Archive for November, 2010

Partial Moratorium

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Her again.

Yeah, she’s in my sidebar as a Wonder Woman pinup, and the better her future prospects, the better it is for the country. At this point, it is an impossibility that she’ll go away like some people want her to…and I’m glad for this. But it’s not healthy for EVERYBODY to be talking about ONE PERSON and to be talking about her ALL the time. We have national secrets scattered far and wide, you might as well load ‘em into a cropduster and dump the payload over the most crowded street in Manhattan. DPRK is up to shenanigans and so is Iran, or have we forgotten this?

From here forward, no more about the Wonder of Wasilla — unless it’s something meaningful. The latest attention-whore who wants us to stop talking about her now! I really mean it! Stomp my feet and hold my breath until you stop talking about her! — this does not merit notice from anybody else, therefore it does not merit notice from us.

And yes, you can take this as criticism against Memeorandum. Have you been checking their scroll for the last two weeks or so? I just gave a fair description of the items pegged up at the top of it, during that timeframe. They need a check-up from the neck-up.

Back to Palin, when she points out something meaningful, or is imploded by the major scandal that has been so breathlessly anticipated by her enemies for over two years straight now. Or, when she turns out to be right about something and the O-Man turns out to be wrong…which is the trigger most likely to get tripped first.

But some whiny pussykins writing a meandering screed — thereby proving she’s relevant AND electable — is not going to get any notice from us for the foreseeable future. This is just stupid. Someone wants attention so they write “Palin Go Away!” and they just…get it? Enough is enough.

Meanwhile, a not-Palin-related (not quite anyway) question for you to mull over. Submitted: Presidents who are anticipated with a sense of “There’s no way he/she can possibly be electable, what a joke”…compared to other Presidents anticipated with a sense of “Aw man, take it to the bank, that’s our next President, he seems so Presidential, just fits into the office like a hand in a glove. Just so qualified.”

Generally, the former turn out to be better Presidents than the latter, after history has jotted down the final page. They are underestimated by their opponents, they tend to win more often when they are challenged (or do the challenging) over some issue, they arrive with a more discernible identity. The issues they confront, after they’ve worked them over, bear an imprint that says “the outcome is distinctly different because this is the person who had the power when the matter was decided.”

They are more fearless and capable leaders, they are less generic. Perhaps this is because they have more to prove.

But we’ve had a lot of people make it to the Oval Office just because they were really good at brooking compromises, giving speeches, selling things…just acting all dignified, and blandly “Presidential.” That, I submit, has been a long-standing failure. They weren’t even good at staying popular over the long term. Like the suitor of a young lady who tries to woo her over by agreeing with everything — “Oh, whatever you want to do.” The matters that couple decide together, reach an outcome without bearing his imprint, and his paramour becomes bored. That’s the American electorate. Without leadership, decisiveness, an individual imprint, there’s no reason to stay enthused and the presidency ends with a whimper rather than a bang.

My supposition is that all these gentlemen who have seemed “natural” for the office — with the exception of George Washington — have been fated for this pathetic legacy. I’ve seen just enough history to toss that one out there…it will take some research to prove it out some more (although I believe that it would).

Discuss.

Update 12/1/2010: Tammy Bruce notes the irony: To take Scarborough’s screed seriously, you need to re-define “manning up” as having something to do with getting together with the other boys, and beating up on the girl just because you don’t like her being there. Third graders have a better grasp of the manning-up concept.

“It’s Impossible for Hillary Clinton to Continue as Secretary of State”

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Slate:

To be fair to Clinton, she isn’t the first secretary of state to issue cables telling U.S. foreign service officers to spy on other diplomats. According to the leaked diplomatic cables, Condoleezza Rice likewise instructed State Department diplomats to collect such intelligence, and I wouldn’t be surprised if previous secretaries of state encouraged if not instructed their diplomats to push information-collection all the way to intelligence-gathering.

But what makes Clinton’s sleuthing unique is the paper trail that documents her spying-on-their-diplomats-with-our-diplomat orders, a paper trail that is now being splashed around the world on the Web and printed in top newspapers. No matter what sort of noises Clinton makes about how the disclosures are “an attack on America” and “the international community,” as she did today, she’s become the issue. She’ll never be an effective negotiator with diplomats who refuse to forgive her exuberances, and even foreign diplomats who do forgive her will still regard her as the symbol of an overreaching United States. Diplomacy is about face, and the only way for other nations to save face will be to give them Clinton’s scalp.
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How embarrassing are the WikiLeaks leaks? A secret cable from April 2009 that went out under Clinton’s name instructed State Department officials to collect the “biometric data,” including “fingerprints, facial images, DNA, and iris scans,” of African leaders. Another secret cable directed American diplomats posted around the world, including the United Nations, to obtain passwords, personal encryption keys, credit card numbers, frequent flyer account numbers, and other data connected to diplomats. As the Guardian puts it, the cables “reveal how the US uses its embassies as part of a global espionage network.”

Pretty big stuff. Salon isn’t exactly a mouthpiece of agenda-driven Mellon-funded neocons, by any stretch. If it does shake out this way you can forget all about Hillary in 2012, and likely in 2016 as well. Or afterward.

Good riddance. I hear so much about…ah…a certain other woman being “unqualified” and Hillary, from the moment I first heard about her, has always been given a pass. The idea of an eight-year-term as First Lady being some kind of useful experience is one I have always found laughable…and it has not escaped my notice that Hillary seems to have a person or party to indict, in some way, whenever she talks about anything.

Even looking past the right-wing left-wing politics of the situation, I just think the world has become too complex to be engaged by any authority figure whose modus operandi is to find blame for every little thing. There are problems out there that just…are. Nobody caused ‘em. They still need to be addressed, and blame is not leadership.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying: The world will be a better place when her public “service” career comes to a permanent end. Let her make oodles of money on the lecture circuit, where she will surely use more spurious arguments to blame more people for more things. But, there, she will be just another bucket in a vast, toxic ocean. That’s where she belongs. Let her stand in line, peddling her ideas, pocketing some big coin for doing it. Better that than legislating or executing any actual policy. I’d love to hear the argument about how that’s done us any good.

Your Obligatory “Woman Wears Bikini Through TSA Checkpoint” Post

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Hat tip to Viral Footage, by way of Linkiest.

Why…the HELL…not. There’s a little bit of attention-whore behavior around 0:58, other than that it looks like what I think it is: An individual, in it for herself, determined to spend absolutely as little time as possible in that detestable place while still following the rules.

I’ve worn gym pants and tee shirts for this, for the same reason. Before that, I went the other way: Dressed to the nines, since I’m going on a business trip after all. But that’s stupid. Nobody is seeing you until the next day…there’s metal in the belt buckle, metal in the shoes, metal, metal, everywhere.

You dress the part. If they like you, they’ll wave you on through when they get bored…if they hate you, they’ll wave you on through when they run out of excuses. She’s figured out a creative and visually appealing way to deprive them of excuses.

And you know what? These days, that is probably the most boring swimsuit a size six can buy. Solid black, covers up all the essentials modestly. I’d like to meet anyone who has a problem with this — and stay far, far away from them.

At 1:03, it seems she is being given some instructions just for her. That, my friends, pisses me off. She is not under any requirement whatsoever to take this process seriously. Nor am I, nor are you. Nor are we required to refrain from using our resourcefulness in the way the Good Lord intended, to make the experience easier for ourselves.

“The United States does not have a security system; it has a system for bothering people.” — Shlomo Dror, Israeli air-security expert.

Best Sentence CIV

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Yup, we’re talkin’ about her again. I’ve half a mind to call a moratorium on Palin-related matters…and I would…but I got a feeling we’re witnessing some kind of thermonuclear meltdown among the Palin haters. No, worse than that. Some X-wing fighter has lobbed a photon torpedo into the small exhaust port in their trench.

William Jacobson:

[A]s I reflect back on the past two plus years since Palin’s nomination, I’m wondering if an all-out, knock-down, drag-out fight with the Palin haters is just what this country needs most, not least.

You really need to go read that one in context. It’s a paradigm shift from another idea, one I happen to find quite reasonable, that when President Obama stands for re-election, the focus of that election needs to be Obama. He’s most likely to lose that way, which would be good for the country; and, it’s fitting and proper.

