Archive for April, 2008

Being an Ass

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Rick served up Zossima’s own hindquarters to him on a silver platter (see comments). Well done.

You have to have been around Rick’s place for awhile and seen Zossima in action to understand how this ball got slammed over the net. Apparently, in the world occupied by some among us, being an ass is something of a noble virtue — provided you cling to an appropriate ideology.

It brings to mind a certain David Horowitz quote Phil dug up last week.

Talking about Leftists in general – a culture he himself was once immersed and saturated in – David Horowitz used this description:

It’s a kind of religion … they get intoxicated with their own virtue … so I was always preaching. I never listened.

Intoxicated with their own virtue – the very thing they claim to hate about the religious right.

The thing of it is, though, President Bush wasn’t an ass the same way Zossima and others on the left so rigorously pursue their asshattery. He didn’t make up some conspiracy theory on the spot about the Jews blowing up the World Trade Center with C4, or about the U.S. Government manufacturing the AIDS virus to keep black people in line. He saw an airhead reporter was building a nonsensical cock-and-bull argument that he was contradicting himself, by a deceptive use of ten-second sound bites, and he steamrolled right over her to get his message out the way he intended.

He went over her head and talked directly with the American people.

But the point is, once you’re intoxicated with your own virtue the way our leftists are — and I doubt any one among them even remembers what, exactly, is so noble about their fight — it’s quite natural to claim an exclusive license to being an ass. And to start exercising it.

Buck’s New Shirt

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Nobody reads this blog, and he seems to think nobody reads his either. But blogger friend Buck has managed to have an effect on the tee shirt culture, if none other…

Well played, sir.

Don’t Fail Me Again…Admiral

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Dani Kanaan, on husband Tony’s qualification behind Danica Patrick.

During the qualifying rounds of last season’s Mid-Ohio race, Danica finished 2nd while Kanaan placed 3rd. When Dani heard the news, she had a simple request for her Tony:

“Could you do me a favor? In our motor home, in the bedroom, go to my closet. All the way in the back of the closet, there’s a blue dress. Maybe you should wear it next time you qualify!”

Ouch.

A little bit of pressure from home.

If Women Ran The World

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Kate says,

If women ran the world, we would not have the jet engine. It has nothing to do with intellect. It just isn’t in our nature to want one.

And as of this writing, there are 114 comments under it. Hmmm.

I have to take some issue with this. Nowadays, it is outside of the nature of a lot of men to want a jet engine. Or to confront historically masculine challenges of a far less ambitious nature…like, dropping a loogie on a leaf floating in the creek from a really high bridge, just to see if you can hit it.

In my time, the little girls had no idea what the fuss was about. Now nobody does. Call it inferential thinking…versus procedural. As time goes on, more and more of us want to engage in procedural thinking, and they want everyone else to think that way too. Step one, step two, step three — and forget all about the if-this-then-that stuff.

Good thing we have the jet engine already. Because we sure as hell wouldn’t be getting one from here on out, if we didn’t already have it.

Update 4/30/08: The linked article by Christina Hoff Sommers makes it clear, to me anyway, that the underlying trouble and confusion comes from a conflict between the inferentialists and the proceduralists. The subject under discussion is the Title IX “Hammer” getting ready to bang away at our nation’s science and technology departments. Science is inferential thinking wrapped up in procedural thinking — you do things a certain way, but at some point you use your individual intellect to figure out something that would otherwise elude you. If you don’t get that far in your efforts, they’re kind of pointless.

Regulating such a discipline into oblivion, on the other hand, is procedural thinking because it involves blowing the whistle on things that aren’t being done a certain way. As is the case with all step-1 step-2 step-3 things in life, there is no way to do it with excellence.

That’s why people who engage in procedural activities, see the world in pass-fail terms. And they want everyone else to engage in procedural activities too. They end up stamping out inferential thinking, and all the gifts we enjoy thanks to someone who once upon a time pursued it — without even realizing that is what they’re doing.

At a recent House hearing on “Women in Academic Science and Engineering” Congressman Brian Baird, a Democrat from Washington State, asked a room full of activist women how best to bring American scientists into line: “What kind of hammer should we use?” The weapon of choice is the well-known federal anti-discrimination law “Title IX,” which prohibits sex discrimination in “any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Title IX has never been rigorously applied to academic science. That is now about to change. In the past few months both the Department of Education and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have begun looking at candidates for Title IX-enforcement positions.
:
Although Title IX has contributed to the progress of women’s athletics, it has done serious harm to men’s sports. Over the years, judges, federal officials, and college administrators have interpreted it to mean that women are entitled to “statistical proportionality.” That is to say, if a college’s student body is 60 percent female, then 60 percent of the athletes should be female — even if far fewer women than men are interested in playing sports at that college. But many athletic directors have been unable to attract the same proportions of women as men. So, to avoid government harassment, loss of funding, and lawsuits, educational institutions have eliminated men’s teams — in effect, reducing men’s participation to the level of women’s interest. That kind of regulatory calibration — call it reductio ad feminem — would wreak havoc in fields that drive the economy such as math, physics, and computer science.

Don’t blame the gals, I say. Blame the procedural thinkers, the step-1 step-2 step-3 people; some of them are female, probably most are, but not all of them are. The inferential thinkers don’t care how others think, but the procedural thinkers want everything done their way.

And…a society that does everything by steps & numbers, doesn’t build anything. It can’t. That’s just about where we’re headed now.

Huffington…

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

…in the words of Karol, is the Paris Hilton of political commentary.

Heh.

Voter ID Laws: Constitutional

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Sister Toldjah links to the decisions.

See ya, wouldn’t wanna be-ya.

Clown Car

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Money quote:

A routine traffic stop turned into a search that included K9 units and a helicopter after nine suspected illegal immigrants fled from a passenger car police pulled over near Riggs Road and Arizona Avenue Monday night.

Det. David Ramer, a Chandler police spokesman, said police were able to catch eight of the nine men. Ramer said police did not know if the men were part of a human smuggling operation.

You know an invasion when you see one?

Belly Facials

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Money quote:

Before the crying, diaper changes and sleepless nights set in, a growing number of moms-to-be are spending their pregnancies in the lap of luxury. From belly “facials” to in-home massage therapy and private yoga sessions, women are indulging like it might be their last chance.

“There are so many luxury services available to pregnant women these days,” says Hilary Zalon, founder of TheCradle.com, a Web site focused on pregnancy and parenting.
:
Say you’re eight months pregnant, your husband is away on business, and you find yourself with an intense craving for won ton soup — at midnight. You could pray that your favorite Chinese restaurant is still open for deliveries, or you could call your personal pregnancy concierge.

These services, which have begun to appear in larger cities in the past couple years, specialize in helping expectant mothers have stress-free pregnancies. For an hourly fee of $100 or more, some companies will spoon-feed you Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or slather cocoa butter on your belly; others provide more traditional services.
:
Fresh Dining, which delivers in Los Angeles and San Diego, offers a service called “Fresh Mommy” — tailored to the specific nutritional needs of pregnant women and new mothers — that delivers a cooler of five fresh (not frozen) meals to clients’ doorsteps for about $65 a day.

Couples are splurging on pre-baby vacations, too. Nearly 60 percent of couples surveyed go on a “babymoon” before becoming parents, according to a 2005 online poll sponsored by Liberty Travel and BabyCenter.com. The survey, conducted by novaQuant Inc., received responses from 798 BabyCenter.com users.

Babymoon.

Feh. Some things are just plain wrong.

America’s Most Overrated Product: The Bachelor’s Degree

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Money quote:

Colleges should be held at least as accountable as tire companies are. When some Firestone tires were believed to be defective, government investigations, combined with news-media scrutiny, led to higher tire-safety standards. Yet year after year, colleges and universities turn out millions of defective products: students who drop out or graduate with far too little benefit for the time and money spent. Not only do colleges escape punishment, but they are rewarded with taxpayer-financed student grants and loans, which allow them to raise their tuitions even more.

I understand it’s overly-simplistic to focus on one bad guy, and having not been to college, I realize this is a little bit out of my league.

But I’ve held a lot of jobs in which you’re supposed to have a college degree, without actually having one. And I’ve met a lot of frustrated college graduates who are not enjoying much of a career boost, or are enjoying one far too late in life.

I don’t have to go swimming in poop, to know it isn’t my thing. And I can tell a busted situation when I see one. Something’s busted here.

Memo For File LIX

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

What is sillier than pretending to care about the environment, but in reality, just waggling our fingers in each others’ faces with pretentious and hypocritical instructions about how to live our lives?

You got it: Waggling our fingers in each others’ faces to waggle each others’ fingers in the faces of yet others…while pretending to act in response to “facts” and “evidence” about our modern day environmental boogeyman, global warming.

It’s getting hot
By Al Meyerhoff
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Story appeared in FORUM section, Page E1

Al Gore is spending $300 million for a publicity campaign to convince the American public the climate is changing and it is a crisis. That’s like sponsoring an ad campaign to convince the world that the planet is not really flat.

It’s not all his money, of course. Most of it is from the film “An Inconvenient Truth.” Inconvenient indeed. But that this campaign is necessary at all speaks volumes about the failure of environmentalists to persuade our citizenry that the climate threat is both real and immediate, overcoming not just skepticism but national torpor and attention deficit disorder as well. When there is a polar bear on my front lawn, call.

With a touch of jingoism (including Americans landing on Omaha Beach and the moon) Gore’s “we can solve the climate crisis” campaign urges that good old-fashioned American know-how can prevent climate change – and without waiting for others to help. That’s another odd approach, since actually the problem to date has been precisely the opposite.

In the second section, Meyerhoff finally gets to the “science” — the one and only splotch in the entire essay that has anything to do with why we know what we think we know, about what it is we need to do next.

He gets it wrong. How sad.

