Archive for December, 2010

If I Ran FARK for a Day

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

…that’s your photoshop theme for this thread over here.

I appreciated this one as well…

Best Sentence CV

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Ann Coulter is not done beating up on the liberals over their charitable contributions, or rather the lack thereof. She has another column up revisiting the same theme as before

…and the final sign-off easily snags the one hundred fifteenth Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award:

The only evidence we have that Democrats love the poor is that they consistently back policies that will create more of them.

Kapwing, Zowee, Ker-Sploosh and other Batman-fight sound effects. Somehow, “gonna leave a mark” doesn’t quite cover it.

That’ll fit on a bumper sticker, right?

Ted Baxter Saves the Day

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

What made the show so great when the situations were so stupid?

Each character, in each scene, had a story to tell. And a unique role to play in the larger story.

I’m voting for Ted Knight as the major contributor to success here. Think of Jerry Seinfeld trying to do this…or Carrot-Top. It would still work, but not quite as well.

Coordinated Anarchists

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Fellow Right Wing News contributor William Teach brings us an interesting one:

Nothing like coordinated anarchists to say anarchy

ROME – A loosely linked movement of European anarchists who want to bring down state and financial institutions is becoming more violent and coordinated after decades out of the spotlight, and may be responding to social tensions spawned by the continent’s financial crisis, security experts say.

Italian police said Tuesday that letter bombs were sent to three embassies in Rome by Italian anarchists in solidarity with jailed Greek anarchists, who had asked their comrades to organize and coordinate a global “revolutionary war.” [emphasis in Teach’s]

“Let’s all work together for anarchy!”

Thing I Know #What a self-parodying mess it is when a command hierarchy is constructed within any rebellion, for there it becomes undeniable: The rebel is only a fair-weather friend, at best, to the act of rebelling.

“Nice Handshake”

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Merle Haggard has some nice things to say about the current President:

“It was also nice to meet Obama and find him very different from the media makeout,” Haggard told the magazine. “It’s really almost criminal what they do with our president. There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he’s doing certain things that he’s not. It’s just a big old political game that I don’t want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down. I’m sure some of it’s true and some of it’s not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be.”

But the most interesting comment appeared to be a back-handed compliment. When asked about Obama’s biggest misconception, Haggard, 73, said, “He’s not conceited. He’s very humble about being the president of the United States, especially in comparison to some presidents we’ve had who come across like they don’t need anybody’s help. I think he knows he’s in over his head. Anybody with any sense who takes that job and thinks they can handle it must be an idiot.”

Well yes, Barack Obama is nothing if not humble. That’s what He said, isn’t it?

“This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” What a difference two years makes! Now, when the time comes to find some compliments to toss in Chairman Zero’s direction, it’s something like He has a nice handshake and He must know He’s in over His head.

I guess we’re still waiting for the moment when those oceans are going to start receding. Blub blub.

The Utter Futility of Reducing Carbon Emissions

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Art Horn, writing in Pajamas Media:

Studies by Raval & Ramanathan (1989) estimated that the greenhouse effect of a cloudless atmosphere is 146 W/m2 (watts per square meter) for the average Earth. They further pointed out that water vapor is accounting for most of this greenhouse effect, leaving about 8 W/m2 for the total amount of atmospheric CO2 — some 8%. In addition, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment showed that 3% of the atmospheric CO2 comes from man-made sources. Global gross primary production and respiration, land use changes, plus CO2 from the oceans totals 213 gigatonnes of carbon exchanged each year between the Earth/oceans and the atmosphere. The IPCC figure also shows man-made carbon emissions to be about 7 gigatonnes, bringing the total to 220 gigatonnes per year. So from this, we can see that making energy from fossil fuels is producing about 3% of the carbon dioxide added to the air each year. From that, the total human component of the greenhouse effect is therefore about 3% of the total carbon dioxide component of the greenhouse effect, which is 8%.

That gives us a value of .2% from man-made carbon dioxide. If you think that’s a small number you’re right.

I thought Taranto’s contribution to the global warming non-debate debate yesterday was pretty funny:

Everyone loves frolicking in the winter: sledding, building snowmen, laughing at global warmists. OK, not everyone. The last one aggravates the global warmists, and they have a point: Weather is not climate. That it is cold here today does not mean the earth isn’t getting warmer on the whole over decades.

It’s not just the weather, though. Their climatic claims keep changing too. A reader sends along this item from the Environmental News Service, dated Dec. 14, 2009: “Snow and ice across the planet are melting much faster than anticipated, and the cryosphere — the Earth’s ice and snow cover — is very vulnerable to climate change, finds a new report presented today at the United Nations Climate Summit by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store.”

But according to Judah Cohen, writing in the New York Times the other day, the opposite is occurring: “As global temperatures have warmed and as Arctic sea ice has melted over the past two and a half decades, more moisture has become available to fall as snow over the continents. So the snow cover across Siberia in the fall has steadily increased.”

So laugh away at the global warmists. And don’t even feel bad that they’re right about the weather-climate distinction. After all, they forget about it every summer.

All of this is neither here nor there. The readings of “global temperature” or “earth mean temperature,” even taken all together, are subject to reasonable suspicion with regard to their integrity and even if they weren’t, they tell only part of the story. They could very well be concluding this mean-temperature metric is on a steady upward trend, when it’s really falling…or vice-versa. The sum of all these measurements is as strongly related to what the earth is going to be doing over the next century, as local weather patterns are, to it.

If the global warming proponents were honest, they’d start a political movement with a name something like “sit on your ass and don’t do anything” — that’s what they really want. Global warming is just the excuse.

Scrooge Was a Liberal!

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Until the three ghosts visited him, then he became a right-winger.

Ann Coulter took a look at the miserly-versus-generous behavior, vis a vis party affiliation, and came to that conclusion. It makes more sense than you might think:

Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks’ study of charitable giving in America found that conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than liberals do, despite the fact that liberals have higher incomes than conservatives.

In his book “Who Really Cares?” Brooks compared the charitable donations of religious conservatives, secular liberals, secular conservatives and “religious” liberals.

His surprising conclusion was … Al Franken gave the most of all!

Ha ha! Just kidding. Religious conservatives, the largest group at about 20 percent of the population, gave the most to charity — $2,367 per year, compared with $1,347 for the country at large.

Even when it comes to purely secular charities, religious conservatives give more than other Americans, which is surprising because liberals specialize in “charities” that give them a direct benefit, such as the ballet or their children’s elite private schools.

Indeed, religious people, Brooks says, “are more charitable in every measurable nonreligious way.”

Brooks found that conservatives donate more in time, services and even blood than other Americans, noting that if liberals and moderates gave as much blood as conservatives do, the blood supply would increase by about 45 percent.

They ought to set up blood banks at tea parties.

On average, a person who attends religious services and does not believe in the redistribution of income will give away 100 times more — and 50 times more to secular charities — than a person who does not attend religious services and strongly believes in the redistribution of income.

Secular liberals, the second largest group coming in at 10 percent of the population, were the whitest and richest of the four groups. These “bleeding-heart tightwads,” as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof calls them, were the second stingiest, just behind secular conservatives, who are mostly young, poor, cranky white guys.

