Archive for January, 2008

Best Sentence XXII

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

The BSIHORL (Best Sentence I’ve Heard or Read Lately) award is given posthumously to Richard Feynman, about whom we learn via Little Green Footballs:

I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.

Reflections on the Death Penalty

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Steve H. Graham over at Hog On Ice is not fond of Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit.

It amazes me that anyone reads that site. If you go to LGF, you get information on the Middle East, plus a hearty dose of comforting racism from the commenters. If you go to Malkin’s site, you get very interesting information about sensational stories, plus a little borderline hysteria. But if you go to Instapundit, you get boring links reflecting the boring personality of the person who chose them, plus desperate links intended to prop up Pajamas Media.
You can read Instapundit all year, never see an original or interesting thought, never laugh, and never learn anything about the man’s feelings. It’s like reading the instructions for a toaster. “TOM MAGUIRE SAYS to use the left slot when toasting only one slice of bread. More here.” I still have no idea who Tom Maguire is. I don’t know if he still gets links. I can’t remember the last time I read Instapundit without being prompted by somebody else.

Ah…well, different strokes for different folks. There’s “linker” blogs and “thinker” blogs. Hog writes a bunch of stuff…as do I. We’re the thinkers. Reynolds is a linker. In any given nugget-sized Instapundit post, the link is the point.

What’s the problem? Obviously, I agree with Graham about how to put up a blog, but I see it as a matter of personal taste.

But his complaint does have some merit. I’ll have to admit, sometimes a great deal of time does pass by before I go to Instapundit. It’s a little like watching a cartoon with a coyote and a roadrunner (the best kind) — with no music.

Another observation by Graham, is that he thinks Mike Nifong is a great argument, all by himself, against the death penalty. I find it tough to disagree.

People are surprised when I say I no longer support the death penalty. Here is my explanation: Mike Nifong.

Look at what he did, and then tell me you’re positive every inmate on death row is guilty. How many Nifongs have succeeded where this one failed? Now that we have the ability to replicate and analyze DNA, we have disturbing evidence that the number may be very high.

This is the same argument, I think, that Locomotive Breath was making a few days ago. How do you ensure all those sentenced are guilty, knowing full well that absolute perfection in anything is contrary to the human condition?

But — this is the very thing that restores my determination that the death penalty should continue. Nothing in the human condition can ever be absolutely perfect. That includes our determination that, in the absence of a death penalty, murderers will always stay behind bars forever. “Forever” is based on a concept of perfection. So is “always.”

This is the part death penalty opponents consistently miss, it seems to me. Our crude, mortal, post-apple-snake condition has left us incapable of ensuring any kind of “always,” including the part that says conficted murderers are always guilty. If that is the case, then it must logically follow that we can’t ensure they’ll always stay locked up.

In other words, I think these particular death penalty opponents are trying to have it both ways.

Not In It For The Attention, Mind You… XV

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Can I be blamed for it — Keith Olbermann making a colossal ass out of himself one more time hardly seems to me to be an occasion for inspection anymore. And so my observations about Olby were buried in the comments section.

(Buck thought it difficult to see any value, whatsoever, in Mr. Olbermann and his form of infotainment; I was volunteering to our friend in New Mexico that perhaps Olbermann is useful as a diagnostic warning light, tattling to us about three things that are going horribly wrong in our society today.)

But Gerard didn’t agree with my decision to bury this in a thread. He gets the final word. This is the nature of blogging; it is not for the timid. Whoever thinks things need or deserve more publicity, wins the argument. If you’re the original author, and you have regrets about what you said, well that’s all on you.

It’s a good thing that doesn’t apply here.

The ever-popular (with me and discerning readers across the web, Morgan Freeberg knocks off world’s worst anchorclone, the logorrhea-infected and pale imitation of Bill O’Reilly, Keith Olbermann in a shoot from the hip comment at his site. A masterful bit of jazz. His three point program for Olbermann sinking:

One, we got a bunch of people walking around free as you & me, who think the word “courage” applies to some washed-up sportscaster who regularly babbles his five-minute clips of foolishness, in a sovereign state whose government guarantees nothing bad will ever happen to him because of it. No harm can come to him instigated by the government, and with very few exceptions, said government will be obligated to prevent any harm coming to him when instigated from elsewhere. I struggle to think of a safer thing anybody can do, anywhere, and still be called “courageous” for doing it.

Two, is his cookie cutter approach. He’s given props for, if one allows for synonyms and euphemisms, something that could be fairly encapsulated by the word “originality.” Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live, as I recall from memory, was far more original than Keith Olbermann. He could be dragged off by a previously-thought-instinct flying dinosaur at nine o’clock tonight, and with a modestly artistic touch to the recycling of his old clips at regular intervals thereafter, nobody would ever notice.

Three — partisanship. Naked partisanship. Waitaminnit … purely naked partisanship wouldn’t be such a big problem, because it wouldn’t involve such staggering cognitive dissonance. This is partisanship dressed in a tastelessly cut speedo. A “Bizzaro-Olbermann” could be manufactured that would hurl exactly the same brand of bile at well-known democrats, using exactly the same voice inflections. Keith’s most devoted fans would sneer and snark away at Bizzaro … you know it … and you also know, they’d never admit it, either in prospect or in retrospect.

See, I don’t think of Olbermann as the disease, I think of him as the symptom. None of the three of these things would be going on, in a healthy society. At least, they wouldn’t be so widespread.

The fans are to blame. Olbermann is to be credited with educating us how many people are bouncing around in this thing we call “life,” lacking even basic skills to discern fact from act, truth from fiction.

And so, when a bridge collapses due to a design flaw that was implemented forty years ago, it’s blamed on the controversial policies of a current administration, and the blaming achieves mobility and currency.

We’ve become a little too safe and comfortable. In a culture where the survival of the individual depends on cognitive wherewithal, we’d be a little bit less reckless.

The Ego

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Jonathan Brink has a post up about ego that really makes you think…and think hard.

When I was six I got my first trophy for playing soccer. It was the strangest feeling at the time. The shiny little trophy had this interesting effect on my soul. It felt good in a way that was validating. As I grew, I was naturally gifted in quickness and learned to gain the applause of my fellow classmates. Before school, everyone would gather up on the black top and challenge each other to see who was the fastest kid in school that day. 9 times out of 10 I won the race. The applause became like a drug, reminding me that I had done something worthwhile. I must be good right? The problem was that by lunch time, people had somehow forgotten their applause. The parade of validations had gone home, thus the need to prove myself again the next day.

And then life had a strange way of doing the same thing. Everything I participated in, school, sports, church, quickly constantly reminded me that applause came from accomplishment. If I got good grades my parents were pleased with me. If I scored goals, my friends were pleased with me. If I memorized verses and showed up on Sunday, my youth pastor was pleased with me. Even work was a matter of accomplishment. The better I did, the more applause and money I gained.

But over time the search for applause grew exhausting. The fickle crowd was never pleased enough. The bar somehow kept increasing the older I got. And to be honest it took a heavy toll on my soul. I felt like a horse with a carrot hanging in front of my face just beyond my grasp. No matter how hard I tried it could never reach it.

Great job, Mr. Brink, and well done. It takes a lot of insight to notice, even if you’ve been working it since childhood, the temporary nature of ego-polishing. If I saw everything exactly the same way you do, this wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.

January 16, 1919

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

ProhibitionProhibition went into effect.

Today, we have federal regulations against possessing, consuming or selling drugs. I think Ron Paul’s stated position is the most sensible one here…

…his stated position. This is true of all of Dr. Paul’s positions all across the board. As stated, they are very nearly always correct. The problem is that he’s crazy.

But the federal government has no role here.

Mind you, that isn’t what the cokeheads and the potheads and the meth-heads are screaming about when they whine away about the “war on drugs.” They don’t want the states to be put in charge of it, they want it to be legal. And if it isn’t legal, they want to be able to puff and snort away anyway, and if they can’t they feel their “civil liberties” have been trampled.

Getting back to the subject of alcohol —

It’s okay, potheads and cokeheads. It’s perfectly alright. Your hard drugs are illegal, alcohol is not. That is FINE. And no, I don’t have to explain why.

Prohibition on alcohol was doomed to failure from the very start.

Although womens’ suffrage would not take effect until the following year, this was undeniably a play on the emerging female vote. Which has obvious implications about what should be done next — but no, I am steadfastly opposed to revoking the female right to vote.

We have a lot of wonderful things because we have allowed women to do stuff. Sooner or later…maybe in my lifetime…we’ll have something wonderful because we allowed them to vote. Someday. Right now, it’s just JFK, Bill Clinton, Prohibition — and maybe Clinton’s wife, who knows. That’s the bad stuff. The gals are going to give us something good to even it all out. Real soon now.

So don’t revoke that suffrage.

A Bush Scandal…Collapses Under Its Own Weight

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Remember that bridge that fell apart because George Bush wasn’t providing enough funding to the infrastructure?

Yeah that’s okay…you probably didn’t have much faith in it in the first place did you.

Investigators said that the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, which collapsed into the Mississippi River on Aug. 1, killing 13, came down because of a flaw in its design.

The designers had specified a metal plate that was too thin to serve as a junction of several girders, investigators say.

The bridge was designed in the 1960s and lasted 40 years. But like most other bridges, it gradually gained weight during that period, as workers installed concrete structures to separate eastbound and westbound lanes and made other changes, adding strain to the weak spot. At the time of the collapse, crews had brought tons of equipment and material onto the deck for a repair job.

The National Transportation Safety Board was to hold a news conference Tuesday to discuss its investigation.

The information released will be important to highway departments across the northern United States, which are planning their warm-weather inspection and repair programs. Usually they inspect for corrosion and age-related cracking, but that was not the problem in the Minneapolis collapse, investigators now say.

Flashback to five months ago

On Friday’s Countdown, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann charged that the “endless war and endless spending” had “crippled our ability to repair or just check our infrastructure,” as he hosted Air America’s Rachel Maddow in a discussion blaming the Minneapolis bridge collapse on Iraq war spending and unwillingness by conservatives to raise taxes. Olbermann quoted Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar’s charge of “messed up priorities” and New York Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s labeling of bridge collapse victims as “almost victims of war” because “perpetual war depletes the funds available to maintain our infrastructure.” Maddow charged that America is “paying this incredible deadly price for a brand of American conservatism that hates and demeans government.”

Wow, Keith. It’s a good thing you don’t “courageously speak truth to power,” as the saying goes, even more often. Because then you might really be making an ass out of yourself.

“There’s Something Really Disturbing About You”

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Yeah, I’d say creepy was the right word.

Dilbert Comic Strips

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

…some of the best ones.

Eco Warriors Are Biggest Polluters

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Read it and weep.

Geoff Wicken, the author of the report, said that people who claim to be environment friendly have some of the biggest carbon footprints because they are still hooked on flying abroad or driving their cars.

In contrast, their adherence to the green cause is mostly limited to small gestures, reports the Telegraph.

Such people are called eco-adopters, and they are most likely to be members of an environmental organisation.

They buy green products such as detergents, recycle and are devoted to green issues.

However, the survey of 25,000 people, conducted by the market research company Target Group Index, showed that eco-adopters are seven per cent more likely than the general population to take flights, and four per cent more likely to own a car.

HT: Boortz.

You realize the possibility this opens up?

It is now worthy of consideration that now — contrasted with, say, ten years ago — we’re chewing through more energy and associated resources on an everyday basis, even while basking in the glow of this wonderfully enlightened knowledge that we shouldn’t be.

No, I don’t think we’re cruising toward some ecological Armageddon. Although we’re well on our way to sort of an intellectual one. We’re going stark-raving crazy. A bunch of preachy Laurie Davids waggling their fingers at everybody else, hopping into Gulfstream jets and spewing away without a second thought. It’s not just a lifestyle for the uber-rich. It’s the way you’re supposed to do it now.

Drive a modest-size four-banger — or simply walk somewhere on foot — people look at you funny. Trust me on this. You’re supposed to drive something big. While bitching about the environment.

Just nucking futs.