Global warming is not rocket science. It is caused by carbon emissions and can only be contained by reducing them. Action by those responsible will not come from 30-second commercial spots, moral suasion or “continued scientific assessment, development of cost- effective options, public debate and consensus building,” as urged recently by the U.N. International Chamber of Commerce delegate. [emphasis mine]

“Global warming” and it’s sister synonym, “climate change,” don’t describe phenomena. They describe a single doctrine. Those in favor of the doctrine have simplified it, to thwart off attack…to make any “skeptics” or “denialists” look like dopes. To treat it respectfully, you have to leave it splintered up into it’s component four parts.

The four parts to the doctrine are:

1. Since the industrial age, something called the “mean earth temperature” has been increasing. This is what you’re being taught about when you are told “The Science Is Settled.” They’ve collected some more data, and the data seem to agree that 1998 was a warm year.

This is true, but problematic. I’ll discuss in greater detail below.

2. The rise of the mean earth temperature is due to carbon dioxide. There is some firm science behind this, since the “greenhouse effect” is indeed a more-or-less “settled” part of science.

But it is also problematic. Carbon dioxide is portrayed as a menacing ingredient, simply because it is the one most closely related to technology and industry. That it has some potential as a greenhouse gas, today, doesn’t mean it has any potential at all tomorrow. After all, the science is equally settled that carbon dioxide is part of a cycle involving our oceans, our air, and our vegetation. Oh, and one other thing: Unlike the related gas carbon MONoxide, it’s non-toxic. You breathe it. That’s a little detail a lot of people are forgetting…and our climate-change enthusiasts are doing nothing at all to remind them, because why should they?

3. We are reaching a point of no return with the saturation of carbon dioxide, as well as with the rise of the mean temperature. The doctrine of global warming rests, completely, on this; yet nobody anywhere with a reputation worth defending, is articulating it outright for if they were to do so, they’d be telling a fib.

Instead, it is left up to people to presume it. Which they do. But it just isn’t so and there’s no evidence to even suggest it might be so.

4. By reigning in our carbon dioxide emissions, we can take some incremental steps toward heading off or avoiding a climate change crisis.

The truism of this, is established by truism #3…which is so fragile nobody’s putting their name next to it. And yet they put their names next to this one simply because it has become popular, in a kind of a rock-star sort of a way, to back it up.

Sorry. There’s not a scintilla of evidence anywhere to indicate it might be so.

Quite to the contrary, according to an editorial Dr. Robert Carter wrote up a year and a half ago…

There IS a problem with global warming… it stopped in 1998
By Bob Carter
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 09/04/2006

For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).

Yes, you did read that right. And also, yes, this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society’s continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

This is part of an, ahem, unsettled branch of climate science. What have those temperature readings been doing over the last ten years?

Jennifer Marohasy addressed this directly on her own blog after coming under attack by a “Gore disciple”:

Peter Boyer is apparently a disciple of Al Gore – one of the many who has been trained to give that famous slide show about the imminent climate crisis. Anyway, he is also a columnist for The Mercury – Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers in Tasmania. Today, in a piece entitled ‘Misleading opinion fed by misunderstood data’ he writes:

Jennifer Marohasy told ABC Counterpoint listeners that NASA data showed Earth’s surface temperature was trending down from a high in 1998, revealing serious flaws in greenhouse theory.

If confidence and clear expression were all that counted in the climate debate, Dr Marohasy would be a winner. Listeners unfamiliar with the data she talked about may have felt she was right.

But alas, the evidence says otherwise.

Present and past global average surface temperatures are derived from painstaking assessment of countless readings all over the planet, on land and sea, together with satellite observations, corrected for local aberrations such as the urban heat island effect.

Accompanied by a graph showing the last 120 years temperature trend Mr Boyer went on to suggest that the world is still warming.

Of course the world has been mostly warming over the last 120 years, but over the last 10 years global temperatures have not been trending up, as predicted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, despite a continual increase in carbon dioxide emissions.

What are these four pillars of the global warming doctrine? They support something that is among the most fragile among all the articles of what is known: Axioms, paradigms, theories and mindsets that fall apart most quickly, when simply taken seriously.

Let us presume for the moment that the world is still heating up as a direct result of industrial carbon emission, and that those who are pointing it out to us are simply trying to get us to contribute incrementally toward the continuing survival of our planet.

Should this open question about the rise of the “mean temperature” since 1998 — during which time, it is uncontested that carbon saturation has been increasing — be settled first?

After all, if we’re going to sacrifice to incrementally fix the climate change problem, and it actually WORKS, it is going to work through the depletion of carbon in the atmosphere. What does that do, exactly? Shouldn’t we be wanting to know that?

We’re currently at 380 parts per million, give or take. What happens if that goes down to 250? Our climate change disciples tell us that will bring things under control…unless it doesn’t…in which case, I guess we need to bring it down to 150 parts per million or something. Some of our skeptics seem to have some pretty impressive credentials, and they point out that the carbon/temperature connection has some problems.

You say they’re “dirty,” that they all work for the oil companies. Maybe that’s true. But what of the carbon/temperature connection? Does it suffer from problems or does it not? Shouldn’t somebody, somewhere, be wanting to know?

I don’t have any formal training in any of this. But I’m ready to call shenanigans on the whole thing. Those who insist on the greenhouse-gas qualities of carbon dioxide, concede that methane is much worse. Where’s the attack on methane? Answer: Such a campaign wouldn’t serve the interest of the attention whores, who in that circumstance would only have something to say to those among us who own cattle, insisting that we slaughter some of them. Very few of us have anything to do with cattle…but a whole lot of us have something to do with cars.

The “Morgan Rule” of environmental activism is that it has to do with getting attention, and not an awful lot to do with saving or helping the environment. According to that, then, we must pay more attention to carbon dioxide even though it’s a non-toxic, less-than-effective greenhouse gas agent…one which our plant life needs to consume in order to survive. And so the “Morgan Rule” triumphs. We are to sacrifice to reign in our carbon emissions…and just let our methane emissions go out of control.

It doesn’t have to do with “truth” — it has to do with “inconvenience.”

I entered this in response to Mr. Meyerhoff’s editorial, which runs so short on real science and so long on instructions about what we should be telling each other to do:

What is this evidence I keep hearing about? What I see for myself, is that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is, has been, and is projected to continue to be, insignificant. Three 100′s of a percent. Let’s double that. Let’s cut it in half. What’s that do to the global temperature? Is there “evidence” that there’s a correlation? There is much evidence that there is not. CO2 rises…temp tapers off.

The evidence also indicates that environmental activism is all about getting attention, and has little to do with helping the environment. Gore, whose house uses much more power than the average, is spending 300 large to get the word out. Anyone making a profit off that? Anybody beginning to suggest that isn’t the case? No. It is, after all, a money grab.

And, the evidence indicates that it IS a scam. As they say: I’m much more worried about the intellectual climate.

Update 4/28/08: Fellow Webloggin contributor Bookworm finds something else that perhaps should be getting some of our attention…one wonders what Mr. Meyerhoff would think about it.

You had to go ahead and do it anyway, and only now, when things are getting serious, are you figuring it out yourself. These are words parents say to teenagers, and conservatives say to liberals. In teenage land, you end up with pregnancies, STDs, and substance abuse. In liberal land, you end up with increased greenhouse gases and world starvation:

The worldwide effort by supermarkets and industry to replace conventional oil-based plastic with eco-friendly “bioplastics” made from plants is causing environmental problems and consumer confusion, according to a Guardian study.

The substitutes can increase emissions of greenhouse gases on landfill sites, some need high temperatures to decompose and others cannot be recycled in Britain.

Many of the bioplastics are also contributing to the global food crisis by taking over large areas of land previously used to grow crops for human consumption.

The market for bioplastics, which are made from maize, sugarcane, wheat and other crops, is growing by 20-30% a year.

Most damning of all:

How do the enviro-goonies answer charges like these? That we’re just falling for a big scam, we’re contributing to the world’s hunger and poverty problems, we’re not making the environment any cleaner, in fact, we might even be creating a greenhouse gas problem where there previously wasn’t one?

If you read Mr. Meyerhoff’s piece, you already know. By ridiculing anyone skeptical, and embracing the pain involved in whatever sacrifices we might be called to make. By calling for everyone to make them together.

Reminds me of a joke we used to have at one of the places I used to work. The argument was that a particular product line wasn’t making us a profit, in fact, was costing the company money…the rejoinder was “yeah, but we make up for it in volume.”

Are Kids Coddled?

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

MSN, which is convinced I’m female — regularly plying me with such delightful tomes as “Make Him Commit” and “Slim Down for Bathing Suit Season” — today, parades before my eyeballs, a subject on which I am uniquely qualified to comment.

Would you let your fourth-grader ride public transportation without an adult? Probably not. Still, when Lenore Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun, wrote about letting her son take the subway alone to get back to her Manhattan home from a department store on the Upper East Side, she didn’t expect to get hit with a tsunami of criticism from readers.

“Long story short: My son got home, ecstatic with independence,” Skenazy wrote on April 4 in the New York Sun. “Long story longer: Half the people I’ve told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse. As if keeping kids under lock and key and helmet and cell phone and nanny and surveillance is the right way to rear kids. It’s not. It’s debilitating—for us and for them.”

Lenore’s interior plumbing notwithstanding, there is a clean and tidy demarcation between the hens and the roosters on this issue: The mother attends to the child’s daily needs, making sure he is safe, happy and whole, while the father has a stronger tendency to plan for his own demise, to make sure the next generation can get along without him.

Each of these gender roles reaches across the divide from time to time. But not much.

