Archive for March, 2008

Go Hit Cassy

Monday, March 31st, 2008

There are three good reasons why you should go see her, and make her a regular part of your blog-rotation every single day.

First, this is how she looks in beachwear. A chipper cutie and a bathing beauty.

Second, her interview, one of six of decent-looking female conservative bloggers who’ve been known to date “online,” makes lots of sense and shows her to be a lady of refined taste and sensibilities. I know this, because her opinions match mine with every single syllable she uttered. Except fer, y’know…that thing where she’s a gal and I’m a guy. Other than that.

I tend not to date liberals, for a reason. Politics is so important to what I do and I follow it so much. I can’t respect a guy who’s liberal all that much because it makes me question his intelligence. So, that’s a big minus because I’m thinking how smart can this guy be if he thinks John Kerry is a great politician? (Laughs) If he thinks Barack Obama would be a great President, I think, gee, how bright could this guy be?

Third, she’s got a wonderful sense of humor. Of course you could have come across this at Jawa Report any time you wanted to, but I found it via her. This is just a sample of the goods she has on her site, every single week.

Fourth — do we need a fourth? — her values are really in the right place.

War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless mad and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
– John Stuart Mill

I’m not available, and if I was I’m pretty sure I’d be too old, fat and ugly. But guys, if you think she’s on the market — not saying she is, mind you, I’m just saying if — and you’re ready as well, and you really think you have something to offer, I think you should drop on by hat in hand, and introduce yourselves. She’s probably already otherwise occupied, since the entire male species isn’t completely wombat-rabies bollywonkers crazy just yet. So if she is, hang around for the “just friends” thing. Be respectful and polite. This is one classy lady, and we can use a few more like her.

Ms. Fiano, m’dear, you are a gem. Hope you’re around for the long haul.

Can’t We All Just Not Get Along?

Monday, March 31st, 2008

I’d like to think I’ve got awhile to wait before being lowered into the ground. So how I’m remembered, if at all, I’m in no position to say right now.

What if people just shirk their duties to job and to their own educations in my name?

I think I’d just as soon be forgotten. Poor Caesar.

In what has become an annual rite to honor the late civil rights leader Cesar Chavez – and protest the fact that his namesake holiday does not extend to schools – students at Hiram Johnson and Luther Burbank plan to walk out of classrooms Monday.

Organizers with affirmative action and immigrant rights groups have called for a school boycott, and said in a statement that students in Los Angeles, Oakland and Sacramento plan to march in honor of Chavez’s legacy.

“We demand the opportunity to celebrate who we are,” Hiram Johnson High School student Randy Lopez said in a statement. “Our schools could build up our pride and self-worth through events like celebrating the Chavez holiday, but this doesn’t happen. Instead our communities are treated invisible by our schools.”

Not “we celebrate”…but “we demand the opportunity to celebrate.” Injecting antagonism where it did not exist previously. How charming. And this is a high school student, a member of tomorrow’s generation.

Problem? Well, I guess my opinion isn’t that important. Let’s see what Caesar’s grandson has to say about it.

“The best way to honor Cesar Chavez is to make it a ‘day on’ – not a ‘day off,’” Anthony Chavez, grandson of Cesar Chavez told The Bee on Sunday. “We really want our students to be involved … there are still many things we need to work on.”

The younger Chavez, who will speak at Genevieve Didion School in Sacramento on Monday, said these days it is especially important for students to stay in school and maximize their education.

Words worth heeding, in my book. No matter, he’s sure to be shouted down.

Demanding. Confronting. Arguing. Walking-off. Meanwhile, I keep hearing how Caesar Chavez won all these rights for the “workers.” I hope his grandson prevails in this little difference of opinion that seems to be stirring in what passes for a “civil rights movement” of sorts…but if he does not…if the symbol of the earlier Chavez endures as a massive walk-off session and talk-back session and how-dare-you-this-or-that session and a general bitch-pitch…

…ultimately, we’d have to start remembering him as the guy who won a bunch of rights for non-workers. Call that “honoring his memory” if you want to. You don’t become a free people by finding excuses to skip class.

Forty Years Isn’t Enough — We’ll Make Sure

Monday, March 31st, 2008

That’s what the headline should have said.

The Sacramento Bee, in the Forum Section…just a couple pages away from where it asked its own readers if we needed to have a “dialog on race”…looked hopefully toward the future of racial reconciliation in a way that must’ve made sense to someone, somewhere. They did it by delving deep into the past, to dredge up the most offensive and appalling anecdotes of racial discrimination, as told by all the embittered old guys they could manage to track down. And just to make sure things stayed nasty someone went out and took black-and-white photos of the offended as they held signs.

Sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker had climbed into the back of one of the old garbage trucks to get out of the rain. But as the vehicle rumbled along, the hydraulic ram that compacted the trash started up on its own. Cole and Walker were crushed. Just like garbage.

I Am A ManThe men had complained for years about that truck in particular, about raggedy, malfunctioning old trucks in general. The city never listened. Now it gave each man’s widow one month’s salary – likely less than $300 – added an additional $500 apiece, and called it square. Burial expenses alone were $900 a man.
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No one knew it at the time. At the time, it was just a strike, just the workers against the city, the latter represented by its newly elected mayor, a stubbornly intransigent cuss named Henry Loeb who drew a line in the sand early on and refused to budge, even when his advisers advised him to, even when budging seemed a matter of plain common sense.

In his book, “Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign,” historian Michael K. Honey paints a striking picture of the mayor: racist, virulently anti-union; stridently anti-communist.

“Anti-communism was just a huge layer over the white population at that time in Memphis. In the first negotiation that (union organizer) Bill Lucy had with them, Mayor Loeb brings up the communist issue and the war in Vietnam. (Lucy) was dumbfounded and he said, ‘What did that have to do with anything?’ ”

The men were talking about raises. About a place to shower the filth off before they went home. About getting paid for time worked. About having a place to urinate. The mayor was talking communism.

In the minds of white conservatives, says Honey, “If you stood up for civil rights, you were automatically a communist.”

The plight of the sanitation workers, just prior to and during the strike, is fascinating stuff. But one should bear in mind it’s not going to be an even-handed treatment. You should have already gathered that from the excerpt above.

A funny thing, isn’t it…I keep hearing that Fox News should be criticized because it calls itself “fair and balanced.” One thing I usually can’t nail down is, should Fox News be criticized because 1) it is found undeserving of this moniker, or 2) nobody who retells historic events should try to be this. Good heavens. The “historian” is telling us “if you stood up for civil rights, you were automatically a communist”…in the minds of “white conservatives.”

If that doesn’t make you want to hear the other side of the story before passing judgment, there is something wrong with you. Just sayin’.

On Feb. 23, the strike exploded into violence. Sanitation workers were holding one of their daily marches when police appeared, riding five and six to a car, brandishing rifles and using their vehicles to force the marchers, who were walking several abreast and commandeering much of the street, back toward the sidewalk. Cars brushed dangerously close. March leader the Rev. James Lawson told the marchers, “They’re trying to provoke us. Keep going.”

Then, say the workers (the point is still disputed, 40 years later), a police car ran over the foot of a woman marcher. And parked there. And the men had had enough.

“They picked that car up,” says Joe Warren, an 86-year-old retired sanitation worker, “and turned it over on its side. That’s when all hell broke a loose.”

Out came the nightsticks. The violence was indiscriminate: women, old men, ministers, not resisting, just standing there, didn’t matter. Some policemen took off their badges as they whaled away.

“Them white police was mean with those sticks,” says Warren. “They hit you with those sticks; they juke you with those sticks.” Some men fought back with their protest signs.

All in all, an ugly episode from our nation’s past to remember. Or rather, Memphis’ past. We’re remembering it now, under the direction of our “news” media, under a gaze most jaundiced, because it is the backdrop of the martyrdom of Martin Luther King.

King is known to us now because he was a visionary. He looked forward to a future of complete integration and unity.

Maybe it’s the whiteness in me talking, but this doesn’t seem to me to be a very fitting tribute. Splash pages? Black and white photos? Pissed-off-looking models with signs? Reaching back forty years to dredge up white-on-black violence, and black-on-white hatred?

What’s that got to do with healing?

“Son of a BITCH! We’ve hit the motherlode!” a jubilant Faye Dunaway, playing producer Diana Christensen, exclaims upon hearing “they’re yelling in Baton Rouge,” after her anchorman Howard Beale (Peter Finch) delivers his oscar performance. You know what Howard Beale did, don’t you…he went through the motions of being an “anchorman,” sitting behind a dest giving people information about things, but then proceeded to instruct his audience to get “mad as hell.”

Over in Howard Beale’s fictitious universe, millions of news watchers all across the nation stuck their heads out their windows and yelled those magic words, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”

Over in ours, we giggled, pointed, admired the artistry and the gravity. Lavished 18 wins and 19 nominations on Network (1976). Yes, very poignant. We pretend the news informs when it is designed to merely outrage. And then when we were done admiring the message, we ignored it, going right back to the ol’ grind. And here comes Leonard Pitts, the new Howard Beale.

Look at those black, old, tired, sad — and oh, so angry, don’t forget the anger — faces. It’s like a GQ magazine, except unlike GQ, these “models” actually went through something that angered them.

Howard Beale admitted in his monologue that he didn’t know what people should do. “First, you’ve got to get mad” — then, who knows? Well, at least Beale admitted it. Mr. Pitts and everyone else responsible for putting together these GQ pages, seem to have the same counsel for us…”get mad”…and the same prognostication about how this is supposed to work to make life better…”I dunno.” What’s the point here? That these gentlemen are still around and have unpleasant memories? Okay, well then if we’re coming together to achieve racial unity and harmony, and the obstacle is these guys and their memories, are we supposed to be assassinating people? Or wiping out their memories? It doesn’t seem that either one of those is to be suggested here. I’m guessing the suggestion is to nurture a long, vivid memory.

A long and vivid, hateful memory.

It’s been forty years. It’s become a classic case of CALWWNTY (Come A Long Way, We’re Not There Yet). The sad truth of it is, giant, glossy splash-page remembrances such as this represent a big part of the reason why. We’ve been looking forward to a peaceful, utopian future while our gaze remains riveted on the ugliness of a hateful past. Riveted there, for the financial benefit of the Diana Christensens of the world. Can’t you hear them now over the “mad as hell” banter? “Son of a bitch! We’ve hit the motherlode!”

We are digging a well, in the very moment in which we’re watching others pile dirt back into it. For money and fame.

Named for Sir Edmund

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Of course anyone who’s been paying attention already knows about this, but you can’t help letting out a chuckle as you read one more time about how Hillary supposedly got her name.

If memory serves, and I believe this one time it does, this was old hat long before 2004 when the book was published. My guess is if I bothered to go chasing after tidbits of memorabilia, which I’m not going to do, I’d nail down something from 1996. This is almost like a psychological disorder — what’s this need to toss out lies like this so casually, when they’re so easy to nail down and it seems like there’s nothing to be gained from it?

I remember this from my “salesmen working alongside software developers” days. Things look different when you have a different perspective, and as the reality-man who actually worked with the code I’d get flustered listening to the boss telling customers things. I learned to bite my tongue and keep my reservations to myself, reminding the salesmen of them in private…granting them the benefit of the doubt, presuming that perhaps this had to do with arcane details not commonly appreciated. But on occasion, it looked to me like hostility toward truth. Glittering cliches would be tossed out, when it looked like there was no reason for them to be, beyond some need to say things that could later be determined to be inaccurate.

I’ve always thought this had to do more with perception than with reality. It was just my viewpoint on things. But with the Clintons, the psychosis really does appear to be there. You’re going to throw out this chestnut that Hillary was named after a mountain climber…so easily disproved…to do what? To impress people? People who are already impressed — so where’s the gain?

I’m sure there is treatment available for this somewhere.

Captain Kirk Didn’t Have That Much Sex

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

…and that’s the TRUTH.

Ewww…I’m many times a bigger man-slut than Captain Kirk. That’s kinda nasty.

Morgan’s Rule of Environmental Activism

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

AwarenessHere comes the rule. It’s a rule we all understand deep within already, it’s just that nobody says it out loud. It’s coming; here it comes. Are you ready?

Hope you’re sitting down. Here it is…

…move your mouse over the picture to the left. See the little yellow box that pops up after a second or two (if you’re using IE), it’s got a word in it. It’s the same word as the word in the red circle.

It’s all about that.

Let me repeat that…

…it’s all about that. This Earth Hour thing tonight, that’s a perfect example. Awareness.

Attention. Getting attention.

Nobody who claims to be doing environmentally-conscious things anymore…or environmentally-sound things anymore…or environmentally-sensitive things…does anything to help the environment. If some good is done for the environment, it’s just a side effect. We’re just showing off for each other, and that’s all we’re doing, that’s all it’s about. We get attention from each other by going through the motions of helping the environment, which we don’t really expect to do.

I think we should face facts about this. Because hey, if you want to help the environment without getting any “strokes” for it, there are hundreds of ways, starting with trading in your big car for a smaller one. Nobody ever approaches anyone about driving a smaller car anymore though. Here and there a couple might decide to do that, to help the household expenses come out a bit by bringing down the gas bill.

