Archive for March, 2011

“Great Racks”

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Who doesn’t love a great rack?

So hie thee thence down to Blog-Uncle Gerard’s place…although be forewarned, lowly serf, all icons therein are not a fit for thine appointed place of office toil.

Also, that the display runs alongside a picture of Ayn Rand. Our blogger uncle has a stellar track record of knowing what he’s doing…and it is true Lady Rosenbaum does find favor with us, along with stunning visuals of mammaries. But it’s the minty-toothpaste-and-orange-juice thing, ya know? Some things just don’t go together. Plus, the modern age philosopher-novelist is looking righteously pissed off in a way few can manage. Sophia Loren, by contrast, looks inviting and pleasant.

Explaining the Last Two Decades

Friday, March 4th, 2011

…at least in terms of our democrat presidents. A Facebook brain fart from Yours Truly, jumps back over here…

Clinton : Beatty :: Obama : Sheen

And that is really all that needs to be said.

Well, almost anyway. Regarding the last of those four names, Sonic Charmer has reached the final phase of the cycle. I’m at that same point with the other three.

It’s a Secret: Barack Obama is Boring!

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Beth Shaw thought The One was unelectable, which was a big mistake. But she thought it for a good reason. She noticed it:

I have finally been able to put my finger on what it is that the democrats have been trying to keep the public from knowing. Barack Obama is boring. This is a secret. Its a super secret. Please don’t tell the democrats that we are on to this fact because they still have time to change their minds and put Hillary at the top of the ticket and get her 18 million voters back. Remember, she didn’t END her campaign, she just suspended it.

A campaign against Hillary would be fun too, but that’s a whole other story.

The man LOVES the sound of his own voice. He goes on and on and on and on. If you pay attention during his speeches – not to him but to the audience – you’ll notice that their eyes start glassing over. Then all of the sudden he’ll say ‘HOPE’ and they’ll all rouse up and start applauding and jumping up and down. When they settle down he starts talking again. Their eyes start glassing over and he goes on and on and on…

Michael Wolff noticed it in President Soetoro’s first year:

Barack Obama is a Bore!But now, at week 11, we’re face-to-face with the reality, the man can’t talk worth a damn.

You can see the fundamental mistake he’s making. Having been so successfully elected, he’s acting like people actually want to hear what he thinks. He’s the great earnest bore at the dinner party. Instead of singing for his supper, he’s just talking—and going on at length. The real job of making people part of the story you’re telling, of having them hang on your every word, of getting the tone and detail right, the hard job of holding a conversation, he ain’t doing.

He’s cold; he’s prickly; he’s uncomfortable; he’s not funny; and he’s getting awfully tedious. He thinks it’s all about him…

Robert Morrison notices it, and notices something else too:

Two million people gathered two years ago on the Mall to hear President Obama take the Oath of Office. It was assuredly an historic moment. But now, barely 25 months later, can anyone-supporter or opponent-recall a single memorable line from Inaugural Address? “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.” He said that?

Mr. Obama has also suffered from the 24/7 news cycle. Franklin Roosevelt “Fireside Chats” were offered sparingly. FDR knew the presidency was a precious national resource and he did not squander it. His major speeches were carefully crafted for maximum effect.

Compare Mr. Obama at Normandy with President Ronald Reagan at the same location twenty-five years earlier. Reagan spoke movingly of “the Boys of Pointe du Hoc”-our heroic Rangers-in cadences that gave echoes of Henry V and Gettysburg.

Mr. Obama was said by Newsweek’s Evan Thomas to hover over the nations at Normandy “like a god.” Awesome, but what did he say there? [emphasis mine]

President Barack Obama is, in fact, known for just a few identifiable, glowing snippets and there are people who can recite them instantaneously. The problem is, those are people like me who disapprove of Him. We use the glittering verbal trinkets to make our Obama Speech Bingo cards, because they don’t actually mean anything. “Let Me be clear,” “Make no mistake,” “We are the ones we have been waiting for,” et al.

Where’s the counterpart to “One Man Makes a Majority” or “The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself”? What can a slobbering Obama fan print up onto a tee shirt, or glaze onto a coffee mug, that won’t look silly?

It’s not too tall an order, is it? Shoot, I’m a blogger, widely ridiculed for my inability to say something in less than several thousand words…and after six years in “office” even I have just a few snippets some readers have found worthy of quotation. Doesn’t happen very often at all, mind you. But it seems to me, if I can pull it off and I don’t have any magazine editors babbling any glowing nonsense about my godlike superpowers, surely Birther Zero over there in the White House can say something that is both memorable and actually means something? Both at the same time?

