Archive for October, 2010

NOW&IHAPBEY

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Mad props to blogger friend Phil for taking my idea and running away with it in the graphics department. Now the campaign can begin. It is one whose time has come, no matter what the results are day after tomorrow. After all, we have a lot of people walking around, free to speak, act and vote as you and I…who desperately need to be told NOW&IHAPBEY.

1. If you want people to sacrifice so global warming can be diverted, but you have a big car with more than 4 cylinders in the engine
2. If you have switched your house to CFL’s because of global warming but your bathroom is FULLY lit
3. If you want taxes to be raised because we all need to do our part, but every year you pay what you owe and not a single nickel more
4. If #3 applies although you fully well know you’re one of the “richest Americans” that you’re always complaining about
5. If you use the word “greedy” to describe people who just want to keep what they have earned
6. If you use FaceBook to “stay in contact with friends and relatives,” but you really use it to push liberal propaganda and then un-friend whoever doesn’t enthusiastically agree
7. If you complain about Rush Limbaugh but have never listened to his program
8. If you complain about not enough women taking part in the political process, then turn around and wish openly that Sarah Palin would just shut up and go away
9. If you think the worst of conservatives you have never met just because someone else told you to
10. If you hate the Citizens v. United Supreme Court decision, because free speech rights should not apply to those money-grubbing corporations, just people…and, of course, labor unions…
11. If you pontificate at length about the virtues of free speech, but fling around slogans about how Fox News needs to be shut down
12. If you think men need to be more in touch with their feelings
13. If you think it is a problem that men don’t cry often enough
14. If you think girls need to grow up to voice their opinions without anybody asking for them…but boys should keep their opinions to themselves and make the effort to find out what girls think…
15. If you think we need to sit down and talk to our enemies, but can’t tell me what’s going to get talked about
16. If you complain about all the problems in the world caused by religion, and simply ignore the problems that were caused by secularists
17. If #16 applies and you know absolutely nothing about the good works that have been done over the centuries by religious people, because you just don’t want to think about it
18. If you say things to the effect of Christianity being just as bad as radical Islam, and the only example you can offer of Christian oppression is something like “The Crusades? Huh? Hey, what about that?”
19. If #18 applies and you cannot name any of the centuries in which The Crusades took place
20. If all your arguments about why Obama should have been elected come down to wonderful, superlative things about Him…but you cannot name what, exactly, any of these things are
21. If you think it’s a terrible problem that kids are exposed to violence on the television and in movies, but snark away at other people who object to too much sex on the television and in movies
22. If you bark away with the word “racism” any time anybody proposes a solution to vote fraud
23. If you have any kind of opinion about illegal immigration that you want to express without using the word “illegal”
24. If you think women wearing skimpy Halloween costumes would be a great way for them to show their independence, when they aren’t doing that yet…but once they start wearing them, you call it a symbol of male opppression…
25. If you’re a schoolteacher who says “I’m not here to teach you what to think I’m here to teach you how to think”…and day by day, you practice the exact opposite of that in your classroom…

Because when you’re such an oh-so-fashionable lefty liberal, hypocrisy & confirmation bias are still bad things. People may not like that, but it’s true.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Washington Rebel.

Now This is MY Idea of a “Restore Sanity” Rally

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Government High Life from RightChange on Vimeo.

From RightChange.

Update: On the other hand…if we are to call this a Restoring Sanity rally (thanks to FaceBook friend Elizabeth A. Terrell)…I’d really hate to see the Restoring Insanity rally.

Silver Slug

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

The weigh-in starts at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow, and we are ready.

Hope we do well, although this time ’round I’m only half of a team. The younger of the official Pinewood Derby constructing duo is with his mother this time of year.

We’ll find out tomorrow how we do.

Clicky the pic to embiggen.

Jon Stewart is No Longer Insane

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

From his closing remarks, it looks to me like he’s going to help us out on Tuesday with the Obama midterm smackdown:

Look on the screen. This is where we are. This is who we are. (points to the Jumbotron screen which show traffic merging into a tunnel). These cars—that’s a schoolteacher who probably thinks his taxes are too high. He’s going to work. There’s another car-a woman with two small kids who can’t really think about anything else right now. There’s another car, swinging, I don’t even know if you can see it—the lady’s in the NRA and she loves Oprah. There’s another car—an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. Another car’s a Latino carpenter. Another car a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan. But this is us. Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles they hold dear—often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers.

And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river. Carved, by the way, by people who I’m sure had their differences. And they do it. Concession by conscession. You go. Then I’ll go. You go. Then I’ll go. You go then I’ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s okay—you go and then I’ll go.

And sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute, but that individual is rare and he is scorned and not hired as an analyst.

Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together. And the truth is, there will always be darkness. And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together.

If you want to know why I’m here and want I want from you, I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me. Your presence was what I wanted.

Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine. Thank you.

I’m not editing these words in any way, just a simple cut and paste. And yet what Jon Stewart is describing is a very conservative vision of America. Where we don’t take the Obama approach and sling around ad hominems, calling people who disagree with us teabaggers or complain about bitter people clinging to Bibles and guns, or give speeches about punishing enemies, or use metaphors about taking keys away from people who don’t know how to drive. Why, even the example Stewart chooses to use, involves all these people driving cars!

If his words are to be taken seriously, then I look forward to his help two days from now voting out as many democrats as we can manage together. They need a mid-course correction. For the last two years they have pushed agenda after agenda, which all have it in common that they intend to concentrate power into the hands of just a select few. Stewart, with his sanity restored, does not appear to be supportive of that. He wants everybody who can drive a car to be able to drive one, and to be respected as just another dude or dudette trying to meet his deadlines and other challenges in life.

How very anti-Obama. I don’t believe I’d be able to write a better anti-Obama speech myself.

Quite a turn-around for you. Welcome to sanity, Jon Stewart.

What This Election is About

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

An article by one Bruce Thornton appears in RightNetwork:

To progressives, income disparities and economic winners and losers are intolerable injustices reflecting capitalism’s rigged rules and privileging of profit over people. Use the power of the state to correct those rules and intervene in the market through regulations and tax policy, and you can eliminate those injustices, for, as the President let slip, “When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” Hence the relentless public demonization of “greedy” Wall Street and corporations, and the attempt to use regulatory and taxing power to siphon off their capital and put it to achieving the progressive vision of “social justice.”

Questioning these assumptions is where the political discussion has to start. We need to make not only the practical point that punitive taxation and regulation of the economy retards growth and leads to unemployment, lower tax revenues, and a reduced standard of living. We also need to attack the false belief that something as complex and intricate as a 14-trillion-dollar economic system, one predicated on the trillions of free choices and transactions made by free people, can be understood by “experts” the way we understand an engine, and thus tinkered with in order to achieve an idealized world in which we “spread the wealth around” so everyone has roughly the same standard of living.

This notion, moreover, runs counter to the underlying philosophy of capitalism, and if acted upon will eventually destroy the economy. The point of the free market was not to make everybody rich, but to create and increase wealth over time so that fewer people would suffer the abject poverty typical of the vast majority of our ancestors. Predicated on freedom, capitalism understood that the great variety of talent, virtue, and luck meant that there would still be losers. But there always will be losers in human life. Capitalism created economic mobility, and over time could give those with talent and drive the opportunity to become winners, rather than fixing them and their children in immutable economic and social roles.

There’s only one definition of conservatism that works. It is, after all, not a point or a region on an ideological spectrum, nor is it a prejudice or a fear. It is a willingness.

It is a willingness to renounce things that do not work. After an idea has been given a try a few times, it is a willingness to say “this does not work, let’s stop trying it until someone provides some solid evidence dealing with how it can work.” It is sanity. It is a hopping-off from a merry-go-round, and it requires maturity. A lot of people don’t believe in it, not because they have risen above it, but because they aren’t capable of achieving it.

In their world, the only difference between the current situation and everlasting success is one more lap. But that is the way children think when they wrestle with a problem that is too big for them.

Conservatism is what adults say. Conservatism says wait a minute…results matter. So far your results suck, so take this albatross out of here, back to the drawing board, and bring back some good results from there — until then, we’re done. We’re through. And you get just as mad about that as you want, but you’ve made as many “oopsies” on the production floor as you’re gonna.

Our liberals react to this pretty much every single way they possibly can. They rename themselves to “progressives,” they talk about punishing enemies (hat tip to Gerard), they make a lot of noise about bitter people clinging to Bibles and guns. They tell lies that whoever is opposed to what they’re trying to do, must be opposed to new ideas. That’s not the case at all. The only thing they don’t do, is what mature, responsible, intelligent people with new fancy ideas do: Confine them to a proving ground. No, in liberal-land, the sandbox is not a sandbox at all, it is the universe. It is wherever the results will be felt immediately, irreversibly, by everyone. You can’t put an experimental elixir in a laboratory, to be fed to volunteers; you have to put it in the water supply of the township, the county, the state. Even better to just drop it in the ocean. Nobody can opt in to liberalism, slogans notwithstanding. Opting in might lead to opting out.

