into the distance, in both directions, as far as the eye can see. Everybody is patiently waiting for something, for what purpose it’s not clear. John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are working the crowd. They’re talking to people who are waiting in the line.

Barack Obama is telling everybody to think happy thoughts. Every once in awhile he chrips out, “Aren’t I just awesome and wonderful?”

John Edwards is asking people “Have you been to the doctor today? You’re supposed to go, you know. If you haven’t gone to the doctor today, you’re in the wrong line.”

Hillary Clinton is asking them how long they’ve been waiting in line, making sure they’re suffering adequately. “You’re not cutting in front of anyone, are you? Good, good…it’s important that everybody wait until their legs are good and tired. Good and tired. How much money do you have? If you have too much, I’ll be taking some away for the common good.”

Looney LeftObama is telling them “Sameness, yes, that is what is important. We have to make sure each of you is equally well off, and endures an equal amount of pain.”

Edwards is making people feel guilty about carbon emissions, asking them if they’ve changed the light bulbs in their homes. “You can pick up new light bulbs on the way back from the doctor.”

Clinton is reminding them to think about retirement, healthcare and their grandmas having to choose between medicine and dog food.

Obama is asking someone what kind of laptop she has. It isn’t faster than anybody else’s, is it?

Edwards is reminding everyone listening that all the speed limits have to be exactly the same. “Ball bearings, that’s what we all are. Identical in every way. Except I’m a really rich ball bearing, of course. I’ll make everything the same.”

Clinton is droning on about new labels to be put on food packages.

All three candidates start talking over each other, reaching a euphoric crescendo, babbling on about their personal tastes. Hillary just loves her hybrid automobile, which American-made, of course. “And I’ve ALWAYS been a New York Dolphins fan!” Edwards yells, “Sameness! Sameness! You’re all the same! I’m SO much better than you!”. Obama smiles, giggles, and holds up some weird-looking toy animals — “Ya gotta catch ’em all!” Hillary starts giggling maniacally.

It all goes silent the instant a gunshot rings out. A man from the line falls flat on his back, blood pouring out from between his eyes which are frozen open.

The only sound anybody can hear is an empty cartridge bouncing on the floor, and then rolling around.

The dead man’s unseasonably warm trench coat falls open, revealing an enormous belt of dynamite sticks. A push button detonating device falls out of his hand.

The man who had been standing next to him holsters a 9mm sidearm that is still smoking. He looks back up at Hillary, whose jaw is now hanging open, her eyes frozen in horror. He looks at her expectantly with a look that might say, “sorry to interrupt — you were saying?”

The candidates exchange glances. Nobody seems to know what to say. The man continues to wait for Hillary to finish her thought. He shrugs his shoulders.

FADE OUT. The sound of a heartbeat starts repeating…

Narrator: “This November, the Republican party encourages you to vote according to what is really important to you. Not what someone else says is important to you.”

The heartbeat sound quickens slightly. FADE IN on another shot of the push button detonating device. End of commercial.

A No-Brainer

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

I don’t really know if the news lately is supporting a runaway acceleration toward the events in this movie, or if watching that movie has influenced the way I see said news when it comes out. I’m willing to lean toward the latter explanation, for now. Just for now.

But the connections between “Idiocracy” and real life seem, to me, to be inescapable. It is a Rip van Winkle story, about a man of extremely average intelligence who finds himself the most intelligent human alive because he was forgotten in a suspended-animation experiment for five centuries. It’s the stupid people amongst us, you see; they were breeding like rabbits. While the genetic lineage of the more intelligent came to a stop.

The world’s average I.Q. falls through those five centuries, kind of like a lawn dart. And of course although a lot of people like to deny it, at school and work and leisure all standards rise or fall according to the human material that is supplied, and so everything is stupid-iated. Automated, but not really working well. Personally, I’m partial to the talking vacuum cleaner robot that keeps banging into the wall and intoning helpfully over and over, “your floor is now clean…your floor is now clean…” Hint: It is’t. This represents, to me, a beautiful capturing of the average telephone IVR (Interactive Voice Response). Who hasn’t had to endure the frustration of trying to explain to a cheerful and chipper computer voice that something isn’t right with the way your problem was handled, when the computer knows better?

