Archive for December, 2008

Last (Phony) Outrage of the Year: 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Because, as some astute readers have figured out, I come from a technical background that dates back to boyhood…like Rambo said about being a killing machine, “you can’t just shut it off.” So — in all walks of life — I demand specificity. Especially with regard to things that have an impact on other things.

This bacterial infection called political correctness, has been fought and fought and fought, within an inch of its life, but not fully driven from the host. So it’s done what bacteria do when you don’t take the full dose of antibiotic. It’s survived, adapated, come back with a vengeance, and now it means business. Twenty-first century political correctness is not dead. It’s stronger than before. It’s harder to fight than it was before, because it’s agile and refuses to be nailed down.

It ends careers by saying “I’m offended” and nothing else materially important.

That satisfies us. We shouldn’t find this satisfactory; we shouldn’t even find it tolerable. For God’s sake, if you’re going to remove things from our view that we wanna watch, and destroy lives on top of it, simply by saying something…have the decency to say something. “I’m offended,” what in the hell is that supposed to mean? That’s not even good enough to make me wait a couple seconds before brewing my morning coffee, let alone join your stupid boycott.

With regard to this phony-baloney made-up “scandal” involving whats-his-name…Chip Saltsman. I would like to submit this as the single most sensible thing said, thus far.

Most of the outrage is contrived and some of it is, well, outrageous. Blogger/journalist Tommy Christopher calls Saltsman a “turd” for distributing the CD. You’ll get no apology from me for believing that anyone who uses that word personifies it.
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Relative to experiences with racism, I’ll go toe to toe with anyone who wishes to engage in the game of one-upmanship; I’ve got five decades of personal experience with the beast and this ain’t it. There isn’t even a hint of it here.

And the second most sensible thing said — very narrow contest there, by the way — came from yours truly as a reply to some of the righteously indignant protesters commenting at the bottom of that guy’s page. Now, I have not been wrestling with such a beast, I’m a white guy, six feet tall and straight, still in possession of all twenty-one digits, skilled tradesman, high school graduate, protestant. I have no minority status I can claim whatsoever.

But I do have a question to ask that is legitimate for all of us to ponder. Not only legitimate — there’s just no getting around it. We need to have this answered.

The controversy is over whether people should take the outrage seriously. Can we, then, define the outrage? Is that too much to ask?

1. The word “negro” offends me, and by extension, the song offends me, and by extension, anybody’s decision to distribute the song, defend the song, be in the same room as the song…well, you get the drift.

2. I am not offended personally but I imagine someone, somewhere, whether I’ve personally verified this or not, is offended, and I’m going to exhibit truckloads of theatrical outrage on behalf of them because I’m just that kind of a caring person.

3. Words like “negro” have, historically, been mines in fields, waiting to go off to devastating effect if someone gets too close to them. That translates to power for people like me. I see this as a proposal to de-sensitize society toward the term, which would defuse that mine, and neutralize this power. That’s MY power. That’s the source of my outrage.

4. Combination of #2 and #3. Other people have been powerful because of the claymore effect of words like these, and I sympathize with them personally or politically, so I don’t want to see them lose that power. That’s the outrage I am showing.

5. None of the above. I just hate Republicans.

Whoever’s logging on to blogs like this one, breathing their fire, et cetera, I’m going to want to see you pick one out of the above five before I take ONE WORD you say seriously. Before I even think about it.

But don’t worry. I’m only speaking for myself.

And anyone else with so much as a lick o’common sense.

After I hit “submit” I thought of a sixth one.

See, Rush Limbaugh, the very poster-child of right-wing talk radio, has been playing this song parody for awhile now. Therefore, if you can bully enough people into thinking there is something hideously offensive about this song, and weave their egos into that realization so they labor under the delusion they made up their own minds about that without you bullying them, you know what you can do?

You can make all of right-wing talk radio look like some venomous arachnid doing whatever arachnids do under great big rocks that shield out all the light. Eww, look at this scary right-wing talk radio show that’s been talking about “negroes” all these years, and we didn’t know what was going on until this guy handed out a Christmas CD to his Republican buddies. What in the world could be scarier? A vast network of Information Superhighway traveling racists, hiding in plain sight. Sort of a Ku Klux Klan living in the age of the innerwebs. They been walking among us, and we never even knew! Think of the revulsion you’d feel upon learning of a nest of baby scorpions living in the pillowcase your face hits every night. Imagine that kind of primal nausea, directed toward the injury of one political party, for the benefit of the other. In American politics, that is a Weapon of Mass Destruction…especially if large numbers of people can be tricked into feeling that kind of nausea.

You know, just some propaganda to get out there. To topple that frightening, intimidating, all-powerful Republican machine that ++snicker++ runs Washington.

The democrat party won every single thing it could possibly win, except for Saxby Chambliss’ seat. They nearly got a filibuster-proof Senate…and think about that for a minute or two, what in the world did they want to do in our interest, that they can do with sixty seats, that they thought they wouldn’t be able to do with fifty-nine?

Point is — given the way the elections turned out, it is beyond bizarre that they’re still scrounging around looking for one more branch, twig or matchstick of power they can toss on their big bonfire. It’s patently illogical. Or at least I hope it is. Frankly, it scares the hell out of me to think they’ve got some strategy they’re working on, that somehow depends on this kind of propaganda being pushed out, with the allocation of power being left where it was after those elections. It’s really the same thing as the filibuster situation. What are you planning to do, that you can do with your political opponents bulldozed under the bedrock with salt sprinkled on top of them…that you can’t do, even while you’re running all of Washington, with some viable un-stigmatized opposition able to speak out against you?

This country was founded on the principle that no one single man, or single cadre of powerful men, should be able to dictate everything, free of question or criticism.

So before you get too worked up about that CD because someone else wants you to — demand an answer to my multiple-choice question. Why not? It’s the least you should be demanding. The very least. Leave the question of whether it’s outrageous or offensive, to some other day. First define why we’re even considering it. There’s no reason not to.

Ban All Guns

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

He certainly does seem sure of himself.

The Founding Fathers of our country made a mistake when they said we had the right to bear arms. They did not know we would be allies with the British and no longer have to worry about them coming over to oppress and colonize us. The British found greater spoils in Africa and India and never looked back on the United States after the Revolutionary War.

The right to bear arms is killing all of us. In 2005 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 3,006 children and teens killed by gunfire, most of them young, black men in inner-city neighborhoods. And CNN reported yesterday that black-on-black murder of young black men is up 40 percent from last year. The harder the times get, the higher these statistics will go.

Do people really not recognize the danger involved in this mindset, that when times get tough we should expect people to kill each other because it’s only natural, like perspiring on a hot day?

Hat tip to Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.

Thing I Know #252. If there are some rich people who steal, and there are some poor people who don’t, then you can’t justify or explain crime with a bad economy.

IT Predictions for 2009

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

They’re gloomy. You were expecting something else?

Half of CIOs are looking to cut consulting-services costs, 35 percent want to reduce computer and server expenses, and 23 percent want savings on software, according to a Goldman Sachs survey.
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The city of Seattle is using VMware to consolidate its existing servers, instead of buying 139 new ones from IBM. Next year, CIO Bill Schrier wants to use more of VMware’s so-called virtualization software, which lets computers run multiple operating systems, saving costs. VMware shares have dropped 71 percent this year before today.

Other parts of the software market, including SAP business applications and Microsoft Corp. operating systems and office program packages, may fare worse. Last week, Gartner cut its 2009 enterprise software growth forecast to 6.6 percent, or $244.3 billion, predicting slowdowns in those areas. That’s down from a September forecast of 9.5 percent.
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While Microsoft will benefit from the popularity of its SharePoint software, which helps workers collaborate, slowing PC sales will crimp demand for its Windows and Office programs, according to Goldman Sachs. Microsoft spokesman Bill Cox declined to comment.

“I’m worried about every single vendor,” said Citigroup’s Thill. “It’s just a question of magnitude. The worst may very well be ahead.”

This is the kind of thing that made me wince throughout the year when people would talk about the technological Golden Age that would rise up to meet us once The Annointed One took His Holy Hand off the Bible on January 20th. Supposedly, the Obama Administration would peel back the veneer of dumbth and, with our battalion of bluetooth-earbud-wearing egotists packed into the White House, we’d stop banging rocks together in our little mud huts, and partake in the blessings of our twenty-first century Renaissance.

If this report be reliable, there’s no Renaissance ahead. There may not even be a chicken-in-every-pot. Can’t eat a unicorn fart.

My advice? First, take some solace in the list of worst predictions for 2008, because that’s what I’m gonna do. Predictions is predictions, they isn’t certainties — sometimes we need to remind ourselves of this.

1…A very powerful and durable rally is in the works. But it may need another couple of days to lift off…
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3…Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are fundamentally sound…
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6…Existing-Home Sales to Trend Up in 2008…

7…I think you’ll see (oil prices at) $150 a barrel by the end of the year…
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10…There’s growing evidence that parts of the debt markets…are coming back to life.