As our son’s face loses it’s spherical shape and becomes elongated with looming adolescence, this has become more of a thorny issue between “Kidzmom” and me. The cosmetic presentation is that, as his parents, we both have the same interests at heart. I want him to live to see another day just as much as she does; she wants him to grow up to be an independent man just as much as I do. But that is packaging. That’s not substance. The wiring that was put in place by thousands of years of evolution, is gender-based, and you really don’t have to listen to us go back and forth about it for too long before it becomes not only obvious, but undeniable.

I remember once, in exasperation at her latest umpty-fratz protest that he can’t cross a street by himself because he’ll get hit by a car, I yelled back “then the human race would be better off overall, if he’s such a weakling that he can’t manage that at his age” or something. I think she knew I was kidding about that. But there’s a point to it: We, as parents, don’t get to decide that our children are disposable chaff. Nor do we get to decide they are not. The world will make up it’s own mind on that question, based on what the specimens can and can’t do.

The other recent event to make this a more prickly issue, is her relocation. She’s not twenty minutes up the road anymore; she’s eight hours away. So instead of handing him off back-and-forth throughout the week, we hand him off back-and-forth throughout seasons. I think, overall, that’s a good thing. He’s shown signs of understanding that the “packaging” of his parents’ arguments, does a poor job of reflecting truth — different things are expected of him in different households. Better to shake the soda can once every couple of months, than twice a week.

But are kids coddled? Oh, absolutely yes. I remember that dirt field down the street; the one my brother and I explored, in our bare feet, sometimes with each other and sometimes alone. Where the hell was it? How am I supposed to know…we left that neighborhood right after I turned SIX.

That’s unthinkable now. When’s the last time you heard a mother bitching away that her kid(s) failed to turn up by dinner time? Or, in exasperation, sending a brother/sister out to collect them? It’s been awhile for me. And now, we have a childhood obesity epidemic:

The prevalence of overweight children tripled from 6.5 percent in the mid-1970s to 18.8 percent today for children between 6-11 years old, and 5 to 17.4 percent for those 12–19, according to a survey by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

There is more evidence. Men don’t have gab-fests like women do, usually; but there was one that came to mind after one of the more talkative fellows in our office announced his plans to acquire a sidecar for his newly-restored motorcycle, for the benefit of his eight-year-old daughter. One Monday morning he reported on his weekend long-distance argument with his ex-wife, about the safety merits or lack thereof. Enter that male-female divide. Look, it’s not like I’m going to do something to her that will make it likely she’ll get hurt — she’s my daughter, too! Exactly.

It’s those two things: They’re our kids too, and we’re not going to put them in situations involving certain doom. And — Ms. Skenazy’s point — if the kids aren’t ever challenged in anything, they’ll grow up being able to do exactly nothing.

Sorry, gals. I know when you act all funny, it usually means I’m the one missing out on this-or-that critical point. But on those two items above…looks to me like the fairer sex hasn’t quite yet thought things out. Not, I hasten to add, that they have a monopoly on this.

If you think this is going to turn into a bitch-pitch about video games, you’re right. My kid’s got it pretty bad. I blame myself, and Columbine. Back when he was about to turn two, the Columbine school got shot up, and the big controversy was about whether kids could play violent video games and still have respect for human life afterwards. I was distracted by this, looking back on it. The evidence clearly indicated our son remained concerned about the health and well-being of his playmates, even after hours spent shooting at zombies with shotguns. And so, I insisted, a mentally healthy child will be able to distinguish between reality and fantasy.

Well, I was right on that. But I lost my sense of perspective on the other issue…a good old-fashioned addiction. He’d form bad habits, we’d take away the video games, he’d do things right and then get his video game back. Then he’d go back to being weird.

I think we’ve got a handle on it now. Once he got a little bit older, we’d discuss this with him at a higher level. It started with Pokemon. He’d ask why I don’t like it, and I started to explain it doesn’t have anything to do with personal tastes: Frankly, after you’ve been playing/watching Pokemon for awhile, you start to act like a helpless whelp and I get tired of watching that.

Pokemon, if you’re not familiar with it, is a series of cartoons and games in which these kids mouth off at each other and challenge each other to fights, and then get these adorable creatures to do all their fighting for them. The kids only do one thing to alter the outcome of the fight toward their favor: They whine. All the work is left up to these imaginary creatures.

It got worse before it got better. Pokemon became the “Forbidden Fruit.” But, sooner than I thought, he outgrew Pokemon. He won’t admit it, but I think he began to see it my way. The kids talk smack to each other, and then pull out their adorable creatures and explain to said creatures, “Okay I just got us embroiled in a fight with this mouthy kid, now you have to do the dirty work.” If the boy has any streak of independence whatsoever, he’s going to get tired of it. Really, I never understood the appeal of it in the first place.

Pokemon is both a symptom and a cause, the way I see it. A generation ago, it would not have had appeal. It’s going to be fun to imagine yourself as the cockfighter — er, I mean, the mouthy kid — if you imagine yourself winning all the time. Permit an old man his own generational turn to utter the timeless words “back in my day” — in my time, we got our butts beat constantly. We were forced to learn to cope. We lost at baseball. We lost at football. We lost races. We lost Capture The Flag. We learned to imagine ourselves losing, because we had no choice but to so imagine.

To the best I can perceive it, Pokemon’s allure depends on never imagining yourself losing. Yes, on the TV show it happens pretty regularly, about a third of the way through. There really aren’t too many things the protagonist can do. You’ve never seen anything more pathetic. There are no skills to be sharpened, there are no post-mortems to be conducted on the match-up that was just lost…just whining. “Awww, Pikachu, why didn’t you listen to me?”

So I think the latest generation does have a problem, and I think the problem begins there. Not with Pokemon, quite so much…but with reckoning with the potential of defeat. And that is why it’s scary, lately, to let them do simple things like cross the street. Peripheral vision, taking the initiative to look both directions, etc., these are all secondary. The primary skill is understanding the potential of failure. If he has mastered all the skills of crossing the street, but doesn’t understand that the possibility exists of his getting killed, then the skills aren’t going to very much matter and he’ll probably end up getting killed.

Oh, how’d we solve the video game problem? I’m knocking on wood, imagining the worst is behind us. Now that Pokemon isn’t cool anymore, that’s probably a safe bet. We began a “minute for minute” program. You do an hour of playing outside doing dangerous things, playing ball, riding something with wheels — doing something in which it’s possible to get physically hurt — you get an hour with the damn game. It’s barely better-than-nothing…but it works. I think it addresses what’s really busted.

Parents have to be conscious, not so much of what their kids are doing one hour to the next, but what kind of world it is in which they are living. And not so much what is in that world, but what is missing from it. The irony is, that without that potential for defeat, the child won’t comprehend a potential for victory either because the whole concept of competition will be foreign to him. And so confidence won’t germinate and grow until some losing has been goin’-on.

What’s written above is fairly obvious. The real puzzle is, how come we have this new generation of parents, that needs to have it pointed out to them. Perhaps it’s our fault; the problem began with us. This spirit of “If I do not play, then I cannot lose.” Insisting on more safety, and more, and more, and more until life itself is no longer being lived.

That really is the crux of the whole problem, isn’t it?

A Poll I’d Like To See III

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

I wonder how many check marks those last two boxes would get.

Judging by the news coverage, I’d guess they’d get all of them. But I doubt it…I really, really doubt it.

Decoding the Brain Fart

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Interesting. And the older I get, the more relevant to my daily existence this kind of research becomes…

It turns out the root of these brain farts may be a special kind of abnormal brain activity that begins up to 30 seconds before a mistake even happens.
:
When people blunder after performing the same task over and over, scientists had suspected that such lapses were due to momentary hiccups in concentration. Still, little was known about what the brain was actually doing before such errors.

To investigate further, the brains of volunteers were scanned as they performed a monotonous task — repetitively pushing buttons that matched images flashed at them.
:
One set of brain regions that is normally active only when a person is awake and relaxed began firing up — in other words, it’s as if the brain started resting. At the same time, another group of brain regions that is usually lively when a person is sustaining effort on a task began toning down. After people made and detected any mistakes, the abnormal behavior went away.

H/T: FARK

Stuck in Elevator for Forty-One Hours

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

It could happen to you, you know.

“After a certain period of time I knew that I was in pretty big trouble because it was the weekend,” Nicholas White said Monday on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America.”
:
White sued the managers of the midtown skycraper and the elevator maintenance company and won an undisclosed settlement.

He was a production manager for Business Week when he left his office about 11 p.m. Friday for a cigarette break. According to the article, it was never determined exactly why the elevator stalled though there was talk of a voltage dip.

Best Sentence XXVIII

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

The Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately award (BSIHORL) is inspired by events related to Earth Day, and ends up being a two-way tie. It will have to be shared by Debbie Schlussel, who managed to nail down concisely and elegantly exactly how we conduct our observances…

Wealthy celebs who waste energy ad nauseam tell us not to.

Pretty much. This thing we nowadays call “environmentalism” seems to have more to do with maintaining a social-strata lifestyle gap — promoted by those who present themselves as champions of the exact opposite — than anything that tangibly would help what we usually call the “environment.”

It will have to be shared with commenter “Georgia” over at Michelle Malkin’s place, who made her own observations known about Earth Day (commenter #11)…

Moonbat logic: Burn our food and let our fuel sit in the Earth.

Has there ever been a more potent weapon to use against poor hungry people than environmentalism?

Two Nasty Old Hags

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

And I’m not the one who made them that way, I’m not even the one who wants you to know about ‘em either. It’s them. They’re very anxious to let the world know how much they despise men.

Rachel Lucas tripped across this sniveling screed mashed together by Leslie Bennetts, one of those “Everybody Loves Raymond” types…you know. The oh-so-intelligent but perpetually-peeved frazzled wifey juggling all the tasks that have to be done, and her husband is just another one of the kids, just a complete bumbling dope who lucked out the day he met her.

