Archive for June, 2012

Sexist or Not

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

So I am now in the eighth year of gifting the Internet with my opinions by way of a blog, and I’m thinking to myself…you know, there’s a problem here. I’m way too humble. Sure, I have my opinions, I put them out there, but I keep doing this providing logical justification for what I think, thing…seldom to never is the world ever granted access to my value system. In other words, I haven’t done a good job of saying THIS thing is awesome and wonderful, THAT thing is stupid-terrible-awful and sucks, just because I say so. You know, like the left-wing nitwits over on DailyKOS or something.

It occurred to me that I should do something to remedy this, when I read this thing that was linked over on Linkiest, “12 Unbelievable[y] Sexist Signs.”

I’m just going to go ahead and critique. Because, you know where I’m going with this…for a generation or two now, this inflammatory word “sexist” (adjective) has been defined pretty much unilaterally, by people who — well, let’s call them what they are, insufferable jackasses. Meaning, in Anno Domini Twenty Twelve, we have a pretty solid litmus test in place for the word “sexist” — and it has very, very little to do with reality. We’d be much better off just elevating me to position of “sexist definitions dictator” and letting me have the final word.

On with the show:

Verdict: NOT SEXIST. See, this is the whole problem: Telling a woman she looks good is sexist. No, no, no, fail, fail, fail. I do not want to live in that kind of a world, and neither does any sane straight man…or sane good-looking woman…or, anybody sane, at all. Good looking women are a treasure, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with telling them they look good.

Holy Moly! What got this whole thing started? Talk about a wrong turn!

Next:

Verdict: SEXIST. Yes, you can’t avoid it, that is sexist. Although I hope nobody was actually punished for it, it’s obviously a joke. So, again I have to ask, when did this happen? Sexist as all hell…but…clearly a joke…in a sane world, that is okay. Should be in ours.

SEXIST. And stupid.

But we don’t need fines or extra taxes or whatever…let the customers vote with their feet. Fucking idiot.

SEXIST. But, if it applies, pretty good advice.

SEXIST. And, again, stupid. Some guys are pretty good at kitchen work. Being female has nothing to do with it. Hey, if you don’t think the dude can do the kitchen work just don’t hire him! Why put it on a sign? Morons.

Verdict: Don’t know. Doesn’t matter. Just a dumb, stupid idea. You really want all the women to parade through your establishment topless? All? It’s a case of not being careful what ya wish for.

Verdict: SEXIST, immoral, stupid, not funny. Take a dim view of cheating, in either direction.

Verdict: NOT SEXIST. This whole notion that if you make fun of Hillary you’re making fun of women, is wrong-headed, intellectually lazy, intellectually vapid, intellectually childish and intellectually flaccid. Besides of which it’s partisan propaganda. And did I say wrong?

“Hillary” is not “women.” She’s a cynical left-wing hackish glad-handing grand-standing politician. Frankly, she should be ridiculed a whole lot more. And yes, take it from me, not all women like Hillary.

Verdict: NOT SEXIST. It is pretty obvious the butt of the joke here, is the slob who seems to think his mother will be available to pick up after him…and a few moments of serious contemplation will result in the conclusion that he is the sexist here, and not a sympathetic figure by any means.

Verdict: I can see how it might be offensive to some wives who’ve seen their husbands hit the road due to not being “happy,” but ya know what? That, by itself, doesn’t make it sexist. News flash, there are guys out there whose wives have vamoosh’d. They get to hear jokes all the time about cuckolded husbands whose dicks weren’t big enough, and what not…I’m sure they don’t appreciate it, but that’s life. Stuff happens. A joke that doesn’t quite tickle your fancy because of your own personal baggage, is not necessarily sexist.

In fact, this is less sexist than the other Hillary joke, two pictures ago, because it is meaningful political commentary. Think about it: Other than that embarrassing personal business from all those years ago, what are her qualifications? For anything? There aren’t any. Hillary, politics-wise, is the Monica Lewinsky episode. It defines her. She has nothing else to bring. Saying so, is free speech; definitely not sexist.

Verdict: SEXIST.

But kinda funny.

Verdict: Kind of on the line…not sure. Both the figurines are perceptibly female, and perhaps this is unnecessary, but I dunno. What if there was a man in there. Would it make sense still? Not really…let’s face it, who really gives a rat’s ass about running over a man? I’d be inclined to think it was sexist if the message was, look out for those woman-and-girl shoppers, you know you can’t count on them looking where they’re going…that would make the cut. But that’s not fair, that’s embellishing the message in order to change the outcome.

I think you see where I’m going with this. Noticing people happen to be female, is not sexist. Reading something into that could be, depending on the situation.

And noticing that they’re pretty is certainly not sexist.

We have to get rid of that. Soon. Like now.

Staci

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Toward the end of last year I had noticed, and since then I have made occasional reference to, a perfect quartet of “unavoidable flaws with liberal ideas.” They are derailment points on the railway; the liberal-idea-locomotive encounters one among the four, and chaos ensues. The mishap may be recoverable, but be that the case or be it not, the best-laid plan will come undone; any success realized after that point, will be realized by good fortune as a product of chance. And, interestingly, they make the same mistakes in the service of the interests of their agenda and their party, that they do in service of the interests of the country — which, to me, strongly suggests they are absolutely, genuinely, blind to the problems.

They really don’t understand them. Among the loyalists, I think they could be given a couple hundred years to make the same mistakes thousands and thousands of times…and…they’d just keep making them. That is what happens when you rationalize failure. You obviate the need to learn anything from it. And they are experts rationalizing away failure.

Time. They’re drunk on the elixir of friendly historians scribbling down such nonsense as, Franklin Roosevelt ended the Depression. And so they don’t worry about legacies. They’re very often caught neglecting the refinement of the message that would be handed off to history, opting to focus their attentions on the emotional rapture of the moment. The Occupy Wall Street movement, with its sloppy core message that never did quite gel into any useful form, is a perfect example of this.

Liberal LogicCommerce. Considering how much arguing they do about wealth and who has it, it just blows my mind that they demonstrate so anemic a grasp on what it is. They show a complete ignorance of the difference between occupations that create it, and occupations that do not. They seem to think the occupations, themselves, are the wealth, and that when an economy moves it’s just thriving on its own built-up inertia, like some sort of perpetual motion device that doesn’t need any fuel. “Get it going” is all that is needed. When I had my first car, I was responsible for gas and repairs; I suspect most liberals just borrowed their parents’ other car whenever they ran into a problem, and then daddy went & had the repairs done and the tank topped off. They seem intractably dedicated to the notion that any engine not running, including the economic engine, will run just fine if someone just turns a key. They see motion the same way they see life — it’s there just because it’s there, and if you start asking chicken-and-egg questions about it it just means you’re a shallow stupid ol’ teabagger.

Incentives. Conservatives and libertarians have been screaming for generations, “If you want more of something, subsidize it, and if you want less of something, tax it.” Granting the benefit of the doubt that our liberals do really want to make things better, they must not be getting the message. They’re constantly advancing plans to subsidize lifestyles that, if improvement of society is the end goal, nobody would want to see becoming more widely practiced. I haven’t been able to get a liberal to define in clear terms what “prosperity” looks like; haven’t been able to get any one of them to say “more people would be rich”…
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Abundance, and/or omnipresence. I see them constantly trapped in the thought-whirlpool that the goal must be to make something more highly regarded and highly valued, and the surest way to get there is to make that thing more plentiful, ideally, so that it becomes impossible to ever get away from it. This is a guaranteed fail because no person or thing has ever become more highly prized or cherished as a result of being more frequently seen. Natural laws of economics and human nature dictate that the opposite must be true.

Just noticed, over at my Hello Kitty of Blogging account, their vision for our society is most gravely in error precisely when & where it comes in closest proximity to almost making sense:

To understand liberals, you have to understand how their social contract makes sense, and it DOES make sense. In certain situations. Like, on a life raft, out in the middle of the ocean, with a dozen or fewer people let’s say. Water water everywhere, not a drop to drink…

In that situation, I agree with the liberals. If I find out one among us as been sitting on a hidden stash of chocolate bars and bottled water, that guy is a dick. And he should be fed to the sharks.

To understand the liberals, all you have to do is realize they live in this world ALL of the time. They lack the intellectual agility required to flex and adapt to different situations. We have legless people running races. Our kids all have cell phones. Our poor people are fat. They aren’t willing to factor these things in, to acknowledge they might have an effect on the social contract…ironic, since they say the Constitution is “living and breathing” but they want the unwritten social contract to be not only written, but carved in stone. They’re constantly accusing people of hoarding the C-rations and the chocolate and the water, when it makes no sense to do so.