Now those have to do with things being predicted good, and then goin’ bad. Except, I guess, for #7 if you’re a person who’s looking to buy oil products and not sell ‘em. But predictions can go the other way — forecast gloom, and then become confounded as life hands you an unexpected bouquet of roses and chocolates. That does happen just as often.

And as Americans, we have a long and stalwart legacy of galvanizing ourselves into action as a direct consequence of need. When the need softens, we hibernate like big fat bears. We excel at adapting to the requirement of the moment. Once the zombies are all slaughtered and the mortgage payment is off in the mail and levee has been fixed and the foot fungus has been cured — we, The American People, can sit back the farthest, relax more muscles, flip on that idjit box that fastest, stick out that big ol’ belly the farthest, pop open that beer, and make sure it’s the biggest, coldest one there is…better than any nation, civilized or no, this rock in space has ever seen. That is what we do. We fix things that are busted, and once they’re fixed, we relax to such a masterful extent we practically melt.

That really is what’s been happening here. When did we really get disenchanted with technology in general? When it pulled this Chicken Little bullshit about the sky falling, and the world coming to an end because there weren’t enough digits to store the year. Everyone would have to hoard bar soap and banana chips into their backyard bunkers, and put a .50 cal turret on top, remember that?

When did we start wallowing in this modern, non-technical malaise? Survivor? Jar Jar Binks? The View? Britney Spears? Right about that same time. It’s been so handy to blame it all on that punk smirking cowboy George W. Bush — but he didn’t come along until about a year and a half later.

We weren’t being conservative. We were being fat and lazy. We were pissed off about that money we lost in the dot-com bubble, and besides, we didn’t want anything else invented because we figured it had all been invented already. Well, we’re still in that mode.

Maybe a good stiff economic crisis will be all it takes to pull us out again. Necessity is the mother of invention.

It’s worked before. In our country, anyway. Pretty consistently.

Think with high hopes. Act with low ones. Let every single new day you meet, as the Good Lord sees fit to let you roll outta that bed, know who’s boss — take it by the horns. And this will all work out. Really, it will.

And when it does, you better believe His Holiness At 1600 Pennsylvania will take all the credit for it. That’s okay. In government as well as in business, the Dilbert-pointy-haired-boss is a part of life. He’ll always be there. Ignore him, and do your best.

Far Better Composed Than Her Critics

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

I wouldn’t call it a spirited defense of Gov. Palin. But it’s certainly a resilient and robust one. Moreso than it could be, if there wasn’t some substance behind it.

Though regularly pronounced sick, dying, dead, cremated and scattered at sea, Mrs. Palin is still amazingly around. She has survived more media assassination attempts than Fidel Castro has survived real ones (Cuban official figure: 638). In her case, one particular method of assassination is especially popular — namely, the desperate assertion that, in addition to her other handicaps, she is “no Margaret Thatcher.”

Very few express this view in a calm or considered manner. Some employ profanity. Most claim to be conservative admirers of Mrs. Thatcher. Others admit they had always disliked the former British prime minister until someone compared her to “Sarracuda” — at which point they suddenly realized Mrs. Thatcher must have been absolutely brilliant (at least by comparison).

Inevitably, Lloyd Bentsen’s famous put-down of Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice-presidential debate is resurrected, such as by Paul Waugh (in the London Evening Standard) and Marie Cocco (in the Washington Post): “Newsflash! Governor, You’re No Maggie Thatcher,” sneered Mr. Waugh. Added Ms. Coco, “now we know Sarah Palin is no Margaret Thatcher — and no Dan Quayle either!”

Jolly, rib-tickling stuff. But, as it happens, I know Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher is a friend of mine. And as a matter of fact, Margaret Thatcher and Sarah Palin have a great deal in common. [emphasis mine]

Prediction: If she’s around, and I’m around, for the next four years, then every single day between this one and that one we’re just going to keep on keepin’-on. The Sarah Palin critics will insist it’s been proven, beyond any doubt, not even worth discussing any more, that Palin is a dimwit and an airhead.

And the more they insist, the more they’ll demonstrate by their continued insistence that there is a need to so insist — and therefore it is not proven…there must be some doubt…it is worth discussing or else nobody would be discussing it.

And Sarah Palin will continue to be more composed and dignified than any of them. She’s the Howard Roark of this story. She believes the stuff she says, which puts her on a whole different plane apart from the ankle-biters. And she stays there. Above them, operating in an entirely different sphere, one unaffected by what they think about things. And this is more than they can stand.

Reminds me of something I read last night, after Sarah Palin’s “second” grandchild (+++snicker+++) was born:

Lenny_da_Hog: When the GOP leadership admits to their party members that the choice of Sarah Palin was a huge mistake, based upon a complete disrespect for the voters’ ability to make informed choices about issues and policies, I’ll let it go.

You see, they’re still acting like she’s credible. They’re still telling their members that she was a true leader with experience enough to be the POTUS. They’re still trying to cash in on that fashion trend. They’ve invested in her, now.

When they can let it go and admit their stupidity, I’ll stop laughing at them and reminding them of it.

Clay pigeon loaded. Shotgun cocked. PULL!

Billy McGoodGuy: yes, because GOP leadership cares what you say on Fark.

Ka-blam.

It’s gonna keep happening that way, folks. Week in, week out, for the next four years. It’ll be a foregone conclusion that Sarah Palin was “not ready”…but the way we keep hearing it over and over again, with God only knows how much breathlessness, and vigor, and energy, and maybe even money behind it — is proof positive it isn’t a foregone conclusion.

There wouldn’t be any need to point it out.

Kinda like Barack Obama being a Higher Being and being capable of Solving All The World’s ProblemsTM. Or that liberals are Really Good PeopleTM, Believe In DiversityTM and are Capable of Nuanced ThinkingTM. If it really was true, why this continued and repeated allocation of scarce resources, toward no better end than to keep on saying it?

Year in Review by Dave Barry

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Hehehehe. Good to see he hasn’t lost it, even after all these years.

A mesmerizing speaker, Obama electrifies voters with his exciting new ideas for change, although people have trouble remembering exactly what these ideas are because they are so darned mesmerized. Some people become so excited that they actually pass out. These are members of the press corps.
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In economic news, Chrysler announces a plan to lay off workers who have not been born yet. The lone economic bright spot is the iPhone, which is selling like crazy, thanks to the release of a new model enhanced with the capability of sucking pieces of your brain out through your ear until all you want to do is play with your iPhone.
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The games themselves are dominated by swimmer Michael Phelps, who wins eight gold medals, thus putting himself on a sounder financial footing than the U.S. Treasury. China wins the gold medal count, although critics charge that some of China’s 11-year-old female gymnasts are under the minimum age of 16. Chinese officials refute this charge by noting, correctly, that they have tanks.
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More and more companies seek federal help, among them the troubled “big three” automakers, whose chief executives fly to Washington in three corporate jets to ask Congress for $25 billion, explaining that if they don’t get the money, they will be unable to continue making cars that Americans are not buying.

Hat tip: Conservative Grapevine, via FrankJ at IMAO.

His Holy Coronation a More Important Story Than September 11 Attacks

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

What an amazing surprise.

A worldwide media survey released on Monday shows that coverage around Obama’s successful bid to become the next American president was written about twice as often as any other news event since the turn of the century.

“Obama was unprecedented. He has captivated the world,” said Paul Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor, which conducted the survey.

Uh oh. Yet another world-surveyor, speaking on behalf of “the world.” I wonder if this one has some captivating tales to recount about running door-to-door on all seven continents to find out what everybody’s thinking?

Or, perhaps, it’s yet another example of re-defining the seemingly static concept of “everyone.”

His Holiness Who Walks On Water damn sure didn’t captivate me, I know that much. Last I checked, I was part of “the world.”

Obama had been written about roughly 250 million times, said Payack. Stories about all the other big news events this century have together generated about half that coverage, he added.

Just…wow. Words fail me. So I’ll rely on Darth Misha, who gets the hat tip for this story, to express the unexpressable…

Oh, and those 3000+ innocent people who died on Sept.11?

Puhleeeeze. Can’t we all just Move OnTM?

Isn’t it enough to know that he only has to raise his nicotine stained metrosexual hands, flex those glistening man boobs pecs, wave his Dumbo ears and the winds will die down, the waves will calm, the climate will cease to change, dogs and cats will be at peace with one another, and Oprah will finally shut the hell up?

Forget that once he’s out of his “President-Elect” bubble he’s going to be busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest trying to hide who and what he really is, which is to say…NUTHIN…He’s the Obamessiah!!

I can’t help but feel a tinge of fear for what is happening to another very basic concept. Authority. We spend all these giga-calories of energy, millions, billions of dollars to erect our corporate and government “Do As I Say Not As I Do” people. They tell us things that are categorically untrue, things that directly contradict even themselves — sentences that twist around in 180-degree hairpin turns before they even reach the dot at the end. “Equal opportunity employer, women and minorities encouraged to apply.” Stuff like that; same breath.