Superman Gets Cozy With Spider Woman

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008


Pulling It Off

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

More penises in the news…

…and I’m gonna go ahead and run it. You know why? Because I’m so sick of talking about elections. If all that is happening in the world has to do with elections and penises, I’m gonna blog about penises. At this point, I’d rather form some comments about Barbra Streisand than about elections, and there’s nothing I like about writing about Barbra Streisand. Everything about her irritates me, even that missing “a”. But I’m really sick of elections.

I digress.

She tried to pull my (penis) off!

No tools involved? Yikes. Who’s attacking him, the bionic woman?

A Framingham woman angry with her boyfriend was arrested Monday on an assault charge.

Jussara DeResende, 37, apparently tried to pull her 24-year-old boyfriend’s penis off during a domestic dispute, said police spokesman Lt. Paul Shastany.
“She was jealous because she didn’t know who he was talking to, and she attacked him,” said Shastany. “She scratched him on the arms and the chest. … He said, ‘She tried to pull my (penis) off.’ ”

The man, who suffered some scratches, pushed her away and called police.

DeResende denied attacking her boyfriend.

“She said the argument was over money,” said Shastany. “She said she scratched him in self-defense, saying he was on top of her and she pushed him off.”

DeResende was charged with assault and battery.

Y’know…I just have this hunch that alcohol was involved.

And I’m thinking this is one of the many reasons that the domestic dispute, places way up high on the scale of calls that the typical cop would much rather not get.

“Don’t Take It Easy”

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

I have mixed feelings about this advertising/awareness campaign. Having gone through those “why is my child getting sick so often” years myself, there is certainly a need for more thinking out of the box. And I did have the distinct impression we were treating just the symptoms of something without getting to the underlying cause. Thank goodness it didn’t turn out to be what’s described here.

Nevertheless, I have to ask the following about this advertising campaign. Is this really appropriate? Or beneficial to anybody? I mean, check out those radio spots, especially #4, at the very end. The borderline-frantic mother can tell something is wrong, she can feel it in her bones. But she’s surrounded by the voices of all these clueless dolts, mostly the blissfully ignorant paleochauvinist male sawbones.

As a macho male dad guy, raised somewhat comically in an unnecessarily nineteenth-century environment, and in adulthood growing more and more concerned about this world into which I emerged probably 150 years too late, which in turn even now is becoming more and more pasteurized and sanitized and feminized…I must say I see a connection. It’s become unthinkable to allow kids to do things that kids my age did all the time — the wandering through the neighborhood in bare feet unsupervised, riding bicycles without helmets, and yes, eating dirt. Now, things are clean. Things are micro-clean.

And our kids have allergies and disorders like never before.

Almost as if they were designed to be confronted by little everyday beasties that they no longer have to face down, so that their little bodies aren’t allowed to grow the robustness that used to be commonplace.

He is usWhy, the peanut allergy thing seems to substantiate these concerns pretty solidly, all by itself. If you’re my age, 41, how many kids did you know in the third grade who had an allergy to peanuts? In all of K through 12 — how many times did you see that? Or even hear of it? And now…everyone knows someone who knows someone. Anything made with peanut products…anything made with machines that have come into contact with peanut stuff…has to be clearly called-out.

So our kids have all these weaknesses they did not have before. After we have made everything ultra ultra ultra extra safe, nonthreatening, soft, cuddly and — most of all — clean. Oh, so clean.

Hmmmmmm……naw, let’s just ignore that some more.

But getting back to the Jeffrey Modell Foundation. I think what they’re talking about is probably legitimate and there’s probably a genuine need to raise awareness about it. And I don’t doubt for a minute there are some doltish docs neglecting to run tests that they probably ought to think about running.

But these radio spots — especially toward the end of #4. Have any of the people making these spots, ever been parents? No — check that — have they ever been fathers? Fathers raising young children in the presence of borderline-hysterical moms, whose solution to every single malady that comes down the line is to go to the doctor and get a prescription for an antibiotic? Have they ever been in that position where you have to ask yourself “waitaminnit…I can’t remember ever having been put on an antibiotic once…and my kid’s been on six of them in the last two years, and I suspect the last two times were because the Mom messed up the dosage.”

At that point, it becomes a public health issue. Missing dosages of an antibiotic is not a trivial matter. That’s one of the reasons you have to go to a doctor to get put on one in the first place.

This is not a “battle of the sexes” thing. Moms have a lot to worry about. It’s to be expected that they mess up doses of things now and then. That is really the point I am making here — mothers are fallible. Nobody really has a serious thought to the contrary. That’s why these hysterical moms in the radio spots are being shushed up by the blissfully ignorant pleasant condescending male docs. There is logic in this.

And it is somewhat unhelpful when the motherly instinct is presented as a holy yardstick, trumping some universality of realizations dealing with reason, logic and fact. That is not what the motherly instinct is.

But you wouldn’t know it from listening to these. The smooth-talking, time-warped good-ol-boy doc breezily dismisses her concerns, and the mom’s voice fairly warbles “I don’t know — something’s WRONG!!” Chauvinist grandpa doc croaks out, “take it eeeeeaaasssy!” And the much wiser, stern, strong, self-assertive female narrator comes on and intones “DON’T take it easy!”

Sure, I agree in some isolated cases there might be a situation where that is a helpful message to have. But this isn’t really all about a message, it’s about an attitude. And I can promise you, that’s not a helpful attitude. When you’re in that chapter of life, the mom has about a hundred concerns every damn day, and she’s already not inclined to “take it easy” on any one of them. We dads do not need some mass-produced radio spot instructing the mom to get MORE hyped-out about these everyday things, steamrolling over anybody and everybody who might have justifiable reasons for urging calm. It’s just not needed.

And for the reasons stated above — it’s not so extravagant to suppose this kind of attitude might be the cause of these problems in the first place.

One other thing occurs to me. I have to ask, what kind of medical system do we have going on here when the best way to raise awareness about some previously-unrealized malady, is through the moms? I don’t pretend to know all about how that works. Maybe this really is the right approach. But think about the awful ramifications of that for a minute…why can’t this medical information be disseminated through the doctors, the way we expect it to be? If that’s ineffective, why do we even have doctors in the first place?

Never, Ever Send Ellie Pictures of…

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

…your tallywacker. One gathers the impression the phrase “that is, his ties to you” was a complete afterthought, kind of tacked on to the end only when the columnist considered possible liability issues involved…up until then, the confusion most likely to result, would’ve suited her just fine. Not a fan of photographed dingalings, that Ellie, nosiree.

Emailing pictures of penis a sign of immaturity


Q: My boyfriend of two years can’t stop chatting with women on the Internet. I’ve confronted him but he just keeps doing it even though I’ve told him how it makes me feel.

I know it’s wrong that check his MSN, but I can’t help it. He’s continually talking to one woman from his past and I found him sending pictures of his penis to her after we got together!

I want to tell him I know he’s still chatting with her but it hurts so much that even though I think it’s just Internet b.s., it really bothers me!

What to Do?

A: Cut him off – that is, his ties to you. You’ve tolerated his disrespect and immaturity too long. Penis pictures are not “bull.” They’re evidence of a childish guy who hasn’t any sense to know how stupid his behaviour reveals him to be. He’s crude and has nothing better to offer women – especially not to you. He’s showing no concern about your feelings or humiliation.

Dump him.

Acts of immaturity aside, I saw very little difference between the actions of the less-than-considerate boyfriend, and those of the less-than-considerate girlfriend described in the second letter. One might argue the possibility exists, hardly a peripheral one in terms of potential, that the situations might be identical. But oh boy, was the tone of the advice ever different.

Q: My girlfriend’s been acting cold to me. She’s very busy with school and projects. Whenever I see her, I insist on carrying her heavy bag sometimes and offer her hot drinks when it’s cold. She always rejects my offers.

Phone calls have been on the decline, probably because of strict parents on both sides.

However, I learned that she was talking to other boys. She acknowledged it and I then felt really sad. Our goodbyes were always the sweetest parts of our conversations, with promises to see each other the next day.

I couldn’t help but feel something was wrong when she said her mother was screaming and she had to go. She avoided me in school the next day.

I’ve discovered through others that she was feeling possessed by me and that I wasn’t giving her enough room to breathe. Yet we’d made a promise that we’d tell one another if we had any problems with each other.

I’ve sent her an email apologizing. No reply. I want to kill myself.

Shattered Heart

A: There are people who care about you far too much to lose you – Number 1 and 2 are your parents whose strictness comes from love and wanting to protect you from emotional involvements too intense for you to handle at this age.

You’ve put all your self-esteem into this young relationship, instead of realizing that you’ve got a lot to offer personally, and a full future ahead. Recognize that this girlfriend, though she may have been fine in the early stages, represents just the start of learning about relationships and how to handle them.

Your initial sadness is understandable because every relationship has its value, and both of you were sincere at the start. Yet, you both had to know it was unlikely to be a lasting union, given your age and stage in life.

Do not let depression take hold. Call your local distress centre listed in then Yellow Pages. Experienced people are available 24/7 and accustomed to talking to people who feel despondent. They can refer you to ongoing help and give you hope to go on.

If possible, talk to your parents or a trusted relative or community member for a perspective on all the good things ahead.

Advice columnists, in general, are truly amazing creatures. In terms of people who ought to be getting attention, they rank somewhere around that guy who keeps sending you e-mails because his boss/father/client died and he needs your checking account to transfer some money.


Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

EcotainerMmmmkay, you heard about it here first.

The Ecotainer is a trendy new container for hot beverages made out of corn starch.

It is covered with a distinctive logo. You know…so everybody across the room knows that’s what you’re using to hold your beverage.

I think it’s wonderful that we’re trying to be easier on the environment, but it’s an inherent contradiction to endeavor minute-to-minute to leave less of a mark on something, and at the same time, make sure people know that’s what you are doing. And this is why I have to shake my head and roll my eyes when I see efforts to protect the environment that are inextricably intertwined with marking onesself — putting all within eyesight, on notice, about these extraordinary steps you are taking.

Why isn’t it a plain white cup? Maybe a little less white than most, to save on whatever bleaching compounds. That’s what protecting the environment would look like, right?

It doesn’t quite ascend to the level of “Huh?” that I saw when I completed my last move. The power company wanted to know if I preferred…”clean” power…”green” power…something. No, I didn’t get to tap into a whole different grid, like you might think, but I would have gotten a cool sticker to put in my window.

No, I don’t mean to single out my power company. It does very little wrong and a lot of stuff right. This thing I mean to highlight is all-encompassing — that’s the point I want to make — “saving the environment,” in 2008, is never, ever, ever a quiet thing. We’ve become accustomed to the idea that it’s a fashion statement. We don’t expect it to be anything else.

So many people jibber-jabbering about “the en-vye-row-ment,” and how concerned they are about it…nobody retiring to some distant swamp planet to make root stew and wait around for Luke Skywalker to come crashing down in an X-wing.

I’m out of sync here, once again. When I ride my bike to work, I change my clothes, comb my hair, stash the bike. Even people who work close to me don’t realize it’s a “bike day” until I change again and go home. Apparently, I’m doing it wrong.

I need to get with it. In our world, every effort to be ecologically conscious, is a demand for attention. That, or it’s coupled with one.

Gosh, you know — I just don’t think that’s what saving the environment looks like.

The First Time I Ever Felt Sorry For Britney

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Just plain nutsI’ll make sure and bookmark it

Britney Spears To Spend A Month Without Her Kids

Britney Spears’ apparent no-show in court in Los Angeles on Monday has cost the troubled pop star dearly – she will go a month without seeing her two young sons.

Spears arrived at Los Angeles Superior Court for a crucial custody hearing four hours late and then reportedly refused to enter the courthouse. The singer left, only to return minutes later appearing briefly before an army of paparazzi and then speeding off again.

I think we just crossed the dividing line between nurture and nature here. There’s some gears stripped and some sprockets popped and some cotter pins sheared, but when the machinery gets just-so-bollywonkers you have to say, maybe it’s not a matter of having been a spoiled brat child-star — at some point, you have to say the material was flawed at the very beginning.

And it kind of makes an impression on me, as well, that I’m suddenly feeling sorry for KFed. And the boys. This is awful…you couldn’t wish such a situation on your very worst enemy.