From the beginning of our relationship, I made it very clear that I wasn’t going to be any husband’s unpaid servant. If Jeremy wanted to be—and stay—married to me, let alone have kids, he couldn’t stick me with all the boring, mundane stuff nobody wants to do. We were going to share the work, or we were going to forget the whole deal…

That was 17 years ago, and while we haven’t exactly achieved equity, we’ve come a lot closer to it than most of our peers, judging by all the dreary surveys proving that men are slugs and their wives are superwomen. So how have I accomplished this? By holding my husband’s feet to the fire every single day of our lives, of course.
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When my husband has lingered too long over the sports section and I’m feeling overwhelmed by the number of errands that must be run, I hand him a list.

“This is what I need you to do today,” I say in a tone of voice that brooks no equivocation. He may moan and groan, but the jobs get done. And while I still have to mastermind the operation — somehow he is never the one who remembers that our son needs new mosquito netting, baseball cleats, and basketball shoes for sleepaway camp — I’m not the only one schlepping around town checking items off the To Do list.

Dream come true, eh? I don’t want to read too much into this, but it would seem some of that mirror finish has been worn off the knight’s shining armor.

But if you think that’s a domestic nightmare — just wait until you get a load of what Nora Ephron jotted down.

Today, Nora Ephron has an essay on the Huffington Post titled: “White Men.” In it, we learn a lot of things about these elusive, mysterious creatures that we didn’t know before. Ephron, after all, is an expert in white men — her movies Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and When Harry Met Sally were all about how wonderful they are to date and marry (after a brief variety of adorably neurotic hurdles). But it turns out Nora doesn’t think all white men are as dreamy as Tom Hanks. In fact, some are downright nefarious!

That’s putting it mildly. Flipping open this latest entry, we find:

To put it bluntly, the next president will be elected by them: the outcome of Tuesday’s primary will depend on whether they go for Hillary or Obama, and the outcome of the general election will depend on whether enough of them vote for McCain. A lot of them will: white men cannot be relied on, as all of us know who have spent a lifetime dating them. And McCain is a compelling candidate, particularly because of the Torture Thing. As for the Democratic hope that McCain’s temper will be a problem, don’t bet on it. A lot of white men have terrible tempers, and what’s more, they think it’s normal.

Aside from brazenly showcasing her hatred, Ms. Ephron is falling into the trap set for the weak-minded. Women and blacks can vote against a white guy without hating him, but white guys can’t vote against women and blacks without hating them. Odd, because I can tell you right now if someone demands I come up with a specimen of raw seething hatred I’ve encountered in the last two hours or two weeks or two months…I’m going to make a bee-line straight for Ms. Ephron’s essay on the evils and vices of white men.

Cassy did a great job of pointing this out, I thought.

And I hate to break it to you, but white men are not the only ones with awful tempers. In fact, I’d argue that women are worse than men are in the temper department. They may not be able to hit as hard or yell as loud, but women are malicious. They’re vindictive. They don’t forget anything. The quote “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is in existence for a reason. Piss off a woman, and she will want to make your life a living hell. Settling the dispute won’t be good enough, oh no. This is because most women are, quite frankly, vindictive bitches — ask any twelve-year-old girl which sex is more cruel. I dare you. And that’s probably because most women are more emotional than men are. Men can be more logical; when they’re in an argument, most of them are able to keep their emotions out of it. A lot of women can’t.

But, we don’t need to wade deeply into the anecdotal evidence do we. We have Nora Ephron. Almost as mean and catty of a wrinkled up old bitch as Leslie Bennetts.

I’d sure like to know what the hell is going on in New York City. Ms. Bennetts and Ms. Ephron are both making names for themselves, writing articles that, frankly, it seems the world wouldn’t miss too much if they were gone. They’re both over fifty, they’re both female, they both have regular columns in the Huffington Post…which, in turn, are supposed to be all about making nice-nice, but in reality, are just nozzled outlets for regularly spewed bile.

One made her name by convincing Carl Bernstein to pretend to want to put up with her — the other one has a hubby who seems to put up with her. Although if he’s got a brain in his head, that’ll get re-thought toot-sweet once he sees how he’s been slandered on HuffPo.

How would you explain this to an ancient mummy re-animated in our current times, or a space alien who just landed here? Because it seems to a foreign or otherworldly consciousness, sufficiently intelligent to understand our customs but alienated from the recent history behind them, the conclusion would have to be inescapable: Men simply haven’t been doing enough complaining. They’ve settled for too little, and our women have turned into nasty, backbiting termagants. So many, among the “ladies” who are supposed to be sharing their lives with men, or at least aspiring to do that…measure their success by how much misery they bring.

We need to turn this oxcart around, pronto. We’re teetering on the brink of lunacy in which asking your wife or girlfriend to get you a beer and a sammich, is about to be declared a human rights violation. Even if you say please. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Guns and God? Hell, Yes

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Steyn.

The Pornography of Barbarism

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Rick brings to our attention a lamentation from The Doctor, which seems to conclude that we have either lost our way or we are perilously close to doing so.

There was, at the first, the video: a teenage girl, lured into a trap, then brutally beaten by six other girls her age for thirty minutes continually, carefully recorded on video for upload to YouTube.

Then came the Yale “artist” who repeatedly impregnated herself by artificial insemination, then aborted the fetus with drugs, carefully saving the results for display wrapped in plastic and Vaseline for her senior art exhibit.

Then this morning, in the local paper: a man — a school bus driver — convicted for sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl left alone on his bus.

One could multiply such incidents, ad nauseum, on almost any given day, in any part of the world — beheadings and genocide, ghoulish scenes of body parts and bloodied walls from yet another heroic martyr seeking virgins through hyperviolence. Yet these events, small on such a savage scale, in some way troubled me more than most.

One wants to rail at a society gone mad, at a civilization which has lost its bearings and moral compass, at a decadence fed by materialism and secularism, force-fed with the rotgut wine of postmodern relativism, drunk with the notion that ideas have no consequence and idols worshiped bring no destruction.

Yet the time for such anguished mourning seems long past, its passing but a point in a pitiful past history. We have, it seems, entered the post-human age.

The Doctor went on to talk about the “consensus among the civilized that certain behavior and unrestrained license threaten [civilization's] very existence” that is the real mortar holding together the bricks of our society, much more responsible for our continuing survival than any fighting force.

One thing I notice is that this wandering into such dark territory, seems to coincide not with so much a relaxation of classical standards of decency, as with a sudden ratcheting-up of new ones. As I said over at Rick’s place, “Our ability to blow the whistle & call shenanigans on each other, is just as robust and sensitive as it as ever been. What we’ve lost is the willingness to do it out of a sense of decency.” Not s’poseda have a gun in your home. Not s’poseda flush the Koran. Not s’poseda eat meat, pray in school, wear a flag lapel pin, support the Boy Scouts, call out the race of someone running from the police, invade nations pre-emptively…et cetera. And then there are all the quotas. Can’t emit more than so-many tons of carbon, can’t hire more than X percent straight-white-guys, can’t pay less than Z dollars per hour.

I notice with the global warming, the central thesis to it is that if you read the data the right way, you can plot a graph across certain segments of time in which “global temperature” is shown to reach a sharp upswing in recent years. It’s that sharp upswing that scares us. We see the line zipping upward like a bottle rocket at the right side of the graph, representing the present or the point of time closest to the present, and we think zowee! Something bad must be about to happen! That something bad really is about to happen, is perhaps the most weakly asserted portion of this “science” of global warming because it doesn’t have to be very strong. Our minds supply us with a psychological tendency to fill that part in…triggered by the bottle-rocket upswing at the right side of the graph.

It’s odd that we don’t do this with phony rules. The rules some faceless aristocrat pulled out of his arse — rules that exist more to service an elitist layer among us, than to reflect any lessons learned from any decent survey of history. Because who among us, with an adequate command of history, can deny that a graphing of phony-rules would fail to display the bottle-rocket curve on the right side of such a graph?

Jehovah is out; Gaea is in. Abandonment of rules is not the problem. We’re rapping each other across the knuckles left & right, day in and day out. We’re just cranking out the rules in service of a false deity. The rules multiplying so rapidly of late, don’t have anything to do with treating each other in a neighborly way. They just have to do with fanciful theories about what might & might not bring harm to certain segments of our society to whom we’re supposed to be especially sensitive, or to the “environment” itself.

Humanity, in a generic sense — as in, the sense of defining a species of which all of us humans are a part, regardless of our birth nation, skin color, sex, or political leanings — is the last beneficiary of the rules we make today. We are much quicker to crank out one more rule in service of this chunk of it, or that one. And then we use the word “environment” to refer to some more of those rules, because it rankles us to admit this-or-that rule is not intended to help anyone.

So it stands to reason…we are becoming less decent, at the same time we are becoming less free.

Thing I Know #196. Real freedom is actually pretty boring. It has very little to do with noteworthy events, save for the one event marking its arrival. When classes of people take turns, over time, enjoying special privileges, not one man among them enjoys genuine freedom.

Buck’s Question

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

He calls it the Question of the Day:

Why does it seem like it’s always Subarus that are festooned with moonbat shit?

That definitely goes in the “Things That Make You Go Hmmmm” file.

Danica Wins

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

PenelopeElsewhere in the news, Danica Patrick once again is being celebrated for doing something lots of guys have already done. But props to her anyway.

The Blog That Nobody Reads continues to look forward to the day when we start honoring women and treating them as equals…by reserving a special level of applause for the ladies who do things nobody did before…denied to the “first woman” this “first woman” that types. Inventing the windshield wipers, that’s a good example. You say to yourself “gee whiz I wonder what GUY invented the windshield wiper” and you do your research…you find out…ta-da! It’s a chick. And your friends are all, like, holy moley I didn’t know a woman invented windshield wipers. Then they tell everybody they know.