And then all the charlatans who insist on being right, even though they’re telling us untrue, self-contradictory things, are subordinated to the mega-charlatan. His Holiness The 44th President tells you it is a dry sunny day outside and there’s raindrops falling on your head, well, leave the umbrella behind, because you’ve just received The Word. And He talks kinda like Walter Cronkite so it must be true.

That’s what I find a little bit more unsettling than, I suspect, even the most rabid left-wing hippie ever found the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act to be, rhetoric notwithstanding. This hierarchy of lying. The supremacy each face on the totem pole takes on in relation to the face beneath it, is so uncompromising, so non-negotiable. Just stop asking questions. It doesn’t matter what that face on the pole says, if the face above it, says something different.

And worst of all, Obama isn’t the one on the tippy-top. He was elected to “sit down and talk” with that I’m-A-Dinner-Jacket guy over in Iran, and His Holiness will tell I’m-A-Dinner-Jacket…what, exactly? “Oh, mkay…alright, if you say so.” Anything beyond that?

Go on, Obama fans. Tell me where I’m off-base here.

Thing I Know #274. Heath Ledger’s Joker had it exactly right. People will choose brutality, injustice, carnage, malfeasance, death or destruction every time as long as the alternative is true chaos. They want to know there is a plan. If they get the idea there is no plan, they go nuts. If there’s a plan, they’re somewhat satisfied, no matter what that plan actually is.

Milgran’s Experiments

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Fascinating, and disturbing, stuff from Neo-Neocon.

Not really news to anyone who was paying attention during the 2008 elections, though. In the human psyche, down in that basic fundamental layer of primal wiring, “questioning authority” is a complete myth. Our programming is to do what we’re told, and, perhaps, to engage in sheepish little theatrical shows of rebellion, just for the attention.

Women Avoid IT

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Is it still sacrilege to discuss that the two sexes might be fundamentally different?

Only if you discuss male superiority. Find a way to make the girls look good, and you can jibber-jabber away about it to your heart’s content. So in that politically-charged climate, how do we investigate the continuing gender imbalance in Information Technology, and how to better direct all these resources that have been spent through the years, in vain, to even things out?

Ah…someone’s found a way. Even better, based on what I’ve seen, I agree.

Yes, we know. IT is much the poorer for having missed the gender-equality boat. But facts are facts.

According to a report in the Boston Globe: “One study of information-technology workers found that women’s own preferences are the single most important factor in that field’s dramatic gender imbalance. Another study followed 5,000 mathematically gifted students and found that qualified women are significantly more likely to avoid physics and the other ‘hard’ sciences in favor of work in medicine and biosciences.

“Another study found that women who are mathematically gifted are more likely than men to have strong verbal abilities as well; men who excel in math, by contrast, don’t do nearly as well in verbal skills. As a result, the career choices for math-precocious women are wider than for their male counterparts. Sure, they can become scientists, but they can also succeed just as well as lawyers or teachers. With this range of choice, their data show, highly qualified women may opt out of certain technical or scientific jobs simply because they can.”

What’s being discovered is the Yin and Yang theory. When men and women discover at an early age that they possess superior communication skills, it opens up pathways to them and they shy away from technological pursuits. Those who don’t have these skills, begin a life-long effort spent making things work, observing how parts interact with other parts, and building bigger, fancier things. This molds and shapes how thinking people think.

Yin and Yang then goes on to say…whatever people don’t do, whatever they do only under protest, when backed into a corner and deprived of all other options…their skills start to atrophy. Which, here, would indicate that even bright women might tend to possess inferior technical skills. Maybe that won’t happen, but it will logically follow that when people enjoy an abundance of options, the overwhelming tendency is going to be for them to choose the one with the most immediate reward.

And with all things technical, of course, you always have to wait. The server isn’t going to come up and start servicing client requests until you get it built, generate the OS, install it, configure it for your network, et cetera.

All of which is a round-about way of saying — since women are much brighter at, and more naturally inclined toward, the art and science of communication — they’re not likely to find optimal fulfillment in building things. To be a nerd right down to the core, you have to possess a lifelong history of finding greater fulfillment in saying “Hey Mom and Dad, look what I did” rather than “Hey Mom and Dad, look at me.” That’s the definition. And that isn’t likely to happen to a female; little girls are just too cute. And so even the ones who possess all the skills, aptitudes and passions of snapping Lego building blocks together, tend to gravitate more naturally toward other efforts that are more socially, and therefore immediately, rewarding. Because they can.

So since the problem is rooted in an abundance of options available to bright, flexible, capable and intelligent women — now what do we do? Deprive them of the options?

That would appear to be the only course of action available to us. Other than simply recognizing the gender imbalance in IT, and learning to live with it.

You Know…

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I hope this airhead causes a complete avalanche effect when she finally falls down for good.

I have no beef with Caroline Kennedy. But she represents a political class that is high on my list of peeves. The elitist twit. Don’t know nuthin’ about nuthin’, and here’s this microphone sticking in my face, no problem I’ll just reach in my grab bag of focus-group phrases. Constitution, healthcare, torture, listening to my constituents, incredible opportunity, work twice as hard as anybody else, public service…y’know, y’know, y’know.

Hillary’s got some of this going on, too. Neither woman is known for even pretending to have any new ideas. It’s just a lot of “work”; everyone already agrees on how it should be done, y’know, it’s just like a big ol’ washboard in the Senate with a big pile of dirty clothes that have to be run across it, or a barrel of butter that has to be churned, or any other piece of housework. Yeah, housework.

What is it about being one of these strong-willed liberated left-wing politician females? You’re supposed to be a walking paradigm shift. But they’re the very last public figures to whom you can turn, to get a paradigm shift. It’s like your mother opening up the floor for discussion about how the clothes should be folded — never happens. She just folds the damn clothes. I see it in the older ones too. I write to Dianne Feinstein asking her what the prospects might be for her to change her position on issue xxx, and I get back a boilerplate “Thank you for asking about Sen. Feinstein’s position. Her opinion is…” Yeah. She’ll get back to me on what opinion I’m supposed to have, after the people whose names are filed in that very special section of her rolodex, tell her.

How much would it advance the cause of womens’ liberation — whatever still remains to be done — if, just a bit more often, a famous, powerful, high-profile woman said “there is a common misconception that we need to do X; these are the reasons I think we need to do Y instead.” In other words, argue — like a man. Break away from this whole “y’know” thing…stop pretending that we all agree on what needs to be done, and we’re just waiting for someone powerful and female to do the “work,” like little boys waiting for their mommas to wash the urine-soaked bedsheets.

Feminists should be the very first in line complaining about this. It reinforces the idea that if you want to have a reasoned discussion about what we really know, what might really be going on, and what to do about it, you have to turn to the men; women are just there to do grunt work after everybody’s come to the same conclusion that the dog vomit should really, y’know, sometime today, get cleaned off that rug.

I’m supposed to cringe in proxy embarrassment when Gov. Palin points out that Alaska and Russia are close together. Y’know? Who decided that, y’know? At least Alaska’s Governor has a track record for figuring out for herself what needs doing, and making a decision about how to get it done, when there are some very powerful people who don’t want it done. Standing up for something. Disagreeing. Fighting. Like men do.

Hat tip: Cuffy, via Gerard.

Opinion in the News Section

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Dave Kopel has an interesting analysis on how the economics of the newsroom push it there.

Seems nothing ever comes along to push it back where it belongs, again.

Our newspapers have crossed the first milestone on the pathway to complete insanity. How many milestones have to be passed on by before the whole thing is just a birdcage liner and nothing else?

Man Gives up Daughter for BDS

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Or, to be more precise about it, to advertise the fact that he has a case of it…

Is there anybody, anywhere, who hates George W. Bush quietly?

An Egyptian man said on Wednesday he was offering his 20-year-old daughter in marriage to Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush in Baghdad on Sunday,

The daughter, Amal Saad Gumaa, said she agreed with the idea. “This is something that would honor me. I would like to live in Iraq, especially if I were attached to this hero,” she told Reuters by telephone.

Her father, Saad Gumaa, said he had called Dergham, Zaidi’s brother, to tell him of the offer. “I find nothing more valuable than my daughter to offer to him, and I am prepared to provide her with everything needed for marriage,” he added.

Everybody hates George W. Bush. They don’t all agree on the reasons why, I’ve noticed. Seriously. There are a lot of people who hate him, but they don’t all say Iraq is the cause. Some say it’s his smirk and his swagger. Some say it’s his pro-life position. Some talk about vacations at his ranch, clearing away brush. Although, remarkably, there never seems to be any dispute about what exactly his offense is, no passion at all in defining it…only in articulating that he has committed one.

I found the last six words of one of the closing paragraphs telling…

Zaidi’s gesture has struck a chord across the Arab world, where President Bush is widely despised for invading Iraq in 2003 and for his support for Israel. [emphasis mine]

Zowee.

Just imagine, for a moment, if there was widespread resentment against incoming left-winger liberal Presidential Messiah Figure Barack Holy Obama…and this resentment could be linked, however tangentially, to passions antisemitic in nature. How much would we hear about that?

