Archive for September, 2011

End of Wild, Crazy Vacation

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

I’m here, I made it.

The plan to put up a post each day, sort of bit the mat. Just didn’t have that kind of time. Anyway, your closing stats are: Six days, 276.2mi, something most 15-year-olds can’t do. And I’m 45. So nyeah.

Off to the wine & beer bar, for the second of those two items…down by the pool…the Chinese restaurant is delivering War Won Ton and Phad Thai in 30 min. Tomorrow we’ve got a busy day of nuthin’, pure goofing-off. Night all!

Update: Was thinking maybe I should describe the collage above. Clockwise from upper-left: This is one of the picturesque views of downtown Winters, at twilight, facing North on Railroad Ave., the evening arrived as I was going out to get some chow. Next, on the last day, taking advantage of absolutely no traffic on Browns Valley Rd., right before crossing the city limits of Vacaville and completing my loop. Got my second flat tire about a quarter mile later. Next, view from the overpass, I-80 Exit 55, facing East. And the last one is the home stretch, Jameson Canyon Rd, which is Highway 12 heading West…right after it divides from 80. At the end of this is the Marriott…and my fiance…and her car…and Gatorade…and beer.

“If I Don’t Call You”

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Received a personal e-mail the other day from President Obama. I notice He consistently applies salutation on His notes and letters the same way: Christian name of the recipient, space, two dashes, new line. An impressive, crisp, efficient flourish with a distinct overtone of “You owe me, I don’t owe you,” the tenor of a Field Marshall summoning the soldiers to arms.

Morgan –

I enjoy talking about fundraising deadlines as much as I imagine you enjoy hearing about them.

But this Friday’s deadline is important.

It’s a chance for us to prove how we’re different from any campaign in politics: We rely on ordinary Americans giving what they can — one grassroots donation at a time.

This is not just a campaign. It’s a chance for each of us as citizens to organize and change the course of history.

And before we close the books this Friday at midnight, I hope you’ll become a part of it.

Please donate $3 or more today.

I’ll be calling some grassroots donors like you by phone this week, so I can say thank you.

And if I don’t call you, there’s a chance I’ll see you at dinner with three other supporters sometime soon.

Even if I don’t get to thank you personally, every single donation counts…

Thanks for doing your part,

Barack

So, noticing something vital seemed to be missing from this polished overture, I replied with an earnest inquiry:

Barack –

Can you please refresh my memory? What exactly is it we’re trying to accomplish here?

Wild Crazy Vacation, Day Four

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

CalistogaOut: 8:47am
In: 4:16pm
Start: Guerneville
End: Calistoga
Distance: 42.9 mi
Trip total: 183.1 mi

Forty miles isn’t much, so I knew I could afford a late start. And it was necessary, since I was at the mercy of the cottage’s continental breakfast, doors unlocking at eight o’clock. No dead animals on the table, so I spent some more minutes loading up on yogurt, a bagel, banana, apple, coffee and orange juice. I’m exerting myself as if two-thirds of my age never happened; I gotta eat that way too.

In what turned out to be a harbinger of the mild inconvenience later in the day, I discovered a couple miles out I needed to firm up the rear tube with my portable pump. Having attended to that, I found Westside Road to be unexpectedly accommodating. This as a route I traced a couple weekends previous in my car, and it looked daunting. It does start out that way; a good distance of granny-gear incline that’ll test your mettle. But the residue from my bad case of the “blahs” had subsided by now, I pushed through and found the worst of it was over in a matter of minutes.

See, it’s all in how you look at it. Just like life! That’s why we do stuff like this, isn’t it?

Simplifying matters further, I found my mileage calculations were bolluxed by about three miles, to my benefit. I ended up making Healdsburg by eleven. Charming place, Healdsburg is. All the tourist-friendly stuff is strategically located on the south end of town, which is hippie’d up…with the more appealing and approachable side of hippie-dom. Think of: interior decorations, new-age music, candles, incense, moon-goddess type stuff.

I wonder if Fairhaven, the setting for my middle-school days, has been engaged in an effort to emulate Healdsburg.

The map says Calistoga is a straight shot down Highway 128 from the point where Alexander Valley Highway ends. This was outside of the route I traced by car; that’s a decision I might have made differently, knowing then what I know now. Challenges await. I had previously forecast my arrival time at 1520, and I ended up gliding in about an hour behind that, almost entirely due to difficulties in the last half-dozen miles.

Good timing, that. Calistoga is something of a bicycle-equipment-shopper’s paradise, and after inspecting and reinspecting my back tire I decided I didn’t want that old tire housing a new tube.

The GPS spot thing is just an expensive flashing light at this point. I put up some notifications on the social media everywhere I could think of it, to the effect that I’m still around and not marooned way back there, as the signal would indicate. After soaking my tired old ass in the jacuzzi for the better part of an hour, I limped off to bed and left the rear-tire repair work for the morning.

Happy Birthday, Professor Mondo

Monday, September 26th, 2011

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Blog That Nobody Reads (that’s this) is not blessed by an especially wise or insightful author, but it has by far the most intelligent readers around. Yeah, I’m going on record: Your blog may be bigger, it may be better, it may be older, but my readers are smarter.

And Professor Mondo is as good a representative as any of the archetype. We have, I dunno, six or eight or ten of these; I’ve lost count quite awhile ago. Professor or other such specialist, working in a higher-education facility somewhere, being conservative of personal ideology, toiling away behind a veneer of anonymity for obvious reasons, be it thick or thin. It is our primary demographic.

But this isn’t about us; it’s about Mondo. So please join me in congratulating one of our favorite readers and fellow bloggers as he celebrates some anniversary of his 29th birthday.

Memo For File CXLIV

Monday, September 26th, 2011

With what must surely rank highly among the raspiest mental-sighs possible, I pull out the file folder marked “technology working against us, giving us more work to do,” and prepare to file the following article therein:

ATTENTION ALL WELL-INTENTIONED ACQUAINTANCES, THE NEW AND THE ANCIENT, THE INTIMATE AND THE CASUAL: MORGAN KARLSSON FREEBERG IS NOT DEAD OR DYING. Not yet. He is nowhere near Bloomfield, California, the location of the last update from his “I work when I damn well want to” newfangled overpriced GPS emergency-signalling device. He has not been bitten by a venomous serpent. He has not been run off the road by an inebriated wine-country-touring hippie piloting some five-ton SUV. He is not lying in a ditch, bleeding out under the moonlight, with a severed artery. He hasn’t been dragged under the wheels of a semi truck and turned into hash. He hasn’t suffered a myocardial infarction and been reduced to a pile of aluminum-human-flesh roadkill in the middle of Highway 1.

Morgan K. Freeberg has not been in Bloomfield for a good thirty hours now; he is a good seventy or eighty miles past that point, with a belly full of red beer and white pork tenderloin. Which would be a reasonable deal if he paid twice for it what he did. Morgan K. Freeberg is in Calistoga, and his biggest worries on earth are that he needs to install a new bike tire (which has been acquired, and is sitting in an armchar in his hotel room), and about 185 miles into his bicycling-vacation, his ass & thighs hurt like a sonofabitch. But he’s buck-ass naked as the day he was born, sitting in a hot tub, with bubbles, remedying that. Drinking more beer. On the other hand, he’s alone…on the other hand, that’s getting fixed too, tomorrow night. So the celibate lifestyle is getting fixed, the super-sore ass is getting fixed…we have laundry facilities tomorrow afternoon too, so that’s also getting fixed. No venom from the wildlife, no injuries, no broken blood vessels. All’s good. Everything’s fine.

I have several hundred dollars sunk into this “GPS spot” device which doesn’t work. Yes, that is a problem. But I think I figured it out: If you put in alkaline batteries, as opposed to lithium, the device will do what it’s supposed to until the charge runs down to 90%, then it will just blink its lights at you. That would explain everything; it would explain why the reviews are so evenly divided between “It does exactly what I wanted!” and “I can’t believe I got taken on this piece of shit.” It isn’t the location, and it isn’t whether you have sweat-soaked bicyclists’ headbands packed on top of the transmitter; it’s the batteries.

Only thing is: I put the batteries in, that arrived with the device.

Whatever. I appreciate everybody’s concerns, but I am not in Bloomfield, I am in Calistoga. I’m sitting in a jacuzzi drinking beer, blogging. I’m just fine. Doing better than you.