This is where Thornton’s point comes in. Liberals do not think government is sacrosanct. They don’t even like government any more than normal people do. They want their experiments to be tried out, for the very first time, all over the place. Step One always seems to be to empower the government, because there isn’t any legal way to get away from it. It is practically universal, and it operates by force rather than by choice. That is why they can’t get enough of it.

Conservatism just says: Don’t. It is a very accommodating and flexible brand of conservatism we have been seeing lately — it waits until the liberal plan does its damage, in production, before it says “that’s enough, stop now.” Real conservatism would insist on the laboratory setting, involving voluntary, opted-in subjects, before the plan was ever tried. Real conservatism would say: If you want to experiment, congressman/senator/President, you have the wrong job. The office you occupy has to do with serving the public, not using that public as a lab rat.

One other point: There is no moderate position between these two things. That is a myth. Once experience has shown an idea to fail much of the time, you either pull it out or you don’t.

Halloween, 2010

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Have a happy one!

So what are your plans?

Memo For File CXXIII

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

I was reading through that Shelby Steele article that was making its way around the innerwebs in the last couple of days, the one that talks about the democrat party’s “bad faith” in America and how it came to be. Perhaps inspired by this, the Review & Outlook editors of Wall Street Journal gave their readers a rather priceless run-down of the relevant events since those tumultuous sixties. As I understand what they are offering, it is a history that begins with a bang followed by a multitude of pulses; we put the liberals in charge of everything, then we figure out it doesn’t work. We take a few years to forget the lesson and then we do it again. I’ve offered my own observation that we are experiencing a sixteen-year “Heartbeat of Stupid” and the systolics I’ve measured correlate very closely to what the editors have picked up: Kennedy/Johnson, Carter, Clinton and now His Holy Eminence.

I agree, too, with the most enduring message Steele gleans from it all…

Bad faith in America became virtuous in the ’60s when America finally acknowledged so many of its flagrant hypocrisies: the segregation of blacks, the suppression of women, the exploitation of other minorities, the “imperialism” of the Vietnam War, the indifference to the environment, the hypocrisy of puritanical sexual mores and so on. The compounding of all these hypocrisies added up to the crowning idea of the ’60s: that America was characterologically evil. Thus the only way back to decency and moral authority was through bad faith in America and its institutions, through the presumption that evil was America’s natural default position.

Peeing on AmericaAmong today’s liberal elite, bad faith in America is a sophistication, a kind of hipness. More importantly, it is the perfect formula for political and governmental power. It rationalizes power in the name of intervening against evil—I will use the government to intervene against the evil tendencies of American life (economic inequality, structural racism and sexism, corporate greed, neglect of the environment and so on), so I need your vote.

I have noticed that the common prop used by the liberals, as they leverage this tricky dichotomy of bad faith in the United States and good faith in all else, is — knowledge. People on the left wing who exercise real power, as well as their cheerleaders and other minions out in the field who try to gin up some enthusiasm about their hopey changey…stuff. Knowledge is the key to the recurring trope, which is: We are in a process of change, and the change has to do with learning. You trust this thing and you don’t trust that other thing. Then new information comes your way, and you show your intellect by being open to the information and it changes your view of things. Now, what was untrusted before, is trusted; what was trusted before, might not be now. That process seems to be central to everything they are trying to communicate to us, in one form or another.

But it has not escaped my notice that this is a complete sham. The learning never comes, because if it did, the liberal would have to demonstrate the humility he demands others show. This is quite out of the question. The liberals we know are immovable granite savants, possessing such an enviable command of truth, wisdom and knowledge, that not even a miniscule alteration is needed, wanted or for that matter desirable. They’re just like teenagers; they already know everything.

Generally, the false moment of paradigm shift is still ahead of us with regard to things we are required to accept, and it is somewhere in our past with regard to things we are expected to abhor. President Obama still needs more time to clean up the mess made by His predecessor George W. Bush, who cocked things up so terribly that this continues to be a convenient catch-all excuse up to & beyond the point it has been worn down into self-parody. As far as President Bush himself, the moment of pretend-learning is, obviously, in the past; according to the liberal, we know everything about Bush we’ll ever need to know. To borrow from his successor’s favorite metaphor, he has been behind the wheel already and shown he doesn’t know how to drive. No need and no point for further inspection here.

That whackjob Imam down in New York who wants to build that mosque on Ground Zero — according to the left wing, he hasn’t shown himself to be up to any mischief yet. Supposedly, we’ll all be keeping an eye out for that provocative or incriminating action, or quote. But really, we all know it will never come; the jury only appears to be out deliberating the matter. Does that mean being a liberal is about never harboring any suspicions? No, it does not. The Boy Scouts have already incriminated themselves beyond redemption; not only do they discriminate against homosexuals, but they won a Supreme Court case about it. Speaking of the Supreme Court: Justice Clarence Thomas is supposed to be excoriated — mind you, it doesn’t have anything to do with being a conservative who is also black, it’s about Anita Hill. There never has been any evidence to support her claims, but again, why let facts get in the way? Thomas is to be hated, therefore his “learning moment” is in the past. We know about Justice Thomas everything we need to know.

This is the very foundation of the pretend-universe in which our modern liberals live: We pretend we already know some things, and we pretend we’re in a process of waiting to learn other things. The “science is settled” on global warming, a hackneyed phrase tossed around to imply there is no point to learning anything further. As I’ve pointed out before, this is a redefinition of what the word science is supposed to mean; it is, more or less, a polar-opposite definition. A flip-flopping.

Speaking of flip-flopping: The junior Senator from Massachusetts, half a dozen years ago, endured no condemnation or repudiation from his party for his testimony some three decades previous about the barbaric conduct of his comrades-in-arms:

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

These statements have been shown to be problematic, and were problematic during the campaign of 2004. But it didn’t matter. Clinton lied about sex, which liberals told us was entirely unimportant because it was about sex…but even then, they admitted Clinton’s behavior was abominable. With Kerry’s slander against thousands of kids serving their country, we didn’t even get that much. Quite to the contrary, Kerry was a hero for having spoken truth to power. Kerry told a tall tale to Congress, and — well, so what? Instead, they argued quite forcefully that there was something wrong with calling him out on his fairy tale.

I suppose that’s to be expected. He was the nominee in 2004, after all. And why let the facts get in the way of a good hate? In that year we were consumed with chatter about Abu Ghraib and our liberals were showing off the “bad faith” that Steele was just talking about. Americans, everybody understood, were certainly capable of wartime atrocities, so who cares if Kerry’s testimony had any basis in fact, or not?

To grown-ups, though, it still matters. There is a difference between leading a man around on a leash in his nakedness as if he’s a canine, and attaching an electrical circuit to his gonads and turning on the juice. If everyone paying attention understood American soldiers were guilty of gross misdemeanors, then why recite made-up stories of the felonies? Or refuse to recant the stories? Or condemn others for pointing out the lack of evidence to support the made-up stories? Why not just stick to what we know really happened, wouldn’t that be responsible, proper and fair?

Confirmation BiasAll of the above defines the central and primary problem with our liberals. It is the dirty little secret they’ll do anything to stop from getting out, although deep down everybody knows about it already — the “Emperors Clothes.” The thing we all know and don’t say out loud is this: Their view of the world is as polarized, as black and white, as boolean, all-of-this-none-of-that, as anybody else’s. There is no process of edification, no process of condemnation, no process of redemption. There are no states to these objects; there are only classes and roles. Good and bad. Women, blacks, homosexuals, poor, illegal immigrants, socialists, Muslims good…as long as they all vote, and vote the way they’re supposed to. Caucasians, men, straights, evangelicals, corporate executives bad. They’re supposed to be teaching the rest of us what it means to be “open-minded,” but when are they ever going to lead by example?

The moment of learning that would re-shape the world view, or even a tiny piece of it, never comes. Never, never, not ever. This month, Bill O’Reilly placed the fact that would bring this about squarely in front of Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, and they showed everybody how the leftist mind handles this. They walked offstage, unashamedly, proudly, even brazenly ignorant. That is exactly what I’m talking about; it’s all about the designated roles. It’s like running a criminal trial in reverse, with the verdict reached as the jury is seated and then the evidence reviewed according to the verdict. If you’re innocent, no damning evidence is admissible. If you’re guilty, no exculpatory evidence can be seen.

There is a term for this: Confirmation Bias. It refers to the process of systematically selecting evidence for acceptance, based not on its durability, but rather on what it proves. It is the mistake we all make sometimes when we adapt reality to belief rather than the other way around. With our liberals it has become a way of life, and this makes them deserving not of our scorn, but our pity.