So they react to a situation precisely the way a rational person would — but, not in that situation, in a different one. Let us call this one “Survival Staples” or “Starvation Imminent.” Without any supporting evidence at all, and without even any persuasive suggestion, liberals tend to behave as if the commodity-of-the-moment is in such short supply, and is so crucial to the continuing survival of the humans, be they in collectives or be they merely individuals — that an inexhaustible supply of the whatever-it-is becomes a “right.” Once they’re on this pathway, they get lost, instantly, for they adhere to the notion that mere difficulty involved in acquiring it, nevermind outright failure, constitutes an intolerable encroachment upon that right.

Crime…without an actual “bad guy.” So, of course, one has to be invented, that’s the next step.

S)urvival staples,
T)ime,
A)bundance/omnipresence,
C)ommerce and
I)ncentives.

STACI. Your five-part guarantee that liberal ideas, sooner if not later, will always turn out to be the wrong ones. One way or the other.

Dingbat

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

The Terror of the Tundra, being overly kind.

Memo For File CLXI

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

It occurs to me that we really need a word to describe the very broad range of school-age kids who are not only about to be diagnosed, but could be diagnosed, might be diagnosed, are skating around the periphery of possibly one day being diagnosed, with learning disabilities. I think everyone who’s working with this issue in some way implicitly understands, although no one is really describing it in verbiage or prose (I suppose that’s what I’m doing), that the thing we really need to be studying is that periphery. We as a society are spending a whole lot of time and energy treating it as a boolean thing, an on-off thing, thus we remain fixated on two questions: Does this kid have it, and what do we do about it. Thus, the periphery question — what the heck is it, anyway? — receives scant attention.

We treat it as if everyone has come to some kind of agreement about the boundary line. We question it and argue it the way you might question or argue “is it freezing?” Or, to reflect reality more precisely in the analogy, “are the water pipes under your mobile home frozen?” We act as if: It either is, or it isn’t. As I’ve often observed, though, everyone with a heartbeat could be fairly thought of as LD, in one way or another.

This is a big mistake we’re making. To treat this as an objectively measurable thing, is to give currency to the unjustified notion that all the persons involved, or all of the experts anyway, have achieved agreement on the definitions. If not on definitions of cause, then at the very least, on definitions of symptoms. Well, that is a boolean thing if nothing else is; they have or they haven’t. And, the more I learn about this, the more it comes off as a clear and obvious negatori. No, the “science” is not “settled.” They do not yet clearly know what they’re discovering. They don’t know what it is, let alone what causes it.

To study the “does he have it or does he not” and make these sweeping pronouncements about what the child’s potential might be if he does have it, presumes that this unification of the establishment ideas & methods has been reached, and hardened into a clear workable orthodoxy. To study the periphery cases, acknowledges the possibility that perhaps this is not so, and that our scientific efforts are not quite ready for such a thing.

And there are a lot of periphery cases.

As I’ve often noted, I would have been diagnosed easily, perhaps several times, were the “sciences” that are so trendy today similarly hip & stylish some forty years ago. That much is almost certainly true; what is positive is that I would have been included in the profile of these “is he in or is he out” cases. Therefore, if I was studied, my teachers would have been studied as well.

The method to my madness is: I think we need to start building a profile. We have to build a profile of the parents and educators who push for the diagnosis to be made.

Lost ValleyThe questionable-LD-child’s profile is started with a gradual realization on his part, that the class (or activity) is a dreadful bore that is not his cup of tea, and he begins to think in un-soldier-like ways, to take little ten-second vacations from reality in order to keep the machinery of his mind moving. These eventually stretch into several-minutes-long vacations from reality, during which he is called upon to do something and fails to leap into action the way the “control” child would. You might say, in the video-game of the classroom, he hasn’t yet figured out where the triangle, circle, square & X buttons are quite yet, and therefore can’t navigate through the “fight sequence.” But that is his perspective. From the teacher’s perspective, he has been “caught daydreaming.”

As anybody understands, if they’ve gone through the experience of learning such a “fight sequence” on a new controller, the solution is as simple as simple can be: Take your licking, figure out the fucking buttons, and play again. The first time you’ll have to do it by rote. “Okay, I’m supposed to press this shape then that shape then that one” and that translates to “the one at three o’clock then the one at high noon then the one at nine o’clock.” It’s the wrong thinking process…but that is okay. The next fight sequence, or perhaps the one after, your brain will be all properly wired and you can understand the story while you’re responding appropriately…a case of machine programming man. That’s how it works.

School should be the same way; start off doing the right thing by way of the wrong thinking process, and the next iteration through, shift to the right thinking process. That used to be exactly how it worked. But, somehow, we’ve gotten it into our heads that boys-caught-daydreaming is an exceptional, out of the ordinary occurrence, which must mean we think of “lifeguard mode” as the ordinary and more commonplace situation.

Know what this tells me?

Our boys are sneaky little shits and they are way smarter than their teachers.

Wait, that’s sexist. The girls are smart and sneaky too.

Just watch kids. Watch them waiting to buy movie tickets; watch them waiting for a subway, or riding on it. These kids can’t wait for a goddamn thing, anywhere, anytime. Out come the cell phones. I’ve said it before once, and again, and I’ll say it again, it’s the “not a single lifeguard worth a damn” generation. They haven’t been taught to passively wait for an event demanding instantaneous action, the necessity has not been created and so the skill has not been developed. But the necessity has been created to pretend…so they’re geniuses about that.

Overall, they are. What we’re dealing with around the periphery, are the kids like me. We’re lacking the talent of “sneak and snap.” We get a little too distracted, a little too lazy, a little too enmeshed in this “other” thought process we have going on, and we get this bulls-eye painted on our backs because the teacher starts to recognize: These kids, over here, are with-it and taking part and those kids, over there, can’t be counted-upon for jack shit. Teachers can’t help it, it’s just the way they think. Always has been.

What has changed, is the job of teaching. Back in my day, the teacher’s job was to gavel the classroom to order just like a judge, and keep it in order. Signals would be sent to the (perceptibly) daydreaming kids that their daydreaming was a bit too thick, their performance was too thin, and they needed to up their game. Know how that was done? Embarrassment. Oh, yes, I could write a whole thesis about my personal experiences with this, but it is a bit off topic; what is germane to the immediate discussion is, that the embarrassment did take place, and trust me on this — it didn’t turn into this crazy endless hamster-on-a-wheel thing where parents and teachers spend years and years arguing and arguing about the same ol’ shit, wondering what to do. The kid fixed the problem. Oh, yes he did!

No One Looks at Their Crotch and SmilesThis is how the “lifeguard” skill is developed: Harsh consequences. Why do we feel compelled to watch a coiled snake, for as long as we have to, when the snake isn’t moving? Let’s face it, it’s because snakes bite and the bite of a snake can really hurt you. Without that, there’d be nothing to watch. And this is why it’s the “not a lifeguard worth a damn” generation. All of the negative consequences, packing any weight at all, have been systematically removed. Embarrassment is a no-can-do. It is grounds for punitive action against the teacher, and it is for the most part against district policy.

I understand this from talking to the teachers. I also understand, further, that the teaching job has been shifted around a bit, and this “maintain order” thing isn’t quite so much a central part of it. The job of teacher has been transformed into something much more equivalent to the job of a university professor: Stay up to date on the academic materials and institutional policy, form the syllabus by whatever means, walk through it and grade the papers. The rest of it is up to the kids, and we’ll remove any ones that aren’t up to the job and put them in a “special” class.

So: The kids are expected to behave as if they have paid tuition in the class, when they haven’t. Much as the residents of public housing are expected to maintain the property and the structure upon it, as if they are engaged in a personal, investment-grounded or fiduciary participation in which they aren’t really engaged. In both scenarios, the outcome is the same. Things turn to shit. And, in both scenarios, the establishment has formed a blind spot with regard to the true epicenter of the problem, therefore the problem goes unsolved.

We are not really seeing a “skyrocketing” diagnosis rate of LDs; what we are seeing is more like a “collapsing” of the rate of mainstream participation. It’s crumbling and dissolving into a dysfunctional gooey mess before our very eyes, because we’re expecting kids not to act like kids. Actually, the adults act very much the same way; business meetings, the PowerPoint presentation is a bit too long and boring, and the presenter himself doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing, so up comes the e-mail client.

But, somehow, in the grown-up world, we treat that as a divided responsibility, the way we treat most other things in the grown-up world. The guy IM’-ing during the business meeting might have a shitty work ethic, or be possessed of bad etiquette, or distracted and unaware that he’s much less subtle than he really is — OR — the presenter needs a few tips on how to prepare a better presentation.

With the kids, our approach is far less balanced and we reach for the medication a whole lot quicker. The teacher is somehow infallible, as is the class material. Oh, it would be nice if that was due to a new-found respect for adults and authority; at least, there would be something healthy about that.

But no, this is about the institution being infallible and the individual consistently being at fault, because the individual is smaller than the institution.