But nobody approaches anybody about driving a smaller car — compared with — the trendy things. You know what those are. Changing your light bulbs. Drink out of an Eco Cup. Participate in “Earth Hour.”

While Earth Hour will see South-East Queenslanders flicking their switches for just one hour from 8pm-9pm, the WWF hopes residents and businesses will use Earth Hour as a catalyst for adopting other day-to-day energy-saving practices to cut their individual greenhouse emissions and help tackle climate change. [emphasis mine]

Another Aussie has a different way of putting it:

Colliers International Chief Executive John Kenny has announced the company will be throwing its full support behind Earth Hour, using the event as a catalyst to drive significant ongoing change in the actions of Australia’s landlords, tenants and residents to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
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“We have been advocates for drastic changes in the approach to environmental sustainability in the property industry for some time,” Mr Kenny said.

“Earth Hour is a fantastic opportunity to really drive the message home,” Mr Kenny said.

How much energy does Earth Hour save the world tonight? How much carbon does it prevent from being spewed? The truth is that nobody knows; nobody cares. Remember the Morgan Rule. It’s about the message. It is all about the message.

Doing something to help the environment when nobody knows you’re doing it? Don’t.

Doing something that looks like it might help the environment, that actually doesn’t, but makes an impression on lots and lots of people? Dynamite!

In other words, it’s a social custom. Nothing more.

Eco CupConsider a hypothetical in which we have “staggered Earth Hours,” with each household declaring an hour (Zulu time) in the month of April in which that house’s lights will dim. All at different times. My hour is 0900GMT on the 19th, your hour is 1500GMT on the 7th. We all live up to our pledges and the carbon-hour is saved. Success? NO! The Morgan Rule…it’s all about the union. The coming together. We all went off in different directions, and so the attention-whoring did not commence. On the other hand, consider a city that advertises the onset of the single, solid, unified Earth-Hour…television advertisements, radio spots, snippets ritually tossed out by high-profile officials to show it’s on their minds. And then at the golden hour someone forgets to flip the switch! Oopsie. This time…the carbon-hour is not saved. We went ahead and spewed.

Smashing success. It should be a failure, but it isn’t. The attention was gotten. Even though the carbon flowed.

Even better, consider that Eco-Cup mentioned above. It is environmentally friendly, because the plastic liner on the inside is made with cornstarch. Not the cup itself. The liner that keeps the coffee from getting in the cardboard. Just microns thick. You can drink half a dozen cups of Joe out of these things all year long, and thousands of you would have a barely significant effect on the landfills. It isn’t about the effect. Look at the design…just look at it. If it was about cause-and-effect, this thing would be a dull ugly off-white eggshell thing. It isn’t. It’s a distinctive green-and-brown design you can recognize instantly from across a crowded room.

If it wasn’t that, it would be a failure. A failure…at the thing it is really supposed to do. Which is to get attention.

And that’s fine with me. But I think it would be good for the sanity of all of us, if we drop the pretenses and just admit it’s about calling attention to ourselves. It isn’t about saving the environment, or anything in it.

Update: Mark Steyn points out that actually, the black Google page uses more energy than the white one.

Bush the Multilateralist

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

This one is required reading, too.

[John McCain] spoke of the need for a “new global compact” based on “mutual respect and trust,” of adding “luster to America’s image in the world,” and of “paying a ‘decent respect to the opinions of mankind.’” The media played it all up as an attempt to distance himself from the “unilateral” President Bush, although the Arizona Republican never used that word.

We fully understand why Mr. McCain feels the need to show that his Administration would not simply be a third Bush term. But with Mr. Bush’s days in office nearing an end, it’s worth blowing apart the myth of the “go it alone” Presidency. The truth is that, with a couple of exceptions, he’s been the model of a modern multilateralist.

Whereas…

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

This one is required reading. An Open Letter to the democrat Party.

“We, African American citizens of the United States, declare and assert:

Whereas in the early 1600′s 20 African men and women were landed in Virginia from a Dutch ship as slaves and from that tiny seed grew the poisoned fruit of plantation slavery which shaped the course of American development,

Whereas reconciliation and healing always begin with an apology and an effort to repay those who have been wronged,

Whereas the Democratic Party has never apologized for their horrific atrocities and racist practices committed against African Americans during the past two hundred years, nor for the residual impact that those atrocities and practices and current soft bigotry of low expectations are having on us today,

Whereas the Democratic Party fought to expand slavery and, after the Civil War, established Jim Crow Laws, Black Codes and other repressive legislation that were designed to disenfranchise African Americans,

Whereas the Ku Klux Klan was the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party, and their primary goal was to intimidate and terrorize African American voters, Republicans who moved South to protect African Americans and any other whites who supported them,
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Whereas after Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt received the vote of African Americans, he banned African American newspapers from the military shortly after taking office because he was convinced the newspapers were communists,

Whereas Democratic President John F. Kennedy voted against the 1957 Civil Rights Law, opposed the 1963 March on Washington by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and was later criticized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for ignoring civil rights issues.
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Whereas the Democratic Party’s use of deception and fear to block welfare reform, the faith-based initiative and school choice that would help African Americans prosper is consistent with the Democratic Party’s heritage of racism that included sanctioning of slavery and kukluxery, a perversion of moral sentiment among leaders of the Democratic Party whose racist legacy bode ill until this generation of African Americans,

Now, therefore, for the above and other documented atrocities and accumulated wrongs inflicted upon African Americans, we demand a formal written apology and other appropriate remuneration from the leadership of the Democratic party.

There’s a lot more. I think you should go read it.

You know, it’s about bleepin’-bleep time. On the subject of race, we have this habit of beating up on the same-ol’ same-ol’ just because…because. Y’know? But when you look into the facts of it, time after time the most deplorable racist actions have been put in play by the democrats.

What have the Republicans given us as far as racial division? Well, I seem to recall sometime in the last five or six years, a prominent Republican was caught saying something nice about an old man on his hundredth birthday. I mean, shocking. Yes, surely that compares with putting a sheet over your head and using physical intimidation, up to & including lynching, to stop persons of color from voting. As the democRATs did.

Think I got this from the Rottweiler, but I can’t find it there now.

It bears repeating: About time.

The Widget Boss

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Blogger friend Phil picked up on our rant about what’s happening to Information Technology, and blogger friend Buck went over to participate…sharing this interesting tale. Thereby, of course, releasing it into the public domain.

Which I’m sure he realizes. Oh, well. His tale is too good not to tell.

Early on in my post-USAF IT career I was reassigned to a boss like that, who was also in his first manager-slot (a great UNIX guy, promoted to his level of incompetency). He and I had one of those “introductory” meetings and he gave me the list… and scheduled a follow-on meeting. I was supposed to submit three career goals, in writing, for the next meeting and I did. Stuff like:

1. Spend more time at home,less at work.

2. Take a REAL vacation this year.

3. Get laid more often.

The subsequent discussion was sort of a life-changing event for the guy. He went on to become a competent manager, and I got a great deal of satisfaction from popping the corporate balloon. Win-win.

The Single Mom Problem

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Fair disclosure: I’m a single dad. I didn’t marry the mom.

It’s been a pretty rocky road and it hasn’t been all good for the boy. But I will say this: Of all the things we have done that have hurt him the most, the biggest thing by far has been all the yelling and arguing. And one thing I can say for an absolute certainty is, if I’d married her, there would have been a lot more of that…and not too much of the other stuff would have changed. We still wouldn’t have “made it” because we still would be two different people who look at life in two different ways.

This is the problem with arguing about marriage in simplistic terms. The institution has become a complicated, wrinkled-up mess. We think of it as some kind of a “promise” when it isn’t anything even resembling that anymore. It’s a change in legal status; a change made to get some bennies. Promising doesn’t have anything to do with it. It’s become just a shrink-wrapped bundle of weird benefits and equally weird (toothless) obligations, all of which are re-defined one week to the next according to what lobbyists and activists tell politicians they want done.

Have I made wise, good decisions? No. Should I, therefore, have gotten married? Uh, erm………no. Pretty much everyone I knew at the time, told me to do something, I said I shouldn’t, and in the long run I turned out to be right. But I’m not proud.

Others have done the same thing. And for reasons that escape me, they are proud.

Stephanie FlandersNow, do you know what is going on in jolly old England? The time has come, once again, to put some floral wreaths and candies on the graves of the gentlemen who threw the tea into Boston Harbor…and maybe think about tossing a few more boxes in. Across the pond, they’re having a row and a ruckus about how everyone should live.

On a Newsnight programme in August 2007, [Stephanie] Flanders interrogated Conservative Party leader David Cameron about his proposed policy of tax breaks for married couples while questioning him with other journalists, asking him whether he had ever met anyone who would get married for an extra £20 per week. As an unmarried mother, she also asked Mr. Cameron whether the Conservative Party would like her to be married.

So. We got this nanny-state pro-marriage guy who wants to give a stipend to married couples, and he is rightly upbraided by a single mum.

Lashing out at him in honor of the libertarian spirit of the individual, and the God-given right to live life as you choose?

Erm……no, it doesn’t appear so….

Meet the Credit Crunch Crumpet: The unmarried mum who clashed with Cameron on Newsnight

…Next Tuesday Stephanie officially takes up a new job as economics editor of the entire BBC. It is one of the most senior jobs in broadcasting, and about as authoritative as it gets without actually being Sir David Attenborough.
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Quite a responsibility, then? “Hmmm. Immense,” she says. “It’s all extremely exciting – this is the best job in economic broadcasting, without a doubt – but it’s daunting, too.

“It’ll mean treading that fine line between being accessible and authoritative. I’ll have to get across very complex economic ideas in a way that is easy to understand and interesting.
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She gives a half-giggle. That she is the first woman to become one of the BBC’s senior editors – she is taking over from the flamboyant Evan Davis, who is off to present Radio Four’s Today programme – seems slightly shocking in this day and age, but good news all round. Isn’t it?

“No one can remember there being a woman in any of these senior positions before,” she confirms, choosing her words carefully. “I’m sure the BBC would admit that’s not ideal.”

That she is up to the job doesn’t seem to be in doubt. She is widely regarded as one of the most capable economic analysts in the country. Her clever-clogs qualifications are second to none – degrees from Oxford and Harvard – and she spent time speech-writing for the U.S. Treasury under the Clinton administration, before working for the Financial Times.

But aren’t we afraid of overly clever women in this country – unless they bring out diet books on the side? Isn’t the nation going to be intimidated by her?

She smiles again. “I’d prefer them not to be intimidated, but if they think I am talking with authority, then I’ll have got it right,” she says.

Perhaps surprisingly Stephanie hasn’t encountered that much sexism so far, “although there will always be men who simply think women aren’t up to the job”.
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Yet I’m astonished at how open she is about how her sex will, or won’t, affect how she does the job.

Indeed, she asks for this interview to be conducted at her home, where her 22-month-old son, Stanley, is running around. This makes it inevitable that we will talk about her new kitchen and the perils of finding a good nanny. She is pregnant, too, which makes things even more tricky. Baby number two is due in June.

I don’t know why we are motivated to treat women this way. By asking the rhetorical “aren’t we afraid of overly clever women in this country” — and then later eeking out “Stephanie hasn’t encountered that much sexism so far,” the article seems to me to be ‘fessing up to looking for discrimination where it doesn’t really exist in meaningful volume. She’s a child born into privilege, perhaps more energetic and ambitious than most, I don’t see anyone anywhere fighting her. Why do we have to imagine her battling some unseen force in her every waking moment when efforts to define said resistant force culminate in such a lackluster presentation? She seems to be swimming downstream, not up. Who — on the entire planet — has any hostility to this woman’s career, whatsoever, with any kind of ability to influence it?

If the story is all about her battle with day-to-day obstacles and barricades, then I’m still waiting for the story.

The other thing that’s funny about how we treat women, is we seem to imagine they don’t really have a “choice” to do anything until substantial energy has been depleted championing that choice, cudgeling other women into making the same one. Where, I wonder, did we get this rule? Stephanie is all about choosing to remain unmarried if that’s what you want to do. But Stephanie has to become a celebrity. Stephanie needs a splash page.

But Stephanie, according to the article itself, wasn’t born into humble beginnings. Stephanie has connections. Stephanie has friends and relatives. Stephanie went to schools that not-just-anyone can attend.

And Stephanie has a stud. He’s mentioned in paragraph 23. And in the context, it would appear he is expected to do some things about daddy stuff, childcare, bringing-home-bacon, whatever, to lighten Stephanie’s load a little bit.

Why paragraph 23? Why not in paragraph five? Why isn’t he in the splash picture with the hen and the chick, if the rooster is part of making it all work? What’s this drive to make the story read like a story of “we made it all work without a man.” I mean, it doesn’t come out and say it in those words, but can anyone deny that this is an intended central thrust of Stephanie’s story? She did it, girls, so you can do it too…except Stephanie isn’t really doing that. She depends on her man — and wherever she doesn’t, she depends on a lot of other resources she has in her personal life, that millions of single mothers don’t have in theirs.