I am now closer, I think, to my coffin than my crib; I’m old enough that it has become incrementally absurd to doubt this is the case. With that majority of years behind me, I have yet to hear a single self-identified liberal announce those words of humility and true learning: “I used to think [fill in the blank] but then I learned such-and-such, and it changed my mind.” I’ve never heard a self-identified liberal say anything like this, although I have heard many a conservative express exactly that (Update: Hey look, there goes yet another one). Here and there I’ve heard some liberals brag about visiting third-world countries, where they “learned” something. And I do recall some liberals say “I started being liberal when I became a parent.” But these are not what I’m talking about; they don’t count, because in both cases if you talk to the liberal a little while longer, you find he believed what he “learned” well before he learned it, so there was no changing-of-mind taking place. I’m talking about exiting the comfort zone, abjuring that which was previously cherished or held in high regard — I have yet to see or hear of a liberal ever doing this.

Liberal Open-MindednessIsn’t that something? It is a strange, odd thing. Anybody who’s discussed anything at length with a strident liberal, even just once or twice, knows how much energy and enthusiasm they put into finding that next point of emphasis, that next magical technique for highlighting the thought they think worthy. The emphasis is often more important than the thought itself. Nothing actually achieves this quite as effectively as saying “I was convinced of and invested in the opposite for a very long time, and here is the story of why I was compelled to admit I was wrong, and how my mind was changed.” That would accomplish what they want, better and quicker than anything.

But they aren’t capable of it. They lack the necessary humility. They want to get the props and high-fives for having it, but it is beyond their capacity to show it. Some of them still back Barack Obama, two full years after the mistake was made, and that proves this particular point of my criticism as well as anything can. Yes, they can abandon an old belief and uphold a contradictory a new one, but only if everyone else they know is doing the same thing at the same time, and they can be assured any record of their old allegiance will be sent down an Orwellian memory hole. In simpler terms, they don’t want to lose the social capital. They always want to be on the right side of history, even if that means the history of their own inclinations must be re-written.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Washington Rebel.

More People to Put in Stocks

Friday, October 29th, 2010

We were discussing at lunch the rather remarkable achievement of opening the Roseville Galleria for business so soon after the mall got torched by a jackass just a week before. As we were walking to our desks one of my colleagues turned to me and mentioned we needed to bring back stocks in the public square, if for no other reason than that the community deserved a chance to express its feelings about whatever transgression was being judged.

This got me to thinking, because, you see, nobody at work knows about my blog. They don’t even know about my political orientation…at least, I like to think they don’t. My tentative theory is that I’m just not that important and not worth the research. I haven’t Googled anybody else’s name, why would they want to do that with mine?

But this was cause for pause; I have written exactly the same words about the tragedy of getting rid of the one form of punishment that placed emphasis on a feeling of shame…and therefore shored up the associated feelings. Without something like that, we have no shame. People just do, like, whatever man. And so we have sad incidents like what happened in Roseville last week. We just put up with it. The events accelerate, up to and past the point where there is a palpable feeling that we’re living in the end times — and we continue to tolerate. Without a handy wooden frame in which to entrap the convicted as we pelt his mug with rotten cabbages, there isn’t anything else we can do. Just tolerate and tolerate some more.

And so we had a “shared pet peeve” moment, my colleague and I, kind of like the single solitary decent scene out of Lethal Weapon IV…only less annoying.

(Potty mouth language warning in effect.)

Anyhow. I don’t think there’s been any synchronization on viewpoints here other than what happened in the hallway on the way back from the cafeteria. There is a feeling in the air, felt by many, that society is going through dry rot because there is no culture in the society…no feeling of “this, and this, and this are simply not done.” There are exceptions. We don’t tolerate discrimination, we don’t tolerate bigotry, we don’t tolerate sexism, we don’t tolerate…intolerance. But what’s that worth, when you think about it? When we expand the definition of intolerance to include anything that might possibly be interpreted as intolerance, by a sane mind or some other kind of mind. When we keep expanding that definition until it includes tolerance, and we identify tolerance as intolerance and then show our intolerance toward phony intolerance.

What you’re then left with, is a “society,” of sorts, of cowards. People who allow anything and everything, save for whatever their anointed liege lords tell them they aren’t supposed to be allowing. Which is the same as saying people who allow everything.

So I have more people to put in stocks, when and if the day ever comes we bring ‘em back.

Anybody who would oppose my stocks, because we need to keep on allowing everything (save for what the anointed mystics tell us we shouldn’t be allowing) — they need to go in my stocks so we can throw rotten vegetables at their faces.

The jackass who burned down the Galleria, absolutely, needs to go in so we can pelt his stupid face with stinky vegetables. Hey, it beats a knouting.

You know those commercials on the radio where they run a toll free number past you? They never do it just once…research has shown, obviously, that the number will stick in your head if they do it three times. That’s one, eight hundred, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. That number again, blah blah blah blah…that announcer goes in the stocks so we can throw rotten tomatoes at his dumb ol’ face.

The producer who told him to do that three times also goes in the stocks.

I notice, lately, a fashionable trend has started to run the toll free number past us four times. I didn’t hear this before — oh, say — about 2001, maybe later. That means there must be a paper out somewhere, some item of research, maybe a guideline that was written on the research, saying four times works better than three.

If it was research, then I figure there is a likelihood there is a singularity of responsibility. One individual must be responsible for having conducted it. One person has opened this Pandora’s Box and unleashed this modern “That Number Again” curse upon us.

That asshole needs to go in stocks. He needs a twenty-four-hour treatment, noon to noon. Rotten tomatoes, rotten onions, rotten cabbage, rotten squash. Pelt pelt pelt pelt pelt. That rotten vegetable again, to make sure you don’t forget it, is…pelt pelt pelt pelt pelt pelt pelt. One more time…

Better that than re-enacting Passion of the Christ. Better that than a branding iron.

Now that is what I call “compassionate conservatism.” Some people don’t have any shame, so they need to be taught some. The compassionate community will teach them some.

Graveyard in the Middle of the Road

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Drive carefully.

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XXIII

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Quote of the day at Critical Mass:

From Robert Weissberg:

As the academy grows more stridently left wing, conservatives respond with calls for ideological affirmative action — for schools to hire more right-thinking faculty so students encounter intellectual diversity. This is a seductively alluring scheme, and thanks to wealthy donors, it is proliferating.

It is an ill-advised and ultimately anti-intellectual strategy, even in the unlikely event that it succeeds. The academy can not be, nor should it be, an intellectual version of Noah’s Ark. Sadly, this conservative version of “inclusion” mimics the Left’s subordination of truth to ideology.

The quest should be about insisting that whatever professors teach, content should be truthful, whether this truth is liberal, conservative, reactionary, or Marxist, whether the subject in English or sociology. After all, who wants conservative falsehoods to “balance” radical dishonesty? It is fantasy to insist that if students learn at 9 a.m. that 2+2=3 and at 11 a.m., 2+2=5, they will eat lunch knowing that 2+2=4.

The hunt to hire truth-seekers changes everything. Out with the ideological litmus tests; in with character and temperament. If a Marxist job candidate argues that Africa is poor owing to colonial exploitation, the sharp rejoinder should be, “Can you prove this?” Ditto for the conservative job seeker who insists that only capitalist free markets can solve Africa’s poverty.

Admittedly, abandoning ideological labels complicates life, and may even discourage donors from funding pet projects, but this is what the life of the mind is about.

All true. Also true: it’s quite common to dismiss those who criticize academia’s evident ideological homoegeneity as people who are problematically arguing for affirmative action for conservatives–when they are doing nothing of the kind. It’s happened to me quite a bit, for example. But there is a middle ground that’s ethical all the way around–one that requires people on both ends of the political spectrum to lay off the cheap political point-scoring and to focus on making sure that practice measures up to principle.

If my little darling were going to a higher-ed school and found his young mushy brain being ambushed and avalanched from all directions by doctrinized left-wing thinking — I suppose it would be fair for me to substitute the “if” with a “when” — the education I would hope for him to gain from this would not be how to keep his mouth shut and stay out of trouble, or that professors are dopes, or that the “right” way is the right way, but rather that men are emboldened by their institutions. A little bit of organization, a little bit of prestige, and the players within a circle will boldly brag about their dedication to “free speech” while, in action, doing all they can to bring it to a stop.

I would also hope he learns that human creativity and resourcefulness endure the most determined attacks from their fair-weather friends — those who claim to be championing and defending such assets. Institutions tend to claim to encourage thinking outside of the box, finding new solutions to problems; but most of this work is done before the institution arrives. While it can still be done.

The now-well-established proclivity of institutions to lean left…all sorts of institutions…is a symptom of all this, not a cause. For that alone, I’m in agreement with Weissberg and his reticence toward the “conservative affirmative action.” It wouldn’t work.

But the above points carry a lot of weight with me too. The goal needs to be truth. In the pursuit of such a goal, a conclusion towards liberalism is just as meritorious as a conclusion toward conservatism…or toward nothing at all.

NPR Funding

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Blogger friend Buck replied to a comment-poster in his own place, who was worried about tax dollars going to support National Public Radio.