Well, don’t imagine. Such resentments are there, and they’re already linked tangentially to feelings of white supremacy. We don’t need to wonder how much we’d hear about it. We know. The difference is, criticism against His Holiness The Annointed One, Higher Being Lightworker Obama, is never legitimized in the international press. Even when it’s benign, when it’s simple common sense, like “Der, you know, maybe the bandwagon Obama movement can wait until He tells us what exactly He intends to do about issue xxx once He is sworn into office.”

Conversely, this delusional fellow seems to be ready to give away his daughter for the sake of reaching out to other folks in the arab world who hate jews, and saying to them, “Here I am, I’m just like you.” That’s the way it works within America’s borders, by the way. If you hate Bush, you have to say so, the louder the better, so you can find others who hate him just like you do.

If Bush hatred was truly universal this wouldn’t be necessary. Everyone with a working mind hates, for example, being hungry. That is universal. There’s no need to say you hate being hungry. We take it for granted. So no one feels a need to advertise this, because there’s no fellowship to be built.

At the other extreme end of the spectrum, we would have…the desire to restore the Nazi movement? I’m told there are some skinhead kooks out there somewhere. Clearly, according to our modern sensibilities, they’re out of the mainstream. And so I imagine if you had these kinds of feelings, you would “advertise” them but as carefully and selectively as you can, and once you were fortunate enough to find someone of like mind, you would cherish their companionship. Because most people aren’t like you two.

This is why the effort to legitimize Bush hatred, as if it’s something mainstream, by advertising it at every possible opportunity, strikes me as particularly ludicrous. Me, I personally loathe lots of things. I loathe #34 on this list here with a passion. I have no desire to find other people who hate it as well, nor to make sure others know how much I hate it, nor do I care how many other people share my loathing of it. It’s something that inspires neither pride nor shame; it simply is.

I’m not at all surprised to find hatred of Israel is linked to hatred of George W. Bush. The advertising, the passionate search for others of like mind, gives this away. This bumptious pride that is revealed, once the layers are peeled away, to be nothing but shame. This is an anger people know, deep down, that they should not have, even across countries and religions. It is a hatred of other people not for what they have done, but for what they are. It’s just like the hatred of the modern skinheads, giving their secret signals to each other, trying to link up so they can keep on hating. Irrationally. Since the thought comes too quickly, to someone in solitude, that perhaps this isn’t a good hatred to have. It’s a heavy, cumbersome, awkward burden that requires many hands to lift — because it makes little or no sense, and those who have it, know it.

His Blank Slate III

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Well hey, you disillusioned Obamatons…can’t say His Divine Holiness broke a campaign promise, can ya? There were none. You didn’t require any from Him.

This is why we traditionally mill about, and drone on, about all that boring policy and position stuff every four years, and why it’s a relatively new thing to get all stuck on this “planted slut fainting in His Holy Presence” and “There’s just something about Him” personality-politics nonsense. We try to pin the candidate down, while He still is a candidate, no matter how many holy rays are emanating from His Divine Forehead. That way, He is still what is called “on record.” And then when the about-face comes along after His Holy Coronation, you can at least act betrayed.

The situation as it exists now? Eh…you don’t even have a beef with His Annointedness, nevermind whether it’s a legitimate beef to have or not. What was his platform? Hopenchange, right? That’s about it, right?

Oh well. Tried to warn you. We really tried. Now you’re all disappointed. Ah, the joy I’d be taking in it, if I wasn’t riding the same handbasket down to the hot place right along with ya.

Hat tip: Inst.

Body Statistics

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

From here…and other places around the innerwebs…

It takes your food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your stomach.
One human hair can support 3 kg (6 lb).
The average man’s penis is three times the length of his thumb.
Human thighbones are stronger than concrete.
A woman’s heart beats faster than a man’s.
There are about one trillion bacteria on each of your feet.
Women blink twice as often as men.
The average person’s skin weighs twice as much as the brain.
Your body uses 300 muscles to balance itself when you are standing still.
If saliva cannot dissolve something, you cannot taste it.
Women reading this will be finished now.
Men who read this are probably still busy checking their thumbs.

Invention Versus Convention

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Dustbury is criticizing the folks who are my age, plus just a handful of years. Since this is a valid point and it’s been proven out, I find it to be a little bit of a scary thing. I can already feel some of the aptitudes and strengths I had, years ago, slipping away and I don’t know if it’s because of age or atrophy.

I concede that there are plenty of people like this out there:

I’m constantly amazed by the fact that our older faculty/staff can clearly and easily be separated into two degrees of capability: mediocre and nonexistent.

The Mediocre folks are capable enough of doing basic word processing tasks and working with one or two specialty statistics programs they’ve been using for at least a decade. The Nonexistent folks are much worse; they routinely need help figuring out (I am not making this up) that they have accidentally pushed the Caps Lock key when typing.

As near as I can tell, the “Nonexistent”-skilled folks have one thing in common: all are over the age of 45, whether faculty or staff. Watching them attempt to work on their own, I can only conclude that for some portion of the population, the ability to form new mental models and learn new tasks (or even new ways of doing old tasks) has been lost after this age.

The real threat, in my experience, is the person with Nonexistent skills who nonetheless estimates himself to be Mediocre or better; we spend an inordinate number of hours undoing the clever little things he’s done.

I am, of course, way over the age of 45, but I’ve spent half my lifetime in the company of these daffy machines, so I have at least a vague idea of what I’m doing most of the time, and when I don’t, I’m not too proud to request assistance.

My hope is, that as I finish up on my fifth decade on the planet, I will have been irritated and agitated into figuring out what the hell’s going on with this-or-that thing on a daily basis, and therefore have some of this “Young Man’s Magic” — the “ability to form new mental models and learn new tasks” — that a normal fifty-year-old would’ve lost. I’ll either have that germinating in my cranium, or a brain tumor, maybe.

That would appear to be my retirement plan. This bit of sabotage that was done to the market to get The Annointed One installed as our next President, has damaged my 401k to such an extent that I’m afraid to open those little envelopes and find out what kind of damage has been done.

But I see, going all the way back to second grade, when people are obsessed with how I’m going about a task rather than whether I’ll get it done or not, they end up pissed at me and I end up pissed at myself. I’m just not good at figuring out what the other fellow would do in my shoes, and doing the same thing. And so I’ve spent my career trying to keep myself in a position where outcome matters. That would seem to be an easy thing — outcome is supposed to matter.

But no. It’s been hideously difficult, and of concern to everyone else rather than just to myself…in the last ten or twenty years…it has been becoming increasingly more difficult. I’ve seen the world settling into this mold where if you do things the same way the other guy would do ‘em, and fail, you’ve succeeded, but if you succeed by doing something unorthodox nobody else is doing, you’ve failed.

I’m thinking these people Dustbury is describing, are the ones who’ve adapted more easily to this marching-band mode of work. Leave it to the other fellow to actually invent something — you just go through the motions. They end up in leadership positions, because we find them comforting. They do what we expect them to do; all coloring within the lines. Sure, they work in places where you’re supposed to be creative and coming up with new ways of doing things…and they don’t do it…but who cares.

I can think of two occasions on which I seriously thought of getting out of software development altogether. The first time was when one of the managing partners made up his mind he was my direct supervisor (it was never clearly defined for me whether or not this was the case). He’d task me to do something that might take two to four hours. It was new, innovative stuff, having to do with adding a feature to a product that nobody had tried to add before. But he got it into his head exactly what I’d be doing fifteen minutes into it, and come charging into the lab to check up on me. In other words — success wasn’t defined as getting it done. It was defined as doing it the way he’d be doing it if he were the guy doing it.

You have to think things through logically to get anything accomplished at all, so this was a big damper. The logical thinker can see, easily, that you can’t do new things that haven’t been done before, when your goal has been defined as doing things the way any other yokel would be doing ‘em.

The other time I was in class, back when object-oriented programming was becoming the next Big Hot Thing. The instructor put some kind of question before the class and demanded we jot down our answers and submit them. After he got them back, he announced there was one answer he got that he was going to skip over, because it was the only one like this. Again — you aren’t building anything new, and you aren’t going to build anything new, if you’re charged with the task of doing things the way everyone else is doing ‘em. Technology is the opposite of convention. So anyplace success is measured through some kind of orthodoxy, the job, really, is to copy things. Whether people want to admit that or not.

Also, non-innovative people really bristle with a special kind of resentment when they see someone else being innovative. It’s not a simple peevishness. There really is no kind of anger in the human condition quite like this. Your wife, catching you sleeping with another woman, is going to leave some bits of anger uncovered, that this kind of rage captures quite nicely.

I should add that that second bit of demoralization really did drive me out of software development for a few years. After all, what would have been the point, suck up a few dollars an hour to copy things? Do things most similarly to the way some other guy would’ve done them? I’m not even “mediocre” at that. So I went other places, where I had the latitude to see what needed doing, figure out for myself how to get ‘em done, and get ‘em done.