Or as Richard Littlejohn wrote,

“If Stephanie Flanders speaks for Britain, then I’m a gnu ” (recalling a famous song by her father [Michael Flanders] and Donald Swann).

Meanwhile — the European tradition continues. Everybody’s nose is in everybody else’s business. Every couple that gets married is a victory for Mr. Cameron and his friends. Every couple that doesn’t is a victory for Stephanie and all her friends.

Mass communication is a wonderful thing, but sometimes I think over the course of its relatively short history it can be shown that we really haven’t used it that well. It has become very popular over the years to use the medium to bludgeon those among us in the most rustic circumstances, to make decisions that aren’t going to pan out very well for them or their children in the long run.

Here’s the question I’d really like to have answered:

Is it by sheer accident that we use mass communication this way? Or does that have some sort of appeal to somebody somewhere? It seems like we’ve been really working at it. Pregnant girls should stay single…kids should think of their daddies as idiots…if your boss doesn’t give you four months vacation out of the year, you should strike. Every single nugget of this modern-day electronic “advice” seems to be advice that is wonderful for someone else, that no one with a brain would accept as their own.

Sexy Racist

Friday, March 28th, 2008

My goodness, the hardball questions they ask on The View. Why, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t knock a few of Sen. Obama’s teeth loose, the poor fella.

JOY BEHAR: I understand you’re related to Brad Pitt in some way (laughter).

BARACK OBAMA: Yeah

JB: How are you related to Brad Pitt?

BO: I guess we are ninth cousins something removed or something

JB: Isn’t that fascinating stuff!

BO: I think he got the better looking side of the gene pool.

JB: Not necessarily.

BARBARA WALTERS: Joy and I were saying just before you came out….maybe we shouldn’t say this.

JB: Go ahead!

BW: We thought you were very sexy looking (applause). Don’t you think so? (to audience)

BO: I like that that. Thank you.

Wow, that’s what I call some hard-hitting journalism. Really make the racist bastard think on his feet there, Barbara.

You know, when men put on television shows to please men, it can look pretty bad too. And juvenile. And depraved, and lecherous and treacherous and…and…and…

…but at least when The Man Show was on, I didn’t walk away wondering if the republic could long endure men watching teevee and voting. Every time I see one of these segments from The View — which is still on — I always end up shaking my head, and wondering where the hell the outrage is. If I were a woman, I’d be picketing The View for making me look bad. These dumb broads are praising a known liar and racist for his sex appeal, and they can vote just as freely as anybody else.

Are They Taking An Electric Bus?

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Well, I do think this is kind of cool because I’m much more supportive of “environment” stuff — as in, don’t leave the trial to go scampering down a hillside thereby causing heap-big erosion that doesn’t have to happen — than I am of the phony science of ManBearPig.

But it’s still a bunch of public-school indoctrination. And I can’t help but wonder if the message is being lost. What does a trip to Disneyland have to do with the environment? How about…a three day hike out in the wilderness, away from Mom and Dad, sleeping under the stars? Wouldn’t the enterprising, environmentally-conscious fifth-grader find that so much more rewarding?

Students at Phoebe Hearst Elementary in Sacramento got a fast lesson on how learning can be fun and pay off. A fifth-grade class at the school won the grand prize in a statewide environmental education competition.

During an assembly Thursday, Mickey Mouse delivered the surprise announcement to teacher Sylvia Rodriguez and her students, who snatched the top award – beating 45 other entries – for their project to preserve and protect the American River watershed.

Rodriguez and students jubilantly gave each other high-fives, jumped up and down and cried.

The 2008 Disney’s Environmentality Challenge asked students to design and carry out a classroom project that would spur environmental stewardship.

Accepting a plaque, Rodriguez said, “I’m all choked up.”

Well, hey. Maybe I should just simmer down. It’s not so much indoctrination, it’s creating a new generation of people who are going to think twice before chucking that cigarette butt out the window of whatever they’re going to be driving twenty years from now. Right?

“After we did all this work, we learned how Native Americans cared for (the river),” she said. “No way is it ours. No way do we have the right to pollute it and change it. It belongs to the earth, Mother Earth and to itself.”

Eww, that doesn’t sound ideologically-neutral at all. Mother Earth? In a public school? I’ve half a mind to sue for separation of church and state. And a healthy anti-capitalist rant tossed in, for no good reason, on top of it. From an adorable crumb-cruncher on her way to DISNEYLAND!!! Yay!

I wonder what she learned about Native Americans. Was it the overly-simplistic, red-always-good white-always-bad crap I was taught when I was in the fifth grade?

Or was it something a little better researched and more thoughtful, something that might take a little longer to wrap a young head around?

The impression that American Indians were guided by a unique environmental ethic often can be traced to the speech widely attributed to Chief Seattle in 1854. But Chief Seattle never said those oft-quoted words: They were written by Ted Perry, a scriptwriter, who acknowledged paraphrasing a translation of the speech for a movie about pollution. According to historian Paul Wilson, Perry’s version added “a good deal more, particularly modern ecological imagery.” For example, Perry, not Chief Seattle, wrote that “every part of the Earth is sacred to my people.” (Perry, by the way, has tried unsuccessfully to get the truth out.)

The speech reflects what many environmentalists want to hear, not what Chief Seattle said. The poignant and romantic image created by the speech obscures the fact, fully acknowledged by historians, that American Indians transformed the North American landscape. Sometimes these changes were beneficial, at other times harmful. But they were almost always a rational response to abundance or scarcity.
:
Generally the demand for meat, hides, and furs by relatively small, dispersed populations of Indians put little pressure on wildlife. But in some cases game populations were overharvested or even driven to extinction. Anthropologist Paul Martin believes that the extinction of the mammoth, mastodon, ground sloth, and the saber-toothed cat directly or indirectly resulted from the “prehistoric overkill” by exceptionally competent hunters.

Historian Louis S. Warren drives the final nail in the coffin of the “living in harmony with nature” myth: “[T]o claim that Indians lived without affecting nature is akin to saying that they lived without touching anything, that they were a people without history. Indians often manipulated their local environments, and while they usually had far less impact on their environments than European colonists would, the idea of ‘preserving’ land in some kind of wilderness state would have struck them as impractical and absurd. More often than not, Indians profoundly shaped the ecosystems around them.”

Of course, shaping doesn’t have to mean despoiling. Whether this shaping encouraged conservation depended, for Indians as for humans everywhere, on the incentives created by the extant system of property rights. The historical American Indians did not practice a sort of environmental communism in tune with the Earth; yesterday, as today, they recognized property rights.

Today we refer to “Indian nations,” but this term mostly reflects the U.S. government’s desire to have another government with which to negotiate. In fact, Indian tribes were mainly language groups made up of relatively independent bands with little centralized control except at specific times when they might gather for ceremonies, hunts, or wars. And after the horse allowed small bands to efficiently hunt buffalo, even that level of centralization diminished.

The anchor reported on the insipid morning koffee-klatch “news” program a few minutes ago, that the excited fifth graders will be taking a bus to Southern California to go to Disneyland. Heh…diesel buses, I wonder? How long will they sit idling while our newest generation of environmentalists climb aboard?

Now, I really hesitate to badmouth a good thing. But how many things could be done to lower my red flags here. They could stick a microphone in the face of an excited fifth-grader who does not sound like a typical goth new-age hippie. Mother Earth…feh. They could couple this drive to learn about and protect the environment with…a companion drive to learn about and protect the Boy Scouts. I mean hey, let’s face it. After the giant diesel bus comes lumbering back from Disneyland and drops these kids off at home, they’re going to be going back to playing with the PlayStation 3…probably producing mountains of empty soda bottles and candy wrappers to fill up some landfill somewhere for the next ten centuries. By sixth or seventh grade, of course, they’ll all stop being cute, and the spotlight will shift to the next generation of fourth- and fifth-graders. But the Boy Scouts will learn about and protect the environment this year, next year, and the year after…whether they’re being watched or not.

How come so few friends of the “environment,” are friends of the Boy Scouts? Are we talking about the same environment here?

But the trip to Disneyland is the real hitch in the giddy-up. I know that’s how the checks got signed, I understand that…I just can’t get behind this. They could go on a trip to Yosemite instead, you know. Nowadays when you go camping you can be quite pampered, they tell me. My pup-tent sleeping-bag arrangement is supposed to be going out of style. They have wood cabins…bunks…running water inside…even cable TV, some of ‘em. Not only could that be a whole lot of fun to the pre-teen class, but it could inspire a whole lifetime of enthusiasm for living in, and therefore caring about, the outdoors.

And I won’t even get started on the delta between camping, and Disneyland, vis a vis carbon emissions.

A trip to Disneyland as a reward for environmental accomplishment. My my…what’ll they think of next. That’s kind of like a meat-lover’s pizza as a reward for vegetarianism.

Carrington

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Received the first one in the e-mail…

When I went scrambling around the YouTube for it, I learned something I didn’t know. This gentleman, Rodney Carrington, is responsible for all the funny stuff I’ve been hearing & seeing for the last several years. By that I mean, only the really top-of-the-line stuff. Like…

…and…

I see he had is own television show, which of course means this is one of those things where everyone else knows something and I don’t. (Television and I don’t get along too well these days.)

This one sounds like him too, but I’m not sure ’bout that. Still, it’s as good as the others I think.

Don’cha just love YouTube?

Faking the Grade

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

This kind of overlaps to the thing we were writing about earlier with Information Technology, where the word “skill” is being re-defined — away from the ability to do things, toward a big fistful of paper statements from third parties that someone was able to do something.

It’s led to the creation of a whole new industry.

Throw a few hundred dollars to the right P.O. Box and you too could have a medical license, engineering degree or credential of choice all without cracking a single book. And many unscrupulous students do.

“[The diploma mill industry] is so large that it’s hard to believe the numbers,” comments Dr. George Gollin, a physics professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign…”We think that U.S.-based diploma mills are selling as many as 200,000 [phony] degrees per year.”

What’s even more alarming than the size of the industry — estimated at more than $1 billion per year — is who’s funding it. Anecdotal data gathered from now-defunct institutions suggests that up to 5 percent of all diploma mill buyers are federal employees, 1 percent are purported medical doctors, and a frightening number are parading as Ph.D.s.

“The number of fake doctorates sold each year is in the range of 50,000 to 60,000,” states John Bear, author of “Bear’s Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning.” “The number of real Ph.D.s is around 40,000. In America right now, more than half of all the Ph.D.s are fake.”

Funny thing about these articles is — they never draw a distinction between the diplomas that are “fake” because they involve out-and-out undeniable fraud, and other diplomas that are “fake” because they come from “diploma mills” that are not quite as prestigious as they might appear to be. The phrase “all without cracking a single book” seems to indicate that everything under discussion under here, falls into the first of those two categories.

But to receive an application that boasts of a diploma or degree taken at XYZ, and to do the necessary research on it, learning only after digging that XYZ was one thing and you expected it to be something else — to call that a “fake degree” is kind of like referring to a sexual encounter as rape the morning after simply because you didn’t like it.

Not that I think any of this is defensible. In my mind it isn’t…not on the supply side…or on the demand side. But it’s simple economics. You say “we are not going to allow you to advance beyond this arbitrary point until you bring to us this arbitrary piece of paper, and as far as what you are supposed to have learned when you produce that paper not even we have a clear understanding of what that is” — to say that, is to produce a black market in manufacturing those pieces of paper. It is a practical guarantee.

You are saying, we don’t care what you really know, we don’t care what you are supposed to have learned. Or if we do care, we aren’t saying what it is, in fact we’re taking great pains to avoid saying what it is. Just bring in the piece of paper. Cover our butts. And so, disqualifying the instances in which an intent to defraud can be proven…what we really have here are examples of efficiency, not deceit. The diploma-mill customers arrived at a dirty game, and they played dirty hands.

And I’m just as inclined to question the qualifications of those who demand those pieces of paper, and are chagrined about the nature of those pieces of paper once they are delivered, as I am to question the qualifications of those who deliver them. Those who so demanded, are saying “when I asked to see such-and-such piece of paper, I had it in mind that he’d be going to classes…very much like the ones I took…even though that isn’t exactly what I said.” In most cases, I’m sure, those-who-supplied are unscrupulous. But also, in most cases, their “crime” is spending $500 instead of $50,000…and fulfilling the letter of the requirement, a requirement on which they were soured & cynical because they thought it a silly requirement from the get-go.

And if I’m to condemn them for that, well, I’m in no position to. I’m really not. I’ve met far too many people who have those pieces of paper, “proper” ones at that, who wouldn’t know their asses from a hole in the ground.

Sniper Fire Gate

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Via Boortz, two handy YouTube embeds that explain the whole story…regarding what you’ve already been hearing…here & there.

She is NAILED…

…she tries to explain…

There is a comment in the first clip that this helps Obama, showing that all this experience “is at least partly her imagination.” There’s another point to be made here, it seems to me. It has to do with politicians in general — mostly those who belong to the democrat party — and how they use embellishments. Or rather, how they perceive embellishments, once they are so used.

They can embellish. Others are committing some kind of horrible sin against humanity by doing so.