Wild Crazy Vacation, Day Three

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Dancin'Out: 7:32am
In: 5:14pm
Start: Petaluma
End: Guerneville
Distance: 53.5 mi
Trip total: 140.2 mi

I was warned that going up eastward from the mouth of the Russian River would be a draining experience due to the steep inclines. My experience has been the exact opposite. I turned the corner just south of Jenner, around 4 o’clock, top-of-the-hour…and it was as if someone bolted on a motorcycle engine when I wasn’t looking. Going up the seashore highway, right before, is the tough part, Up, down, up, down, high gear, low gear, granny-gear, no shoulder, ten solid miles that seem like forty.

Up the river? Weird. It’s like a fundamental change to the laws of physics that bind the universe. Duh…hey waitaminnit, I’m sustaining a speed of 17mph without even working at it. Uphill, WTH?

I was tempted by a sign at Duncans Mills offering BBQ’s oysters from 1-4 pm. I figured I was just missing the window, but I steered off course because I could hear the live music, and snapped a pic of this impromptu setting. The dancing fella was swinging his gal around like a pro, it was great stuff, wish I had a video of it. And then they settled in for some slow dancing just as I had my camera juiced up…that doesn’t make for a good shot. So as they were slowly spinning around, he saw me and was good enough to oblige with another dip. I kinda sorta caught it, so I gave him a smile and a thumbs-up.

I decided to leave the oyster offering for some other time, and push onward.

There are better shots, but they capture the natural beauty of the place, and therefore look like many others I have. This one shows the laid-back fun-loving side of life on the Russian River. We should certainly come back so I can make some efforts to improve on it.

Progressive Taxes

Monday, September 26th, 2011

One of my more independent-minded Facebook friends, someone I’ve learned to respect although he’s probably to the political left of me somewhere, took his turn to bash that ignorant slut Elizabeth Warren.

To which I say, Yes. Everybody line up & grab a number.

Good (even great!) arguments for progressive taxation exist. (“We’re broke” is actually an excellent one.) Elizabeth Warren’s relay of tired academic orthodoxy is not such an argument. Though it’s worthwhile to think about the systems that lead us to be able to be able to acquire wealth, and government is part of that, so are free markets, the harnessing of self-interest as a motivational tool that our economy relies on, and the fact that we as a society respect the right of those who earn money to keep it rather than go French-Revolution* on them.

Ah. Well, he’s right about pretty much everything, and I didn’t like jumping down this little rabbit hole, but I had to.

Fantastic post Bob; well said.

I know it’s a parenthetical point, but I have to take issue with the thing about “we’re broke” being an excellent point in favor of progressive taxation. Take it downward in the hierarchy a level or two, to the state and municipal governments; they have the same argument. Now if you start flying around from city to city and buying up local newspapers, reading all these sob stories about local treasuries being broke — after awhile, the message emerges and it is crystal clear: It is the nature of government to entirely avoid accountability for living beyond means. In other words, it is ALWAYS the taxpayer’s fault for not paying enough.

The message becomes even clearer when one starts to review the line item expenses maintained by these governments. Just speaking for myself, I would characterize it as “abuse” if the average age & mileage of the local citizens’ automobiles is measurably greater than the average age & milage of those driven by government officials. Some would disagree with that viewpoint with some legitimacy; but you can just imagine how I feel about $2M spent to study monkey-fornicating habits, or $3M for researchers to play World of Warcraft.

I mean, I think you get the point. “Hey we better not approve this expense because we might not be able to come up with the money for it” — it’s a thought that just doesn’t reverberate. Maybe that can’t be done, but no, “we’re broke” is not an excellent point for progressive taxation. It isn’t even an adequate one.

Bob fessed up that he “went too far,” which is good because we were able to get back to the primary subject, about which he is completely in the right. Incremental improvement.

Since then, I see President Obama is making the news because He’s going to be speaking in Silicon Valley…and I already know what He’s going to say: We have to make the tax system more progressive, because the goverment is in debt up to its ass, and these millionaires-n-billionaires (one word there) are getting away with murder.

It makes me think back to this exchange about the virtue of progressive taxation.

Three things I think all intelligent people paying attention to the issue, realize implicitly, although nobody talks about them out loud. So it falls to The Blog That Nobody Reads to point out the elephant in the room.

One. Conservatives recognize there must be something “okay” with a progressive tax system, and that thing makes any argument about it entirely moot. We are always going to have a progressive tax scheme as long as our government is awash in red ink, and our government is always going to be awash in red ink. The math says so. Imagine what revenues we would have to raise to pay all of one year’s expenses, service the public debt, and avoid running a deficit for that year. Now divide that by the number of people who might conceivably pay taxes…and imagine the least prosperous among those taxpayers sending in that quotient to the IRS. It’s just not going to happen. So there is going to have to be some progressive-curve in what these people & businesses are forking over.

Two. President Obama’s message, “Now that we’re in deep trouble we need to ‘ask’ more of our millionaires-n-billionaires,” creates a self-perpetuating, vicious political circle that is helpful to the liberal cause although it hurts the country. We are in a “hyper-progressive” taxation posture, by which I mean not only are the people at the high end paying more than the people at the low end, but many on the low end are not paying anything at all. So when it’s time to raise the money, many of the voters will back the President in saying yeah, tax that guy over there — what do I care? I’m still paying nothing. That’s the revenue side; when it comes to spending, the electorate will then say hell yes, go ahead and spend the money. Again, what do I care?

Three. Because we’re in this vicious circle, there is an obvious anesthetizing effect coming from the progressive taxation. One thing I like to run past passionate progressives is, let’s just say as a matter of policy proposal, we compromise by remaining progressive but ceasing to be hyper-progressive. We keep the curve, but it reaches all the way over to the left side of the graph; the taxpayer of most humble means is still paying a dollar a year. Everyone has skin in the game. Not a single one of them will agree to that because “I feel that would be greedy,” they say. But maybe that’s the answer, because all the taxpayers who are voting, would have a tactile feel for what’s going on. And it is a good compromise.

From all this, I have lately had a thought. Obama’s message lately — it hasn’t varied even a single bit, for the last few months — relies on a moral premise that a hyper-progressive tax scheme becomes more virtuous as our nation’s financial stature becomes less sturdy, less solvent, more ramshackle. Maybe, instead of flinging insults back and forth, conservatives and liberals should debate that. Specifically, I’d like to see some attention placed on the question: Wouldn’t the President’s implied moral proffering make more sense if it were precisely reversed? In other words, a hyper-progressive taxation curve, in which all the bills are paid by the top 50% and the more you make, the more you pay, makes most sense and is morally defensible when the government is in the black. It spends itself into debt, cannot raise enough to pay its bills, so it starts to tax the bottom half, albeit at a much lower rate. So it has hyper-progressive taxation when it can afford that luxury, and loses it after a time when it can no longer afford it, so that everyone starts to help out. And because everyone helps out, everyone gains this “tactile feel” of the expanding crisis. Many hands make light work.

Wouldn’t that make a lot more sense than what President Obama is proposing, which is the exact opposite?

Wild Crazy Vacation, Day Two

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Entering PetalumaOut: 6:52am
In: 7:10pm
Start: Dixon
End: Petaluma
Distance: 66.9 mi
Trip total: 87.6 mi

I’d say that’s about two and a half hours late. Not too alarmed about it since this is the second-longest day of the itinerary. Bike seems to be in good working order. But still this is a finish-line time much later than day trips I’ve run covering similar distances.

I chalk it up to:

I’m too much of a sissy-pants to start out at 4:30 or something like that; I showed some crappy-ass time management during my lunch break, like a hundred minutes for it from beginning to end; and the headwinds on Highway 116 were really vicious.

I mean, really, really vicious. I recall thinking sometime mid-afternoon, “I’ve been fighting this shit for five hours straight now.” The construction was a constant thing too. Wonder if I have OBambi to thank for that; there does seem to be something Reinvestment-Act-ish about it all, with all the shoulders unavailable mile after mile after mile. Yeah, that’s really safe. Let’s just say, now I’m past that, I think I have been through the worst of it.

I didn’t have time for my victory beer, or even dinner for that matter. As I type this I’m waiting for Safeway to open so I can rustle up some grub. That is as good a definition as any for a schedule slipping out of control.

It is a mishap I do not care to repeat on this trip. Today’s scheduled stop is a mere fifty miles away, the day after that covers just forty.