Some of the Palin-bashers are Republicans, and they make the point that a Palin candidacy would jeopardize this. I think they’re right. I just don’t find the argument convincing, because it’s incomplete. It identifies a problem without identifying a solution. And it allows the enemy to pick the generals. Who ya gonna reject as “unqualified” next…whoever the democrats don’t want to run against? How far you want to take this?

All of life is like this. You can act because you’re tired of the infestation, or you can (not) act because you’re afraid of the insecticide. Determination to solve the problem, or fear of the remedy. Didn’t Yoda say something about this? “Do, or do not; there is no try.”

But the Palin haters, whatever funny jokes they manage to cook up about Palin…

They make up tales about Palin’s childhood health care, whether she had a boob job, make jokes about her giving hand jobs, claim she “rolled her eyes” when told someone was a teacher, examine the color of her bracelet to claim she dishonored war dead, falsely claim she advocated war with Iran, distort polling about her, attack her intelligence, berate her for recommending followers read a Thomas Sowell column, move next door to her to snoop on her, go after a blogger who defends her on MSNBC, claim her success is because men are aroused by her, go nuts because of her (first) book tour including counting the number of non-white people in crowds, blame her for a turkey farmer’s problems, suggest she contributed to a swine flu outbreak in Alaska, turn her into a pin-up girl for a news magazine, misrepresent her comment about “death panels,” claim she is “too sexy” to be a national politician, concoct the hoax that she didn’t know Africa was a continent, and hang her in effigy

…are a much, much bigger problem than she is.

And you know what? I think that would show. I could be wrong, but at this point I’d bet on it.

Hat tip to The Other McCain.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

I liked it. Didn’t agree with all of it, but I saw a lot of wisdom in what was being pointed out by Rich Dad. This outlook he was talking about, is something I’ve been noticing in the rich people I’ve known, for a very long time. They don’t see people and money the same way “normal” people do.

I’ve yet to become one of them…of course, that’s relative, and some people would say I’m well ensconced into their ranks, especially in these trying times. But I have made a point of figuring out these different things they do, and emulating what few behaviors of theirs I’m in a position to emulate. It has always proven satisfactory, not only for me but for everyone else involved as well.

Kiyosaki has been criticized for, among other things, the supposition that Rich Dad is not and never was a real person. And, some people who write for Slate don’t like the ideas in his book. Take that in whatever way you will.

My son and I made a pact that we would make a point of listening to this, beginning to end, during the long ride to his mother’s. I cannot give this “book” a thumbs-up on every single page, but I would characterize this arrangement, in hindsight, as a very strong win. Whatever conclusion you reach, this is what fathers and sons should be discussing during the teenage and pre-teenage years. Maybe earlier than that.

Memo For File CXXVII

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

If you know me personally, and you’ve been trying to figure out if I survived the hilarious misadventures last night & early this morning, rest assured I am still among the living. Just getting ready to check out of Shilo in downtown Elko.

Very high marks for this hotel. I’m trying to figure out how the stay was not perfect, and I do have one flaw: The coffee pot is a cheapass model that doesn’t allow you to sneak your first cup until the entire pot is brewed. Yeah, I know. All the hotels do this, including the nice ones. But why? The sneak-a-cup feature ranks high on the lest of desired benefits to the weary traveler, especially the road warrior who was snapping chains on his vehicle after midnight the night before, and seeks to acquire command of a reasonably early jump on the next day nevertheless. That is the target clientele is it not? The story is — yesterday took a whole lot out of me, I need to bring a lot to this coming day…need a good hotel. So c’mon. Spend more than eight bucks on the fucking coffee pot. Sneak-a-cup feature.

But still, if that’s my only complaint then it’s a damn good room for seventy bucks. Kitchenette and everything. How come it isn’t this hard to find a problem when my lady is traveling with me? No, no, don’t say it…when she says the maid is doing a shitty job, there really is a problem and someone should be complaining about it. Well, there are no hairballs in this tub.

I got stuck in the backroads. I’ll take the fall for that one…kinda…since my tires were sans chains when they should not have been. But it’s crap that I have to go tootling around back there. We now have a “sixteen hundred son-of-a-bitch” rule — Morgan has to do all 1600 of the miles, down-back-down-back, nobody helping even one single inch, he turns into one and it is to be expected. The Mom is feeling guilty, which I think she should, and I’m exploiting it to the hilt. I’d think poorly of the man who would not.

So Morgan doesn’t do all 1600. Maybe he’ll do all 800 on one trip, if he gets some assistance on the 800 in the other. And on the extraordinarily rare occasions he ever has to come this far…send a fucking taxi to the Starbucks that’s just off the highway exit. Maybe I’ll sit with him. Share one last coffee & bear claw.

This, like the shopping experience, is metaphorical for the society in which we live. Some people make the decision they need lots and lots and lots of help…they’re allowed to…and because of this decision, the vast abundance of resources available to help those in need, are directed toward the benefit of a very few. And then it isn’t a few. The “I need help” crowd expands, the magnitude of help they require expands, the efficiency with which the help is given plummets downward. Then, things start to not get done. The process breaks down, and worst of all, everyone has a story to tell about how it’s all somebody else’s fault. Last night I ended up stranded because I helped somebody, and helped some more, and more, until I needed help myself because I did too much helping. This is not a new thing. “Kidzmom” and I have had this thing going on for awhile, and it’s a little bit like Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football. That just pisses me off even more.

To be honest, that’s probably the major irritant. I keep getting suckered into enabling this.

I don’t really have that much passion about this child-exchange thing…or…I shouldn’t. We’ve got a year or two to go before he can ride the train all by himself. The lesson, is the sultry, seductive slithery creepiness of this “A must help B because A can do it and B cannot” stuff. Some of these A’s, poor stupid bastards, are under the impression they’re being paid some kind of compliment and come galloping in on a white horse, armor all polished. That used to be me; now I’m in another camp of A, the A that recognizes the mission is simply not going to be accomplished any other way so you might as well do what needs to be done. Our sin, our downfall, is that we fail to spot alternatives. We are bamboozled until someone comes along to tell us “that shouldn’t be necessary, it could be worked out by means of this alternative.” I blame my/our upbringing. We were raised to think, if you expected this to take an hour and it turns out to take two, or ten, then quit your whining and snap to it. If it requires more effort then that’s all the more reason for you to get started earlier and work faster (and dumber).

Still another camp of A is the calculating businessman, whose numbers tell him that bowing to the pressure is the right way to go, because it is the path of least resistance. These are the businesses who settle lawsuits that are obviously stupid. There’s no use arguing with them, because they have the research that says this is the “right thing to do”; it’s proper, sturdy research, and more research will just lead to the same conclusion.

But as they continue their appeasement, even with the legalese that says “indemnify and hold blameless” and “we admit no wrongdoing,” the wave of appeasement in total creates something very ugly that cannot be blamed on any one of the parts that make it up. This is why we have a litigious society. This is why you have one surfer dude suing another surfer dude for stealing his wave.

In a land where the strong are punished and the weak are rewarded…there will be less strength and more weakness. I don’t understand why this is so hard to figure out.

I also don’t understand something else: What the heck happened here. As I’ve pointed out before, lefties tend to lead with the outrage, which sometimes — a whole lot of the time, actually — makes it tough to figure out what the facts are that are supposed to inspire the outrage. This is a rather extreme example, one that I hope HuckUpChuck makes the time to go check out. I’d be interested in seeing what happens, since I’ve found Huck to be much more reasonable in noodling these things out than Mr. Darrell. In fact, I’d like lots of people to go check it out. Frankly, I could use some help figuring out what happened. The Salon article spends copious amounts of space telling me what I should think, who’s wonderful, who’s a monster, and I have to read way down to find out what started it all. Ditto for the New Republic piece, which is riddled with errors, mostly grammatical.

Interesting, since the issue seems to have something to do with failing to pay teachers the proper saintly respect. James O’Keefe misled people with some of his films? Gov. Christie is a bad person just for saying something positive, or non-negative, about the O’Keefe film? Wow, these people must really hate Michael Moore a whole lot! Yeah, I kid.