In fact, I’ve been only half-joking that the big flaw of the movie is the 500 years. Probably should’ve made that something more like 60 or 70 there, Mr. Judge. It’s not like we’re stuck in first-gear on this process, after all. Signs all over the place indicate that we’ve got quite a bit of momentum built up.

For example — one of the supporting characters in the movie is an idiot lawyer who got his law degree at Costco. Yeah, that’s right. And look what we have here

While finals are in full swing, and everyone is studying hard, I thought I’d throw this piece of not-quite-shocking research out there: Students like easy classes.

According to a recent study when students at Cornell University were given the median grades for courses, they tended to choose the seemingly easier ones. Who would have thought that?

Every semester, Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences publishes the median grades of similar clases.

It’s been going on for about 10 years with the rationale being that students would get a better idea of their performance if they knew just how difficult the class was.

While that might be the case, students are cherry picking the courses with higher median grades and professors that give higher grades are the more popular.

That might backfire soon if the school actually puts those median grades on the student’s transcript, showing employers just how difficult the course was.

We’re supposed to be putting together a smarter and more intelligent society because there are more young people running around with diplomas and degrees. And sertifikayshuns…don’t forget the sertifikayshuns. But who’s minding the store? What do all these sheepskins mean? Something? Anything at all? By what process do we make sure of this? Is anyone anywhere willing to put great confidence in such a process? Is any greater confidence put into the assertion that a toe-head with a sheepskin is smarter than a toe-head who hasn’t got one? If so, why?

Meanwhile, the problems we confront today don’t seem to be the same problems, not even close, to the ones confronted by our grandparents. We don’t have Nazis firing machine guns at us from Omaha Beach, or a Great Depression with shanty-towns and soup lines. Instead…we have…

Calif. to recalculate release dates for up to 33,000 inmates
As many as 33,000 California inmates could be freed early, after the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation recalculates their release dates based on recent court decisions, officials say.

But a union that represents prison records clerks says a shortage of workers is stalling the state’s recalculation. Service International Employees Union Local 1000 planned to sue the department Wednesday, alleging the delay could be costing taxpayers millions of dollars as well as depriving convicts of their rights.

That’s right. We have a crisis of recalculation labor.

Why should I be surprised. My bill at Burger King comes to $4.78 and I hand the cashier a five dollar bill and three pennies, I’m standing there for another ten minutes.

The big problem with that story, in my mind, isn’t quite so much the dumbth — it’s the whining. I mean, read the whole story. You’ve got unions, you’ve got courts — the entire crisis is manufactured. You’ve got at least two situations, probably more, where someone in a position of authority decrees “minimal fairness requires X” — and then some massive bureaucratic leviathan struggles to achieve X, because without that everything is unfair, the authority said so.

Without that, the story and the associated crisis simply don’t exist.

Now, when did we ever vote on it that this makes some sense? Here, let’s try it on for size. You’re a clerk. I rob you. I take your thirty dollars and I shoot you dead. Jury convicts me and sends me to ten years…probation in five with good behavior. Judge says, crimes like this should be eight years instead. Or twelve years. Now we have to “recalculate” my release date.

Why is that? Suppose we just let me rot in there until my originally-scheduled release date. What is the worst-case scenario that results? What great crisis of unfairness erupts from that?

The article says it costs $43k to incarcerate a criminal for a year. Know what I’d like to see? I’d like to see a busybody study that figures out how many billions of dollars it costs California to have “fairness” re-defined so flippantly and so ritually by authority figures who purport to know what fairness is. Union authorities…judicial authorities…whatever. Just that phenomenon, and nothing more — how much does it cost us. I’ll bet we pass the trillion dollar mark on that a lot sooner than you might think.

Pre-Emptive Strikes

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

I hope the words of Neo-Neocon are considered, with great weight, by those with the authority to do something. Right now the best case scenario is that peace will somehow prevail, owing to factors that now & later defy explanation.

And I’ll have to explain to my grandkids why, in the years after the September 11 attacks, we got this misguided prevailing sentiment going that we can wish evil away by simply wishing it away. It’s going to strike them as mighty peculiar we fell for this old hippy-chestnut right after the worst attack ever carried out on American soil, and I don’t know how I’m going to explain that. The baby boom, I guess. The hippies grew up, and old, into elder-middle-age, that part of life where we think authority should be entrusted to people.