Like most dreams… yours has no basis in reality. From The Wiki:

In 2009, member stations derived 6% of their revenue from local funding and 10% of their revenue from the federal funding in the form of Corporation for Public Broadcasting grants.[14][15] NPR receives no direct funding from the federal government.[16] About 1.5% of NPR’s revenues come directly from Corporation for Public Broadcasting grants.

The CPB got $400 million in federal funds last year, a drop in the proverbial budget bucket. The CPB provides funding… in small amounts… to both NPR and PBS, both of which add immense value to our culture.

I presume “the Wiki” refers to the Wikipedia article on NPR. Not exactly going out on a limb with that one, and the quote lines up, she certainly does. Our New Mexico friend has done his homework.

Funding

National People's RadioIn 2009, NPR revenues totaled $164 million, with the bulk of revenues coming from programming fees, grants, contributions and sponsorships. According to the 2009 financial statement, about 40% of NPR revenues come from the fees it charges member stations to receive programming. Typically, NPR member stations raise funds through on-air pledge drives, corporate underwriting, and grants from state governments, universities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 2009, member stations derived 6% of their revenue from local government funding and 10% of their revenue from the federal funding in the form of CPB grants. NPR receives no direct funding from the federal government. About 1.5% of NPR’s revenues come from Corporation for Public Broadcasting grants.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, the majority of NPR funding came from the federal government. Steps were taken during the 1980s to completely wean NPR from government support, but the 1983 funding crisis forced the network to make immediate changes. More money to fund the NPR network was raised from listeners, charitable foundations and corporations instead.

Footnote [16] points to the Ombudsman’s page at NPR. Which sayeth

How many of my tax dollars go to NPR?

NPR receives no direct funding from the federal government. Less than two percent of the budget is derived from competitive grants from federally funded organizations such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Science Foundation, and National Endowment for the Arts.

Approximately half of NPR’s funding comes from NPR member stations. In an average year, NPR funds about 45 percent of its operations with membership dues and program fees from member stations. The balance of NPR’s annual revenue is derived from private foundations, individuals and corporations, in the form of grants, gifts, investment proceeds, and corporate sponsorships. NPR receives some revenue from distribution fees and fees from tapes and transcripts.

So everything checks out. Ship-shape. NPR depends, in this day and age, on a negligible and altogether insignificant amount of lucre from the public treasury, which is first laundered through the CPB. It is a piddling amount, a “placeholder” amount…I would call it a “flip the bird” amount. It is dimes and nickels fished out of the couch cushions, moved from one pot to another, just to get the message across that this can still be done. Purely as a “fuck you” to the people who still believe in a free market. The ladder could be kicked out from under ‘em with no consequence whatsoever…it just isn’t going to happen because, well, we like to stick it to the man.

From the e-mails, this afternoon, bearing a signature from the outbox of change.org, my faithful climate change action crew. Just minutes ago:

Dear Morgan,

Since National Public Radio fired Juan Williams last week for controversial remarks about Muslims, Fox News pundits have waged war on public broadcasting. They’ve called for defunding it completely, something conservatives have wanted for decades.

Led by Sarah Palin, a chorus of commentators including Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Newt Gingrich, and Karl Rove are trying to paint public broadcasting as the “mouth of socialism” in a ploy to simultaneously attack NPR and fire up their base a week before Americans head to the polls.

In a corporate media landscape where “news” is about little more than partisanship and infotainment, we desperately need a reliable public broadcasting system to provide the essential information for a functioning democracy. Fox News has already poisoned much of our public discourse; we cannot let it and Sarah Palin kill public broadcasting.
:
Palin and others like her are using the controversy over Juan Williams to push for a longstanding goal: the “immediate suspension of every taxpayer dollar” going to public media, as stated explicitly by Bill O’Reilly on his Fox News show.

Heeding O’Reilly’s call, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is reportedly introducing a bill that would zero out funding for ALL public broadcasting, including NPR, PBS, Pacifica and more.

Defunding could not only destroy NPR as we know it, but also deal a significant blow to the entire public interest media sector. We can’t let Sarah Palin and the right wing bully Congress into selling out such an important part of our media landscape. [emphasis mine]

KNOW YE THIS. Yes, I am of the opinion that “public radio” is anathema to a free republic, especially one such as ours that claims to cherish free market principles. However, that is outside the scope from the observation I am making here.

Whether I would shield NPR from the slings and arrows of those who would “defund,” were NPR more to my ideological liking, is absolutely, positively, emphatically out of scope from the observation I am making here.

Juan Williams’ sacking is out of scope from the observation I am making here.

The proper prioritization of the NPR funding issue, alongside all the other things we’ll have in mind as we trudge off to participate in the democratic process this Tuesday (Wednesday if you’re a democrat), is also out of scope from the observation I am making here.

That I would much sooner ask Sarah Palin to watch my house while I’m on a two week vacation, compared to Vivian Schiller, CEO of NPR, is out of scope from the observation I am making here.

Charles Krauthammer’s enjoyable smackdown upon the empty (and rather caustic) head of Nina Totenberg, who remains employed and in the good graces of NPR even with her name chiseled in granite alongside wonderful chestnuts that make Williams’ utterance look positively mundane — is, likewise, out of scope of the observation I am making here.

The observation I am making here is sharp like a scalpel. It is focused like a laser. It is absolutely, positively irrefutable.

The observation I am making here is thus:

Someone is bullshitting somebody about NPR’s funding. Not so much the amount of it, but its criticality toward whatever mission it is that NPR is trying to fulfill. It is pissing in the ocean…or, it is the keystone of the temple, that once extracted, causes the entire structure to collapse.

It cannot be both.

Who is bullshitting me? And how? I have an absolute, sacrosanct right to know…or, at least, I damn well should.

Graphic shamelessly swiped from Liberty at Stake.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Washington Rebel.

Puerto Rico Lowers Taxes

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

What do they know that Washington doesn’t?

Puerto Rico’s governor on Monday announced plans to cut business and income taxes by more than a $1 billion annually over the next seven years in an attempt to jumpstart the U.S. territory’s economy.

Governor Luis Fortuno laid out the plan in a special address to the Puerto Rican legislature after a weekend vote by lawmakers to slap a six-year tax hike on offshore manufacturing firms operating on the island.

Fortuno called the plan the biggest tax relief package in Puerto Rico’s history and said ordinary taxpayers would see a 50 percent reduction in their taxes when the reform is fully implemented.

Hat tip to Boortz.

Slut Culture

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Blogsister Cassy calls out six megastars of slut culture. You know, where it makes you a lot more free if you pass around your verginer like a plate of hors d’oeuvres, or something.

Some of the comments are…really something.

This reeks OF typical right-wing fear-mongering dribble. I’d much rather support these “sluts” for their bravery and DOWNRIGHT HONESTY THAT IS COMPLETELY BASED ON FACTS, not to mention for their own humanness in their life’s path. I know of many teens who frequent the Scarleteen website because they are fed up with the lies their abstinence teachers are teaching them in the schools. True, there’s a bit of sex-obsessiveness re: these girls, but I’d much rather hang around with them than with the gun-toting boring anti-freedom you and your ilk will stop at nothing to get to the unreal world that you want it to be, that will never, ever be. The less obsessed we are about sex, whether we do it all the time or you don’t do it at all, the better off WE WILL ALL BE AND WE WILL SURVIVE AS A SPECIES.

FEMINISM = FREEDOM FOR ALL HUMAN BEINGS TO LIVE THEIR LIVES AS THEY DAMN WELL PLEASE AND AWAY FROM THE INFLUENCE OF YOU COWARDLY PEOPLE SHOVING YOUR ANTI-HUMANITY DRIBBLE ONTO US. MY BODY IS MY PRIVACY, NOT THE OBJECT OF YOUR PERVERSIVE GAZES AND IT IS NOT THE SOCIALISM LIES YOU MAKE THEM OUT TO BE. TRUTH, IT IS NOT. GO READ THE FEMINIST BIBLE THAT IS BITCH: FEMINIST RESPONSE TO POP CULTURE. YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY LEARN SOMETHING FROM THAT.

RESISTANCE TO RIGHT WING FACISM = TRUTH TO POWER!!!

With three bangs on the end.

Withdrawing Fathers

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Communicating with their daughters is just too hazardous now.

I live in a suburb with a killer rep for “being a good place to raise kids”; some of the parent-child interaction I see is encouraging, and other stuff I see is sad. I see fathers working harder at being non-threatening, than they do at their real job, which is showing their children how a grown man is supposed to behave.

They speak in phony falsetto. They make a point of never, ever making any declarative statement about anything, other than that what someone else said is “okay” and “alright.”

When they place a food order on behalf of someone else — which is very often — they are careful to decide nothing. Presented with an option that hasn’t been anticipated, they ask the cashier to hold on, relay the options to the wife or kid who will be consuming the food, wait for a selection to be made, and relay it back to the cashier. They live out their entire domestic lives as sort of a non-threatening, non-deciding, soft-voiced tennis ball.