Because to many among His supporters, that’s the one thing we were supposed to get out of this deal. The “ZOMG THERE’S JUST SOMETHING ABOUT HIM I CAN’T EXPLAIN IT!!!” voting bloc. C’mon, Barack…give ’em something. You’ve paid back everybody else, right? Where’s that super duper excitement and charisma-or-whatever so repetitively extolled two years ago?

Hand our leader a foreign crisis — like Libya. What does the president have to say about that? “This violence is unacceptable.” We don’t need a $400,000-a-year Commander-in-Chief and his $172,000-a-year speechwriter to tell us that.


He’s still a tough contender for His re-election bid, which suggests maybe none of this matters very much. But that contest is still in a state of uncertainty. And this is shaping up to be yet another argument, and by no means the first one, that perhaps this is a person who is good for a job different from the one He has, and that the job He has, requires a person whose talents are far different from His.

Hat tip to Boortz.

Palin Irony…That Just Says it All

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

I know I’ve been linking to Kate at Small Dead Animals a lot, there’s a reason for that. You really should make it a regular stop if you aren’t doing so already.

Some of the things you’ll not find elsewhere — this bit of cognitive dissonance.

An online petition declaring this week “Ignore Sarah Palin Week” …. has attracted more than 32,000 signatures.

Nothing to add.

Sen. Grothman is “Peacefully” Protested

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Via Michelle Malkin:

She adds…

AFSCME, UCFW, SEIU: Does this behavior make all our children proud and improve the national tone, like President Obama asked us all to do post-Tucson?

I wonder what Mahatma Ghandi would think of this…

The “peaceful protest” at the end — really, really creepy. “Cameras are rolling, guys!” at 7:00 — ditto.

I’ve said before that left-wing politics seem to have a goal of transforming people into barnyard animals. Usually, what I have in mind with regard to that statement is cattle…as in, overly-modernized family law that estranges the father, diminishes his role into one of sperm donor who leaves his contribution and then moves on, just like a bull. Or halfway-domesticated sheep, milling about, waiting to be told where to go & what to do…or hogs at the trough…

The union-politicking turns them into geese. Angry geese. The “moderates” who are fooled into supporting this stuff, I wonder if they realize how bad it gets sometimes.

“What Conservatives Really Want”

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

George Lakoff:

—Dedicated to the peaceful protestors in Wisconsin, February 19, 2011

The central issue in our political life is not being discussed. At stake is the moral basis of American democracy.

The individual issues are all too real: assaults on unions, public employees, women’s rights, immigrants, the environment, health care, voting rights, food safety, pensions, prenatal care, science, public broadcasting, and on and on.
Budget deficits are a ruse, as we’ve seen in Wisconsin, where the Governor turned a surplus into a deficit by providing corporate tax breaks, and then used the deficit as a ploy to break the unions, not just in Wisconsin, but seeking to be the first domino in a nationwide conservative movement.

Deficits can be addressed by raising revenue, plugging tax loopholes, putting people to work, and developing the economy long-term in all the ways the President has discussed. But deficits are not what really matters to conservatives.

Conservatives really want to change the basis of American life, to make America run according to the conservative moral worldview in all areas of life.

In the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama accurately described the basis of American democracy: Empathy — citizens caring for each other, both social and personal responsibility — acting on that care, and an ethic of excellence. From these, our freedoms and our way of life follow, as does the role of government: to protect and empower everyone equally. Protection includes safety, health, the environment, pensions and empowerment starts with education and infrastructure. No one can be free without these, and without a commitment to care and act on that care by one’s fellow citizens.

The conservative worldview rejects all of that.

Conservatives believe in individual responsibility alone, not social responsibility. They don’t think government should help its citizens. That is, they don’t think citizens should help each other. The part of government they want to cut is not the military (we have over 800** military bases around the world), not government subsidies to corporations, not the aspect of government that fits their worldview. They want to cut the part that helps people. Why? Because that violates individual responsibility.

But where does that view of individual responsibility alone come from?

The way to understand the conservative moral system is to consider a strict father family. The father is The Decider, the ultimate moral authority in the family. His authority must not be challenged. His job is to protect the family, to support the family (by winning competitions in the marketplace), and to teach his kids right from wrong by disciplining them physically when they do wrong. The use of force is necessary and required. Only then will children develop the internal discipline to become moral beings. And only with such discipline will they be able to prosper. And what of people who are not prosperous? They don’t have discipline, and without discipline they cannot be moral, so they deserve their poverty. The good people are hence the prosperous people. Helping others takes away their discipline, and hence makes them both unable to prosper on their own and function morally.