That is the right way to honor womens’ achievement. The “Danica Problem” works in reverse. When guys have been doing something for years, and a woman finally comes along and does it and you’re hanging streamers and throwing confetti about it, it’s like saying “Hey pals, stop the clock the waiting is over…a woman finally stepped up and did it.” It’s like admitting they can’t really beat the guys at anything, so we might as well celebrate them for simply being.

In fact, if it isn’t something miraculous…like peeing their own name in the snow, or inseminating someone, or some other thing women aren’t supposed to be able to do — it’s a huge non-event, when you think about it. I mean, a woman was bound to do it someday right? Why celebrate it then? You had doubts that a woman would ever step up and do what common sense tells you some woman, somewhere, ought to have been able to do?

So I see two tiers to this “first woman” stuff. Danica is — decidedly — on the lower one, since her specialty is in doing things guys have done before. It’s an important distinction to make. Maybe not politically correct, and maybe not complimentary to her. But it’s valid and true.

Seven Types of Defection

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Norman Geras came up with some “observations of [his] own, of a supplementary nature” contemplating the subject of people who defect from The Left. He lists seven motivations for such an exodus, the first six of which read like this:

Could there be, anywhere, defectors from a left that, in a world by no means short of tyrannies, torturers, rank abusers of human rights, widespread poverty, extensive hunger, episodes of genocide, was obsessed above all with two countries, both of them democracies, as the source of all political evil – the United States and Israel? Just watch my dust: it’s a left to be left.

But the seventh is really food for thought:

But then who would want to defect from a left which saw itself as uniting certain universal values, values like freedom and equality and justice, with the interests and struggles of the unfree, the wronged and the oppressed everywhere? Well, I don’t know who would want to defect from this kind of left. But when I ran into them I’d try to persuade them not to defect. I’d tell them that there’s a left worth belonging to, and that those who belong to it should limit their defections to parting company with the lefts that discredit its values and its better traditions.

It really does get one to thinking. All these ugly traits of The Left, every single one of them seems to have roots in this idealistic vision.

Maybe I’ve already noodled this one out — in, coincidentally — seven steps. One of my sidebar nuggets lays down a broadside assault upon The Left in one of the most devastating ways possible: Pointing out how their well has been poisoned, without setting out trying to do that. Nowhere in the essay does the word “leftist” or “liberal” appear. It simply exists to point out weaknesses in thinking, and it ends up enumerating some faux-intellectual maneuvers that, today, define and typify The Left. And they’re intended to be recalled in a sequence. Perhaps, there, we’re looking at the migration of the ripe, sweet, juicy fruit described in Norm’s bullet #7…to a wrinkled, fetid bulb of compost matter that inspires the remaining six.

I have no doubt whatsoever that my first step to insanity does exactly this:

The first step to insanity is to confuse the subjective with the objective. This is necessary. You can’t go insane without this, but it’s much easier to do than you might think. All you have to do is think of value judgments, inferences, and other cognitions of yours as measurable when they’re not, and vice-versa; lose track of, and any interest in, what another capable mind might conclude when looking at the same thing. Simply put, you insist on debating things that aren’t really debatable, and settle on the realization that anyone who thinks differently than you do must be a flaming idiot or must have something wrong with them. Stop believing in perspective. Things are the way you think they are…unless you don’t like whatever that is, and then there must be “shades of gray” involved.

Are all these viewpoints of liberalism rather like the viewpoints of a woman, as she ages from a gorgeous maiden into a wrinkled old hag? Is it unavoidable, when you dedicate yourself to “freedom and equality and justice, with the interests and struggles of the unfree, the wronged and the oppressed everywhere” — to “stop believing in perspective”? To begin a habit of “debating things that aren’t really debatable”? To confuse the subjective and the objective?

Liberalism\'s Natural Evolution?Maybe it isn’t unavoidable. But it damn sure is easy.

I think, what we have here, is a useful definition of a conservative. We’re leery of “values like freedom and equality and justice” until they’re stated in very specific, precise terms, and even then we remain suspicious. It isn’t the nobility of the intent that concerns us, it is the history of human events that is to be written afterward.

We see such vaguely stated, glittering glorious visions kind of like that lady ghost in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the one who materializes as a beautiful maiden in front of that chubby Gestapo guy and then rots into an ugly skeleton in the twinkling of an eye, making him scream his fool head off in horror right before his face melts. We know our history, we see liberalism as exactly that kind of foolish pipe dream, and we see the eventual result as an inevitability.

And with all these defectors from liberalism, there must be something to that.

“The Left Wing…Kind of Admires American Terrorists”

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Fox News Friday night: “The left wing of the Democratic Party, frankly, kind of admires American terrorists.”

By sheer coincidence, I happened to trip across the video after skimming over an article on one of American history’s most important but forgotten icons: Emma Goldman, one of the principle founders of the American genocide movement in the early part of the 20th century, anarchist, terrorist, inspiration for “Emmanuel Goldstein” in George Orwell’s novel 1984. I just thought it was interesting that Emma Goldman sort of…talked…like…someone…any one of a number of people yammering away right about now.

We say that if America has entered the war to make the world safe for democracy, she must first make democracy safe in America. How else is the world to take America seriously, when democracy at home is daily being outraged, free speech suppressed, peaceable assemblies broken up by overbearing and brutal gangsters in uniform; when free press is curtailed and every independent opinion gagged? Verily, poor as we are in democracy, how can we give of it to the world?

This gets a little bit off-topic, but awhile ago I had written about what an incredibly unloving act it is to tell a person — or a country — to straighten up and fly right, lest some third party be unhappy with them. I had characterized it as an unhusbandly thing to do, asking the reader to imagine a man married to a woman he loves…ostensibly…supposedly. And yet, offering all these verbal mid-course corrections to her for the satisfaction of some third party. If you react to that like I do, it’s a pretty curious thing to you. If the third party happened to be female, you would suspect, quite reasonably, that the fellow was having an affair with her until you saw some pretty solid evidence to the contrary. And even if he wasn’t, he’d be guilty of divided loyalties because a wife — like a country — is someone to whom your allegiance is supposed to be primary. To say “I would personally approve if you did Z instead of Y” is one thing. But to say “You’re losing credibility with X because you’re doing Y instead of Z and you’d better shape up so that X thinks better of you” is to subordinate that fidelity to something else. In my mind, there simply isn’t any getting around it.

I just think it’s interesting that for ninety years now at least, it’s been a favorite tactic of those who would fight the United States from within to say “look how these outside parties despise us!” Can anyone be surprised? Imagine yourself as the foreigner who so despises the United States. You see a country divided against itself; so any warm feelings you might otherwise have toward it, would have to be deeply conflicted. The fifth-column types therefore are afforded the luxury of criticizing from within, generating suspicion and bitterness across the shores, and then using that byproduct to foment more hate as if someone else caused it.

So there’s more of a close kinship between the far-left and American terrorists. The interests are the same, the tactics are the same. When the memberships overlap, as we learned with Obama and Wright, the far left is more than reluctant to disclaim the troubling friendships. They keep them. They use propaganda to distract and to make the issue go away. They’ll do it every time.

But the real damning evidence, in my mind, is in those eleven pages of comments underneath…on the Huffington Post. I scanned over the first page, reaching almost to the bottom, and then I gave up because I didn’t find what I was looking for. What I did find was lots of…

Don’t forget while Newt was was impeaching Bill Clinton, he was cheating on his wife, while she was suffering from cancer in the hospital, he told her he wanted a divorce.
Integrity is not his strong suite.

…and…

I love how these twisted fallacy-clowns are still able to get away with blaming “the leftists” for everything that went down the drain when the Republicans were in control off all 3 branches of gov. for 6 years.

…and it wouldn’t be complete without the ritual “free speech for me but not for thee”:

This pathetic loser should be muzzled and sent to jail for his idiotic comments! The saying “there’s no fool like an old fool “describes this old fool very nicely.He is as fat as a hog these days! What a loser.

Know what I was trying to find?

Someone who would contradict what Newt said. Address the issue directly, and tell us the former House Speaker was incorrect. Near as I can tell, not one left-winger did. I don’t think they will. The “accuse the accuser” methodology is woven into their fabric so tightly and so inseparably, that if anything ugly about The Left comes out they’re reduced to relying on a little bag of tricks to get us to forget about it, rather than confront the allegation directly. I think before they look into anything too deeply, they already know whatever the charge was, is likely to be proven correct. Why else would they become so dependent on this?

Oh, and the other observation I made was something I had been noticing for a few years by now. There is something leftward-tilting, nowadays, about the phrase “I love how.” I’m not entirely sure why this is. Usually when I observe that the left and the right think about things differently, I get shouted down…that must mean I’m wrong. But “I love how” is a very handy thing to say when you’re in a group setting, nobody in there is doing much thinking, and you’re just kind of trying to bully others around to your point of view. When you inspect things with cause-and-effect in mind, thinking with real independence, “I love how” isn’t going to be a useful thing to say at all, so in the last few years when anybody jots down those three words in sequence they almost always turn out to be a leftie.

Turning the Tables

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Heh.

Eric Bryant says he was sitting in the SanSai Japanese Grill on NW 21st and Hoyt on March 7 when he witnessed Officer Chad Stensgaard pull up and park his patrol car illegally, next to a “No Parking” sign.

Stensgaard walked into the restaurant wearing his police uniform, but did not make any arrests or citations. Instead, he turned his attention to the basketball game on television, according to Bryant. When Bryant asked Stensgaard about his vehicle, Stensgaard allegedly acknowledged being in a no-parking zone but asked Bryant, “If someone broke into your house, would you rather have the police be able to park in front of your house or have to park three blocks away and walk there?”

Bryant returned to his seat, and says shortly afterward he watched a restaurant employee hand the officer a plastic bag before he left. Unfortunately for Officer Stensgaard, Bryant had recently passed the Oregon bar exam, and decided to pursue the matter further.