I can only hope there won’t be any grave consequences to this “non-pre-emption” policy in our history books by then.

Why is preserving the right to strike preemptively so important? Unfortunately, the invention of nuclear weapons has changed the nature of war by making a single nuclear strike potentially catastrophic. Atomic bombs have only been used once—technically, twice, but within a few days of each other and as part of the same strategic plan—and although they had the effect of ending World War II and probably preventing the far greater loss of life that would have ensued with an invasion of Japan, their use was certainly not preemptive. They came at the close of a war in which Japan had originally attacked us.

For a long time it was only the USSR and the US who were in the nuclear game. But now we are in a different era, one in which smaller nations—with an eschatological and ideological agenda that is less likely to be deterred by doctrines such as Mutually Assured Destruction—are going nuclear. This is where preemptive strikes can become a useful and perhaps necessary tool to have in the arsenal in order to prevent a possibly huge loss of innocent life from a single and unprovoked attack by such a nation. But because this situation is such a new one, we have not yet developed sensible standards by which to judge when it is not only permissible to act preemptively, but when it might be necessary to do so.

Non-pre-emption means the bad guy has to strike first. It means you wait for the next Pearl Harbor to happen. This is simple, solid logic. All you have to do is think on it awhile, and leave the marijuana alone while you’re doing your thinking. It’s pre-emptive strikes, or else…the first few battles, and probably the entire war, you just let your ass get kicked.

This is not a false-dilemma. There is no in-between.

Some days, I’d be fine with giving up the right to vote if I could just take all the hippies down with me.

Worst Liberal Bumper Stickers

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Some of these have been around for awhile, I’m glad someone finally pointed out the obvious.

“Live Simply So That Others May Simply Live” – The airheads with this little chestnut on their bumpers are confusing simple wordplay with incredible profundity. This bumper sticker sounds really deep until you realize that a.) it doesn’t mean a damn thing and b.) the dork in your office who asks if you’re workin’ hard or hardly workin’ is making an equally clever play on words.

The carbuncle this pops, has been festering for quite awhile and the pale gooey mess that erupts is pretty damn glorious. I enjoyed it immensely and I think you will too.

Things That Aren’t As Much Fun As You Thought

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

We just put this list together during lunch at work. I think there are two guys who could claim credit for the idea, and no single one of us could claim credit for all of the contents.

The theme has to do with all these things in life that seem fun when you’re not doing them YET. And after you start, you’re all like, “What was I thinking? This blows big chunks.”

1. Riding a horse
2. Taking a vacation in a car with your family
3. Opening your sun roof on a sunny spring/summer day
4. Making your own beer/wine (until you get out of the n00bie stage)
5. Paddleboats
6. Camping…in a month that has the letter “R” in it
7. Inviting the neighborhood kids over to your home for your kid’s birthday
8. Volunteering as a club president/secretary/treasurer
9. Shopping in the mall with your wife

There’s more, but we forgot to nominate a secretary so nobody wrote it down.

On the “I Can Believe It” Argument

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Two years ago, Doug Thompson fooled a bunch of fire-breathing lefties into thinking our next big national debate was going to be about whether the Constitution means anything. At all. He did this by peddling a charming chestnut about an outburst supposedly spewed by President Bush in a meeting.

Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act.

Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell shocked period immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caused enough anger that liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had joined forces with prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr to oppose renewal.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”

“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

I’ve talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution “a goddamned piece of paper.”

Those three people are supposedly public servants, but of course Doug Thompson could never ever reveal his sources. All right, fair enough — I can buy that officials will tell a reporter something “off the record.”

What I can’t buy, is a high ranking official of the executive branch closing his office door, whipping out his palm pilot or his Outlook contact list or his plain ol’ Rolodex or Yellow Pages, skimming past the Washington Post, and dialing up “Capitol Hill Blue” to spill the beans on what the boss just said. Because in the last month of ’05, there was substantial blog-buzz about “did he really say that?” Amid the dizzying hubbub of “well, I don’t need too much proof because that’s just part & parcel of how this administration works” (in which case…wherein lies the necessity of you saying that?), occasionally someone would show a little restraint and point out — hey, we’ve only heard this from one place, and that one place is Doug Thompson.

Sadly, that includes the first handful of commenters over at — of all places — DailyKOS.