Once you open yourself up to the truth of what is happening, you see human history is really just one long repetition of the same story. Weak thinkers do their thinking by figuring out who is to be a valid focus of sympathy and who is not…and from that, figuring out which ideas are right and which ideas are wrong, based on which identities have become fastened to the ideas. It is childlike thinking. And while this happens, the weak and incapable…or those who choose to represent themselves that way…are made the focus of sympathy, along with those who build their livelihoods around bringing those people “the help that they need.”

Those who actually supply the help — not administrate it, not regulate it, not direct it, but personally go without something so the help can be given — are excluded from this Cone of Sympathy. They — we, the A’s — are made into non-persons. That isn’t to say we’re persecuted. What it means is, the proposed solution to any given problem, is consistently designed to arrive at a cost to us, and at no cost to anybody else. Sometimes, in the case of progressive income taxes, inheritance taxes, corporate income taxes, the cost to us is a primary objective. Other times, the primary objective is the lack of cost to anybody else — absolute zero cost. No compromise is possible, or is to be allowed. Like last night; the drop-off point had to be on the front doorstep, it couldn’t be anywhere else.

This is what’s happening with our medical care. We have “co-pays” which are absolutely, positively, nothing more than a “skin in the game” device, an acknowledgment that the entire system will spiral out of control if one side can demand services while laboring under absolutely no burden whatsoever. So they labor under a token burden just to address this reality…and…there is agitation. Yes, much of the political pressure comes from the issue of losing coverage through unemployment & under-employment. But the constant refrain of “health care is a right!” must draw a bead on the co-pay, must it not? It has to. Can’t charge a fee for a “basic right.” The point is, all those within the Cone of Sympathy enjoy the privilege of demanding “change,” with a goodly measure of momentum behind the demand, whenever they’re inconvenienced. Or just “offended.” Even a little tiny bit.

The public is conditioned to see this as right and proper: One side should always pay, the other side never should. If we, the payers, protest, the protest is portrayed as whining. If someone else protests on our behalf, or the hell with us, just protests against the general stupidity of it…that is portrayed as being “dumb,” “duped” or a “shill.”

Meanwhile…people do not become what they want to become, they become what they watch. They become whatever is the focus of their attention. Society becomes bored with watching the strong, because to emulate the strong you have to get up off your ass and do things that aren’t all comfy. Like put chains on your car in the middle of the night, lying on your back, in a foot of snow.

And so society focuses on the weak and non-productive. It remains ignorant of the strong, who provide that society with all of the things it wants and needs. It remains ignorant, and it teaches its children to be similarly ignorant. It chastises, scolds, excoriates, ridicules those who would pay attention to them, let alone want to become them. Meanwhile, here are your daily newspaper headlines about the weak people who rely on government services, and the crisis developing because the nameless, faceless, anonymous, evil rich are not being taxed enough.

What happens next, to a strong, capable, adult mind, should be obvious. But, through this degeneration, society loses that as well. We learn to nurture weak, childlike minds. “Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub” minds.

It’s not supposed to be a problem. Because the higher taxes fall on that other guy, as does the punitive and risible litigation. It’s all somebody else’s headache, so there’s something wrong with you if you pay attention to it. Just shut up, direct your scorn where we tell you to direct it, and direct your sympathies where we tell you to direct that. Do it, or we’ll make a monster out of you, too.

Peace Protest Turns Violent

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Jammie Wearing Fool:

You can’t make this stuff up.

Six people were arrested and one officer used pepper spray as Irvington police tried to break up a peace rally that authorities say turned into a melee.

Township Police Chief Michael Chase said the dust-up started Wednesday night when members of Newark’s Anti-Violence Coalition were holding a rally in memory of the victims of a double homicide on Myrtle Avenue last week.
:
Six people were arrested on several charges including obstruction of justice and resisting arrest. Sharif Amenhotep faces the most serious allegation, a charge of inciting a riot. [emphasis Jammie's]

One of the many tragedies of the times in which we live, doomed to be recalled by future generations the way we look back on bedside medicinal bloodletting with leeches, is the “peaceful” protest. Really, anything having to do with “raising awareness” of something. People act in ways that directly contradict the message they seek to spread around, unaware of the irony, perhaps never becoming aware of it. Rock concerts to raise awareness of global warming, that would be another good example.

Our children’s children are going to say “Eh…it was still within a hundred years of the radio being invented…people were exposed to the possibility of gaining attention on a magnitude beyond their comprehension, and they couldn’t handle it…” They’ll see it as something just like when some people win the lottery, and their lives are ruined because they can’t handle the success. Our species needs a couple of centuries to become accustomed to the miracle of instantaneous mass communication, and we’re only about seventy or eighty years in, still stumbling awkwardly.

Of course, that’s a blogger saying that, so there’s some irony right there I suppose.

Faster

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

A shattered man who’s lost someone close to him and becomes an avenging angel of death. It’s been done over and over again, but it never seems to get old.

The direction and the acting save this one. There is very little in it that’s original, and much that is not. At times it seems like someone got hold of my list of things I do not want to see in movies ever again, and just ran right through it checking things off. They even managed to hit #25…awkwardly. Although it’s baseball in this one and not soccer.

It has a couple of twists in it that take themselves way too seriously. The first one I didn’t call, although I was mulling it over in my head, because I just didn’t care that much…and the second one anybody with a working brain will see a mile away. It would have been a better movie if those were just left out — although I imagine, then, you’re left without much of a story.

But nobody is buying tickets for that. They’re there to watch Dwayne Johnson become a grief-driven unstoppable murdering machine, and The Rock delivers. Oh yes, that was the best part of the movie.

That aside, Kill Bill was better because a part of it was making fun of itself as it went along. And of other spectacles that had come before, parodying while it simultaneously paid homage. This one is guilty of representing its story as original, when it isn’t. It isn’t a felony in movie-land but it’s certainly a misdemeanor.

Well. At least nobody ducked down behind an open car door to block large-caliber bullets (#32), yelled loudly to make machine guns work better (#41) or opened a medicine cabinet with a mirror on the door (#8). Also, to the best I could see, not a single gun was fired more times than its magazine or cylinder capacity, unless it was reloaded (#31). Credit for that.

Overall, there are quantities of Give-A-Damn in this movie. I was supposed to go out and get a popcorn refill, and I didn’t…why? Because I wanted to see what was happening next. On the strength of that alone, it deserves a thumbs-up. Let’s say three stars out of four. We paid evening ticket prices and I’m not feeling particularly ripped-off about it. Although, if you can set yourself up for a matinee, that would probably be a better match. Still, it’s better than a “wait for video” movie I suppose.

Timeout

Friday, November 26th, 2010

A certain department store, one of very few where I have bothered to open a charge account, is offering 15% off until Sunday. Since my girlfriend has a heart of gold she spent a good chunk of time last night trying to nab up some clothes for my kid off the website, but the website was too stupid to comprehend that she wanted the clothes shipped to his Mother’s place and the bill sent to us. So it fell to me & the kid to go in and take care of it while she went to her job today.

On the way there I thought to myself…duh…hey…waitaminnit, today’s Black Friday.

Time in: 11:30 a.m.
Goods picked out: 11:55 a.m.
Time in the checkout line: 11:55 a.m.

That’s as far as we got. By 1:15 p.m. I declared the line had made inadequate progress to justify sticking with this plan, and we came home to attend to our chores. We have a very light workload today, but the long and the short of it is this: I don’t see why we spent all that time to work our way 25 feet. That’s three minutes plus something per foot. The math — it doesn’t add up.

It just reeks of the kind of experience that has degenerated to a certain depth, because & only because people tolerate it.

Black FridayThere was only one time that I saw a sales associate pair up with another sales associate, to march out onto the sales floor and help ONE customer find something. But you know what? That’s enough to get me pissed. This other shopper, and pardon me but I think we were every bit as important as she was, made up her mind she had to have something but couldn’t find it, and needed help. Precisely what we encourage people to do all over the place. Ask for help when you need it. The associate she found, didn’t know the answer. He went and got someone who did. Together, the two of them completed her shopping experience. Everyone did everything “right.”