C’mon, you know you want to keep reading.

On the Easterlin Paradox

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

I’ll let the New York Times guest-column speak for itself:

Arguably the most important finding from the emerging economics of happiness has been the Easterlin Paradox.

What is this paradox? It is the juxtaposition of three observations:

1) Within a society, rich people tend to be much happier than poor people.
2) But, rich societies tend not to be happier than poor societies (or not by much).
3) As countries get richer, they do not get happier.

Easterlin offered an appealing resolution to his paradox, arguing that only relative income matters to happiness. Other explanations suggest a “hedonic treadmill,” in which we must keep consuming more just to stay at the same level of happiness.

One criticism of the Easterlin report is that the data upon which it is based, comes mostly from survey responses and there is a psychological hobgoblin at work here because we don’t tend to think highly of ourselves when we admit we’re unhappy. So it stands to reason the responses are going to be skewed toward “oh yeah, I’m ecstatically happy.”

But another criticism I would have is that we have a societal taboo against acknowledging one of the possible — and I would label highly probable — outcomes: That money makes you happy. Let’s face it: Overly-simplistic as that may be, missing money when you need some really sucks!

But I think anyone pondering the situation for a minute or two would have to admit there has been, at least since the 1950′s or so, a swelling of pressure on people to presume out loud that wealth is only tangentially related, if it’s related at all, to a state of happiness. The pressure is sufficiently significant that it has an effect on people who have no personal experience at all, with being destitute & happy, or with having wealth in abundance and being dismal. And that’s my definition of significant pressure: When people are missing anecdotes within their personal experiences that would be needed to back something up, and will nevertheless sit there and say “oh yeah…uh huh, that’s right on.”

Well, the author of the column, Justin Wolfers, goes on to drop a bombshell:

Given the stakes in this debate, Betsey Stevenson and I thought it worth reassessing the evidence.
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Last Thursday we presented our research at the latest Brookings Panel on Economic Activity, and we have arrived at a rather surprising conclusion:

There is no Easterlin Paradox.

The facts about income and happiness turn out to be much simpler than first realized:

1) Rich people are happier than poor people.
2) Richer countries are happier than poorer countries.
3) As countries get richer, they tend to get happier.

Moreover, each of these facts seems to suggest a roughly similar relationship between income and happiness.

Now, you can see from the reports and the cool graphics, that there is an abundance of data going in to these conclusions. So a disturbing question arises: Assuming this attack on the Easterlin paradox withstands scrutiny better than the paradox itself, are there some negative social ramifications involved in realizing this? Once it settles in that money does indeed make us happy isn’t there a risk that we’re all going to become a bunch of hair-pulling eye-gouging money grubbing zombies?

Well…to answer that we’d have to get into the debate about the “pie people”: Those who insist, like Michelle Obama, that when some among us have bigger pieces of pie then someone else must have smaller pieces, and in order to get more pie to those deprived persons it will be unavoidably necessary to confiscate pie from someone else. All transactions are zero-sum, in other words.

Seems to me, if you buy into that you have to agree there was at least a social benefit to the Easterlin paradox, even if it wasn’t true. And there must be a commensurately deleterious effect involved in repealing it.

I suppose, like the Easterlin paradox, the Pie Paradigm ought to be given a benefit of doubt, of sorts, so it can remain standing on clay feet across the generations without much supporting evidence. There must be a truth to it, and even if there isn’t, there must be a social benefit to believing it, and even if there isn’t, darn it it just feels so good to say it’s true.

Except, like Columbo, I can’t help noticing just one…little…thing.

So many of these Pie People, like Ms. Obama herself — are stinkin’ rich. What does that say about them, if they really do believe in the pies?

Where Are the Softballs?

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

It occurs to me I should probably cite an example of what’s called out in the post previous. The left half of the blogosphere, criticizing the right half with an unflattering and snarky Election-Season Guide, fails to note the beam in its own eye as it points out the brother’s mote.

Liberals are so funny…They’ve always been, in my lifetime, confused about whether an allegation or value system is shown to be lacking in merit because of who believes in it, or whether the personalities are shown to lack merit because of the allegations or value systems in which they believe. Which one of those is a symptom and which one of those is the cause.
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Those who rise above it all, lamenting that we all just can’t seem to get along, are the last to get along. Those who decry the lack of tolerance, are the last to tolerate. Those who beseech others to do a better job valuing friendships with those who disagree, are invariably bitter enemies with those who disagree. And those who hold out a utopian hope for a glorious and everlasting terminus to all the name-calling…should they see you holding an opinion they find unworthy…well, fill in the blank.

Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher, is pretty ticked off that ABC asked Obama some tough questions. It’s that old problem with the thin skin of liberals: Certain things feel like abuse, when they’re really not, just because over time you’ve become accustomed to something much less intrusive to your ideas and those who are on record as being sympathetic to them.

And of course, many of them have passed that first milestone to insanity just like Mitchell: Confusion between the subjective and the objective. The protagonist declares one issue “pressing” and another issue “trivial” — it’s like measuring out 77 degrees Fahrenheit, three thousand feet above sea level, or forty-eight inches on a plywood sheet. There’s simply no way anybody, anywhere, can see it any differently right?

In perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years, ABC News hosts Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos focused mainly on trivial issues as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in Philadelphia. They, and their network, should hang their collective heads in shame.

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the health care and mortgage crises, the overall state of the economy and dozens of other pressing issues had to wait for their few moments in the sun as Obama was pressed to explain his recent “bitter” gaffe and relationship with Rev. Wright (seemingly a dead issue) and not wearing a flag pin — while Clinton had to answer again for her Bosnia trip exaggerations.

Then it was back to Obama to defend his slim association with a former ’60s radical — a question that came out of right-wing talk radio and Sean Hannity on TV, but was delivered by former Bill Clinton aide Stephanopoulos. This approach led to a claim that Clinton’s husband pardoned two other ’60s radicals. And so on. The travesty continued.

An anti-war left-winger sniveling away because suddenly, the alphabet-soup networks are asking debate questions that don’t make his side look all snuggly and warm anymore: Priceless.

Sorry, Mitchell. Obama is still, arguably, the most likely candidate in this race to be the next Leader of the Free World, and the evidence solidly supports the supposition that he’s a vicious bigoted hatemonger, to say nothing of being an articulate dimwit. And he’s a flim-flammer.

You say the questions that reveal this about him, are “trivial.” Were that really the case, there’d be no need for you to point it out. And you probably shouldn’t have. You know, it’s always a questionable venture to write up essays directing people to pay more attention to things you think have gotten way too much attention already. For example, there’s me. I missed something like four-fifths of that debate…by the sixth reference to HELTHCARE, what can I say, real-life beckoned.

But now that I know the donk candidates, for once, got their hindquarters richly handed to them, on a serving platter held aloft by Stephanopoulos no less…why, the YouTube clips are lying around out there in the hundreds, just waiting to be loaded. I can’t wait to do it. Thanks for the tip.

Road Map to the Right Side of the Blogosphere…

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

…since, of course, it goes without saying — the left side makes perfect sense. Therefore you only need a sort of a “Hitchhiker’s Guide” to the blogs like this one…except, of course, for the ones that someone somewhere is actually reading.

CHARLES JOHNSON (Little Green Footballs; littlegreenfootballs.com)

ORIENTATION: Anti-Islamo-everything

TONE: Unrelenting

FUN FACT: Coined the terms idiotarian and anti-idiotarian for, respectively, people who don’t think like him and people who do.

CANDIDATE: None, but prone to close late and reliably anti-idiotarian (i.e., Republican)

STUPID/EVIL RATIO: 40/60

HISTORY: “fixed my flat from this morning and got out on the bike. riding for 15 minutes and pow! fss–fsss–fss–fsss. yes. another flat.” This kind of lower-case personal reminiscence, interspersed with media and tech reviews, were Johnson’s bailiwick at LGF until 9/11. A week later, considering a National Review denunciation of Islamic terrorists, he wrote: “I agree totally—something I never imagined I would say about an article in the National Review.” Quickly outstripped the Review in conservatism, denouncing the Johannesburg Earth Summit (“generated between 300 and 400 tons of garbage”), the “NEA’s pomo multiculti agenda,” and “the left-wing extremism that dominates U.S. college campuses.” But he’s really a single-issue voter whose bugbear is terrorism, and who will support any foreign adventure purporting to fight it. Was an early supporter of the invasion of Iraq (“Stability Is the Last Thing Iraq Needs”) and has his eye on Iran (“Iran’s Manhattan Project Still On Track”), and on America, too: was pleased by a 2004 poll that showed 44 percent of Americans believed the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of American Muslims (“that’s not going to make the moonbats among us feel very good”). Johnson was delighted by the results of the 2004 election (“Moonbats . . . packing your bags and heading to Canada to escape the evil Cowboy Chimp’s imperialistic regime”), but was dismayed by the returns in 2006, especially when Muslim Keith Ellison was elected to Congress (“They’ll be celebrating in Gaza tomorrow”).

MODUS OPERANDI: For this election cycle, Johnson has interrupted his traditional Muslim-watch more often than usual to run pieces critical of Obama (“Obama Fools Mississippi”) and Clinton (“I doubt the crying tactic will work very well with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad”). Fairly quiet on McCain, but insists that “I know who I want to vote against: the Hillary-Obama Appeasement Complex.”

WHAT TO EXPECT: More reverse jihad, a late McCain endorsement, then still more reverse jihad.

Liberals are so funny. The way they’re funny, even, is funny…not really funny-peculiar, not funny-ha-ha, but sort of a blending of the two. You’ll see that “stupid/evil” breakdown wander all over the spectrum, and that’s a little peculiar in itself because both stupid and evil are well-known verdicts to be handed down upon anyone caught disagreeing with liberals. They are virtually synonymous. If I’m a liberal trying to puzzle out right-wing-blog-land, what good does it do me to know this guy’s stupid-over-evil, and that other guy is vice-versa?