Thompson wrote a follow-up piece called “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Ire.” It’s no longer there. But I found a copy of the first paragraph here.

The firestorm over Friday’s column quoting President George W. Bush’s obscene outburst over the Constitution continues to grow with our email box overflowing from outraged readers who think the President should be impeached along with pro-Bushites who want my head on a platter.

Let me see if I can construct the rest of it from memory. Thompson had a story about trying to follow up with his “three people present for the meeting that day.” For some reason, his leads had grown soft. And so he did the only sensible thing — he removed this follow-up piece after posting it, and left the original chestnut where you can find it today.

Are you following what I just described? He got hold of something second hand. He published it and became a legend on the innernets. A bazillion and one people knew the name “Capitol Hill Blue,” who had not heard it before. (If I remember right, I was one of those.) He said, hey, this actually has some legs — if I’ve been snookered on this thing, I’m really going to look like an ass. Better check it out. He documented his attempts to check it out. But he found nothing, or next to nothing. So he took down the chronicling of his attempt to check out the story…in it’s place is the message: This article has been removed from our database because the source could not be verified.

But the original story he could not check out is exactly where it’s always been. From the day it went up, all the way through to the very moment in which I type the sentence you’re reading now. The story that made Capitol Hill Blue famous…which nobody thinks really happened, once it comes time to bet some reputations on it. It is left whole, at it’s original address, undented and unscratched. Hey, no such thing as bad publicity, right?

I explore this story in order to point out something about human nature, and how we handle truth. This is a great example of circular reasoning. The leftist argument about why this story matters is, if I were to make up something about you calling the Constitution nuthin-but-a-g.d.-piece-o-paper, the sole source argument would do some damage because you probably don’t have a track record of disrespecting the Constitution. But when Doug Thompson did that with President Bush, we should all believe it, because that’s “how this administration operates” and “I don’t need much to convince me he said that.”

And President Bush’s disrespect of the Constitution needs no substantiation, of course. It is the stuff of legend. Just do a Google sometime and you’ll see how well-documented this disrespect is. Documented…with little tidbits…just like this one. Which, in turn, rest on Bush’s well-established disrespect of the Constitution.

See, the anecdote relies on the trend for what little credibility it has, and the trend relies on more anecdotes just like this one. A proves B and B proves A. In a universe in which this does anything to elucidate at all, you could sit in a big bucket and lift yourself by the handle.

Now if one is dissatisfied with simply exposing the threadbare composition of this assertion, and really wants to deal it a wallop, it turns out that is pretty easy too. President Bush’s disrespect of the Constitution is supposedly so thoroughly demonstrated, that a careless piece of gossip that would be that and nothing more if it were about anybody else, suddenly becomes believable, and even a piece of what might be called “news”, when it is about him. Alright. If that is the situation as it now exists, then, from where arises the necessity to discuss it at all? There’s really nothing to argue about then, is there? We all just “know” this thing about President Bush. Maybe he said it and maybe he didn’t — the fable that he said it, then, ends up being just butter masquerading as the toast.

JonesAnd therein lies my tie-in to the whole thing about Ms. Jones, former employee of Kellogg Brown Root.

A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job.

“Don’t plan on working back in Iraq. There won’t be a position here, and there won’t be a position in Houston,” Jones says she was told.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.

“It felt like prison,” says Jones, who told her story to ABC News as part of an upcoming “20/20” investigation. “I was upset; I was curled up in a ball on the bed; I just could not believe what had happened.”

Is she telling the truth? Maybe; maybe not. But it’s the same situation as President Bush calling the Constitution a goddamn piece of paper: There is no reason to show any skepticism toward it, until I start to take it seriously — at that point, there is an abundance of reasons. Let’s continue with the article first…

Finally, Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.

“I said, ‘Dad, I’ve been raped. I don’t know what to do. I’m in this container, and I’m not able to leave,'” she said. Her father called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.

“We contacted the State Department first,” Poe told, “and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen” — from her American employer.

Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones’ camp, where they rescued her from the container.

According to her lawsuit, Jones was raped by “several attackers who first drugged her, then repeatedly raped and injured her, both physically and emotionally.”

Jones told that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped “both vaginally and anally,” but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.

A spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security told he could not comment on the matter.

Over two years later, the Justice Department has brought no criminal charges in the matter. In fact, ABC News could not confirm any federal agency was investigating the case.