Despite their wealth and advantages, secular liberals give to charity at a rate of 9 percent less than all Americans and 19 percent less than religious conservatives. They were also “significantly less likely than the population average to return excess change mistakenly given to them by a cashier.”
Interestingly, religious liberals were also “most confused” of all the groups. Composed mostly of blacks and Unitarians, religious liberals made nearly as many charitable donations as religious conservatives, but presumably, the Unitarians brought down their numbers, making them second in charitable giving.

Brooks wrote that he was shocked by his conclusions because he believed liberals “genuinely cared more about others than conservatives did” — probably because liberals are always telling us that.

Blogger friend Phil entered a comment yesterday that is even more persuasive:

What was Scrooge’s answer to the charity collectors?

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink. and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.

See, he would give none of his post-tax fortunes to ease others’ suffering because that’s the government’s job – in accordance with the progressive viewpoint.

And of course, after his conversion, he gave freely of his fortunes to those to whom he chose to give it. Which would be in accordance with the conservative viewpoint.

Phil nailed it. The liberal has seen to it that we have constructed our state apparatus to deal with this — therefore he has “given at the office,” as it were, and there is nothing to do but scold, scold, and scold some more.

All who doubt this, just let the air out of your own tire at some busy intersection, downtown, in an urban area in the middle of a blue state. Or the water out of your radiator. See what kind of help you get…see what kind of attitude you get…then drive out into the middle of a farming area in a red state and repeat the exercise. This is the real cost of the nanny-state: You get your prisons, workhouses, treadmills and “poor laws” up and running, and with them arrives a horde of Ebenezer Scrooges ready to talk about them. The “gave at the office” attitude. Just get that wreck out of my way!

Reaching out with a helping hand to someone you personally notice needs the help, it becomes a thing of the past. We have programs to deal with that stuff; go there.

Thing I Know #343. The hard obligations of “charity” wax, the charitable feelings wane.

Now That People Are Heading to Texas, What’s That Place Like Anyway?

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Big. Really big. And getting bigger, as people vote with their feet against high taxes and nanny-state laws:

Texas will pick up four more congressional seats, expanding the state’s U.S. House delegation to 36 seats and further boosting Texas political clout in the nation’s Capitol.

Texas had the biggest increase of any state as the Census Bureau announced new congressional apportionment based on population shifts over the past decade.

Eric Torbinsen jots down a few ideas — just a few of the ideas — why the rush is taking off in that direction (hat tip to blogger friend Gerard). He’s speaking from personal experience.

New York, I love you — but I can’t make the math work.

Like lots of media professionals (and fashion mavens, artists, musicians, et al.), I’ve penciled out the numbers for what it would mean to take a job in New York City. There’s barely enough room on the back of the envelope for subtracting the double-dose income tax hit from the city and state, and that’s before even adjusting for cost of living.

That’s one of the reasons I’m in Dallas. You know, Texas, the state that parlayed this year’s census data into four new House seats — pinching the two lost by the Empire State — because people actually want to live here.

Lots of Texas professionals love New York this way: fly in for $200 round trip, suck down the city’s beefy marrow of culture for a weekend and jet back to live cheap and pay no income tax. It’s all the pleasure and we keep our treasure.

Folks are voting with their pocketbooks; between 2000 and 2008, $846 million of New York’s personal income saddled up and jingle-jangled down to the Lone Star State.
Texas creates jobs like a fiend, in part because businesses large and small have no worry of obstacles such as plaintiff-friendly courts, consumer-friendly regulators or oversight-friendly lawmakers. Pro-business isn’t just a mantra; they put it in the water.

It should be noted that Texas has a budget problem like everybody else. But it hasn’t completely exhausted its revenue streams, its credit, its options like a lot of the blue states — in particular, New York, and my own, California.

In places like ours, we have put up a vivid illustration of how a state government can not work. It’s gotten to the point where our newspapers are exquisitely boring because they can’t print any real news. It’s all “here’s a case study of someone pathetically dependent on such-and-such a program, and they don’t know what they’re gonna do because it’s getting cut, aw boo hoo hoo.” Turn the page, it’s the same thing. Wait a day, buy the same paper, it’s the same thing. Week after week, month after month, year after year. Daily digest of a failed system.

If you’re not buying the paper for the crossword puzzles or the comics, you’ve got no use buying it. It’s fish wrap. And I mean that as no slight against the talent of the writers. It’s the information going into it; the material. The story never changes and they’ve got nothing to work with, they only update the numbers.

So now there’s a census, and with it, hard statistics behind the massive population shift we knew was happening already.

Hey — if now is not the time to draw some conclusions about how government should & should not be run…then what’s the event we’re looking for? What’s it take?

Death Panels Revisited: The Left Won’t Admit Palin Had a Point

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Wall Street Journal, Review & Outlook:

At a stroke, Medicare chief Donald Berwick has revived the “death panel” debate from two summers ago. Allow us to referee, because this topic has been badly distorted by the political process—and in a rational world, it wouldn’t be a political question at all.

On Sunday, Robert Pear reported in the New York Times that Medicare will now pay for voluntary end-of-life counseling as part of seniors’ annual physicals. A similar provision was originally included in ObamaCare, but Democrats stripped it out amid the death panel furor. Now Medicare will enact the same policy through regulation.

We hadn’t heard about this development until Mr. Pear’s story, but evidently Medicare tried to prevent the change from becoming public knowledge. The provision is buried in thousands of Federal Register pages setting Medicare’s hospital and physician price controls for 2011 and concludes that such consultations count as a form of preventative care.

The office of Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer, the author of the original rider who then lobbied Medicare to cover the service, sent an email to supporters cheering this “victory” but asked that they not tell anyone for fear of perpetuating “the ‘death panel’ myth.” The email added that “Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch.”

So, it’s good for us, and it’s so good for us that it’s important we never find out about it. Keep calling that Palin chick an ignorant Eskimo snowbilly and hope she doesn’t say anything.

YogiKnow what this reminds me of? Al Gore invented the Internet. Or, every politician screws around on his wife just like Bill Clinton. Palin said she can see Russia from her house. In all these cases, once you found out all of what was going on, the leftist, statist position ended up looking not so well off, not the way to go. But if you learned just enough to be dangerous they looked golden — so The Left, ever accustomed to dictating to people what they should learn and what they should not learn, encouraged its followers to form a picture of what’s going on about as brilliant and vibrant and detailed as a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. It has become such a carefully nurtured predilection now, that the loyal leftist fully expects to walk past the same clump of trees over and over again every three seconds.

The “truth,” to leftists, ends up being contradictory in all cases: Every single politician messes around on his wife! And Bill Clinton didn’t!

Palin said she can see Russia! I heard her myself! With Hillary standing next to her looking disgusted!

No, Al Gore never said he invented the Internet! And he should have!

We should have death panels! And we’re not getting them!

We get overloaded with all these “lint trap” talking points that are cherry-picked according to whether they make the left-idea look like a good-idea…they aren’t even consistent with each other. They only work on the people who have invested their ego in whatever leftist idea came before, and among them, only one the ones who are passionately dis-interested in what is really happening. At some point, they collide with each other and they don’t work. And so we start hearing a bunch of “jokes” that aren’t really funny.