Oh, and now for the uber-painful, reality-based, obvious stuff. I could very well be wrong about the “nature over nurture” stuff. The possibility exists, and it is not a remote one, that you can emerge from the womb perfectly healthy and whole and get this screwed up just-because. You can be estranged from reality through such an obdurate and sustained ordeal that is what passes for your “life,” that you can everlastingly lose your ability to deal with either reality, OR life.

There is a degree of likelihood involved in that. If that is the case, let the rest of us look well upon the lesson.

Salvage’s Frosting Diet

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Salvage is Canadian, but I’d like to make it clear at this time that there are other Canadians who are not like him. He’s been hanging around Rick’s blog ever since Zossima dropped out of it…which is interesting…giving us an almost-daily education about sarcasm. How it is open to abuse. How pure sarcasm, can be used to prop up just about any silly statement. Convincingly. Somewhat convincingly when coming from salvage…perhaps more convincingly when manipulated by someone more capable.

It’s worth keeping in mind, I think. Some folks are known to use sarcasm to decide anything and everything. They are strangers to genuine exchanges of ideas. They are the “Daily Show” generation — those who were brought up under the belief that when they were watching certain entertainment programs, they were watching “news.” Who is to blame them for thinking any idea worth pondering, should fit onto a bumper sticker or within a single lungful of air?

Sarcasm has its place. But in my view, that place is as a garnish. Or cake frosting. We got a lot of young people walking around, I see, who substitute that frosting in place of the cake, the sherbet, the Hors D’Oeuvres, the vegetables, and the entree.

Their “diet” is as far away from healthy as you can get. And at Brutally Honest, we get a reminder of this every time we watch salvage do his “dining.”

Well, yesterday salvage took a break from the bucket o’ frosting and compromised with his mommy to chow down on a hunk of muffin…or sugar cookie…or something…with lots of sarcastic frosting spread all over it, of course. Can’t take a break from it, you know — in no other context, can his absurd ideas enjoy even the appearance of legitimacy. At issue was the case of Ezra Levant’s case before the Human Rights Commission.

A complaint has been filed with Canada’s HRC, which has lately become notorious. The point of the complaint is a selection of those horribly offensive cartoons about the prophet Muhammed, of which Levant is the publisher.

Van der Leun put up the YouTube clips from Levant, and then Rick linked to Van der Leun. Rick wondered aloud how it could be justified that this story is ignored, by the very same folks who “want to trumpet the loss of civil rights at the hands of Bushitler and his co-chimp Cheney and other ‘neocons’.”

…and salvage jumped in to provide an answer to that.

Yes, the elimination of habeas corpus and the indefinite detention certainly compares to the undemocratic hell that is a Human Rights Commission hearing and there is no doubt that Ezra Levant will be sentenced to life in the Maple Syrup mines.

Actually the Human Rights Commission is just following their mandate, someone made a complaint and now they’re investigating it. Sometimes people make stupid complaints but they still have to be followed up.

And yes, this is a stupid one you can tell because it’s gotten you wingnuts all worked up which is always fun to watch.

So keep it up, and when the Commission finds there isn’t any grounds and it ends? I’m sure you and your wingnut buddies will talk about that with equal enthusiasm.

Nah, just kidding, you’ll just find another molehill to shriek your fear and loathing at.

It’s clear to me that salvage didn’t watch the clips — that, or if he did, the point went whistling at Mach 1 right over what passes for his noggin.

See, when the argument is made about President Bush’s “elimination of habeas corpus and the indefinite detention,” this actually resonates with fair-minded moderate folks such as myself, even if it doesn’t completely convince us, because that says what we have is a decision we are accustomed to having made in the public spotlight, with transparency, publicity, and oversight, suddenly made in what might be thought of as a “black box.” We find the argument compelling, even if we don’t find it altogether convincing for a number of reasons. Some of the problems have to do with the nature of military operations. We have “detainees” captured on the field of battle…should the detainees be released to our court system? Can it not be said that the rights of the detainees have been violated, if this does not come to pass?

The argument isn’t dismissed lightly. Folks like salvage, gorging themselves on the frosting of sarcasm, think it is — because it does not triumph. The grownups, who understand things like roughage and protein and vitamins, and therefore do not dine on frosting alone, have other things to consider…

…like, for example, what laws have these “detainees” broken? The most-liberal guy where I work came up with an interesting point: He’s opposed to releasing detainees into the legal system, because regardless of his feelings about pre-emptive military strikes, he certainly doesn’t want America to be empowered to go around the world arresting people. On that, he and I agree. And then there’s the matter of what a legal system does with prisoners, who are found to have not violated any laws (or, more to the point, cannot be proven to have violated any laws).

Those prisoners have to be released, right?

It just doesn’t seem to fit the situation. It would appear we have found the reason why some things are treated as legal issues, and other things aren’t. The legal process is all about “rights,” whereas in thousands of years of war, nobody with a respected viewpoint on the matter ever declared the day-to-day business of war to have much to do with rights.

Saying so, doesn’t make you a right-winger or a Bush-bot. It makes you a grownup. But as salvage helps to remind us, lot of the folks talking about this stuff now aren’t really grownups.

But getting back to the back-room nature of how the Bush administration has been dealing with the detainees. I think we can all agree, at the grownup dining table at least, that the detainees do have some rights — and that whatever these rights are, they ought to fall short of the rights needed to run wild & free and make trouble. And so even though we don’t bow to the wisdom of the frosting-kids, as reasonable adults we are bothered by the idea that people in authority are deciding things and their decisions are not open ones.

Salvage and the rest of the frosting-kids, fresh off of making that argument, and festering in their disappointment that this one argument didn’t determine the outcome…then indulge in the unbelievable, which I’m pretty sure is the point Rick was making. They look upon the closed-door proceedings of the HRC — not the hearings we are able to browse on YouTube, thanks to the uploading by the defendant himself, but the process by which these decisions are handed down — they understand the rubber is going to meet the road in whatever way it’s gonna. And this raises no red flags with them.

To state it a little more succinctly. It is in the nature of a military tribunal that oversight is limited — that’s supposed to be an awful thing. Oversight seems to be missing altogether from what the HRC does…it’s not immediately obvious how the HRC finds it necessary to function without it, but it’s missing anyway…and that’s perfectly alright?

It should be noted the care involved in choosing the word “limited.” It does not mean “non-existent.” Far from it. At least, that is the case where the military tribunals are concerned.

President George W. Bush has ordered that certain detainees imprisoned at the Naval base at Guantanamo Bay were to be tried by military commissions. This decision sparked controversy and litigation. On June 29, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court limited the power of the Bush administration to conduct military tribunals to suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay.

In December of 2006, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 was passed and authorized the establishment of military commissions subject to certain requirements and with a designated system of appealing those decisions. A military commission system addressing objections identified by the U.S. Supreme Court was then established by the Department of Defense. Litigation concerning the establishment of this system is ongoing. As of June 13, 2007, the appellate body in this military commission system had not yet been constituted.

Three cases had been commenced in the new system, as of June 13, 2007. One detainee, David Matthew Hicks plea bargained and was sent to Australia to serve a nine month sentence. Two case were dismissed without prejudice because the tribunal believed that the men charged had not been properly determined to be persons within the commission’s jurisdiction on June 4, 2007, and the military prosecutors asked the commission to reconsider that decision on June 8, 2007. One of the dismissed cases involved Omar Ahmed Khadr, who was captured at age 15 in Afghanistan after having killed a U.S. soldier with a grenade. The other dismissed case involved Salim Ahmed Hamdan who is alleged to have been Osama bin Laden’s driver and is the lead plaintiff in a key series of cases challenging the military commission system. The system is in limbo until the jurisdictional issues addressed in the early cases are resolved.

This has always bothered me about the “eliminating habeas corpus” argument. I remember all the crowing and champagne-glass-clinking when the Supreme Court decision was handed down. Oooh, we’re so wonderful and Bush sucks so much, because the Supreme Court showed him what-for. And then the process is reformed to accommodate the decision…and then is challenged anew…and heard in court some more.

That’s oversight. It’s there, or it isn’t. If you’re victorious in getting it installed, or using it, or exploiting it, and you want to shout from the highest hilltops that you had your victory against the Imperial Galactic Bush Administration and bask in your wonderful-ness — seems to me, the option to grumble about lack of that openness and oversight at some later time, has been jettisoned. You can’t have it both ways.

Okay now if the issue is comparing the military tribunal situation to the Human Rights Commission hearings…and it seems to be, because if I’m reading it right, Rick laid down a challenge and then cupcake-frosting-boy went and picked it up…it’s fair to ask: Does the HRC have as much transparency and oversight as this military tribunal process — which I’m told has none, but clearly does have plenty?

We’re not off to a good start here. I would cite as Exhibit A, Levant’s seventh clip, “What Was Your Intent?”

LEVANT: Why is that a relevant question?

MCGOVERN: Under section 31a, it talks about the intention…purpose…we like to get some background, as well.

LEVANT: Is it, you’d like to get some background? Or does this determine anything? We publish what we publish. The words speak for themselves. Are you saying that one answer is wrong and one answer is right? Is a certain answer contrary to law?


LEVANT: So if I were to say — hypothetically — that the purpose was to instill hatred, incite hatred, and to cause offense, are you saying that’s an acceptable answer?

MCGOVERN: I have to look at it in the context of all the information, and determine if it was indeed.

You have to admire the way Levant is handling this. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say he is Henry Rearden sprung to life, leaping straight out of the pages of Atlas Shrugged:

“I do not recognise this court’s right to try me.”


“I do not recognise this court’s right to try me.”

“But, Mr. Rearden, this is the legally appointed court to try this particular category of crime.”

“I do not recognise my action as a crime.”

“But you have admitted that you have broken our regulations controlling the sale of your Metal.”

“I do not recognise your right to control the sale of my Metal.”

“Is it necessary for me to point out that your recognition was not required?”

“No. I am fully aware of it and I am acting accordingly.”

He noted the stillness of the room. By the rules of the complicated pretence which all those people played for one another’s benefit, they should have considered his stand as incomprehensible folly; there should have been rustles of astonishment and derision; there were none; they sat still; they understood.

“Do you mean that you are refusing to obey the law?” asked the judge.

“No. I am complying with the law – to the letter. Your law holds that my life, my work and my property may be disposed of without my consent. Very well, you may now dispose of me without my participation in the matter. I will not play the part of defending myself, where no defence is possible, and I will not simulate the illusion of dealing with a tribunal of justice.”

“But, Mr. Rearden, the law provides specifically that you are to be given an opportunity to present your side of the case and to defend yourself.”

“A prisoner brought to trial can defend himself only if there is an objective principle of justice recognised by his judges, a principle upholding his rights, which they may not violate and which he can invoke. The law, by which you are trying me, holds that there are no principles, that I have no rights and that you may do with me whatever you please. Very well. Do it.”

“Mr. Rearden, the law which you are denouncing is based on the highest principle – the principle of the public good.”

“Who is the public? What does it hold as its good? There was a time when men believed that ‘the good’ was a concept to be defined by a code of moral values and that no man had the right to seek his good through the violation of the rights of another. If it is now believed that my fellow men may sacrifice me in any manner they please for the sake of whatever they deem to e their own good, if they believe that they may seize my property simply because they need it – well, so does any burglar. There is only this difference: the burglar does not ask me to sanction his act.”

A group of seats at the side of the courtroom was reserved for the prominent visitors who had come from New York to witness the trial. Dagny sat motionless and her face showed nothing but a solemn attention, the attention of listening with the knowledge that the flow of his words would determine the course of her life. Eddie Willers sat beside her. James Taggart had not come. Paul Larkin sat hunched forward, his face thrust out, pointed like an animal’s muzzle, sharpened by a look of fear now turning into malicious hatred. Mr. Mowen, who sat beside him, was a man of greater innocence and smaller understanding; his fear was of a simpler nature; he listened in bewildered indignation and he whispered to Larkin, “Good God, now he’s done it! Now he’ll convince the whole country that all businessmen are enemies of the public good!”

“Are we to understand,” asked the judge, “that you hold your own interests above the interests of the public?”

“I hold that such a question can never arise except in a society of cannibals.”

“What … do you mean?”