Also I got some good pictures out of this run. It’s rather typical to realize a steep time penalty for that, fully understood only at the very end. It’s the price you pay.

Update: Oh, this is kind of cool. Looks like the reports from my GPS tracker device are online.

Statism

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the inevitability that every language-aware computer tool I use for the near future is going to put a red underline under the words statism and statist. That is something of a pity because they are among the very most important words in these interesting times. To understand what’s going on, you have to understand the pathology of the statists.

concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government often extending to government ownership of industry…

Right now they’re extremely excited, because one among their own said something. Someone else in their camp made a nice image out of it, which is now zipping around the social networking sites like typhoid:

Like all bad ideas, it raises lots of questions when you start to take it seriously. Let’s give it a try, shall we? Elizabeth Warren is right, nobody in this country got rich on his own, nobody. Well — she is right. It’s hard to produce something without relying on somebody else. In years past it was merely difficult, now it is impossible. You grow your own crops, before you can get them to the market you need to transport them on a public road. Then, they’ll have to be inspected. Meanwhile, you’ll be required to carry insurance thanks to ObamaCare…so is Warren criticizing the government because it is legitimizing its own bureaucratic existence, by proliferating all kinds of new rules that don’t really help anyone, but make it an impossibility to get anything constructive done without its participation? Is that what she’s saying? I don’t think so.

But if that’s what she was trying to say, I’d go along with that. Government has eliminated all conscientious objection against it, by making it an impossibility to continue a prosperous life — any life — without its participation.

Grrrr!But the high level of exuberance that swirls around this little observation she has made, creates another question. Like, why? Why the excitement? What makes people so enthused about noticing how hard it is to acquire a little prosperity anymore, without government interference? This doesn’t explain the incredible intensity of anger directed toward those who question why it has to be this way. However, the anger toward the Tea Party movement, along with the thumbs-ups and atta-girls flung toward the sentiment Elizabeth Warren has expressed, does make one thing crystal clear: This is about equity. It’s about, after the product has been delivered and the money has changed hands and the “factory” thrives, a debt has been incurred to this wonderful thing known as government, and it can never be repaid. Rush Limbaugh has been saying for years these people live in a weird little world, one in which government is the source of all that is wonderful — all good things come from the government.

I’ve been maintaining for awhile that Limbaugh is wrong here. He’s thinking too much like a logical person, as he perceives illogical people. Read the quote again: “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.” There is no presence there, there is only absence; indeed, government itself is not mentioned anywhere. Her point is that you didn’t do it.

This is an important point. The central and primary energy within what Warren is saying, is directed as an assault upon the individual. She isn’t propping government up, she is tearing the individual down, and that is the part that has Facebook statists salivating.

Since she is essentially correct, let’s take a look at what we can conclude from her observation as it is pondered with logic and common sense rather than with statist euphoria. Regardless of whether it ought to be possible to succeed without action from the community as a whole, it isn’t; therefore, presumably, if anyone is thankful for a product, or a job, or a hope, or anything else that emanates from a business tycoon who has done well, that gratitude must be extended toward the community — “you were safe because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.” She isn’t mentioning government, she isn’t giving government credit for anything except its service as the pipeline, the conduit through which the wealth is rounded up and directed toward the police and fire forces, et al. So the point she’s making, and the point that finds resonance, is that no one single person can accomplish anything without the participation of everybody else.

Let’s remove the emotionalism from it by removing government from it. We’re all in a community…let’s say it’s a village of some hundred people. And there is this thing in the middle of the village that is the catalyst of all success. It draws energy from the village inhabitants, and then it creates prosperity and happiness. No individuality in this community, it thrives because of the existence of the — I dunno. Kiosk. Talisman. Skull of a pig someone found somewhere. You pray to the wotsit before you go out hunting, and if you have a good day of hunting it must be because of the wotsit. Next day, it’s time for everyone to do their part and prop up the wotsit, so the wotsit is the conduit through which the energies of the community are absorbed and then directed toward the continuing survival of the community. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

You’ve probably picked up that the wotsit has become a sort of a deity, something of a replacement religion. It has, but that is not the point I seek to make here. That’s a good one to discuss another time, though.

No, the point I seek to make is: As the community descends on the wotsit to do whatever it is they do to re-energize it, some community members will give much and other community members will give nothing at all. This is a meaningful sacrifice involving time, blood, effort…something…so it is meaningful that some community members give up more than others.

Therefore, logically, if this survival configuration means we cannot build anything ourselves and say “hey look what I’ve got going on, I must be on the ball because I’ve built this thing” and instead we are to give credit to the pig-skull wotsit…said credit must be directed through the pig-skull-kiosk wotsit, and toward the community members who sacrificed the greatest share to rejuvenate it. As one of my Facebook friends pointed out, Warren has it backwards. The system through which “the rest of us paid for” these things, owes its existence to the “nobodies” who got rich and then paid the lion’s share of the taxes.

Our gratitude, then, would extend toward the, uh…what does Barack Obama call them? The “millionaires and billionaires.”

That, obviously, is not what the statists are all about. Seriously, talk with any one from among them for a few minutes. The M&B have nothing coming their way except derision, name-calling, righteous anger, a bigger tax bill, more regulations and maybe some prison time.

The statists, therefore, stand uncovered, naked, revealed. They are narcissists. And the point of the exercise is not to sustain the community or to make hunting expeditions more bountiful. It is not to pay for fire forces and police forces and sidewalks. The point is obscurity. Government acts, not as a conduit through which these energies are to be drawn from individuals and then directed toward fulfillment of the community’s desires so the individuals can realize success — it acts as a fractal lens, a diffuser of light, a tool of obfuscation. It is there to conceal the fact that some people did something right and other people did something wrong. It is there to make it easier for people to ignore plain truths, if they find it gives them comfort to ignore those truths.

That is what is generating such excitement about Elizabeth Warren’s quote, I think. We’ve got a lot of sad people walking around who like to engage in a belief that individual effort is futile, that individual success is an impossibility and a nullity. They don’t want to face up to the fact that somebody else did something better than they did. They’d rather engage in a systemic belief that there is no prosperity, there is only a state of being “rich” which means you must’ve ripped someone off.

That’s what makes them so incredibly dangerous. They are not trying to foment revolution of any kind. Revolutions can fail. They aren’t in the midst of a revolution, they’re in the midst of a sickness. They’re using narcissism to self-medicate their sickness, reaching for it, just like an alcoholic reaches for the next shot of bourbon.

“Star Wars Has Nothing to Stand On!”

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

From here. Oh yes, it’s on, all right. It’s been brought.

Well he can’t fit into the old-fashioned Captain Kirk uniform anymore, but he does have a point. Leia’s metal bikini was way too much build-up for not nearly enough delivery.

But ya gotta admit the lightsabers are cool.

“A Crisis for Them”

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Never negotiate with terrorists.

Thanks to blogger friend Rob Bariton.

Not Incompetent

Monday, September 19th, 2011

just socialist.

I recognize that [President Obama] gave a speech about how badly he wants there to be more jobs. But in it, and afterwards, you will notice that he has proposed a bunch of bullcrap that doesn’t have a damn thing to do with advancing the economy or increasing employment significantly. Some of the reactions to this have accused him of incompetence, political idiocy, or general stupidity; this is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. Maybe he’s not incompetent, or stupid, he’s just socialist. He doesn’t want to promote any prosperity if it means strengthening capitalist tendencies – what use is that, if it makes a bunch of people happy with less socialism? Instead he only ‘wants’ to promote jobs via socialist-fantasy methods. Those methods have no chance of working but that’s okay because actually creating jobs isn’t their main goal, their main goal is making him look like he cares and thus (perhaps) keeping him in power four more years to socialize the economy, and meanwhile (to the extent they’re passed) ratcheting up the socialism again.

Most commentary about all this has this blind spot for this man’s ideology. Why is it so hard to admit that he is a true-blue believer in socialism and what that means? This basically gives him a pass because at some point the ‘incompetence’ articles will stop and the ‘he’s learned from his mistakes/comeback kid’ articles will start. But his ideology does not change and has never changed.