Legal experts say Jones’ alleged assailants will likely never face a judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law.

“It’s very troubling,” said Dean John Hutson of the Franklin Pierce Law Center. “The way the law presently stands, I would say that they don’t have, at least in the criminal system, the opportunity for justice.”

Congressman Poe says neither the departments of State nor Justice will give him answers on the status of the Jones investigation.

Asked what reasons the departments gave for the apparent slowness of the probes, Poe sounded frustrated.

“There are several, I think, their excuses, why the perpetrators haven’t been prosecuted,” Poe told ABC News. “But I think it is the responsibility of our government, the Justice Department and the State Department, when crimes occur against American citizens overseas in Iraq, contractors that are paid by the American public, that we pursue the criminal cases as best as we possibly can and that people are prosecuted.”

Since no criminal charges have been filed, the only other option, according to Hutson, is the civil system, which is the approach that Jones is trying now. But Jones’ former employer doesn’t want this case to see the inside of a civil courtroom.

KBR has moved for Jones’ claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom. It says her employment contract requires it.

In arbitration, there is no public record nor transcript of the proceedings, meaning that Jones’ claims would not be heard before a judge and jury. Rather, a private arbitrator would decide Jones’ case. In recent testimony before Congress, employment lawyer Cathy Ventrell-Monsees said that Halliburton won more than 80 percent of arbitration proceedings brought against it.

In his interview with ABC News, Rep. Poe said he sided with Jones.

“Air things out in a public forum of a courtroom,” said Rep. Poe. “That’s why we have courts in the United States.”

In her lawsuit, Jones’ lawyer, Todd Kelly, says KBR and Halliburton created a “boys will be boys” atmosphere at the company barracks which put her and other female employees at great risk.

“I think that men who are there believe that they live without laws,” said Kelly. “The last thing she should have expected was for her own people to turn on her.”

Halliburton, which has since divested itself of KBR, says it “is improperly named” in the suit.

In a statement, KBR said it was “instructed to cease” its own investigation by U.S. government authorities “because they were assuming sole responsibility for the criminal investigations.”

“The safety and security of all employees remains KBR’s top priority,” it said in a statement. “Our commitment in this regard is unwavering.”

Since the attacks, Jones has started a nonprofit foundation called the Jamie Leigh Foundation, which is dedicated to helping victims who were raped or sexually assaulted overseas while working for government contractors or other corporations.

“I want other women to know that it’s not their fault,” said Jones. “They can go against corporations that have treated them this way.” Jones said that any proceeds from the civil suit will go to her foundation.

“There needs to be a voice out there that really pushed for change,” she said. “I’d like to be that voice.”

If I were inclined to believe this story, and not only that but to persuade others to believe it, as many people as I could possibly contact — and believe me, there are people who look at this story exactly that way — I would be very troubled by the contents. They seem almost carefully designed to back the listener into a corner, in which the only option available is to believe the alleged victim and Congressman Poe. KBR has nothing, because the Government is assuming sole responsibility for criminal investigations. Alrighty, then isn’t someone just getting into a whole bushel of trouble for allowing the sexual assault kit to be handed over to KBR security personnel, who then “lost” it?

That a KBR spokesman is commenting at all, is an indication to me that something took place. But the rest of the story gives indications that bread crumbs should have been dropped here & there. The State Department, in effect, “raided” contractor facilities. Two years later, all we have is the word of the victim, along with the Congressman who got things rolling. Here’s what we get about that: “A spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security told he could not comment on the matter.” Can’t we have some more? Is that just him, or the actual Department? If it is the actual Department, what is the stated reason? National security? A phone was used to call family and let ’em know something was going on. There should be a record of that. It’s been two years.

What does “I want other women to know that it’s not their fault” mean? The situation of an epidemic, in which something between a bare plurality and an overwhelming glut of female contractors are being vaginally and anally raped and then locked up in trailers, is not raised anywhere else in the article — stem to stern, it is treated as an isolated case involving Ms. Jones alone.

But probably the most damning thing of all against the story is that there are NO names. None at all. Even where there clearly should be some. Who’s running that outfit, with the big portable trailer outside the offices with the rape victim locked up in it? Gosh, he should be in a lot of trouble, huh. What, is his name classified? What about the person who threatened her job? Is his name classified too?