That’s not just unhealthy. It is lethal. It is certain to eventually kill off however much of society we have, if we take the passive approach and allow it to continue. For a civilization is nothing, if not a coordination among individuals, and if you don’t respect the individual you cannot expect the civilization to endure.

Teachers need to go back to teaching; the old-fashioned, get-good-at-herding-cats, kid-teaching. If Teacher 1 continues to “find” all these kids in her class with LDs who “need” to be diagnosed, and Teacher 2 isn’t seeing anything similar, and the trend continues year by year, we need to start noticing. We need to profile the teachers whose presentation and drill-sergeant talents are not up to par — so that they can get “the help that they need.” We need to start taking a more balanced approach, the way businesses (sometimes try to) do with their less-than-productive overhead-projector business meetings. The education is communication, communication is a two-way street, both parties involved have responsibilities and therefore both parties labor under a prospect of potentially under-delivering.

That is what we are currently missing. One kid gets that bulls-eye on his back, the fact that some other kid doesn’t have it, is conclusive evidence that “there’s a problem” with the kid. Once we reach that realization we don’t go back & revisit it ever again. That is what we need to start doing, because perhaps it’s a matter of one kid letting us know, sooner than the other one, that the system’s all cocked up and has fallen into a state of disrepair…and of course, if that’s the case, it impacts everyone. Yes, the supposedly-normal, supposedly-successful, supposedly-high-achieving kids as well. They’re being taught to fake it, and when they carry that into “real” life, it won’t be helpful to them or to anyone else.

“Just Another Broken Promise”

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

It is one, isn’t it? I don’t know if it’s even possible to form an argument against that. Not sure if anyone’s tried.

Hat tip to Teri.

“The Chief Justice Done Us Good”

Friday, June 29th, 2012

From one conservative to other conservatives. Dov Fischer writes in American Thinker:

Chief Justice John Roberts has handed a remarkable victory to American conservatives by threading the judicial needle with perfect precision. The initial disappointment collectively felt by Americans who had hoped for a Supreme Court ruling that would overturn Obamacare soon will be replaced, upon further reflection, by the excitement that will come with a fuller appreciation of what the Chief Justice has wrought.

First, almost completely unnoticed, the Chief Justice voted with his four conservative colleagues in drawing an unprecedented red line against Washington wielding the Constitution’s Commerce Clause in the future to justify federal intrusion into the personal lives of Americans. This decision will restrict American Presidents and future Congresses for a generation and more.
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There is now a formal United States Supreme Court opinion on the books, overdue by nearly a century, holding that the federal government may not wield the Commerce Clause to impose on American citizens the obligation to buy health insurance or anything else we do not want. An American cannot be compelled by federal mandate to eat or even to buy a proverbial stalk of broccoli. As a kosher consumer, the federal government cannot wield that clause to impose on me an obligation to purchase non-kosher food supplements. The rules guiding lower-court wrestling matches over federal power to invade Americans’ private lives now have been reset remarkably by Chief Justice Roberts.
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Secondly, Chief Justice Roberts has punted the whole ninety yards, so to speak, with the expertise of a professional football kicker whose team has the ball on its own 8-yard-line, then punts ninety yards, pinning the other team on their own two-yard-line. Had Chief Justice Roberts sided completely with his four conservative colleagues, Obamacare now would be off the political table for the November elections. Obama would be campaigning and mobilizing his troops’ passions, arguing an urgent need to reconfigure the Court. Romney, by contrast, would be trying to mobilize passion for a lackluster campaign that is impelled legitimately by one crying urgency: jobs and the economy. However, Romney is not gifted at bringing people to their feet, not for applauding and possibly not for voting. He is competent, perhaps excellent, maybe even extraordinary — but his blandness does not generate passion.
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Third, the Chief Justice has shifted the spotlight back onto Congress, primarily focusing its glare on the Democrat-run U.S. Senate, only four months before the elections. Republicans rapidly will beat down ObamaCare in the House like a piñata at a children’s party. It is an easy target. It is excessive and intrusive. It is financially devastating, will cause employers to drop health coverage for their employees, and will force millions to lose their preferred doctors and instead to settle on government-supplied alternatives. Seniors will find that $500 million in coverage has been sliced out of their Medicare. Employers will continue resisting expanding their work forces and reviving the flagging labor market while the issue remains in flux, assuring stagnating unemployment numbers through November.

Fourth, the Chief Justice, while permitting the federal government to offer states more money to expand their Medicaid rolls beyond their fiscal capabilities, joined with his four conservative colleagues in banning Washington from penalizing states that turn down the federal inducements to march towards bankruptcy…

Still not sure about all this, myself. But these are persuasive arguments that I am finding to be more and more persuasive as I continue in the dreary task of absorbing what has happened…

There are other conservatives defending the Chief Justice. Eric Erickson has a similar run-down of these and other points, and cutely quips “I guess we can tax the hell out of abortion now.” Heh.

If liberals were capable of imagining the frightening scenario, wherein their newly-discovered newly-forged newly-cast shiny sparkly mega-super Sword of a Thousand Truths falls into the hands of someone else who doesn’t agree with them about everything — they wouldn’t be liberals. That is one of the most important defining distinctions, is it not? If conservatives are in charge of government and government is suddenly empowered to do a whole lot more, first thought in their heads is “Well yeah, but what happens when the other guys take over?” Liberals in charge of government and government can do more, they don’t have so much of as a residual trace of this killjoy thought anywhere in their craniums, not so much as a whiff of it. It’s all sunshine and flowers and parades and high-fives “Yay, we can do stuff, we’re so awesome!”

Time is always frozen, the other guys will never get voted in, ever…all of the foresight and comprehension of time, of a third-grader hearing the final school dismissal bell at the beginning of summer vacation.

So I can definitely buy this much of the argument: The lefties are getting blindsided. Huge. Don’t tell them. This is where they start showing their immaturity and lack of fitness for office, which only helps matters. It helps lay out the case that they don’t belong where they are. Which is true.

And Now, a Follow-Up Question

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Does Will McAvoy think America is okay now?

How about Jeff Daniels and Aaron Sorkin? Are they all cool with America being “great” again? Some mending has taken place? Redemption?

Didn’t think so.

PIQ

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Wisdom from my Hello Kitty of Blogging account:

It seems our elected and appointed officials have what might be called a “PIQ”, or “Perceived Intelligence Quotient”…the general public perceives them to be smart or stupid, and this is independent of what the evidence says. Certain people come off like dopes even though they might have demonstrated good problem-solving skills, repeatedly, and certain other people look cool and suave and sophisticated, even though, in fact, they can’t even work a simple blender.

In the wake of this morning’s Affordable Healthcare Act ruling, I’m placing more faith than ever before in a theory upon which I’ve been thinking: The higher the number representing a given public servant’s PIQ, the less of a public “servant” he or she really is…and the more a government, under his or her tutelage, will sprawl out of control, and the more freedoms we will lose.

Enough of this. Put the dimwits back in charge. They aren’t really lacking in competence in anything, except for the things that aren’t doing us any good anyway!

I also notice the perceived-nuanced-sophisticated types tend to run up very, very large deficits in spite of the fact that they’re the ones who’ve never met a tax they didn’t like. They seem to be positively bursting at the seams with ideas about what government should do…but when the conversation turns to how much money it should cost per person per year, how much revenue it should be collecting, how much debt it should be running up, they’re completely silent on such things. It’s as if they feel the concepts of numers and math are somehow beneath them.

The Solution is Completely Obvious

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

The government is broke.

Liberals want the government to spend money, because they always want it to spend more money.

Conservatives want a leaner government.

The Supreme Court says Congress’ taxation power is essentially unlimited; Congress can tax anybody or anything. It can even use its taxation power to levy a mandate which, under the commerce clause and without said taxation power, would not be constitutional. So Congress’ power to reward and punish via taxation, is curtailed by no limits anywhere, none whatsoever.

The solution is completely obvious:

Congress should pass a special tax on liberals and on the dupes who are fooled into voting for them. You know, to help fund this larger and more expensive government they want.

The twenty-fourth amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits a poll tax of any kind:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Doesn’t say anything about levying a tax, after the fact, based on how that vote was cast. It’s a completely separate issue…and, more poignantly, I think it should be possible to convince five Supreme Court justices of that.

Congress can tax anybody! Conditionally and unequally! It can tax redheads for having freckles! It can make you buy stuff! It can require you to pay “tax” money to private corporations…just for existing.

There’s nothing stopping my wonderful super-duper plan at all, that I can see. We should totally do it.

Obamacare Constitutional

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Kinda. Glenn Reynolds, uncharacteristically, has expounded upon it to cover all the necessities:

From ScotusBlog: “The bottom line: the entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government’s power to terminate states’ Medicaid funds is narrowly read.” Plus: “The money quote from the section on the mandate: ‘Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it.’”