One could protest that it doesn’t matter — either way, we’ve seen it in action and The Change Sucks, as they say. But you just know Sonic’s right about the “comeback kid” articles. Sometime after the holidays, when people shopping for Christmas on plastic are getting their first bills, and the cooler temps will help shove The Second Summer Of Jobs further into history. I notice the media tends to think that way: Is three or four months enough to put us into a whole different era of time? Yes if there’s a thirty- or forty-degree swing involved in the seasonal temperatures; no, if not. So sometime after the holidays the question will arise: Geez, this economy stinks on ice, what’s being done about it? Too bad our current President is so incompetent…ah, but He’s been learning from His mistakes! Maybe there’s a ray of hope!

Me, I think President Obama is human just like the rest of us, meaning (lowercase the ‘h’ on purpose here) he operates with competence within a limited and defined scope of concern. The scope of concern, in this case, is P.R., and there is incompetence, by design, addressing anything outside that perimeter. He waits around for something to happen, and when it happens the task to be fulfilled is to dispense narratives. If the thing that happened is a bad thing, the narrative is going to be that it would’ve happened anyway and thank goodness we had the Reinvestment Act to keep it from becoming a total disaster — besides of which, it was the other guy’s bad policies over the last decade that caused it to happen. If it’s a good thing that happened, well then All Hail Caesar. Just like a nightmare boss. Good thing happened, well look at this wonderful thing that happened under my tutelage. Bad thing happens…oh, it’s that klutz [your name here], didn’t implement my policies correctly. Tried to tell ‘im.

As to the central concern of Obama’s socialist ideology: Yes I’ve had this brewing in the back of my head for awhile. It is a case of the fox guarding the chicken coop, is it not? I think the independents side with the conservatives on the desire of what is to happen next: Please let the economy recover without our having to spend any more money since we know there is a consequence to all this. In fact I perceive some of the more reasonable liberals join in that. But will Obama make it happen? Not unless there is something in it for Him; not unless, as the economy is so revived, America fundamentally changes her posturing toward a more socialist bent, like under FDR in the thirties. In left-wing-land, that is how you get into the hall of fame, by creating programs that can never be dismantled, never never not ever, that transfer wealth from people who create it to people who do not — and make it an exercise in futility to work hard. I think Sonic’s right: Any prospect of healing our economy, without getting something like that sold, will be a non-starter with Obama and His administration. Even though that’s exactly what The American People want & need.

Perhaps nowhere is this more clear than in the example (the post is chock full of good solid ones, read it from top to bottom) about gas prices. Nevermind the democrats’ track record on gas and energy prices; just review the archives of their campaign promises. It becomes clear in short order that anyone who supports democrats in the hopes that gas prices will become affordable, or stay that way, has committed a glaring transgression in forming such a rosy prediction. The transgression is not so much having an opinion different from one of mine; it is having an opinion that is supported entirely by non-existent, made-up things.

Maybe the question should be explored, with at least as much energy as the by now routine exercise of prowling through Sarah Palin’s garbage dumpsters whether she’s running for something or not: How about just ask democrat office-holders and candidates whether they intend to bring gas prices down. Can we start with just that? Hey, maybe we can find a new campaign slogan for democrats next year: “Vote democrat in 2012! Keep gas prices really high!” Or, “Re-elect Obama in 2012! Necessarily bankrupt the coal industry!”

This Is Good LXXXVI

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Spotted in Ithaca.

From Prof. Jacobson.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form XXXV

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Just about a year ago I made an entirely valid criticism against the global warming religion. Consuming a great many words to make the point that something called “mean earth temperature” is based on surface readings of an object with a very cool surface and a much larger and very heavy core, I then noted:

It is the natural hazard that an argument must expect to encounter, when it is based on two-dimensional measurements of a three-dimensional thing. This hazard is insurmountable. The only way you can get around it is to take the Earth, throw it in a huge blender, crank it up to puree, and stick a thermometer in the resulting mush. That would be an accurate measurement of “mean temperature,” provided entropy has been reached.

Obviously, we aren’t doing that. We look at land masses, take readings and average them out. Just think on how much that ignores. It’s staggering.
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This thing we’re supposed to associate with the very word “science,” is based on the notion that a much larger thing can be measured by the average of a randomly-selected, much smaller sample…and under ordinary conditions the resulting number should remain absolutely, positively static with no measurable variance whatsoever.

Where else do we believe in such a thing?

I wish it were better written than my usual stuff. It should have been; it was not the product of an hour-long fresh-coffee-consumption-in-underwear session full of hasty gropings for nouns & verbs — like this is. Five or six years prior to that posting, I had conjured up in comment threads all around the intertubez the concept of the “Freeberg celestial blender.” It would be quite a silly thing to do if real science frowned upon it. But of course, real science does not frown upon it; couldn’t if it wanted to. There are three dimensions, there are two dimensions. Completely different worlds. Like I said, the hazard is insurmountable. Perhaps that’s why the “blender” concept is never discussed in establishment circles.

I don’t know if Nobel Laureate Ivar Giaever reads my blog. I have always taken it as a given that hardly anybody does. But how then do you explain this gem which appeared in his resignation letter from the American Physical Society on Tuesday:

The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.

I’ve been robbed, but I’m not calling the police. I’m quite flattered.

“Damage Control is Now in Full Swing”

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

This one absolutely, positively fell short of altitude needed to register on my radar…as in, I watched the clip, and consciously decided there was nothing worth discussing here…until I saw the official explanation.

MediaMatters has weighed in, with a statement from the First Lady’s communications director:

Kristina Schake, communications director for First Lady Michelle Obama, made the following statement about these attacks:

The words, meaning and context in these claims are all wildly off the mark. The First Lady was commenting to the President on how moving and powerful it always is to watch all that America’s firefighters and police officers do to honor the flag. It was an emotional moment on a powerful day and she was awed by the ceremony and all that the flag symbolizes.

The First Lady was moved in a powerful way? She was emotionally awed by the ceremony? And she was commenting during this snippet to the President about it all? It seems to me that damage control is now in full swing.

You should’ve kept your mouth shut about it, Ms. Schake and MediaMatters. The explanation is worse than the incrimination.

Who, exactly, made the call that this was something that required comment? And did the person who concocted the excuse actually watch the video before concocting it?

It is barely plausible…only just barely. As in, you could believe the explanation if you fervently wanted to. And then, if you’re in that situation, everyone who sees it a different way is: (Yawn) (Deep breath) stupid unsophisticated evil twisted babykiller neocon dumb unprincipled lacking in nuance greedy selfish self-loathing blah blah blah…

I dunno. I’m still inclined to grant Michelle Obama the benefit of the doubt, I don’t really know what was said. But that is a really fishy explanation. It doesn’t gel; there’s more to explain after it’s offered, than before.

I’m going to file it away in my ever-thickening folder marked, “Flattering or exculpatory things I know about Obama only because lots of loud angry people are ready to say nasty things about me if I believe otherwise.” Obama’s a Christian, His birth certificate is genuine, He loves America, Bill Ayers was just a guy living in His neighborhood, He is wise and all-knowing, but had no idea all the nasty things Jeremiah Wright was saying before He quit that church…that’s the way these things usually go. There’s no proof of Obama wrongdoing, but no evidence that lets Him off the hook, either, lots of people are ready to fling insults at whoever doesn’t just drop it and let it go. So another item goes in the file.

After awhile, ya know what? The thickness of the file says something…something not said by any one among the items in it. When it seems every single open question about Obama comes back to that, it means something.

Very Very Bad Day

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

For His Holy Eminence. The name of the jobs act was actually stolen by the Republicans, Obama’s performance at His own job has hit an all-time low again, His efforts to “create or save” the jobs of others are now under investigation and it seems they should be…and…that other thing hovering over everything else like a bad stench…the unconstitutionality of the signature monstrosity.

Quick — talk about something else. I know Mr. McGinniss’ book has been in the works for awhile now…takes time to get those houses rented & peek in all the windows…but, to repeat a sentiment that has found voice before, the timing is interesting. That seems to always be the case with muck and slime.

The rest of us can learn something from this, I think. If a calculation is indeed being made, that would mean news about an Alaska housewife who holds no office and makes no meaningful decisions at all, is retaining market value as a commodity — yes, news is a commodity, didn’t you know? — while The One, who’s supposed to be deciding everything worth deciding, is completely screwing everything up. The calculation could be wrong, but I think we can rule that out as a possibility, for if it was a wrong calculation it would be calculated this way over and over again.