Just watch how Obama handles things next time he’s caught embellishing. Or, even better yet, ask Hillary or Obama to grant the Bush administration a reprieve for any embellishing they might be guilty of doing, vis a vis weapons of mass destruction and so forth. Nope. Da fangs, dey come out. If you don’t know that, you’ve been living in a cave. Lied to get us into a war, prosecuted as a war criminal, blah blah blah blah blah.

But Her Thighness can lie her fat ass off about sniper fire to her heart’s content…anything to add to that rock star appeal. She has to. She’s been outgunned in the rock-star-appeal category, so…whatever it takes to win.

She’s allowed to do things that others aren’t. Plain & simple.

Misogynist Hot Sauce

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Nice!I was just thinking Cassy Fiano‘s critique of the bitter feminists, who are bitching away cantankerously — this time about Taco Bell’s virtual bikini model campaign — was deserving of, ahem, some more exposure.

The feminists are complaining about Taco Bell’s new ad campaign, called “Direct Daniella”, in which they’ve partnered up with Sports Illustrated to give some lucky customer the chance to be the photographer in a Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition photo shoot.

They are, of course, offended and simply OUTRAGED!:

One of our readers sent us an email recently, rightfully confused as to why Taco Bell’s hot sauce packets are now printed with a website that leads you to perhaps the creepiest ad campaign ever. “Direct Daniella” has the user follow around a swimsuit model, taking pictures of her in a weird stalkerish webcam way.

Reader Karlen wrote, “What this has to do with lousy ‘Mexican’ fast food is beyond me.” Indeed. So I did a little digging. Turns out, Taco Bell has joined up with Sports Illustrated to promote the magazine’s swimsuit issue.

Exotic, huh? It’s like a big ole chalupa of sexism and grossness wrapped in some fetishization of women of color. De-licious.

See, folks, not only is this campaign steeped in sexism, but there’s also some racism, fetishization, and all around creepiness.

Because Taco Bell is letting a regular Joe photograph a supermodel rather than a “professional”.

Last time I checked, wasn’t the entire point of modeling to, uh, have your picture taken? Am I missing something? I’m female, and I’m pretty unoffended by this.

Well I’m not female, I’m a straight male and I happen to like looking at beautiful women in bikinis. Anybody got a problem with that…well…it just makes me curious. It is the Peeve That Has No Name — so many people willing to say there’s something wrong with men ogling women, so few people willing to say exactly why.

Commenter BelliButton, the ninth out of (as of this writing) 86, makes a decent attempt:

First time posting. Still a little nervous, what with being a Baby Feminist and all.

I can see where it -could- be harmless. I like my boy-eye-candy at times. The problem is that so often it doesn’t stop there. Some men (and I suppose this could be a trap for some lesbians too) become so wrapped up in the package that they impress these ideals on others, which most people can never fufill. It’s a lose-lose for everyone, since unrealistic requirements will lead to frustration on both ends and no one ends up happy. That’s why expectations for the physical exclusively tend to suck so much in the long run.

As a fantasy, harmless. As an ideal? Painful for both sides.

I remember Rush Limbaugh was vilified for pointing out “Feminism was established so that unattractive women could have access to the mainstream of society.” Seems to me we have some evidence here that he was absolutely right from the very beginning. How can this be taken any other way? BelliButton, a baby feminist, “like[s] [her] boy-eye-candy.” The problem being that “so often it doesn’t stop there.” Okay…so we have guilt-by-association on my side of the fence — she thinks she’s made an argument for somehow obstructing the view of good-lookin’ women in bathing suits, from those so inclined to view — but not a single word about how her boy-eye-candy might end up in the “lose-lose for everyone”…and don’t bother waiting for one.

And really, is there any need to mention that side of it? When’s the last time you heard a man belly-aching away about how Daniel-Day Lewis is raising the bar too high? How Fabio instills fantasies in women that are impossible for any real man to fulfill? That he’s worried his wife is thinking about James Van der Beek during moments of carnal bliss? That it’s impossible to ever, ever, no matter what, ever get my midsection as flat as Brad Pitt’s (which, they tell me, is true, and I haven’t bothered to find out for sure)? No man, not even the most pussy-whipped male, is going to be grousing away about this stuff. That’s because there is no “Masculist” movement. Rush is right. This brand of feminism is all about altering the economics of the meat market. It’s about giving you options when you’re a female and you don’t look that good. And it’s about doing that — not by eradicating outdated cultural taboos — but by imposing some brand new ones.

The longer I live, the more convinced I am that my most fundamental and profound individual liberties are inextricably linked to my freedom to look at good-looking women in bathing suits. Whenever & wherever I can do that without someone waggling a gnarled bony finger in my face, or cluck-clucking at me, filling my eardrums with tired cliches in a hostile nasally-rich voice that makes them bleed, I’m probably free to do whatever else I want to do that really matters. Maybe I can make a phone call to Osama bin Laden without the feds listening in, and maybe I can’t — that seems to be nothing more than a red herring. But if I can ogle some babes, I’m probably free, and if I can’t, I’m probably not. It is a far superior litmus test for real freedom. I know that sounds silly, but experience has shown it to be true.

Klaatu Goes Green

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Oh I forgot to mention, on the subject of the globular wormening…when they remake this classic, at the end when Klaatu lectures us silly earthlings on the evils of war and weapons and violence and what-not, they’re going to drop all the peacenik stuff and instead the smarmy alien is going to give us a lecture about ManBearPig.

Keanu Reeves, who stars as the film’s intergalatic messenger, Klaatu, tells MTV Movies that in Scott Derrickson’s remake of the sci-fi classic, his voyage to Earth is prompted by more than just humanity’s endless thirst for war:

“The first one was borne out of the cold war and nuclear détente. Klaatu came and was saying cease and desist with your violence. If you can’t do it yourselves we’re going to do it. That was the film of that day. The version I was just working on, instead of being man against man, it’s more about man against nature. My Klaatu says that if the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the earth survives. I’m a friend to the earth.”

That’s right, gang — Klaatu has gone from pacifist weenie to tree-hugging hippie. (Or, more precisely, pacifist weenie and tree-hugging hippie; as Reeves puts it, “We’re trying to reach beyond the idea of [just] environmentalism.”)

It’s impressive that Hollywood was already indulging in this nonsense about “we’re so stupid we need someone external to show up and tell us how stupid we are” fake humility back in 1951. The “we”, of course, is lowercase-w; it means the we sans me. Everyone who worked on the 1951 classic understood war was dangerous, it was everybody else who needed to be lectured by Klaatu. That’s two years before Shane, four years before Gunsmoke. So before Father Knew Best, we were already marching off, gathering momentum, on this other hot new fad where father did not.

This is significant. It shows we have a deep-seated, timeless psychological need to externalize wisdom. We want to envision ourselves as dysfunctional. Which snotty lecture Klaatu flies in to give us, is secondary; we need him. So I don’t fault Keanu and crew for swapping out one lecture for another. The story is really all about Planet Earth lacking any common sense until someone flies in from elsewhere to import it. The message could be about anything.

In fact, if they want to remake this a few more times, I have some more ideas.

We could start with the highest-level ideas. Klaatu could fly in to tell us to stop being liberal. We’ve been watching you from afar and you never seem to learn. It just doesn’t work, okay? Get rid of your liberalism, or we’re going to come back and do it for you.

He could address some issues more specifically. We see you are a dishonorable race, incapable of keeping covenants to your own kind. You have ratified this document called the Second Amendment, freely and of your own free will, and a couple hundred years later you’re outlawing guns in the cities where people need them the most.

Klaatu could arrive as a messenger from a doomed planet, dying out because they tried universal, socialized health care. Don’t make the same mistake we did!

Or Klaatu could point to Jeremiah Wright and say, you earthlings love to talk about prejudice and bigotry but don’t you know it when you see it?

Stop wasting time arguing about weapons of mass destruction. You know Saddam had the Anthrax, you know he was up to no good, and by the way there are about eleven other dickheads out there you’d better start invading. If you knew what we knew you’d get started by noon tomorrow. Oh and by the way, the United Nations shouldn’t even have anything to say about this because the defense of a nation is a national, not international, issue. They’ve bolluxed up the whole issue more thoroughly than George W. Bush ever will. But if you must keep them involved, take away France’s veto power for heaven’s sake. Honestly, getting permission from some foreign nation to defend yourselves? How’d you get to this point.

You shouldn’t be listening to anyone warn you about global warming unless they drive something that gets at least 35 miles a gallon. That Klaatu from the other movie put out six quadrillion carbon tons just to get to you. Oh and by the way, carbon dioxide doesn’t cause global warming. Agricultural emissions contribute much more potently to any greenhouse effect than any techno-industrial component ever will. I mean, c’mon, we know you earthlings love a good scam but this one has worn out its own welcome. Move on.

Stop being so hostile to capitalism. Capitalism is good.

The military is good too. On my planet, we tried to do away with war by getting rid of the military. Big mistake. Soldiers don’t make war; soldiers make peace. You have an all-volunteer military here in America. Don’t wait until November 11 to thank them; thank them whenever you can.

Stop your petulant hostility toward masculine things. Men are good. Now and then, they have good ideas. Admitting it once in awhile, doesn’t “set the clock back.” There’s nothing wrong with letting men look at good lookin’ women in bathing suits. And don’t stop making James Bond movies. On my planet, we think it’s the best thing to come out of here. The Barbra Streisand concerts, you can keep.

Play with your kids. Television shows and video games have a very long shelf life. They won’t rot.

Don’t treat your son as a freak, or a weirdo, or a mental patient, just because he acts like a typical boy. Stop medicating the bejeezus out of your kids. We’ve gotten used to pointing and laughing at how you earthlings behave, and we’re afraid in another generation you’ll all be so doped up we won’t even know what earthling behavior is anymore.

We have been shaking our alien heads in sadness at how easily you let illegal aliens invade the United States. I, Klaatu, am a respectful visitor. When my visit is done, I’m outta here. I’m not going to pretend to be a citizen when I’m not, go driving without a license, get drunk and kill people. We’re upset that you tolerate people who do these things. Do your own laws, and your own children, mean so little to you?

When the morning news is showing you how cute a dog looks in a Halloween costume, or that an ink pen is really cool because it has a highlighter concealed inside, it isn’t news anymore.

If you get insight on life and tips on how to live it, from shows like “Desperate Housewives” or “Six Feet Under,” there is something terribly wrong with you. Get help.

Even better, don’t. Stop telling each other to “go to counseling.” Especially your spouses. We aliens are particularly embarrassed for you when we see how earthlings treat marriage lately. If you’re married, and you have some friends who encourage you to be hostile to your spouse, stop talking to those friends. If you’re a wife, and a feminist, but your brand of feminism makes you an angry and bitter wife, stop being a feminist. Ditto for the men. If you have a “buddy” and you’re a lousy husband because you have that buddy, stop talking to him. Being a spouse is not a pass-fail thing. If you are one, take pride in how good you are at being one, and get better at it every day.

When a corporation is taxed, it passes the tax on to the consumer. Stop taxing businesses, or electing politicians who pledge to tax businesses, because of your own shoddy economic circumstances. You has met the enemy and he is you.

If you’re watching me give this speech on a digital television, or on your iPhone, thank a nerd. Be nice to nerds. You earthlings are using high-tech gadgetry all over the world, even in what you call “third-world nations.” Everything you have that you want to keep, you got from nerds. But you work so hard at being hostile to nerds, and making sure your kids won’t grow up to be nerds. It’s like you’d rather have your kids grow up to be spoiled brats, than nerds. If you have a daughter, and you catch her being snarky or mean to the nerds just because they’re nerds, take her cell phone away until she figures out how it came to be. She’ll thank you later.

That brings me to another point: Dogs weren’t built to be carried around in purses.

Stop smoking pot. You are at your silliest after you’ve been smoking pot. You should hear the things you say. But when you outlaw pot, outlaw it in your state, not the entire nation. Even better, outlaw it in your county. It’s a neighborhood quality-of-life issue. Stop telling people how to live, in places you’ve never been. From my planet, we can see you in New York telling people in Montana how fast they should be driving…and that makes us very sad. You have a Tenth Amendment. Use it. Local control is good.

Um…and on THAT note, fittingly, my speech is done since I’m not from here. I am Klaatu. I’m here to point out what you’re doing wrong, not tell you what’s right.

Just use some simple common sense, earthlings. Ever since you voted for Bill Clinton, you’ve been on a steep decline. Gort is upset. Straighten up and fly right, or face the wrath of Gort. We’ll be watching.

Cooling

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

It’s become yet another “Everybody Else Is Linking It, I Might As Well Link It Too” things. No further comment needed from me.

Last Monday – on ABC Radio National, of all places – there was a tipping point of a different kind in the debate on climate change. It was a remarkable interview involving the co-host of Counterpoint, Michael Duffy and Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. Anyone in public life who takes a position on the greenhouse gas hypothesis will ignore it at their peril.

Duffy asked Marohasy: “Is the Earth stillwarming?”

She replied: “No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you’d expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years.”

Duffy: “Is this a matter of any controversy?”