“I hold that there is no clash of interests among men who do not demand the unearned and do not practice human sacrifices.”

“Are we to understand that if the public deems it necessary to curtail your profits, you do not recognise its right to do so?”

“Why, yes, I do. The public may curtail my profits any time it wishes – by refusing to buy my product.”

“We are speaking of … other methods.”

“Any other method of curtailing profits is the method of looters – and I recognise it as such.”

“Mr. Rearden, this is hardly the way to defend yourself.”

“I said that I would not defend myself.”

“But this is unheard of! Do you realise the gravity of the charge against you?”

“I do not care to consider it.”

“Do you realise the possible consequences of your stand?”


“It is the opinion of this court that the facts presented by the prosecution seem to warrant no leniency. The penalty which this court has the power to impose on you is extremely severe.”

“Go ahead.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Impose it.”

The three judges looked at one another. Then their spokesman turned back to Rearden. “This is unprecedented,” he said.

“It is completely irregular,” said the second judge. “The law requires you submit to a plea in your own defence. Your only alternative is to state for the record that you throw yourself upon the mercy of the court.”

“I do not.”

“But you have to.”

“Do you mean that what you expect from me is some sort of voluntary action?”


“I volunteer nothing.”

“But the law demands that the defendant’s side be represented on the record.”

“Do you mean that you need my help to make this procedure legal?”

“Well, no … yes … that is, to complete the form.”

“I will not help you.”

The third and youngest judge, who had acted as prosecutor snapped impatiently, “This is ridiculous and unfair! Do you want to let it look as if a man of your prominence had been railroaded without a –” He cut himself off short. Somebody at the back of the courtroom emitted a long whistle.

“I want,” said Rearden gravely, “to let the nature of this procedure appear exactly for what it is. If you need my help to disguise it – I will not help you.”

“But we are giving you a chance to defend yourself – and it is you who are rejecting it.”

“I will not help you to pretend that I have a chance. I will not help you to preserve an appearance of righteousness where rights are not recognised. I will not help you to preserve an appearance of rationality by entering a debate in which a gun is the final argument. I will not help you to pretend that you are administering justice.”

“But the law compels you to volunteer a defence!”

There was laughter at the back of the courtroom.

“That is the flaw in your theory, gentlemen,” said Rearden gravely, “and I will not help you out of it. If you choose to deal with men by means of compulsion, do so. But you will discover that you need the voluntary co-operation of your victims, in many more ways than you can see at present. And your victims should discover that it is their own volition – which you cannot force – that makes you possible. I choose to be consistent and I will obey you in the manner you demand. Whatever you wish me to do, I will do it at the point of a gun. If you sentence me to jail, you will have to send armed men to carry me there – I will not volunteer to move. If you fine me, you will have to seize my property to collect the fine – I will not volunteer to pay it. If you believe that you have the right to force me – use your guns openly. I will not help you to disguise the nature of your action.”

I did a quick check at the Fallaci award nominee page to see if Levine was nominated, as I was. Negatori. He should’ve been, at least next year if not this one. I’ll make a point to see what I can do about that next cycle.

It seems to me, at the very least, what we have here is a “black box” process for producing an outcome. I think even McGovern would agree with that — and with that, what we have is a breakdown in the ability to ensure consistency across the cases that come up before the Human Rights Commission.

McGovern is being deliberately evasive on the matter of how intent factors into the decision. She’s being asked about this directly. She has no answer. This is as valid a delineation as any other, in my mind at least, between free and un-free societies. The authorities are going to meet in a back room someplace and decide what’s what. Will they do that with any kind of consistency? With “equal protection,” as we call it down here?

Who knows? Who cares?

With nothing to hold the authorities to consistency and the provision of equal protection, they can show whatever favoritism they want to. What is to stop them? What oversight? Nevermind oversight…what opportunity to inspect, to criticize?

But of course this is not Guantanamo. These are full-fledged citizens of the country within whose government the HRC functions — not unlawful combatants.

Rick has issued the challenge, and frosting-boy salvage has failed in trying to accept it. He has no answer. His competence in following the facts and forming reasoned opinions about them, has been called into question. That has failed, or else his impartiality has failed. Maybe both.

Let’s pause for a minute or two to ponder how many people just like this are walking around — as free as you & me — spouting their nonsense, with “undecideds” listening to them, taking them seriously. It’s not a pretty picture. We have a multi-national conglomerate of folks who worry, ostentatiously, about things that are supposed to be described by words like “liberty” and “freedom.” But they have no understanding, or very little, about what those words really mean. And so when freedom is subject to genuine abuse, it can take place right in front of their eyes. And they can’t see it.

The frosting that is sarcasm is simply a poor diet. It makes for an imbalanced diet. To consume it, and nothing else, remains a bad idea, even if a lot of other folks are doing it. And if your diet of thinking is imbalanced, you can’t think straight…which is a problem for real lovers of freedom, because freedom is maintained only by means of rigorous, healthy, balanced, critical thinking. Here endeth the lesson.

Endless Campaigning

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Election TagThe screenie to the left helps to illustrate, better than anything of which I can think, why I deplore our twenty-one-month campaign season.

This is why, when people complain that Fred Thompson “entered late,” I just roll my eyes. It’s not that I’m looking to deflect criticism from my guy Fred, and it isn’t that I think this is an empty complaint. It’s that I think it is a counterproductive complaint. Had Fred entered earlier than most, he would have promoted the longer campaign season…in the same way, by entering late, he helped to stand against it.

Well, who thinks the marathon campaign season is a good idea? Anybody? Bueller? Bue…ller…?

(Crickets chirping)

Yes, it is my blog and I can write down whatever I want to write down…I can make these things about any subject…I can tag ’em any way I want to. But the tagging is a manifestation of the substance, and the substance is a manifestation of what popped up that “needed” some discussin’. In the same way, this blog is a manifestation, to some degree, of what is on the minds of everybody else.


I think you get the idea. The picture attached is a picture of imbalance, and it is not local to here. We are, as a society, becoming imbalanced. Turing the twenty-one months, the upcoming election is a huge chunk of the stuff occupying our attention — I mean, in the last week and a half, what else have you thought about that didn’t have to do with the election?

I know what health looks like when I see it, and I know what the opposite of health looks like when I see it. This is not healthy. If there’s one thing that could inspire me to re-consider my choice for President, probably the most potent causative agent, would be someone talking seriously about how to restore a sense of normalcy to our electoral process.

Because this is bollywonkers nuts.

Brink for Obama

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Yesterday I discovered a blog more articulate and interesting than most, and worthy of being sent off to the sidebar. The way I discovered it was through the Sunday paper. Of course, there is one sure-fire way a blogger, or for that matter anybody else, can catch the attention of the newspaper culture — and that is to “grow” into hard-left positions after a lifetime spent being reasonable and moderately conservative.

Especially if you claim your new leftist set of values, is more enlightened than what came before. Just as the Wayward Son in the Book of Luke gets his huge party, you’ll get your huge attention…not that I think that’s what motivated this fellow, it’s simply the way things are…

Why I’m Voting For Obama

On Saturday night I was watching the Presidential debates and I made one of the more significant decisions of my life. I chose to go with Barack Obama. And believe me, this decision was not an easy one. It came the moment I joined the Support Obama page in my Facebook account. I remember the moment before pressing it and saying, “Do you know what you are doing?”

I’ve always been a lifelong Republican. I can’t honestly remember voting for a Democrat in my lifetime, although I’m not overtly political over the last ten years. I think much of this has to do with the home I grew up in, which was always Republican. We didn’t really have very many conversations about it. Its just the way it was, never questioned.

And I realize now that this decision has been a lifetime in coming. I can’t honestly say what it was that swayed me. I know that is had to do with growing up in the multicultural world of east side San Jose, CA. I know it had to do the frustrations I’ve had with Bush. I know it had to do with who Barack is. I know it has to do with the significance of his race as part of history. I know it has to do with my desire to take part in something that will change the world. Each of these reasons is significant.

For reasons that, to some, will be obvious — the comments that came in response to this ultimately demonstrated to our new blogger friend the need to put up a second post:

Why I’m Voting For Obama 2

Recently I was asked to explain my decision for why I was voting for Barack Obama. It seems I wasn’t articulate enough, which is cool given that this was a major decision and the post was a stream of thought. I really didn’t write that post for other people. It was more of an announcement to myself. But Matt and Rachel asked me to help him understand why I made that choice. So I’ll give it another shot.

Matt stated in the comments,

“You didn’t really give any real reasons why you’re voting for him. I think the reason is that Obama isn’t running a platform on issues as much as he is on emotion. If you compare Clinton’s website with Obama’s you’ll see that on every issue Clinton states her position on the issue and how she is going to implement the program to fulfill her position (and in many cases how she’s going to pay for the program). However, on Obama’s website, you’ll see no substantial concrete plans for the implementation of the programs that he wishes to put in place. He simply wants to play on the emotions of the voters. I’m not saying that Clinton is better, I actually support Ron Paul, I’m saying that at least I know she has a plan.”

I agree with what Matt appears be implying, to a certain extent. On paper, Clinton might be the better political candidate. She has more experience, is deeply connected in Washington circles, has created a plan that she will attempt to implement. She is very aware of the issues and wants to seek change. In fact if she were elected President, that moment would be another momentous occasion in American history, another glass ceiling broken.

I highly disagree that Obama has not clearly outlined his position on issues. As example. His website lists 19 different categories like this. But the issues are not what swayed me. I didn’t put all of the issues on a scale and weighed the pros and cons. It wasn’t simply an analytical choice for me. It’s deeper than that.

Jonathan Brink strikes me as bright and articulate (he seems to have misspelled Sen. Obama’s first name at the time the Sacramento Bee discovered him, and irritatingly, gone off and fixed it on his own before I could point it out).

At this point, I’m pretty sure one of the following two apply to Mr. Brink:

One, when his ideas are challenged, he writes his responses in such a way that his mood is represented as something more peevish and negative than it really is, which is something people do a LOT in the blog-world;

Two, like a lot of people who decide with emotion instead of intellect, he doesn’t like having it pointed out — and the thought of someone else, using reason to decide the same issue, gets him a little torqued.

I say one of those must apply because he’s taken, now, a lot of opportunities to explain why he’s supporting Barack Obama for President; in addition to the two posts linked above, there are comments underneath those. So far, everything I’ve seen deals in emotion — save for one reference to Obama’s website that we should go check.

See, when I hear these decisions are made out of intellect, the standard I have in mind is something like conservatives arguing about supply-side economics. Maybe that’s a poor example because ever since Reagan’s second term, the conservatives have done a thoroughly crappy job of getting the message out, and the catchphrases have been made derogatory through simple repetition. But the facts are on the side of supply-side economics, which — to the extent that matters practically — simply says, when a tax rate on something is 5% that tax policy has the potential, and even the likelihood, to raise more money than it would raise if it was 7.5%.

This argument doesn’t achieve very much in bumper-sticker-slogan land, but in the theater of ideas, it draws very high marks. For one thing, there is human nature — we tend to flock toward economic avenues that present us with a minimum of resistance, to the point where a “merchant” (or government) can make more money by giving us a better deal. If this were not true, nothing would ever go on sale, right? And then there is precedent for lowering a tax rate, and raising more money by doing so; lots and lots of precedent. And finally, there is the Laffer Curve which, at 100%, nosedives into the zero axis like a lawn dart. Now, that is just simple math, right? You charge 100% tax rate on a stream of income, nobody will do it, and you’ll raise nothing or next to nothing.

I don’t mean to argue supply-side economics here, I’m just trying to demonstrate what a solid argument looks like. Jonathan Brink — I think he himself would agree with this, although at this point I’m not sure — has presented arguments that are in a completely different class from this…

So when Barack comes along, he doesn’t just represent an opportunity to vote for change. We’ve heard enough of that word. We’re looking for someone who gets the problem, not the rhetoric. And the problem is that the American people are simply willing to accept the problem. Change is really hard. One of the significant things that has shown up for me is Barack’s willingness to tell the public that they have to join the change. He’s not interested in doing it for us.

See, the supply-side argument, cited as an example, talks about economic realities and hard numbers. This argument in favor of Obama is very heavy on mood and temperament, when it isn’t supposed to be.