So the timing is purely coincidental, or else our priorities are completely cocked up. Or else the masses are really, really good at multitasking, maintaining an encyclopedic knowledge of the most influential, the least influential, and presumably everyone on the spectrum in between. I think we can rule out that last one as well; hearing a lot of grumbling out there about “haven’t decided who I wanna support just yet” and an occasional protest of “haven’t got time for this need to work & pay bills & spend time with my family & pick up milk on the way home.”

I’m going with, our priorities are cocked up. So go get that milk. Pick up a National Enquirer while you’re at it.

Meanwhile, back to the pilot in the cockpit who doesn’t seem to know jack squat about flying. Quite a week for Him…wonder if it’s time to start feeling a little bit sorry for Him yet? Should we perhaps revoke the voting rights of whoever doesn’t want to manage his own problems in life — sees it as Washington’s job to take care of everybody, and the voter’s job to vote in someone cool and wonderful and awesome to make all the right decisions? Obviously that model doesn’t work. And I don’t think the people who believe in that model, will stop believing in it just because it’s demonstrated that it doesn’t work, across a presidential term…or a decade…or generations…or a lifetime. They’re entrenched in it and will never abandon it. So should they be participating in the decision? When you think about it, their whole worldview is one of avoiding decisions and putting someone else in charge. So disenfranchising them from the voting process would really be nothing more than giving them precisely what they want anyway. Maybe we should start thinking about it, very seriously.

“What Job ‘Training’ Teaches? Bad Work Habits”

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

James Bovard writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Last Thursday, President Obama proposed new federal jobs and job-training programs for youth and the long-term unemployed. The federal government has experimented with these programs for almost a half century. The record is one of failure and scandal.

In 1962, Congress passed the Manpower Development and Training Act (MDTA) to provide training for workers who lost their jobs due to automation or other technological developments. Two years later, the General Accounting Office (GAO) discovered that any trainee in this program who held a job for a single day was counted as “permanently employed”—a statistical charade by the Department of Labor to camouflage its lack of results. A decade after MDTA’s inception, GAO reported that it was failing to teach valuable job skills or place trainees in private jobs and was marred by an “overriding concern with filling available slots for a particular program,” regardless of what trainees actually needed.

Congress responded in 1973 by enacting the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). The preface to the new law noted that “it has been impossible to develop rational priorities” in job training. So instead of setting priorities, CETA spent vastly more money, especially on job creation. Notorious examples reported in the press in those years included paying to build an artificial rock for rock climbers, providing nude sculpture classes (where, as the Pharos-Tribune of Logansport, Ind., explained, “aspiring artists pawed each others bodies to recognize that they had ‘both male and female characteristics’”), and conducting door-to-door food-stamp recruiting campaigns.

Between 1961 and 1980, the feds spent tens of billions on federal job-training and employment programs. To what effect? A 1979 Washington Post investigation concluded, “Incredibly, the government has kept no meaningful statistics on the effectiveness of these programs—making the past 15 years’ effort almost worthless in terms of learning what works.” CETA hirees were often assigned to do whatever benefited the government agency or nonprofit that put them on the payroll, with no concern for the trainees’ development. An Urban Institute study of the mid-1980s concluded that participation in CETA programs resulted in “significant earnings losses for young men of all races and no significant effects for young women.”

And…incredibly…it gets worse. Go read.

This is a Problem

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Look what Cassy found…

Dude…just do your job. If you ever did get some kind of thrill over telling those big bad homophobes to “get over it,” that time has passed…DADT is repealed…all the arguing and yelling was supposed to have been about the opportunity to serve your country. So serve. I mean, that is the next step where all your energies should be going right now, if the intentions expressed were honest and sincere.

This is the trouble with revolutions. A lot of people in this day & age, can’t seem to stop having them. Is it a problem having openly-gay people serving in the military? It’s pretty obvious by now that some people are always going to have one answer to that question and other people will always have a different one…they won’t change their minds…but now in addition to being a contentious issue, it’s a useless one. It’s been decided. Decided by fiat — you can’t tell people what opinions they’re supposed to be having. So useless or not, it will remain contentious.

However: Is it a problem having these perpetual-revolution types serving in the military? That, I would hope, would not be an open question among thinking persons for very long; I would hope it isn’t contentious at all. It’s a no-brainer. It’s just like having someone serving with a hard chemical dependency, in the sense that reality becomes disconnected from their behavior. Whether remarking about their own homosexuality or somebody else’s, they protest for years with “get over it”; the military gets over it; it’s time to roll out a newspaper and…they splash “get over it” on the front page when the “it” has already been gotten-over? How much longer is this going to be kept up?

Cassy said it very well:

It is one thing to repeal DADT and to let gays to serve openly. It is quite another to flaunt it, to shove it down our throats like this. Why is it, I wonder, that we need to know who is gay and who isn’t? Why do our faces have to be rubbed in it? I really don’t need to know who in my husband’s unit is straight or gay, but for some reason, I guess we simply HAVE to know. We not only must know, but we are apparently required to approve of it.

And I’m curious: why are we the ones being told to get over it? It seems to me that the exact opposite needs to happen. [emphasis mine]

Bulls-eye. We are really depending on a national defense that can keep its mind on its job; arguably the single most important job anybody in the country has. One of the key arguments for repealing DADT, repeated ad nauseum, was that it was exactly this brand of basic professionalism that would not be put in jeopardy. Well, this is evidence of said jeopardy — not because of homosexuals openly serving in the military, but because of that disconnected, feel-good druggie-high of “I told them to get over it again” chemical rush going through someone’s bloodstream.

Some people are sore winners. If national defense isn’t relying on such people, it’s simply sad. If it is, then it’s something more than just sad.

Cemetery for Jobs

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Perry is on the EPA. Well good:

“The EPA kills jobs. Perry only kills ‘g’s…we need jobs, not fully pronounced present participles.” Yeah, I like that one.

The White House’s policy is nicely described in this Boston Herald article:

Many analysts — including yours truly — have made the mistake of arguing that the Obama administration has no energy policy. But the evidence increasingly reveals that the administration does indeed have an energy policy, one that is designed to reduce access to fossil fuels by raising their price, thereby making “alternate” or “green” energy sources more attractive.

The administration’s approach is constantly on display: Use government policy to raise oil and gas prices, subsidize alternative energy sources, then mandate the use of the latter. The EPA, far from being a rogue agency, remains an important tool for implementing this policy.

Well hey, that was the idea right? The song doesn’t go “Obama’s gonna do what we want Him to do”…that would probably be racist. No, it goes like…

He’s gonna lead us, guide us, make us do the right things, capiche? That’s the vision, we all just stand around in the soup lines waiting to be told what to do. Then we find out, and we go do it. Yes we can!

So how’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?

What’s Wrong With Paul Krugman?

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

One of my most original thoughts is something I desperately wish was not such an original thought: Some of the luminaries among us who are to be worshiped just because everyone else worth worshiping seems to be worshiping them, I think are nuts. What they’ve got, in my opinion, is far more worthy of being diagnosed as a mental disorder, maybe even a mental illness, than a lot of other things that really are diagnosed as said disorders.

So it brought me great pleasure to see, if I ever could put a patent on this idea, that opportunity has closed now. The idea’s been stolen, and the occasion merits. Paul Krugman, with his unwise deeds and his unwise words, brought it on himself.

And so we have a round-table discussion on what’s wrong upstairs with Paulie. It’s about goddamn time.

One of my favorite coffee o’clock sites for figuring out what happened the day before, is Memeorandum. It is a non-partisan news feed that groups the stories into a nice hierarchy, by topic…with one big drawback…if this whack-job Paul Krugman writes something, somehow that automatically ratchets upward to the tippy-top of the page in the biggest font they’ve got. You can’t always figure out what’s going on with the Memeorandum stories without actually clicking through & reading the original piece, and many’s the time I’ve flailed around trying to figure out what the heck happened here, only to emerge with nothing more than: Paul Krugman had a brain fart. It’s annoying.

Wonder if that will keep happening after this. Someone at Meme has liked Krugmeister a whole lot up to this point, that’s for sure. I have no idea why.

We sure are doing a great job in this day and age at dismissing people as whack-jobs who ought not be dismissed as whack-jobs, and failing to dismiss as whack-jobs people whose surreal babblings never should have been seriously considered in the first place…

Bearded bitter buffoon? That’s an insult to buffoons. How about overrated, acrid, toxic, grandstanding ass-munch?