They’re not trying to raise monsters or to trash masculinity. Just trying to avoid conflict, and interact successfully with the environment that has been poked and prodded and deconstructed and reconstructed by others.

Which makes it easy to develop weaknesses in their offspring, and hard to encourage strength.

Other pot bellied middle-age geezers like me have prophesied doom in the generations immediately ahead…perhaps for millenia they/we have been doing this. But that thought doesn’t offer me much encouragement. I see lots of inter-dependence and co-dependence, lots of champagne tastes and beer budgets. Lots of debt. Lots of narcissism, lots of people stumbling around laboring under the most tragic of presumptions: That the whole point of life is to be brought things, to be entertained, to be happy. Not much ability.

“Bad”

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

My other liberal-hippie feminazi dingbat senator, clear as mud.

Maybe she means she hasn’t been receiving any letters from me lately.

Be the Ginosaji for Halloween

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

If you don’t understand the reference, you need to go here to see what it’s all about…

Latest democrat Talking Point: I Voted For McCain!

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Hope and change.

Hat tip to Boortz.

Related: If the full Senate were up for grabs, the new Republican majority would be veto-proof, polls show. Hat tip to Instapundit.

“How Liberals Argue”

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Hat tip to Kate at Small Dead Animals.

What did I tell you about this?

Liberalism, in this day and age, seems to always have two goals with regard to everything it ever tries to do. The first is to establish rules and precedent such that vast numbers of people are forced to do things a certain way, as a consequence of judgment calls made in very few offices. The second is to staff these offices with people who represent the least mature among us. Those who have the least of what real people call “character.”

Out, Proud and Conservative

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Tammy Bruce answers an interested readers query: What’s it like to be gay and conservative? Having previously been gay and liberal, she offers a comparison:

The huge irony is liberals spend every ounce of energy promoting the notion that they are the banner carriers of individualism and personal freedom, yet the hammer comes down on anyone who dares not to conform to, or who dissents even in part from, the liberal agenda.

Think about what would happen if you did act up? If you dared to say you like Sarah Palin, or admire Margaret Thatcher, or think global warming is a hoax, or think Bill Clinton is a sexual predator, or that George W Bush isn’t to blame for everything, or that Barack Obama has absolutely no clue what he’s doing, you know there would be a price to pay. Odds are that your “liberal” friends would very liberally hate you. At the very least, being shunned would be your new experience, condemning you to suffer that horrific liberal malady called social death.
:
Are there religious extremists on the right? Of course, but they are marginalised and rejected. As an example, this year at CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference), considered the premier, annual conservative gathering in America, a speaker stepped up to the podium and began verbally to attack gays and lesbians. He was summarily booed from the stage by a conservative audience that refused to allow such bigotry to continue.

As you might have gathered, I prefer the honest, decent and genuinely accepting friends and family I have in the conservative world. We don’t always agree on everything, but isn’t that the point? – being able to be yourself, make choices that best suit you, without fear of punishment or retribution. My friendships and relationships in the conservative world are not predicated on political correctness and enforced conformity of thought. They are based, instead, on mutual respect, honesty and understanding – concepts many modern liberals should consider revisiting.

“It’s the Size of the Sacrifice That Counts”

Monday, October 25th, 2010

I don’t know what Mike Todd (hat tip to blogger friend Rick) is talking about here, and I don’t think Mike knows either. Hey, I don’t call him “Mollusk Mike” for nothing. Formless, shapeless, slimy…low and slow. No way to tell where he’s going.

But I think I know what maureen is saying and I find it thoroughly detestable.

I woke up today with this thought…it’s not the size of the gift rather the size of the sacrifice that counts. Does this flow somehow into your stream? I know it’s nothing new but it was crystal clear at first light this morning for me.

In truth, I can only find two serious problems with this. But that is the greatest number of problems you could find with it; it is perfectly awful.

The first problem has to do with when the gift is negligible but the sacrifice is devastating. It may seem churlish for me to say so, and maybe it is, but that would be just stupid. Why would you give up everything to help somebody, knowing you aren’t really helping them? Or expecting that you’re helping them, but making a mistake about it? That would be the situation in “Gift of the Magi” or something wouldn’t it? It’s a wonderful definition of love in that story, but as a practical matter who really wants to be James or Della. The scenario illustrates the problem with religious leftists: They have problems dealing with people who are capable of loving each other, and at the same time are competent at dealing with life. They think you have to choose one of those two things.

The second problem, much greater in my mind, has to do with the reverse. When the gift is meaningful but the sacrifice is insignificant. According to such a doctrine, this doesn’t mean anything because the person giving the gift wasn’t meaningfully diminished in the act of giving. So the scenario that illustrates this would be…a cab driver giving a free ride to the hospital to a couple when the wife is about to go into labor? After his shift is up. On his way home, when he’s driving in that direction anyway. And he’s real sure his boss isn’t going to find out. Or…I recall a very long time ago, twenty years ago, I was on my motorcycle and I gave my bungee cords away to a girl on a moped who bought too much stuff at the mall. That’s a better example. It was my last year in Bellingham so it must have been back in ’87. It made all the difference to her, and it didn’t matter to me one bit.

All right, she was kinda cute. Because I was young and naive and stupid, I must have given her my home address. Maybe I was horny. Anyway, the next night I find the cords in my mailbox with a note that simply said “thank you.” That was touching. How much did these cost altogether, something like a buck?

Anyway, enough about mystery-girl because this segues into an important point. So let me expound a bit more on this second issue. It is the very foundation of a civilized society. To say…if you go out of your way to help someone, but not that far out of your way, it doesn’t mean anything even if it means the world to them. We cannot survive with this mindset achieving dominance. We really can’t. Think about it. You’re still left standing, so when the time comes to recite the wonderful things you’ve done for people you might as well skip over this one, even though, to the beneficiary, your decision changed everything around for the better. It’s still a big nothing?

And it’s a nothing according to what? How important is this reciting of wonderful things you’ve done? Shouldn’t that more properly be between you and your maker? Don’t we want to live in a society where we just — do stuff, and keep our mouths shut about it? I haven’t said one word to anyone about bungee-girl for twenty-three years. That’s the way it should be, right? Open the door for the lady, lend your seat on the bus to the old guy, carry the pregnant woman’s bags up the stairs, donate anonymously.

If the sacrifice means everything and the effect of the gift means nothing, I’ll tell you where this puts us. It means: Helping people is not about helping people. Helping people, instead, is about bragging rights. That, and nothing else. Hey, look at me…I have no money, because I gave it all away…to…well, I dunno, and who cares about that. Maybe that bum will buy himself his first hot meal in over a week, or maybe he’ll blow it on hooch. Who cares? He’s got all my money. I’m broke and virtuous, that’s all that matters.

That, logically, would take us to a situation where nobody helps anybody else unless it can be established that a nice story can be told about it.

That’s a good definition of a savage right there. This is precisely what a civilized society should try not to become.

I think it’s just awful.

I’m not ready to say it’s 180 degrees off course; to say, James and Della did something completely meaningless. If you sacrifice everything, and through an innocent mistake come to find out you didn’t do anything meaningful, I think you still deserve props. There is love in that. But it isn’t the definition of love; if you run around looking for ways to give everything up, and then ultimately find such an opportunity, that by itself doesn’t make you a loving person. It makes you a bit of a twit.

But I suppose twits have a rough time dealing with the fact that some other people aren’t twits. This makes them angry and upset. That doesn’t mean they have to be in charge of defining what is & isn’t meaningful about gift-giving. Just means they’re nasty twits, that’s all.

“Intellectual Cowardice”

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Also, props to our friend in New Mexico for finding the cartoon below. He possesses only a fleeting interest in this story — sees all of the foolishness in NPR’s move, and subsequent “homina homina” backpedaling, but only in a “now, back to football” way.

To me, it’s much more serious than this. All of our nation’s founding documents are clear on this point: Our legislative branch gets to boss us around, make new laws that will bind us, oblige us, tax us and prohibit us…they get to do this for a two-year term. For the enduring expression of our values, from now on into the generations ahead, that kind of “legislation” is left up to The People. Congress does stuff and then We, The People get to tell them what we think about it.

The danger that is involved in such a machinery working properly, is the same danger you have in any electrical circuit: It cannot run in circles. Government cannot be allowed access to any tool that tells the electorate what it should be thinking. It simply is not to be allowed.

This is why the First Amendment proscribes against the establishment of a state religion…and if all of the concepts of talk radio were crystallized and agreed-upon in 1791, the First Amendment would carry a statement about state radio stations as well, and for precisely the same reason. In fact, this is why we have a Second Amendment as well. And a Tenth. Government is not to be put in charge of re-electing itself through The People.

Which is exactly the situation we have, without some “wall of separation between radio and state” if you will.