Marohasy: “Actually, no. The head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually acknowledged it. He talks about the apparent plateau in temperatures so far this century. So he recognises that in this century, over the past eight years, temperatures have plateaued … This is not what you’d expect, as I said, because if carbon dioxide is driving temperature then you’d expect that, given carbon dioxide levels have been continuing to increase, temperatures should be going up … So (it’s) very unexpected, not something that’s being discussed. It should be being discussed, though, because it’s very significant.”

Let’s Get Rid of Some Words

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

This blog, which nobody actually reads anyway, occasionally invents new words. We did it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

This morning I’d like to propose something different. Let’s get rid of some words.

Namely, these two: “unite” and all derivatives, “unify,” “unity,” etc…and “divide.”

Scrap ‘em.

They don’t mean anything anymore.

I’ve really had it up to here with being told what a wonderful speech was delivered by He Whose Middle Name Must Never Be Used. It has really gone around the bend. Even in Bob Herbert-land, it has become a special brand of nonsense.

The speech, which has gotten wonderful reviews, should be required reading in classrooms across the country — and in as many other venues as possible. With a worldview that embraces both justice and healing, Senator Obama is better on these issues than any American leader since King.

Unfortunately, what is more likely to happen is that the essence of the speech will be lost in the din that inevitably erupts whenever there is a racial controversy in the United States.

The fundamental message that Senator Obama is trying to get across is that the racial madness that has perverted so many elections needs to stop — and stop now.

And the best way we can do that, is to toss His Obamaness out on his ear. And toss now.

HateSen. Obama’s reverse-racist pastor got caught spewing his vitriol on YouTube…thank heavens we live in the age of YouTube…and they’re telling me Obama addressed this with a wonderful speech that helped “unify” the country on the subject of race. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe his speech was all about how all black churches have hateful crap like this and us “typical white persons” should just learn to deal with it. That, in 2008, crap-hockers like Herbert tell me, is “unifying.”

Not only is it divisive, but beneath the glaring incompetence at recognizing the difference between those two, which Obama evidently has — I struggle to think of a personal attribute that would more effectively disqualify a candidate from any important office.

Obama’s a poor leader, plain and simple. His qualification for the office he currently seeks — for any occupation — is that he has a golden throat. Fine. Let him sell cleaning solvents and exercise equipment on infomercials at three in the morning. He can do that all week, and then on Sunday go back to those “services.”

How embarrassing. People are dividing us and we’re calling them “uniters” — and the worst part is, it seems we’re just following through on something we’ve been doing for forty years. They make their careers out of telling us how different we are due to the color of our skin, and we reward them by allowing them to continue those careers as long as possible, becoming as rich as possible.

Hey, maybe if I was Obama I’d want my cut too. But I think we should stop looking at this garbage and thinking of it as unifying…in any way at all. We’re being divided. Divided, by racists and hucksters who want us to be divided. And then they tell us they’re unifying us.

Beyond ridiculous.

What’s in a Name?

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

My first name is Morgan, and I’ve had it for almost forty-two years.

So yeah, damn straight this is right, I can vouch for that personally.

According to an academic survey, men and women make extensive assumptions about someone’s lifestyle and character based simply on their Christian name.
:
“Traditional names with royal associations are viewed as highly successful and intelligent, and so parents hoping for successful offspring might want to avoid more unusual names,” Professor [Richard] Wiseman [of Hertfordshire University] said.

“Attractive female names tended to be soft-sounding and end with the ‘ee’ sound, whereas the sexiest male names are short and much harder sounding.”

For the experiment, 7,000 volunteers were asked to imagine they were about to meet a group of men and women.

They were then given a list of 20 male and 20 female names and asked to identify who they thought would be the most successful, attractive and lucky.

Professor Wiseman found women were “more judgmental” in how they assessed others based on their name.

“Women share strong opinions about names, whereas men are more even-handed,” he said.

I can’t put a lot of stock into what the researchers figured out the names actually meant to people. The charts listed in the article, don’t quite match up with what I’d expect. And I’m inclined to continue believing what I would have originally expected.

But the idea that the names mean something to people…that seems like something that isn’t open to doubt, or shouldn’t be. Jenilee…Jerilee…Jane. Those women are going to be different.

Of course, it’s different when women try to figure out what “Morgan” means. They’re full of it. That name — people really don’t know what to make of it. Crazy? Stable? Nice guy? Pirate? Well…that’s one of the cool things about me. But it don’t matter, I’m off the market. Arrrgggghh.

Everyone Gets a Raw Deal

Monday, March 24th, 2008

The post previous to this one inspected the possibility about whether the CIOs in our information management businesses might be causing the problems…about which…they do their grumbling. Said problems having to do with this alleged “IT skills shortage.” My answer boils down to Yes, but not in the way most people think. I believe a trend exists wherein everything in Information Technology is being distilled down to a step-by-step process, with no problem-solving skills necessary, no knowledge about how things actually work necessary. The goal is to make all skills economical — portable — easily transferred to the next person. And, IT being a big thing, all skills within it simply don’t translate that way. They’re trying to put fifty pounds of potatoes in a twenty pound bag. So yes, we should blame the CIOs.

I hope people found that one to be thoughtful. A lot of people decide this stuff with feelings, and you know, that’s the second sign that you are going insane.

What happens when you go insane? You can’t make decisions that are beneficial or productive anymore…or at least, are beneficial or productive on a frequency greater than random chance. You leave it to others to make things better, as a best-case scenario — worst-case scenario being, you jump in and bollux it all up for them.

And here’s a great example of that: Via ZNet Cartoons, via Alas! A Blog!, via Glenn Sacks writing in Men’s News Daily:

Niiiiiiiiicccceeee……….

Why do I find this cartoon to be insane? Because it derogates the accomplishments of white people, indeed is calculated and designed to do that very thing, and I’m a white person? No. Because it fails to navigate the first triad and it cannot culminate into a thought that will navigate that triad: FACT…OPINION…THING TO DO. The fact it seeks to point out is that white people benefit from racism without knowing it. What opinion are we to draw from this? That white people are, typically, less competent than they believe themselves to be? I think even among people who sympathize with the cartoon, most of them would be reluctant to jump to that conclusion. They’d need to see a few more facts.

And forget about the Thing-To-Do. Just forget it. What are we to do about this? Well gee, affirmative action with quotas might seem like the only reasonable way to go…that might seem like a sound plan…to people who feel their way around problems rather than thinking their way through them. All those who seek to define a goal before they make their plans, so they can assess their progress toward that goal…abandon all hope ye who enter here. What are you trying to do? Make everyone the same? Lay the smack down on whitey? Give persons-of-color opportunity? Cool down racial tensions? People who want the first two to happen, can’t say how that helps anyone. People who want the third thing to happen, can’t say how that’s supposed to work, over the long term. And people who want the fourth thing to happen, by supporting quotas in college admissions, hiring and contracting, work diligently against the goals they say are theirs.

Over on Alas!, there are just shy of a hundred comments about this cartoon. I’m particularly interested in #5, #6, #8, #10, #16 and #47.

Sailorman doesn’t seem to think too highly of the comic. He ‘fesses up that he can’t draw, but if he could this is the strip he’d do in response…what follows is a panel by panel description of what happened to the white folks and their ancestors — the darker side.

Jake Squid calls him a “right-winger.”

Sailorman points out that Squid is engaging in ad hom; Jake Squid denies it, then engages in it again.

Ampersand, who seems to be the CEO of the blog, does some backpedaling…

Sailorman, I’m not sure where the cartoon said that white people have it easy, or don’t work for what they get. The person was offered “a foot in the door,” not the keys to the executive washroom; the white couple was given a mortgage, not a free house.

What the cartoon does say (in my view) is that white people have it easier than black people, and that the system works in a way that makes it easy for white people to be unaware of how they’ve benefited from racism. I don’t think believing that requires believing that white people are handed the world on a silver platter.

I call it backpedaling because if one accepts the point of the original cartoon, and from that does navigate the first triad of fact/opinion/thing-to-do, albeit in an insane way — it’s almost certain that whatever navigation that was, it just got scuttled by Ampersand’s miniaturization of the original point that was being made. White people are being given, not free stuff, but opportunities. Oops. Well, here’s news for Ampersand — a lot of people who saw the cartoon and liked it, it doesn’t seem at all a logical leap to say, thought the stuff that belongs to white people should be taken away from them. What else is to be done? We shouldn’t do that? The cartoon seeks only to make white people more thankful for the opportunities they’ve had? Eh…if that’s the case, it’s not that good of a cartoon, because it doesn’t seem to stop there. I’m pretty sure Jake Squid isn’t stopping there. He thinks you’re a “right-winger” if you simply bring up some historical points the cartoon might’ve forgotten to mention.

Leora, also, doesn’t find much use in Sailorman‘s point. But interestingly, when she discusses why this is, she makes his point all over again for him. Read her entry, all the way to the last paragraph:

What this comic (and Sailorman’s response) reminded me of is a very personal interaction I have in my own life. It is not exactly the same, but humor me on this analogy, ok?

My sister and I are both white females, both came from working class parents with a strong work ethic, and are both first-generation college educated with advanced degrees. Inasmuch as we can be similar, we are as sisters. The main difference in our lives is that she is able-bodied and I am disabled. (I am very obviously vision and hearing impaired.)

My sister is a very hard worker and has a successful career. I would not say that she hasn’t “earned” her successes because she put her nose to the grindstone, made the right decisions to get to her goals, and met her goals by working hard.

The difference between her and I is that she has always had the OPPORTUNITY to work hard. For her, say the goal is “D”. If she worked hard at A, it would get her to B. If she worked hard at B, it would get her to C. If she worked hard at C, it would get her to D. She pretty much has always had the benefit of the assumption that A B C=D. There was an obvious return to her investment.

For me, A may or may not = B, which may or may not get me to C, etc. And the time I will have to spend at any one of these steps (working just as hard or harder than my sister, is usually longer and may offer me less return on my investment.)

To use real life examples: My sister could earn money in high school by babysitting or doing high school fast food jobs. It was relatively easy for her to get the opportunities to work hard. I sat around a lot in high school earning way less money because people were less inclined to hire a deafblind babysitter or fast food worker. She had the opportunity to work hard.

She was in honors programs and I was in special ed, which didn’t even allow me to take the qualifying tests for honors programs. She worked hard in her honors programs because she had the opportunity to work hard.

She got through college more quickly than I did because she was able to work to pay for college at a much increased rate than I did. I did work, in high school and college, but I spent much more time job hunting and doing volunteer work to get my foot in the door or begging for more hours than she did. She did work hard to put herself through college, as did I, but the benefits allowing her to work hard gave her more opportunities.

Most notably, she got many jobs and internships, etc. by word of mouth. Someone would recommend her and she would get hired. I had people who were also willing to vouch for me, and they would come back to me apologetically saying that they put in a good word for me but that the other person said that they just didn’t know if they could see themselves hiring a disabled person.

In her case, with all of these opportunities to work hard, she was able to build on her success over time. In my case, any accomplishment I earned in the past by hard work was not likely to count for anything past my disability. Her past accomplishments led to more opportunities to work hard and earn more successes. I have to start over proving myself at every opportunity as if I have no past. I have to defend myself for things that may or may not happen in the future. I have no past and no future in regards to earning things, her past accomplishments are step ladders for her and no one expects her to prove that she will never make a mistake in the future she cannot foresee.

So, I have never understood this argument that sailorman gives. No one is saying that white people didn’t work hard to earn their successes. But don’t they understand how fortunate they are to have those opportunities to work hard? And how frustrating it is when you want to work hard, you have the skills, you have played by the rules, yet there is no return? Working hard and earning success is a privilege that is not afforded equally to everyone in society. Why is that so hard to understand?

As an interesting epilogue here, my sister has now reached the proverbial glass ceiling in her career. She is finding that she has reached a point that she cannot move out of. A B C is no longer easily equal to D. She is seeing younger, less qualified men jump past her in promotions and opportunities. And I’m sure they worked hard, too.

So the privileged sister peaked out, and now must take her turn on the sidelines watching men leapfrog over where she is, just because they’re MEN. “And [Leora's] sure they worked hard, too.” Uh huh…and I’ll tell you something else, Leora: Those men had to put up with a lot of guff that didn’t get in the way of your privileged sister…or you. They could have had their careers destroyed by some underachieving woman, not even all that good-looking, or for that matter even having anything to do with the guy at all — going to Human Resources and saying “when he walked into the room he made me feel uncomfortable.”

One wonders, further, how many opportunities this privileged sister had that were denied to the men who are now passing her up, back when it was fashionable to hand the plum assignments out to the gals. Can anyone deny there is such a force of nature at work here? We’re seriously considering putting a woman in the White House this year — a nasty, toxic woman who has accomplished very little, and doesn’t seem to have a kind word to say about anyone except when it’s in the context of bashing someone else. And for that matter, does Leora really expect me to think it is never in vogue to hand things out to a disabled person? It hasn’t happened in her case? Shenanigans. What if we went and talked to the privileged sister? What would she say?