Meanwhile, back to hi-res, 24-bit TrueColor land where we care about learning what’s really happening: We see now that “left wing” has as much to do with how legislation is planned, as with what the legislation is. Maybe more. Make sure it impacts everybody, and we can’t get away from it no matter who we are or where we are, even in its experimental phase; especially in its experimental phase! Unless we have the right friends, or we got a “waiver.” DON’T tell us what’s going on. If we find out what’s going on, distract us with something else. If we cannot be distracted, make a punchline out of the truth so that whoever has learned it, will be reluctant to share it.

Have I distorted this? Exaggerated some of it unfairly? If so, how?

If not, then who, of sound mind, really thinks we need this?

If the FCC Had Regulated the Internet

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

One part Atlas Shrugged, one part It’s a Wonderful Life, two parts the reality we’ve been living. Enjoy.

Hat tip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, who adds:

For those who don’t recall, or who have blocked the memory, “Bob” was an unmitigated failure by Microsoft for an operating system (really just an overlay for Windows) that gave novice users a supposedly friendly, safe interface. It did that by restricting how the computer could be used, while giving owners a treacly “smiley-face” character and other animated characters to shepherd users through a virtual house that opened applications such as a word processor and calender. Shortcuts to the program appeared in picture frames on the walls. The only thing missing was padding on the walls and a straitjacket for the user.

Jack has two things right about why the FCC would love Bob. It put you in your place, and it treated you like a child.

“Get Done”?

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

We’re coming closer to the end times. If you want to understand what people around you are saying…even if you’re trying to earn a grade, that depends on your comprehension of what is being discussed…that makes you a RAY-SCIST!!!

A teenage schoolgirl was arrested by police for racism after refusing to sit with a group of Asian students because some of them did not speak English.

Codie Stott’s family claim she was forced to spend three-and-a-half hours in a police cell after she was reported by her teachers.
Codie was attending a GCSE science class at Harrop Fold High School in Worsley, Greater Manchester, when the incident happened.

The teenager had not been in school the day before due to a hospital appointment and had missed the start of a project, so the teacher allocated her a group to sit with.

“She said I had to sit there with five Asian pupils,” said Codie yesterday.

“Only one could speak English, so she had to tell that one what to do so she could explain in their language. Then she sat me with them and said ‘Discuss’.”

According to Codie, the five – four boys and a girl – then began talking in a language she didn’t understand, thought to be Urdu, so she went to speak to the teacher.

“I said ‘I’m not being funny, but can I change groups because I can’t understand them?’ But she started shouting and screaming, saying ‘It’s racist, you’re going to get done by the police’.”
A complaint was made to a police officer based full-time at the school, and more than a week after the incident on September 26 she was taken to Swinton police station and placed under arrest.
She only returned to lessons this week and has been put in a different science class.

Yesterday Miss Stott, 37, a cleaner, said: “Codie was not being racist.” “The reaction from the school and police is totally over the top and I am furious my daughter had to go through this trauma when all she was saying was common sense.”

That’s the final frontier, really. When you want to understand something you can’t understand, and it’s a crime. Kinda encroaches on the whole “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” thing. Of course, that isn’t happening in America — yet.

Brightness and Contrast

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Holy crap.

Hatemongers of your kind have stolen land, property all these years and you still think that SMART black people cannot recognize your strategy. All of you meet on a regular basis, have meetings and plots as to what or how to get rid of OUR president. We are watching, too.

Your article in the AJC dated December 25, 2010 shows that you are putting out lies/scare tactics about Internet and media communications through talk radio and others…
All of you are jealous of Obama’s and the FIRST LADY’S smartness and education…please do not under estimate black people smartness.

Regular meetings? How come nobody told me?

This literary work of art apparently flowed from the pen of a wizened sage in response to Neal Boortz’s following

This past week Obama’s Federal Communications Commission adopted what are called “net neutrality” rules for the Internet. As John Fund describes this in The Wall Street Journal; “The losers are likely to be consumers who will see innovation and investment chilled by regulations that treat the Internet like a public utility.” The Internet may be the most vital element of our free market economy right now, but this move places it under strong executive department control.

There was no call for this move from the public, nor was there any need. None of the problems this net neutrality purports to solve actually exist. A federal court ruled that the FCC did not have the power to make this move. Three hundred members of Congress signed a letter opposing this idea. Yet, on Obama’s orders, the FCC went ahead. Few Americans have any real idea what this regulatory power grab means. I’ll bring you up to speed; but first some history on how this came about. In short, this is part of the drive by the left – the far left – to seize control of the greatest vehicle for information sharing we have today, the Internet (this column notwithstanding).

Once again: Our hopey-changey President wants to put something under government control that previously was not…and if you have a problem with it, you’re a racist. As if, if some white guy came along and proposed the exact same government take-over, everyone would think it was just peachy keen.

Well you know what? I’m going to go way out on a limb and predict the person who wrote the “secret meetings” letter has not a single clue what net-neutrality is all about — nor does she have a need to know anything about it. And you couldn’t explain it. It would be like explaining trigonometry to your pet goldfish or something.

Oh sorry, was that racist?

Two Obsevations

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

One: Folsom, California.

People are constantly getting twisted off at you for being in their way, when you aren’t. And then they get in your way. When they think they aren’t. Yes, that has a certain recursive quality to it…it means the place is Zombie-Land. I feel myself becoming one of them. An urban jackass.

But I know I am not imagining it, because when people are about to get in my way they move like prize stallions. And then they get in there…the deceleration is noticeable. Measurable. Christ, some days I swear there are skid marks on the pavement — and they have all the time in the world. It’s like a dick measuring contest. Struttin’ around, ooh yeah, look at me, I’m big n’ bad…I’m in this guy’s way.

Two: California in general. We love communication. It’s all-important, we live it and we breathe it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If a little-school tyke has what it takes to communicate and doesn’t know jack about the academic material, don’t worry, he’ll make it to the next grade. If he has a sturdy command of the academic material but can’t communicate, or won’t communicate, they’ll hold him back or put him in a class for learning-disabled cases. Communication is everything! It does everything! We need to sit down with our enemies and talk out our differences!

And yet, whenever I hit this state’s highways…I’m constantly guessing what the fuck the other guy is going to do, every second, every inch, until I park. Nobody signals for anything anymore. Communi-fucking-cation my left nut.

This is common for me. We just got the reservations made for the post-Christmas-unwinding at our favorite spot, and sometime in the 24 hours afterward it hits me how much I need to take a break. Maybe I’m getting soft.

I Can Remember Stuff!

Monday, December 27th, 2010

I was thinking over twelve hours ago as I was driving the car out of the garage, for some reason or another the thought just jumped into my head, “I wonder if Jeffords has ever reviewed the Silicon Avatar episode? Tonight at beer o’clock I shall have to look that puppy up.”

Guess I don’t need those doses of Vitamin E after all. I dutifully remembered without writing down a single thing, after a busy day thinking about white papers for technical conferences, buffer overruns, Linux builds, old film cameras, the household Netflix queue, where the hell are they stocking Muscato at Beverages & More, hey have we got our vacations lined up for the right day and is the hotel going to let us have 50% Sunday through Thursday, et cetera et cetera…and I remembered to search through the archives of Eye of Polyphemus. And the answer is, yes, he did. No, he did not find it to be the worst episode ever, but he did find it to be the second worst. Oh my. One mystery resolved, another one created.

What’s the worst? I vote for this one. I shall have to peruse the archives some more and see if I’m close.

