Archive for March, 2012

Cautious Optimism

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Steven Hayward posts at PowerLine. He’s recapping the month of March, and this was a source of great enjoyment to me.

First came the Sandra Fluke controversy. What looked like a well-staged triumph for the Left because of a rare overreach by Rush Limbaugh resulted instead in a ferocious blowback against Bill Maher, Louis C.K., and HBO, while Rush’s ratings have spiked and advertisers came groveling back after the anti-Rush boycott was revealed to have been trumped up by Media Matters. Meanwhile, while the media elites identify with Fluke as one of their own, it is less clear that ordinary Americans think the government owes free contraception to 30-year old college students.

Second, Obama is in full retreat and panic mode over gasoline prices, and energy generally….Byron York flatly predicts that Obama will be forced to approve the Keystone pipeline before the election. Obama’s embrace of the GOP slogan of “all-of-the-above” energy means that environmentalists are being largely thrown under the bus.

Then came the Trayvon Martin incident. But what looked like a by-the-numbers drill for the racial grievance industry has started to collapse beneath certain inconvenient facts that don’t fit the narrative such as Zimmerman’s ethnicity and political party registration (Democratic), eyewitness testimony that Martin was assaulting Zimmerman, and Spike Lee advocating vigilantism against Zimmerman, but tweeting an incorrect home address, endangering an innocent elderly couple.
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Then of course we have the Obamacare argument in the Supreme Court this week. Even if the Court ultimately upholds the Affordable Care Act, the course of the argument is extremely damaging to the Left. And if it is struck down, I predict the Left will overreact in ways that will also backfire badly.

Finally, yesterday the House voted down Obama’s proposed budget for next year by a vote of 414 – 0. Not even the most leftist members of Obama’s own party are willing to go on record in support of his unserious and irresponsible budget. Political stunt by the GOP? Sure, but so what?
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None of this should be taken as a sign of a decisive “turning point,” or that our side has won, or even that we’re winning…But it’s been a lousy last month for the Left.

I like the last paragraph the best. After all, it isn’t clear that anything has actually changed here, at all. Odds of the democrats hanging on to the White House and Senate, and taking the House of Representatives — they’re about at the same level now as they were on the last day of February, I think. Obviously that’s always debatable, but that seems to be the case. And yet something did happen.

I think it’s a case not so much of something being altered in form or shape, or in the direction it’s traveling, but rather one of something being revealed. I see a trend permeating through four of the above five events, all of them apart from the budget thing. Fluke, gas and energy, Trayvon, SCOTUS…most especially with the last one. Do you see what I see?

The democrats have a bad habit going on, which they show no signs of arresting or even slowing down, wherein they write the future. That is to say, they start to invent some fiction about what is going to happen. It’s as if they lack the humility needed to acknowledge that we live in a universe filled with unpredictable things. Now in theory, that isn’t really true, because if there is any object in the universe capable of impacting another, then that object must possess sufficient significance for its state to be known and measurable, and if it is in a process of change, then that change must be known and measurable as well…but let’s not drift too far off topic into exploring chaos theory & all that, for it’s all a red herring. To effectively use such a vast repository of knowledge about object states, object metamorphoses, object bearings & vectors of travel, et al, is well outside of the capability of knowledgeable humans. Yoda pegged it: Always in motion, the future is, difficult to see.

But none of this has to do with what democrats do when they boast, with all their fanfare and all their insolent superiority, how they will prevail in this-or-that. They’re great ones for putting on airs and going through the motions like they reached their decisions as the culmination of some rational, scientific, methodical process full of weighing and measuring. Most of the time, though, it’s all posturing. Really, the mask had already slipped when they took this attitude with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Obamacare, the White House was extra, extra, extra, super-duper sure that they’d prevail. Now really. Think it through with all the logic and rationality they pretend to be using. Why would you say that?

You work for the White House and you’re super-duper sure the SCOTUS will vote your way. That would mean, you’re super-duper sure the “liberal wing” will line up…which isn’t enough…and then, I heard some of the law was written with Justice Scalia in mind, maybe your hopes are pinned on him, or you have a lot of confidence Justice Kennedy will see fit to come down on your side. Neither of those prospects seem, to me, to be cause for optimism in the Obama White House. Maybe the combination of both of them, since it only takes one? Seems doubtful.

There was no reason for them to get all cocky about this. It was all a bunch of fakery.

They got their asses kicked, here, because they have this unfortunate tendency to start to believe their own fakery and posturing. We just saw them self-immolate over it, four times in a row. It really isn’t that complicated…see, part of the reason they can act all confident, even when the odds are stacked heavily against them, is that they have this zero-tolerance policy against any doubts in their own ranks. From what I’ve seen, the zero-tolerance policy persists even when they feel safely ensconced on high ground, among their own trusted peers, behind closed doors. I have no way to verify that, of course, it just looks that way to me…I argue with some of them, I come up with things that would make them doubtful, things with which they should have already been preoccupied, if they’re the cautious thinkers they pretend to be, and it’s like…der? They never heard of such a thing before. Have no idea what I’m talking about. So it seems, to me, to work that way. No doubts are allowed. Supremes will side with us, it’s a done deal.

Yes, they end up talking about the future as if it’s something that’s already happened. Pay attention, you’ll see they do that quite a lot.

If there is any cause for actual optimism, here, it is in that they just can’t stop. It is their chosen methodology for fellowship among their own, and the feeling of camaraderie is a vital ingredient to the fuel that drives them. They can’t do without it. They need everyone on the team, to stay on the team, and so many of the people on the team are only there because they want to be on the winning side.

This is the kind of thing a smart general spots in the enemy, right before a battle in which that smart general’s side emerges victorious even against long odds. The enemy, once afflicted with a weakness, is further injured by an inability to address the weakness — because to address it, the weakness would have to be inspected, and this enemy seems to be unable to even acknowledge such weaknesses exist.

How long was the left asked the question: If the government can require us to buy something we don’t want to buy, what can’t it do? And everyone asking, down to a man, was dismissed as a slobbering, slope-foreheaded, teabagger racist. Go away! You don’t count! Let the big boys figure out how this new perfect wonderful society will work, and then when we can’t make it work without your money, we’ll come after you and tell you what to do.

And what question did the Supreme Court ask them, when the time came to defend it in court.

How well-prepared were they, for the very same question they’d heard for two years solid. Uh…not sure how to answer that, derp derp derp.

Reckless optimism is not warranted here. But cautious optimism certainly is. The democrats can be told, point blank, right to their faces, where their weakest flank is…they can be given multiple years, solid, to fix it, said fix being no more complicated than writing up a message, testing it, and getting it disseminated. Which is something they’re pretty capable of doing when they put their minds to it. And in all that time, they won’t put their minds to it.

It happened four times in a row, in the space of a month. If they were tested, similarly, ninety-six more times, things would come out the same way ninety-six more times. We’ve seen the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses. Their defeat is more likely, if the weaknesses receive due attention, and those weaknesses are not complicated or hard to define.