I’m sure if we tallied up the unfair advantages and got into a subtraction game, net-for-gross, Leora’s point would still stand. But…a subtraction game is useful only if you’ve validated that you’ve collected everything that should go into it. In this case, there’s no way to validate it. We live in a big complicated world full of people gaining “unfair” advantages all the time. And there’s another question to be pondered — aren’t we supposed to be working together for some things? When did this become a competition against each other?

My point is that all this stuff is useless. All these arguments to be made are “valid,” on the most superficial level anyway, because they all have a kernel of truth to them. But just a kernel. You can’t really do anything with any of them…all they say is that this class of people, or that class of people, got a raw deal.

I like the idea of white people being more thankful for the advantages they’ve had — but that’s good advice for anyone isn’t it? Here and there, I know I’ve had benefits because of the friendships I’ve had, as well as whatever class to which someone thinks I’m a member. I’ve been hurt too — passed over for opportunities that went to persons far less qualified.

You really open a Pandora’s Box when you say because Morgan was passed over for something, Morgan is owed something by someone. We just shouldn’t get into that. Nobody owes Morgan anything…because everyone gets a raw deal. And it logically follows that for whatever opportunities I have had come my way…I don’t owe anybody anything either. Just some gratitude toward those who made it possible. Anything beyond that, we have to get into the whallopin’ countin’ business. Oh no, to make up for past opportunities he shouldn’t have gotten, we gave this guy three whallops, now we think on it some more we see he only had two whallopin’s comin’. He gets one back, so who does he get to whallop?

And once you start that crap, it never ends. Worse still, someone has to get the job of figuring out how many whallopin’s so-and-so has comin’ to ‘em. And ultimately, that is a position involving so much power, we shouldn’t want anyone to have it.

Does that make someone angry?

Then that would be a sign someone is participating in the formation of our public policies, and they aren’t engaging any spirit of compromise before doing so — they just want things their way, period. If we’re looking for something somewhere that needs fixing, I think we should start there.

Blame the CIOs

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

There are a lot of ways to look at this:

The real problem behind the skills shortage is that many companies don’t keep IT professionals for the long stretch.

CIOs keep complaining that they can’t find workers with the skills they need. In fact, two recent surveys on top issues among IT executives—one from the Society for Information Management and another by Robert Half Associates—rank finding skilled IT professionals as the No. 1 issue.

Many IT executives gripe that universities are not producing a stream of IT graduates who are prepared to function in the business world. Some worry about the unflattering image of technical professionals as socially awkward. But no one is more to blame for the skills shortage than CIOs, especially those at large companies. The reality is that IT executives are creating the skills shortage they grumble about.

Point one: …about which they grumble. That’s the way you do it, about which they grumble. What’s so hard about that? It’s not awkward at all. “…they grumble about” is just plain wrong. Anybody who’s seen Beavis and Butthead Do America knows, a preposition is not something you ever want to end a sentence with.

Point two is best articulated by blogger friend Virgil:

Funny thing about us americans.

We want everything yesterday and when we’re done with it.

We throw it away.

Appears to me that we have now reached that point with employee’s if I read this article in CIO – Insight correctly…Perhaps it is time to look in the mirror and realize that the problem is in fact us as we are reaping what we are sowing.

My take on this is slightly different. I believe in things like mentoring, friendships, setting up the “two way street” and so forth. To the extent that is voluntary and not a mandate from on-high from some busybody politician telling real businessmen how to run their businesses, sure I can get behind that.

Vast Power of CertificationPoint three is mine: We are very confused — and I think the blame for this does fall somewhat on the CIOs — about what it is we mean when we use the term “skills.” What do we mean by that? The problem is, as I see it, that we’ve just finished undergoing the most insidious and extremist flavoring of thought-replacement possible, and that is the thought-replacement that is achieved by means of word-replacement. Skills, skills, skills…think about it. Your sink is busted and you need a plumber who has skills. What does “skills” mean in that context? It means, plain and simply, someone with the ability to fix your sink.

There it is, no ifs, ands or buts. And yet — that isn’t what CIOs talk about anymore when they use the word “skills.” They mean something very different. This is proven easily: You can be “more skilled” or “less skilled” than another plumber. There are plumbing problems some can fix that others can’t. This is an ancient tradition dating back to Roman times and before — apprentices, journeymen, etc.

We’re getting rid of that ancient tradition. “Skills” is becoming a pass-fail thing. You have it or you don’t.

Blogger friend Buck and I got into another one of our friendly disagreements about this:

…from Business Week:

The controversy over visas for high-skilled workers from abroad looks like it’s about to get even hotter.

The program for what are known as H-1B visas was originally set up to allow companies in the U.S. to import the best and brightest in technology, engineering, and other fields when such workers are in short supply in America. But data just released by the federal government show that offshore outsourcing firms, particularly from India, dominate the list of companies awarded H-1B visas in 2007. Indian outsourcers accounted for nearly 80% of the visa petitions approved last year for the top 10 participants in the program. The new data are sure to fuel criticism of the visa program from detractors such as Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.). “These numbers should send a red flag to every lawmaker that the H-1B visa program is not working as it was intended,” said Grassley in an e-mail.

[…]

Critics such as Grassley and Durbin charge that the outsourcers are abusing the U.S. program. The work visas, they say, are supposed to be used to bolster the U.S. economy. The idea is that companies like Microsoft, Google, or IBM can use them to hire software programmers or computer scientists with rare skills, fostering innovation and improving competitiveness. Instead, critics say, companies such as Infosys and Wipro are undermining the American economy by wiping out jobs.

[…]

A clash is likely in the coming months. Durbin and Grassley are pushing for more restrictions in the program, even as tech companies are advocating for a sharp increase in the number of visas handed out each year. The senators want to tighten the program’s criteria, by requiring participating companies to try to hire American workers first and to pledge that visa workers will not displace American workers. U.S. tech companies, meanwhile, want Congress to increase the visa cap from 65,000 a year to at least 115,000.

I agree with Senators Durbin and Grassley… it appears the Indian outsourcers are abusing the program. But I also agree with the corporate IT guys in that we—the US― need more H-1B visas, not less. Finding qualified American IT workers was pretty danged hard in my day, and I can only imagine the situation is worse these days and not better…given the growth in the IT industry. I had a bunch of database administrators (primarily Oracle DBAs) working for me in the last job I held. Out of the five DBAs on my team three were Indian, one was Russian, and only ONE was American. And these are six-figure jobs we’re on about, Gentle Reader. The financial incentives and rewards are substantial in the IT field, particularly for DBAs, so why don’t we have more native-grown talent in these areas? That remains a mystery to me…

And how, exactly, was I supposed to pass that up? I couldn’t move on without turning that rock over…

Durbin, et al, are correct just like you are, but their motives aren’t as pure as yours. They’re just beating up on eevyl korporashuns to keep themselves in good graces with the watermelons (green on outside red on inside).

This word “skills” is very seldom explored meaning-wise. It needs exploration because it’s a Yin-Yang thing, and has two different meanings in the two worlds. In the world of Yang it is demonstration that you have completed coursework, and in the world of Yin it is aptitude. I have skill pumping gas into my car. Now if the time comes where there is certification handed out for pumping gas into a car, and I don’t have it, the inquiry “Does Morgan have skill pumping gas into a car” will elicit a definite yes from half of us and a definite no from the other half.

So in my world, when Bill Gates goes to Congress and says he needs more H1-B’s to address this lack of “skill” he must have a different meaning in mind of what “skills” are than I do. (In fact he does, because his statistics have to do with number of graduates from computer science courses.) That, or else America has gotten really atrophied at the “there’s [a way] to do this and I’m gonna find it by cracky” meme that used to be our defining characteristic, what made the country great and wonderful.

I like my world a lot better and I think Mr. Gates should [too]. It has to do with getting the job DONE. On time, under budget. Not following rules…not showing you have the right letters after your name. PERforming over CONforming. Not to badmouth my accredited, and sometimes overly-accredited, brethren in I.T. since having those kinds of “skills” is not mutually-exclusive from being able to do the job. But it isn’t synonymous either.

And the fact of the matter is, if we all agreed on what the word “skills” meant, and we were all concerned about getting the contraption built on-time, under-budget, so it stays built and does what it’s supposed to do…and if America had the kind of spirit it had in the John Wayne days…this wouldn’t be an issue at all. We’d see what needs to be done, pick the most capable from among us, and get ‘er done.

To which Buck, former manager of database administrators, said…

You bring up some good points… but it takes more than just will to “git ‘r’ dun” these days. You can’t just pick up a book and figure out how to optimize a database, or worse: fix one when it goes belly-up. Same thing where sys admin (in general) is concerned. It takes a lot of study or natural talent (similar to that “talent” for languages), coupled with experience, to be effective in tech. But you know this…

Yes I do. And Buck is absolutely right. Right, anyway, about the subject immediately under discussion, which is database administration. And with very few exceptions, I would broaden that floodlight out to shine on anything in Information Technology with the word “administrator” in the job title: E-mail administrator, access administrator, etc.

Your needs here aren’t at all like having a plumber fix your sink; not by a damn sight. You have anything you’ll be using that interfaces with a larger network…a car that needs to be registered…a phone that needs to be plugged in…you really want the work done the way anybody else would do it. Otherwise you embark on this technical-support tumbling-dominoes nightmare — we’ve all been there, haven’t we? “Sorry, Mr. X, I have another call to make and I’m going to have to come back to this…I don’t know who did the previous work on this, but it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before…it’s just weird…”

But then there is the job I held when I was a “Sr. LAN Administrator.” The name of that job was converted when I got a new boss who didn’t have a technical background and couldn’t understand what “Sr. Network Systems Engineer” meant. That job had a very simple definition, both before and after the name change: It was at the top of the ladder of escalation resources for technical problems that could not be resolved by others.

Hence my comments about PERforming versus CONforming. When problems are kicked upstairs to you, it really doesn’t do you or anybody else an awful lot of good for you to do things exactly the same way others have done them. If that worked, after all, the problem would already be solved wouldn’t it?

Yes, it would. So Buck’s comments have a validity to them; the validity extends well over what he has in mind. That validity does not extend to what I have in mind. Information Technology is a big world, in which you need his type of skill as well as mine.

So through this word replacement game, what we’re doing is eradicating, completely, PERforming in favor of CONforming. We’re making entire IT farms scrubbed clean of anybody who does anything outside of the box. And we don’t even have the vocabulary necessary to reverse this if we choose to, because now the word “skills” has been re-defined to infuse all IT farms with more of the same: Bright, golf-shirt-and-goatee wearing “engineers” richly skilled in Step 1 Step 2 Step 3, who, if the previous guy didn’t work that way (or something’s just plain busted) may not understand enough about how things work to fix little bits of it.

They are valuable people. We need them. But they are admins, not engineers.

I think the vision of the CIOs makes sense on some level. The assumption under which they’re operating is that when one of these unorthodox problems comes up that requires this escalation to guys who can think outside of the box and do things differently than the way the next guy might do them…it was probably caused by one of those guys. Speaking as one of those guys, I do have to say I can see the merits of this argument. I have seen this happen many times. Someone didn’t follow rules…someone who has an “admin” job and wants to have an “engineering” job and acted as an “engineer” when he was expected to act like an “admin”…and now we have a mess.

But I still blame the CIOs for that.

I blame them because it’s simplistic thinking, the kind of thinking they’re paid good money to avoid, to say this is the cause of all IT woes. This drive to expunge IT of anybody who colors outside the lines and saturate it with the “step 1 do this step 2 do that” mindset, makes sense only if you presume this is the only type of technical problem we can have. And after twenty years in the biz, I think I can provide my assurances that this is not the case.

I further blame them because it’s an avoidance of responsibility. This thing we talk about now when we use the word “skills” — it isn’t like the olden days when you’d talk about someone’s skills after spending years personally witnessing his use of them — it’s decidedly a third-party definition. You have skills, I point out you have skills, and what I mean is there is some third party esteemed accreditation institution that has put out a piece of paper that says you have the skills. Nobody expects me to know anything about the details, I’m just Player B. And, of course, if we’re talking about another guy who also has these “skills” it is logically impossible to compare the two of you. It’s strictly pass-fail.

You know, in IT and outside of it, we have a need for pass-fail jobs: You’re qualified to do them, or you aren’t. My point is that all jobs are not like that. If you’re going in for brain surgery or heart bypass surgery, you aren’t going to be satisfied with a surgeon who went through a pass/fail and got his piece of paper saying he’s got “skills.” You’ll want to know a bit more than that. You’ll be throwing around the word “skills” with the spirit in which we used to use it. You’ll want to talk to someone who’s worked with your surgeon, preferably for years, with a big ol’ saga of war stories to tell.

And I think people need to understand that with all the services they use, Information Technology is not going through a process of confining that kind of talent to the very top. It’s going through a process of cleaning it out. Everybody in our data center, top to bottom, is here to follow rules, to CONform and not to PERform. If something pops up and nobody can figure it out…well…nobody will figure it out. We’ll end up replacing huge things at great cost instead of smaller things at reduced cost — and don’t even ask what that will do to the delivery schedule involved in the repair, you don’t wanna know. We are making it into a bureaucracy — it only works if everybody follows the rules. Nothing Invented Here.

…here, where we expect things to be invented.