Except that’s two people who could have been working a register. This is why I think this is a good metaphor for life in America. We’ve got people who are determined to get everything, nevermind how much help they need. Other people are determined to find what they need without any help at all, even if they have to settle for fewer things. Supposedly, the “I need help” people are doing things right and the “I don’t need help” people are doing things wrong.

But…that help that everyone needs…like ringing up the sale…when you are ready for it, it isn’t there. People are spread too thin. So some very mundane everyday tasks are demanding a whole lot of time, to the point where they can’t reasonably get done.

Time out of everybody, regardless of which path they chose.

We bagged it. Abandoned the mission. To the best I can see, we were the only ones to do this. And I cannot understand why. I understand why we didn’t quite find what we wanted in the first place; we breezed on in late in the morning, on a day when shopping starts at 4 or 5 in the morning. And I can (kind of) see why people think of this as a refreshing, energizing experience — if they do that. Time seems to pass differently at different times of the day. If you happen to like shopping, I can see it might be an effervescent experience to ring in the Christmas shopping season with a 4:00 run to the store, followed by a 7:30 breakfast at Denny’s or whatever.

But I cannot understand three hours in line at one store. No matter what day of the year it is. I don’t care if you’re buying a fucking kidney. And I’m proud as hell of my fellow Americans who are standing up to the TSA and saying “no more”; but I don’t understand why the same thing isn’t happening with retail shopping. I’ll tell you this — it’s happened with me. I’ve reached my “timeout value.” Any network software application is supposed to have a timeout, that way if one network component locks up, the entire network isn’t gridlocked. Peers wait for responses from other peers, and if they don’t get it within a specified window, they generate errors. Your browser does this. If the web site doesn’t respond, it times out. That’s where I went. Timeout.

This economy is on a death spiral. “Black Friday” is one chance, one of very few chances, for it to get back on track. If there’s one thing this country does not need, it is for every man, woman and child’s retail shopping experience to take three hours, in one store, just because that’s part of the ambiance. How many people would have made it off Titanic if the line to the lifeboats moved like that?

Punch it up, swipe the card, print the receipt, and bag it all. Move on to the next customer, then keep on going. What’s the problem?

As for me and the kid, we’ll just have to find a different way to get ‘er done.

Saw a lady jogger run against our green light, risking her neck to save a few seconds. After we just got done waiting eighty minutes for nuthin’. There’s Folsom for you: Whoever’s willing to do some waiting, ends up having to do ALL of the waiting while everyone else just sort of glides right on through. I’m starting to remember why January is my favorite month for getting the hell out of the city and sitting in a hot tub, naked as the day I was born, by the ocean with a curvy woman of cheerful demeanor and a bottle of freshly-bought wine. I’m recalling why the same experience in the summer months, relatively speaking, is wasted on me. The suburban living has a way of wounding me all throughout the calendar year, and the holiday season rubs salt into it.

Eighty minutes to move twenty-five feet. And we had a good forty more feet to go. I just can’t get over it. I’m still going to be thinking about it, tonight, when I’m supposed to be sleeping. I can tell that right now.

Polling Numbers Point to Obama’s Defeat in 2012

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Byron York writes in The Examiner:

We’re fast approaching the halfway point in Barack Obama’s term. With Nov. 2 behind him, everything the president does will be calculated to boost, or at least not harm, his chances of re-election in 2012. What’s not clear is whether he fully appreciates how badly the coalition he led to victory in 2008 has frayed in just two years. A look inside his poll numbers suggests that if he cannot turn around some key trends, he’ll be a one-term president.

Just look at the exit polls from 2008, which reveal the demographic contours of Obama’s support. Compare those with Gallup’s weekly analysis of the president’s approval rating, drawn from multiple polls broken down by age, gender, political philosophy, and the like. Throw in some insights from the midterm elections, and the mix shows a dramatic deterioration in Obama’s 2008 support. “His majority coalition is not there,” says Republican pollster David Winston. “What he put together, at least in the way he put it together, just isn’t there.”

Start with voters who call themselves independents. Obama won 52 percent of them in 2008; now, according to Gallup, he is at 42 percent. Obama’s party as a whole fared even worse among independents in the midterms, losing them to Republicans by 19 points. If Obama does anywhere near that badly in 2012, he’ll lose.

Next, women. In 2008, Obama won 56 percent of female voters. Today, he’s at 49 percent. If that number doesn’t improve, he’ll be in deep trouble. (Obama is also down with men, from 49 percent in 2008 to 44 percent now.)

Even younger voters, a key part of Obama’s coalition, are peeling away. In ’08, Obama won 66 percent of voters 18-29 years of age. Now, he’s at 58 percent. That might seem pretty good, but not when you consider his deterioration among other age groups. Obama has dropped 5 percentage points among voters in and around middle age, and 8 percent with voters above 65. If those trends continue, he’ll lose.

Obama, His reputation aside, is not a formidable candidate. The “formidable” part has to do with His skills, and His strength profile is actually exceedingly narrow and comes down to a singular specialty: He can make things look like things they really aren’t.

People who specialize in this do not become stronger as they remain in the limelight, because as they are better known, the one candle-flame that illuminates their entire suite of useful skills is gradually extinguished. Yes, He does have an air of “sophistication” about Him, or something that looks like sophistication. But at this point, why should we even bother to debate whether there’s something there or not? Why even go there?

The sophistication is being used to sell us things we would not otherwise buy, because these are things that are bad for us. It is not being used for any other purpose. Is it? Doesn’t it all come down to an ability to close sales with us that otherwise would not happen — by arresting a rational evaluation of the cost/benefit of the sale that would otherwise take place? Isn’t that all Obama has to offer when you get down to it?

Oh yeah, he’s black. Half-black. And He’s unusually brazen about His hostility against the free enterprise system, more likely than most past Presidents to sell us on legislation and executive orders that attack it. But like I said before, “Can’t we find a black President who isn’t so communist-ey?” His unusually consistent predilection for backing policies that inflict harm on the free enterprise system, comes from that one magical superpower to make things look like the opposite of what they truly are. So in a way, that doesn’t count. And having black skin has turned out to be nothing more than a gimmick to shut up dissenting voices by calling them racist. Which, when you think about it, is also derivative of that one special superpower.

Our First Holy President has only one thing to offer us, and more and more among us are waking up to the fact that it’s a toxic thing. Generally, voters don’t “un-figure-out” things. So when I hear this talk about “The Republicans are dead unless they can nominate someone who can take on OBAMA!”, lately I have begun to tune out. It’s not like picking out the right rocket launcher to take out King Kong. From what I’m seeing here, transparency is key. Obama has a shot against anyone who arrives and says “I have a plan…trust me…I’ll get this economy back on its feet, but I’m not going to tell you how. You need to elect me to find out what I’m going to do.”

But if the challenger is open and honest, and says something like “Businesses aren’t hiring because we’ve made it evil to make money, they don’t trust the government, they don’t want to make themselves into targets…I intend to change all that” — Obama can order the moving truck right there & then.

He’s poison to our economy, we can all feel it, more and more people are willing to admit it. None of that is going to change. America’s history of re-electing Presidents who are bad for the economy, is thin, threadbare, practically non-existent. Don’t get cocky? Anybody who bothers to vote is as un-cocky as they need to be. This guy’s toast.

Seven Movie Badasses That Fail to Deliver

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Ah, yes! Like having an itch under a cast finally scratched. Cracked:

Movies need you to be scared of the bad guy and impressed by the badass. The method for getting you to buy into this is often the same: by looking the part, and by having other characters go on and on about how badass someone is.

But often when it comes time for said badass to actually, you know, fight somebody, he tends to be profoundly disappointing — even if nobody else in the movie notices.

Yes, yes, yes. We’re supposed to think a designated character can really bring it, but when it’s showtime…

Nothing. Boba Fett doesn’t do a goddamn thing. Somehow people forget that.

Yeah that is a crime of some kind. But then again, it’s a little unfair having Quint on this list isn’t it? The “build-up” is a cat-and-mouse game in the second half of the movie, which is what made it great. And yeah, Quint smashed the radio and fried the motor, thus reducing his two shipmates into floating shark food. But that was his role. It’s the classic Pandora’s Box situation in great movies: “Uh oh, we’ve unleashed this force we cannot control, maybe that wasn’t such a swell idea.”