Update: If the other side feels justified in playing some of this hazardous write the future game, just to see what it’s like…there is a likelihood that Peggy Noonan has isolated the next point of failure.

Disenfranchisement

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

I notice we seem to be arguing lately not quite so much about what to do, as we are about who is to decide what we should do, and who should have no say in the matter at all.

Quoting my own words of wisdom in the Hello Kitty of Blogging account:

Awhile ago, columnist Larry Elder noted that conservatives think liberals are misguided, but liberals think conservatives are really, really, really, really bad people.

Maybe it’s time for an update.

Conservatives would like liberals to be disenfranchised from the electoral process, until such time as those liberals grow up a little bit, learn the value of a dollar, recognize that all people are created equal and deserve equality-of-opportunity but not equality-of-outcome, actually READ the Constitution, learn how our system of government works — and, where it applies, attain citizenship, meet the conditions of their parole, and use their own stinkin’ ID.

Liberals would like conservatives to be disenfranchised from the electoral process forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever…until they die of old age, in a fire, get reincarnated as something hideous, die of old age again, in another fire, foreverandeverandeverandeverandeverandever.

The sad thing is, this “electoral process” has become more and more important to us, ultimately concerning itself with everything from, is appeasement the best way to deal with a country whose leaders want us all dead, and is trying to get nuclear weapons…to…what busybody bureaucrat will we hire to go through kids’ lunch sacks to make sure Mom put the right things in there. Think about it — that is quite a stretch.

From is-it-okay-this-guy-wants-us-to-bake-in-a-mushroom-cloud, to — are-you-wiping-your-ass-right. Perhaps it is possible for the spectrum to stretch more broadly than that, but it is difficult to see how.

There is more wisdom from Yours Truly over at Hello Kitty that dovetails into this:

Justice Anthony Kennedy nailed it. Obamacare is about changing the relationship between government and the citizens it purports to govern.

Time for some Dilbert logic. Imagine if you will, a society in which government takes care of the “citizen’s” most intimate and personal needs, and in order to do that, provides the citizens with instructions about how to live, right down to what kind of car to drive, how many times a week to have sex, proper toothbrushing procedures, etc. What do you think the elections for President would look like; what kind of megalomaniacs would want the job.

You might see the candidates most interested in preserving the dignity and autonomy of the individual, ejected from the running early on. For entirely nebulous reasons…like for example, “I just don’t get the feeling she’s qualified.” Like that. You might see the candidates most interested in providing their own children with a happy and sane childhood, pushed out of the race as sleazebag “journalists” rent houses next door and start peeking through their windows.

As the field is winnowed down, you might see the few remaining candidates utterly and completely failing to capture even trace amounts of real enthusiasm…even though the entire electorate knows the incumbent’s got to go.

And speaking of the incumbent, in the guys who actually get the top job, you might see this weirdly extreme self-centeredness. You might see their chin jutting upward at a permanent angle, as if their neck bones have been surgically fused together maybe. You might see them doing strange things like filling in fantasy sports team brackets while the unemployment bobs up & down around 9% to 10%. You might see the First Family take on this air of almost royalty. You might see the First Lady start campaigns to “battle childhood obesity” forcing the peasants to subsist on arugula and kale while she and her friends wolf down on cheeseburgers and fries.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you America Anno Domini Twenty Twelve.

So we have a bigger and bigger “everything” being decided by our political process, and we’re getting further and further away from the one-man-one-vote vision, embracing instead a model of we-vote-on-who-votes (and how many times). Well, what more is there to be said. We all like things to be a little less tense in our politics…nobody wants a fist fight over the Thanksgiving table just because this branch of the family is Roosevelt democrat, and that branch is Reagan Republican. We want our friends to be friends first, political allies/antagonists a distant second. We want to get along with each other. But I have to ask: Is there anything we can do to produce division and rancor, that we’re not already doing?

That, perhaps, is the ultimate argument against Obamacare: Politics will become more and more divisive, as long as politics decide more and more things, with little or no sincere or workable process for appeal.

“Racial-Relations Regression”

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Victor Davis Hanson writes about the Trayvon Martin weirdness:

The media cannot explain why in this particular case some outlets have adopted the new rubric “white Hispanic” — what is the reasoning behind that, and why all of a sudden now? Nor can it explain why it continues to run photos that give readers the impression that Mr. Martin was a pre-teen middle schooler, when a recent photo is accessible.
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So far all that is clear is that there is a growing anger among African-Americans about a failure to immediately arrest the shooter that in turn is provoking an even greater backlash against the antics of Al Sharpton, the creepy bounty offered by the New Black Panther Party, and others who inflame for their own careerist advantage, and no one — not the president, not the media, not the civil rights leadership, not the politicians — seems willing or able to call for a time-out until all the facts are reviewed and released. We have collectively regressed to the days of Rodney King and the L.A. riots and the O. J. Simpson trial — or to something far worse. Hope and change came and went.

Got that from an excellent round-up compiled by Ed Driscoll about the elderly couple that was forced out of their home when Spike Lee mistakenly tweeted their home address, violating the Terms of Service by doing so, as the residence of the shooter George Zimmerman.

Update: The shooter’s father discusses the hate. It’s thinly cloaked in some kind of quest for justice, which curiously, has the effect of making the hate deeper and broader than it would otherwise be.

This was all foreseen in a book written way back in the early sixties…it was called, To Kill A Mockingbird. Some irony, there.

“Hey, Kids, Let’s Put on a Government!”

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The two visions are put alongside and contrasted with each other, so everyone can see the differences. Professor Mondo and The Major (Ret.) duke it out.

It’s educational. Wish my Social Studies teachers put on something like this. Like, way back, in sixth or seventh grade.

See, there’s a problem when these things are supposed to be kept civil: The left’s side of the argument presumes there is something about government work that makes one incorruptible, and/or wiser than others. They don’t come out and say it. But their entire vision is dependent on it. They’re very seldom compelled to come out and say what makes it that way. One gets the idea that their evidence comes down to: Government workers remind them of Mulder and Scully on the X-Files, who everone knows dress better and speak more articulately than those inbred rednecks they go out to see out in the boonies, with their dilapidated old houses with their creaking picket fence gates, and their glowing monsters locked up in the tool sheds, and their hick accents…

That, and government work does not involve that evil profit stuff. And that’s a breakdown in the argument right there. Government work might not involve profit, per se, but in many cases it involves a pension plan unlike anything you can get in the private sector. So if that’s the justification, the “government knows better” types are looking for an altruistic money-don’t-matter attitude, in a place where they’re less likely to find it than most other places.

So, which side has my sympathies, should be completely obvious as if it were ever in question in the first place. Now, on with the show.

Bye Bye, Poo Poo!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Embedded by blogger friend Buck. This makes me giggle all weirdly & uncomfortably.

Maybe we can get the Occupy Wall Street types interested in it…

“Good Software Engineers Have Side Projects”

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Was looking for a quote about what bad software engineers do, and I can’t even remember what it was I was trying to find…stumbled instead into this post from a year ago about what good software engineers do.