The market itself is seen in this way. The slogan, “Let the market decide” assumes the market itself is The Decider. The market is seen as both natural (since it is assumed that people naturally seek their self-interest) and moral (if everyone seeks their own profit, the profit of all will be maximized by the invisible hand). As the ultimate moral authority, there should be no power higher than the market that might go against market values. Thus the government can spend money to protect the market and promote market values, but should not rule over it either through (1) regulation, (2) taxation, (3) unions and worker rights, (4) environmental protection or food safety laws, and (5) tort cases. Moreover, government should not do public service. The market has service industries for that. Thus, it would be wrong for the government to provide health care, education, public broadcasting, public parks, and so on. The very idea of these things is at odds with the conservative moral system. No one should be paying for anyone else. It is individual responsibility in all arenas. Taxation is thus seen as taking money away from those who have earned it and giving it to people who don’t deserve it. Taxation cannot be seen as providing the necessities of life, a civilized society, and as necessary for business to prosper.

I found the “empathy” thing snort-worthy. It certainly isn’t true that conservatives “reject all that,” it isn’t even true that conservatives are any less accepting of it than our modern liberals. My dictionary says empathy is:

the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

And looking high & low for some stellar example of a failure of empathy, I guess I would need to inpsect…uh…oh, how about a George Lakoff editorial. Where he starts chastising democrats for helping those evil awful conservatives too much:

Democrats help radical conservatives by accepting the deficit frame and arguing about what to cut. Even arguing against specific “cuts” is working within the conservative frame. What is the alternative? Pointing out what conservatives really want. Point out that there is plenty of money in America, and in Wisconsin. It is at the top. The disparity in financial assets is un-American — the top one percent has more financial assets than the bottom 95 percent. Middle class wages have been flat for 30 years, while the wealth has floated to the top. This fits the conservative way of life, but not the American way of life.

Plenty of money up there at the top. So just go get it. Nevermind the message this sends to people starting businesses, or thinking about starting businesses, or thinking about expanding them. Good luck, suckers, if you do manage to make a buck at it you won’t be able to hang on to it for long. George Lakoff sees your money!

How un-empathic.

The thing about equality draws a sad sort of chortle out of me as well. Equality? Good heavens, Lakoff’s little masterpiece here is loaded up, from top to bottom, with good guys and bad guys. He doesn’t see people as equally virtuous, and certainly, he doesn’t see it as a noble goal that they should all participate in a democracy with an equal vote. This isn’t the work of someone who sees people as “equal”; not even close. Does he seriously think he sees people this way? If so, he’s insane.

There’s a long diatribe about midpoint about a patriarchal household or some such, with a benevolent patriarch instilling discipline in the lesser house-members by telling them what’s what & what for. Not to belabor the obvious, but…well, I’ll go ahead and belabor it. This is pure projection. Who do you see in this equation being authoritarian…knowing best…stating unequivocally who’s supposed to make the rules, who’s supposed to snap-to attention and do what they’re told without giving any lip?

In my recent memory, that would be George Lakoff. Obama and the liberal politicians will tell the businesses and the “rich” what they’re supposed to pay, and those awful rich people will just pony it up. Through some kind of system of checks & balances? Lakoff doesn’t say; it comes off looking like every tax increase is just supposed to be an itch between a pair of ears somewhere, followed by a scrawling of a pen, and it’s done-and-done. Is that what he means? If so, what could be more “strict father”-ish than that?

I wonder how many conservatives George Lakoff knows. He’s telling us what it is they want, so it’s not an entirely irrelevant question.

A grateful hat tip to my old blogger friend JoAnn (sorry if I botched your name).


Tuesday, March 1st, 2011


San Francisco’s big push for low-flow toilets has turned into a multimillion-dollar plumbing stink.

Skimping on toilet water has resulted in more sludge backing up inside the sewer pipes, said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission. That has created a rotten-egg stench near AT&T Park and elsewhere, especially during the dry summer months.

The city has already spent $100 million over the past five years to upgrade its sewer system and sewage plants, in part to combat the odor problem.

Now officials are stocking up on a $14 million, three-year supply of highly concentrated sodium hypochlorite – better known as bleach – to act as an odor eater and to disinfect the city’s treated water before it’s dumped into the bay. It will also be used to sanitize drinking water.

That translates into 8.5 million pounds of bleach either being poured down city drains or into the drinking water supply every year.

The perils that are visited upon us when we never, never, ever tell the tree-hugging hippies “no.” Now, we have to provide our proper stewardship to the planet, the only one we have, Mother Earth, by pouring bleach into the system.