Must be another one of those things liberals do that feel good, but don’t accomplish anything.

They’ve always been, in my lifetime, confused about whether an allegation or value system is shown to be lacking in merit because of who believes in it, or whether the personalities are shown to lack merit because of the allegations or value systems in which they believe. Which one of those is a symptom and which one of those is the cause. Johnson, above, is to be vilified because he noticed the Johannesburg Earth Summit generated hundreds of tons of garbage…let’s all gather around in a circle and snicker at him. Why? Seems like a perfectly reasonable observation he made.

But what is really funny-peculiar and funny-ha-ha about this thing, would be impossible to explain to anyone who was a complete stranger to the blogosphere’s left. Oh, do go wandering there for awhile and get back to me. Especially if you buy into the argument that simply having an opinion about something, is sufficient evidence for someone’s conviction under a virtual stupidity/evil statute.

Those who rise above it all, lamenting that we all just can’t seem to get along, are the last to get along. Those who decry the lack of tolerance, are the last to tolerate. Those who beseech others to do a better job valuing friendships with those who disagree, are invariably bitter enemies with those who disagree. And those who hold out a utopian hope for a glorious and everlasting terminus to all the name-calling…should they see you holding an opinion they find unworthy…well, fill in the blank.

H/T: Duffy.

The Misadventures of President Talk-Over-Do

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Jimmy Carter did a lot of talking about unemployment, and did very little. He didn’t achieve much.

He did a lot of talking about inflation and did very little. He didn’t achieve much.

He did a lot of talking about Israel fighting with Palestine. The talking aside, he did very little. The problems that region had when he was in office, they still have today.

He did a lot of talking about the energy crisis. He put a solar panel on the White House, but apart from that did very little. He achieved probably less here than he did anyplace else, and it was particularly embarrassing for his defenders and apologists when Reagan got in and suddenly we didn’t have an energy crisis anymore.

From arguing with lib-ruhls on the innernets, which is my own way of talking-over-doing, I’ve found Jimmy Carter has a lot of fans out there. They’re very energetic and enthusiastic; really have their minds made up about him. Near as I can figure, they were all born after he was out of office. I haven’t found any exceptions to this pattern at all. I don’t know if that rule applies to people who write slobbering editorials like this one (H/T: Rick), but Former President Talk-Over-Do is really popular in something called the “international community,” which I’m gathering means “people you find if you grab your passport, fly around the world, and talk ONLY to people who agree…with certain other people.” Dignitaries. Ambassadors. Upper-crusters. People who are safely insulated from doing actual work, or having any of their family get hit with actual shrapnel.

The real issue here seems to me to be a fairly sharply defined, cut-and-dry distinction between talking about a problem and actually solving it. Carter seems inconsistent in this area. I know what he does when he’s the President of the United States…God help me, I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. What an incredible education that was. And the nonsense he’s doing now is quite consistent with what he did back then. Lots of talking. No doing. It’s like a rule.

JimmahBut when he poses for these Habitat-For-Humanity photo-ops, over half the time he’s holding a hammer in his hand, pounding a nail. Pound, pound, pound, pound. To which I have to say, waitaminnit. How come he isn’t talking to the nails?

Read some of these slobbery editorials sometime. Just look at the ones that purport to measure “results,” just going through the motions of so measuring. Just look at it.

Carter’s method, which says that it is necessary to talk with every one, has still not proven to be any less successful than the method that calls for boycotts and air strikes. In terms of results, at the end of the day, Carter beats out any of those who ostracize him.

Er, yeah…Hussein in Iraq…is that a result? Khadafi in Libya…is that a result? Apparently not. So I guess what the author meant to say was “Carter’s method…beats out any of those who ostracize him…provided you consistently ignore the results of those who ostracize him, and we certainly intend to do that here.”

You know, if this is the kind of comparison being made by the Talk-Over-Do camp then I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that President Carter achieved as little as he did. In fact, if their paradigm made any sense, then none of the nations around the world would have had any military resources at all…and never would’ve in all of human history.

And Carter himself never would have swung a hammer. He’d just be sitting at a conference table with a glass of water for himself, and another one for the nails.

But “at the end of the day” the house would remain a dusty dirty pile of lumber, and that would look very silly. And so I find it interesting. When Jimmy Carter actually wants to get some results, he goes all Ronald-Reagan all over those poor little nails.

Memo For File LVIII

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

I barely have the time this morning to deal with all of what’s busted in whiny, insipid, counterproductive, self-serving snotty immature screeds like this one…although I’m sure if I take a passing glance to it later, I’ll spot even more. The subject under discussion is why, oh why, aren’t there more female bloggers and how come the ones that are out there, don’t get more attention?

I asked around and heard a lot of different answers. Some say it’s because the men got a head start. Jen Moseley, the politics editor at Feministing says, “I think there are a lot of female political bloggers out there. But since most of the ‘old guard’ big political blogs (funny that something 4-5 years old can be considered old now), were started by men, so they’re still looked at as the only ones that matter.”

Amy Richards, an author and one of the co-founders of Third Wave, thinks that the amount of attention focused on the boys might be more than just their first-mover status—it’s an artifact of their historical control of the media. Richards claims that “Political punditry has always been dominated by men and thus blogging is likely to follow that pattern.” Richards agrees that women aren’t becoming blogospheric stars as quickly as some of their male colleagues. She says, “I know that women are jumping into this debate with their opinions and perspectives, but because they are doing so in spaces more likely to attract women—they aren’t being legitimized.”

Ezra Klein agreed with Amy about the ghettoization of female voices, noting that while male political bloggers are known as “political” bloggers, women are more often known as “feminist” bloggers. “There’s this rich and broad feminist blogosphere, which is heavily female and very political, but considered a different sort of animal. Is Jill Filipovic a political blogger? Ann Friedman?” he says. Male bloggers are seen as talking about politics with a universal point of view, but when we women bring our perspective to the field, it’s seen as as a minority opinion.

But does it have to be that way? Blogs are supposed to be populist and thus it would seem like women could more easily level the playing field here than in other media. Red State’s Mike Krempasky says, “You’d think the internet would be the great equalizer or the ultimate meritocracy. ‘far from it.”

What a festering, rotting open sore of microbial, infectious, stupid ideas. What a fetid, bubbling stewpot of poppycock.

It’s like an invasion of scavengers hitting your farm all at once. Coyotes, hyenas…buzzards…what have you. Craven. Cowardly. Seeking to survive on the merits of others. There is so much wrong with this, it’s like a big herd of such scavengers descending in unison, each scavenger blissfully unaware the others are there.

A fine buckshot approach to this invasion is to simply withhold my own fire and rely on a non-whiny female blogger like Cassy Fiano, who was responsible for me finding out about this in the first place. And Cassy lays out the hot lead in such a way that most of the scavenger-herd is…addressed…leaving few stragglers.

Whenever I read these kinds of articles, I just want to smack the author in the face. Here’s what they seem to be completely incapable of understanding: if you think you’re a victim, that’s all you’ll ever be.

First of all, is Arianna Huffington really the best example of a female blogger she could come up with? I can think of several right off the top of my head: Michelle Malkin (duh!), Pamela Geller, Em Zanotti, LaShawn Barber, Mary Katharine Ham, Rachel Lucas, Melissa Clouthier… the list goes on and on, and these are just conservative female bloggers.

Right Wing News even did two pieces on female conservative bloggers, and most of them looked at being a female blogger as an asset.

I’ve never had one single person tell me my opinion had less merit because I’m a woman, or that I wasn’t as good as the guy bloggers out there. I’ve seen no evidence of a “boy’s club” in the blogosphere; in fact, every single male blogger I have had any kind of communication with whatsoever has been gracious, helpful, and more than willing to assist me in building my blogging career.

And good grief, the “ghettoization” of female voices?! What the hell planet is this Megan Carpentier writing from? Because there are more male bloggers than female, female voices are being “silenced” and “ghettoized”?!

Uh, sorry, honey. Not quite. Maybe if you live in Saudi Arabia you could have a point. But here, the only thing keeping female bloggers back is… female bloggers.

Why, then, are there more male bloggers than female? The answer is simple, and it’s feminism’s favorite catch phrase: choice. Men, in general, are more interested in politics than women are. Sure, women are interested, but I don’t think that there are as many women who are diehard political junkies like there are men. Go ahead, feminists, rip my skin off for stating That Which Must Never Be Said: that women do not have the same interests as men do. Anyways, if you want proof, look at blogosphere readership. Most people reading politics blogs are men, so it stands to reason that most political bloggers would be men as well. This also means being a female blogger is more of an asset, and not just because it gives all your male readers something to ogle at (although that’s a plus, too). It means you stand out more, your blog stands out more. And that’s a good thing.

Women also tend to be more thin-skinned. The insults female bloggers get are very personal, and very hurtful. They very often have nothing whatsoever to do with what you’re actually writing about, unless of course you’re talking about how ugly you are or perverted sexual tendencies. A lot of women just cannot take that kind of thing. It’s like an arrow to the heart for them. After so much of that, a lot of them quit, because it isn’t worth the stress and heartache for them.

And why does the internet — the political blogosphere, specifically — need to be “the great equalizer”? Why does it matter how many female vs. male bloggers there are out there? There is not one blog I read because of the gender of the author. I read them because of the content in the blogs, what the blogger has to say. I could give two shits whether it’s a man or a women writing behind the computer screen. Putting the emphasis on something as shallow as gender accomplishes what? Instead of focusing on the skin-deep, why doesn’t this lady focus on the ideas different bloggers put forth?

I don’t know where feminists got this idea that all male-dominated careers were unfair to women unless there are an exactly equal number of women participating in these careers, but it’s ridiculous. They need to get over the bean-counting. Living in a state of perpetual outrage or victimhood will get you nowhere.