Meanwhile, a big thumbs-up on the negative review. It might’ve been written by myself, word for word:

What irks me is Picard’s attitude. The Entity has committed multiple acts of genocide because it has to in order to survive. Nothing indicates it is a particularly intelligent creature. It is essentially an animal acting on instinct. I will concede the implication in “Datalore” it was intelligent enough to communicate with Lore and had a malicious demeanor, but those points appear to have been tossed by the wayside here. It is a long shot the entity can be reasoned with, yet that is Picard’s only goal.
…Because communicating and compromising with a genocidal creature is much more important than justice for the murdered or saving any additional lives. Picard is — and I hate to say this — being stereotypically French. Kirk would have put on boxing gloves and battled this entity himself. He has practically dome so several times in TOS and, in my view, justifiably so. Picard’s attitude goes to show the progressive avoidance of conflict is not always the best way to go.

I’ve never understood the thinking here. The writers, the producers, Rick Berman; what did they think back in 1975 when Jaws came out? The situation is precisely the same. Did they cry when the shark got blown up? Throw their popcorn, stamp their little feet?

Progressives truly are a puzzle to me. I don’t think I’d be able to truly figure them out, even if I lived to be a thousand.

“What Makes Obama Such a Genius Again?”

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Yeah yeah, there must be something to it or else it wouldn’t have been repeated so many times. So the mere observation that it is just a cowardly retread and nothing more, must be a confession that there must be some truth to it…or, at the very least, that a lot of people think it:

Obama is an intellectual powerhouse and Sarah Palin “cannot stand on the same stage” with He Whom Oprah Called Brill-Yunt.

“There is nobody out there except for Sarah Palin who could absolutely dominate the stage and she can’t stand on the intellectual stage with Obama.”

Unfortunately, there’s very little to back up that last bit, save for the ritual “of course…” and “we all know…” And, for those who care about empirically observed recent history, facts, figures, evidence and logic, there’s quite a bit to challenge it.

Go RTWT. That’s a-gonna leave a mark.

Obama’s just like Wiley Coyote. Except He talks — oh my goodness, how well He can talk! Always with teleprompter in tow wherever He goes, and there’s a sonorous, dulcet, almost musical “I meant to do that” every time a boulder lands on Him.

Intellectual stage, indeed.

Ninety-Eight TARP Recipient Banks Show Signs of Failing

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Failure. Universally available, and free. No person, enterprise or industry is “Too Big To Fail” — ever. Failure is regarded as something that is always possible, to be avoided at all costs, but never to be ignored or sidestepped once it is earned. Depriving a man of the failure he has justly earned, is rightfully seen as just as deplorable as depriving him of wages he has justly earned.

Number 4 in my 42 definitions of a strong society. We broke that rule when we bailed out the banks (although, to be fair about it, I only scribbled it down after the events had transpired). Nevertheless, an attribute of a strong society it is, therefore it is an attribute of a weak society to say “Aw, you poor dear…you’re too big to fail…that’s a ‘gimme’ for you.”

So we bailed them out. Now what happens.

Nearly 100 U.S. banks that got bailout funds from the federal government show signs they are in jeopardy of failing.

The total, based on an analysis of third-quarter financial results by The Wall Street Journal, is up from 86 in the second quarter, reflecting eroding capital levels, a pileup of bad loans and warnings from regulators. The 98 banks in shaky condition got more than $4.2 billion in infusions from the Treasury Department under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Financial blogger Mike Shedlock says

Most of these failures will be relatively small ones. The median TARP infusion for the 98 banks was $10 million. The grand total of the 98 banks was about $4.2 billion. In contrast the first 8 large recipients received a total of $125 billion, now repaid.

Commercial real estate loans gone sour are at the heart of many small bank failures. One consequence of these failures is the too big to fail banks keep getting bigger. [emphasis mine]

Exactly. Any time you throw money at something, you get a lot more tomorrow of whatever it is today.

There is another interesting attribute illuminated for our inspection here, and that is an attribute of Obama apologia. It is an attribute of self-contradiction. The Obama administration’s selling point is one of “change,” as in, a definable and perceptible difference from what came before. But when you criticize Obama for having supported the bank bailout, the knee-jerk response you get back is that you don’t have your facts straight — it’s the guy before Obama who actually got it started.

Our agent of change…is to be defended from attack because He is merely continuing the policies that came before.

Meanwhile, there is very little by way of solid evidence to persuade us that this was some kind of a good idea. If…y’know…you happen to be into that whole thing about evidence & ideas. And I realize that’s going out of style very quickly.

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

All Our Palms Are Blinking Red

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

…and LastDay is coming for us, here in the City of Domes. Soon we will participate in Carousel, and reach Sanctuary. If you try to run, the Sandmen will come for you and then you will not find Sanctuary.

The fact that such a controversial change was kept quiet for so long, and that the Obama administration took steps to keep it quiet, is most troublesome of all.

What are we talking about? The End-Of-Life counseling that was part of ObamaCare…then a certain hick from Wasilla told us about “death panels,” and the liberals and lefties and grown-up-hippies and pseudo-intellectual snots started chuckling derisively about her false statements. Then someone realized there was nothing false about them whatsoever, so they took a few minutes to scrub the death panels from the bill and returned to their derisive chuckling.

Now the death panels are back. You have just been manipulated through a process of diversion…Runner.

When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

Congressional supporters of the new policy, though pleased, have kept quiet. They fear provoking another furor like the one in 2009 when Republicans seized on the idea of end-of-life counseling to argue that the Democrats’ bill would allow the government to cut off care for the critically ill.

The word “democrat” is supposed to come from the Greek word for “people”; the idea is that they are supposed to promote a democracy, in which the “people” have a more direct say in what our government will do.

How come they’re always working so hard to fool and manipulate the people?

So Does This Make Me a “Birther”?

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

I’m guessing not. It seems to exclude me from that group:

Gov. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, who befriended President Obama’s parents when they were university students here, has been in office for less than three weeks. But he is so incensed over “birthers” — the conspiracy theorists who assert that Mr. Obama was born in Kenya and was thus not eligible to become president — that he is seeking ways to change state policy to allow him to release additional proof that the president was born in Honolulu in 1961.

The document I consider definitive, a birth announcement from a Honolulu newspaper in 1961, is not mentioned in this story. To me, this is much more satisfying as “proof” than that certificate-of-live-birth. And so if a “birther” is supposed to “assert that Mr. Obama was born in Kenya and was thus not eligible to become president,” then I’m certainly outside of that. That’s a good thing to see.

However, the precedent that was established when Barack Obama was sworn in, without presenting anything more concrete than that pink paper, is awful. It’s simply unacceptable. And now that I’ve been exonerated as a not-a-Birther, I can state for a fact that you’ve got people who are not Birthers, agreeing that this is the case. Regardless of where Barack Obama was born, our nation has started something here that it shouldn’t have.

Furthermore, people-who-are-not-Birthers — me — are rightfully offended, on behalf of those Birthers, by passages like this:

But on the matter of the birthers, Mr. Abercrombie grew serious. “I’m going to take care of that,” he said, though he acknowledged that they would be difficult to convince. [emphasis mine]

As popular of a recurring trope as this is, is there anyone anywhere who is being fooled by it?