A lot of people don’t see an issue with that. I think I see a big one. Time will tell if I’m right.

Update 3/24/07: Run, don’t walk, over to Phil’s place to see what he has to say about this.

Symbiosis

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Just a quick afterthought. I always have these whenever liberals propose something that does absolutely nothing, zilch, zero, nada, not a single thing other than forcing people to live life less. I think of these nuggets whenever liberals try to force incremental suicide on people.

You could think of this as the latest installment of “What Is A Liberal?” But it’s too short for that.

It occurs to me that the root of our ideological split here, is that liberals are acting on a primal urge. The presentation at any given time is based on a future event which, if it were to unfold the way they say (and if you were to remember history), would confound presentations that come afterward. The liberal has a proposal. He looks around and sees that we are living in an antagonistic relationship with each other; his proposed idea would put us into a symbiotic one. You spew carbon and are therefore killing the planet. You are keeping the money you make and are denying it to “needed social programs.” You aren’t paying enough tax on your income; your purchases; your gasoline; your tolls. You are killing the Iraqis. You are poisoning the caribou. The oil companies, in turn, are poisoning you. And if you have a gun, it’s just a matter of time before you shoot me with it.

The conservatives are putting out the message that we are already living in a symbiotic relationship. I breathe out and I spew my carbon, it’s a wonderful thing because the trees and plants need the carbon for photosynthesis. Notice that science, on this point, sides with the conservatives. The oil companies supply the gasoline I need to get to work, earn my money and live my life. Hard facts and evidence, here again, side with the conservatives. Furthermore, if the taxes are raised we’re just going to buy less stuff…and if the taxes are raised on the oil companies, they’ll just pass that on to the consumer. Once again: Economic science and historical evidence side with the conservatives.

The liberal says, enact my proposal and we’ll enter into a symbiotic relationship. Next week, the liberal will have another proposal, and offer the same pitch — he won’t admit the last proposal failed to get us into this symbiotic relationship. He won’t offer to roll back this previous failed proposal. To our discredit, nobody will call on him to do so…

The conservative says we’re already in the symbiotic relationship. You are good for me. I am good for you. We can all go on doing exactly what we’re doing. The only thing we should really change is to get those damn liberals to stop voting.

Reason, fact, logic and common sense all side with the conservative. Time after time after time after time after time. The liberal pretends it isn’t so, something about “no WMD in Iraq” or “no connection between Saddam and 9/11.” He goes through this phony little puppet show of pretending to embrace reality. But his proposals all have it in common, that they say we’re not yet in a symbiotic relationship, and this latest proposal will put us in one.

And it never works.

Next time the liberal has another proposal, he’s the first to admit that the previous one didn’t work.

It isn’t a plan, it’s an itch, an insecurity, a spectacle of ignorance. Liberals lack the cognitive ability to understand they’re in a symbiotic relationship, unless they can actually see someone authoring and implementing a plan to put us in one. Being born into one, is something that is beyond their comprehension. They see conflict where it doesn’t exist.

Update: Thinking this through some more…I’m aware of just a few more situations in which the liberal mind will tolerate the recognition of a symbiotic relationship. I can think of three. This is an exhaustive list.

1. The above mentioned situation in which a symbiotic relationship is a near-future product, to be harvested up thanks to the liberal idea whose seeds we are supposed to be sowing now. This doesn’t really count, because it of course spares the liberal from the sentiments and behavior which customarily go with a present and active symbiotic relationship.
2. A symbiotic relationship with animals. You know…caribou, polar bears, snail darters, spotted owls. Or, space aliens, or people who look significantly different. Think Louis Gossett in a rubber mask in “Enemy, Mine.” This is a cosmetic symbiotic relationship, cultivated for the purpose of being paraded around. Rich white straight guy runs a company that spews toxic waste killing cold-blooded ugly spiky things, no public-relations benefit…rich white straight guy runs a company that spews toxic waste killing furry, warm-blooded cute things…much better. Now the rich white straight guy is easily portrayed as a terrible person, by means of some heroic figure forming a bond with the warm blooded cute things. This doesn’t really count either, because the purpose of the relationship is to hold a third party in contempt. The liberal doesn’t need to care about the supposed object of this symbiosis; and, very frequently, doesn’t.
3. The relationship formed with others of like minds and interests. This is what liberalism is all about, post Wagner Act. You work for me, I give you two months vacation out of the year, you think you should get four. I tell you to go pound sand. You form a union with nine other people who also work for me and think they should get four months vacation…now I can’t tell you to go pound sand. This counts — the ten of you have a a symbiotic relationship with each other, in the truest sense. But it doesn’t exactly inspire warm feelings, because if any one among the ten of you say “you know, I think two months vacation is plenty” the other nine of you are going to rip him a new asshole.

So that is how liberals see symbiotic relationships. They are pipe dreams, just tidbits of fiction cooked up about the future to sell a plan that would otherwise be revealed instantly as a bad idea; they are asymmetrical relationships with decidedly inferior beings to be paraded around to show how the liberal is a Good Persontm; or, they are groupings in which the collective bullies and coerces the individual, and the individual is expected to follow a bunch of rules for the benefit of the collective, which will then mess up the individual if he doesn’t toe the line.

Other than those three classes, I can’t think of a single example of a liberal being allowed to believe in a symbiotic relationship. Because any other specimen of symbiotic faith would make him into something like a conservative.

While You’re At It, Why Don’t You Just Kill Yourselves?

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Now, you see? What was I just telling you? You can’t ignore the evidence; it’s long ago stopped knocking, and has now climbed in the window and is giving us wedgies. People form their opinions about the issues based on their disgust with life — they don’t like living it and they don’t want anyone else living it either.

LC Rob sends us this:

Michigan Congressman Wants 50-Cent Tax Hike on Every Gallon of Gas

A Michigan congressman wants to put a 50-cent tax on every gallon of gasoline to try to cut back on Americans’ consumption.

Polls show that a majority of Americans support policies that would reduce greenhouse gases. But when it comes to paying for it, it’s a different story.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., wants to help cut consumption with a gas tax but some don’t agree with the idea, according to a new poll by the National Center for Public Policy Research.

Making Dingleberry one and the same as the Hildebeest, Barack Osama, Joe Lieberman and, of course, McVain (Shit Sandwich – AZ), the “conservative” candidate, none of whom have the slightest idea what they’re talking about, which is the reason why none of them have a real job.

The poll, scheduled to be released on Thursday, shows 48 percent don’t support paying even a penny more, 28 percent would pay up to 50 cents more, 10 percent would pay more than 50 cents and 8 percent would pay more than a dollar.

And they’re certainly more than welcome to, should they so desire. All they have to do is to keep a running tally of their gas consumption, multiply the number of gallons with their chosen voluntary extra tax and write the amount on a check for the National Treasury.

But before they start clamoring for everybody else having to do so as well, we would like to remind them that the added cost of transporting everything they buy in stores, from paper clips over milk to plasma TVs, will have to be covered by somebody or the producers thereof will go out of business. You’ll get exactly three guesses as to who will get the honor of paying that.

And let’s not even think about the idiocy inherent in Michiganders wanting to hike the gas tax. As far as we recall, that particular state is known for a particular industry that wouldn’t do too well with rising costs at the pump, an industry that isn’t doing too well as it is.

Which brings us back to the headline of this post.

Imbeciles.

This is a plague, and a dangerous one. Nearly half of us would pay more? Just…to be able to say they did? Not for the purpose of paying for something, just to throw away their hard-earned dough on some perverted notion of the “common good”?

These people get just as many votes as I do? I have to ask the question: Why don’t they give that up too?

You know, you aren’t guaranteed the right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. I propose a test. A pencil-and-paper multiple-choice test…or something on a web page written in PHP…or a customized machine kind of like a lie detector. Call it an “I Like Life” test. An “I Think Life Is Worth Living” test; an “I Think People Are Not A Pestilence” test.

You pass it, you can vote, you don’t you can’t.

We’ve gotta do something to stop this.

Feeling Bullies

Friday, March 21st, 2008

I could write paragraph after paragraph about how simple and inevitable it is for deciding-by-feeling to turn to bullying, imposing your will on others without compromise, even while you insist you’re doing the opposite. How feeling your way around problems rather than thinking your way through them, is the province of the dictatorial martinet, and not of those who are genuinely open to mutually-beneficial compromise. On this, I could write a manifesto that would suck up your time like a black hole and make your eyeballs bleed.

And I’d never capture it as elegantly as Chris Muir did this morning:

Anti-Danger, Anti-Achievement, Anti-Defense, Anti-Life

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

This morning I was rubbing my hands together in giddy glee over the finding that the Nintendo Wii is not environmentally friendly, or at least, is not perceived to be that (Nintendo’s crime against the environment seems to be mostly related to a failure to divulge information about being clean, which is different from a substantiation of evidence about being dirty). My comment was,

The anti-corporate pro-enviro hippies, are hopefully going to be locked in a huge fracas with the video-gamers and therefore with the kid-dumbing-down people. I hope. It’s always fun to watch the anti-achievement types feast on their own.

Hundreds of thousands of e-mails have poured in and called my attention to…

…alright, nobody’s uttered a peep about it. But it nevertheless occurs to me, even though this is The Blog That Nobody Reads, that I should expound.

Surely you’ve noticed, haven’t you. The people here stateside as well as across the pond in Europe, who are so quick to rap us across the knuckles for taking out Saddam Hussein — offer little or no alternatives for us to defend ourselves in any other way from the threat of worldwide terror. Oh yes, I know, many among them will say we were “distracted” from the “hunt for Osama bin Laden” when he was “in Afghanistan.” They imply in a bullying way, but usually do not come out and say word-for-word in any true sense of commitment, that had we focused on Afghanistan they’d be behind our defensive efforts a hundred percent.

These are the very same folks who are all gung-ho about going after the globular-wormening ManBearPig, insisting that the climate of the earth is changing, we homo sapiens are the cause, it’s a done deal, the “science is settled,” and hey even if this turns out not to be the case it’s just as well that we act as if it is.

You can see where I’m going with this now. They insist that the benefit of the doubt be awarded to the course-of-action that involves doing…on this issue over here…and the option that involves not doing on that issue over there.

People like me, on the other hand, are “inconsistent” in the opposite way; I think we should not do, here, and do, there.

Who is more properly inconsistent? Well, the most jarring empirical evidence, which is people-gettin’-killed, it seems to me is on my side. This thing over here hasn’t killed anyone. That issue over there has killed thousands…oh yeah, oh yeah, I know, no solid evidence connecting Saddam to the terrorist attacks, but that’s kind of my point. These people, in addition to being inconsistent, are nuts. The “no evidence” is just as good as “close my eyes and yell la-la-la-la I can’t hear you.” The people who say we should act even though we don’t know anything, about ManBearPig, are the same ones who say we should not act because we don’t know anything on a different threat that really has killed people.

Chicks with GunsSo my point is this: Since there are so many of these people, and they all agree with each other in near-lock-step about both Iraq and globular-wormening ManBearPig…two issues on which their mindsets conform to completely opposite philosophies about how we should behave on important issues when certainty is not forthcoming and doubt is rampant. In fact, we can toss in a third issue without upsetting this solidarity one bit, I notice: Guns and self-defense. People who are pro-global-warming-curtailing, are anti-Iraq, and pro-gun-control. The consistency from one pair of ears to the next, is just amazing. It’s north of 99 percent. So I say, let us look for consistencies in the arguments. Let us look for common threads that are sustained among these three issues, in the way all these people perceive them and grapple with them. Are there some?

I see one.

Before I get to that, though, let’s inject a fourth issue in a round-about way…and let us do this, by exploring one of my favorite web sites: TrafficCalming.org, where you can learn how to thwart, obstruct, derail and generally bollux-up the efforts of your neighboring human beings to…well…to move their asses from one place to the next. Which means, now, just about anything else anyone would be able to do once they get there.

This deepens, but does not broaden, our chore of looking for common threads. If you think it’s settled RIGHT NOW that we should do something about globular wormening, but we need to shut down the War on Terror, but we need to grab everybody’s guns and lock ‘em up — you probably think traffic calming is a wonderful thing. If you roll your eyes at it like I do, you probably think ManBearPig is a big ol’ scam, you probably think Saddam Hussein was just as much a dangerous spoiler jackass in 2003 as he was in 1993 & it’s a good thing he’s gone, and you think the Second Amendment actually means what it says: Right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

So traffic calming, you see, fits right into the mold.

Traffic calming consists of operational measures such as enhanced police enforcement, speed displays, and a community speed watch program, as well as such physical measures as edgelines, chokers, chicanes, traffic circles, and (for the past four years) speed humps and raised crosswalks.

Edglines.

Chokers.

Chicanes, traffic circles, speed bumps and raised crosswalks.

What are these things? Well, they are devices that make traffic safe by making assumptions about you, the driver, which in turn cannot be borne out as legitimate or truthful unless they are analyzed in a purely statistical venue. If you go faster than X speed, you must be dangerous. If you can be bullied and cudgeled and coerced into going slower than X speed, you must be safe. If it’s three thirty in the morning and nobody’s around, why, that don’ matter none. You have to go slower than twenty-five miles per hour, and once we make you drive that slowly, surely some lives will be saved.