And I’m having a lot of trouble finding the central pillar to this one person’s shift to Obama. It’s a little like nailing Jello to a tree. Someone like myself, or Matt, or “lc smith” will take a dissenting view based on what we think we’ve read, and the answer seems to consistently come back as some variation of “no, you have the wrong understanding of my motivations here.” Well, what’s the right one? I have to at least consider the possibility that Mr. Brink doesn’t really feel that good about his decision — not to the point where he can defend it, in the presence of persons not initially inclined to echo it. Some folks disagree with him about it, and simply coming into proximity with them, if it doesn’t immediately make him feel bad, defeats a feeling of euphoria and increased self-esteem he was supposed to be drawing out of this.

Well, there’s lots of different candidates at this time, and lots of different opinions. I’m certainly not going to condemn someone for voting for someone who isn’t getting my vote.

But Obama scares me in the same way John Kerry scared me. I don’t know what exactly he’s going to do after his hand comes off the Bible, I don’t think anybody else knows either, in fact, I have serious doubts that even Obama knows.

He’s a personality-driven candidate. A “rock star” candidate. His selling point is this feeling of euphoria. Nobody knows what he’s all about, anti-war silliness aside, and nobody seems to care. In a year, he might be the most powerful man in the world, and nobody can even begin to describe what he’s going to do.

To the extent you can glean some flavoring of what he’s all about, it seems to be a bundle of statements about this-or-that cultural item or value being better than that-or-some-other one. Ban racial profiling, rehabilitation over incarceration, etc. Hey, great arguments can be made for and against such things. But we aren’t inspecting those arguments, and for a guy who’s supposed to be working to bring us together and inspiring us to dig in and “sacrifice,” Obama is curiously disinterested in motivating us to do that inspecting. He seems to be a “leap but don’t look” candidate. And that is not a unifying candidate.

Update: With my dialog with Mr. Brink fresh in my mind, I was doing some more reading-over of the recent reasonable criticism by Becky toward the National Organization of Women…and that got me to thinking about NOW’s obsession with women and girls deciding, as individuals with choices to make, and the power to make those choices, to mop floors and scrub toilets as opposed to going out & getting a job. And that got me to thinking about a similar screed delivered up a couple months ago by cranky flog Feministing.

Here’s the problem consistent between those last two examples. A is a woman. B is a woman who is a feminist. A makes the decision to be a homemaker. B finds out about A’s decision. B blows her stack and scribbles down a bunch of acrimonious gibberish.

Fine by me.

But then…unbelievably, incredibly…B will declare herself…in prospect as well as in hindsight…to be a champion of individual choice.

This is lunacy. But it is running epidemic throughout our society now, and it is further foundation for my idea that Obama is a decidedly bad candidate — as are all candidates who draw their strength from feeding and channeling the mood in any given room, instead of from articulating their plans step-by-step and helping to organize those who would support those plans.

Obama pushes priorities, not plans. But it isn’t just Obama. All across the fruited plain, we have lots of folks energized into championing this system of values over that one. Not even “values”; I think the most precise word I could find, is “subcultures.” Twenty-somethings on snowboards, being superior to forty-somethings on skis. Yuppies driving enormous SUVs to evening showings of “An Inconvenient Truth,” being better than cranky right-wing guys like me that sneer at the Climate Change Scripture, driving 18-year-old cars that get 37 miles a gallon. Rock-n-roll being better than pop.

My point is, in 2008 we have this tendency to do such divisive things right after declaring ourselves to be all about “unity.” The problem has gotten so bad, that if I could put my finger on one single human desire that motivates us to participate in elections before & above all other motivations, that one motivation would have to have something to do with identifying differences between ourselves & other folks, and declaring ourselves the winner. So that the other guy has to convert to our way of doing things, or somehow go away.

We’ve become kind of a continent-wide…non-lethal…sort of soft, squishy, “soft jihad.”

We vote on things we all damn good ‘n well know oughtta be private things, as if they are public things.

I imagine we are perilously close to doing truly asinine things. Like voting in a national referendum that the official music genre ought to be Country Music instead of Jazz. Or vice-versa. We are in danger of, to summarize it, putting the identity politics thing into actual policy — and that would be an unprecedented disaster.

We’re losing our ability to choose chocolate ice cream over strawberry, look some other fellow in the eye who made the opposite choice for himself, and call him a friend. Our elections are becoming charades in which we aspire to triumph over that other fellow…mash his face into the ground, in some nebulous way nobody wants to define…but we all want to do the triumphing. This is my objection to Barack Obama — he stands for this, because he truly has spent his efforts standing for absolutely nothing else. Choosing something different as a matter of personal taste, giving a smile and a thumbs-up to the neighbor who chose differently, and going separate ways, remaining friends, seems to be an everyday gesture moving, slowly, one year at a time, out of our grasp.

Ron Paul Shoots Himself in the Foot

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Wow, Hume let him have a whole minute of rope for hanging himself.

It was bad enough to get a sympathetic wince out of me…and as far as I’m concerned, the more embarrassment for Congressman Paul, the better. But he earned so much humiliation for himself in this one moment, I kinda felt bad for the little nutjob.

Here’s what gets me about Congressman Paul. A big part of his constituency wants him to be in charge because of this feeling among many that our diplomatic channels are clogged up…we need to talk out our problems with our potential enemies…avoid conflicts…etc.

But — it wasn’t just because of Dr. Paul’s hearing problem that he got in trouble here. It was his mind. The wrinkles on his brain are chiseled in for monologue, and not for dialog. Someone asks him a question he doesn’t like, he just finds a way to re-direct the discussion back to his hot-button issues.

Which is true of any politician, I guess. But with Dr. Paul, it isn’t just stuff that would be creating problems for him. It’s anything at all. Start off with a discussion about penguins and Fred Flintstone…Ron Paul will find a way morph that conversation into something about a “rush to war.”

He simply can’t achieve command of the assortment of issues needed to participate in our electoral process, let alone be an object of it. And negotiating with someone? Seeing issues from the other person’s point of view? Ron Paul has something to do with all that? Eh…not seein’ it, sorry.

And I would say the same thing about his supporters. It’s impressive how much consistency they show. You’re for their guy…or else…you must be part of the old guard, keeping the system broken, probably because you’re on the take. Would you rather sleep with Ginger or Mary Ann? Who made a better Catwoman, Eartha Kitt or Julie Newmar? They don’t know…but…blah blah blah rush to war for oil constitution blah blah blah.

Bunch o’ damn one-trick ponies.

On Reaching Across The Aisle

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

We were having a Directive 10-289 discussion a year and a half ago, back when the Superman movie came out. I know, the Last Son of Krypton really doesn’t have much to do with Directive 10-289, but the leftists were coming over to my blog explicitly for the purpose of getting themselves pissed off, and then going back to their own spots to sound the alarm that The Hated Enemy needed to be put in his place, recruiting other leftists to come over here & show me what for. So that will tend to get the subject wandering…and then of course there’s me…not known for the bumper-sticker snippet, exactly.

You know what Directive 10-289 is, right? It’s a mythical regulation by Ayn Rand.

To understand what it is, you have to inspect what liberalism was back in 1957. Fortunately, this particular strand of liberalism is the one that says “aw, we can try some limited amounts of socialism…it’s okay…” and, changes in nomenclature notwithstanding, this strand of liberalism has been left unaltered since at least 1932. The Left said socialism is non-toxic when they were trying to get FDR elected — they are saying exactly that today — it has been their position every single hour in between.

Some of us believe socialism is not only toxic, but anathema to the original vision of this country, and consequently incompatible with the continued function of our society. From that point, we don’t have to call ourselves “Republicans” to be the enemies of The Left. We don’t have to call ourselves conservatives, or neo-cons, or be in favor of the invasion of Iraq, or say nasty things about Bill & Hill, or anything of the like. We are the enemy, if we articulate the simple belief that socialism is bad.

Or show any skepticism to it.

But don’t you dare call any of those leftists socialists.

Directive 10-289 simply takes socialism…be it bold enough to refer to itself by the S-word, or not…to its ultimate conclusion.

Point One: All workers, wage earners, and employees of any kind whatsoever shall henceforth be attached to their jobs and shall not leave nor be dismissed nor change employment, under penalty of a term in jail. The penalty shall be determined by the Unification Board, such board to be appointed by the Bureau Of Economic Planning and National Resources. All person reaching the age of twenty-one shall report to the Unification Board, which shall assign them to where, in its opinion, their services will best serve the interests of the nation.

Point Two: All industrial, commercial, manufacturing, and business establishments of any nature whatsoever shall henceforth remain in operation, and the owners of such establishments shall not quit, nor leave, nor retire, nor close, sell or transfer their business, under penalty of the nationalization of their establishment and of any or all their property.

Point Three: All patents and copyrights, pertaining to any devices, inventions, formulas, processes, and works of any nature whatsoever, shall be turned over to the nation as a patriotic emergency gift by means of Gift Certificates to be signed voluntarily by the owners of all such patents and copyrights. The Unification Board shall then license the use of such patents and copyrights to all applicants, equally and without discrimination, for the purpose of elimination monopolistic practices, discarding obsolete products and making the best available to the whole nation. No trademarks, brand names, or copyrighted titles shall be used. Every formerly patented product shall be known by a new name and sold by all manufacturers under the same name, such name to be selected by the Unification Board. All private trademarks and brand names are hereby abolished.

Point Four: No new devices, inventions, products, or goods of any nature whatsoever, not now on the market, shall be produced, invented, manufactured or sold after the date of this directive, The Office of patents and Copyrights is hereby suspended. (Added later in chapter: All “research departments, experimental laboratories, scientific foundations” will be closed except for government-operated facilities.)

Point Five: Every establishment, concern, corporation or person engaged in production of any nature whatsoever shall henceforth produce the same amount of goods per year as is, they or he produced during the Basic Year, no more or no less. The year is to known as the Basic or Yardstick Year is to be the year ending on the date of this directive. Over or under production shall be fined, such fines to be determined by the Unification board.

Point Six: Every person of any age, sex, class or income, shall henceforth spend the same amount of money on the purchase of goods per year as he or she spent during the Basic Year, no more and no less. Over or under purchasing shall be fined, such fines to be determined by the Unification Board.

Point Seven: All wages, prices, salaries, dividends, profits, interest rates and forms of income of any nature whatsoever, shall be frozen at their present figures, as of the date of this directive. (But taxes will be allowed to increase as needed for the public good)

Point Eight: All cases arising from and rules not specifically provided for in this directive, shall be settled and determined by the Unification Board, whose decisions shall be final.

Now, you got all that? You can’t change prices, you can’t hire, you can’t fire, you can’t retire, you have to buy exactly the same quantities next year that you bought this year, you can’t improve anything, you can’t invent.

Everything has to be static.

Is it fair to criticize socialism for what it ultimately might become? My position is, not only is this fair in the case of socialism, but unusually so. “A little dab ‘ll do ya,” effective a technique as it is in getting socialism sold in free societies, has always turned out to be false advertising — socialism and moderation go together like Captain Crunch and ketchup.

For those who’ve not tried that, that is to say “not at all.” Put that back in the pantry now.

But the point is, limited socialism doesn’t work. Oh, Year One and Year Two and Year Three it might hang together just fine, but you have to remember that ultimately, socialism is the quest for comfort through abstinence from the adventure all humans were designed to have. It is the extinguishing of life, so that trials and tribulations associated with life, can be avoided. Yes, socialists don’t like it described that way, but it’s true. Socialism is also ineffective in achieving that goal, if the life isn’t actually extinguished — in other words, where there is life, there is bound to be discomfort.

So year to year, the discomfort happens, and ultimately the folks in charge declare “Something Must Be Done.” So you get more of it. Some loose end was left flapping around, and so the authorities tape it down. You could do something before, and now you no longer can. Next year, it’ll be something else.

So you see, in the abstract form, Directive 10-289 really is accurate. Socialism as practiced in real life, minus limits, equals the eight clauses enumerated above. And the limits are false limits, cemented in place by nothing. They are jettisoned, or due to be jettisoned, sooner or later.