In the middle of a presidential campaign in which Barack Obama became a walking pop-culture fad, the hottest out of any since Cabbage Patch Dolls, Hawaii started up the printing presses and churned out a fresh pink document that was supposed to mean something. I’m sorry to whoever is frustrated by those who would like to see more than that, but it’s just a logical request to make. Obama’s refusal to consent is what defies reason.

And, it bears repeating…the question about precedent is an important one. The President’s precedent. What, in this country, do you have to present before you’re sworn in? Is it a sliding scale, that depends on how popular you happen to be? Shouldn’t we all agree that that would be un-American and wrong?

“I certainly hope by the fourth year of our administration that we’ll have dealt with this burgeoning birth controversy,” the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, told reporters last year.
[Abercrombie] is angry about legislation in several states that would require presidential candidates to document that they were born in this country. A similar bill died in Congress last year.

“My thought was, ‘Wait a minute, why didn’t you ask me, my friends in the national Congress, the House of Representatives?’ ” he said. “They know me, they know that I was here, but they didn’t even bother to have the courtesy to do that, which is disappointing to me, because it is very difficult for me not to conclude that bills like that are meant as a coded message that he is not really American. My thought is, rather than get into some kind of argument or play into that mentality, why not just simply try to authenticate this and let the facts speak for themselves?”

This story really tells you everything about democrats you need to know. Let me paraphrase:

Here we are in “our fourth year,” we’re always right — at least WE think we are — and oh so popular, at least we used to be. We’ve tried smearing, we’ve tried sneering, we’ve tried bludgeoning and browbeating. And still these crackpots insist we haven’t presented any real proof just because we haven’t! Obviously, they’re never gonna go away no matter what.

So hey, purely as an afterthought…in our fourth year…let’s try maybe arguing the point based on facts. Or, at least, announcing that is what we are going to do.

Meanwhile, here the rest of us sit ready to start 2011. Barack Obama — and this is not the name He has been using for His entire life, for a long time He was Barry Soetoro — is finishing up His second year as our nation’s chief executive. How many reasons are there for us not to be ringing in the new year, staring, whether we like it or not, at the “long form” released by Obama? The one that rolled off the printing presses during some year other than the one in which Barry became a rock star? Why should that paper not be a public record now? How many reasons…none. Not a single one. But anyone who notices that and points it out, must be a loon. Because He Whom Oprah Called Brill-Yunt is so dang popular.

I’ve thought for awhile they need a new word to describe people like me. Like “quasi-Birthers” or “neo-Birthers” or “penumbral Birthers.” I consider the matter to be proven, Obama was born in Honolulu. The time and logistics required to travel to Kenya and back in 1961 — it just doesn’t add up. People would know, and they’d remember. The birth announcement in the newspaper would not exist…

…but when I see stories about how nutty those Birthers are, I end up thinking Obama and His most ardent supporters are the ones laboring under a pathological illness. They’re calling the other side nutty, just because that other side has not awarded them with the benefit of the doubt they think they deserve. Apparently, they aren’t able to cope if the benefit-of-doubt matter is decided any other way; their cogs slip out of the machinery completely.

Neil Abercrombie, Beacon of SanityImagine what it is like to go through life with this expectation you place on other people to believe whatever you have to say about anything…whether you know what you’re talking about, or not…just sort of automatically dismissing whoever so much as harbors a residual question about what you have to say. Imagine that. Let’s subject this one to the “Freeberg house sitting test” shall we? Who do you want taking care of your house while you’re on vacation for a week. Some spoiled brat who works for Obama, and was able to fool his mother into think he was putting the cookie back in the jar — and demands that intellectual deference out of anybody & everybody he meets since then, and from here on? Or, one of those whack-job Birthers who thinks Obama was born in Kenya because Obama hasn’t released the long form?

Considering the low magnitude of effort Obama would have to put out to release the form, I’d opt for the Birther. I’d even let him duplicate the key. And I’d sleep like a baby, unless you’ve got something else on him. The slobbering Obama fan who can’t handle anybody questioning him about anything, I don’t think I’d even want that guy to know what zip code I’m in.

How about these other people? Have you seen a picture of Neil Abercrombe, this beacon of sanity? Yeesh. New York Times columnists who talk about “the Birthers” with descriptions that could fairly fit a single individual person, but dissolve into puddles of illogical silliness when you describe a faction of people unified by a single idea…like…”they’ll never be convinced no matter what.” How about politicians who talk endlessly about meeting the challenge of diversity, overcoming our divisions, unifying ourselves, and then seeking to marginalize anybody who doesn’t think the way they do? How about slobbering Obama fans who say they’ll be on easy street now because Holy Man is going to pay their mortgage and put gas in their car?

If any of those people found out where I live, I think I’d move.

But the birther-apologists interest me the most. To them, you’re a nut if you don’t believe every single thing they say. Even if they know nothing of the subject matter they seek to discuss. Robert Gibbs, for example, seems older than he really is because he brandishes an ability to equivocate and lie that is typically not mastered until the passionate liar reaches his early fifties. He’s a full decade younger than Obama. And here he is derogating the competence of people who doubt what they’re told about his boss’ birth, as if he was there! He’s given a story to pass on…he passes it on…gets some resistance, and he can’t handle it.

These are the people who are going to stop wars from happening, and keep the missiles in their silos, with their refined diplomatic skills?

This is their negotiating tactic. The other guy does what you want, says what you want him to say, thinks what you want him to think, or else you call him crazy. It would appear they have none other.

Just ponder the ramifications of that for awhile. And Happy 2011, everybody.

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Update: You know, it occurs to me: Barack Obama is a skillful, practiced speaker and in a certain way, He is a positive role model for young men wondering how to cope with life, who might be lacking in any other lodestar they could follow. Other than those two things…everything I “know” about President Obama, is something I don’t really know. Except for the unflattering stuff (those items, for the most part, there is substantial evidence to back them up here & there).

I “know” He was born in Honolulu, not Kenya, because swarms of angry Obama zealots and New York Times columnists are ready to send some ridicule in the direction of anybody who offers something else.

He has said “I just think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody” and “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” But don’t worry, He’s not a socialist…I “know” that He isn’t a socialist…because someone is ready to make fun of me if I think He is one. I don’t really have any other way of knowing He isn’t a socialist.

He’s just ramrodded through a START II treaty that has Russia’s best interests at heart but not America’s. But again, I “know” He is loyal to America…not because of any hard evidence that tells me so…but because someone is ready to call me a whackadoodle and a kookburger if I believe that He is not.

He is a Christian and not a Muslim. Now, I really don’t care about this one way or the other. But how do I know He’s a Christian? Because He went to Jeremiah Wright’s church, of course! But of course that would mean He’s also an anti-white bigot. But no. He went to Jeremiah Wright’s church for twenty years to listen to all the Christian-ish sermons…but was snoozing through all the America-bashing sermons. Yes to Christianity, no to America-hating, because Obama was coincidentally tuning out at all the right times. Again, how do I “know” this? Because someone’s ready to ridicule me if I believe anything different. I don’t have any other reason to “know” such a thing. None.

This seems to be the situation with every little thing I “know” about Barack Obama. At least, the positive stuff. There’s no time to get to the evidence, because the people who stopped learning to do critical thinking while they were still in middle school, or the hippie zealots like Abercrombie, leap in to press the peer-pressure smackdown and hurl their invective about how offended they are, and contaminate the debate before we get to evaluate the hard facts. And so the facts get walled off and sealed out, because the Obamapologists have to have the first word as well as the last one.