So people like the quiet, sonorous tone of commercial-free radio. They claim it’s less noisy. I’m sure they’re right about that…not that I’d know…but they miss the point entirely. There’s just no call in this country for “public radio.” It is a constitutional aberration and abomination.

The point I think a lot of people miss when things like this happen, is that when you centralize a decision you create more conflict, and when you localize it you prevent the conflict from ever coming about. I remember many years ago I read a Thomas Sowell column — which I tried to find, subsequently, and have never been able to pin it down. But he was discussing, coincidentally, the idea that we should have some federal agency to decide what we should listen to on our car radios. Just laying it down as a hypothetical. Today’s official radio station is 92.7 FM, and all your car radios will be turned to it; tomorrow’s will be 88.9, and the day after we’re all going to be listening to 102.3. So if you don’t like country music you’re just going to have to learn to like it, and if you don’t like rock & roll you’ll have to learn to like that.

Can you imagine how much bickering there would be? But his point was: We don’t do things this way. You tune your radio to what you want, I tune mine to what I want, and we never even get into a fight about it.

Folks, that is exactly the way it should work!

I submit that this fighting Sowell was writing about a few years back as a theoretical, here in 2010, is precisely what we’re seeing happen in real life. We’ve centralized the decision about who is to be abhorred as a potential threat; as I said at Buck’s place a few minutes ago, if Juan Williams said it makes him nervous when fellow air travelers are tea party activists, I doubt like hell he’d be fired over it. So we’ve centralized the decision about who is to be perceived, on a personal level, to be a potential threat…and, here we are bickering. Ah, as predictable as a sunrise.

De-fund NOW. If there are teeming masses that absolutely must have their Car Talk, then that means there is a market for it. There is no call for “public” radio; no call, no need and no point.

A Lifelong Disability…

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

…is nipped in the bud.

The more modern we become, the less we can do.

Shushman Revokes the Man Card

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

For the past three years or so I’ve had a superhero living in my head called Shushman. Being an object of fantasy, Shushman is extraordinarily flexible, gaining a brand new superpower every time someone in real life does something to cheese me off. At first, all he could do was throw down an Invisible-Girl-type of soundproof bubble over things that made noise…like a television set with a commercial four times louder than the program it was interrupting, or a convertible with the top down and the boom-boom-chicka-boom music blaring out of its speakers. It will come as no great shock that merely silencing said convertibles was not a satisfactory arrangement for too long, and Shushman acquired the power to disable engines very soon afterward.

One of my blogger friends let loose with a pet peeve over at the Hello Kitty of Blogging about people ordering vast amounts of food at the drive through and tying up the line. It gave me cause to think about the last time Shushman acquired a new superpower (someone did something to piss me off)…just a few weeks ago. I hadn’t written about it at the time.

Shushman can use telekinesis to revoke “man-cards.” It’s an idea whose time has come.

We have this franchise out here that whips up fresh smoothies while you watch them. This is promoted as a kind of a health food, which is a claim with lots of pros and cons I’ll not try to examine here. The drinks do seem to have a lot of sweetening for something upon which you’d rely as a diet staple…but they do pack a lot of vitamins and electrolytes and other things you need to have replenished if you’re out riding a bike or something.

Well, the place also sells health bars. They’re positioned, insidiously, at eye-height to a child…which is a purest form of evil. But anyway, there’s like four, five, six or more flavors of the things. I’m waiting my turn in line and the guy in front of me is still in the middle of his order — he whips out a flip phone. Not a candy-bar phone, but a clamshell, the kind little girls talk on. Which is fine…to each their own…but…

He waits for someone to pick up on the other end and reads off the six flavors of health bar to this person. He can’t see me, but I’m still doing everything I can to suppress a massive eyeball roll. And then he reads them again because the other person was not paying attention. He complets the phone call, then completes the order, the guy at the cash register says “all right, will that be all?” and the customer says “I hope so.”

Aiiieeeggh!!! Balls. Whatever happened to ‘em?

In my mind’s eye, Shushman points and there is a barely audible sound, like a mosquito flying into a bug zapper. The man card disappears, and nobody will ever notice anyway…

Back in reality, though, seriously. Seriously. Get to know what your lady likes…and if you can’t do that, get to know what she can’t stand. Then order for her…KEEP…THE LINE…MOVING. If she doesn’t like what you picked out, shrug your shoulders and remind her that if she really cared you wouldn’t have been put on the spot like that. This is a perfect solution for the worst case scenario — it is only needed for the worst case, remember. If it still isn’t good enough for her, the she was never good enough for you.

Some days, I seriously think there must be an enormous ancient flying saucer, or meteor, or mineral deposit buried under Folsom that shrinks balls.

They only moved the tombstones, those sons-of-bitches, they only moved the tombstones.

Update: On the subject of male-female relations, and men making the relationship a tougher thing to maintain by being too flexible, accommodating and mushy…you really should check out this contribution blogsister Daphne made to that subject a couple days ago.

I’m not going nearly as far as Cyrano-in-the-bushes, here. I’m just saying the Good Lord didn’t put man here to be a living menu-board. Gentlemen, once you’re taking down some list of options and presenting them to your sweetie for her to pick one, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Generally, it’s a pretty fair statement to make that this isn’t what women want in a man. They don’t like doing all the choosing. If they have to do that, what do they need you for?

Brown’s Lead Doubles in a Month

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

This is brown, all right. Soft & brown.

We are about to be governed by a guy who doesn’t even know how to hang up a phone.

Meg Whitman’s handling of housekeeper scandal and record-breaking spending have cost her support among women, Latinos and independents.

So not only will we have a governor with a proven track record of making things worse, he’ll owe his election to Gloria Allred. Which has to mean we’ll be privileged to hear a great deal more from her.

But yeah, Meg Whitman is clearly lacking in moral character or something…seeing as how she got fooled when someone else falsified documents and showed them to her.

Brown called Whitman a whore. California women are about to punch the chad for him because Gloria Allred drummed up a phony scandal.

They — the ones who fit the description, anyway — owe the rest of us a big apology. Or will. But we’re still waiting for one from the Obama voters, so what the hell.

Update: You know how I would characterize California; it is chock full of people who are very touchy about how their identities are associated. We have a lot of people who want to be associated with whatever is fashionable. With some people it’s Depeche Mode, with others it’s Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Or Jersey Shore. It’s a generational thing, what they’re going to latch onto as their bauble. Many want to be fuzzy and fashionable, few have any desire to be very deep. They’re afraid of alienating someone.

Very few people want to be associated with a political position, be it left or right. When it comes to politics, just about everyone wants to be mushy, agnostic, centrist, moderate.

But among those, most just want the democrat to win. ALL of the time. They can’t or won’t explain why. Just want the democrat to win.

When conservatives tell each other not to get cocky in 2010, they’re talking about my state. Whatever. Just get out there, do your voting, and there you’ve been as un-cocky as anyone could expect. But don’t expect any major turnarounds here.

Republic of Jenga

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Jewel proposes our nation’s new name, in a thread underneath a post by Gerard — which exists simply to highlight an e-mail comment about our brand new health care plan by a nameless, curious and interested soul.

It doesn’t look that good before you look at it this way; afterward, it looks worse.

Let me get this straight……

We’ve passed a health care plan written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it…

It was passed by a Congress that hadn’t read it but exempted themselves from it.

It was signed by a president that also hadn’t read it and who smokes.

The funding is administered by a treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes.

It is all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that’s broke.

What the hell could possibly go wrong?

Media Matters is the Symptom, Not the Disease

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

William Jacobson (hat tip to Instapundit) notices something about the Juan Williams/NPR hoopdey-doo.

No conservatives are trying to prevent people from appearing on NPR, but liberal interest groups and their media outlets are trying to prevent people from appearing on Fox News.

There is a real threat to freedom in this country, and it does not come from conservatives. Media Matters is just the symptom, not the disease.

Liberalism, in this day and age, seems to always have two goals with regard to everything it ever tries to do. The first is to establish rules and precedent such that vast numbers of people are forced to do things a certain way, as a consequence of judgment calls made in very few offices. The second is to staff these offices with people who represent the least mature among us. Those who have the least of what real people call “character.”

What did liberals think of Bill Clinton? That he was “cool” and had a “vibe.” What do they think of Sarah Palin? That she is “underqualified.” It should be clear what we’re talking about: If you know someone lies to you a lot, there’s something liberating about putting him in charge of everything. He’ll just do…whatever…and it will result in good things or bad things, but either way it won’t be your fault.

Yes, there really are people who look at life this way. Answer me this: Who’s the last liberal democrat who was called something beginning with “The Conscience of the…” who really had a conscience? Who you’d trust to take care of your house while you were on vacation?

None. When a liberal democrat is acknowledge as “The Conscience” of something, he’s scum. It’s always that way. Now you know why.