Is this the way whistle-blowing works? You bravely step forward against these cowardly, corrupt white males who engineered and covered-up your sexual assault…but, in the name of national security, make sure their names are kept out of the limelight? Well, maybe so. That is not how it worked with Abu Ghraib, in which case, by the time I heard about it the DoD was already conducting it’s own investigation. That didn’t matter. Once the story broke I knew names, dates, who was responsible for what. The public had a right to know, and all that.

In this case, only half the cat seems to have been let out of the bag. A strategically-selected portion of the cat. Just enough to convince me one person said something was a certain way, and I should just…believe it. One person. Not just any person, but the person who was drugged-up on God-knows-what when all the excitement was taking place.

But here’s what I find really unsettling about this — the circular reasoning part of it. The linkage of that name “Halliburton” may be improper; they divested themselves of the KBR subsidiary this last spring. And while at the moment Ms. Jones was supposedly still locked in a trailer, they were still the parent company, nevertheless any four-year-old should be able to see why the H-word is really being tossed around. This has nothing to do with re-encapsulation of facts as they occurred. It has to do with visibility. “Halliburton” is virtually a household name, “KBR” is not. This is a Kellogg Brown Root matter involving KBR personnel and officials, assuming it happened as stated at all.

The anecdote is proven by the trend — the Halliburton trend, not the KBR trend, which would be more relevant but possesses far less name-recognition — and the trend is proven by anecdotes like this one. On whether there is a vast litany of chronicles about sexual assaults and other shenanigans being conducted within the KBR sphere, I’m not in a position to say one way or the other. But if there is such a thing, and this story is to ultimately rely on the circular-reasoning “nature of the beast” argument, then at the very least I would say that is what should be under discussion, not the notoriety achieved by former parent company Halliburton. If KBR does have such a track record, and it’s opened to inspection and provides all the substance I demand here — then, rightfully, there ought not be much urgency in discussing Ms. Jones’ case, ought there? It either sets a new low for KBR or it doesn’t. Can’t have it both ways.

I’m left with something pretty disturbing. Something almost certainly happened, probably to Ms. Jones. It seems that she, Congressman Poe, and the reporters contacted have been frustrated trying to figure out where this government investigation is going, and decided to appeal to Vox Populi. Rabble-rousing was the only way to get some satisfaction here. I say, if that is the case then let’s give them what they want. We should, at the very least, have an understanding of who is in charge of such an investigation.

It’s mighty suspicious, in my eyes, that we don’t at least have that. Our government isn’t supposed to be that opaque. But if we’re going to storm the capitol with pitchforks and torches, I think we should keep in mind what it is we don’t know. This is a situation in which an investigation is not simply a formality — we really don’t know what happened, or for that matter if anything did.

I Made a New Word IX

Monday, December 10th, 2007

ca∙boo∙si∙fy (v.):

To kill off a designated individual, demographic class, business endeavor or political ideology, slowly, by sequentializing it behind a bunch of other trivial stuff and ahead of absolutely nothing.

CabooseIn such a strategy, the plausible deniability involved is just as important as the eventual outcome. The tactics are achieved incrementally. On any occasion where it is seen that the target requires (or may require) a resource, something else is argued to be in conflict with that resource and, for one nagging reason or another, sporting a superior claim to the resource.

The caboosifier is identified easily but only to those who take the time to diligently inspect. He is the one who consistently argues the designated target should take a back seat to other things, and never a front seat to anything. But if he confines his strategy to caboosification, and never actively attacks the target, to those who only observe the situation casually the entire situation is undetected and therefore non-existent. He may even seem, with only a cursory review of events, to cosmetically support the thing he seeks to kill off.

A short list follows of things modern America has seen “caboosified” in modern history, including those that have been starved to the point of demise, and those that have only been nudged in that direction.

1. Men, masculinity, venues of entertainment men like
2. Cancer research
3. Guns, gun rights, the right/obligation to defend one’s self and one’s family
4. War on Terror and the memory of the September 11 attacks
5. Boy Scouts
6. Stay-at-home Moms
7. Belief in God, monotheistic rituals, Christianity, Christmas
8. Talk radio, blogging, any medium of communication that combines ideological independence with potential for reaching masses
9. Capitalism, private property, feelings of individual achievement, personality in children, competitive games
10. The formation of entire industries, in the high-tech sector, in someone’s garage
11. Moonshots
12. …pretty much everything that, sometime in the 20th century, either gave America the building blocks to become, or entrenched America’s reputation as, a nation that kicks ass.