I count Muldoon, also, as a character that brought what he was supposed to bring. It’s a situation where one character’s purpose is entirely spent building up the properties of another character, which is an entirely valid move. The monsters of the island, you see, are just as intelligent as we are, and they’re really, really sneaky. Now, I’ll grant that the audience should figure this out when the raptors have started opening doors. But that happens during the final climactic battle, so that’s a bit late isn’t it? It’s the classic Thunderball two-bomb rule: The unthinkable disaster that doesn’t quite take place at the end, should be foreshadowed by the smaller, somewhat tolerable disaster that actually does, sometime earlier. Blood had to be shed. And hey, once again, that was this character’s designated purpose. He was a stormtrooper out of Star Wars. Just happened to have some speaking lines.

As for Scarecrow and Fett — yes, definitely. Maybe Bishop, too; I do recall feeling somewhat disappointed over that. And the others I just don’t care about.

I’ll have to think of some additions to this as time permits…

“True Love Roast”

Friday, November 26th, 2010

DailyMail.co.uk:

Anne [Petch], who runs the Heal Farm shop near Kings Nympton, said: “The True Love Roast has a bird for each of the 12 days of Christmas.

“It uses skinless breast meat from several birds of each species with flavours that work well together.”

The roast contains turkey, goose, chicken, pheasant, partridge, pigeon squab, Aylesbury duck, Barbary duck, poussin, guinea fowl, mallard-and quail with herb and fruit stuffings.

Anne added: “It takes about 45 minutes to build the roast. However, it takes at least three hours before that to bone the birds and another couple of days to make all the stuffings.

Hat tip to one of my Hello-Kitty-of-blogging friends, who graciously opines, “fuck a turducken.”

TurBaconDuckEn 2010

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Click to embiggen.

The lady of the house, who was allowed to sleep in thanks to my diligent efforts, noted that the whole big ball o’ meat was all done by 1pm at 325 degrees. She further notes that this is roughly what happened last year.

This year, though, I think we’ll have twice as many pot pies to give away.

There’s some guy on the teevee named Judge Joe Brown. I’m thankful Judge Brown has his job and seems to like it. As far as I’m concerned he can keep it.

Thankful for friends, for family, and for my blogger pals.

Phil’s post impresses me.

As does Buck‘s. As far as I’m concerned, he is fully qualified for this job and I don’t care if the reference to “Mr. Thompson” is lost on him.

Neo-Neocon.

Mark.

Daphne.

Andy.

Rick and Ron.

Irish Cicero.

Pirate William.

Bob Belvedere.

Gerard.

I have so many friends and I’m thankful for all of them. I’ll update this as I think of some more, and check out their Thanksgiving posts. I mean no slight to those who I forgot…there are so many, hope you don’t take it personally.

One last thing:

“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

Update: Found a better compilation of the original…

Update: Per the request/demand of Buck, in the comments, click to embiggen this montage of after-cooking Turbaconduckeney goodness:

Lost Thanksgiving Lesson

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Stossel tells the tale one more time:

The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally.

That’s why they nearly all starved.

When people can get the same return with less effort, most people make less effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property. Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. This went on for two years.

“So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented,” wrote Gov. William Bradford in his diary. The colonists, he said, “began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, (I) (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land.”

In other words, the people of Plymouth moved from socialism to private farming. The results were dramatic.

“This had very good success,” Bradford wrote, “for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many.”

Andrew Sullivan is upset about this.

Thank God the famously capitalistic Native Americans were there to share with the pilgrims bounty from their private plots of land, tilled as if by the invisible hand itself.

He hasn’t much else to say, just complaining about people saying stuff, with a sarcastic sign-off. We could call it a “debunking” but we would have to re-define what it means to debunk something. The irony is, Andrew Sullivan is illustrating how a collectivist-oriented ideology warps one’s thinking into a prerational shape: You are to be persuaded to reject an idea, with the revelation that one or several among your peers happens to dislike it.

I’m all done researching this, as I’ve already looked into the details in two or three Thanksgivings past. Stossel’s recital of them (to the best I can recall) are accurate. And you don’t need to look into history to ascertain that people work better and harder when they personally enjoy the fruits of victory and bear the burdens of failure. Pretty obvious, really.

Speaking of word definitions, I was thinking of creating a “Sully” as a noun to describe someone who likes to put contentious ideas out on the Internet where they can be seen by as many people as possible…including ideas in the spirit of “that guy is wrong and me and all my friends are right, take my word for it”…and refuses to allow comments under such screeds.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. I’ll have the holiday post up as soon as I upload the pre-dawn TurBaconDuckEn cooking photos.

Update: Reason.tv has looked into it as well, and put together this video which makes me contente:

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Hack Thirty

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Salon.

The War Room Hack Thirty is a list of our least favorite political commentators, newspaper columnists and constant cable news presences, ranked roughly (but only roughly) in order of awfulness and then described rudely. Criteria for inclusion included writing the same column every week for 30 years, warmongering, joyless repetition of conventional wisdom, and making bad puns.

I do enjoy watching people get picked on for repeating opinions, particularly passionless, tired opinions, and trying to claim credit for them.

Richard Cohen was placed in the Number One spot. Good choice.

The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen has been a columnist since 1976. He’s good friends with Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn. He works one day a week. At a certain point, in that exceptionally privileged and cushy position, his brain disintegrated. He’s not so much an old liberal who grew conservative as he is a simplistic old hack who believes his common prejudices to be politically incorrect truths and his Beltway conventional wisdom to be bracing political insight.

As a warmonger, I must take issue with the criteria though. Any time a war starts, it’s an entirely valid opinion to have, that there might have been a way to avert the war — although you might not agree with this yourself. Most of the time, the same goes for the opinion that the war was unavoidable. A lot of the time that position will be deserving of a certain respect, even from people who disagree. Although I can’t say “always,” some wars are just stupid. And I suppose there are always going to be people living during every war who insist this war is one of the stupid ones.

But “hack,” to me, just means one thing: You get paid to write something; you finish up this sample of your lifetime chosen craft, this representation of your workmanship, and you hand it in without saying to yourself “okay, does this justify someone throwing down some hard coin to pick up a copy of the product in which my work appears?” You don’t ask yourself that question, you make a habit of not asking yourself that question — and it shows. That’s a hack.

And you’re hackier when you’re oblivious to this. You say something tiresome and tedious like, um, let’s say…”Dick Cheney reminds me of Darth Vader.” And then by your words and actions communicate the expectation that you are to be congratulated for this searing insight and fresh humor. Gah. Makes me barf a little in my mouth just thinking about it.

For twenty years I have made it a hard rule that wherever I am living, I should buy the primarily-representative local newspaper at least once a week. But over the last five or ten, I’ve let that slide. And it’s not because of the Internet. It’s a quality issue. Newspapers…in fact, pretty much all printed media…have deteriorated into pamphlets that say the same thing over and over again: Such-and-such a social need has been increasing, women & minorities hardest hit, and there’s no money in the kitty. It’s not like I want to hang on to the two dollars, it’s more like I just can’t seem to find the time. It’s a one-note dirge that never seems to change in tone or rhythm.

The list must be print-media only. Can’t see any other reason why Bill Maher would not be on there.

START Treaty

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Fox News:

A Republican senator alarmed by the Obama administration’s cooperation with Russia on a missile defense agreement says he has the votes to reject a nuclear arms reduction treaty that has been a top priority of the White House.

An aide to Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona told Fox News on Wednesday that the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty won’t pass during the lame-duck session, potentially dealing a death blow to the deal, which faces Republican opposition in the Senate that is expected to grow next year when the party gains six seats.

Many Republican lawmakers are concerned that Obama has improperly linked missile defense and arms control.

Someone explain arms reduction to me. I’ve not understood this since the SALT days…and in all that time I’ve never gotten a warm fuzzy feeling that anybody else gets it either.

A guy might not have a gun…and want to do you harm.

Another guy might have a gun, and not want to do you harm. In fact, if he has the gun and you aren’t harmed yet, that’s likely to be the case.