But it is that other observation that I find more interesting. The few dictating how life works for the many. There is something about the libertarian ideal of self-ownership that rubs liberals the wrong way.

How’s that old e-mail thing go…ah…Kender has a copy of it, I see.

If a conservative doesn’t like guns, they don’t buy one. Since a liberal doesn’t like guns, then no one should have one.

If a conservative is a vegetarian, they don’t eat meat. If a liberal is, they want to ban all meat products for everyone.

If a conservative sees a foreign threat, he thinks about how to defeat his enemy. A liberal wonders how to surrender gracefully and still look good.

If a conservative is homosexual, they quietly enjoy their life. When a liberal is homosexual, they loudly demand legislated respect.

If a black man or Hispanic is conservative, they see themselves as independently successful. Their liberal counterparts see themselves as victims in need of government protection.

If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don’t like be taken off the air.

If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church. When a liberal is a non-believer, he wants all churches to be silenced.

I’m glad Jacobson noticed what’s going on. This is the story-behind-the-story of the NPR mess, and it deserves more attention than it’s been getting.

Recumbent Bicycles

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Blogger friend Mark at Westsound Modern observes, recalls and opines…after personally experiencing.

A few years ago an acquaintance of mine purchased one of these for an ungodly amount of money as his new daily driver. Three wheels, slung low to the pavement, with an enormous plexiglass bubble windshield rising in front of the handle bars, you rode it laying flat on your back with the pedals out front. I was skeptical of its utility as a commuting rig in Seattle with its notoriously shitty drivers, but running low on smokes I convinced him to let me take it for a spin down to the 7-11 for a fresh pack and a test drive. The first thing I noticed in attempting to mount the vehicle was that you didn’t mount it so much as you flung yourself into it, and once in it I was consumed with the thought of how I was going to get out of it without the mildly embarrassing spectacle of flopping myself out onto the blacktop belly first and then struggling to my feet. No matter. I fell into the seat without too much effort and took off. Hoping inspiration for a more graceful exit would come to me on the ride.

The second thing I noticed while piloting this thing was that due to its low aerodynamic profile, I was rendered invisible to the aforementioned shitty drivers of the cars I was sharing the road with. There was a long fiber-glass rod with an orange flag on top attached to the frame that was supposed to warn these drivers of my position in relation to the underside of their vehicles but this is just not the sort of thing that Seattle drivers, who are known for their ability to cross four lanes of rush hour traffic fifty feet from their exit simply by blindly turning the wheel and hoping for the best, are capable of deducing as every vehicle I approached would lock its brakes up while the driver leaned on the horn and shout obscenities down at me. By the time I had returned to the house I had consumed about half of my new pack of Camels in the attempt to soothe nerves jangled by numerous near wrecks.

Recumbent BicycleDisappointingly, the hoped for graceful dismount had not materialized on the trip and as I rolled out onto my hands and knees, I told my acquaintance that this thing was the most useless device for transportation that I had ever encountered. He became visibly upset and began a long diatribe on the superiority of the recumbent bicycle over its more traditional counterpart. As I wearily listened to his verbal powerpoint presentation on aerodynamics, improved power train gear ratios, and increased cardiovascular efficiency while in a reclining position, it suddenly dawned on me why these things are so popular in liberal enclaves. They are the perfect metaphor for the progressive mind set. They are generally ridden by people obsessed with reinventing that which already works perfectly fine. They are easy to get into and exceedingly difficult to remove yourself from without looking like an idiot. They are more expensive, more engineered, and theoretically more efficient, at least on paper, than a traditional bicycle and therefore the rider is, as they will inform you ad nauseum, inherently superior to those on “lesser” machines. While the rider pedals nonchalantly through traffic confident in his theoretical brilliance, he pisses off everyone else on the road who would rather he just ride upright where they can see him so as to avoid an accident.

I shamelessly swiped this image from a site called 2 Blowhards, at which was posted another interesting observation to share.

My experience has been that, in almost every case, the rider of a recumbent bicycle is a wiry guy with a beard. I’m not kidding. I almost think that the factory making those bikes has a laboratory where they clone those riders.

Yes, I have noticed this as well. I see a lot of these out on the bike trails…and now that I think on it, 2-blowhards is right. I can’t think of a single exception. I have not seen a recumbent-bike-rider that looks like Charlie Sheen…or Adam West…or Kathy Ireland.

No, they all look like…like…where have I seen this before?

Ah –

Yes. That is the look. And that is the personality, too. It is a way of life. “People obsessed with reinventing that which already works perfectly fine.”

“Where Did Shakespeare Take His Courses in Creative Writing?”

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Jacob Weisberg, Slate columnist and compiler of the Bushisms, is having what they commonly refer to as a royal conniption fit.

If you’ve seen The Social Network, you may have caught a passing glimpse of Peter Thiel. Thiel was the first outside investor in Facebook, putting up $500,000 to finance the site’s original expansion in 2004. In the film’s version of events, he connives with Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, to deprive Mark Zuckerberg’s friend Eduardo Saverin of his 30 percent stake in the company. Though the character based on Thiel appears on-screen only briefly, Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay demolishes the German-born venture-capitalist in a single line: “We’re in the offices of a guy whose hero is Gordon Gekko.”
:
…Thiel’s latest crusade is his worst yet, and more troubling than the possibility of an unfrozen caveman venture capitalist awaking in the 22nd century and demanding his space capsule. The Thiel Fellowship will pay would-be entrepreneurs under 20 $100,000 in cash to drop out of school. In announcing the program, Thiel made clear his contempt for American universities which, like governments, he believes, cost more than they’re worth and hinder what really matters in life, namely starting tech companies. His scholarships are meant as an escape hatch from these insufficiently capitalist institutions of higher learning.

Where to start with this nasty idea? A basic feature of the venture capitalist’s worldview is its narcissism, and with that comes the desire to clone oneself—perhaps literally in Thiel’s case. Thus Thiel fellows will have the opportunity to emulate their sponsor by halting their intellectual development around the onset of adulthood, maintaining a narrow-minded focus on getting rich as young as possible, and thereby avoid the siren lure of helping others or contributing to the advances in basic science that have made the great tech fortunes possible. Thiel’s program is premised on the idea that America suffers from a deficiency of entrepreneurship. In fact, we may be on the verge of the opposite, a world in which too many weak ideas find funding and every kid dreams of being the next Mark Zuckerberg. This threatens to turn the risk-taking startup model into a white boy’s version of the NBA, diverting a generation of young people from the love of knowledge for its own sake and respect for middle-class values.

Well, where to start with Weisberg’s “where-to-start”? I’m somewhat personally offended by the insinuation that a desire to clone oneself is, by its own qualities and due to absolutely nothing else, some kind of evil thing. We should, as people, like ourselves should we not? You should expect that if a person is mentally and emotionally healthy, and somehow “cloned” as it were, he should be able to get along with himself right?

Maybe this is what we’re all arguing about. Maybe this is our “Whoah, the Emperor is buck-ass naked!” moment right here. Maybe liberals like Weisberg are people who wouldn’t and couldn’t be their own best friends — and they know it.

I’m also put off by the idea that offering an alternate educational path is something that can be fairly compared to…how does Weisberg say it? “Halting their intellectual development around the onset of adulthood, maintaining a narrow-minded focus on getting rich as young as possible, and thereby avoid the siren lure of helping others or contributing to the advances in basic science that have made the great tech fortunes possible.” What is it that gets under my skin about this? Ah…I know what it is. The pure, brazen, proud-to-be-there ignorance. Weisberg, your first semester lesson is that the “advances in basic science that have made great tech fortunes possible” were, for the most part, made by those who maintained “a narrow-minded focus on getting rich.” You may not like it, but it’s true. I’ll not bother with putting anything else in this semester’s lesson plan, I’m sure it’ll take you quite a while to wrap your mind around this one.

We owe a hat tip to our blogger friend Professor Mondo for this one, who has a salient way of making up the point. Uh, and that’s from inside the ivy-covered walls, for what it’s worth…

Oddly enough for someone in my line of work, I try not to overestimate the value of higher education. Don’t get me wrong — I think higher ed is a wonderful thing, and I’d like to think that what I do makes people’s lives better. But at the same time, I’m not crazy enough to think that college is the only route to a happy, productive life, and in fact, I’ve met my share of students who would be much happier pursuing their dreams in some other setting. As I tell my creative writing students:

Quick! Where did Shakespeare take his courses in Creative Writing? OK, how about Charles Dickens? Mark Twain? Mickey Spillane?

In many ways, a college degree serves as a sort of measure of ethos, an indicator that someone can follow directions and overcome certain obstacles. But the idea of college-as-credentialing-device is nothing new, and in fact it’s one of the assumptions underlying what many folks are calling the higher education bubble. Lots of people find themselves in college not because they particularly care about what they can learn there, but because it’s a hoop through which they’re expected to jump.

Bingo. This is the problem. And when you work in a high tech field, and the task falls on you to hire your replacement, it rises up and stares you right in the face. It isn’t pretty.