Testosterone and Fatherhood

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Science doubts manhood, again.

Testosterone is responsible for everything from facial hair and Adam’s apples to a deepened voice, muscle development and a strong libido in men. Apparently men don’t need the hormone so much after becoming parents, though! Researchers at Northwestern University have found that levels of testosterone drop significantly after men become fathers.

As reported in the UK’s Daily Mail, those with newborns and those who spend more time doing child care had the biggest drops in testosterone levels:

For those with a child under one month old, the decline was around 50 per cent, but it remained consistently lower than their childless counterparts ‘until their offspring is at least a year or two old’.

The men who reported caring for their child for between one and three hours per day saw the greatest decline, which the authors said was not accounted for by stress or sleep deprivation.

While this might sound like bad news, the researchers think it’s a good sign. In an interview with Time, the study’s lead author, biological anthropologist Lee Gettler said, “… it means that men are apparently hard-wired to respond biologically to fatherhood. It’s a fresh perspective, given that the conventional wisdom describes traditional societies as those in which men are hunter-gatherers, while women on the home front forage for berries and care for kids … Humans wouldn’t have been as successful if fathers weren’t helping.”

Way to go, dads!

They missed the point. Didn’t even follow the evidence. Didn’t even implement sound logic.

How does it necessarily follow that, if a man should maintain his level of testosterone after becoming a father, he has to be a bad father? And the “traditional” and “conventional” wisdom, how did that come about? Did we make up all the stories about men being hunters & gatherers? What about the fathers back in the agrarian era, having kids…and then having a bunch more? Evidence of testosterone post-fatherhood. What happened?

My answer: It’s cultural. Culture impacts the mind, and the mind impacts the body. In the twenty-first century, there is very little cultural acceptance of real man-hood, especially post-fatherhood. Having a child nowadays means immersing oneself in a whole different world, chock full of preening snotty lectures about learning disabilities, colorful plastic toys jammed up your ass when you sit on the couch, a whole bunch of movies every single year all about what clumsy idiots the small-dee dad is and how we all need to help mom work him over so he doesn’t go to the office and do any of that work stuff. Dads are supposed to “be there” for their kids…which lately, is morphing into a weird definition of spending all their waking hours being around their kids. Go to the park, as if you’re a grandpa instead of a dad. Buy ice cream. And never, ever, ever allow your voice to descend in pitch below 440 Mhz. Not when there are kids around. Speaking anywhere below alto is worse than using the fuck-word.

Not sure who made that rule, but a rule it is. Walk around Folsom with me on a Saturday morning. Watch these grown men moan & whine non-threateningly at their kids.

Yes I think there’s something to the research. I assume they actually measured the hormones, and if they did and it produced the results they’re talking about, I’m not one bit surprised.

I just think the research is worthless if they didn’t take history into account — it didn’t begin yesterday morning. Things are different. And it’s an indictment…this is not good…because, news flash, there are other ways to stop a man from screwing around on his wife other than turning him into a woman. Appeal to basic human decency comes to mind, y’know? Once he’s made kids with her, a real man shouldn’t want to.

In fact I would go further: The lesson to be gleaned from this study is that human are unique, after all. We possess the intelligence necessary to use free will to decide if we want to accept humanity. Birds and beasts are “wired” to mate for life, or to scatter their seed around with wild abandon. It is, mostly, decided by their species. They have “wiring.” Humans don’t. We can breed with one partner throughout our entire lives, or we can breed like cattle. Or fruit flies. We ate of the apple and lost our innocence, so it’s all up to us, and the decisions we make speak to our character or lack thereof. That is our unique covenant.

We can debate whether or not it’s “scientific” to go cheering on such a trend in one direction or another. But I would hope we all agree that a researcher who says, it’s a good thing when a member of any species stops trying to be what it naturally is, shouldn’t be in research. This team has crossed that line, and is no longer “researching” into what is happening to hormonal levels after parenthood. They aren’t even researchers, they’re advocates.

Friedman’s Folly

Monday, September 12th, 2011

That thing Tom Friedman does at around 0:47 to 0:50 — you aren’t supposed to be able to do it through text on an Internet thread, but I’ve seen lots of liberals do it in exactly that forum. I expect Friedman would bristle at being called a “liberal” and that isn’t descriptive of my meaning here, so let’s use a different term. “Vapid thinkers” maybe.


What Friedman attempts to do, is prove Social Security is not a “Ponzi scheme” by showcasing the formidable level of difficulty to be involved in ever convincing Friedman that it might be one. He’s being a Thing I Know #402 guy:

We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around who can’t seem to tell the difference between supporting evidence and their own intransigence. It’s as if they’re saying, “I am inflexible and therefore correct, I know everything because I don’t let anybody tell me anything”; and I’m expected to say, in reply, “I can see your mind will never be changed even if it is proven to you that you’re wrong…so I might as well change my mind and agree with you.” Did they meet with someone else, perhaps, who intentionally or otherwise accustomed them to such deference?

What Tom Friedman is showcasing, in fact, is something completely different: That he comes from a world in which people are intellectually flaccid, to such an extent they can be persuaded to decide crucial and complex issues with a “pfffft” or a “pfshaw.”

In the world from which I come, this clip shows up under a different perspective. I see one guy has presented a logical argument and another guy has not.

I have an effective way of dealing with Thing I Know #402 people. It goes like this: “Let the record show Rick Santelli has advanced a reasonable argument that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, and Tom Friedman has failed to present a reasonable argument that Social Security might not be one.” Just that. Let the record show — Friedman brought absolutely nothing to this little exchange but some dismissive noises and an eyeball roll, and a few moments of quality rational thought seem to naturally bring on an inference that he’s wrong. No, it’s not “effective” at changing the other person’s mind. But you can’t compress a fluid; and it helps to remind all present that there’s a big world out there, and Thing I Know #402 is for weenies who lack the maturity required to live in it.

So Mr. Friedman puts out a regular column of some kind, that people read? My goodness, that is worrisome.

“Worth Consideration”

Monday, September 12th, 2011

…says the Speaker of the House. I guess the skillful politician drops seeds of hope wherever he walks, even onto a cement floor.

The proposals the president outlined tonight merit consideration. We hope he gives serious consideration to our ideas as well…

It’s my hope that we can work together to end the uncertainty facing families and small businesses and create a better environment for long-term economic growth and private-sector job creation…

The people who’d be creating the jobs, however, see a different side to it.

The dismal state of the economy is the main reason many companies are reluctant to hire workers, and few executives are saying that President Obama’s jobs plan — while welcome — will change their minds any time soon.

That sentiment was echoed across numerous industries by executives in companies big and small on Friday, underscoring the challenge for the Obama administration as it tries to encourage hiring and perk up the moribund economy.

The plan failed to generate any optimism on Wall Street as the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index and the Dow Jones industrial average each fell about 2.7 percent.

At this point, if you’re still seeing Barack Obama as a healer of our nation’s financial woes, you’re either being paid to see Him that way or you’re one of a slender and dwindling minority of cheerleaders who are gushing about it for free. There are many things a person can do to earn respect and esteem when commenting on economic matters, but doing the exact same thing for free that others are being paid handsomely to do, is not one of those things.

Lots of Sadness, But No Anger

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Already linked to Gerard today, but this is too good to let go.

There’s enormous coverage, but no news. None of this is news, it is drama, portraits of courage and sadness. Last phone calls between loved ones, “the last time I saw him was when…”, “when I saw the first Tower fall I…”

And firefighters. Lots of firefighters. America wants its real life heroes unarmed and unthreatening.

Lots of sadness, but no anger. No one on TV is angry? The Towers didn’t fall, they were kicked in the face. How many politicians do I have to watch cry on TV? STOP CRYING. I already know it’s sad. Don’t tell me we are resilient, don’t tell me we’ll go on, are there people worried they won’t go on? Show me the country has some men in it, show me that we aren’t five year olds.
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Observe that the media has unilaterally decided that no American will ever again see the images of the planes being slammed into the Towers. “Come on, you’ve seen it enough times, nothing to be gained from that. Here’s a firefighter.”

I’m told anger serves no useful purpose. But sadness isn’t going to prevent this from happening again, sadness isn’t going to restructure the planet so that people don’t want to do these things. You might say anger won’t either, but I’ll take my chances.