So since armed people may not have malevolent intentions…and unarmed people might very well have some…this establishes that the possession of arms is a property that is non-correlative with the readiness and willingness to bring harm. And, for that matter, with the threat level.

If the readiness and willingness and threat level of a person or party does not descend, commensurate with that person or party’s stockpile…then what t’heck are we doin’? We haven’t even gotten to the question of “what if they tell us they’re disarming and they’re really not?” The entire foundation is a flimsy one. It’s one of these smartest-person-in-the-room ideas. Make a world without weapons, and presto we’ll have a world without fighting.

Well, that’s what you have to believe in order to have any faith in this being the right direction.

So that whole premise needs some scrutiny, I think. Arms limitation? Arms reduction? What effects arrive from the realization of that goal, that we or anybody else is going to like? How’s that work? Where’s the evidence? Does history offer some stories to help bolster our faith in this process, or are we just cruising forward in this direction on blind faith and some empty theories that sound good?

“Not a Good Candidate to be a Robot in Your Clone Army”

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Okay, time to stop talking about the Wonder of Wasilla.

This is by far the best scene out of the whole damn movie. Embedding disabled by request. Dang it all.

For Buck

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

A certain blogger friend couldn’t resist an offline smack-down, which I’m going to leave there.

But this is for you. D’Oh!

Liberal Men Are Wimps Who Can’t Handle a Real Woman

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Elizabeth Wurtzel at The Atlantic, by way of my blogger pal and friend-on-the-Hello-Kitty-of-Blogging Melissa Clouthier.

Yes, there are women who are successful in the Democratic party, but none of them are successful because of their feminine wiles, none of them have played up their sex appeal the way Palin has. MSNBC’s female host is Rachel Maddow, who is completely good in all manner of ways that good can be good–but still I must ask: Where are the policy babes?

I know, I know: all of you are saying that it’s a good thing it’s like that, it’s a sign that liberals have integrity and blah blah blah. But I think you are kidding yourselves. It’s a sign of another thing: that liberal men are wimps who can’t handle the hot potato that is a combination of feminine sexuality and female political brilliance. [emphasis Melissa's, and mine too]

Oh yeah. Hillary Clinton is a “policy babe” and so were Donna Shalala and Madeleine Albright — the liberal men can handle them. Hillary can deviate from the liberal playbook a little bit, too, if she wants.

But let’s just say, if you have a daughter at a dating age that looks like Sarah Palin, you might keep the shotgun a little bit handier than if she looks like Hill, Donna or Madeleine.

I think the issue is a compromising weakness. Not an overwhelming one, just one that makes a death blow possible. And convenient. A “reset switch” (heh), if you will.

Let Hillary and Donna and Madeleine and the two Janets run around saying whatever they want — if anything uttered by them is disagreeable, at least we know at the end of the day we’re all superior in one regard. Such a “kill switch” is an important feature to an insecure mind.

And so we get these oh so powerful women on the democrats side, who are also oh so capable and oh so articulate and oh so intelligent. But, they’re ugly. Not a beauty contestant among the whole lot of them. Throughout years, decades, generations. As I’ve observed before: Such a track record of consistency can only be achieved by means of constant, consistent and concentrated effort. Is it rude to notice it? It seems rather rude to ignore it!

In this “all Palin all the time” news cycle, which I state again was not my idea, not started by me, and I don’t even approve of it…there is a fascinating conversation going on at Daphne’s haven of jadedness. In which Joan of Argghh! makes a pointed observation:

Like Morgan’s last comment, I see way too many people swayed by the irresistible Narrative of the media and the blogosphere that says Palin is . . . whatever.

But you provide nothing about your own assessment based on what Palin has presented to your own personal sensibilities. How do YOU think about her candidacy? And why?…You point us to other accolades you’ve given about Palin as a person, but offer no thoughts except “hell no!” about a Palin candidacy.

This is being directed at conservatives who are slow to accept, not at liberals who are quick to reject. But I see the criticism fits both camps. There is a quick, surface-deep, almost lazy dismissal…actually, it is lazy. Just of a sentiment that could best be described as “of course, we all agree that she should go away” — when we do not all agree with that, if we all agreed it wouldn’t be necessary for anybody to say anything. Quite to the contrary: The ankle-biters are getting frustrated and frenzied because the good-looking doltish woman is hanging around too long. Won’t she just go away already!

She needs to go away already or else…what, specifically, is about to happen?

I understand the conservatives somewhat. The fear is easily defined: She’ll get further along in the nomination process than she should, and with all her baggage she’ll cause damage to somebody else. Maybe proliferate the reputation conservatives have for being unsophisticated, incurious buffoons. Obama will cruise on into the campaign season deciding all of a sudden He knows how to use a Blackberry once again, and pick up all kinds of votes from independents who yearn for a political leader who easily digests challenging details…which they then duck. Oh, who cares how it all works, those are votes, dammit!

Well, I disagree with the conservatives because being on the defensive has been shown to be a losing strategy. And anybody who dismisses that point reveals himself to be paying far less attention than he’s trying to project.

But the liberals on the other hand. They have been caught, once again, projecting. Fear Of Strong Women! That modern plague of misogyny, which is supposed to be the target of their glorious crusade, one of just a few.

They’ve got it worse than anybody. As Melissa puts it:

Liberal men suffer the worst Madonna-Whore complexes of all. They cannot handle mom and sexy in one package–mostly because that woman would never be interested in them, therefore, they reject what they cannot obtain. As betas they’re stuck with the mousy and miserable women. You know, the women at the Code Pink march or the Amen Pew at church. Either way, they don’t think of obtainable women as sexy. Sexy equals scary.
:
[T]hey need to recognize their impotent desire and juvenile objectification and start engaging real women. Take a class. Get some skills.

Isn’t it time to get over this? This fear, envy, loathing…it’s all so destructive and keeps good women out of politics on both sides.
:
In a more reasonable world, Sarah Palin wouldn’t be causing this fuss. Well, no more fuss than any other person in political life. But she’s breaking barriers. It’s time to let them fall and engage women in a real way.

It’s hurting our nation because it hurts our perception of strong leadership. Cowardliness in liberals who refuse to notice “hey, that woman is uglier than the South end of a dog facing North” — is perceived by other liberals as courage. This has been a constant liberal drumbeat for a generation or two now, that you’re a good person for not-noticing something.

A passionate interest in whether a woman is good looking or not, is perceived as some kind of noble apathy. People who care deeply are perceived as not caring at all.

It’s all done to define a selected demography, of straight men who notice if a woman has taken the time to look decent, and dismiss them. Not their perceptions or their inappropriate lustful desires or their chauvinistic worldviews, but them. As people. Such people are substandard, irredeemably so, and are to be dismissed from our society…as we “progress” toward making that society all-tolerant and all-accepting. So a perfect society being built for the benefit of some and for the neglect of others, is perceived as the perfect opposite of what it really is…as a society in which “everyone” has a home.

That isn’t what the vision really is. It’s a place where everyone has a home, only if you re-define what “everyone” really means.

And when you boot out the men who enjoy looking at pretty ladies, you have to boot out the pretty ladies as well. They can be tolerated, only grudgingly, but they aren’t allowed to count. And their opinions cannot matter.

Not very egalitarian-looking after you study it awhile, is it? But that’s the modern world we have been building, and so far, continue to accept.

Highlander Kid

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Barack Obama will show faith in the free enterprise system, before I ever buy a Toyota Highlander. And this “Nathan” kid is the reason why:

Who in the hell has a problem with Flo from the Progressive commercials, with this moppet running around loose? He’s got the same problem as Fashion Princess.

Get that kid some chores fast. A chores list and a paper route. He’s hoisted a little too high on the Maslow pyramid for his own good.

Coyote

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Another e-mail from GBIL (Girlfriend’s Brother-in-Law). Tracked down a reasonable blogger-link here. This one seems to be making the rounds just lately…

I have little standing to be doing this since I’m a California resident, and my state seems to be in a contest with NY to see who can go bankrupt first. But hey. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything, and once people start doing things the wrong way they don’t stop until they’re surrounded by howls and protests that they need to do it the right way.

New York

The Governor Elect of New York is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out, bites the Governor, and attacks his dog.