I don’t know how many millions of others made the same move. But I do know in the years that followed, true innovation went on an enormous downslide. We haven’t had ‘em. An iPod that does what last year’s model did, but is a little smaller and faster, is helpful — but it isn’t a paradigm shift. A new Windows operating system that does what last year’s edition did, but tattles on you if you try to pirate software, has a few extra moving parts and a spiffy interface you haven’t seen before — but it isn’t a paradigm shift. The mid-eighties to early-nineties were loaded with paradigm shifts. Last real paradigm shift I saw in this business, was “Hey we’d better allocate four digits to hold the year, or else on January 1, 2000, the world might come to an end.” Since then most of it has been upkeep. And therein lies a tragedy that has affected us all, both in the things we use, and in the way we perceive and think about the world around us.

All convention, no invention. Yeah, I blame your “Nonexistent folks in charge of the show” theory. They end up running things because they’re good at copying, and that’s what we want. A new tool isn’t going to get you excited if you can’t form a vision of the work it can do, and you can’t form a vision of the work it can do, if you aren’t somewhat disciplined yourself in understanding how things work. Consumers now don’t understand how things work, so they’re obsessed with pretty things that look like other pretty things.

Figuring out new things, or doing things the same way the other guy’s doing ‘em. Gotta be one or the other; can’t be both.

Thing I Know #177. Two women will harmoniously and happily share your bed long before invention and convention share your allegiance.

Dear Mister Obama,

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Dear Mister Schoolteecher,

I have some ideas on how you can help to edyoomacayt my child. Instead of tasking him to scrawl down democrat party talking points and send them off to the President-Elect, which aren’t too much different from what the incoming administration was going to be doing anyway, you could take the time to discuss what might be right and wrong with these ideas, and what might happen if (when) they are actually pursued. You might also cover all the questions the Obama voters got wrong in that poll that is so controversial…for reasons that have yet to be explained to me. I’d be happy to arrange a meeting with you so we can discuss some other ways you can do your job, if you’re really out of ideas.

That’s what I’d be sending in if my child was subjected to this.

Dear President-Elect Obama,

I am a fifth-grade student at Liberty Elementary School. I am writing to you for a school project. These are some things I think you should do while you’re in office.

My family discusses alternative energy a lot. I think you need to look into it, such as solar panels and wind power. We need to get them at lower, less expensive prices so more people will be willing to buy it. We should also get more organizations that sell alternative energy. It would be nice to get totally electric automobiles, but that can’t happen quickly so you could start with having a law that cars, trucks and other things like that have to have a certain miles per gallon.

Another thing I think is very important is to get out of the war in Irack. Many lives would be saved and it would show that the government cares for its people. Families would be happy to be together again and they would thank you and the rest of the government. There would be a lot more money going to other things such as alternative energy, schooling and libraries.

I understand how this is supposed to work. Once Obama is sworn in, He’ll be doing most, or all, of these things anyway. So the teachers will be able to tell the adorable crumb-crunchers “Look! He listened! You made a difference!” And that will raise the kids’ self-esteeeeeeeeem. Right? Because the only other thing I can think of, is that the education cartel in the Pittsburgh area is just a democrat-party indoctrination mechanism and it isn’t even trying to hide it anymore.

Yesterday, commenting on an early-1930′s film-propaganda piece extolling the virtues of inflation, I commented on the pressure that is placed on people who are thought to be “smart” to pretend things are upside down. It’s damaging to your reputation as a super-smart guy, to put your reputation behind mundane things. It raises the possibility that maybe you’re just an ordinary dude who knew the right people; there is some truth in that, if only a glimmer of it, so this is spectacularly frightening. Could be the death knell of a career. So things get all topsy-turvy and they stay that way. Inflation is good…convicted murderers are innocent…babies deserve to die…kids are smart

This is the burden of a brain trust. When you’re oh so super duper smart, and you feel the weight of keeping that kind of reputation alive and going strong, you’re forbidden from pointing out the obvious. Every little thing that comes out of your mouth has to have this touch of irony to it, this “you wouldn’t think so, but Bob says it’s true.” You have to contradict common sense, to show how smart you are. Up becomes down, women become men, children become wizened old sages, surrendering your guns becomes an act of responsible self-defense, starvation becomes nourishment.

Honest to God, I had no idea this kind of lunacy was being peddled out in Pittsburgh when I typed that in. You’ll just have to trust me on that. I’m just an ordinary dude typing in some true stuff, which in turn is being proven correct the very next day.

So what’ve we got here…out of the mouths of babes comes such wisdom as –
 • Look into solar panels, wind power, other forms of alternative energy;
 • Get us out of the war in Irack, who cares what goes on there after that;
 • Put more money into the schools (they’re obviously doing a fantastic job);
 • Lower the driving age because I don’t want to wait until I’m 18 to drive;
 • Improve the school system and its technology, so we can write more letters;
 • Make people stop dumping “barrels of toxin into the oceans”;
 • Look into global warming, because all the land’s going to be flooded by melted icebergs.

And out of all these ideas, not a single sensible one. How refreshing it would be if we had an exchange like

Stan Fields: What is the one most important thing our society needs?
Gracie Hart: That would be…harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan.
[crowd is silent]
Gracie Hart: And world peace!
[crowd cheers ecstatically]

Really, what’s sillier? Bringing back stocks in the public square to help restore the meaning of public stigma when punishment is handed out for the lesser crimes that could lead to the bigger ones later on, like graffiti-tagging — or — harnessing all the energy you need every single morning, to accelerate your one-ton vehicle up to highway speeds with a freakin’ windmill?

New Year’s Eve is coming. Perhaps a good resolution for all of us parents, would be to keep an eagle eye on our little darlings’ school systems, and at least put enough of a damper on this coast-to-coast irrational left-wing exuberance to see to it the next generation receives a decent education.

It’s our job. Our God-given job.

Hat tip to: Stop The ACLU, via Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.

“He’s Twitchy, Approval-Seeking, and Doesn’t Know When to Shut Up”

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

A wonderful bit of writing about manliness, where to find it, and where not to. The author notices what I’ve been noticing: Like any muse, spirit, doppleganger or deity, it hangs around wherever it’s welcome.

At the martial-arts school where I’m training…[e]ven the teenage boys there are pretty manly, on the whole — not surprising, since manliness is very nearly defined by stoicism and grace under pressure, and a martial-arts school should teach those things if it teaches nothing else. Anywhere firearms are worn or displayed openly, ditto — go to a tactical-shooting match, for example, and you’ll see even prepubescent boys (and, though rarely, some girls) exemplifying quiet manliness in a very heartening degree.

On the other hand…when I go to places where people are talking rather than doing, the percentage of man-children rises. Occasionally my wife Cathy and I go to screenings at the Bryn Mawr Film institute, most recently to see Sergei Bodrov’s The Mongol; it’s pretty much wall-to-wall man-children there, at least in the space not occupied by middle-aged women. If our sample is representative, my wife is manlier than the average male art-film buff.

It has become oh so fashionable, since somewhere around the time the Equal Rights Amendment was up for ratification, for men to “show their feelings.” Somewhere around Bill Clinton’s elevation to the White House about a decade later, things had degenerated to the point where what was previously encouraged, became all-but-required; there was a stigma involved in a gentleman not showing his feelings.

This trend progessed, as trends do, on film simultaneously with real life — in lock-step.

In theater, as well as in flesh-and-blood-land, there is a certain mutual exclusivity between dealing with a crisis and putting your insecurities on display to whoever might be interested in watching. If you take on the job of driving the invaders from the Alamo, or zombies from the abandoned farmhouse, your position in the story is established, and there’s no need to whimper or quiver. They’re already waiting for you to do something; and so you have a role. And in real life, of course, when you’re dealing with that kind of situation you don’t have time to show your fears.

But if there’s no Terminator Robot coming from the future to eliminate John Connor…or there is one, but it’s above your pay grade to deal with it…what do we need you for? You have to be the plucky sidekick, soiling his shorts in twittery agitation, or else there’s no point for you to be there. Exit Han Solo. Enter Jar Jar Binks.

The man-child projects a simultaneous sense of not being comfortable in his own skin and perpetually on display to others. He’s twitchy, approval-seeking, and doesn’t know when to shut up. He’s never been tested to anywhere near the limits of his physical or moral courage, and deep within himself he knows that because of this he is weak. Unproven. Not really a man. And it shows in a lot of little ways – posture, gaze patterns, that sort of thing. He’ll overreact to small challenges and freeze or crumble under big ones.

Hat tip: Gerard, again.

Thing I Know #113. A crisis precedes logical thinking. Logical thinking precedes a solution to the crisis. Too long a time without a crisis, precedes indulgence and sloppy thinking. Indulgence and sloppy thinking precede the next crisis.

Psssst…About Caroline Kennedy…

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

…is she the democrat party’s opportunity to show us what it would take for Sarah Palin to be qualified?

Because it’s looking to me, like if Caroline Kennedy is the yardstick, then Gov. Palin gets an A…plus…plus…plusplusplusplus. At whatever “qualification” you’d care to name.

That’s, even if you want to detach yourself from reality (like a democrat), and pretend Palin said word-for-word everything Tina Fey ever said. Even with that bit of make-believe, Palin, next to Kennedy, is a freakin’ rocket scientist.