It should be noted that with a few statistically-insignificant exceptions, everybody who has done their bit to weaken the above items and bring them closer to extinction, has been left in a position to say they never intended to do such a thing. And who is to say they are wrong? Caboosification, ultimately, is the coupling of homicide with deniability, simply by taking things slow. It is inherently cowardly and craven.

Inspired by yesterday’s rant.

NBC Lawyer Who Nixed Troop Ad Gave to Democrats

Monday, December 10th, 2007

…and generously.

The NBC lawyer who refused to allow a non-profit group to air an advertisement thanking American troops for their service has donated at least $45,000 to a host of Congressional Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York Senator Hillary Clinton and the campaign committees of House and Senate Democrats, research by the Majority Accountability Project ( has found.

According to a Fox News report, Richard Cotton, the general counsel for NBC/Universal, was one of two network officials who decided not to sell ad time to Freedom’s Watch, which describes itself as “a nonpartisan movement dedicated to preserving, protecting, and defending conservative principles and promoting a conservative agenda.”

For those who don’t know what the hoo-hah is about, it concerns ads by Freedom’s Watch. Ooh, oh so nitty-gritty, inflammatory, highly politicized ads, like these…

Controversial? Unfit for prime time? Form your own opinion. I’ve formed mine.

I’d sure like an explanation from someone about the times in which we live. Supposedly “everybody supports the troops,” but it’s clear to me this isn’t true, because supporting the troops is indeed controversial and political. Or it at least becomes that, once the rubber meets the road. People are decidedly against it, and when you’re in the public eye you’re supposed to respect their wishes — at risk of the now-ritually-monotonous career suicide, I would have to presume — without explicitly acknowledging that opposing the troops, or at least opposing those who support the troops, is precisely what their wishes entail.

Thing I Know #97. There is always someone who believes what I’ve been told “nobody believes,” and there is always someone who contests what I’ve been told “everybody agrees.” Quite a few of both, actually.

Welcome to the pitfalls of the culturally prevailing viewpoint. It can embrace, support and promote — with gusto — ideas that are so repugnant, so out-of-step with reality, and so malicious, that no voice-box belonging to an individual with a name would dare give such ideas utterance.

H/T: Malkin.

More of a Tightass Than Me

Monday, December 10th, 2007

See all you left-wing freaks, I’m not such a hard-hearted jackass after all. John C. Dvorak has some words about the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) thing, and they’re not kind. Throughout his blistering screed against OLPC, I’m relating to his words only tangentially…sort of “on the fence,” you might say. My conflict is that from what I’ve seen, real technological progress follows when the tools are scattered to the four winds, rather than hoarded within an elitist cloister. Egalitarianism — I’m fer it. My own beginnings were pretty humble, so I figured I’d be a hypocrite if I were again’ it.

But then he comes to this…

Every time I bring up this complaint to my Silicon Valley pals—usually as we race down I-280 in their newest Mercedes-Benz S Class sedan while listening to their downloaded music from their iPod to the car’s custom stereo—I get flak. They tell me, “It’s a start. Computers will save the world from poverty. You are just jealous you didn’t think of the idea.”

Yeah, that’s it. I’m jealous.

Ooh, I think we’ve all run into that one from time to time. I mean, all of us except those who are on the latest bandwagon all the time.

And then he goes on, into this segment which I found to be delicious…

We see an incredible deer-in-the-headlights Leslie Stahl puff piece about the device on 60 Minutes. No one says it’s a crock. Instead, only the minutiae of implementation and whether Intel should be allowed to make a similar machine are questioned. During the show, Stahl makes the idiotic claim that this is the first laptop in history on which you can read the screen in broad daylight. So much for fact checking. Then there is a tremendous push to get the public to take part in the “Give One, Get One” promotion. “I want one!” says a cohort of mine in a podcast. Apparently, he is going to toss his Mac PowerBook and use this. Who is he kidding?

Curious, isn’t it, how often we are caught saying crap that has not so much as a corn-kernel of truth in it, just for the sake of getting along with others.