Is that sufficient scope creep? I think so. So on to the point I really wanted to make…

I’d like to zero in on what I think has a very good chance of being the most poignant comment ever entered into The Blog That Nobody Reads, since the day the very first post was put up…(the first post, interestingly enough, had to do with reaching across the aisle). It is entered on July 18, 2006, from user Lockjaw45:

I came here through the Antiidiotarian Rottweiler, and this has now become my favorite blog. It’s a breath of fresh air and a great relief from my current pursuit of a masters degree. The stuff I have to put up with from fellow students and professors! When these people talk about things closely related to their own expertice [sic] they argue constantly. When it comes to politics suddenly they all agree. I find that suspicious.

Now, I should add I know very little personally about this stuff, my higher-level education being limited to a few sessions of corporate accounting I took from a community college. But on the other hand, in my “job” life I’ve been toiling away, pretty much constantly, at jobs where you’re really supposed to have a bachelor’s degree, at the very least, and so I’ve been lucky enough to meet folks who have been put through the process.

I’m not going to sit here and type in stuff to the effect that I’m unimpressed with them…far from it. But at the same time, I’d be lying if I indicated any connection visible to me, between the beneficial talents they brought to the job, and what they picked up in the higher edjyoomakayshun. The connection simply has not been there. They came to work early in the morning when they clearly didn’t feel like it, they were confronted by challenges and resolved them with their people skills, they showed restraint in the e-mail system (most of the time) when they clearly would have preferred to tell someone to Kiss It. Is that what they learned in college? Could be…if you want to teach the next generation that stuff, is a tuition necessary? That doesn’t seem to be what parents have in mind when they put that fund together. It’s certainly not what I have in mind when I think about my little curtain-critter going to college. I think, like most other parents, about LEARNING HOW. Learning how, in college, seems to be more about social stuff, not “hard” stuff.

And working in IT for many years, I had to use “hard” technical skills and I got to watch others use theirs. Education is valuable for that, but never once did I gather the impression people learned this stuff from what we normally call “college.” This was the product of advanced server administration coursework…they picked it up in a “learning center,” courtesy of their own credit cards, and/or some generous employers…and, it came from no small amount of On-the-Job Training. For a dozen years, what I saw needing doing that people knew how to do, they knew through OJT. Come to think of it, that’s true of the eight years of project management I’ve done since then as well — there are massive quantities of energy being channeled into defining things like PMBOK and PDLC, but I’m always amused when a crisis comes along and these robustly-designed methodologies of project management end up being implemented kind of the same way a rechargeable drill is implemented when it’s used to pound a loose nail back into place.

To bottom-line what I’ve been noticing about higher-level education in twenty years: It doesn’t seem to function for the purpose of kiln-firing stronger bricks, quite so much as to produce bricks that will stick to the mortar better.

But that casts an interesting light on Lockjaw’s point, doesn’t it? Presuming higher education exists, not to fill minds with knowledge as is conventionally thought, but to inspire those minds to work together…to not use dirty words in the e-mail, to get out of bed when you don’t necessarily feel like it, to function smoothly in whatever culture the rest of us have decided to build, be it a modern Athens or an Idiocracy…it helps to explain what Lock has been seeing…and also, what Lock has been seeing, helps to explain it.

We want to get along with each other.

If you’re a San Francisco 49’ers fan, we get along with each other better when I’m also a 49’ers fan, than when I’m a Cowboys fan.

If we’re both 49’ers fans, we get along better when we talk about 49’ers. College exists to teach us how to do that.

And in my mind, that’s a great tragedy not so much because of the stuff that could be taught, that isn’t…but because, this is stuff people already know how to do when they don’t go to college. Construction guys know how to compare notes about The Big Game the next day. In fact, if they’re rooting for opposite football teams, they know how to talk smack to each other and remain close friends. Come to think of it, so do boys in the second- and third-grades.

And come to think on that a little bit harder, I’ve met many a college-boy who can’t do those things. You’re on his side of the fence, or he’ll pick up his marbles and go home.

As I was searching around The Blog That Nobody Reads for my nominee of the best comment that was ever entered into it, I was given cause to think about occasions where folks on The Left offer up examples of their willingness to compromise, how they reach across the aisle. Occasions where they start discussing points We, The Enemy have made that they think are worthy of respectful consideration…but always, they, The Leftists, should get credit for their ability to engage in this compromise. And I see a pattern emerge in that “compromise”:

Whatever agents contribute the non-Leftist part of that compromise, exist in name only. The ideas represent no compromise at all.

I’m talking about things like…Bill O’Reilly — deserves attention when he believes in global warming.

Alan Greenspan’s ideas — deserve consideration when he decries the wealth gap between the rich and the poor.

William F. Buckley’s words should find receptive ears — when he declares the invasion of Iraq to be a mistake.

And everybody should pay closer attention to Chuck Hagel — when he says it is the biggest mistake ever.

So if you ignore names and pay attention only to ideas, you see there is no compromise coming from that direction. The Left is interested in finding ways to work together with the opposition, when they see that opposition is possibly coming around to doing things their way. Short of that, there will be no peace pipe and there will be no white flag of truce.

On The Left, compromise is, in my recollection, consistently phony. But remember what I said about socialism; this is to be expected, because socialism cannot exist with any sort of genuine moderation. It is extremist by nature, even when it masquerades under a different name.

The Deafening Silence of Feminists

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Becky Makes Sense TodayBecky is on a tear about the National Organization of Women and their bitching about toys instead of…oh, I dunno…Becky suggests saying a few words about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto? Seems like a reasonable idea to us. But NOW disagrees, apparently…

‘Tis the season for abundant toy advertising and shopping, so naturally the NOW office has been abuzz about the ubiquitous “Rose Petal Cottage” TV commercials. If you haven’t seen these ads, count yourself lucky. Honestly, if I didn’t know better, I would think they were beamed in from 1955, via some lost satellite in space. Or maybe it’s a deeply subversive parody that a clever (and rich) band of feminists snuck onto the airwaves in heavy rotation.

According to the makers at Playskool, the Rose Petal Cottage is “a place where her dreams have room to grow.” And what might those dreams be? Well, baking muffins, arranging furniture and doing the dishes. The voiceover even declares that the toy house will “entertain her imagination” just before the little girl opens the miniature washing machine and says – I kid you not – “Let’s do laundry!”

Now, I’m not knocking the important work of housekeeping, but this commercial is aimed solely at females (there are two versions — one designed to entice little girls and one targeting their moms). Products like the Rose Petal Cottage and the marketing campaigns that accompany them perpetuate the notion that cooking and cleaning are women’s work, and girls might as well start getting used to that fact at an early age. C’mon Susie, this scrubbing and ironing look like fun!

Of course the message of the Rose Petal Cottage would not be complete without its flip side . . . the Tonka 3-in-1 Scoot n’ Scoop truck. This commercial states its theory right up front: “Boys. What can you say? They’re just built different!”

Why yes, National Organization of Hags, yes indeed they are! You’re just figuring this out? Well, sounds like you have aways to go before you’re convinced…forty years so far…maybe someday you’ll wake up.


Wow, when Becky makes sense, she really does make a lot of sense. A female former Prime Minister was assassinated by a band of weird crazy bearded men who are opposed to women doing…….ANYTHING. You know, in a sane world, you’d think that would get NOW’s attention.

Well, they’re on the other side of the fence on this question. Becky and I agree. I respectfully yield to the Girl in Short Shorts Talking About Whatever in the effort to figure out the NOW mind, because I’ve kind of given up on it.

Becky…love it when you make sense, doll. At least sixty percent of the time.

Flesh! Oh, No! XII

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Mayor in her UnderwearWhen I read that people wanted Carmen Kontur-Gronquist fired as the mayor of Arlington, OR because pictures were available of her posing in her underwear, I had to click the story open because I knew she’d look good in her underwear. And I was right.

Flaying and firing fat floozies for flashing flabby flesh, is…well, nobody ever seems to have that idea. We only go after the hotties like Mayor Carmen.

This is one of those truths that always seem to pan out, and everybody understands always will, even though the logic behind it is something nobody can explain. But if there’s a way to lay down some money, you can probably generate a livelihood from this. A picture of a girl in a bathing suit or underwear gets out and people want her head on a plate — you know she’s a cutie. Without seeing a single picture, you can guarantee it.

How come the fat porkers get away with it? The women are afraid of competition that’s a little bit too stiff? The men have fantasies that if a hot woman with a killer career can lose it, she’ll want to have sex with them?

Man, is that ever a logic-bubble I’d like to see popped. People get SO uppity about how “unprofessional” and “inappropriate” it is for women in certain positions to show a little skin…and it sounds like it makes sense. But deep down I think we all know it doesn’t, because the enforcement is inherently unequal. Ugly two-ton Tessies in professional positions, if they ever show some thigh or ass cheek or cleavage, can hang on to those positions just fine and nobody’s going to utter a peep of protest. Quot erat demonstrandum, dude.

Anyway, that’s just food for thought.

On to the subject at hand…

“It was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Ronnie Miller who is working to have the mayor recalled, if she won’t resign.

At the meeting Miller read a statement on behalf of “concerned citizens” that criticized the city leader’s handling of several issues, like local water rates. It also took dead aim at her MySpace page.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! We hate the way she handles our local water rates…and on top of that…there’s pictures of her in her knickers. I seen ’em!

The story doesn’t even mention (unless I missed it, which I guess is possible) another word about those local water rates. Seems to me to be lacking in detail, especially if it’s being presented here as a genuine concern. I mean, what? They’re too high? Too low? They flex too much?

Inquiring minds want to know! But anyway…back to the silly story…

“The recent actions of our elected mayor are an embarrassment to some of the citizens and portray an image we feel is inappropriate for an elected official. Placing provocative photos on the Internet, using an elected title, are unacceptable,” read the statement.

After listening to critics, the 42-year-old Kontur-Gronquist told them she “had no comment at this time.”

The mayor did not return messages left by ABC News. But in an interview with The East Oregonian newspaper she said she did not think there was anything wrong with her Internet photos.

“That’s my personal life. It has nothing to do with my mayor’s position,” said Kontur-Gronquist.

“I’m not going to change who I am. There’s a lot of officials that have a personal life, and you have people in this community who have nothing better to do than scrape up stuff like this.”

A little bit further down, we seem to be getting to the heart of the matter. And because it’s local in nature, I can’t attest to whether it really makes sense or not…but I can attest to it making more sense than the undie-photo. Although I suppose that’s a matter of opinion.

“This sounds like sour grapes over other issues. If you got it, flaunt it!” declared another reader.

Some suggested it is in fact another issue that is fueling the push for the mayor’s resignation.

The issue is not so much about lingerie, as it is about balls. Golf balls. A golf course to be more precise.

Voters approved funding of a municipal golf course in the last election. But the mayor who reportedly appointed herself “Golf Commissioner” is accused of significantly limiting access to the public course by reducing its hours of operation.

It’s pretty often nowadays for some self-loathing American to bitch and moan about how “sexually repressed” we are because we have a tendency to require ladies to wear both halves of their bathing suits when they swim on public beaches.

That’s kind of silly in the other direction — but there’s a kernel of truth to it, and I think we’re looking at it here. An image of a good looking lady in skimpy clothing, seems to bring out reactions from us that it ought not. Reactions that make so little sense, that no one solitary individual would dare show them. To get ’em, you need a mob.

I’m not a mob. If a woman’s going to show me her entire body, or most of it, I’d much rather she be a good-lookin’ one like Mayor Carmen. Oh, and if you’re ticked about water rates and golf courses, I think maybe you should direct your complaining in that direction. But that’s just me…the mobs say otherwise.

On Rescuing Beautiful Russian Gymnasts

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

I’m not altogether sure how this thing started. It seems, at one point, I told my son that back in the early 1980’s there was a law put in place that every well-known heroic figure on the large- or small-screen was obligated to, at some point, rescue a beautiful Russian gymnast. Which has a grain of truth to it, but later on he showed signs of having taken this too literally and that was a source of mild amusement. Nevertheless I had to get things back on track to reality and give up the facts supporting the kernel of truth in my tall tale.