One blast. All farm scavengers tremble in fear before the fury of Cassy’s 12-gauge.

But some wounded furballs are still limping around. For example, Cassy’s retort to the “ghettoization” remark is limited to chastising Carpentier for her lack of perspective in identifying what might be amiss in the status quo. She did a fine job of dealing with that, but I’m more concerned with what thoughts were percolating away in what passes for Carpentier’s cranium before she jotted down her whiny bromide. If I want to “ghettoize” someone, or a class of someones, in the blogosphere — how do I go about doing this? What are my goals, exactly? Assuming the solution would resemble the problem, it must be up to the reader to fill that in because Carpentier admits ignorance in understanding how to fix it.

Megan Carpentier is kind of like Luke Skywalker wandering into the dark cave; she found in there what she brought in with her. Her point is “these blogs that I’m looking at are mostly male” but she could have looked at some other blogs. Prominence is measured, on the blogosphere, mostly in the eye of the beholder. What Carpentier has done, is confess — without even realizing she’s so confessing — that she comes from a weird, surreal universe in which that is not the case. She’s used to living in a place where some central kiosk tells everyone what to watch.

But it must be a two-way street, in some way, or else there’d be no point in Carpentier whining away. She must be an example of what I’ve noticed about most people who can’t cope without a central authority telling them what to do: Now and then, such complainers want to have a voice in telling the central authority what to tell others to do. So there’s a pecking order to this. Sniveling whiny complainer supplies instructions to the central kiosk; central kiosk radiates the instructions to the unwashed masses within line-of-sight.

I’ve never had any respect for people like this. I’ve always thought of them not only as tedious, thin-skinned banshees, but as shallow thinkers. They do their shrieking selectively. They only complain about the things we decide for ourselves, that have come to their attention at any given time, remaining agnostic and unconcerned about our choices of: Ice cream flavor, color of socks to wear today, stick shift or automatic, plain-cake or chocolate-with-sprinkles, the list goes on and on. One can’t help but nurture a fantasy that has to do with calling their attention to all these things at once, and kicking off some kind of carping-bitching-overload chain reaction. Like Captain Kirk and Mister Spock talking some ancient alien computer into a sparkling, smoky mess of paper mache and dry ice on the stage of Desilu.

We live as free men, deciding for ourselves and living with the consequences. Too many who pretend to walk among us are left unsatisfied by this state of affairs. Let posterity forget they were our countrymen, as the saying goes.

Cassy has been distracted by the great umbrage she’s taken — rightfully so — to the low pain threshold of Screechy Megan. What her criticism has allowed to walk away mostly unscathed is Megan’s mindset. The mindset of insects. Except insects, so far as I know, don’t bitch when the queen tells them to go someplace not to their liking.

I think my afterthought-comment over at Cassy’s place might address what’s left…

I was doing some more thinking about this. It seems we have some “dry rot” in the blogosphere, people who are blogging, and for the sake of their own sanity probably should not be.

How do we change that? How loud do women have to shout?

The ‘sphere promotes equality by failing to embrace it. Let’s say some left-wing pinhead says something on TV and it rubs Michelle Malkin the wrong way. Cassy Fiano is also piqued about the same thing. Malkin writes it up with something original; Fiano also writes it up with something original.

I like what Michelle said and I also like what Cassy said. Neither one linked or referenced the other, and they both said essentially the same thing. Linking both of them is pointless. I have a finite amount of time to blog and my readers have a finite amount of time to read.

So I must choose…

…and I’m going to link Malkin because she gets more traffic. And so, male or female, a blog “hits a groove.” It gets to the point where it is hit more because it does not need the traffic. It’s like a society with the ultimate regressive tax system — we all get together to help out whoever doesn’t need it.

The system works, because it achieves a blend of group-think and individuality. We’re all looking at the same stuff…kinda. But we’re also looking at our own stuff and forming our own ideas.

The exasperated inquiry “how loud do we have to shout” betrays an immature mindset, one that is accustomed to an all-powerful centralized authority. A “mommy” figure. But a weak mommy figure; one that panders to whichever “child” does the most bitching.

Not that I mean to imply Ms. Carpenter [sic] grew up that way. But if I had to bet some money, I’d bet it on the affirmative, and that would go for a random selection among her regular readership as well. The notion that some adequate amount of carping and bellyaching will change the universe to the liking of whoever’s doing it, is hideously offensive to me…to most men…and I would add to all “real” women as well. It’s a decidedly out-of-date 1960′s mindset, one that pays lip service to “choice” but only honors the choices made by certain, deserving people, and insists that everyone else has to follow along whether they like it or not.

How do you make more bloggers female? Might as well make more cars on the road listen to country music on their radios. It’s up to the dude/dudette behind the steering wheel, and it seems Ms. Carpenter [sic] just can’t handle that.

Five Words

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Freakonomics held a contest to find the best six-word motto for the United States, and in my book it was a smashing success because the grand prize winner was a work of art:

The United States of America:
Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay

The runners-up are plenty good enough to reproduce here, each and every single one of ‘em.

Caution! Experiment in Progress Since 1776

The Most Gentle Empire So Far

You Should See the Other Guy

Just Like Canada, With Better Bacon

When Gerard wrote this up, he graciously accepted a late entry, an unforgivably smarmy tidbit that percolated in the frontal lobes of one of the writers for The Blog That Nobody Reads…the blog you’re reading right now. The nobodies who don’t come by to not read The Blog That Nobody Reads, will relate to the observation that this was quite out of character for us — our entry was shorter than par. We nudged up against the gauge at a trim, slim five words, sixteen percent less than what was originally requested.

Yes, that’s right! We expressed an idea in less space! Five little words…and by the time they’re done, without a single additional syllable, the reader is offered proof of what makes this country truly, uniquely great. They’re so inspiring you almost want to run, walk or jog to the Bay State and chuck a couple crates of tea in the harbor all over again.

To find out about content thereof, you can follow the link to Gerard’s site…or…you can use your mouse clicker and highlight the text below…drum roll, please…

The United States of America:
Our Poor People Are Fat

Historians Speak for History

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

…insofar as how it will remember George W. Bush.

President Bush often argues that history will vindicate him. So he can’t be pleased with an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted by the History News Network. It found that 98 percent of them believe that Bush’s presidency has been a failure, while only about 2 percent see it as a success. Not only that, more than 61 percent of the historians say the current presidency is the worst in American history.

“Informal” is right. What if it were more formal, something with more gravity than an anonymous, smarmy remark being compiled into an “informal survey” with more of the same? What if there were stakes involved? Imagine the thinking that would be going on if you asked 109 professional historians to put money down on the answer.

History shows just a few definite trends in figuring out who is “worst”; I don’t agree with them all, but they’re there. And the traits for which history seems to look, aren’t sported in abundance by the current President. They are things like…just off the top of my head…obscurity. Unless you’re a “buff,” you’ve got no clue who the guy was, when he served, what he did. That can apply to Millard Fillmore or Franklin Pierce, perhaps, and who can argue against the statement that those two gentlemen are consistently nominated for the bottom slots. But George W. Bush? In a generation or two, it’ll be tough to remember who he was or what he did? On what planet?

Damage and polarization in the republic…well, that’s a matter of opinion and his critics have a right to theirs. For precedent, we have Andrew Johnson. And who else? Our nation’s other impeached President, Bill Clinton, was certainly a polarizing figure — seems to me I’m entitled to my opinion that he did some damage — I don’t see anyone putting him in the bottom slot. Just a few right-wing nutballs like me. Why, he spoke so eloquently when he told us things that weren’t true, he must’ve been great. But who else did some damage to the country’s sense of unity, and consequently was remembered by history as a crappy President? John Adams is sometimes placed in the bottom half, but never so far as I can recall in the few bottom slots. Andrew Jackson? Franklin Roosevelt? Nope.

Scandal…this has had the effect of flunking out Ulysses Grant here & there, sometimes. But history is beginning to wake up about him. Warren Harding, Richard Nixon, yup. Bill Clinton? Eh. The pattern has been disrupted. Looks like we’re going through a change of direction in how history remembers scandal; she seems to find it arousing lately. Actually, is George Bush’s administration marred by scandal any more than any other? I know we’re often instructed that we should think so. But it can be difficult to assess that in an era when you’re living in it. That’s why we have history in the first place, right?

The big common factor in our historically lousy Presidents, is that they were complacent and they didn’t get an awful lot done. Well, most of the criticism thrown at President Bush, I notice, is awkwardly constructed and cobbled together according to a haphazard design that presumes complacency to be a good thing, since the Commander-in-Chief is regarded by friends and foes alike as anything-but. Okay, then. When you start out with the objective of making him a bad President, I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. Not getting an awful lot done? Here again, the criticism for President Bush invariably arises from something he did.

Toppled, Like It Or NotSo now it’s in two distinct areas: Current sensibilities manage to achieve the desired condemnation of the current President, by sustaining values oppositional to what is embraced by “history.”

Now about this thing he did. Was that contrary to the well-being of the country over which he’s supposed to preside?

Well I suppose the fairest answer is going to be that history will take awhile to figure that one out. Suppose history eventually decides toward the negative. Quickly, now — what other President in our nation’s history became a “bad” President, by doing something that was really hard to do, that a lot of people opposed when he did it…but not until just a few weeks before he got serious about doing it? What President became “bad” because he mobilized the military in an operation, with which some among us disagreed, and said operation actually incurred a death toll?

But you really don’t need to get into all that to raise a red flag or two about the study.

It says 98% of them consider it a failure. How high does the number have to be before one is inclined to call shenanigans?

Perhaps what we need, is a study on studies like this one. Who gets ‘em going, how they get going, who participates and why. Actually, I’ve got the oddest feeling history is going to be pretty curious about that.