Anyone wanna seriously disagree with that?

Hopeless Terrorists

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Let’s try to learn something about this in 2009. There’s a lot riding on it, and I see a lot of people bloviating about the issue from one direction or another, but not too many folks offering solid evidence.

Except, of course, for Mohamed Atta and his colleagues. That’s evidence. And they didn’t fit the profile of poverty, disease, hopelessness, “root causes,” et al. Not terribly well.

In last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, Kimberley Strassel published a truly fascinating interview with President Bush…He said, “freedom includes freedom from disease, because (terrorists) can exploit hopelessness, and that’s the only thing they can exploit.”

At which point one can only throw one’s hands in the air and sigh. Because this means he doesn’t understand terrorism. At all. Terrorists aren’t recruited because they feel hopeless. Quite the contrary; they feel inspired, galvanized, heroic and saintly. They are revolutionaries, they are seeking to change the world, and their actions are not one last desperate throw of the dice. Theirs are acts of hope and optimism, certainly not of despair. They think they’re part of a victorious army, not isolated individuals crushed by misery.

I suppose it’s all relative. Humans are designed to feel motivated to do whatever will positively impact their status in life, whether it’s from misery to satisfaction, or from abundance to glory.

At the same time, true misery has a horse-blinder effect on the human mind. When you can’t breathe, anything unrelated to air isn’t going to interest you a whole lot. By the same token, I think when you can’t feed yourself or you’re watching your own family flail about trying to feed itself, such noble pursuits as driving the Great Satan out of the Holy Land, aren’t going to grab your attention too well. Those ideas are going to be for the rich boys like Atta and his pals. You’re going to be much more interested in food. This is basic human behavior, Maslow Pyramid type stuff.

So I know about those college-educated Glorious Nineteen. And I know about Osama bin Laden…he’s a skinny guy, last I saw of him, but if he’s alive somewhere I don’t think he’s starving.

Ledeen might have a good point here, I think. But I was already suspicious, because I hear this bumper sticker slogan about “root causes” quite often, and it’s never exposed to scrutiny. I’m naturally suspicious of things being repeated over and over again that aren’t exposed to scrutiny, especially if they have to do with creating welfare programs where there may be no call for them.

Not Guilty

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

DJ Drummond is noticing the same things we’ve been noticing. It’s about that word “everyone” which, in the past handful of years, is seldom-to-never used to describe a concept that subsantially resembles the classic meaning of “everyone.”

“Everyone is sick of this” means…an elite group of people who agree with me, has agreed to be sick of this.

Conversely, “everyone is guilty” is nearly always a flat-out lie. It means, an elite group is guilty, and we’re going to deflect the blame onto the real “everyone” with some fancy semantics.

In reading about the bank, mortgage, auto, and employment crises in the media, I notice a common theme appearing over and over, specifically that everyone must share the guilt. The writers do this, I think, in anticipation of government actions which will, in the main, punish the public. While this may seem a utilitarian answer and therefore the most likely to be chosen, it is morally unacceptable and will likely lead to great resentment among the many millions of Americans who are in no way responsible for causing the problems or guilty of overindulgence.

I speak as one such citizen. My house is a modest one-story home bought for $150,000 in 2005, and my car is a 12-year-old sedan with 145,000 miles on it. My wife’s car is a 10-year old CRV. I pay the mortgage every month, right on time, and we paid off the cars long ago, foregoing flashy cars and luxury vehicles we could easily have bought but always put prudence ahead of ego. We pay the total balance on our credit cards each and every month, and have never spent money on anything that could be called an extravagance. What’s significant is, pretty much everyone in my subdivision could say the same – we work hard for our money and are careful not to buy things we cannot pay for, and we do not cheat anyone. We work hard and build for the future, the future we promised to our children. And I would dare to say we would resent the hell out of being expected to pay for the sins of others, since our children would end up suffering through no fault of their own. I will not help a thief, even and especially if he sits in a taxpayer-provided seat in Washington, D.C.

Well, I have a new car. But I don’t think I need to “share the guilt” either, because I contracted for a purchase price, from which was derived an interest rate and a monthly payment, and I’ve been making that payment on time every month. Furthermore, I only have the new car because the old one blew a head gasket after 340 thousand miles and eighteen years. That’s 340 miles that ticked on by, while all the other Tom Dicks and Harry’s were out buying up brand new Lincoln Navigators because their wives told ‘em to.

Anyone want to come after me and tell me now that I’ve bought the supplies, made the sandwiches and scarfed ‘em down, that I wasn’t charged enough for the bread? Screw you.

I don’t mean to sound hostile. But thus far I’ve not yet seen it fail — when we re-define what the word “everyone” means, it has long-lasting consequences for everyone. And when I use that word, in that context, I mean the real definition.

Kwanzaa is Over

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

It really is just a memory and nothing more (hat tip: Attack Machine, via Maggie’s Farm).

Let’s make affirmative action next. Our President-Elect is a black guy, after all. Why would such a program be needed by a country with a black President? It’s possible for anyone to do anything, regardless of skin color, no dream is out-of-reach…or else, that’s not the case. Gotta be one or t’other, it can’t be both.

And, now, it can’t be “t’other.”

We do such a good job of jettisoning things that have helped so many people in the past. Let’s toss something overboard that hasn’t been helpful to anyone at all, ever, not even once, except cosmetically. Just once, for a change of pace. To show we can.

Banned Ads

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Careful, naughty words & images present.

Hooray For Inflation

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

The video put up at Another Rovian Conspiracy just before Christmas is an absolute must-see.

Especially now, because what just happened to our country might not be so much a repeat of nineteen ninety-two, as nineteen thirty-two. And the notion that the Great Depression ended because of Roosevelt’s policies, rather than in spite of them, is now moribund. Facts are not kind to it.

It comes down to this: Pouring cream in ditches to rot, while a few hundred miles away, a baby starves and its mother’s body can no longer produce milk. Pigs are slaughtered and left to rot while in other parts of the country, a family sits down to soup made with rotten cabbage because there’s nothing else to eat. Policies like these aren’t part of some urban legend. They really happened. They were really implemented, because those boys in Washington were so smart.

This is the burden of a brain trust. When you’re oh so super duper smart, and you feel the weight of keeping that kind of reputation alive and going strong, you’re forbidden from pointing out the obvious. Every little thing that comes out of your mouth has to have this touch of irony to it, this “you wouldn’t think so, but Bob says it’s true.” You have to contradict common sense, to show how smart you are. Up becomes down, women become men, children become wizened old sages, surrendering your guns becomes an act of responsible self-defense, starvation becomes nourishment.

So in a country filled with starving babies, we pour cream in ditches. In a country where nobody has enough money to spare for the essentials, we create artificial inflation.

There is a phrase that appears repeatedly in Atlas Shrugged that I’m hearing over and over again on the news. I find it alarming that nobody’s taken the time or trouble to re-word it, even slightly. That phrase, just like the ultra-smart people, precedes irony — things antithetical to common sense.

The phrase is “In Times Like These.”

Atlas Shrugged is a story of society’s most intelligent and productive people, being requested to sacrifice themselves, by other people whom the prevailing viewpoint thinks are the most intelligent and productive people. (They’re requested to do this, right before they are forced to.) And so the phrase is repeated over and over again. There’s this mindset that wet has to become dry, in has to become out, and, most of all, self-destruction is by its very nature constructive. Common sense has to be contradicted, because this helps to show how desperate these times really are. Up has become the new down.

It’s a whole different world, one inhabited by people who have the reputation of being super-duper-smart and feel the burden of keeping that reputation alive. So they say dumb things to show how smart they are. Dumb, after all, is the new smart.

Sadly, the Great Depression, just like the economic woes that take place in the here-and-now, occurred on Earth. Right here. A place where up is up, light is light, darkness is darkness, and when a baby is hungry and there’s food around, you feed the baby. This love we have of smart people spouting unnecessarily ironic things, which the rest of us then dutifully follow to demonstrate our commitment to climbing out of this hole that we’re making deeper, will, indeed, make the hole much, much deeper. At least, if our present course is left unchanged.

After all, we’ve shown our capability for following this sad formula before. That’s where this so-called “Bad Economy” can really hurt us. By turning things upside down. Every time I hear that phrase, “In Times Like These,” I become further convinced that this is where we’re headed…because here on Earth, most of the things that make perfect sense in fat times, generally make just as much sense in the lean ones.

I Agree With #58, #34 and #11

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

But I’m not going to do too much agreeing, because these folks found over 60 “people who deserve it” — and not a single one of them was a liberal.

Let me repeat that.

Turn off any and all ideological preferences you might have. Any. All. For just fifteen seconds.

There were no liberals on the list. No liberals have anything coming.

Think about Al Franken. Think about the other Al. Think about Alec Baldwin. Larry King. Tom Leykis. Sarah Silverman. Jesse Jackson. Madonna. Rosie. Hillary. Bill. Rahm. No annoying liberals at all. Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sarah Palin made the cut. Okee dokee…any-way…58, 34 and 11 still get a big thumbs-up from me. I’m down with ya, you overly-cutesy, left-wing liberal “our side can do no wrong” attention whores.