I’ve talked with a number of people, particularly business-type people, who seem to consider engineers working on side projects as a warning sign. This attitude, primarily held among non-technical people, is not only wrong but it actively interferes with their ability to find, nurture, and keep good software people.

Good software engineers almost always have side projects. In fact, those side projects are one of the reasons why they are good software engineers. The reason is simple: Good software engineering requires constant learning, and very few companies create a situation where all of that learning can occur on the job.

Technology, and software in particular, move incredibly fast. Today’s frameworks and tools are different than those of a year ago, and those are different still from those of five years ago. The details are ever-changing, requiring software engineers to be continually learning to stay afloat. At the same time, the techniques and practices that are used in software development, the deeper skills underlying the fast-moving surface, are consistent but require long and dedicated work to even begin to master.

This double requirement of keeping abreast of the latest tools and frameworks while at the same time mastering the underlying techniques means that in order to become and remain a good software engineer, you need to continually spend a tremendous amount of time learning. There are both requirements of breadth (keeping up to date with changing frameworks and tools) and of depth (improving your underlying skills), and it is very rare that learning on the job is sufficient to cover all.

Can’t disagree with any of this. I know better. I especially like that kick-in-the-chops at the beginning: “This attitude, primarily held among non-technical people…” Yes, that’s been my experience as well.

Wasn’t so thrilled to read about this: “…and the use of technology to accelerate social change.”

I’m sure he’s a good guy and all, and he’s definitely right on the money about the side-projects thing. My own observation about this has boiled down into a ripoff of the Glengarry Glen Ross monologue about Always Be Closing: Always Be Building. It is a lament rather than a lecture, in my case. I look back over the years and see I’ve always been surrounded by these well-intentioned sagely types urging me to not build anything, for one reason or another. It goes back to the very beginning. I regret every minute of every hour I’ve spend honoring that advice; it’s just not good advice. The “Always Be Building” thing, that’s better.

The dilemma that comes up is a vanishing boundary. In actuality, nobody’s ever told me “stop building things” because that would obviously be telling me to stop doing what I’m supposed to be doing in my job. The concern is about developing an architecture, protecting the code base, making sure nothing is committed that doesn’t properly gel with the architecture. Which is the very foundation of a good software engineering practice…right up until you get into that loop where, the whole team is waiting for an architecture to emerge, and there isn’t one emerging because you have these faux-architects wanting to “play architect.” They need to fiddle around with things before they can tell anybody what to do, because until they get that done, they just don’t know.

And that, of course, is a problem.

That can be people pretending to know things they don’t really know — or, it can be a natural outgrowth of what we used to call the “bleeding edge technology” situation. Meaning, since the whole development team has made it their business to confront an emerging technology, let’s say for example, supporting hardware that has just been developed and is offered to a narrow, specialty market — they’ve effectively removed themselves from the option of learning from others. There aren’t any others. So this isn’t architectural malfeasance. Yet. But the situation is the same: This narrow elite circle of “trusted,” not necessarily talented, coders start writing (bad) code as fast as they possibly can, in a quixotic attempt to try to make the unknown into a known, so they can come up with an architectural framework, and parcel out the work to these other guys who are sitting around waiting to be told what kind of code they should be writing. Who all have to be paid, regardless.

Or, maybe everybody’s trusted. That’s an ideal situation. But it doesn’t guarantee success, all by itself; and even there, you cannot count on the idea that your work will always be providing you with an optimal challenge. It all comes down to, your personal growth is your responsibility.

I think this feeds into a much larger debate, with well-informed and passionate opinions on both sides, among technical and non-technical people alike. Is the most effective development team a band of individualists, almost like bank robbers, who are in it for themselves, each bringing their own backgrounds to the project? Or should it be more like Star Trek, where team members devote their lives to the company construct just like Starship officers devote their lives to Starfleet…need a book? The company will provide. Weather getting nice? The company is having a softball match, see ya there.

I’m personally leaning somewhat toward the first scenario, with the bank robbers, although I recognize people need to communicate effectively in order to do an adequte job as a team. That is a hard requirement, but I think if the bank robbers act like professionals, it can be met without turning the whole organization into Starfleet with everyone running around wearing the same style of shirt and quoting regulations. The most successful teams I’ve seen, adopted a flexible, hybrid approach. We’ll have barbeques and softball matches…attendance not mandatory…buy the books, and we’ll reimburse you unless you have plans to stick your name and phone number on the inside cover and mark it up. (My current employer wouldn’t care about that, I don’t think, but I always buy my own because if a book is particularly valuable to me, it’ll end up getting torn to shreds.) But I think ultimately people favor one of the above two choices based on their personal politics. This guy is probably an exception, since his biography pegs him as a lefty. Most of the lefties I’ve met on the job, should they express an energized opinion about this, they’ll go the other way: No, the company owns what you do, lock stock & barrel, and you shouldn’t have side projects unless your manager has signed off on it, in which case you should be providing weekly status reports on it. Don’t care if you bought a media jukebox for your home movies and it was all loused up until you dashed off a three-line batch file to make it work right, on your home PC, at three o’clock on a Sunday morning — submit a report to your manager about that batch file, because it’s ours.

I’ve always been told you should think like you own the company. That advice is good, I think. If I’m the company, I do not want to own all the code any of the developers have ever written. New technology comes out, the developer pokes it with a stick, does whatever experiments on it he’ll be inclined to do, writes some crappy code to figure out how it works. After he’s familiar with its interfaces, he writes some better code. If I’m the company, I want to own that better, somewhat well-designed “I think I know what I’m doing now” code. I want to keep the wheat and leave the chaff behind.

Holy Improper License Plate, Batman!

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

From The Blaze.

The police must have had quite a laugh in Montgomery County, MD, after they pulled over a Lamborghini for not having proper tags. The driver instead displayed the Batman logo, and after they pulled him over, the police found him dressed like Batman, too.
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Officer Janelle Smith, who acts also acts as a police spokeswoman, clarified that the man is a “good samaritan,” and was previously at the hospital entertaining sick children. They let him off with a warning, and sent him on his way.

I Wouldn’t Say 100%…

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

An Honest First Date

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Naughty language in video. Hat tip to Linkiest.

Perspective for the Ladies

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Margot is not happy with the latest cover of Time Magazine.

People will see this cover, without even reading the story, as I haven’t yet, and conclude everything is fabulous for women. It’s not. Stats at the top have not changed for women. People in power across the board– business, politics, media, doctors, law, art– are men.

The spin on this article is pretty brilliant. From the cover, you can tell it’s not going to be that “women are achieving so much, so fast that males are the ones who need support.” No, it’s going to be that “women are achieving so much so fast, getting so very rich, becoming richer than men, and that’s good for men!” That way, feminists are supposed to be grateful for Time’s piece and somehow not notice that a national news magazine’s cover is actually referring to women as the richer sex. WTF?