So it was upheld on a basis — the taxing power — that the Administration didn’t advance. In fact, Obama denied that it was a tax. This just supports what Mike Graetz told me in Tax class years ago: “The constitution stops where the Internal Revenue Code begins.”

On the upside, the Lopez revolution, which some believed dead, appears to be revived.

So, liberals, does this mean the Supreme Court is legitimate again?

And what’s next? Republicans will have to push for repeal, or look like losers. Now Romney needs to make an issue of repealing the “Obama Healthcare Tax,” I guess. And, of course, it’s important to note that just because the Supreme Court — barely — found the Act constitutional doesn’t mean that it’s actually a good idea.

Text of the opinion is still not online. But here’s ScotusBlog’s summary:

In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding. . . . Yes, to answer a common question, the whole ACA is constitutional, so the provision requiring insurers to cover young adults until they are 26 survives as well.

So there you are. The Supreme Court has refused to save us from ourselves. The remedy now will have to be political.

The mentioned ScotusBlog link is here.

Wonder if Romney, or any of the Republicans running for the Senate or the House, will pick up some votes from this.

Aaron Sorkin is a Bad, Bad Speechwriter

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

The latest smarmy self-masturbatory leftist-thought-affirming cable teevee show is in the news once again. It seems actor Jeff Daniels has the role of one of the “good” people in the cast, and you know what I mean by that if you’re familiar with Aaron Sorkin’s work. The “Brian the Dog” character, sensibly leftist, slightly quirky but voice-of-reason. Daniels has ignited a controversy lately; that, too, means something, in this case that the actor is an insufferable left-wing prick, a Hollywood-halfwit oikophobe just as bad as any other:

And I remember reading [the speech], going, “You may not like it, you may disagree with it, you know, for those who are patriotic and wave the flag and don’t want to hear it, but there’s nothing in it that’s not true.”

And that, and all of it, each phrase, each thing that Aaron has Will say, it’s all true. I’m sorry to tell you, but it’s true. So that really resonated with me, and, to be able to say that, to be able to take words like the way this guy can put them together and throw it at the lens, throw it at an audience, it’s, for an actor, it’s gold.

I infer that the speech resonating with Mr. Daniels is this one:

Toward the end (2:56) he says “The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.” We have to give his character that much, for it is really true, and this must be what makes it a “great” speech if anything does. But that also defines why it’s such a terrible speech. Not that I disagree with the identification of the problem; it’s a terrible speech because that’s where it stops. That is where the thinking ends.

I’ll explain. What does the gardener do when he says “The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one”? He puts a plan in place to kill off the identified problem, be it a mole, a rat, slugs, weeds. For the sake of the strawberries…or the lettuce or whatever. His efforts are to create something and to preserve something. Killing off the mole is just a means toward a greater end. Identifying the pest, therefore, is nothing more than a means toward a greater end. The plan that is put in place to get rid of the vermin is just the first in a long series of steps toward the building, or growing, of something else.

This does not apply to Sorkin speeches. If the sad piano-tinkling litany of “Will McAvoy” seems familiar to you, recall this clip from The West Wing when the Sorkin-rage machine settled its crosshairs on Dr. Laura Schlessinger:

First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one! And this “Dr. Jacobs” character certainly is a problem…now then…what is the follow-up from the speech? What’s the take-away? The “action item,” as they say in business. Well, we’re not thinking like a strawberry farmer very much, are we? The Schlessinger stand-in is just-plain-bad. She needs to go! Somewhere. So, something is done to diminish her in some way…maybe not assassinate her, but perhaps abduct her? Muzzle her. Or merely insult her. Whatever, she needs to go down! That’s your action item.

This a pretty good distinction, if I dare say so myself, between a creative force and a destructive one. Destruction is always easier. The question to ask is, once you figure out what is the source of “the problem,” is the thinking all done? If you’re killing something off for the purpose of creating an environment in which something else can thrive, then the answer is an emphatic negatori…you haven’t even gotten one percent done, and you darn well know it. You aren’t making a neighborhood good for kids, just by going vigilante on all the child predators. Draining a swamp and killing the snakes, is not all that has to be done to build a building, or a city. And killing off the weeds is not all you have to do, to get a crop of strawberries. These destructive-within-creative processes, are just first steps. Nothing more.

But for a purely destructive force, the thinking is done. The next thing to do is action — or, to go through the thinking again, so that one can convince himself and others that the thought-pathway is good and true and right. So they can all self-medicate in it together. Position those crosshairs over the hated target…click a mental trigger, make a silent “blam” sound, imagine a gratifying impact of some kind…and, repeat. It feels so darn good. Let’s do it again.

No more thought necessary. No other challenges defined for such thinking; the thinking’s done. That’s a workable definition of destructive effort, as good as any other. Well, with a Sorkin speech, it applies. The thinking is done. All McAvoy can do is sit there and act smug, basking in his glory.

I do not know what I am supposed to conclude, or how I am supposed to conclude it, from “We lead the world in…number of adults who believe angels are real.” From the context, it seems there is some factual evidence to back this up, and yet there is “absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we are the greatest country in the world.” Therefore, I’m reading this as: Adults who believe angels are real, do not make their country great. Am I reading that right? What if it were to be spelled out more methodically, as a Socratean syllogism? Seems to me, somewhere in there you would have to have an item that says “adults make their country great, if and only if they think on unprovable theistic things the way Aaron Sorkin thinks on them,” or something like that. Which, now, is as good a definition of intolerance as any other: You’re a problem if you don’t agree with me about everything.

American Politics Is...So the speech is not bad because I disagree with it; the speech is bad because it is inherently dishonest. It has to engage in selective incoherence, in order to keep up an appearance that it is something different from what it genuinely is: A homily of intolerance and destructive intent. It must arouse an attraction, a sense of appeal, that it does not deserve because it has to engage in obfuscation in order to arouse it. But once the facts are recited and somehow substantiated, and the inferences are drawn from the available facts — inferences that cannot be stated out loud, because then it would be immediately apparent that “anti-American” would be an accurate and fair adjective to apply to it — I do not know what is to be done. A great speech should be providing those things, or at the very least, a strong push in the right direction for us to equip ourselves with those three things: Facts, meaningful opinions drawn from the facts, and things to be done based on those sensibly drawn opinions. Just like three legs on a sturdy barstool or table. Without the three, the structure collapses. Go to a speech that history has determined to be great, with some unanimity; for example, a Reagan speech. And you’ll see what I’m talking about there. Fact, opinion, thing to do. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Hollywood dipshits like Aaron Sorkin are tragic, because they’ve spent their lives on stage or behind the stage, and yet they have no idea what a great speech really is. Will McAvoy doesn’t like America; the actor who plays him, agrees with the character; Sorkin wrote the lines, so we know he agrees; all of them will dislike me, with great bluster and grandeur and inflection I’m sure, if I call them “anti-American” even though that is precisely the sentiment they share. I don’t know what is to be done based on these anti-American thoughts they have. They don’t seem to know either. Nor, agitated by destructive impulses as they are, do they very much care. They’ll just marinate in the thoughts, best-case-scenario, and then chew out anybody who notices the anti-American thoughts are as anti-American as they are. Weirdly, they’ll insist that such an observation is wrong, even evil, although there is no other discernible sentiment by which their thoughts can be identified, other than “America bad.”

But you’ll notice something else in the Reagan speeches that is absent in the Sorkin speeches; it is tightly coupled with the vital element of the thing-to-do, although at the same time, distinctly separate. The optimism. The “America’s best days are still ahead” thing. It’s one thing to point out the car is lost and the direction is a bad one and the road doesn’t lead anywhere — quite a different thing entirely to come up with a plan to get the car where we want it to go. No speech can be great if it aspires merely toward the former and not toward the latter. Sorkin speeches are well defined by now, they’ve been on our idiot-box for a few years by now. And they bear much of the responsibility for the reason we call it an “idiot-box.” They really are speeches for idiots.

I’m sad for Aaron Sorkin. But I’m sadder, still, for the idiots who think his speeches are great. Yes, they can arouse lots of passion and lots of adrenaline and lots of “It feels so good to listen to this speech.” But those urges and impulses are flashpoints of sentiments that were present in the psyche before the Sorkin speech came along, much like the gasoline is all over the house before the match is tossed in. And deep down, I think everyone understands these urges and impulses are not good for anybody. And this is the lie that makes the Sorkin speech supposedly so “great”; the speech is merely an instrument, conjuring up the flame from the liquid accelerant, igniting an additional adrenaline push that “this feeling I’ve been having, is a good one, a true one, a right one.” Which is not true.

Things are what they are. If “America sucks” is all you’ve got to say, then yes, it’s okay to call you anti-American. A pro-American pundit who is merely identifying problems to be solved, would come up with some solutions.