That’s the way these things usually go…and this was a source of education for the whole household. Yes, it turns out, there was something of a “law.” A cultural edict.

I spun my tall tale out of the difficulty that is involved in explaining what was going on, to someone who was born well after it.

And what was going on, was that Nadia Comaneci‘s coaches had defected shortly after the 1980 Olympic games. Nadia herself did not. But her Soviet bosses were worried, and so they put up some goons to watch her 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. This all happened in plain sight of the rest of the world, which in turn could do nothing about it. So everyone was properly horrified.

In 1981, Comaneci participated in a gymnastics exhibition tour in the United States. During the tour, her coaches, Béla and Marta Károlyi, along with the Romanian team choreographer Geza Pozar, defected. Upon her return to Romania, Comaneci’s actions were strictly monitored. She was granted leave to attend the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles but was supervised for the entire trip. Aside from that journey, and a few select trips to Moscow and Cuba, Comaneci was forbidden to leave the country for any reason.” “Life…” she wrote in her autobiography, “took on a new bleakness.”

Well shortly after that, life took on a whole new bleakness for everyone else as well. Suddenly, beautiful Russian gymnasts were being rescued, kind of like bits of trash being swept up after a parade, from their evil Soviet overlords and creepy goons.

Bo and Luke Duke never rescued a Russian gymnast, but Coy and Vance certainly did. February 1983, 5th season, Episode 101.

Much to my surprise, it turns out Wonder Woman did. She rescued a bunch of athletes captured by a vicious criminal overlord to train for the Olympics — against their wills, naturally.

Buck Rogers got his in early, in February 1980. You know, even as a pre-teen, I was noticing the difficulty involved in envisioning this as a profitable side business for busy criminal masterminds…kidnapping athletes. Seems complicated.

James Bond sort of cavorted with a gymnast…which left the audience bemused, befuddled, and probably started Roger Moore’s real decline in this role. The great 007 passing up sex? And, you know, when we think about it for awhile, it seems ordering British nuclear submarines to sail off course by means of a stolen computer, doesn’t have an awful lot to do with gymnasts…

I’m still not sure about Charlie’s Angels, the Bionic Woman or the Incredible Hulk. I seem to recall finding a Knight Rider episode about this, but now the closest one I can find is Number 50, Season 3 which I’m quite sure isn’t it.

Tom Selleck’s comeback vehicle in 1989, was all about rescuing a beautiful Romanian gymnast from her spooky overlords.

And so for just shy of a decade, our western culture was locked into the mindset that the best & brightest we could find all the world over, would make wonderful sympathetic figures. Which in foresight, seems healthy — this would provide the inspiration for ordinary mortals, particularly young ones brought up in rustic conditions, to aspire toward godlike greatness, would it not? Alas, it didn’t work out that way. It migrated into a rather ugly television addiction…a television addiction in which gymnastic themes were thought to meld quite easily into other themes, dealing with superspies, supercars, good ol’ Georgia boys running moonshine for their uncle, an astronaut waking up after five centuries in suspended animation, and an Amazon princess who flies an invisible jet.

It can be explained to children, little green men, and other thinking beings who weren’t around to actually live through it. But only with great difficulty. And by “great” what I mean is…even if you are a highly skilled communicator dealing with a receptive frame-of-mind, you’re never going to quite get there. You kinda had to have been there.

We simply were not in a settled and collected frame of mind. We were nuts. Detached from reality. And we watched way too much television.

Ace on Ron Paul’s Weirdos

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Language AdvisoryAce is pissed off…the subject is a bunch of half-assed apologism in Reason magazine, plus some more half-assed apologism about Ron Paul’s…various issues

…some of which are known to have been a concern to us over here at The Blog That Nobody Reads.

Ace’s frustration, one senses, is not so much with the collection issues themselves, but with the effort to deflect it. He starts out with all his cool, and then in what has become his tradition, loses it a few paragraphs down. Wonderfully.

As I wrote previously, there’s a big difference between a real libertarian who joins the movement due to a belief in the power of freedom and someone using libertarianism as a flag of convenience to add respectability to retrograde and repugnant views. Ron Paul’s positions don’t indicate that he’s terribly interested in freedom so much as he’s interested in keeping the Jews from stealing his gold.

His goldbuggery? He’s trying to keep “international bankers” (wink, wink) from “manipulating” currencies to enrich themselves at the expense of normal, patriotic people. Normal, patriotic people who spin no dreidls and do not control the media. Savvy?

His foreign policy? He just wants to keep “the Jewish lobby” — “the most powerful lobby in America,” he says — from getting the US to fight more wars on behalf of Israel.

Oh, and he wants to stop fighting in the Middle East and stop supporting foreign countries. Let me just postulate, based on Ron Paul’s long record on such issues, that he’s chiefly interested in ceasing animosity with Israel’s enemies and most passionate about ending support of Israel. The other countries are just added for consistency. We can see what’s animating this little anti-semitic cunt.

Wait, it gets much, much better…

The idea that Ron Paul published this screedy, LaRouchian crap for twenty years and never once inquired into precisely what contents may lie therein is so transparently absurd I’m literally angry to read the supposed smarty-pants Poindexters at Reason attempting to spin this as plausible.

This was Ron Paul’s periodic manifesto to his like-minded political brethren.

This was a newsletter that cost money to produce and disseminate, particularly if we are to believe that Lew Rockwell spent so much of his free time writing anti-semitic and racist zingers under the pen name “Ron Paul.”

This most likely was the source of some amount of income for Ron Paul, as he claims he had some 100,000 subscribers at one point.

This was Ron Paul’s attempt to keep in the mind of possible future voters, and donors (Ron Paul loves him some donors!), should he return to Congress (as he ultimately did).

And you are trying to sell me on the idea that Ron Paul had no idea what published in this piece of shit rag, ever?

With all fairness to Congressman Paul, I’m among the undecideds about whether he’s Neo-Nazi down to the marrow of his bones. I don’t think so. I think he started out as a capital-L Libertarian…like me…you know, gummint shouldn’t be doing nuthin’ the Great Charter does not specifically empower the gummint to do. Maybe he tempered that flow of sanity with a kooky isolationist streak, which is where I parted company with him.

And then somewhere along the line, in some sequence of events leading up to this whole run-fer-Prez business, he came to realize an ugly truth. He realized that antisemitists, here as well as overseas, are exceptionally well-funded. And they just can’t get enough of him. It really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that whole “stop sending money to Israel” thing was the genesis of this unholy alliance.

ApplauseIf we simply sideline the whole deliberation about the good Congressman’s intentions — and this seems, to me, only fair — we’re left wondering about the consequences, which is his problem with unsavory bedfellows. And at that point, what we’re pondering is the obvious. At that point, we’ve yanked the discussion out of the realm in which there can be reasonable disagreement.

He’s got a problem.

He’s had it for awhile.

And I have not seen him do jack-shit about it.

This take-down was overdue. And very well done, Ace.

Kerry Endorses Obama

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Horse-face endorses platitude-dude.

My words stand as I have entered them at Rick’s place:

Shoulda known. They’re opposite sides of the same coin. Kerry takes both sides of every issue that comes along, Obama takes neither.

Someone Like Me

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

On the last day of 2007, I bitched and moaned about identity politics. The science of…or the instinct to…elevate figures to high office, based not on their true qualifications for that office, but based on their perceived resemblance to me, me, me, me, me, me, me and me.

If there is an extent to which this is justifiable, or even can be simply defended from criticism, I believe we have passed that point a long time ago. What still lies ahead has a lot more to do with extremism than moderation…God knows where it ends. Either over a cliff, or more innocuously, into a cul de sac. All these possibilities suggest turning ’round and heading back is a worthy idea.

It has certainly gotten more than a little bit silly.

Someone Like MeVia Bookworm, we learn about Jonah Goldberg’s thoughts on the issue. Maybe he reads The Blog That Nobody Reads.

What Americans really want when they look into a politician’s eyes is to see their own images reflected back, like in Narcissus’ pool. The presidency in particular has become the highest ground in the culture war. Americans want a candidate who validates them personally. “I’m voting for him because he’s a hunter like me.” “I’m backing her because she’s a woman too.” “I’m for that guy because he’s angry like me.” Such sentiments have colored the presidential contest for so long, they’ve saturated it like stain into wood.

Bookworm adds her own thoughts:

Years ago, I attended a Peter, Paul & Mary concert. Noel Paul did a semi-humorous anecdote that stuck with me. He commented on the titles of fluffy magazines at the supermarket checkout stand. They used to be things like Mademoiselle and Glamour and People. Then came Us. Self quickly followed. What next, he asked? A magazine entitled Me which, when opened, contains nothing but a shiny foil in which you can admire your reflection? Paul was prescient but he got the forum wrong. It wasn’t in the world of magazines that this was going to happen. In magazines, instead, we got to read about someone else admire her own wonderfulness: Oprah, Martha, Rosie. Nope, it turns out that where the “me” phenomenon hit was the world of politics, and if that doesn’t make the hairs on the back of your next stand up with horror, you’ve got nerves of steel.

Be they inspired by my original belly-aching, or not, Goldberg and Bookworm have added such worthy observations to this train of thought, and so eloquently, that I have nothing further to add.

Except one thing.

We’re reaching a high-water mark on this “identity politics” thing, in the Age of the Blogger. One of the things for which bloggers are criticized most reliably, I see, is the ability that others have of seeing what they have to say. In fact, the criticism for bloggers that is surplus beyond that, rings somewhat hollow — bloggers are not criticized for the content of their remarks, quite so much as for the visibility thereof.

It is supposed to be the ultimate egocentric exercise. Putting your opinions in a place where others can see them. Even though, I notice with some bemusement, just about everyone would shudder in fear for entirely decent reasons, at the thought of a society in which this was proscribed.

Therefore, I make the following observation about the times in which we seem to be living:

To inject your personality into an official occupying a high office with virtually unlimited power, specifically for the purpose of marginalizing others who are not like you, is entirely acceptable. To inject that same personality into words, that are simply to available to be read — optionally — by strangers, is an activity looked upon, by many if not most, as repugnant and loathsome.

Does that just about capture it?

If so, does it make sense to anyone?

And if so, could they kindly explain it to me?

On Snooping

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

I got this weird thing going on with my attitude toward the Constitution. I see it as a document built for the purpose of being cited; it’s got all them articles and sections and clauses and what-not, y’know? And so people say something shouldn’t be done because it creates problems with the Constitution — more often than not, I end up either watching this argument pass neatly over my little empty head, or else some kind of conflict ensues. Because I want to see the citation.

I see the document as dealing with a boundary…much like the boundary you draw around a baseball diamond or a tennis court. Those lines are just barely wide enough to be seen. Two or three inches wide, or so. That is how I see the Constitution. Its purpose is for knuckle-rapping. This is in-bounds…that is not in-bounds. If something is done that cannot be reconciled with the rules, then it ought to at least be possible to define where, in the rules, the transgression has occurred.

Is this asking too much?

In the last few years since you-know-what (hint: two odd numbers, the first number just below ten, the second number just above), it does seem to be asking way too much. And that is a great pity, because I’ll bet I’ve heard the word “Constitution” used ten or twenty times as numerously in the six years since that event, as I did in all the years before. If I were entirely unfamiliar with the document, judging it only by the jibber-jabber I’ve heard about it, I would imagine it to be a simple one-liner that could easily be printed on a small chewing-gum wrapper. Something to the effect that if you have to gather some facts in order to prosecute a crime, the crime shouldn’t count.

And even worse, listening to the mumbling in this handful of years, has left me with the impression that we have a lot of folks going through exactly that thought process. This guy on the radio…that friend at work…Keith Olbermann…they all seem so concerned about the “Constitution,” so surely they must have our interests at heart right? So you want to agree with them — and it takes so much effort to, y’know, actually open up the document and see what it says. So let’s just assume it says exactly that. Therefore, if this thing over here is against the Constitution, that thing over there must also be against it.

And so our prevailing sensibility ends up being that if you do something against the law, you have to do it right in front of a cop or else everyone is honor-bound to pretend you didn’t do it.