And it’s the other guys who are fanatical.

Christmas in Bodega Bay

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Your Obligatory “Repealing DADT” Post

Friday, December 24th, 2010

First off, big congratulations to blogsister Cassy for her name’s prominent mention in the pages of the Weekly Standard under the pen of Bill Kristol. Her take on this:

At what point does concern turn into hysterics, and when does it becoming insulting to our honorable men and women in uniform?

I think this is a valid question, and I’m glad she got the attention she deserves. I’m not in complete agreement on this though because, based on what I have seen, “hysterics” is an unfair description. If you’re going to argue about arguments, I think before you form your counter-argument you should make observations about the arguments that are accurate and hysteria is not accurate.

What I have seen is fairly cross-sectioned at Neptunus Lex (hat tip to blogger friend Buck). These are mostly-vets who are just plum worn-out from all the social experimentation on what is supposed to be our nation’s first & last layer of defense against enemies to the republic. What I’m seeing here is not hysteria, not even close; it’s fatigue. Something has to be said. I don’t know about you, but I’m not seeing a single shrill syllable in the lot of it.

I do agree with where she’s going with it though. Her point is that these men and women are tougher than a lot of people think, and they’re professionals. They’ll take their orders and they’ll find a way to make it work.

As for whether it makes sense to repeal DADT: I’ll leave it to those serving in combat, and those who have served, and those who command those who serve in combat to comment on the effect of the repeal. As a civvy, I’m just looking for a reasoned, rational and explainable selection — by someone who’s supportive of homosexuals serving in the military — out of one of the only three available options:

1. Bill Clinton and Sam Nunn are bigoted homophobes.
2. Bill Clinton and Sam Nunn lack socially progressive vision.
3. Bill Clinton and Sam Nunn got it right: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Which must mean Barack & pals just screwed things up.

I suspect the most popular response would be: None of the above. True to form, I’m looking for independent, critical thinking where nobody ever said such things exist even in trace quantities. This isn’t about making sense, it’s about bowing to the inevitable. It’s where the wind is drifting, and it makes sense for our fighting forces to follow along. Or lead the way. Whatever.

And here we come to my concerns about what’s going on: As a technology & software guy, I have made myself monotonous over the years repeating a tired mantra in the work place (very rarely): Doing things exactly the same way some other guy is doing them, or a bunch of other people are doing them, is the opposite of what technology is. Well, bowing to the inevitable and going-along-to-get-along is the opposite of defense’s ostensible purpose. If that is the mission, then there is no mission.

A fighting force should be kept in a state of readiness. And the readiness is to rise up, to interfere with something that is happening, and to reverse course.

If you agree with that — and I don’t see how you can disagree — then you must necessarily agree “they need to do it because that’s just the way it’s going” is simply not good enough.

Three Minutes

Friday, December 24th, 2010

London Daily Mail:

They say you should never judge a book by its cover.

But when it comes to the opposite sex, it seems that’s exactly what women do.

It takes a woman just three minutes to make up her mind about whether she likes a man or not, a study has revealed.

The average female spends the time sizing up looks, physique and dress-sense as well as taking in scent, accent and eloquence of a potential suitor.

Women also quickly judge how he interacts with her friends and whether he is successful or ambitious.

It also emerged most women believe 180 seconds is long enough to gauge whether or not he is Mr Right, or Mr Wrong.

The study also found women rarely change their mind about a man after their initial reaction – and believe they are ‘always right’ in their assumptions and judgments.

The report which was commissioned among 3,000 adults to mark the release of Instinct, a new book by Ben Kay.

Kay said: ‘I think a lot of people believe in trusting their instincts when dating. It makes it seem more magical, like it’s coming from somewhere deeper.

‘But it’s surprising how quickly women make a decision. That’s barely enough time to finish a drink together.

‘It’s interesting that so many women trust their instincts and yet still give men the opportunity to change their minds.

‘Some men might think this is leading them on but I would imagine most women just want to give every bloke a fair shot.’

Um, yeah. About that last bit: I wouldn’t imagine that.

Back in my single days, I had formed a theory. Women are generally much more practiced than gentlemen about shopping in general. Practiced translates to “competent” if…and only if…you are working with the familiar. When there’s a paradigm shift it might still mean competent, but the practice can work against the interests of the practitioner if the paradigm shift alters the equation too much. And when you shop for a spouse, of course, you’re shopping for a living thing and not a set of napkin rings or a painting to hang on the wall.

Practiced, in that context, means entrenched. Entrenched in methods that aren’t likely to get the re-think they might need, for this new challenge.

I think men who’ve had experience dating, on average, will see something to this theory. I know I see it in a lot of my ex-girlfriends — they gave me a “yea” based on how I looked, as if I was some kind of fashion accoutrement. Or, that I had a promising career as a software engineer, and they were engaged in something more humble.

You pick out a set of wine goblets based on how happy they will make you, you pick out a CD player for your car based on how happy it will make you. You pick out a man…well you know, when you’re choosing a new alarm clock for your bedside or a new coffee table for your living room, yes three minutes does seem like plenty.

Kay’s study, I think, has proven my theory. The average woman — not the woman who is ecstatically happy with the choice she has ended up making, but just the average one — makes a mistake of choosing a life-helpmate the same way she chooses her next bedspread. She doesn’t alter her methods to suit the new effort, as she should.

As far as how well this works for her, don’t ask her. Ask her friends.

As for me, I altered my methods when I figured out it didn’t matter what kind of reception I got from “most” women; I couldn’t keep more than one, so it made no sense trying to appeal to any more than that. That was a good call on my part. I recommend it.

Two Centuries, Four Dimensions of Data

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Something to embiggen even the most unembiggenable of brains:

Among many other things, this shows my country has been getting a bad rap (or at least strongly suggests it). We haven’t been hoarding wealth, keeping it away from others; if anything, we have been leading the way.

There’s a fascinating little psychological twist going on with this blurb at the end about “green technology.” The associated fad seems to have the effect of fooling people into thinking they’re supporting human progress while they’re really opposing it.

The US of A is called out at 2:36, it’s a medium-large yellow dot. Did you see where it ended up at the end? How many orange blobs are clustered to its immediate left…which direction are they moving…and does that look to you like a not-so-friendly competition. This big blob of orange dots tightens considerably between 3:09 and 3:18 — you have to squint to see it — but that’s where the Maastricht Treaty is enacted, forming the European Union. And, yes, just as he says “now” the big yellow circle is bobbing leftward, you’re not imagining it.

Looks a little bit like…I would say, exactly like…a fox & a herd of hounds. Perhaps I’m paying this part of it more attention than I should, but it is the span of what is happening in the here-and-now. And the outcome isn’t looking too good for the fox.

Hat tip to blogger friend Buck.

Perpetual Spree

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Eating food, drinking wine, tra la la, oom pa pa.

“An Academic Sheen”

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Byron York writing in the Examiner:

If you look at a year-long graph of public attitudes toward the national health care law, you’ll see that the last time a majority of Americans supported the Democratic plan was July 2009 — before there actually was a Democratic plan. Once voters found out what was in Obamacare, they opposed it.
One obvious answer is that it’s a bad law. But that, of course, is unacceptable to Democrats who staked their careers on it. So they’ve come up with other explanations.