It sounds like it came from…from…could it be? Why, yes it is!

European traffic calming began as a grassroots movement in the late 1960s. Angry residents of the Dutch City of Delft fought cut-through traffic by turning their streets into woonerven, or “living yards.” This was followed by the development of European slow streets (designed for 30 kph or 20 mph) in the late 1970s; the application of traffic calming principles to intercity highways through small Danish and German towns in the 1980s; and the treatment of urban arterials in areawide schemes, principally in Germany and France, also in the 1980s. [emphasis mine]

Gotta hand it to those Europeans. The European ego isn’t one bit bruised by the fact that we yankees came up with the telephone…the car…the airplane…the innernets. They’ve got their claim to fame East of Greenwich. When you’re a busy guy trying to get things done, relying on all this American technology to beat the deadline so that that other guy can beat his deadline so that the people depending on him can meet their deadlines…here come the Europeans to mess everything up for you!

Thought you were getting to Point B by two-thirty this afternoon did you? Not after our roundabouts and raised crosswalks get done. Now feel the wrath of the residents of Delft!

The really interesting thing about traffic calming, is its effectiveness is measured in traffic retardation on a miles/kilometers-per-hour basis, and a percentage basis — not on the basis of lives saved. I have to look at that a little bit funny. I have no choice but to do so.

I live in Folsom. We have our own “traffic calming” in terms of poorly-designed controlled intersections. Traffic lights that turn red just as you get to them, should you fail to exceed the speed limit by less than twenty miles an hour, and all that. You think that “calms” traffic, everybody in their shiny BMW’s having to stop constantly when they shouldn’t have to? Hell no. It turns them all into raging jackasses.

Sorry, fellow Folsom residents. You know it’s true. You know it damn good and well.

So on the notion that this makes traffic safer…I have to call bull poo. Even if you can pump out hundreds of studies showing the rate of speed has slowed. That’s a point in my favor, isn’t it? All the jackasses are spending more time inside city limits, after having been offered increased motivation for going all jackass?

There is a lesson here about human psychology. It is what ties together all these “let’s go ahead and stop global warming even though there’s no solid evidence we have to” types…in with the “naughty naughty naughty shame on you for taking out Saddam Hussein” types. It is what makes these two camps come together, even though their respective doctrines are 180 degrees opposed from each other. It is what makes them all such loud, bossy sunzabiches.

It is this:

Poor Widdle BabumsWhen you’ve made the decision that the stuff you do in your life doesn’t matter and shouldn’t be given much priority, you rankle at the idea of the stuff anybody else does with their lives being given any more priority than your stuff. The traffic-calming measures, with all the phony egghead studies “proving” that things must be safer because the traffic moves slower — they are metaphorical, of something much deeper and much more meaningful. When you’re in this boat, you want everybody to stop whatever it is they’re doing. To slow way down…until they stop. And sit. There’s really nothing rational about it. It’s a primal urge.

You don’t want anybody to make it anywhere on time to be able to do anything. Because you know you aren’t doing anything.

You don’t want anybody’s kids to grow up with a feeling of self worth, since your own kids aren’t growing up that way.

You don’t want anybody to consume anything, because you can’t justify consuming anything yourself. You can pretend you’re disturbed about the prospect of the whatever-it-is being depleted…but the truth of the matter is, you just want all motion around you to stop. Because you yourself aren’t moving.

That’s why the people who want to take your guns away are the same ones waggling their fingers at you about “emitting carbon” and those are the same people who prattle on about an “illegal and unjust war” — we should presume action is warranted in the face of doubt on one issue, and not on another issue. And those are the same people who think traffic is automatically safer if the drivers are frustrated in the efforts to get where they want to go. And those people, in turn, are the same ones getting all peevish if you buy your nephew a toy gun for his birthday. And those are the same people insisting that if said nephew is acting a little bit weird, he should be doped up on drugs and put in a special program.

And that once you’ve eventually triumphed over the round-abouts and traffic circles and gotten where you wanted to go, and made some money from doing it…you should be taxed up the ass. It’s human potential. It offends them.

This is easily substantiated. Because once you open your mind to the evidence involved — it’s really a little bit silly to try to argue Saddam Hussein was harmless. So people aren’t angry about the fact that Hussein was taken down, because he was a harmless guy. They’re angry Hussein was taken down because taking him down was a worthwhile thing that some brave, but ordinary, people did. That really gets in the craw of some among us. And that’s the truth.

Now, if you’re one among those “googooders” as Mike Royko used to call them, here, via Boortz, are some places where you can raise your kid. Notice how eager these googooders are to share notes on this stuff. Again: When you aren’t doing anything with your life, you don’t want anybody else to do anything with theirs, and when you aren’t raising your kid to grow up to be someone with guts and courage and resourcefulness, you don’t want anybody else’s kid growing up that way either.

To give you a quick idea of how much location matters, consider this: Kids are six times more likely to die from a violence-related injury in Alaska than they are in Massachusetts. In California, public playgrounds must meet all federal government safety recommendations, but 34 states offer no standards for where your kids climb, jump and swing. Connecticut and 20 other states have made big improvements in school-bus crossings, while 13, including Nebraska and Arizona, are way behind.

Location, location
1. Connecticut
2. Rhode Island
3. New Jersey
4. New York
5. California
6. Maine
7. Pennsylvania
8. Mass.
9. Maryland
10. Oregon

Oh, joy! Enough rules to crumple into a big ball and choke a horse to death! Or at least you could…if it wasn’t a federal crime to choke horses to death on things. And my Golden State is number five!

Of course, as any knuckle-dragging red-state real-man daddy like me knows, there’s a lot more to raising a boy into a man than just making sure he reaches Age Eighteen healthy and alive and whole. Us guys know that…but unfortunately, some eighty-eight years ago we went and gave them womyns the right to vote, and wouldn’t you know it the uppity females done gone out and started doing it. Now we have taxes up the ass…and rules rules rules, you can’t drive anywhere over thirty miles an hour because of those damn roundabouts, and in a few years you won’t be able to buy a car that can go that fast because we’ll have used the “carbon emissions” excuse to yank real cars off the road.

But our pwecious babums is going to be all safe. Won’t know how to do a God damn thing, but they’ll be safe.

Now you know the common thread. The common thread is — that people are cattle, and really aren’t worth anything. They shouldn’t be taught anything, they shouldn’t be raised to deal with danger, they aren’t worth defending, they can’t achieve anything and if they can, they should never be given the opportunity to do it. Might as well seal the damn things up in a great big jar and poke some holes in the lid.

This explains why when you face off against someone who insists we never should have taken down Saddam Hussein, and you ask well what should we have done instead — you don’t get anything. Just a deer in the headlights look, maybe a few stammering statements about George Bush being a really bad guy and his grandfather was connected to Nazis. Nothing about what to do. These people don’t come from the Land Of Do. They’re all about being, not doing…being…uh…well, happy. There’s nothing more in their lives than just that. So they don’t want anything more in your life than just that.

Funny thing is, though, when it comes to the anti-defense plank — they do think some folks are worth defending. Just the bosses. The kingpins of society. And you probably thought they were egalitarians, didn’t you?

I beg to differ. They’re aristocrats through and through. Earls Lords and Dukes are worth defending…Vicounts, Barons and anyone lower than that, are not.

Mr. Heller, the good guy in DC v. Heller, delivered one of the best slapdowns we’ve ever read when asked about the “safe streets” of DC:

At that point, a reporter interjected: “The Mayor (DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty) says the handgun ban and his initiatives have significantly lowered violent crime in the District. How do you answer that, Mr. Heller?”

The initial answer certainly wasn’t expected – Dick Heller laughed. Ruefully.

Pointing at the Mayor who was making his way across the plaza, surrounded by at least six DC police officers, Heller said, “The Mayor doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He doesn’t walk on the street like an average citizen. Look at him; he travels with an army of police officers as bodyguards—to keep him safe. But he says that I don’t have the right to be a force of one to protect myself. Does he look like he thinks the streets are safe?”

There was no follow-up question.

We bet there weren’t.

The anti-achievement anti-defense subjects have that in common too. The Wizened Elders who run our Bottle City are worthy of protection…we low-life scum, are not. They don’t think they’re worth it, and so they don’t think anybody else is worth it either.

Not unless you have six bodyguards or more guarding your pampered ass.

So you see, opposing the right to defend oneself and one’s family, opposing the privilege of driving to get somewhere in time, opposing the natural exigencies of life…ends up being, quicker than anyone imagines, opposing life.

These are the same blue-state numb-nuts who want good-lookin’ women to wear short hair and be fully clothed all the time. Like wearing a bunch of damned burqas. Hey, nuts to you. Here, choke on this:

Self-reliance. Achievement. Self-defense. Supporting what makes life possible, and makes life worth living. And, good-lookin’ girls with long hair in skimpy clothes. Stuff that real men like. That’s what America is all about. It is the American way.

This ultra-pasteurized version of lowercase-l “life”…this continent called “Europe” seems to be cultivating a rich culture in supporting that. Seems to be something like growing sea monkeys in bleach, but if that’s what toots the horn of my fellow lowercase-a “americans,” I suggest they move the hell there. Stop trying to turn this place into that place.

And take your stinking round-abouts with you.

Thing I Know #168. People with limited attention spans get peevish when they see other people doing a better job of paying attention; people who consistently champion peace over justice, get downright pernicious when they see someone else uphold justice.

Your Wii Is Dirty

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Oh boy, things are going to start happening now.

Toshiba and Samsung top the latest Greenpeace environmental ranking of consumer electronics companies.

The ranking, which was published on Tuesday, scores the world’s largest consumer electronics companies based on their recycling policies and the toxic content of their products.
:
However Japan’s Nintendo, manufacturer of the hugely popular Wii console and DS handheld gaming device, remains stuck near the bottom. It was introduced in the last survey and immediately became the only company to have ever scored zero. In the new ranking it has risen slightly to 0.3 points.

The low ranking reflects a failure on Nintendo’s part to provide detailed information about its environmental policies.

The anti-corporate pro-enviro hippies, are hopefully going to be locked in a huge fracas with the video-gamers and therefore with the kid-dumbing-down people. I hope. It’s always fun to watch the anti-achievement types feast on their own.

I’m going to be trying real hard to follow this…I probably won’t succeed…but I’ll try.

One-Line Thoughts on Race

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

I won’t be able to explain the times in which we live to my grandchildren. Or to a Rip van Winkle Buck Rogers type who woke up in these times after snoozing for generations. Or to a space alien who just landed here.

When we use the word “diversity” we apply it to things that are not diverse.

When we point out diversity is the source of our greatness, we proceed to talk about mediocre things and not great things.

When someone announces his intent to achieve racial unity, we know in the instant he says it he’s going to work to divide us.

When someone posts a job and uses those magic words “equal opportunity employer women and minorities encouraged to apply” — same breath — we no longer wince at the contradiction; to the contrary, we accept this as natural.

We argue with people who think “affirmative action” has something to do with racial quotas. Then we argue with the affirmative action people, if they make a move to leave the quotas out of it.

We claim to be color-blind when, in the instant the words are used, it’s implicitly understood we’re about to be anything-but.

We claim not to tolerate discrimination, when the one thing that will really get our cackles up is someone forgetting to discriminate.

We’re supposed to be gliding gradually toward racial unity, but we’ve been gliding in that direction for a very long time.

And the people who claim to be bringing us closer to it, seem to be working hard at pushing it farther away.

I also notice a lot of them are male…liberal or liberal-leaning…with northern or New England roots…and whiter than ivory.

There’s a remote chance in my declining years I will be called-upon to explain this, to make sense of it. I can’t do it now and I have strong doubts I’ll be able to do it then. I can only wish for a long life to those who are working so hard to keep things the way they are, so that they’ll be around to help me out with it, to jump in when my wrinkly old face is giving that deer-in-the-headlights look.

Because I’ve always been completely-freakin’-lost on this stuff. All of it.

Wicked Wok

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Via Holtie’s House:

Best Sentence XXVII

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

This morning’s BSIHORL (Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately) award is a tie.

Somewhere on Newsbusters there was an expose of some kind on Barack Obama. Unfortunately I neglected to record the exact link, and the Google Gods do not see fit to allow me to mend my ways. My impression is that said Google Gods are intoxicated and sluggished after having imbibed heavily from the elixir that is Pastor Jeremiah Wright. Perhaps some more skillful praying from me would have remedied that…perhaps not…the challenge is, I think, it was an Obama issue that pre-dates the Wright mess, and only slightly.

The article signed off with something to the effect of,

The media isn’t here to present the liberal candidate to the electorate, it is here to get the liberal candidate past the electorate.

We’ll keep on looking.

Since the exact wording, as well as the linky magic, is lost to time for now — the award will have to be shared with Gerard Van der Leun, who dropped this plum in a comment about his own work over at Rick’s Place, Brutally Honest:

Small minds are like large zits. Sooner or later you just gotta pop ‘em.

Well put, concise, meaningful, and Great Rainy Day In The Morning do I ever relate to that one.