That seems awfully silly, so much so that nobody’s said it out loud just yet, and nobody is likely to say it out loud. But I think my specification is as good a predictor that someone is bound to jump up and say “that’s against the Constitution” as anything else. It certainly is more accurate than…say…the stuff that is actually written into the Constitution.

I was given cause to think about this when Jodi at Webloggin handed out the Mother of the Year award.

Jane Hambleton was snooping in her 19 year old son’s car when she found a bottle of booze under the front seat, promptly took the keys away, and put his car up for sale. Sounds great, right? That isn’t the best part. When she put the car up for sale she made a conscience decision to tell the potential buyers why they were selling the car; here is what the ad said:

OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don’t love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet.”

She not only received phone calls from people who were interested in the car but also from people who wanted to congratulate her. According to Hambleton, she has received over 70 phone calls from people saying what a super mom she is.

Unfortunately, in today’s world snooping parents are hard to come by. I have found that many parents have the “we can’t snoop” philosophy; citing that snooping “is an invasion of their children’s privacy”. I find it very refreshing to read about a mother who does have that attitude and has the attitude that she will do whatever it takes to keep her son safe.

Hats off to Jane Hambleton!

The article linked goes on to say the son is unhappy with the ad, partly because he’s got an alibi…the booze was left behind by a passenger. This doesn’t hold any sway with Mom, since two of the rules laid down when the car was first purchased were that there was to be no booze, and the car should always be locked.

I’m taking notes because these little episodes are ahead of me, beginning in about five years. I’ve been putting some serious thought into “no passengers.” Right now, I don’t see the social fabric as contributory to my son’s future car accidents…although, it should be noted, I imagine that is how those episodes start (oooh, now that li’l bubbins has a car, he can finally make some friends). Instead, I am most worried about his lack of comprehension of moving objects in the space around him.

Kids-n-kars is the one problem in our society that we have not been able to solve, or to even make any incremental effort at solving. The time comes for that first learner’s permit and then, God forbid, an actual driver’s license, and the parents and society must endure about two or three years of real danger. Curious that so little mitigation takes place over the generations, in an overly-pasteurized culture incandescently intolerant of the slightest residual danger from anything else.

We chalk it up to the need for the kids to learn responsibility. Simply upping the driving age would atrophy our youngest in their abilities to take on responsibility. That’s a pretty good argument, and I agree; my beef is that we seldom follow-up on it.

One car is used by a little tyke to learn responsibility, nine more cars are used by little tykes to turbocharge their social engines.

Which means — a bunch of things, none of ’em good. A passenger plus two or three in the back seat, nobody over age seventeen. Booze. Cell phones. Parties.

But getting back to the subject at hand…this complaint among “normal” parents, that snooping is an “invasion of privacy.” Let’s just leave alone the discussion over whether that’s a sensible opinion to have, or not, and simply accept the fact that it’s there. You know, there are a lot more parents practicing this, than not…which means there are a lot of crumb-crunchers growing up accustomed to the idea that they have this “privacy” and that it is — of course — unconditional. Our grown-ups, most of them by a large margin, think crimes must take place within eyesight of an actual cop, or else, said crimes must never have happened. Otherwise, it would be an invasion of this “privacy.”

So in childhood we think we can do anything we want, as long as nobody sees. We grow up with this expectation, we hang out with LOUD grown-ups who have the same expectation.

Does this sound to you like a society getting ready to come undone? Let’s postpone the argument about what privacy is, because I concede we should have some and I do think that’s a worthy discussion to have. But just concentrate on the matter at hand: What is the law, exactly? We’ve got this definition going where it doesn’t count for anything except in razor-thin circumstances. Crimes can’t be reconstructed from available evidence, they can’t be recorded, they can’t be intercepted electronically, they can’t be witnessed by anybody but a cop.

And even then, if the cop goes looking for X and he sees Y, both X and Y are illegal…if it isn’t X, again, it doesn’t count.

I’m actually glad we’re somewhat concerned about snooping. It just seems to me that our thinking about it is so sloppy and disorganized, what we’re actually engaged in here is a campaign to jettison laws of any kind — while pretending to be doing something else. Let’s face it, our definition of “privacy” has become so incredibly cockeyed that only complete anarchy will fulfill the expectations that truly prevail over the angriest and loudest of “privacy defenders.”

Is that not at least a worthy concern? I think so.

And if one accepts that it is, and wonders aloud what remedy we have for it, it’s a very simple one. Stop using “The Constitution” as a figure of speech. If something is supposed to have intruded into it, then let’s have a rational discussion about it — after someone has taken the time to cite book, chapter and verse. Otherwise, it’s just so much anarchist twaddle. And sorry, simply saying so doesn’t make me an advocate for Orwellian totalitarianism. Knowing your Constitution is a good thing.

ManBearPig: Follow the Money

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

ManBearPig is the argument that the planet is going to become unable to sustain life on an ongoing basis unless our lifestyles are sacrificed. It’s dressed up in a bunch of phony statements about “global warming” which eventually had to be dropped as a catchphrase a couple years ago when the globe was no longer warming, replaced with “climate change.”

There are two things that make this convincing.

One, the ManBearPig proponents like to frame the debate into something besides the central questions, which are: Has the case been made that our lifestyles are incompatible with the planet’s ability to sustain life in the future, and if so, to what extent? Instead, they frame it as — is the planet getting warmer? Or, has it been getting warmer? Can we come up with some data showing a locality has been getting warmer, so we can imply it’s a global phenomenon without stating that outright? Or not even that — but — can we find some pictures of polar bears that look like they’re having a tough time finding ice?

Two…it’s kind of tough to imagine what someone — anyone — has to gain from destroying a standard of living enjoyed by millions under false pretenses. We tend to rule that possibility out prematurely. Nobody has anything to gain, we figure, and so it’s either an honest mistake, or…Aiiiieeeggh!!! Globular wormening will kill us all!!!

I know, it sounds silly. But that’s the thought process. We think okay, Al Gore might have something to gain, but gosh that’s a lot of “scientists” who agree with him…and surely it’s revenue neutral for them, right?

Well, no it isn’t. But that’s a side-issue.

The big money is identified here, and it is by far the best job I have ever seen of describing what…well…what, frankly, we’ve done a pretty crappy job of getting anyone to discuss, let alone inspect, thus far.

Let’s examine what the Kyoto treaty on man-made or “anthropogenic” global warming (AGW) is and isn’t.

First, it’s an example of globalization, despite the fact many of its advocates claim to oppose globalization.

But it is not, primarily, an environmental treaty.

If it was, it would require the developing world to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as it does for a relative handful of industrialized nations, including Canada.

The lack of targets for the developing world reveals Kyoto as primarily a mechanism for redistributing wealth from the First World to the Third, unsurprising given its origins in the United Nations.

Then there’s Kyoto’s accounting tricks.

Russia is in compliance with Kyoto and has billions of dollars of “hot air” credits to sell to countries like Canada — not because of its environmental policies, but because the base year for Kyoto was deliberately set at 1990, just as the economy of the former Soviet Union was imploding, causing the shutdown of many GHG-producing industries. Similarly, Germany and the European Union benefit from the collapse of the East German economy.

I’d like to remind everybody of one thing here: This article should not have been necessary.

Just take a look at what we have been told. The world’s population is swelling and these people, or more precisely the infrastructures that must blossom to service their multiplying needs, are emitting greenhouse gases that threaten the environment…we’re bound to cross some point-of-no-return unless we mend our ways now…and that mending of ways should be burdened only upon developed nations, not on developing nations.

We wouldn’t do that.

Maybe if we had some reassurances that things would be brought under control, by expenditure of only a fraction of the carbon-curtailing effort that is globally possible. Maybe then, we’d let “developing nations” off the hook. But nobody has made any such reassurances. Folks — it’s so simple. If the bus is headed toward the cliff and nobody knows if the brakes are working, the argument is “well for heaven’s sake, try!!” — we’d give it our all.

But it’s only a tiny fraction of observers who actually follow this stuff, who understand this has never been part of what’s proposed. The ManBearPig movement has always been about making sure there’s less living going on…only in first-world nations.

I’d scribble down a few poison-pen words, shaking a virtual finger at people for the red flag this has somehow failed to raise. But that would be a chastisement dealing with logic. It’s useless to chastise people about logic, when there are problems with the learning upon which the logic is to be based. Most people simply don’t know.

ManBearPig is “a mechanism for redistributing wealth from the First World to the Third.” In a global economy…one in which national currencies are measured relative to each other.

That means when the British Pound is weaker, there are people here who get filthy stinking rich. Conversely, when the USD is weaker, there are people in the European Union who get rich. And now we have brand new commodities. Carbon credits. Pollution credits. Vouchers. Whatever you want to call them. This is bounty-hunting against industries; kill an industry, get a bounty.

But some people are not personally invested in any of this stuff. And they screech about the ManBearPig about as loud as anybody.

Those are the “useful idiots.” They’re scared — or once upon a time, they got scared and unfortunately, said something about it. Their egos will not allow them to change their minds, and so they get quite nasty when they see others showing the skepticism they themselves know they should have shown.

Can’t we all get together and agree that when the economy has become internationalized to the point where some people make money off destroying other people, perhaps things have gotten a little too sophisticated? Seems to me if we want to regulate anything at all, that’d be a great place to start…

Men May Like Chick Flicks If They Are Fictionalized

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Well, this is interesting. I expect in the final analysis, you’ll find it says a lot more about the research than about men.

Contrary to popular opinion, men too enjoy chick flicks i.e. movies that are of human interest. However, they are more likely to watch an emotional melodrama for entertainment if they were specifically told that these programmes are fictionalised, says a study.

The new study examined the emotional melodrama that shows the protagonists overcoming their challenges through sacrifice and bravery.

They found that women tend to prefer stories that seem to be true but men enjoyed stories more when they were explicitly told that the stories were imaginary.

I think it’s probably all in the definition. Devil’s in the details.

You can tell me ’til you’re blue in the face that this one is made-up…there’s no way I wanna see that steaming pile ever again.

And that goes for this too.

And speaking of Hugh Grant, I’ll watch this again, but only for that scene where he discovers his car has been booted.

I think if the research was conducted with a decent respect for reason, truth and fact, you’d eventually find men despise lecturing cloaked as entertainment and the ladies aren’t terribly fond of it either. And I think I speak for a lot of men when I say I don’t like to watch movies calculated to start fights in my household. That…and if for some reason there is a pressing urgency in handing down a decree one way or t’other, about whether men should start blubbering like little spoiled brats, the other guys and myself will take charge of that perplexing decision thankyewverymuch, while Hollyweird takes a vacation, or finds some other way to tell everybody what to be and how to act and how to live.

One other thing — I’ll bet I can find at least three or four ladies who like action films, for every guy who likes chick flicks. How about a study into that?

The Amazing Dennis Kucinich

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

I’ll post it, most of it, in total because sometimes even one mouse-click is too much to ask of people.

Read it today on Neal’s Nuze page, if you don’t read another thing. Because some of the “class envy” politicians, unlike Kucee, actually have a shot…and I don’t think they know any more than he does…

Kucinich has a long history in congress of trying to shift the tax burden away from low and middle income Americans onto the backs of the high-achievers. In 2003 he sponsored a law that would give a “refundable” tax credit to protect low and middle income people from having to pay Social Security or Payroll taxes. Kucinich, who is chairman of the “Progressive” (that means liberal) Caucus also proposed something he called a “tax dividend” for every man, woman and child. Well, almost every man, woman and child. He wanted to limit the dividends paid to the top 1% of income earners to only 1% of the total tax cut.

Well, there’s our clue. Kucinich doesn’t have any idea in the world how much of the total taxes are paid by the top one percent of income earners … so I asked him two questions:

1. What percentage of total income is earned by the top 1% of income earners?
2. What percentage of total federal income taxes are paid by the top 1% of income earners.

The answers were astounding. Congressman Dennis Kucinich thinks that the top 1% of income earners earns about 60% of all income, and he thinks that they pay about 15% of all income taxes. The fact is that the top 1% of all income earners pull in about 18% of all income and pay 38.8% of all income taxes.

This is an astounding level of ignorance on such an important statistic. You can excuse a mother of three loading up on Happy Meals for her porky little kids at a McDonalds for not knowing this .. .but a member of the Congress?