Also, creation is creation and preservation is preservation. Destruction is destruction. If your thinking is all done once you’ve positioned the cross-hairs, you aren’t creating or preserving, because you aren’t engaging the thinking necessary for either of those two things.

Aaron Sorkin is a shitty speechwriter. There are testimonials that he is a great one, and ways to gauge him as a great one. But these things are just not accurate. I don’t say that merely because I personally dislike the speeches, although there is that; the speeches are destructive by nature, they about as useful as tits on fish, they don’t point anything out, they only confirm superficially feelings that were there already. I don’t care how much loot he has in the bank, or how many Hollywood bigshots know him on a first-name basis, or have him on speed dial. If this is his big contribution to our society, he’s a fail.

“You’re Doing it Wrong!!!”

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Sippican Cottage, by way of Gerard.

Caller ID

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

From an e-mail from GBIL.

Activist Court

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Seeing a lot of chatter in the air lately about conservative justices on the Supreme Court going “activist.” Sweetness & Light does an effective slice-and-dice on some New York Times and other nonsense to this effect (hat tip to Boortz)…I’ve seen it in other places as well, and it seems to be a campaign of “pre-blaming” ObamaCare’s bad day in court on conservatives, before the bad day is announced — or even known.

I’m not sure what this means. It comes down to what the propaganda-putter-outers know, about what SCOTUS will be announcing. They’re very well informed about their own feelings, fer sure, but how well informed are they about the facts on the ground that mold and shape those feelings? Can they really know something about the Supreme Court decision that the rest of us don’t?

I hope so. Their confidence is failing, visibly.

The Volokh Conspiracy did a good taxonomy a couple months ago of the various meanings of the phrase “judicial activism.” I prefer the first definition…I think most other people do, too. I think it is foremost in people’s minds when they hear the phrase.

The decision was motivated by the Justices’ personal policy preferences or was result-oriented. In some instances, a decision is labeled “activist” when we think that the decision was based on the Justices’ own personal policy preferences or preferred outcomes. Of course, it’s hard for us to know what subjective motivated the Justices. But we have an idea that judges should follow law, not just strike down laws and practices that they don’t personally like. So when we think that a judge struck down a law in large part because he didn’t like the law as a matter of policy, or because he wanted one side to win and the other side to win for reasons not concerning the legal merits of the case, we might call the decision “activist.” This version of judicial activism stands in opposition to the rule of law; it expresses the fear that judges are just doing what they personally like. (A sample statement from the right: “Roe v. Wade is an activist decision because the Justices in the majority just tried to enact their pro-choice views.” A sample statement from the left: “The activist Justices in the Bush v. Gore majority voted as they did because they wanted Bush to be President.“)

What we hear from the progressives about the ObamaCare ruling (which hasn’t yet been ruled), is more in line with definitions #3 and #5: Inconsistent with precedent — which they happen to like — and, as a plus, they do not like it.

“The Newsroom”

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

I see that new teevee show prominently featuring the snotty smug muppet-looking English lady is being mentioned again, also that the series premier took place Sunday. I suppose this means we’ll be hearing a lot about it in the days & weeks ahead. Not sure how to react to such a thought. I suppose the thing to do is sit back and enjoy the comedy value.

The last time Aaron Sorkin had a high-profile political television show, liberals used it to cope with the decline and fall of the Clinton Presidency and the long winter of the Bush Years. The West Wing was a coping mechanism for the death of a liberal dream, and so is The Newsroom. Both are an escape into fantasy to avoid dealing with the harsh reality.

On an episode of Seinfeld, George is stung by an insult but is unable to think of a retort, so he spends days trying to come up with the perfect comeback, until he finally thinks of it and travels around the country to get the chance to deliver it. The Newsroom, set in the past, and jumping in right before the political balance tilted toward the Republicans in the mid-term elections, is the same thing.

The Newsroom is Sorkin’s sad attempt to win an argument by rewriting history and coming up with all the comebacks that his side couldn’t think of two years ago. It’s the sad and pathetic spectacle of an ideology creating its own fantasy version of its reality in which it won the argument.

Unlike The West Wing, The Newsroom isn’t set in an alternate world in which the universe innately favors liberals. Instead it’s set in an alternate version of the past, in which liberals were smarter and won all the arguments that they ended up losing here. And the existence of The Newsroom is the greatest possible concession that the argument was lost.

As I’ve noted previously about the left-wing mindset, coping with the simple human-experience concept of scarcity vs. abundance:

I see them constantly trapped in the thought-whirlpool that the goal must be to make something more highly regarded and highly valued, and the surest way to get there is to make that thing more plentiful, ideally, so that it becomes impossible to ever get away from it. This is a guaranteed fail because no person or thing has ever become more highly prized or cherished as a result of being more frequently seen. Natural laws of economics and human nature dictate that the opposite must be true.

Media messages, however, must be a special case; the above comments do not entirely apply to them, because as a sales pitch proliferates and it becomes harder and harder to get away from it, it can become more effective. However, it does seem they eventually reach a saturation point, a jump-the-shark threshold of “Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!”

That diminishing-returns event seems to happen later with peppy, witty, talk-at-a-jackrabbit-pace metrosexual-and-proud cable teevee shows. From what I saw of The West Wing, and David E. Kelly’s Boston Legal, this was reached. There’s a reason they’re not on the air anymore.

We actually got hooked on BL over at my place for a little while. But eventually it got achingly tiresome, and it wasn’t just because the political opinions expressed were outside of my sympathies. It got predictable and boring. Not a Sorkin creation, but the same principle has to apply. The whole point of the show is to 1) state and re-state the same salient points about the same characters, insofar as what distinguishes them from other characters; 2) express lefty opinions to make lefties feel good about themselves, and 3) to be extremely witty. Coming in at a distant last-place, is to advance some kind of a story…after awhile, it becomes unmistakable that the story no longer arouses the passions of the writers and you’re left with just a bunch of “wit” which has diminished to nothing more than sarcasm. And you’re left tuning in, sacrificing your sacred teevee-viewing time, to learn: Alan Shore is very passionate and witty, and Denny Crane is eccentric and strange. Okay, got it.

What’s on the other channel?

Best Sentence CXXIX

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Steven Goddard manages to snag the 129th award for BSIHORL (Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately).

Any paper which includes the words “Since the beginning of satellite measurements” is a red flag that someone is about to start lying to you.

Truer words were never spoken.

On “Fairness”

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Professor Sowell, in fine form once again:

One of the most versatile terms in the political vocabulary is “fairness.” It has been used over a vast range of issues, from “fair trade” laws to the Fair Labor Standards Act. And recently we have heard that the rich don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes.

Some of us may want to see a definition of what is “fair.” But a concrete definition would destroy the versatility of the word, which is what makes it so useful politically.

If you said, for example, that 46.7 percent of their income — or any other number — is the “fair share” of their income that the rich should have to pay in taxes, then once they paid that amount, there would be no basis for politicians to come back to them for more — and “more” is what “fair share” means in practice.

Can you blame the politicians for using it? Knowing full well that the real problem is, voters falling for it? I think this is one of those situations where you have to blame the voters.

They’re not thinking in terms of hard numbers, objectives, rationale, et al…and you know…

Thing I Know #401. People who refuse to work with details don’t fix things.

Those who respond to the buzzword “fair share” have not been muzzled or gagged, to the contrary they have had a lock-hold on our elections for decades now. They haven’t fixed squat. That’s why I like Sowell’s translation of “fair share” into “more”; taking it that way, we see they’ve managed to achieve exactly what they wanted to achieve.

Mom… Dad… I’m a democrat

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Helping the good people, lowering the beatdown on the bad people, and feeling really, really smug about it.

Emily’s Wisdom

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

A generic waifish English-rose gives her thoughts on Americans and their perspicacity, or lack thereof, with regard to politics:

I can remember when Bush got in for the second time, just feeling like so much of the problem about the way that politics go here is that people are improperly informed. That they didn’t know that they had been lied to, or they didn’t understand exactly to what extent they had been, and they still thought that there were weapons of mass destruction. And that was just crazy to me that people could be so under-informed.

This is Emily Mortimer, who is “kind of a political person,” born in London in 1971 but has spent some chunk of time, or chunks of time, on this side of the pond over here with us rubes. She’s making a new show. It’s going to tell us what we should be thinking. Obviously, she’s bringing some passion to the job. Delightful…

Hat tip to Sonic Charmer, who backwards-compliments her again and again, until she’s nothing more than rubble and there’s a smoking crater were she used to be standing…as is his style.

Her comments get stranger…

I stopped being up on the news entirely when I was doing this job. I didn’t read a paper or watch the television news for many months. And now it’s been quite hard to get back into it. It’s so loaded now because of this job that I’m doing. Even picking up the New York Times feels kind of loaded with meaning; I feel berated every time I look at it, like”‘Oh God, all these people know what they’re doing and I was just pretending.”