Well, I haven’t read the Time article either. But I’ve read Margot’s work for awhile now, and while I think she is to be congratulated on giving-a-damn about what kinds of messages are being sent to her daughters and doing something about it — wish more parents would — I do see a rather narrow concentration on the demographics of the hallways and offices of power. There are corporate board rooms, corner offices, business partners, owners of sole proprietorships, executives, legislators, and others. And from what I can see, once such “mahogany rows” are defined, and their populations broken down, if the male statistic is any higher than 48% then Margot is an unhappy camper, and you can count on a blistering screed from the ReelGirl site within a day or two. But ya know…I’m not quite sure that’s the measurement to be applied.

Also, I’ve heard the arguments that say women are way behind, and I’ve heard the opposing arguments that it’s the men who are getting screwed right now. Seems to me they talk past each other. Both sides could be right in the fact that they present, completely right, which means they aren’t really locking horns like they think they are. Are the executives, legislators, equity holders, other decision makers much more likely to be men? Absolutely yes. Is a male baby, born today, much more likely to be financially successful than his female counterpart? Ehm…let’s just say I’m doubtful about it.

Will that female counterpart be deluged with advertising messages designed to keep her down, insulted, deflated, trod-upon…lowering her vision of herself…more than the male? No, absolutely not. It is possible, mind you, that what she does see will have a more pronounced effect upon her behavior. Guys have an ability to shrug that stuff off. Relatively speaking, anyway. Think about the writhing and whining and hand-wringing about “unhealthy body images in advertising” you’ve heard about, over the last ten or twenty years. Now imagine I’m wrong about the guys being tougher and less sensitive…let’s say I’m completely mistaken, and the blokes are equally susceptible…look at a replica of Action Comics #1 from 1938, look at Superman’s body, the slightly soft-n-squishy wrestler’s build. Compare to a more modern version, something from the John Byrne reboot in the 1980′s. Or a Doug Hazelwood Superman. I rest my case. There’s a noticeable change here, it isn’t doing the lads any psychological harm, or if it is, nobody gives a flying fig about it. But it’s probably not having the effect people are talking about with the gals.

Show Her It's a Man's WorldAs I pointed out in Margot’s comment thread, there is no perceptible statistical skew taking place right now — unless I’ve missed something? — with gentlemen winning elections more often than the ladies. Therefore, if men are outnumbering women in Congress five to one, you’ll have to take it up with the women who are deciding not to run. I don’t know what’s going on there and I can’t speak for them. Maybe they saw Kate Beckinsale or Keira Knightley running around in some undergarments, and got all put off by it. Seriously, members of Congress are frequently made to look ridiculous…and they should. It happens to everyone in a position of power. Well, that inspires one level of revulsion in potential male candidates, and a whole different level in females. Women don’t like being made to look silly. Eh, it’s just one explanation. Makes sense to me.

There’s also the magnitude, or perhaps I should say the intensity, of the ridicule to be considered. Remember the last time a man was the subject of as vicious and vociferous a hate campaign, as what was directed toward Sarah Palin? Me neither. Uh, by the way, who did that? Any of the feminists, and their male sympathizers, who are now complaining about inadequate female representation in these hallways of power? The lack of self-awareness that would have to be involved in any membership overlap, it would be absolutely breathtaking and stunning. And yet. I do think there’s overlap. Gonna go out on a limb and just guess that there is some.

But back to the “perspective” mentioned in the title. I see there’s an article about the glossy magazine advertisements of days gone by; its appearance is apropos, and timely. Spaking her right in the ass because she bought the wrong kind of coffee. And in the bygone days of those crappy percolators, hah! Keep her where she belongs…put her in her place…wifey as an animal-skin rug with his foot on her pretty head. Oh, my. You’ve come a long way baby.

Perspective is a wonderful thing. It’s refreshing…like having a beautiful woman serve you breakfast in bed. Perhaps, the solution to whatever problem that can be defined here — and I’m not convinced there is one — is not quite so much to filter out the messages that are aimed at impressionable females, but to take a closer look on how they choose to react to the messages. In fact, maybe that’s why the men aren’t quite so easily bruised and dented; in our world, after a few years of growing up, you need to start taking it as a given that any & all “messages,” be they spoken or be they printed, are not necessarily for you. I see there are some women who’ve figured that out as well…but on Planet Man, it is a requirement for survival. It’s basic. You go on those outings, in which five of you are someone well-adjusted socially and then you have that one jackass whose momma never told him no? There’s one in every crowd, it seems. Well, on Planet Man…this is something even the runt of the litter knows. Four out of five of us know you don’t double-dip, four out of five of us know you bring a towel when you bench press in a gym — but five of five who’ve survived to adulthood, get this one thing. Everything said is not intended for, nor does it have meaning for, every man. That’s one of the important reasons why we have bullying — any maturing lads who go through life with that “it’s all about me, me, me” thing, get bullied until they drop it.

Well…looking at the current White House occupant, I guess I’d have to admit there are some exceptions.

But by and large, this is a baseline requirement in the Man’s corner of the universe. And it’s one of the few things we do right. If we want to reach manhood and keep all our wits about us, we have to catch on that sometimes, a message is sent by one, received by another, and we are bystanders having not a single thing to do with any of it…therefore, if we’re offended, well, too bad so sad. Tomorrow’s another day. It’s a good lesson for everyone. What basket cases we’d be if we shouldered the burden of finding some meaning, for ourselves, out of every little thing. Three headache reliever commercials in which the husband’s using Brand X and the wifey is using something better, we’d be ready for the looney bin.

LAPD Ignores California Impound Law

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

FOX News.

The Los Angeles Police Department will soon start ignoring California state law, which requires police to impound the vehicles of unlicensed drivers for 30 days.

The majority of unlicensed motorists in Los Angeles are immigrants who are in the country illegally and have low-income jobs. The LAPD says the state’s impound law is unfair because it limits their ability to get to their jobs and imposes a steep fine to get their car back.

As long as drivers can produce some form of I.D., proof of insurance and vehicle registration, they’ll be allowed to keep their car. Police Chief Charlie Beck insists that it’s simply leveling the playing field.

“It’s about fairness. It’s about equal application of the law,” Beck told a Los Angeles TV station earlier this month.

Ironic, isn’t it? If I break a law that says my car is to be impounded, my car is impounded. Nobody’s out there storming the capitol building protesting “Aw, gee, that poor Morgan K. Freeberg, it’ll be tough on him getting the money together to get his car out of the lot.” There damn sure isn’t anyone in the police force saying, hey let’s not enforce the law because it’ll be tough on Freeberg.

But illegal aliens get a pass because, and I quote, it’s about equal application of the law. Thin the herd so the species can survive, pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it, apply the law unequally for sake of equal application of the law.

The Simplest Way to Distinguish it That Doesn’t Lose Any Detail

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Regarding Architects and Medicators, there are many ways to define the difference, but of course there is an obvious problem with multiple definitions: When applied, they may produce different results and create an ambiguity. On the other hand, there is a reason the multiple definitions exist. People, at least in my experience, don’t often fall on different sides of the chasm when these different definitions are applied. That’s what makes the difference worth noticing in the first place. Most people are either all-of-one and none-of-the-other, or vice-versa.