First they argued that voters disliked the law because they were unfamiliar with it — see Nancy Pelosi’s famous “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it” remark. Then they argued that the public actually likes many parts of the law and will ultimately like the whole thing. Finally, they argued that people have been misled by Republicans and the media, particularly Fox News.

Now, they’re doubling down with a new study that gives an academic sheen to their case, as well as a “fact-checking” analysis that purportedly proves GOP dishonesty.

The study, “Misinformation and the 2010 Election: A Study of the U.S. Electorate,” came out last week from a group at the University of Maryland called The report’s authors say they found “strong evidence that voters were substantially misinformed on many of the issues prominent in the election campaign.” One of those issues was health care.

York is going after the study where it is most vulnerable: The motive. After all, was anybody puttering about the kitchen in the early morning hours, feeding the cat and making the coffee, wondering “hmmm, are Fox News viewers well informed or under-informed?” No, pretty much everyone had one answer or the other already gelled in their heads, or else solidly didn’t care.

When we picked on the same study we went after the methods and how questionable they were. The bad motives represent a source for the bad methods, so as is usually the case with York’s work, we’re left thinking “gee wish I thought of that.” On the other hand, it is useful to highlight bad methods, since we’ll be seeing them again and again and again — the bad motive may or may not be so easily and so starkly proven out during the next cycle of “studies.”

The bad motives and the bad methods are both problematic. Neither factor contributes to the settling of questions or to the acquisition of knowledge. Neither one is helpful.

What’s broken? Who needs to fix something? Not PIPA; they’re advancing the agenda they want to advance. Not the University of Maryland; they’re acting as a mouthpiece, for the propaganda they think worthy and fitting.

Blame the electorate. We have communicated the message that we will support bad solutions if they make us look scholarly. If a plan will thicken the bureaucracy and rejuvenate the tort system rather than the private sector, and make it harder to access medical care instead of easier — but make us look cool and sophisticated in some way if we support it — most of us will support it.

We won’t support some other plan that restores profitability and control to the private sector, lowers costs, makes it easier to afford procedures and therefore coverage…if it makes us look like, say, an average housewife from Alaska who drops the ‘g’ off the ends of her words. We’ll reject that in a great big hurry, even if we know the alternative violates the letter and the spirit of the constitution.

And so we’ve left the door open for some enterprising fox to take up the job of guarding the henhouse. Naturally, the foxes are lining up. You’d have to think there’s something wrong with ’em if they didn’t.

Daphne Blames BP

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

In my opinion, she’s right — it’s unmistakable and undeniable that the oil company has been doing lots of things wrong.

My devastating question that derails the entire thought process could be best-phrased as: So you make all the people who run BP into perfect wonderful decent people, either by attrition or by some kind of hocus-pocus. Then what? How well is that gulf protected? Not very much. Even if you’re going to insist wonderful people make wonderful decisions all the time, which lead to a wonderful outcome all the time — that’s problematic in obvious ways — what if the next chairman of BP is a dick?

BP’s mission is, and was, to make money. The mission of the auditors was to stop this from happening. The disaster is, therefore, an indictment against the auditing and oversight process. It isn’t reasonable to reach any other conclusion.

My solution is to — for JUST once — tell the hippies to fuck off, and bring the drilling onto dry land so that if something goes wrong, it can be controlled. Apart from fixing the problem where things are truly broken, it would be healthy to direct a response of “no” where it is not typically directed. But it would be an understatement to say I’m open to a better idea…
Auditors, in my experience, tend to be boolean people. That’s a fancy way of saying they’ve made up their mind ahead of time whether you’re going to fail your audit or not, and [as is the case with] all human endeavors, facts & evidence don’t figure into the process as much as we like to tell each other they do.

So Long To Ya, 2010

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Hat tip to Linkiest.

Slaughterhouse Christmas

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

A man’s dinner centerpiece. Top that, Julia Child.

From Hot Air.

Top Ten Palin Haters

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Is there such a thing as a Sarah Palin hater who has redeeming personal qualities? I’m sure there are a few, but I don’t think they have any overlap with the hyper-zealot whack-jobs. The ones who work Palin’s name into discussions that have nothing to do with her. The ones who would wish harm on her for some unspecified slight. The true haters.

Bernhard Being FunnyThere’s something going on here, going unexplored, some problem that’s much bigger and much older than Sarah Palin. Of course, some of these people are actually older than Palin. That might be the problem. They haven’t accomplished as much. They have a problem with Palin and it isn’t her position on any one issue.

But then again, the people on this list are mostly about the same age and some of them are younger. They, too, do not appear to to be upset with Palin about issues. It seems they have, contrary to their ravings and their non-humorous “jokes,” picked up that the course of America’s history may be altered because of Palin’s existence, in one direction or another, on a level of magnitude great or small. And they’re none too pleased about it. They labor with a bevy of punchlines about Palin’s insignificance…not because she is insignificant…but because they want her to be. This, I think, has something to do with why they detest her. They come from a world in which things are, or might become, other things just because you wish it and you speak the wish. Palin does not come from such a world.

For this, they should not be jealous of her. And yet they are. They’re mad at themselves for wishing they were more like her, when they live out their lives in situations that should be more privileged. Or something…I think.

There are quite a few “comediennes” among Palin haters — females who are supposed to look hot, or who are supposed to have once looked hot, who make jokes that are not funny and the jokes usually have something to do with a vagina. I cannot help but think that their problem with Palin might have something to do with her dignity. Not even with the dignity she has…but simply that she values it as a positive thing to have, always has, and perhaps they perceive that it’s simply too late for them. You might say they have uncrossed their legs and they cannot cross them again.

There is a lot of “sour grapes” in Palin hatred, in both the women and the men.

“Why Are YOU Conservative/Libertarian?”

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Over on the Hello Kitty of Blogging, Refounders is asking the question.

My response:

It’s just common sense. Someone’s trying to build something, you help them or get out of the way. Someone’s trying to destroy something, you move to stop them. If something works well, you keep on doing it, and if it’s been given a few shots and has never panned out then you shelve it.

The reason this looks so much more complicated than it really is, is that it’s hard to demonstrate the true nature of something without contrasting it with something else. And when you place conservatism alongside liberalism, liberalism tends to want to talk about some things and not other things. There are many examples of what I’m talking about but I’ll just stick with “working families” as the best one. When liberals use this term, they don’t want you to take it literally, like “working families should keep more of their money” — you’re supposed to implicitly understand it means “people who make less than some amount, whether they work or not.” So you translate “working families keep more of their money” to mean “working families who make more than half a million a year, getting a tax cut” and of course while this logically qualifies, it is no longer within the class that the liberal is really trying to describe.

None of which comes as a shock to anybody. The problem is, though, that the liberal doesn’t clarify this point by using a more appropriate and accurate terminology — he clarifies it by steering the conversation, laying down rules that this thing over here can be discussed, and that thing over there cannot be. As this is accommodated, we all start using phrases and words to describe concepts quite different from what they are supposed to mean. Another of my favorites is “build a society that functions in the best interests of everyone” or “that works for everyone.” Again, the liberal will demand that some things be discussed, and other things will not be — so we end up using the word “everyone” to describe a concept that has very little to do with the real meaning of “everyone.”