1. The Governor starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie “Bambi”, then realizes he should stop, the coyote is only doing what’s natural.

2. He calls Animal Control. Animal Control captures the coyote and bills the state $200 for testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.

Coyote3. He calls a veterinarian. The vet collects the dead dog and bills the state $200 for testing it for disease.

4. The Governor goes to a hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for disease from the coyote and for getting his bite wound bandaged.

5. The running trail is shut down for 6 months, while Fish & Game conducts their $100,000 survey to make sure the area is free of dangerous animals.

6. The Governor next spends $150,000 in state funds, implementing a “Coyote Awareness” program for residents of the area.

7. The State Legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease, throughout the world.

8. The Governor’s security agent is fired for not somehow stopping the attack and for letting the Governor attempt to intervene.

9. Additional cost to State of New York: $75,000 to hire and train a new security agent with additional special training re: The Nature of Coyotes.

10. PETA protests the coyote’s relocation and files suit against the state.

Arizona

The Governor of Arizona is jogging, with her dog, along a nature trail.

A coyote jumps out and attacks her dog.

1. The Governor shoots the coyote with her state-issued pistol and keeps jogging.

The Governor has spent $0.50 on a .45 ACP hollow-point cartridge.

2. Arizona buzzards eat the dead coyote.

And that, my friends, is why New York is broke!!!

Best Sentence CIII

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

A former colleague from work snags the one hundred and third Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award.

Doing the wrong thing is still wrong even if everyone else is doing it. And doing the right thing is still right even if no one else is doing it.

And Yours Truly waxes Aristotelian in response:

[T]he very first step in figuring out the right answer is committing to a belief that there is one.

There is one. One and only one. An absolute answer that remains constant, now until the end of time, lacking any change in variables that are relevant to the question. There is a right answer, and any other answer that is proposed evaluating to a different value, has to be wrong.

To favor your sense of judgment over the consensus, and still know what you are doing, you have to have some confidence in it. To have confidence in your own judgment you need to have some way at arriving at the one true correct answer, with an accuracy potential greater than would be offered by random chance. And the first step in erecting such a system is to recognize the answer sought is an absolutely right answer, not a relatively right answer.

The tragedy of the times in which we live is that there are far too many people with opinions they want to guard jealously, who don’t want to take that initial step. And so they have to define “right” and “wrong” according to what everybody else is doing. When you think about it, once you sustain such a handicap, that’s about the most logical thing you can do.

Chandra Levy was a Victim of Unchecked Illegal Immigration

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Fact. Fifth paragraph in the story:

A man imprisoned for attacking two female joggers was found guilty Monday of murdering Washington intern Chandra Levy, wrapping up a murder mystery that took down a congressman and captured the nation’s attention a decade ago.

Ingmar Guandique was convicted of first-degree murder for attacking Levy while she exercised in Washington’s Rock Creek Park in May 2001. Her disappearance made headlines when she was romantically linked to then-Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif. Condit was once a suspect, but police no longer believe he was involved in her disappearance.

Speaking outside the courthouse, Levy’s mother said she’ll never be free from the pain of losing her daughter.

“I have a lifetime sentence of a lost limb missing from our family tree,” Susan Levy said after the hearing. “It’s a lifetime of a broken heart.”

Investigators eventually focused on Guandique, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, and brought formal charges last year. Prosecutors acknowledged they had little direct evidence but said Levy’s death fit a pattern of other crimes committed by Guandique in the park.

Nine years, mostly of wall-to-wall confusion, and we still have weepy apologists saying Guandique is “a scapegoat for a botched investigation.” Oh yeah, we need a much larger influx of illegal, undocumented labor when women and children are just sitting ducks already, and we don’t know who these people are.

Ms. Levy is just one of thousands of stories of what happens in the aftermath. And most of these stories never find the light of day. They don’t fit the “doing the jobs Americans won’t do” narrative. But these are real people getting hurt and killed.

Les Faits de la Vie

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

This has been in my “stack” for about a week now, and I wanted to be sure and bookmark it. Prager has the audacity to come forward with what he has observed

But one critic opened my eyes to an even deeper reason most liberals do not acknowledge that people are not basically good.

This is what he wrote:

“What a sad world it would be if we all believed as Dennis Prager that mankind is inherently evil.”

And this is what I responded:

“I did not write that man is inherently evil. I wrote that he is not basically good. And, yes, that does make the world sad. So do disease, earthquakes, death and all the unjust suffering in the world. But sad facts remain facts.”

“A distinguishing characteristic of liberals and leftists,” I concluded, “is their aversion to acknowledging sad facts.”

Years ago, a woman writer, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten, first made me aware of this. She wrote about liberals rejecting many facts about male and female natures. She used the French expression “les faits de la vie” — the facts of life.

The left, she wrote, rejects les faits de la vie.

I believe this is so for two reasons.

First, as with my correspondent above, people on the left tend to be unwilling to accept the sadness and pain that recognition of such facts creates. Leftism is often predicated on avoiding pain. That is a major reason why the left dislikes capitalism and free markets. Free markets create winners and losers, and the left does not like the fact that some people lose and some win.

This antipathy to having losers expresses itself on the micro level as well. Many liberals oppose children playing in competitive sports because they can lose — sometimes by a big score. That is why many schools now emphasize “cooperation instead of competition.” They do not want children experiencing the pain of losing, let alone losing by many points. That is also why liberals introduced the absurd idea of giving sports trophies to all kids who play, win or lose. God forbid that only the winners receive trophies; the kids who didn’t win may experience pain.

Second, the left lives by theories and dogmas into which the facts of life must fit. That is why left-wing ideas are usually wishful thinking.

Last month, in one of my rare and shortly-lived fits of not bitching about liberals, I made up a new word to describe a particular flaw I had lately noticed in the thinking processes of thinking persons who were occasionally strident liberals. The flaw I was describing is closely related to the flaw Prager was describing: A sequence of events is described, with causes related to symptoms that in turn become causes of other symptoms. And it is (accurately) argued that the cause-and-effect relationships could happen. They are possible. To be more precise about it, they are plausible. Argumentum ad Plausible, or if you prefer, Argumentum ad It-Could-Happen.

The plausibility of the theory is confused with its proof. The enthused advocate shirks the responsibility of examining likelihood, and with that, the burden of inspecting what factors might make the desired outcome more or less likely. It-could-happen…and…yer done.

The problem that comes up for the rest of us, is that the plans are put in place, they fail, and — absolutely, positively nothing is learned from this. We’re going to have to do it again and again and again because hopey-changey guy has a plausible sequence of events to offer. Stimulus II (really!), cash-for-clunkers, TARP, raise minimum wage, legalize pot, the list goes on and on.

If you challenge them, you get another recitation of that List Of Events. They love reciting it. They love hearing themselves talk about it, they never skip a single step in the list. Just like a computer with a database — absolute integrity every time.

What they’re trying to do is convince themselves.

Reality didn’t do that convincing…and it won’t do it.

How did I put it?

No, see, the county government widens this highway with stimulus funds…and what you’re not taking into account, is they buy all this asphalt that they otherwise wouldn’t have bought, and the asphalt manufacturer, he goes out and buys some new trucks, and then the truck manufacturer hires some new people, and…and…and…

Like that.

It is an inability to recognize…and a hardened resistance against recognizing…les faits de la vie. L’fait, in this case, is that your plan is a Wiley-Coyote plan and it doesn’t work.

This is exactly what Thomas Edison was talking about with his thousands of light bulb designs. You come up with a plan, you implement it and then you find out what does not work in your plan. That last part is not fun but it is the most necessary step. What we’re dealing with, here, are inventors who only want to do the fun part of inventing. They are somewhat analogous to the amateur writer who writes a script or novella that he doesn’t want to see edited. All of the pleasure, none of the pain.

When You Can’t Find the Book You Want…

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Confucius say, you just might be in the –

Hat tip to blogger friend Buck, who’d like to discuss something other than the Terror of the Tundra Sarah Palin right about now. And so would I.

Can We Cut Anything?