Then again, “most” is not “all”; in my own experiences I have met some individuals who are hard to pigeonhole. And my own experiences are not universal, exhaustive or encyclopedic. But if you try a little, people aren’t that hard to read. We all want to make things work and we all want to fit into whatever community we’ve selected. But there’s the split — sooner or later, the challenges of a more complicated life will compel us to displease our peers, for the sake of making something work, or to agitate toward unworkable solutions in order to please peers. To make a choice. People generally spend their entire lives choosing one of those or the other, and which one they choose, reflects the path of development they chose at a very young age.

I was explaining it to Dean Esmay and I ended up jotting down something that had been germinating in my noggin about this:

The simplest way to distinguish it that I’ve been able to formulate, is: The Architect comes up with a plan to produce a desired outcome based on the predicted behavior of inanimate objects, and the Medicator comes up with a plan to produce a desired outcome based on the predicted behavior of living, sentient creatures. These habits are formed in toddlerhood, typically chosen according to which methods have produced a positive result in the personal experience of that person, and they last throughout a lifetime.

As we mature, the Medicator learns to produce Architect-like results and the Architect learns to produce Medicator-like results. Example: The geeky eighth grader who doesn’t socialize and spends his time in the computer lab or in the chess club. In adulthood, he eventually learns to talk to people. But he’s not emotionally sync-ing up, he’s using his experience to figure out what most people will like & dislike, by means of logic, process-of-elimination, etc. He’s effectively interfacing with living creatures as if they’re non-living. The same holds true with the Medicator…taking tests that are supposed to gauge command of the academic material. Some of the kids who score highest, actually don’t have good command of the material, they learn to anticipate how the quizzes are put together, what kind of answer does the teacher want to see.

And perhaps the simplest litmus test to be applied is, if the test subject is cut off from all other living things for a sustained period of time, does he lose his cognitive ability. Not — is he unhappy and lonely — but rather — does he become confused, disoriented, start losing his way. That’s the test. Is there a social feedback loop going on, which has become indispensable in the everyday task of forming strategies for resolving complex and challenging new problems, and instilling some confidence in those strategies.

As a result of that differential, it is unavoidable that a justified sense of confidence is the exclusive domain of Architects, who internalize the process, and therefore can self-assess it in some rational way. Of course, the most concise definition out of all of them has always been: Architects think things, Medicators feel things. The disadvantage to thinking things is that the fine art of compromise, is in itself compromised; even with very simple problems, if an outside opinion happens to be right, it’s right the way a busted clock happens to be right. So the outside opinion, really, is irrelevant in every possible way. And the disadvantage to feeling things is that it’s simply an irrational process. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, so it can’t be reduced into component parts or analyzed or checked. It is a process of, like I wrote above, “anticipat[ing]…what kind of answer does the teacher want to see.” The answers are produced toward the same purpose everything else is produced: To arrive at an optimally desirable emotional state, in the person producing and in those who are in proximity.

Update: Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. An Architect can’t do this…not at age two anyway. You need to be responding to reactions from living things, to do something like this. (Hat tip to Linkiest.)

Scale of the Universe

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

A black hole…for your time. You’re welcome.

Passing along the thanks to my friend on the Hello Kitty of Blogging, Mike Simone.

“They Call It a ‘War on Women’”

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Wow…Senator McCain has a whole new round of things to explain to me.

But I wonder how the supposedly-independent-mindeds think about this kind of thing — knowing that, prior to 2012, nobody was talking about this stuff anywhere. How do they justify this? How do they explain it?

Three years democrats have held the White House…five years they’ve had the Senate. They could’ve gone after this issue of, “Hey waitaminnit, just because God says women are here to gestate with their babies, doesn’t mean it has to happen” — at ANY TIME they could’ve gone after that. But no. Only when Obama has to run for re-election, on a record He hasn’t managed to put together. Now we have to have this knock-down drag-out debate about “war on women” all across the fruited plain.

And what’s up with that democrat female? Is there a rule somewhere, you can’t be a spokesperson for the movement unless all sane straight men would run away from you, screaming?

H/T: CDR Salamander.

Candy Pin-Up Girls

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Thanks to Hello Kitty of Blogging pal Teresa. Happy hump-day.

Eighty Miles Per Hour

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

This is doing very little to renew my faith…

John Carter Fail

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

What is it about the name “Carter”? Regretfully, the title of this post is intended to refer to a new magnitude of fail. Disclaimer: I still have high hopes for this movie, have not gotten around to seeing it, want to.

Bu-u-u-u-t…

Studio Disney has admitted that its $250m-budgeted science fiction adventure John Carter is set to lose more than $200m (£126m) following disappointing box-office results.

The film, directed by Andrew Stanton of the Pixar animation house, opened poorly in the US two weekends ago with just $30m, and has so far made $184m across the globe. It has been far more successful outside the US, with No 1 openings in Russia and the UK helping to save it from an even more humiliating total.
:
Critics have suggested that John Carter’s failure to connect with audiences may have been due to confusing marketing as well as lukewarm reviews. Disney chose not to run with the “of Mars” suffix in the wake of traditionally poor box-office results for films that focus on the planet, and trailers also largely ignored the movie’s central romance, something Hollywood tends to see as a surefire method of attracting female filmgoers.

“The movie is called John Carter, but aside from the fact that he can jump far and looks good without a shirt on, what else did commercials really convey about the title character?” wrote Ray Subers of the Box Office Mojo website. “Also, what was John Carter doing in this desert landscape occupied by tall green men, aside from fighting giant furry white creatures?”

What is fascinating, to me, is that these “marketing” people have spent their lives — I assume — honing their craft, learning how to connect with the public. To be sure, they succeed in a big way when they do succeed. But they’re not in the business of amplitude, what they’re supposed to deliver is frequency, and they don’t seem to be connecting that often.

Their industry is a fail. They’ve become overly-institutionalized, more worried about following rules of orthodoxy than about crossing the finish line.

And their fail, is ours. I see it everywhere now, in politics as well as outside of politics. People are supposed to convince me of something: Citizen Kane is the greatest movie ever made, this-or-that kid has Autism, the earth is getting warmer and humans are the cause, there’s way too much sexism in M&M candies, Mitt Romney is inevitable, Barack Obama’s birth certificate is genuine and Rush Limbaugh shouldn’t have called a slut a slut. Over and over again, we end up back at the same place: There’s no argument presented on which I can pass judgment. I’d like to say, I have doubts about my abilities to hear unwelcome ideas and to evaluate them with balance, fairness and objectivity. The reality is, we don’t make it to that point.

It says something bad about us, as a society, that the problem persists in everything from sexist candies, to mega-film-flops with shirtless guys, to talk radio hosts and sluts. We’ve lost something. As a resident of the culture, I view this with some measure of alarm. I perceive it thusly:

My job is to convince you of A. Step one: Figure out if you already think A. If not, fuck you and I’m outta here. There! Job done!