Wonder WomanI do not mean to blame the liberal for this. Quite the opposite. We have been like warm putty in the liberals’ hands, and as a direct result of this they have become…ah, what’s the word. Audacious. And so we all end up using lots of words apart from their intended purposes. Skeptic, diversity, egalitarian, science…

This makes it tough to define liberalism, which poses some challenges in defining conservatism. The biggest obstacle to this is encountered when the liberal is actually engaged; they think their cause is noble, and so if honesty would reverse course on their progress even a little tiny bit, I’ve found a lot of them will stoop to deception without a moment’s conscious thought. At the very least, they’ll change the subject, on a macro- or a micro-level.

That’s not to impugn their character by the way. It’s a human thing they’re doing. I think these are mostly decent people who have moved past that zone where you’re willing to entertain a discussion about what to do, and want to see the chosen strategy implemented. They’ve lost their curiosity and can’t get it back again.

Which, by itself, doesn’t bring them into conflict with conservatives. They enter into conflict with conservatives when their chosen approach is offensive to a) a reasoned analysis of the problem, and its true nature; and/or b) history.

Therefore, I submit all significant conservative/liberal dust-ups fall into this pattern: The liberal wants a certain thing done, because there is a “good” class of people and a “bad” class of people, and the solution should work for the good people and against the bad people. The conservative is left stammering something equivalent to “What in…how in blazes is that supposed to solve the prob-a-luhm???” For daring to utter so much as a peep of protest against the solution the liberal has figured out is obviously the right way to go, the liberal calls the conservative stupid.

Of course, often the conservative retaliates in kind, which is the wrong way to go. If that happens, then you just have two people who disagree with each other calling each other stupid. This is where the true distinction becomes not only lost, but buried deep down.

One way this happens most reliably by means of the switcheroo. This is where the conservative and liberal start out with a productive exchange of ideas, reaching the point where they successfully figure out their difference of opinion comes from a difference of understanding of the basic facts. And so they examine the facts — the liberal discovers his facts are in error, and the conservative’s facts seem to be in order. And so the liberal “switcheroos” the conversation to a pissing contest, of sorts, about which person is more decent. It’s a subconscious, face-saving sort of thing. As if to say “okay, you caught me being mistaken, but it doesn’t matter because I’m a better person than you are.” Again, this is human. It is hard-wired into us from centuries of agrarian living.

It would be nice if the liberal could be somehow persuaded to stay on topic, stay away from ad hominem, to use words for their intended meaning and for none other…unless properly qualifying them. To say, instead of “working families,” something more honest like “people who have a lifestyle like mine, and don’t make any more money than I do or have anything I don’t have…plus all the lazy people who think work is for suckers.”

Maybe if their drink was spiked with some kind of drug. A truth serum of sorts.

I think, then, such a discussion would not bring the two sides together. But it would prove my point. The liberal would say “I want taxes to go up on everyone who makes more money than I do and that will fix everything.” The conservative would then say “Who is going to start a business that might hire people, if there’s no profit involved in it?” And the liberal, rather than calling the conservative a dupe and a shill for “big business” and “evil corporations,” would instead do the sensible and honest thing and fess up: “Yeah, but it makes me feel good. I like the idea of people being taxed more when they aren’t exactly like me. Makes me happy.”

And the conservative would rightfully point out “but logic and history both affirm that you’d be wrecking the economy.” And rather than chasing off down some bunny trail that has to do with brandishing some “ism” as a cudgel, the liberal would simply say something like “I know, but it’s worth it to me. And I can’t handle being told no.”

American SpiritAnyway, that’s what conservatism is; you can’t define it without defining liberalism, since conservatism is opposition to something. It opposes destruction and narcissism. It’s not about making liberals feel bad; it opposes finding solutions that are counterproductive, just because they happen to make liberals feel good.

Conservatism, contrary to popular belief, is about progress. It is about linear development. It does not advance wholesale abandonment of ideas that have failed. Instead, it proposes isolation of those ideas. They can be retired from production, while their most zealous and resourceful advocates tinker with them and find out what it takes to make them work.

Liberalism, on the other hand, advocates circular development. When an idea is found not to work, it is to be tried again, often without any significant change whatsoever from what was found to have failed.

Also, liberalism is about putting the new or unverified or previously-failed idea out on the production floor. Liberalism always insists that there be no way possible for anyone to get away from it.

This last one, I haven’t figured out. Do they consciously understand that, if the conservative idea were to be deployed into test sandbox A and the liberal idea were to be deployed into sandbox B, sandbox A would yield the more beneficial results and it would be embarrassing? Or is it just the political leaders who understand this, with the “man in the street” liberals just slavishly following along? I don’t know. But I do know this point of universal enactment, with complete eradication of any possible opt-out, is critically important to them. It is very often, across an abundance of unrelated issues, a non-negotiable item. And it is very rare that they are called upon to explain why this is.

Anyway, in the final analysis, conservatism is something adults do — something they must do, if they are to survive in any setting in which people take responsibility for the effects of what they do. It accepts ideas that work, rejects ideas that do not work, and among the ideas it rejects most quickly and forcefully is the idea that people need to be knocked down a few pegs when they happen to have achieved success.

Cross-posted at Washington Rebel.

“Aren’t Those Children’s Books?”

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Let the record show, this is Joy Behar’s idea of a thoughtful critique. Let’s be clear, it’s not a critique of a book, or a critique of a critique of a book. But a critique of a personal reading list offered by a former Vice Presidential candidate from whom the personal reading list is demanded routinely, when such personal reading lists are demanded of seemingly nobody else.

Anyway, this is my idea of a thoughtful critique. Joy Behar is welcome to have a different opinion, but, uh, hey I wonder what books Joy Behar reads?

Lewis explored the life-changing power of stories by writing one of his own, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” one of the seven books in “The Chronicles of Narnia.” One of the key themes of this book is the old maxim—”You are what you read.” He begins “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” with one of the most memorable lines in the series: “There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

BeharEustace, Lewis tells us, “liked books if they were books of information and had pictures of grain elevators or of fat foreign children doing exercises in model schools.” In other words, Eustace didn’t have time for the types of stories that Lewis wrote and thought were important—stories about “brave knights and heroic courage.”

Throughout “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” Lewis tells us repeatedly that Eustace’s biggest problem is that he “has read all the wrong books.” Lewis cites this as the reason that Eustace is overwhelmed when he first arrives in Narnia and finds himself in a dragon’s lair. “Most of us know what we should expect to find in a dragon’s lair,” Lewis writes, “but, as I said before, Eustace had read only the wrong books. They had a lot to say about exports and imports and governments and drains, but they were weak on dragons.”

To hammer the point home, Lewis describes why Eustace was not able to recognize an approaching dragon to quickly get to safety. “Something was crawling,” Lewis writes. “Worse still, something was coming out of the cave. Edmund or Lucy or you would have recognized it at once, but Eustace had read none of the right books.”
[C.S. Lewis] thought that fairy tales were the best way to convey truth for children and adults alike. He wrote about this quite often in his letters, and took no shame in reading fairy tales out loud in British pubs with his friend J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the epic “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Nowhere is this more poignantly expressed than in his dedication to Lucy Barfield in “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.” “You are already too old for fairy tales,” he wrote to the young Lucy, “but some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” Hopefully that day will come soon for Ms. Behar as well.