…and…stranger…

There’s so much wrong with England, but I think people are informed in general. I’m going to make a huge sweeping statement, but you just get the news much more [in England]. Listening to radio stations that play pop music all day and all night, the news will come on every two hours, foreign news too. It’s part of your daily routine, being informed about what’s going on in the world. Whether you like it or not, you can’t really escape it. I don’t think the same is true here, and television broadcast news especially seems to me to be a pretty dicey area. You can’t rely on getting the facts, or getting them presented in a way that is actually objective and makes sense and puts people in a position where they can make informed decisions about who to vote for. It’s just over-sensationalized and, as our show keeps pointing out, one of the big problems is that they act like there’s just two definite sides to every discussion — and that’s just not necessarily the case, but it feeds into the way this country has just become completely polarized. This Tea Party is presented on the television as the viable alternative instead of like a lunatic fringe.

…and stranger still…to the point where she logically contradicts herself within adjacent sentences:

I do think there’s a danger with mixing politics and entertainment, and I think Aaron is really aware of that and feels like the show’s going to work based on whether the relationships work. But what I love about him is that he is brave about going there, and if people are going to be watching his show, why not use it to make them think about something that is important to think about?

Well my goodness, what a piece of work this fine thespian is. Just a higglety-pigglety messed-up potpourri of a perfect concoction of the kind of person whose opinion doesn’t mean two shits to me!

She’s an actress, genetically gifted from what I can make out, carefully made up so all of her appeal to straight men has been washed away, ridiculous eyebrows, over-pouty lips, cartoonish facial caricature like a Jim Henson muppet, bony as a bag of antlers, politically active, politically identifying, politically-hard-left, brassy & sassy, working with the “brave” Aaron Sorkin on yet another snotty preening pretentious opinion-pushing piece of cable tripe, waggling some man-hand wrinkly finger at us for being uninformed while simultaneously admitting she doesn’t know a goddamn thing.

Where do we get to the part where I’m supposed to pay attention to what she thinks?

And…once again, I have to ask…what is the thought process in the boardrooms? How do they figure out what the next show should be? Is it based on “What our lineup really needs, that it’s missing…”? I hope not. It looks a lot more like a game of “let’s just keep doing what we did the last time.” Are they seriously expecting to be making money this way?

I do agree with her that there is a problem with Americans being uninformed. I disagree with her test; like many on the left stateside and in the UK, she seems to be conducting “outcome-based” assessments, leaping to the conclusion that anyone who votes the same way she does must know what they’re talking about, and whoever doesn’t, doesn’t. That is a mistake. There may be some people in the Tea Party who agree with me, but I would never presume the average attendee there knows more about arcane details about foreign or domestic policy than, say, E.J. Dionne, who pretty much disagrees with me on everything. See, humility; the willingness to admit that maybe some people who agree with me, do so for the wrong reasons, and some of the people who disagree might know something of what they’re talking about. Evidently lacking in this humility, Ms. Robinson shows her simplicity of thought when she presumes a bunch of airhead producers & actresses must know more than George F. Will, just because they imbibe deeply the elixir of progressive orthodoxy. Life isn’t all neatly layered like that. Idiots sometimes make good decisions, and “smart” people are sometimes caught making mistakes. If they have a reputation for being smart, and said reputation more or less hangs in the ether without solid evidence to hold it up, they tend to make mistakes in fact…big ones, repeatedly, as they refuse to admit their mistakes.

And the idea that the state-owned state-run radio stations “play[ing] pop music all day and all night, the news will come on every two hours” and this will somehow “educate” you…that is hazardous in all kinds of ways. SC nailed it pretty well I thought:

…what she appears to be saying is that in England the news is far more lovingly and carefully prepackaged into digestible and state-approved propaganda, and is so much more ubiquitous (even played on pop music stations, etc.), that everyone dutifully knows exactly what to think.

Which adds to her reverse-credibility, as someone whose opinion I can not and shall not take seriously. She’s like a nearly-perfect construct…all she has to do is join the Occupy Movement, mutter some words about “9/11 was an inside job,” and she’ll be there.

This is why I hold Hollywood in such contempt. There seems to be some problem going on in the acting profession in which, when people listen to themselves opine about something, they make the dangerous mistake of imagining themselves to be informed as if they just got done listening to someone else opine. I recall briefly taking drama in my freshman year in high school, and there was something about “getting into character.” You had to believe you were Hamlet, or Willie Loman, or whatever…and perhaps that is the problem. They really do think they know what they’re talking about, because the job requires that they believe this to be true.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Washington Rebel.

“They’ll Call This Video Racist”

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Ctrl+Al+Del-Icious

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

It’s the keyboard waffle iron.

I see there’s a Gizmodo page up on this item that’s been there since 2007. “Finally, a keyboard you WANT to get sticky.” Heh.

Fox & Friends a Little Too Close to the Truth

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

So this ad…

…prompted an angry phone call from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (hat tip to Gateway Pundit). That story in turn links to a NY Times column which says inside some parentheses…

(In an angry phone call, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, told the network’s executive vice president for news, Michael Clemente, that even by “Fox & Friends” standards the video crossed the line, according to two Democrats who weren’t authorized to speak of the private conversation.)

So I suppose I already know more about this than I am supposed to, which is a shame, since it implies I’ll not be learning anything further and what I already know about it is rather baffling.

I know Fox folded like a cheap suit. It doesn’t seem like the facts are on the White House’s side on this thing, so I’m wondering why. “Crossed the line”? What the hell does that even mean?

You know, when you get right down to it our modern society really has only two problems: People get their way when they shouldn’t, by insisting on a “yes,” and people get their way when they shouldn’t by insisting on a “no.” Several times a year we find out about some movement to completely dismantle something and re-build it again, because someone wants something a certain way; they haven’t thought through all the likely ramifications, they’re not in a position to profit from or to suffer from the thing they want started or stopped. Someone else is, and that someone else might disagree, but it doesn’t matter.

Do it our way. There are more of us than there are of you…or we won an election…or whatever. There ought to be a law. Or, stop it right now, it “crossed a line” or it’s “beyond the pale.” This shall not stand! Not a day goes by, some airhead isn’t throwing a hissy fit that has something to do with picking up his marbles and going home…still, there’s no consequence. Nobody is escorting him to an international airport to buy a one-way ticket to someplace else. He can throw exactly the same temper tantrum the next day, and the next, and people still put up with it.

That thing, way over there, has to be ripped out and replaced because it offends the sensibilities of me, a guy way over here, functionally anonymous, typing words into a website on the Internet. Well okay, that doesn’t apply to Jay Carney, he’s not anonymous — but that is part of the problem. Who really stands to lose something from the issues presented in this ad? Yeah you could say Carney is afraid for his job just like everyone else, but that doesn’t really work. Jay Carney’s afraid of languishing endlessly on an unemployment line? Jay Carney is worried about where to get his next tankful of gas? Screw this guy.

“The package that aired on FOX & Friends was created by an associate producer and was not authorized at the senior executive level of the network,” [Fox News Executive Vice President for Programming Bill] Shine said in a statement. “This has been addressed with the show’s producers.”

That’s an out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire moment if ever there was one…or, it should be. Was there some policy or other protocol in place that said this level of authorization had to be sought? Shine does not explicitly come out and say so. Was there a factual problem with the clip? Nobody has offered one. The Media Matters write-up presents none. And what’s up with that double-standard anyway? How come so many loud angry people were piping up about this Obama thing last month, but they didn’t have a word to say before?

Aw well, we know the answer to that I suppose…

The Obama Event Registry

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

If I received a notification from someone I knew who was about to get married, and they’d registered with Holy Man’s campaign donation website in lieu of gifts…I’m pretty sure I’d conveniently lose track.

I would brave the shopping mall, fer sure. No, wait — the 99 cent superstore. They’d get something plastic and green…an ugly green. Used for cooking. With no gift receipt included.

Let your friends know how important this election is to you—register with Obama 2012, and ask for a donation in lieu of a gift. It’s a great way to support the President on your big day. Plus, it’s a gift that we can all appreciate—and goes a lot further than a gravy bowl.

Every now & then The First Narcissist does something that I have to read & re-read & re-check three or more times, to make sure it isn’t a joke…this is one of those times.

Doesn’t this just highlight the problem of Obama fans: Lack of awareness of the nature of time. Let’s see now: If I had older relatives who were celebrating some amazing “hope we make it that long” anniversary, that would be like, maybe, the 70th, 75th, maybe eightieth one…would I then expect the blushing bride to say “I still remember the day we tied the knot, we registered for our gifts at the Re-Elect Hoover in 1932 website.” Or, if the registration was with the winner…ya know, that doesn’t make it any less pathetic. Campaigns are temporary things. That’s why the signs are all made out of cardboard and electrons and so forth…

Feeling bad for the participants & guests involved in the wedding ceremony for which such a thing might be appropriate. Such a matrimonial union would, also, be a temporary thing made of plastic & cardboard! Built to fall apart. Sad, really, since I’ve seen marriages like this…been in one, matter of fact. Maybe that’s just the way it’s supposed to work on Planet Obama-Fan.