Here is an illustration of what I’m talking about; a crude, high-level illustration. To provide this illustration, I’ll go over some problems that really come up when you’re building something.

One. Everyone is unhappy with this software application. It only barely meets the requirements as envisioned by our customers, and is extremely hard to use. Our developers can’t maintain it effectively. Very simple enhancements require more clock time to implement than it seems they should…and they often have to be re-done. How would you re-factor this? How would you define the scope of such a project? How would you prioritize it?

Two. Your system is undergoing an audit of its security features. You look over the requirements and find some of them are extremely well thought-out, and others don’t seem to make any sense at all. It occurs to you that your system should have an audit process of its own, which should borrow the good ideas from this one, and fill in the gaps where it sucks. Since senior management isn’t expecting such a move, what would you do to lower the cost of implementing such a hairbrained idea?

Three. You are the manager of a bunch of highly creative, talented, resourceful software engineers. Trouble is, they tend to “work in silos” a lot. How do you approach this situation without sucking the fun out of these people’s jobs and giving them a powerful incentive to move on? Maybe you should just leave well enough alone and let the team as a whole work inconsistently and inefficiently? What process would you use here to make these decisions?

I’m citing these examples because they actually come up in an environment where people come together and earn money by building something. I’m also citing these examples because, when they or something like them pop up — and they do — whatever you learned in your college class or your cert program isn’t going to help you a whole lot. They call for what I call “thinking on your feet”; inventing a brand-new process, as opposed to following one.

The biggest difference between inventing a new process versus following an established one, is the criticism. You have to be ready to take it, because you’re coming up with Version 1.00 of something. There are going to be flaws. There will be problems. You need to expect this.

Our over-educated set has this bad reputation of not being able to handle criticism. There’s a reason this bad rep is there. It has been earned. Let’s face it: A lot of the appeal of following an established process, is that if it earns criticism the criticism has to be routed to someone else. It’s easy to get hooked on this. And a lot of people are graduating from higher ed curricula with massive, incurable, lifetime addictions.

As I explained at Bastidge’s place last month,

This starts to become a harmful arrangement when you acknowledge something a lot of engineers don’t want to acknowledge: antithetical skills. Imagine that the job to be done is Sumo wrestling…and the certification process is concerned with a quarter-mile sprint. If you look long enough, you’ll eventually find an awesome wrestler who can also run fast. But you certainly won’t see that often…and at the end of the day, when your team is assembled, you won’t have the best wrestlers you could have.

In fact, what you would expect to see is exactly what we are seeing in the high tech fields and have been seeing for awhile: Talented candidates frustrated they aren’t getting hired; massive expense, lag time and inefficiency in the hiring process; CIOs upset that it has become such a cumbersome process to try to fill these positions.

By “antithetical skills” what I’m referring to is that generally, the folks who are best at passing tests and following written procedures, aren’t good at thinking on their feet. This is a significant problem. The issue that tends to come up in a technical field is something like: Our system was working with component X, now it works with component Y. Create a test Z, with as few moving parts as possible, that you know will pass if Y does X and you also know will fail if Y isn’t working.

It’s kind of heart-breaking watching a bright engineer, just hired on, 100% on all his tests, look up from the task at hand with that blank expression on his face. Doesn’t make him a bad person — in his own way, he’s pretty smart. But when people don’t know how to do something, the most common response is to try to cut corners and avoid doing it. So the new configuration goes untested…which creates a needlessly large expense in terms of $$$ and time.

Now, I don’t know this Thiel character from Adam; I’ve not seen Social Network. Not sure if I will. From what I hear, it’s entertaining, well-done and somewhat informative but may not fully adhere to the truth as we’d know it if we’d personally lived through the relevant events. But as one who’s done okay with a high school diploma and nothing else, I can’t fully support this idea of paying twenty-somethings to skip college. Not unless something is being done to make sure they know what they’re doing. More than I knew about what I was doing when I was that age.

Nevertheless…there absolutely is a higher education bubble. Kids who skipped school can see it’s there, the kids going to school can see it, and they see it all the more clearly after they graduate and start looking for work. The employers trying to figure out who, if anybody, to hire…they can really feel it.

The higher education has been monopolized. Now, I don’t know if Jacob Weisberg is part of that monopoly, or if he only has friends in there. But I know this much: It is sophistry to try to claim the well-blazed trail of Mom-and-Dad’s tuition money being thrown into the black hole of university ed is synonymous with — what does he call it? “Intellectual development.” That is obviously Weisberg’s intent. Obviously, he feels anything outside of that will fail to inspire this intellectual development…and probably isn’t intended to inspire such a thing.

I question whether I’m reading too much between the lines, putting words in his mouth he didn’t intend. Well, guess what: His argument says nothing, if you don’t presume something along the lines of what I just paraphrased as you digest what he’s tried to say. His argument completely depends on the view I just expressed. You have to see a formal college class as the only way to enlightenment, in order to sympathize with what Weisberg is saying, and you have to deny that there is any other alternative.

I’m sure that makes a lot of sense if you have a worldview of “Everything I Ever Needed To Know About Life I Learned In College.” And some people do, I know. But here’s the shocker: That does not make you an educated person. It actually makes you pretty shallow, because real life has a lot to teach us before we reach college, and even more to teach us after we graduate.

And I cannot deny Thiel’s definition of the problem he is trying to solve. Weisberg may want to deny it, but all that tells me is that Weisberg does not represent the people who will make the situation any better. You have to acknowledge a fire exists before you can assemble an effort to put it out.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Not One Word, And I Hope a Polar Bear Eats You

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Had an awesome idea.

This really old ugly guy was staring back at me from my bathroom mirror. He had Beethoven’s hair…at least, in volume. Lots of split ends, and I don’t wanna know what kind of thin spot he had up top. Nick Nolte’s face, and the Ayatollah Khomenei’s eyebrows. You could hide ball-point pens in those things if you tried. Black anti-Obama tee shirt covered with sawdust from the day’s woodworking projects…

Not the picture of a tree hugger by any stretch. And yet I had five CFLs above that mirror. Two of them unscrewed. And, downstairs, my car has four cylinders — so a thought flashed through my right-wing wood-carving old-man-head.

This video might have contributed to that thought. But I had the thought. I have a new campaign in mind.

Next time I’m asked to make a personal sacrifice to save the planet, I want the very first subject in that conversation to be bathroom lighting. I want to know how many light bulbs the enviro-lecturer has in his bathroom. Then I want to know how many of them are unscrewed.

There is no reason for a bathroom to be fully lit. Seriously. If you’re doing that to keep mildew and mold from growing so you don’t have to clean as often, that’s just gross. Nobody in his right mind wants all that light during the two a.m. tinkle…and you damn sure don’t have any call to go lecturing me about conserving to save the planet.

You want to lecture me about saving the planet — you have some light bulbs in your bathroom unscrewed. And your car has four cylinders or less. You do those two things, you can talk. That is all that buys you, the privilege of talking to me. Changing my mind is the next hurdle, and that one might be a bit tougher. But there’s no point you even worrying about that, before you reach the first step.

To say word one — word one — you need to bring those two things. Unscrewed bathroom light bulbs and a four-cylinder car.

Otherwise, not one fucking word and I hope a polar bear eats you.

I like this. I like it a lot. I might have a new tee shirt printed up. A black or dark gray one, for my woodworking projects.

Update: Come to think of it, if you’re going to bitch about tax cuts costing money…aside from qualifying as a clueless dipshit according to Item #7 on my list of ways to give yourself away as one…I want to know how much extra money you’re sending off to the IRS each year since you think it’s so outrageous that your taxes are too low.

Dollars, cents, maybe even the check number and date. Or else Not One Fucking Word And I Hope a Polar Bear Eats You.

Cross-posted at Washington Rebel and Right Wing News.

Best of Al Bundy

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

One of the greatest television characters of all time.

I didn’t realize ’til I stumbled across this there is a certain “critical mass” quality to Al Bundy humor. You have nine straight minutes of the “best of” and it becomes exponentially funnier. Didn’t seem like it when the show was on, because I was freshly divorced, up to my ass in debt, and it kinda hurt.

But even then, with just five seconds of Al Bundy humor at a time, you couldn’t keep a straight face if you tried. And Al Bundy makes a lot of people try. Hard. They stare down on him with that disapproving scolding visage…and it doesn’t work. “With a pepperoni slice in my face and a greasy hooter in my hand” — how can you not crack up at that? Really.

Update: They missed the one moment of Married With Children that made Jefferson d’Arcy an even greater character than Bundy.

You have to fast forward to 9:16. Not that many chuckles on the laugh track, but I think this is completely awesome. We have all known a “guy” like this at some time in our lives, haven’t we fellas? We’ve all known an Al Bundy too, but that guy tends to keep to himself and remain relatively harmless.

What a great show. Even Ted McGinley couldn’t kill it.