No, anger doesn’t prevent things from happening. But anger is not the issue. Think on this — imagine yourself tasked to cut a lawn. You had other things planned for this block of time and you’re irritable and peeved; you want the lawn as thoroughly cut as you can possibly manage, and you want to spend the absolute minimum in terms of time, energy and effort to get it done. You want to mow that lawn the way a man buys a pair of socks at the mall. In & out in record time.

Now if it’s up to you to determine the mental positioning and emotional profile of each blade of grass, how would you condition them? And I say the answer is: Precisely the way our media and our so-called “leaders” have been conditioning us. Sad and not angry. Every single swath you mow down, the yet-to-be-cut blades on the next swath over say to themselves….aw, how sad. Where were you when that happened? Conforming with each other barely enough to lean in the same direction, so you can take care of ‘em when you come around again.

You would push for a complete extirpation from this particular lawn, of any sense that a blade of grass is worth something. You’d want the blades of grass to get mopey, depressed, but not outraged in the slightest. Your goal would be to make them suicidal without being aware that they’re suicidal. Lining up like lambs for slaughter. Then you can get it all done, dump out the clippings and still make your tee time.

The issue is not anger; the issue is a sense of the value of human life. We’re losing track of what is really important. Losing track of this simple and easily-grasped idea that, the twenty-five-year-old firefighter who responded to the crash of Flight 11, and was ripped away from us forever by the crash of Flight 175, should today be thirty-five…and isn’t. There should still be another fifty years ahead of that fine man. And there aren’t. He’s forever 25. It’s true of him and the thousands of others — that is what we have lost. That is the mindset, stolen from us, but only passively, relieved from our possession after we willingly gave it up. By the chattering-class over here, not by terrorists. The terrorists took the lives, the media took the sense & sensibility that those lives were worth something.

We’ve become like the lawn, waiting to be mowed. At least, that is the picture that emerges from the boob tube. Vast barrels and bushels of mopey sadness, not so much as a dollop of natural anger. Our media remembers that something was removed from us, but they appear to have forgotten that a hostile act was involved. It is a blight against all of us that so much footage can be watched, and there won’t be any mention that this was an unnatural act, committed deliberately by hostiles.

Update: Mark Steyn, writing on exactly the same theme, is taking note of what does & doesn’t make it on to the peace quilt.

How are America’s allies remembering the real victims of 9/11? “Muslim Canucks Deal with Stereotypes Ten Years After 9/11,” reports CTV in Canada. And it’s a short step from stereotyping to criminalizing. “How the Fear of Being Criminalized Has Forced Muslims into Silence,” reports the Guardian in Britain. In Australia, a Muslim terrorism suspect was so fearful of being criminalized and stereotyped in the post-9/11 epidemic of paranoia that he pulled a Browning pistol out of his pants and hit Sgt. Adam Wolsey of the Sydney constabulary. Fortunately, Judge Leonie Flannery acquitted him of shooting with intent to harm on the grounds that “‘anti-Muslim sentiment’ made him fear for his safety,” as Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported on Friday. That’s such a heartwarming story for this 9/11 anniversary they should add an extra panel to the peace quilt, perhaps showing a terror suspect opening fire on a judge as she’s pronouncing him not guilty and then shrugging off the light shoulder wound as a useful exercise in healing and unity.

What of the 23rd Psalm? It was recited by Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer and the telephone operator Lisa Jefferson in the final moments of his life before he cried, “Let’s roll!” and rushed the hijackers.

No, sorry. Aside from firemen, Mayor Bloomberg’s official commemoration hasn’t got any room for clergy, either, what with all the Executive Deputy Assistant Directors of Healing and Outreach who’ll be there. One reason why there’s so little room at Ground Zero is because it’s still a building site. As I write in my new book, 9/11 was something America’s enemies did to us; the ten-year hole is something we did to ourselves — and in its way, the interminable bureaucratic sloth is surely as eloquent as anything Nanny Bloomberg will say in his remarks.

In Shanksville, Pa., the zoning and permitting processes are presumably less arthritic than in Lower Manhattan, but the Flight 93 memorial has still not been completed. There were objections to the proposed “Crescent of Embrace” on the grounds that it looked like an Islamic crescent pointing towards Mecca. The defense of its designers was that, au contraire, it’s just the usual touchy-feely huggy-weepy pansy-wimpy multiculti effete healing diversity mush. It doesn’t really matter which of these interpretations is correct, since neither of them has anything to do with what the passengers of Flight 93 actually did a decade ago. 9/11 was both Pearl Harbor and the Doolittle Raid rolled into one, and the fourth flight was the only good news of the day, when citizen volunteers formed themselves into an ad hoc militia and denied Osama bin Laden what might have been his most spectacular victory. A few brave individuals figured out what was going on and pushed back within half an hour. But we can’t memorialize their sacrifice within a decade. And when the architect gets the memorial brief, he naturally assumes that there’s been a typing error and that “Let’s roll!” should really be “Let’s roll over!”

If Womens’ Medication Ads Gained Self-Awareness

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

“Make Mine Freedom”

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Might have posted this before, but it’s worth doing again…

I’d say right about now, we’re somewhere around the 8:30 mark…where they’re pouring the elixir on the ground and the charlatan salesman is yelling “Now now gentlemen, no need for violence.”

You need to be very careful when a desire to hang on to freedom is characterized as somehow weird, anti-social, intransigent, dangerous or nutty.

“That’s What Americans Do”

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Build things, that is. Build and rebuild.

On the anniversary, Sonic Charmer is inclined to leave it alone. I’m leaning somewhat toward his side of things. Advice Goddess Amy Alkon is having trouble with the F-word, as am I…ultimately, I decided to go the same route as Don Surber.

Others remembering include Tea Party Tribune, Rick, Phil, Buck, Robert at Small Dead Animals, Neo, Ace, Rottie and Gerard.

Zip It, Moms

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Caught a couple of fresh-grilled hamburgers at the company pool party yesterday, somewhere around three in the afternoon. They were a little on the rare side, and I rode my bike home some seven miles, getting a flat on the way…lots of dehydration, more sunburn than was planned, some indigestion from the raw meat, which means Friday evening was spent in a nap. And all this culminates in the conclusion that as of this morning I was starving. So I rode my bike to a local sandwich shop. It’s a “Hof Brau” imitation thing where they carve up the meat right in front of you. Right next door to where they had a mail stop for my Netflix drop-off, so that was pretty cool.

So in line in front of me, is a momma and her whelps. She’s about a decade younger than me…I have no idea where the dad is…there are a couple of male ten-year-old tow-heads in Judo outfits, and a pair of teenage trollops decked out in the “cootchie cutter” super-tight jean shorts I wish the ladies would be wearing in their mid-to-late twenties or so. So we’ve got two ten-year-olds and two sixteen-year-olds. And I was struck by the “mother ship” configuration going on here…Mom was just barking out order after order after order, command after command after command. Really something to watch. You go here, you go there. The tow-headed kids are having salads — wonder how that came about. So the guy behind the counter is asking the little guy what kind of cheese he wants on top and the Mom is interrupting her own commandment-dishing-out exercise long enough to yell over “He probably wants blue cheese”…and then an issue is somehow made of the idea that salad consumed by a person wearing a Gi, is likely to become salad worn on the sleeve of the Gi. So she instructs the little cretins to roll up their sleeves. Oh no she doesn’t; she has one hold his arms out, and she rolls up the sleeves for him while she continues to belt out Great Santini commands in all directions.

What struck me was the reaction of the four kids. The two jean-short-sluts, of course, immersed themselves deeply in “Best Friends Forever” hobnobbing, jibber-jabbering to each other a mile a minute while all the people and furnishings and air space around them disappeared. The two tow-heads did what boys will do, taking a more individualized approach, daydreaming about Pokemon or Fred Flintstone or something. Mom continued to belt out orders as if she was the center of attention…and nuclear powered.

Mercifully, I was allowed to line-jump. I got my grub. They got theirs. I got a pub table, teen trollops got another pub table and Momma and Judo artists got a booth across from the trollops. When Momma had to excuse herself to go resolve biological issues, things got real interesting. Wonder sluts began assaulting the martial artists…something to do with wiping salad dressing on the Judo outfits or something. Martial artists are not just sitting there & taking it, they’re dishing it back out. It was pure chaos. And, on some level, rather healthy and therefore appealing; a wholesome chaos. Mom’s gone, let’s act like people again.