In fact, that’s what we’ve been seeing, is it not? Consequences of decisions made — there aren’t any, really, they’re just limited to how it makes you feel, what messages you have communicated about how much you adore His Eminence. So I wonder how many takers they get? It’s a registration, isn’t it? Does that become public knowledge? Or can we at least know the number?

I’m genuinely curious. And you know, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if, when it’s all said & done, the Obama team chalks this one up as a cool idea and a huge win. Wouldn’t put it past ‘em.

But they’re really getting eaten alive in the comments. Good to see.

Grumpy Software Engineers

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Oh my, another thing on the software engineering…this time, it’s someone else who’s been thinking about it. Something in the air?

Cards on the table, software engineers generally have a reputation for being arrogant, disagreeable, and moody. We also have a reputation for saying “no”, for debating pedantic details, and thinking we know how to do everyone’s job better than they can. In general, this reputation is deserved. That’s exactly what we do, day in, day out, as we intermix writing code with checking in on Twitter and Hacker News.

Reputations aren’t randomly given out, they are earned based on experience. What makes the reputation disturbing to me is that I know many software engineers personally, and they are generally a fun-loving, agreeable (if not opinionated), and entertaining bunch. They’re the ones you want to hang out with after work and catch up with on the weekend. So why is it that in the presence of work, a different personality shows up?
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I have a theory. That theory is that software engineers see themselves very differently than those with whom they work. I’ve come to this conclusion after over a decade in the software industry working at companies large and small. Companies (product managers, designers, other managers) tend to look at software engineers as builders. It’s the job of the product manager to dream up what to build, the job of the designer to make it aesthetically pleasing, and the job of the engineer to build what they came up with. Basically, engineers are looked at as the short-order cooks of the industry.
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And here’s the real crux of the problem: software engineers aren’t builders. Software engineers are creators. Building is what you do when you buy a piece of furniture from Ikea and get it home. The instructions are laid out and if you go step by step, you’ll get that comically small table you wanted. Creating is a different process, it’s birthing something without direction or instruction. It’s starting with a blank canvas and painting a masterpiece. Software engineers don’t get into coding because they want someone to tell them what to do, they get into it because they discovered they could create something useful…
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Start CodingTo understand the problem, consider the job of building a house. Someone has decided they want to build a house on a specific plot of land. The house is to be two stories and have a garage. There’s even a rough sketch of the front of the house scribbled down on a napkin. That person comes to you with this information and the napkin and says, “this is enough for you to start building, right?” Are you able to start building?

Logically, you can’t start building the house at that point. You don’t know the square footage. You don’t have floor plans. You don’t know what sort of codes the city requires for new houses. There’s literally not enough information for you to even start digging up dirt. At this point, you’d tell your customer that they are crazy and need to figure out exactly what they want. Now imagine you can’t do that, because there’s a deadline that someone set and you’re responsible for meeting.

“Well,” your customer tells you, “why don’t you just start building, and I’ll get you the details as they become available. That way, we’re not wasting any time.”

You know that there’s not enough information for you to start building, and further questioning the customer won’t yield any additional information right now. Yet, you have a deadline to meet and so you really can’t afford to sit around and wait for more information. What do you do? You start making assumptions.
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A few days later, the garage is almost done. You feel pretty happy about the quality because you went on so little information. You’re now ready to start on the house when your customer comes back with more details. The garage actually needs to fit two cars and should not be detached. Your heart sinks, since you had created something nice and now it needs to be bulldozed to make way for the “real” thing. What’s worse, you now have less time to complete the entire project, which only increases the grumpiness level.

If this analogy seems crazy to you, you’ve probably never worked as a software engineer. This is our reality every single day. We try to keep projects moving by using our creative facilities only to find that we, in fact, can’t read anyone’s mind and therefore guess incorrectly as to what exactly it is that we’re building. And yet, if we don’t do that, we would sit there idle, as no one likes the waterfall process of software development.

Mmmmmm…yep. Hey, it’s just ones and zeroes, how hard can it be??

Thawed

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

From the very beginning, some six or seven years ago, I have made occasional reference to the “dispassionate but logical space alien living in our laundry room,” some kind of intelligent being capable of rational thought but entirely unacquainted with our culture, who is forced by circumstances to grapple with our customs by way of inductive and deductive reasoning instead of by gradually acclimating to them the way we do. I am not the first to ponder this by any means…well-known television shows have been doing it for years, for example, My Favorite Martian, I Dream of Jeannie, Mork & Mindy, Captain Caveman.

The idea is the same: We do not make enough sense to be explained. If someone stumbles across us and is forced to figure us out, as opposed to becoming gradually accustomed to us year by year, as we do when we interact from within — hilarity and hijinks ensue. This is worth commenting-upon, because the inexplicable goes well beyond the merely strange. Wearing wooden shoes is strange, but not inexplicable; I say “In Holland they used to carve shoes out of wood, because they have a lot of mud.” End of story. Makes sense. Strange but logical.

Not only are we beyond that, but some kind of acceleration seems to be taking place.

Posted by me on the Hello Kitty of Blogging (membership probably required for following the link):

Maybe, just to clear up my own thoughts about what’s going on in this culture & society we’ve got going, I should conduct a regular mental exercise just a few times per year, of: “If I were a caveman or ancient who was thawed out from a block of ice right now, or an alien who crashed on Earth right now, left to my own logical reasoning about what the rules must be, what would I conclude…”

On 6/20/12 it seems to be: First and foremost, we’ve got to make the women do things right. They can be pretty or they can have real power, but they can’t have both. Pretty women anchor the news on Fox, and that is all they can do. If they run for President or if they become Secretary of State, the rule is, no sane straight man should ever want to see them naked. If they have hair, they have to bowl-cut it or otherwise hide it.

Power & PulchritudeAlso, all women in movies with speaking lines, have to be played by Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Milla Jovovich, or someone else with a super-Americanized accent who weights a hundred pounds soaking wet.

Men, on the other hand, can be ugly trolls or cutie pies. They can have as much power as they want. Nobody cares.

Next: Money. Oh, where to begin with the money. Money is what people need in order to live…but not necessarily…nobody should have too much of it UNLESS — oh, this is tricky. Well, obviously if you’re George Soros or Warren Buffett you can have as much as you want and there’s no outrage. So it’s got something to do with being a proponent of higher tax rates, but you’re not required to actually *pay* the higher tax, you just have to vocally want to. Also, comedians and actors. If your name is well-known, it is just assumed that you should be worth a whole lot of money and this is somehow okay. Nobody else can have too much money, especially if they’re white, male, Republican, and running for President. But, while nobody else is allowed to have too much money, at the same time we’re all still required to give the money away, to help support those who never both to work for it.

If you graduate from college and find your skills aren’t worth a damn, it’s everybody else’s fault and you should “occupy” something. This has something to do with camping. And yelling. Camping and yelling, yelling and camping.

Businesses that need to advertise their products and services, to compel consumers to spend this money (they’re not allowed to have) on said products/services, should not talk about the decision to spend the money on the products/services…instead, they should talk about “going green,” supporting gay marriage, and “standing with the 99%” which has something to do with occupying. More than half the stuff advertised, I see, has something to do with green, gay, and occupying. So advertising, therefore, must have something to do with reciting a bunch of homilies about things, then people will buy your product with the money they’re not allowed to have — to find out what it does, or something.

Which brings me to the cars. Oh, Lordy, the cars, the cars. It is illegal and quite frowned-upon to use your phone while you’re driving…which is why everyone is doing it?? Everyone is complaining, with some justification, that there’s never enough room to park. It seems the cars are newer than the garages and parking spaces — people buying new cars with this money they’re not allowed to have too much of — and sometime in the last ten years, it has been popular to build, sell and buy really big cars. People are not in a hurry when they walk across the parking lot, but somehow once they climb the folding stepladder into these really huge cars and gun up the many, many horsepower in the engine of that lethal weapon, they act as if it’s their job to race across town and defuse a fucking nuclear bomb. While talking on the phone.

We have a separation-of-powers in our government and we hold our leaders to account. But you’re not allowed to ask them any questions.

We have separation of church and state. We’re pretty funny about this particular thing. We voted in our current President because He’s some kind of deity or something…whenever His face is on the cover of a magazine, there’s a digitally manufactured halo around His head so we can all remember He’s divine or some such thing, just like the dictator of any ol’ communist regime. The Supreme Court can rule that this school is, and that school is not, allowed to display the Ten Commandments. While displaying the Ten Commandments.