Update: Keep complaints to myself? Never. Offered under the Submit A Punch page:

People who expect you to listen to their phone messages before you call them back, even though they never say anything on said messages beyond “Hey gimme a call back, bye.” Punch.

People who ask you to fix something on their computer, and then keep sitting in front of it, not even so much as leaning one direction or the other, blocking your access to the keyboard with their gelatinous forms. Punch.

Liberal “activist” movie actors. There’s hundreds of ‘em. I’m sure you can think of one or two that are more annoying than Hasselbeck. If you can’t, your entire list is crap. And you get the punch.

Speaking of that, female movie actresses who are thought of by women as being beautiful, pretty, gorgeous, attractive or sexy. And should therefore outrank everyone else on a man’s list of sexy women. It’s not the actress’ fault, but it still makes them annoying. Jane Seymour. Andie MacDowell. Jennifer Connelly. Julia Roberts. Punch.

The ugly girlfriend. You know what I’m talking about. There’s a pretty girl, you see her, she sees you, you’re interested in her, she seems to be interested in you…she’s not there with a guy, but she IS there with an ugly girlfriend. And the ugly girlfriend wants to go HOOOOOME NOOOOOW!!! Punch.

Public service announcements…and television commercials from LDS, and others…telling me how to raise kids. “Teach ‘em about similarities, not differences.” The message may be a good one. Trying to grasp control over how total strangers raise their kids, even for the sake of promulgating a good message, is not a good thing. It is a bad thing, a very bad thing. Especially when it’s done with taxpayer dollars. Punch.

Speaking of which — I’d really like to punch any one of a number of people who have speeches to offer that have something to do with “we are all connected.” If you’re not treating that as some kind of a problem, for which you’re going to propose a solution (and I have yet to hear anyone take that conversation there), you get a punch. Because these people don’t see us as equals all tied together…they see themselves, and their pals, as deciding where we’re all going to go, and the rest of us as following along. Recycle, because we are all connected. Get involved with my movement, because we are all connected. Donate to my program because we are all connected. Well no, we’re not, and you’re just a busybody who wants to recruit people to your pet project. In all likelihood, you’re promoting something to do with “diversity” even though you can’t stand the idea of some total stranger doing things different than the way you’d do them, and you’re completely tone-deaf to the irony. Punch.

Update: Aw dang…you realize what everyone seems to have forgotten, is people with loud mobile things. Realize where I’m going with this, here — the loud things are mobile, because if they were stationary, their owners would get the vicious nostril-tearing facial flattening they so vigorously deserve.

And you know which two I mean: 1) The Hawg, trying its level best to use that famous Harley-Davidson shock wave to shatter bedroom windows and set off car alarms; and 2) the asshole with his convertible’s stereo tuned to j-u-s-t the right frequency to make your eardrums throb in horrible pain, cranked up to the max, at, of course, the red traffic light that refuses to turn green.

Facial trauma is way too good for ‘em. This kind of offense calls for something testicular.

Road Rage

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Shenanigans? (Warning, naughty language, but it’s a road rage video so you already knew that.)

Yeah, I call shenanigans. Because of the ending. It’s too clean, and I can’t believe you’d film yourself doing that and slap it up on YouTube.

Still fun to watch. And fun to think it’s true.

“Lefties Just Don’t Have the Same Feeling About America as the Hard Right Does”

Friday, December 26th, 2008

I don’t have the same feelings about my girlfriend as her last boyfriend did. I don’t love her. Sure, I claim to, because I seek to improve her by pointing out her flaws. That schmuck she dumped, he used to say a bunch of nonsense like she was the “greatest, best woman God has ever given man on the face of the earth.” Loser. One of the surest signs of love is it makes you talk stupid.

That language seems pretty harsh when you use it to talk about the love between men and women, doesn’t it? Joel Stein seems to think so; he concedes as much in the very last sentence of this love-without-loving screed of his. Up to that point, however, he’s perfectly clear on the idea that this is exactly the kind of sentiment a “nuanced” individual should have toward his country.

I don’t love America. That’s what conservatives are always telling liberals like me. Their love, they insist, is truer, deeper and more complete. Then liberals, like all people who are accused of not loving something, stammer, get defensive and try to have sex with America even though America will then accuse us of wanting it for its body and not its soul. When America gets like that, there’s no winning.

But I’ve come to believe conservatives are right. They do love America more. Sure, we liberals claim that our love is deeper because we seek to improve the United States by pointing out its flaws. But calling your wife fat isn’t love. True love is the blind belief that your child is the smartest, cutest, most charming person in the world, one you would gladly die for. I’m more in “like” with my country.

Fox News’ Sean Hannity loves this country so much, he did an entire episode of “Hannity’s America” titled “The Greatest Nation on Earth.” In that one hour he said, several times, “the U.S. is the greatest, best country God has ever given man on the face of the Earth.” One of the surest signs of love is it makes you talk stupid.

If Joel Stein doesn’t feel love, there must be another thing or two that can make you talk stupid. That or he comes by it naturally.

I owe Stein a debt of thanks for introducing me, indirectly, to Gerard Van der Leun when the latter saw fit to critique the speaking style of the former, nearly three years ago, in one of the best essays I’ve ever read: The Voice of the Neuter is Heard Throught the Land. What’s it about? It’s about how some thirty-ish adults nowadays talk with this tone of voice that inserts a residue of question, however thin it may be, into phonic pronouncements about everthing, even things that contain no question. With such a dizzying consistency that nothing is ever pronounced.

Audibly.

But as you can see from Stein’s writing, he finds refuge in the pen. In this forum, he can pretend to be more than certain about things — even about the evils of certainty. I hope you click on through to Gerard’s website, and then to Hugh Hewitt’s, and then crank your speakers so you can listen to the vocal Joel Stein. That’s quite a different character, one constantly striving to show a charming paralysis-by-analysis in every little thing he says, or asks…and succeeding only in propping up a nauseating, foppish sort of formlessness, sort of an intellectual variant of structurally vacant, gelatinous goo. He seems to be unaware of his own internal contradiction: If nothing is allowed to stand as an absolute or as a certainty, then there is a problem, for that in itself is an absolute and a certainty.

That’s a conundrum. It produces such a devastating handicap, that all decisions made in its presence, may arrive at a beneficial conclusion only by random chance.

I don’t know what kind of progress Stein has had in resolving it; therefore, I don’t know what his other opinions could be worth. I’m not sure his employers or his readers have figured it out either.

Hat tip: Cassy.

Oh and let the record show that I’m crazy about my girlfriend. I cherish the day I met her, and I feel exactly the same way about my country. But…if I were afflicted with this kwestion-kurse, to such an extent that every sentence that escaped my lips had that annoying tonal quality of dro…ning…ques…tion…? at the end of it, and I’d completely lost my readiness, willingness and ability to state absolutes and fasten my name to them — some kind of gelded senile-dementia for thirty-year-olds — I wouldn’t be blaming it on her.

Update: Oh, dear. The audio of that wonderful interview has fallen into an innerwebs-hole. We shall have to roll up our sleeves, in the hours or days ahead, and see if we can produce it again.

In the meantime, what a glorious relief that must be, however temporary, to Mr. Stein. So long as he stays away from any stray microphones, he can scribble and scribble away, and pretend to be sure of what he’s talking about.

Unforgettable Movie Title Sequences

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Cool.

We Just Voted Out Capitalism

Friday, December 26th, 2008

…says that crazy wild-eyed right-winger, Arianna Huffington.

The collapse of Communism as a political system sounded the death knell for Marxism as an ideology. But while laissez-faire capitalism has been a monumental failure in practice, and soundly defeated at the polls, the ideology is still alive and kicking. [emphasis mine]

It’s good to have some definition attached to what the election meant, besides “hope” and “change.” It’s even better to see Arianna taking a centrist approach — she says marxism doesn’t work, and capitalism doesn’t work either. That raises an obvious question. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the answer.

If a politician announced he was running on a platform of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” he would be laughed off the stage. That is also the correct response to anyone who continues to make the case that markets do best when left alone.

It’s time to drive the final nail into the coffin of laissez-faire capitalism by treating it like the discredited ideology it inarguably is. If not, the Dr. Frankensteins of the right will surely try to revive the monster and send it marauding through our economy once again.

“Our economy.” I wonder what she thinks that is? Keep those businesses shackled down, or else they’ll terrorize the regulators who are innocently doin’ their regulatin’? By transacting with some marauding bidness?

That’s a little bit like calling a gaggle of deer hunters a “wildlife preserve” isn’t it?

Instapundit asks,

…is it capitalism, or socialism, when you steal content from other blogs to boost your own moneymaking venture?

You know, that’s another good question. Arianna’s against communism, so she says, and she’s against “unregulated” monsters of unfettered capitalism. She just likes anarchy and theft?

Well, let’s show some respect. The lady does speak for the majority, since the election was all about whether to trash capitalism or not. More than one left-winger told me no…indulging in the mandated ritual of calling me a dummy and a moron and a poo poo head for suggesting such a thing. Obama’s no socialist, He’s just all about hopenchange.