Momma emerged and there was a predictable smackdown as she busied herself with restoring order. Each of the four combatants was entirely innocent — you could just see the golden halos over their heads. Momma barked out some more orders, replied with a wordless upraised hand to this-or-that protest, and made some superficial motion toward actually consuming food.

Anyway. It’s just interesting, to me, that nobody has any interest or ability to socially interact as normal people until the momma bear is gone. And that only has to happen for about five seconds or so.

Let’s just cut to the chase here: Kids do not take care of what they see someone else is already managing…or trying to manage. They will not join in any team effort with Mom, to “help” get their own food ordered. Frankly, I wouldn’t either. If Mom takes over the whole show, they quietly fantasize about the ground swallowing them up…and yeah…that’s what I would be doing, too, if I were them.

Learning disabilities? Social immaturity? Let me just state the obvious — that which everybody knows to be true, but everyone’s too smart to say out loud except me. Kids do what they can see needs to be done. They are not going to participate socially until such time as an avenging angel descends on us, spreads pixie dust around all the Moms, and silences them. Is that not sexist enough yet? Shut UP, moms. Let the kid order his own salad.

Or else…I don’t want to hear a single word about ADHD. So long as I see the adults show the behavior I saw today, I will expect to see the kids showing the behavior I saw out of them. The operative formula here is something like: Social competence in the kids, plus words-per-minute out of the Mom, equals C, a constant. So zip it. Let’s see what your kids really have going on.

I imagine a hundred out of a hundred mothers will reply that this advice, for this reason or that one, somehow doesn’t apply to them. How I wish that were truly the case.

Update 9/11/11: You know, it occurs to me — over the last twenty years, what is the caricature of the parent that has been most stigmatized other than the deadbeat dad…it is the overly-involved dad, sitting in the front row at the soccer match, yelling at the whelp to do everything that’s needed to score the goal. Win! Beat! Get! Grrrr! From the beginning, I’ve been a little confused and disoriented as to which entity I found less sympathetic; the Great Santini dad who’s ruining what should be a pleasurable outing for everybody, or his critics. Who are these people who are signing their curtain-climbers up for soccer and then working so hard to make it into a non-competitive sport? And since when is it the worst thing a dad can do, to want his kid to do something well — how’s that even make the list? What happened to burnings & beatings and sending ten-year-olds out on liquor runs?

But this thing with the moms who won’t shut up, it’s exactly the same thing. It has the same effect. The only difference is, the pushy moms are interfering to stop their kids from living life, and the pushy dads are interfering to stop their kids from losing a game. If you accept the premise that both are doing damage, the dads at least stop doing the damage when the game is over and the van doors slide shut.

Here we are all puzzled about why learning disabilities are skyrocketing; I’ll bet if you round up lots of SLD kids, you’re not going to find too many with dads berating their game performance on the soccer field. But I’m pretty sure you’ll find they all have pushy moms. I’m really not sure how & why the moms are getting away with this behavior that does this kind of damage to our society. Is it just because they’re girls?

Speeches Solve Everything

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Just run the words through your head a few times: The President is going to give a speech to address the jobs crisis. Think about our brief and flirtatious history with President Obama; how many speeches does He give in a year? How many speeches has He already given about the economy? Run the words through your noggin yet again. The President is going to give a speech about jobs. This date, this time! Be sure and tune in!

I’ve been working in technology for twenty-three years now. That’s counting just the time I’ve been thrown in with a bunch of other tech geeks in that “Lord of the Flies” situation that seems to follow us around throughout our entire careers. So believe me, I have met my share of big egos. But from all I’ve seen and heard, it seems there is this threshold of ego that can be defined in this way: If a problem emerges that is new in nature or vague in definition, the subject will confront the problem by giving a speech.

Blah, Blah, BlahI think, at that threshold, we fulfill a meaningful litmus test of a true mental disorder.

And it would not surprise me to learn that the dozen or so words I asked you to reiterate to yourself, to cast a renewed spotlight on the plain observation that they are nonsensical, led directly to the Republicans’ decision that no rebuttal would be made — that they decided right there & then that none was necessary. Just sort of says it all, ya know? President Obama has figured out the job crisis is sufficiently serious that He must do something to provide a remedy, and right now…so…He’s going to give a speech. Now who, exactly, is hearing about that and thinking “All RIGHT! Things are sure to get better now!” Anybody? Anywhere?

Yes, it’s a mental disorder. It’s a learning disability, too, since you can’t take in any new information while your lips are moving.

We shouldn’t become enamored of our own pessimism…there is no constructive observation to be made there…but we can’t improve the situation as it really exists, if we don’t recognize how bad the problem is. And it seems to me that within government and academia, as well as with some businesses, most or all of the executives who hold real power and decide real things with real authority, are afflicted with this mental deficiency. A problem comes up, and Step One is to give a speech. Is that all that’s needed to address the problem? A lot of them seem to think so.

And really, where I start to become alarmed is where I prognosticate about what would happen in an advanced civilization in which everybody who was a power-broker of any kind, was mentally feeble in this way. I imagine no new things would get built that do anything useful; or, very few would do that. I imagine the things that used to work years ago, would start to crumble and fall apart. And, uh, well? Isn’t that exactly what’s happening?

Armed gunmen have taken over Nakatomi Plaza! All right, it’s time for some decisive action…so everyone gather around! I have something to say to you!

Captain, we’ve hit an iceberg and the ship is expected to sink within the hour! Okay, get all the passengers up on deck right now. But there aren’t enough lifeboats! No, we’re not bringing them up to put them in the lifeboats; I’m going to give a speech to address this crisis.

Sir! The Huns are at the gate! They carry torches and they are setting fire to our city! Right, now get all the residents into the village square pronto…is this microphone working?

I think it starts in childhood. I think what happens is, Junior speaks to a large crowd — some people are just built to — and earns some accolades from parents and teachers because the speech-job is better than average. The thing of it is, if you watch the parents and teachers congratulate students for doing a better-than-average job in a spectator environment, you’ll notice nobody ever does it halfway. Nobody ever says “you didn’t suck as bad as usual” or anything like that…no muted-tone “nice job.” Isn’t that funny? Grown-ups seem to have this fake exuberance that is directly proportional to the number of people who watched the performance. “Nice job” is for the budding artist who grinds out his handiwork when nobody is watching. That poor kid will never be carried around through a crowd on his buddies’ shoulders. But the aspiring gymnast or football player or speechmaker pulls in the can’t-find-a-way-to-express-it-adequately applause and accolades and high-five — that’s where the real atta-boy is. When the talent & strength is observed by a large number of spectators, simultaneously. Then, it seems this unwritten rule emerges that if a positive thing might possibly be said about what was accomplished, then that thing has to get said, and emphasized in every possible way.

Could this alter the course of a child’s natural development? It is manifestly absurd to try to deny it. That’s why it’s done. But the alteration is not completely positive…

So I guess these people, in childhood, are overly-indulged. And from this they form the impression that their speeches can solve everything. Bring the unemployment rate down, heal the sick, save the planet, turn water into wine, drive off an alien invasion, cure AIDS and Cancer, make a perfect sandwich, land a man on the moon a few years afterward…

People tend to lose sight of the self-evident fact that speeches don’t do these things.

And they go crazy. Yes, crazy. Don’t forget, Barack Obama gave the Queen of England an iPod — loaded up with His speeches. To this day, no evidence has emerged that the President has ever understood what might be wrong or inappropriate about that. It pretty much underscores exactly what I’m talking about here, doesn’t it? So I would like to see an ICD-9 number assigned to this; it would be a reasonable move. Sort of an offshoot of NPD (301.81), but not quite the same thing. Much, much more dangerous.

I mean seriously: How big of a threat can a mental disorder become? Let’s say, if a walking textbook incarnation of the disorder becomes President of the United States, and as a direct result of that, a whole bunch of national problems get worse and none of ‘em get any better. So I ask again: What exactly is it we’re seeing right now? If this doesn’t make it sufficiently important for us to start recognizing this hitherto-unrecognized mental disability, then what does?

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Washington Rebel.

The NObama Heimlich Maneuver

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

From Maggie’s Farm, by way of Gerard.

Update: Just to help define why it’s too much to swallow, and not good for anybody.

From Roger Kimball, by way of Glenn Reynolds.