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Frank:

If We Can’t Defund NPR, Can We Cut Anything?
Posted by Frank J. on November 19, 2010 at 1:01 pm

So the vote to defund NPR was 239-171 against. Since I’ve never heard even one good argument why tax payers should be forced to pay for NPR and we need to cut money and one can hardly think of anything in the budget more unnecessary than them, I’m a bit surprised more Democrats didn’t vote for the defunding. Then again, they’ve been in a bit of mood lately for some reason.

I don’t think NPR will be as lucky with the next Congress, and if you’re going to start cutting the budget, might as well start there. And before anyone is like, “It’s only a couple million; who cares?” I say try embezzling $50,000 from the government and see if they’re like, “Oh, that’s just pennies; would cost more to prosecute you.”

Of course, they wouldn’t say that; all of a sudden, they’d be the taxpayer’s loyal pit-bull. You just don’t see any of that “flesh eater in the service of the weary taxpayer” behavior when it comes time to form a budget. All the money-wasting scams from last year have to stay in, no need to look at objectives met or objectives failed — nothing’s changed except for what’s new, and what’s gotten bigger.

Fiscal responsibility in spades whenever fiscal responsibility involves being a dick. Not at all when fiscal responsibility involves living in a rational universe and acting like a reasonable, thoughtful person. Isn’t that the way it always goes?

TSA Logic

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

With the holiday coming up on us, there’s a lot of attention being paid to the groping. If that comes as news to you then I don’t know where you got your head stuck…but the point that seems, to me at least, to get lost in all this is how little these searching strategies have to do with the likelihood of actually stopping anything bad from happening.

Which means the real scandal doesn’t have to do with the molestation. It has to do with failure of the mission.

Hat tip to Boortz.

Self-Interest

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Althouse:

Al Gore explains his mistaken support for the government’s terrible ethanol policy.
“One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.”

So… self-interest then. Where’s his self-interest taking him these days?

Hat tip to Instapundit.

It’s an interesting property of the era in which we live. We have these mystics who talk down to us and tell us we need to…well…let’s call it what it is, convert to their religion. We have what it takes to become decent but we’re not there yet. We need to act in the interests of others, and against our own. Then, and only then, can we be purified.

The mystics act in their own selfish interests, time and time again, right in front of our faces. A few cynics like myself take note of this, there’s some eyeball-rolling but never a big wake-up call. Across the board, the — let’s call it the evangelical structure — remains intact, there is no crumbling, no razing to the ground.

If anything, the structure becomes reinforced and re-entrenched. The mystic, by acting in his own selfish interests while lecturing us that we need to cease & desist from doing that very thing, has reasserted the notion that he’s much better than we are.

Memo For File CXXVI

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

I’m off work.

I left the office Friday, at high noon, to go fetch my son. I stayed overnight in Fernley, NV, then plowed onward to his mother’s place which is in Elko, which is almost Utah.

Listened to The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I strongly recommend this. Think of it as, in the conflict between Architects and Medicators, this is a productive argument in favor of the way Medicators do things. And I note the irony: Of all the people I’ve met in business who were in greatest need of listening to this audiobook, they were all Medicators. They were trying to achieve the lesson taught here, and somewhere they got off-track and plowed headlong into the opposite direction.

People who live in Folsom, California, drive like idiots. Except for yours truly. But really. Of all the adventures I had over those nine hundred miles, the ones that truly flabbergasted me were on my back fucking porch. Especially that guy in the pickup truck ahead of me on the exit ramp who got a green light, pulled forward twenty feet, and fucking stopped. Dude. Seriously. What the fuck. What the fucking-fuckety-fuck. Just go to the DMV and turn in your license, I’m fucking serious. Fucking asshole. Die in a fucking fire.

Other than that, I haven’t much of an opinion…

Dad can’t make it down from Bellingham. His fleet of cars, most of which are older than me I think, cannot offer a single vessel that is functional. He’s 79 and his upper respiratory system is offering a seasonal challenge; those two factors, by themselves, are very often fatal. He didn’t book his travel when he was supposed to, so he is demanding a commodity demanded by countless others at the same time, which is fiscally impractical, and Whatcom County is at 23 degrees Fahrenheit. Highly unusual. Anyway, our get-together required more advance thinking than it received…so…it’s a bust. Major bummer. The older generation will have to stay holed up 800 miles away, but at least the younger generation is here.

The groceries were delivered today. We have the five pounds of bacon for the TurBaconDucken. We also have massive quantities of foodstuffs for a couple of old people who aren’t going to be here, including an abundance of White Zinfandel.

I see I’m on track to receive 400 blog hits from midnight-to-seven-p.m., which is what I usually collect all day long. During the holidays, I do not like to see this, people. There’s not much to talk about other than Sarah Palin…and you really need to get up off your computers and go spend time with family and friends. Time is fleeting. Come on, altogether now…Start Button…Shut Down. Call a relative, the older the better, get things coordinated. Book a hotel, fly-drive-swim-teleport, whatever, stop off by a local eatery or deli or grocery store and step across their threshold with something nourishing that smells good. Break some bread.

Dredge into some stories about things you lived through together, and share the thoughts you had about it. That’s the best. This thing the reality-teevee people do every fifteen seconds — “When [blank happened], it made me think/feel [thing]” — that’s what you should be doing. Think of some good things to say about those who are now six feet under, how they could’ve handled something, and how they did handle it. And then lift a glass. Leave ‘em wanting more, but leave late.

You know that’s what this week is really all about. So c’mon…what are you doing here?

Update: Thanks to Gerard, some footage of traffic in Seattle. This is testimonial to why Dad can’t come…and also why Seattle is recognized less as a brain heartland than as a retirement haven for grown-up hippies.

Doomsday Messages About Global Warming Can Backfire

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

You don’t say.

Dire or emotionally charged warnings about the consequences of global warming can backfire if presented too negatively, making people less amenable to reducing their carbon footprint, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley.

“Our study indicates that the potentially devastating consequences of global warming threaten people’s fundamental tendency to see the world as safe, stable and fair. As a result, people may respond by discounting evidence for global warming,” said Robb Willer, UC Berkeley social psychologist and coauthor of a study to be published in the January issue of the journal Psychological Science.

“The scarier the message, the more people who are committed to viewing the world as fundamentally stable and fair are motivated to deny it,” agreed Matthew Feinberg, a doctoral student in psychology and coauthor of the study.

The first white-coat-pocket-protector-egghead, Robb Willer, has a page over here with lots of other studies and research works listed, courtesy of some curious FARK member.

I don’t mean to attack the propeller-beanie-egghead, but I’ve been noticing this trend with “research” material and I think it’s a measurable one. Let me state it by means of example: I am doubting like the dickens anybody ever woke up some morning, be he a propeller-beanie-pocket-protector type or some normal person…and said to himself…”Self? I wonder how social order might be possible when individuals are tempted to behave selfishly? Maybe I should look into that and write a research paper about whatever it is I manage to dig up.”

I think papers like these begin with the finger-waggling lecture, and then all else is filled in around it. Can’t prove it, but not exactly going out on a limb on that one. And I think research papers like these represent a fairly new trend. Not an instantaneously new one; if you’re old enough to be my parent, and you’ve been working in the university system your whole life, you might have found this situation when you started: Papers written by eggheads who knew exactly what they wanted the paper to say, before they “discovered” a single thing. Exercises in confirmation bias.

And I’m no spring chicken myself. This seems to be a sixties thing. Maybe it’s all Rachel Carson’s fault. Just a thought; agree with her work or not, it’s definitely an example of what I’m talking about and I haven’t been able to find too many examples before Silent Spring. But who knows, maybe it goes clear back to Freud.

It certainly is a problem we should engage. All kinds of higher-education professionals like to dish out that tired old bromide, “I’m not here to teach you what to think, I’m here to teach you how to think.” That is a pledge, a promise of sorts, and it seems to me the rest of us are doing a fairly lackluster job of holding them to it. Whenever an egghead makes up his mind what a paper is supposed to conclude, and then starts gathering the data, that promise is being violated.

Oh, and as an aside: Tuning out, when someone starts trying to sell you on the idea that “the planet is doomed unless you do what I say”…is what intellectually healthy people do. Yeah, even when the facts aren’t all in yet. There’s such a thing as figuring out when someone’s trying to bullshit you.