Isn’t that exactly what happened with all of the above examples. Here’s a marketing budget, now use it to convince people they should go see John Carter. Okay…here’s some footage. Look how high he can jump. Here he is facing off against a big monster. He’s got a gorgeous bod, ladies, and…oh, look at that! He just beaned the monster with a big rock. See our movie!

Contrast that with the plain and eloquent logic in the Marbury vs. Madison Supreme Court decision of 1803:

If, then, the Courts are to regard the Constitution, and the Constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the Legislature, the Constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply.

Those, then, who controvert the principle that the Constitution is to be considered in court as a paramount law are reduced to the necessity of maintaining that courts must close their eyes on the Constitution, and see only the law.

This doctrine would subvert the very foundation of all written Constitutions. It would declare that an act which, according to the principles and theory of our government, is entirely void, is yet, in practice, completely obligatory. It would declare that, if the Legislature shall do what is expressly forbidden, such act, notwithstanding the express prohibition, is in reality effectual. It would be giving to the Legislature a practical and real omnipotence with the same breath which professes to restrict their powers within narrow limits. It is prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure.

See what Chief Justice Marshall did there? This is what seems to have died off; he got into the opposing argument. Gave it a test drive. “This doctrine would subvert the very foundation of all written Constitutions…It is prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure.” He declared the opposing argument to be just so much nonsense — not because it was his intention at the outset to do so, which it very well may have been, and probably was. But after giving it a try, and rationally weighing the consequences of following it, he declared this knowledgeably. Can’t take this car on the freeway. None of the gears above second are working, and the engine won’t go that fast. It’s the kind of finding that works best as an actual finding, not as conjecture. John Marshall embraced the experience. We don’t.

It seems we can’t think through ideas hostile to us, or against which we have pledged some hostility in return. Part of this obligatory hostility is that we have to hold the idea at arms-length, and get it dismissed before it’s had a chance to contaminate us. We’ve intellectually lost the idea to do much beyond declaring them welcome or unwelcome. This is injurious to our ability to hold aloft the welcome ideas, and state authoritatively why they are welcome. We select them with all the respectability and gravity of a flipped coin.

People like to bitch up a storm about movies having lost all their creativity, about a Hollywood overly enamored with remakes and sequels and “homages.” I don’t think the problem has to do with what can & cannot be cooked up; it’s got to do with what can & can’t be marketed. If the loyal following is not already built up and ready to miss important surgery appointments to buy the tickets, then the marketing project won’t be capable of building it.

Because we don’t communicate with each other in such a way for that kind of marketing to work anymore. I fear that all we have to say to each other, distilled down into its essentials, is: “agree with me already or else screw you.”

Maybe I’m reading way too much into it. I hope so. I’ve seen some bits of evidence to suggest so. But not much in the last, oh, five to ten years.

Cats With Boobs

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

The Internet in thirty-seven seconds…since the whole damn thing is just cats & boobs anyway, why not combine them?

From here, hat tip to Linkiest.

Holder on “Brainwashing” About Guns

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

So Breitbart.com has gotten ahold of a video from 1995:

This is really the divide between conservatives and liberals, in the modern age, right there. Not the gun thing. Well, not primarily anyway; there is a disagreement there, and there’s some importance to the disagreement, but that’s a distraction. Righties and lefties agree on the observed problem: Bored dumb young people are saturated with messages which compel them to make predictable choices that are not good. The conservative says, I see the problem, the young people are dumb and susceptible to these messages because they are bored. You know you’ve got a problem when these kids are sent down to the movie theater on a Friday, and by Saturday they’re trying to get hold of things they saw in the movie. Liberal says no, the problem is what the message is — we have to change it so the messages are “more productive.” Meaning, oh there’s another Archimedean lever that can be used to move the world, and the liberal’s hands aren’t the ones on the lever…that’s the real problem, as far as they’re concerned. Somewhere there’s a cockpit with all the pedals and steering wheels and push buttons, and they’re not the ones in it.

This is the Architect/Medicator divide, because the difference in world-visions has to do with recognition of a project perimeter. Holder, being a Medicator, doesn’t acknowledge such a perimeter; everything, everywhere, that is not being done the Eric Holder way is an unfinished task. I’ve learned from many mutually-frustrating conversations with Medicators that there is no end to the genuine angst they will feel about things being done in ways different from the ways they’d be doing them, if only they were the ones doing them. They just get hotter and hotter about it, like a nuclear reactor core melting down and burning its way to China.

Eventually you just have to face facts: All the trouble starts with their knowledge. They learn about the thing being done differently from the way they’d be doing it if it was theirs to do, and from that moment they’re doomed to this endless-circle round-robin of getting more and more pissed off. The only solution is to keep them in the dark, for their own good. So who’s the jackass who told Eric Holder about these movies?

This Is Good XCVIII

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

“I Rise to Address Bill S-205…”

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Hon. Sen. Nancy Raine Greene addresses the Canadian Senate:

Honourable senators, I rise to address Bill S-205, an Act to amend the Income Tax Act. If passed, this amendment would give tax credits to Canadians who invest in so-called carbon offsets. While I have no objection to citizens spending their own money in any way they choose, I do not support the government’s giving tax credits for carbon offsets. I say this for several reasons. First and foremost, I consider it an unnecessary and undesirable expense at a time when we should be looking for ways to reduce the tax burden on Canadians. While it is true that the amendment would benefit those who invest in carbon offsets, it would be an expense that would have to be covered by all other taxpayers. I say it is unnecessary because, contrary to the assertions of the honourable senator sponsoring the bill, it addresses an issue that is more and more being questioned by new scientific evidence. We simply do not know that our actions have a significant impact on the global climate, let alone that “the consequences of not acting can be catastrophic,” to quote Senator Mitchell.

I do not pretend to be a climate expert, but I have spent a lot of time over the past decade reading about this topic and listening to those scientists who are true experts. This, I believe, puts me in a good position to apply a common sense approach to the issue.
:
It has often been suggested that to “fight climate change” Canada can easily make a conversion from conventional energy sources to low-carbon-dioxide emitting wind, solar and other power sources. In his speech supporting Bill S-205, the honourable senator promoted these energy sources as job and wealth creators for Canada. However, honourable senators, the experience in Europe tells a very different story.

For example, researchers at the Instituto Bruno Leoni in Italy found that for every so-called “green job” created by subsidies, nearly five times as many ordinary jobs could have been created in the general economy at the same cost. The Italian researchers add:

“What’s often ignored is that the creation of green jobs through subsidies or regulation inherently leads to the destruction of job opportunities in other industries. That’s because any resource forcibly taken out of one sector and politically allocated in favour of renewable energy cannot be invested elsewhere.”

A November 2009 German economic paper from the Ruhr University Bochum and RWI, a publicly funded research institute, concluded:

“It is most likely that whatever jobs are created by renewable energy promotion would vanish as soon as government support is terminated.”

It’s nice to see the other side get a fair hearing — up North.

Hat tip to Kate at Small Dead Animals.

“No Stronger Ally” “Punching Above Their Weight”

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Freakin’ painful to watch anymore…

Hat tip to Powerline, by way of Gerard.