Something’s not quite getting thunk out all the way here, fellas.

Another hat tip to Kate at Small Dead Animals.

“Comrades: Kennedy, Cronkite and Barbara Walters”

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

That dinner coming up where we were going to invite Barbara Walters and blogger friend Joan of Argghh!….and seat them next to each other. You know what, I think we might be putting that one off a little while.

Courtesy of Judicial Watch, via Doug Ross’ Journal, we see a fine example of what it means to discern the times you live in, and to judge a man by his actions. You weren’t crazy, you were right all along. In this instance, two men and one now-grandmotherly woman all chummy with the political pervert’s plans to undermine our country:

Furthermore, Kennedy approached the Soviets with an offer to help undermine Ronald Reagan’s 1984 presidential reelection campaign. Kennedy proposed a public relations blitz and mentioned his friends — Walter Cronkite and Barbara Walters, by name — as willing to assist in the propaganda effort.

Read Doug’s post first. There are no civil words for media and political figures like these. So, fuck Water Cronkite, fuck the Kennedys, and fuck Barbara Walters.

Every now and then, someone will scold me for taking the trouble to link to a blog. Read the mainstream news intead, they tell me. And I usually come back with something about evolving to address the realities of a changing world; using one’s intellect to recognize truths, and adapt to them. I try to remind them that it is a world of selection. We don’t subscribe to one of two major local newspapers or tune in to one of three alphabet-soup networks at six o’clock to find out what someone wants us to think. That’s a very 1960 way of taking in your information; a teevee-tray-and-rickety-folding-table way of doing it. The cliche I use most often is something like “The era of Walter Cronkite is over.”

I have no regrets about presenting it that way. None at all. Relying on a single-source for your understanding of what’s going on in the world, should be recognized as a bad move even by the most casual observer. Because people want power. It’s human nature to try to figure out how to have a bigger effect on things.

So millions upon millions of people saw Cronkite as the kindly old trusted uncle we could all rely on to tell us the news. Well, bully for those millions. Cronkite obviously didn’t see himself that way, and that’s what really counts.

Viewing the world through Walter Cronkite’s presentation of it, is going to be recognized by history on par with treating a case of tuberculosis with burning incense and magic spells. Whether it was a ritual engaged day after day by millions and millions, doesn’t matter one bit. It’s a ritual that is aging very poorly, and time is only just beginning to leave its harshest marks upon it.

Time to admit it. We were hoodwinked.

Blood Spatter Breakthrough in Forensics

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Technology Review:

Any droplet that hits the ground at an angle leaves an elliptical mark. It’s straightforward to measure the shape of these ellipses and then extrapolate along their semimajor axes to see where they cross. This gives you the location of the vertical axis of the source.

But try determining the height of the source and you’ll soon run into trouble. The eccentricity of the ellipse tells the angle of impact but trace this back to the vertical axis and you’ll find that there can usually be more than one possible source height.

Forensic scientists have always had to rely on other clues to help them work out what the true height must have been.

Now Christopher Varney and Fred Gittes at Washington State University have found a way to solve this problem using elementary trigonometry. First, they derived a simple expression that links the launch height and angle of the droplet with its horizontal flight distance and angle of impact.

They then realised that although the launch height of a single droplet cannot be uniquely determined, it ought to be possible with data from many droplets released with the same launch angle and height but different velocities. In that case plotting a certain relationship between the angle of impacts and horizontal flight distances of all the droplets should produce a straight line.

But here’s the clever part. The technique only works if the droplets all have the same launch angle. If they have different launch angles it fails. But in this case, the plot produces a scatter rather than a straight line and so can be picked out as a null result rather than giving an erroneous measure of height.

That’s important in forensics. A “fail safe” technique is crucial for evidence that can be used to obtain a conviction.

Hat tip to Dyspepsia Generation.

Krugman Critiques Texas

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Specifically, the education or lack thereof with regard to Texas children:

Texas likes to portray itself as a model of small government, and indeed it is. Taxes are low, at least if you’re in the upper part of the income distribution (taxes on the bottom 40 percent of the population are actually above the national average). Government spending is also low. And to be fair, low taxes may be one reason for the state’s rapid population growth, although low housing prices are surely much more important.

But here’s the thing: While low spending may sound good in the abstract, what it amounts to in practice is low spending on children, who account directly or indirectly for a large part of government outlays at the state and local level.

And in low-tax, low-spending Texas, the kids are not all right. The high school graduation rate, at just 61.3 percent, puts Texas 43rd out of 50 in state rankings. Nationally, the state ranks fifth in child poverty; it leads in the percentage of children without health insurance. And only 78 percent of Texas children are in excellent or very good health, significantly below the national average.