Here’s the one question I’d like people to keep in mind for next year. I know it’ll be rotated to the front of my gray matter, and it seems a reasonable question to ask.

If we’re going to be taking the “middle road” by allowing capitalism to continue, but keeping it on a short leash, regulatin’ it and hacking at it to within an inch of its life — what is it, exactly, that makes the regulators different from the capitalists? I mean, they’re supposed to have all these attributes to them that makes the regulatory framework superior. Compared to the businessmen, they’re smarter, more responsible, more efficient, they care more about “The People.” They aren’t “drunk.”

What makes them this way?

I’m thinking about how they start out being different: They are supposed to be independent. That means they’re disconnected from the bottom-line of the business they’re regulating…which means, they don’t care if it works out or not. That really is the primary job qualification, right? So if a rule can be interpreted in such a way that the result will be detrimental to the business’ continuing survival, that brash, courageous, sober regulator will go ahead and ram it through since his judgment is so superior. This will be to the beneficial interest of — who? Whoever’s interests are opposed to the interests of the business being regulated. That’s the consumer? Consumers like to see businesses fail right after they transact with those businesses?

Uh…last I checked, a lot of this economic doom and gloom came from the auto industry. That marauding, unfettered, underregulated, Wild Wild West cowboy loose-cannon of an American auto industry. Hmmm. What’s your warranty worth if the car company fails after you bought your car?

So that’s one way the regulators are different from the businessmen: Apathy. They, by design, are stripped of any interest in whether the business concern succeeds or fails. The other distinguishing characteristic is inexperience.

Perhaps Ms. Huffington knows of some other distinguishing characterstics that offset these. Her theory would appear to depend on it. Maybe the regulators were born under a different star, that makes them more caring and more compassionate? Perhaps they belong to a whole different type of Holy Being, somewhere amidst humans, angels and djinn? Or perhaps there is some more mundane explanation — some other property endemic to the regulatory discipline, making them more responsible and sympathetic to the interests of…you and me? Oh dear, there’s another troublesome question. What keeps them accountable? If every little failed business, every little disappointing quarterly report, is evidence that “it’s time to drive the final nail into the coffin of laissez-faire capitalism by treating it like the discredited ideology it inarguably is” — how do we know the regulators are doing the work of The People? How do I know I’m a People? When union goons and regulators are running our auto companies into the ground, and I’m being told this is somehow for my benefit?

Just some thoughts. Not too complicated ones…but I suppose they have too many permutations and moving parts to fit into Huffington Sound Bite Land. Maybe she’s right — regulation will fix everything. Maybe this coming year we’ll find out. But it occurs to me, we’ve been regulating the snot out of businesses for a very long time now. If that turned out to be the right way to go, wouldn’t we have figured that out right after the Tamany Hall days, and just stuck to that model throughout the generations?

Oh dear, there I go again.

Any Takers?

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

I agree with Neal.

Like that guy Dirty Harry bullied with the “Do Ya Feel Lucky?” speech — I’s just gots ta know. Did anyone take the gentleman up on his offer? I hope so, and I hope there was a video camera.

I have a Brand new in-box PlayStation 3 gaming system that you can obtain for a special price. It is the 80gb model and includes 2 brand new dualshock 3 wireless controllers.I do not want your money or thanks. To obtain this top of line gaming system, you must let me punch you in the face three times and your child must be present. If you have multiple children, I would prefer you bring your youngest child. This is not a joke. If you want to be your children’s hero on Christmas, we will meet at a location that I will specify to you, and I will proceed to punch you in the face in front of your child. You may brace yourself if you want before I begin to punch you, for I am a man of large stature (6’6, 275lbs) In between each punch, I want you to instruct your child not cry. If your child so much as whimpers, the deal is off. Don’t think I am a man to be trifled with or that you and a friend can ambush me. I am a former NAVY SEAL and a veteran of the Irag War.

This is the best deal you will ever find on a PlayStation 3. A truly unique offer. You are welcome to inspect the product for authenticity before the deal is done.

Email me for more specific details and we can arrange a rendevous.

Merry Christmas.

By the way, I also agree with I call BS @ 12/24/08 11:27:19 AM. Just for the record.

Recommend you go check out something else provided by Mr. Boortz, something far more spiritually uplifting. The Year 2008 in photographs. Impressive…most impressive. Click image to view the gallery.

Quite Simply the Best Commercial Ever Made

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

That isn’t my headline; it’s TechCrunch‘s.

And it really got to one of the posters at Feministing. Because it’s, you know, *yawn* sexist.

Not safe for work. Because it’s got bare breasts. Of gorgeous women. Hundreds of ‘em.

Okay…now if you aren’t firing that sucker up already, you’re just not paying attention.

Feminists. Pffft. You realize how utterly muddled and disoriented they would be if they were confined to battling…oh, let us say…two dozen different forms of what they call “sexism,” and committed to disassociating themselves from any issue that couldn’t be tied into such a list? Theirs is the single most confused political agenda in modern times. It’s got something to do with young girls screwing indiscriminately, although it shouldn’t; it’s got something to do with homosexuals getting married and adopting children, although it shouldn’t; it’s got something to do with protesting wars, grabbing guns away from law-abiding citizens, Christian-bashing, cutting down carbon emissions — although it shouldn’t have anything to do with any of those.

And it has a lot to do with keeping Sarah Palin away from any job with responsibility in it. And gosh, you know, if they were honest with themselves, let alone anybody else, and their movement meant anything it was supposed to mean, they’d love ‘er all to pieces, or at least get out of her way. But that’s not the way it works, of course. There’s something special about Sarah. Which means there’s something special about God only knows how many other women, who have the proper reproductive aparatus in their bodies, but don’t seat their gorgeous tight little bottoms on the correct spot on the political spectrum.

Kind of a “nobody can tell the womyn folk what to wear and do except us” thing.

Anyway — my favorite thing about the commercial? It’s for washing machines. But it manages to spend three minutes not showing one of ‘em. And lots of other stuff does get shown. Just watch.

Merry Christmas.

Bizarro Scrooge

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Sippican Cottage…with yet another Thing That Makes You Go Hmmm.

Scrooge was a benighted individual, twisted by his circumstances, but ultimately redeemed by the good example set by everybody around him. He’s not dumb, and it dawns on him that the hoarding of everything, including –especially– his love for his fellow man, brought him no pleasure; and he can’t help but notice that people that he considers fools and knaves are happy despite their circumstances. He has his epiphany, and we ours watching him.

The tale is backwards now because Scrooge was alone in his misery, surrounded by plenty and bonhomie if he would just partake of it; we are now multitudes; nations; a veritable globe of hoarders and schadenfreude peddlers, searching for any last outpost of goodwill towards others, simple pleasures, or just plain harmless fun that can be vilified and then dismantled.

Yes, in spite of the economic gloom, even the “poorest” among us are enjoying a stratospheric level of comfort compared with some pockets of the rest of the world. And yet we’re spiritually famished. Famished, wallowing in companionship, the same way Scrooge wallowed in his solitude.

I saw this when I was shopping in the mall the other day. This is why Obama won, I think; there are quite a few people walking around, drunk not on the milk of human kindness, but on the milk of human babble. Like fish, they swim through the mall corridors in great big schools; half a dozen, eight, ten, twelve or more. It’s not enough. Not enough companionship. Against all odds, there is still a delta between what is provisioned and what is desired. Out come the phones, text text text.

How old was I the first time I discovered the delight of driving on an empty road, by my lonesome, with the radio turned off…just thinking? Are these young people virginal to this? And if that is the case, what all are they missing? There’s no way to detect inconsistencies about things, is there, if every waking minute of every day you’re surrounded by “Hey man, what’re you doin’, nothing much, can you meet us in fifteen minutes at such-and-such?” No way to scrutinize. No way to — what was it the sixties-hippies told us we should do — Question Authority?

Reminds me of something linked by Gerard a few weeks back —

We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another – slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

That’s it, I’m afraid. We are spiritually confused by this abundance of — not so much wealth, but — comfort. We think we have something to worry about, because we don’t know what worry really is; we don’t put down our cell phones long enough to think about it. We just installed a man into the most powerful office the world has ever known — a guy who hasn’t really done anything. Maybe he’ll succeed in what we want him to do. But if so, there’s no way to measure it. There’s no way to define what exactly we wanted him to do. In short, there’s no way to qualify this as a decent decision, even if you happen to like what we did.

This is the case with just about everything we’re doing nowadays. I see it with the bailouts. These might be “right” things to do, but how right can they be, with no definition of success and no real plan?

We are spiritually impoverished, just as much as poor old Scrooge ever was. Spiritually impoverished from a surfeit of text-messaging, and other silly rituals of centrifugal bumblepuppy.

Update 12/26/08: Speaking of Gerard, he linked to this one with an intriguing title:

The Lonely Crowd Ver. 20.08

I like it. I’m going to find a few ways to steal that.

Also, happy birthday, blogger friend. Many more to you.