What can one say, except:

One Potemkin Village After Another

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Mark Tapscott at Washington Examiner notices the pattern:

The campaign inadvertently became public when video of a presentation by Pew vice president Sean Treglia to a group of journalists at the Annenberg Center let the cat out of the bag:

“The target was 535 Members of Congress and the idea was to create the impression that a mass movement was afoot, that everywhere they looked people were talking about campaign finance reform,” Treglia explained on the video.

Not one of the journalists listening to Treglia challenged him on the fact he was, in effect, admitting a massive, systematic pack of lies.

Nor did any of them do what was minimally required of them as journalists, which was to write a story about Treglia’s admission.

What it’s really all about is programming. We’re being programmed and we’ve been programmed for a very long time now.

Bill Clinton wants to spend more money and Newt Gingrich’s Congress doesn’t want to spend it, the result is a government shutdown, who’s to blame? Erm…must be those Republicans for not going along with spending. More money. Than has ever been spent before. In the country’s entire history…when it’s broke and leveraged. To the maximum extent allowable under its own laws.

Humans are genetically wired to do whatever has already been preferred by their peers, however they choose to define those peers. Copy off your neighbor’s desk, do whatever everyone else is doing. And so this creates an incentive for agenda-driven political movements to puff themselves up, to look bigger than they really are. I’m sure both sides are guilty, in this anecdote or in that one, of astroturfing.

The difference, in my mind, is that the lefty groups are reasonably well assured they’ll never get caught at it. Not in such a way that it will matter. You have to keep in mind, the damage is done not through the getting caught, but by the reverberation from the event of getting caught. Damage in politics is done more by the echo than by the actual percussion. The media controls the echo and the media wants the lefties to win whenever possible.

Just skimming over the Tapscott editorial, which has a decent round-up of all these Potemkin village incidents, I had previous knowledge of just about all of them and my initial impression of each of them — to some extent, anyway — was: The deception involved in the astroturf was only secondarily astonishing. The primary impact on me, with each one, was just how brazen the lefties are about it. It’s as if nobody stopped to let them know we’re now living in the age of YouTube. But then you have to think, waitaminnit, what actually happens if and when they get caught? The answer is: Not a whole hell of a lot.

People remember Watergate, they don’t remember things like the Standing Up For Families debacle. Our media sees to it.

Update: P.J. Tatler: On the question of “What if it’s all a Potemkin village,” there’s no “what if” about it.

The reality is, there is no “what if” regarding the nature of activism on the left. It is a nation of Potemkin villages from the local to the national level. These Potemkin operators created a network of activist fronts that turned Colorado from red to blue a few years back. A similar network was set up in Texas in 2007 and 2008, centered on Matt Angle’s Lone Star Project. That group lives off of the money left to it by the late trial lawyer, Fred Baron, and a few major leftwing foundations. I documented how Angle’s group operates back in 2010. Angle’s group failed in 2010, but they’re still active.

Kathryn Lopez is Offended

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Find out why.

I am offended that, once again, parties in positions of power have decided to pretend that all women are cut from the same political cloth. I am offended, and alarmed, that religion is seen increasingly by many of those same parties not as a vibrant good in our democracy, but as a mere sideshow for nostalgic people or citizens in need of a crutch.

I am offended that the Catholic Church has been attacked as being anti-woman — the same church in which strong women like Sister Elizabeth Ann Seton built a world-class education system for the poor in a less-than-welcoming environment. I am offended that my government would penalize religious women like Seton in the future, telling them they cannot be who they are called to be; telling them their consciences must be dictated by the state.

And I am deeply offended about what is being said about men. A few good men have stuck their necks out lately in defense of religious freedom in America, and they deserve to be thanked and defended as they counter a dedicated campaign of dishonesty, hysterics and even raw bigotry.

Reasonable women cannot remain silent as the secretary of state pretends that the U.S. under a President Santorum or Romney would be an oppressive state for women. Or as a New York Times columnist echoes her, insisting that good men protecting conscience rights are “cavemen,” and that Republican men are trying to “wrestle American women back into chastity belts” in an “insane bout of mass misogyny.” Or as Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, calls the U.S. Catholic bishops “violently anti-woman.”

This is miserable, insulting, desperate stuff. It’s just not right. Women of reason cannot let it stand…

Wow, she writes good for a chick.

From the monster thread where some opinionated sympathizer to that Fluke slut is trying to make me see the error of my ways for calling her a slut, and failing at it, I made the point:

I notice this about leftist campaigns, be they official campaigns like elections, or unofficial ones like Fluke’s fake testimony: The two characteristics they have in common are 1) So-and-so gets a bully pulpit and unlimited face time, even when the things said are completely silly the rest of us aren’t allowed to question any of it; and 2) Lots of bitter scolding for whoever says anything about so-and-so that isn’t absolutely positive, certainly, no criticism is allowed. Again, we live in a free society, in which those two points cannot co-exist.

Get the first word, get the last word, get every word in between, monitor the communications, speak truth to power, go ahead and jump to conclusions about what the opposition said and what the opposition meant to say, but constantly insist the more embarrassing comments made by your own guys were taken out of context. And always, always, always have some gimmick attached to your chosen spokespeople, so that whoever takes issue with them is wrong before they even say anything. You’re a sexist if you disagree with Sandra Fluke, you’re a chauvinist pig if you disagree with Hillary, you’re a racist if you disagree with Barack Obama, you’re a slope-headed moron if you can’t see the wisdom in what John Kerry is saying…and if you don’t chow down on what Al Gore is spooning out and beg for seconds, you must not care about the planet.

So this latest “war on men” is really just an offshoot of that. The left is constantly in search of ways to monopolize the conversation.

If their plans were good for people, they wouldn’t want or need that so badly.

“What a Blessing!”

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Sippican:

She simply refused to remember anything unpleasant, and seemed to forget nothing else. She regaled her children and grandchildren with stories of Cuchulain and Medb, faeries and wee people, Naomh Padraig and his clovers and snakes; a living encyclopedia of fun and fantasy.

She saved what little money came her way, and bought and sold things. Her long lost relatives would send her this and that from the Auld Sod, and she’d sell them to Yankees who collected such as her family had, as if the Irish were as exotic as Babylonians, not right across the Irish Sea from their own forefathers.

RTWT.

Spontaneous National Anthem

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The announcement is that there will be no national anthem tonight and “we do apologize for that”…and then, something happens.

Best Sentence CXXIV

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The 124th award for BSIHORL (Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately) goes to one of my Facebook friends who commented in an explosive thread about the right wing’s so-called war on women.

It is a statement for the season, and context is entirely unnecessary:

I don’t see how “not paying for” is the same as “restricting access to.”

Lest you be wondering, no, as far as I know this inquiry was never directly answered.

She has discovered the Flukeness. Resistance against buying something & distributing it for free, is on par with making sure people can’t get it.