Oops, though:

Slight problem here, namely, the cause and effect relationship that Krugman implies. If low state spending leads to high state dropout rates, as Krugman suggests, then riddle me this: Why does California spend more per pupil, yet have a higher dropout rate? And why does New York spend even more per pupil than California and Texas, and also have a higher drop-out rate? And why does the District of Columbia spend almost twice as much money per pupil as Texas, and yet have a much higher dropout rate than Texas?

Don’t take my word for it: Here’s a chart showing the state dropout rates, and here’s a chart showing state spending per pupil. They’re not for the same year, but the trends are fairly consistent year to year. More government spending does not necessarily lead to higher graduation rates. It’s not that simple, especially in states where the requirement to educate the children of illegal aliens grows year by year.

I’m seeing Colorado is the next notch up from Texas in terms of spending per student, with a dropout rate of 6.9 to Texas’ 4.0. My native Washington State would be the next one up, and it is also burdened by a dropout rate greater than Texas’. Overall, the relationship these two metrics seem to have, assuming they have one at all, is rather tenuous. There seems to be more going on. I’m pretty sure a X-Y scatter diagram would bear that out. Like Tatler said, it’s just not as simple as spend-money-help-kids.

It very seldom is, with anything.

Tatler goes on to look into the lavishly paid administrators — not teachers. And of course there are two sides to this coin…the administrators seem to think they’re being compensated fairly. We all think we’re being compensated fairly, or are underpaid. But it all comes down to this final finish:

I find it pretty hard to justify making local public school bureaucrats rich, especially when taxpayers are hurting and the states are going broke. Perhaps Krugman doesn’t agree, and thinks we should just keep spending more without looking at where the money is going, or the impact it has when it is taken from the taxpayer. If that’s his position, he should make that argument.

It’s a transaction within a free economy, or quasi-free economy, just like any other — we are engaged in a process of finding the midpoint. We look for clues that we’re not spending enough on public school education, and we look for clues that maybe we’re spending too much. Right now, the evidence says the next move is a cut.

Now, to go leaping in there with guns blazing with your “Won’t Somebody Please Think Of The Children?!?” does not impress me as intelligent, preventative, let’s-stop-a-disaster medicine. It is a thwarting of the signaling network that makes a quasi-free economy work. It is deliberate sabotage; it is a blocking out, a strident rule that says “no matter what happens, this number can never go down.” It is childlike thinking, falling far short of what I would expect from a Nobel Prize winner in economics.

“Father Do Not Forgive Them…”

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011


Whenever the objection is made that LeftLibProgism has failed everywhere it has been tried, the response is always that it just wasn’t tried on a large enough scale. This is the argument that the cure for bad pop music is to just make it louder. The implied endgame is that only when the entire world is remade in the LeftLibProg model, “world without end always,” will the promised utopia arrive. Hence the wrecking ball of LeftLibProg economics must be swung against the pillars of civilization until the whole structure comes tumbling in upon itself. With help from the scions of greed at the far end of maxi-capitalism this vision currently has a whisper of a hope of actually happening.

Commenter elaine adds:

The thing that made America different was the idea (reality?) that class isn’t fixed; that we can move up or down the economic ladder. This isn’t true in other countries. Even now, if you make money in most of the world, you still can’t live down your humble roots. You see some of that snobbery in America today, and it seems most often to be espoused by LeftLibProgs. Oh, they usually couch it in more clever or subtle terms, but that’s what it really boils down to.

Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity initiative — that obesity is a national security issue if all those poor and middle class males are too fat to be soldiers — smacks of this attitude, that the poor and middle class white males aren’t fit for anything better than to be used as cannon fodder for the whos of this nation. They don’t have the right to open their own businesses and be their own men, if they were born into families of humble means…

It’s fast becoming clear to me that many of the LeftLibProgs in high places see the rest of us as pawns they play with on a chess board. Serfs who make the goods and pay the taxes to support their lavish lifestyles. They don’t care about us, though they’re adequate at pretending to. (Clinton’s “I feel your pain” comes to mind as an example.)

For too long, we’ve bought it. Every time they’ve framed the debate in more winning terms, the rubes have fallen for it. “It’s for the children” — say that, and you’ve won the argument. So the teachers in Madison have called in sick and deprived their students of their lessons, but those teachers are selflessly striking “for the children”…

It would be laughable, if the underlying problem weren’t so serious.

Outraged Protester

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Hat tip to Weasel Zippers, via Boortz.