Biden: The GOP is Out of Touch

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Campaign 2012, Washington Examiner:

Vice President Joe Biden addressed 87 wealthy Democrats last night attending a fundraiser at the home of Sen. John Kerry in Georgetown. As they dined on grass-fed New York strip steaks and white truffle mashed potatos underneath a outdoor tent, Biden criticized Republicans for being out of touch.

“These guys don’t have a sense of the average folks out there,” Biden said according to the pool report, “They don’t know what it means to be middle class.”

87 guests paid a minimum of $10,000-per-couple to attend the dinner.

Nothing to add.

“An Apology for Identity Politics”

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Stanley Fish writes in the New York Times.

The double standard that is in the news these days concerns Rush Limbaugh, who called Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown, a “slut” and “prostitute” because she told Congress that her university’s health plan should cover the cost of contraceptives.
:
…some on the conservative side of the aisle have cried “double standard” because Ed Schultz was only mildly criticized (and suspended for a week) for characterizing Laura Ingraham as a “right-wing slut,” and Bill Maher emerged relatively unscathed after he referred to Michele Bachmann as a “bimbo” and labeled Sarah Palin with words I can’t mention in this newspaper. If you are going to get on your high horse when Limbaugh says something inappropriate, shouldn’t you also mount the steed when commentators on your team say the same kind of thing?
:
If we think about the Rush Limbaugh dust-up from the non-liberal — that is, non-formal — perspective, the similarity between what he did and what Schultz and Maher did disappears. Schultz and Maher are the good guys; they are on the side of truth and justice. Limbaugh is the bad guy; he is on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy. Why should he get an even break?
:
Rather than relaxing or soft-pedaling your convictions about what is right and wrong, stay with them, and treat people you see as morally different differently. Condemn Limbaugh and say that Schultz and Maher may have gone a bit too far but that they’re basically O.K. If you do that you will not be displaying a double standard; you will be affirming a single standard, and moreover it will be a moral one because you will be going with what you think is good rather than what you think is fair. “Fair” is a weak virtue; it is not even a virtue at all because it insists on a withdrawal from moral judgment.

I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule “don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you” the rule “be sure to do it to them first and more effectively.” It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.

Sometimes, you almost have to feel sorry for the Modern Left. They got a little bit of encouragement with this issue, and they doubled-down so hard that now their mask has slipped off. And they didn’t even win anything.

In response to why should he get an even break, James Taranto states the obvious:

A disregard for fairness tends to alienate those who don’t already agree with you, and the attempt to consider the other side’s arguments fairly makes one’s own arguments more robust. If the Times were to reject the Fish Rule and actually make an effort to give the “bad guys” their due, it might be easier to find a documented case of someone changing his mind after reading a Times editorial.

In the same sense that applying theatrical outrage evenly and indiscriminately would make an argument more robust, applying it with calculated and unapologetic “that’s just the way it’s supposed to be” bias malnourishes that same argument in ways most visible to those hearing it and least visible to the person offering it. In fact, people tend to forget this, but we’re already going out on a limb when we say an argument is more likely to be correct when it is less offensive. We really haven’t got much business accepting just that much; how many offensive arguments have we seen, that turn out to be right? How many avoidable mistakes do we see made, based on thinking that has been declared somewhere to be less offensive than some alternative?

But Fish’s recommendation here leads to reasoning that is not only predictably flawed, but reliably circular. His side wins because his side has been judged — by those within it — to be less offensive. And it is to be judged as less offensive because it’s supposed to win. It’s about as useful as a wagon with one wheel a few inches bigger than the other, for exactly the same reason, traveling the same course; it is non-utilitarian because it ends up in a spot not remarkably different from where it begins. “We’re just plain right, why go into all this boring detail” sums it up nicely.

Here I must pause to notice yet another subtle thing about the Fluke debacle: Of all the arguments for Limbaugh’s…uh, I’ve lost track of what exactly it is they think they’re trying to do to him, let’s called it “conviction of the crime”…the one that manages to arouse the greatest sympathy from me, is that “slut” is a word to be avoided because it is deliberately vulgar and coarse, not technically accurate, potentially defamatory, et cetera. In short, we must expunge this piece of slang from our vernacular so that the discourse can remain civilized, elevated and lofty.

But the people who put their eggs in this basket, so to speak, don’t seem too interested in lofty discourse. I’m seeing Fish getting filleted in the comments section, and the consensus objection seems to be: Limbaugh’s a jerk, you don’t need to offer this apologia for a double standard, we’re not applying one…see, this is what I’m talking about. Caveman arguments of “us good, him bad.” It fails to consider ideas, even as it goes through the meaningless motions of, supposedly, evaluating them meticulously. It uses elementary-school-playground reasoning even in the midst of condemning elementary-school-playground taunting. Those people over there are wonderful and awesome, can never have a bad idea; those other people are horrible and terrible and can never have a good one. Well, it is an election year, I suppose our expectations must be relaxed.

Sandra Fluke is a slut, by the way. Applied to a woman, the word means a slovenly one. Slovenly means untidy, careless and neglectful in appearance, manners and repute. Go ahead, look ‘em up. Her testimony was to the effect that the expense involved in birth control for Georgetown students, like her, was so great that it wasn’t reasonable to expect them to bear it, it was so great that it would have to be paid by someone else. It’s difficult to think of another item of personal maintenance that could be so intimate, meaning, a non-slovenly person would desire to take care of this without sham “hearings” on Capitol Hill. And, when the birth control is used for recreational purposes, it’s entirely optional. It sucks to be celibate because of a reason like this, but people do it.

If that option of chastity for sake of financial independence is somehow automatically ruled out, for recreational reasons, that’s a self-control issue. We’d have no problem saying that about alcohol, marijuana or gambling. Why not here? So the most credible way you could say Limbaugh is wrong in what he said, is: Fluke is not a slut, she’s a spokesperson for other sluts. And, her defenders have simply lost track of how undignifying it is, to choose to live a life dependent on others. They’re polishing a turd. Just like Gerard said: “I hope she thinks the damage she’s done to herself was worth it, because to get it she made herself into the kind of ‘damaged goods’ parents once used to warn their daughters against becoming. The rich irony is that she doesn’t even know it yet. But she will. She will.”

I’m not sure what is happening to the word “slut” here. It’s either being banned from existence entirely, or it’s becoming a woman’s version of the N-word (they can use it, others cannot), or maybe the outcome will be to Stanley Fish’s liking and the word will become an pejorative of progressive-only privilege. Or, no metamorphosis of nomenclature will take place at all. My hope is that, if it is in a process of Gandalf-The-White transformation, at the end of it all the word will be understood to mean: Someone who wants what she wants, even if someone else has to pay for it, involuntarily — and doesn’t care about that because she just wants it.

That would be good. That would be, perhaps, the best linguistic resolution possible. The more I think about it, the more I like it. We’ve needed a word to describe this for awhile. We have been suffering needlessly for the lack of having one.

DJEver Notice? LXXIII

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Wisdom, again, from my Hello Kitty of Blogging account:

Ever notice the people who want “laws kept out of my/her uterus” are the same people who want lots and lots of regulation everywhere else?