Radical Muslims can display whatever they want, whenever they want.

I am not to conclude this is because the radical Islamists are ready, willing and able to kill to advance their cause, and people are reacting out of fear…but…truth be told, I haven’t found any other explanation for the double standard.

Buying a gun is a surreal experience. I’m only allowed to buy certain brands and certain models. This is for safety reasons…I guess the kinds of guns I’m allowed to buy, won’t hurt anybody? Well, *that* certainly isn’t true. Nobody’s able to explain this. By which I mean, yes there are explanations, but the explanations all have to do with what someone else did, or thought, or said. Or signed. Nobody, anywhere, can produce the actual rationale.

Teachers are not allowed to teach kids. Spanking the kids when they’re out of line, yelling at the kids when they’re out of line, making the kids feel bad in any way when they’re out of line, this is not allowed. So the kids are expected to *decide*, as if they’re little adults, to follow the rules and absorb the lessons. If they don’t, then that’s a “learning disability” and they’re removed from the class. The only kids who can be mainstreamed, therefore, are what were called “apple polishers” and “brown nosers” back when I was frozen in that block of ice.

Even among their number, some have to be medicated to pay attention. After thirty seconds of the teacher’s lecture, they find it a bit tough. Huh, so did I, but nobody medicated me. Meanwhile, the curtain-climbers can play an online video game for ten hours straight, no problem.

I don’t know what to make of the illegal immigration thing, and I’ve pretty much given up on trying to figure it out. Apparently, it’s against the law, but it’s also against the law to enforce the law against this. In any way whatsoever, I mean. You can’t deport, you can’t ask for papers, you can’t put a law on the books that would require deportation or asking for papers, or would merely allow it…

You need to present photo ID to attend the First Lady’s book signing. But if you’re required to present photo ID before you can vote, that would be racist.

Come to think of it, I’m still working on figuring out what “racist” means. I suspect I’ve been mistaken for a long time on the real meaning of this word…seems to be sort of a “wildcard” word people pull out when they think they’re losing an argument.

This strange society seems to be some kind of “protest-ocracy,” by which I mean, when people think they’re part of the majority and they’re laboring under the tyranny of the minority they start protesting…then they insist on a vote…but there was this guy named Scott Walker who was supposed to have been recalled from office in a vote, and it turned out the “majority” was just a loud obnoxious minority, they got trampled when the matter was put to a vote. THEN they started whining like they were victimized somehow…for what reason, I do not know…and crying. Literally, crying. Oh, that’s another thing. The thing we used to call “manhood,” it’s in deep, deep trouble right now.

That last is a reference to the infamous Minnesota Mike interview:

Uff da.

As a possible explanation for what is happening, I linked the excellent Scott Adams blog entry about Creativity. Summary: Our brains require a certain amount of boredom just as a plant requires water, and thanks to these mobile devices we’re just not getting it. Creativity is a casualty of that.

Well, another thing that is sustained by boredom is the natural ability that goes along with being bored: Focus and alertness. This is why I sometimes call my son’s generation the “Not a single lifeguard worth a damn” generation. The specific talent that is being lost to the ages, is watching something…waiting for an event…and responding to the event with a behavior that is well organized and speedy. Kids can’t do that. There isn’t a lifeguard worth a damn under forty, or if there is then he’s a dying breed.

Nobody’s waiting for anything to happen; nobody’s ready for something to happen. Text, text, text, text.

Well, that could be part of it.

But I think another part of it is — and this does have overlap, certainly it has something to do with lifeguarding — we have become estranged from the idea of having a meaningful effect upon the outcome by way of an autonomous, individual decision & action. People still register the thought that something is taking place they don’t like; disliking comes easy. But it seems organizing some kind of protest, has become the default answer, and this is not overruled in favor of a different answer even in situations in which it promises very little benefit, and isn’t the least bit appropriate. The above-mentioned graduating from college and finding out you don’t have any skills that are worth a damn, for example. The youngsters start “occupying.”

That’s an underpants-gnome plan like nothing else is, you know. Step 1: We occupy! Step 2: ??????? Step 3: Jobs! (Or money or something.)

And, as I also noted above, manhood is suffering. Perhaps there’s a direct cause-and-effect relationship going on. Or perhaps there is a spurious relationship.

Perhaps it’s all explained by what I jotted down four years ago.

Perhaps it is getting better, but it might be getting worse. I have hope that it’s getting better. I’m afraid that might not be the case…

Sarah is a RunnerHowever, I do think it’s a self-correcting problem, whichever side of the slope we happen to be, er, occupying at the present time. I think it’s got something to do with lack of life’s-exigencies; I think our problem-solving skills are deteriorating, because the occasions that genuinely demand our deployment of these skills, are becoming infrequent. My hope is, this becomes a self-correcting problem because of the Stein Rule: That which cannot continue forever, won’t.

If your problem-solving skills are in a state of continual deterioration, you are going to have more problems, and the problems will endure — to the point where you’re going to have to nut up, and start re-fortifying your problem-solving skills. Then there will be some kind of reversal. Starting with, it’s okay for people to be rich and hang on to their money even if they’re not spoiled brat Hollywood actors…maybe continuing right up until it’s alright for America to have a female Secretary of State who looks as good in hot pants as Sarah Palin. Or, maybe the ugly women have to continue their irrational and unexplainable generations-long monopoly on powerful positions, but at least, some of the other stuff gets fixed. Maybe, given that we’re supposed to have a secular government, or a denomination-neutral one, we stop voting in phony deities. And grown men stop crying on live television…or at least, don’t brag about it openly while the mic is still on. We get rid of this notion of “safe guns.” Those would be good ones to fix.

The gun thing worries me most of all. By the time you actually get to the range, it is very important that anyone who so much as touches a gun, have a good, realistic idea of what is actually likely to cause a mishap, so they can avoid it. That’s, like, Rule Number One. Well, we’ve got these people running around thinking it’s the device, not the human behind it, causing all the trouble…and they’re making the fucking rules. When common sense says, their misconception is so great, and fails such basic competency tests, that it should disqualify them from entering the front gate of said range. If we have to fix one before we fix any of the others, I’d vote for that one. I can wait awhile longer for the woman who has real power & fantastic looking legs. Let’s stop people from getting hurt & killed first.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Washington Rebel.

Rich as Rich Can Be

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Fox:

Same script, different show, another night.

The hottest trend among comedic talk show hosts in recent months has revolved around bashing Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, his personal wealth, and his ranking in the “one percent.”

But have these famous television “comedians” forgotten that they too are far from belonging to the “99 percent” when it comes to monetary earnings?

“Mitt Romney just barely won the Republican primary in Ohio by one percent. Then Romney made the mistake of saying, ‘ladies and gentleman, tonight is a victory for the one percent!” Conan O’Brien, who is received a $45 million exit deal from NBC in 2010 and has an estimated net worth of $75 million, exclaimed.

Jay Leno, who reportedly makes $32 million a year from his “Tonight Show” gig alone, and is reported to have a net worth of around $150 million, frequently incorporate Romney-related rich jokes into his late night program.
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David Letterman, who is reported to have earned $45 million with an overall net worth upwards of $400 million relishes Romney’s riches for ratings too, having made such jokes as “last month Mitt Romney raised $76 million. He found it in an old sport-coat pocket.”

Jimmy Fallon, worth about $16 million, also mocked: “A new survey found that Mitt Romney is ahead of Obama among those who make $36,000-$90,000. Or as Romney put it, ‘And they said I can’t connect with the poor.’’

Hat tip to Kingjester.

Rather stunning some of the numbers that are next to the names of these also-ran, wanna-be and has-been comedians.

After all, you know, when the economy is completely screwed up and tanking, and some guy runs for President claiming to possess the business acumen required to fix it — I would expect that guy to have a net worth in the hundreds of millions, or at least dozens of millions. Would be rather surprising if he didn’t, right? To say nothing of, it would lead to a few things having to be explained…

Some guy who tells jokes for a living? There seems to be some law-of-the-universe in place, that if they’re well known enough that I might have heard their name, their net worth has to be in the eight digits. Maybe there really is one.

You know, I do get to hear their jokes every now and then on the morning radio. Some of these guys were good back in the day, and lately have gotten really hit-and-miss. And there is the matter of, when they “hit,” they’re not the ones who wrote the joke, it’s some writer who did that…we don’t know the writer’s name, looks like the situation is people are getting compensated for having their own name becoming well-known, so there is a likelihood the writer isn’t worth as much. And you have to wonder: If the easy pathway to a two-comma bank account balance is simply delivery…maybe you can think of a good joke, maybe you can’t, but if the audience likes your voice and your inflections and doesn’t find you too ugly, here’s your mega-supersize-check, whether you understand your own jokes or not…are we on our way to the point where basic subsistence depends on that as well?

Certainly, we’re on our way to: You are disqualified from becoming the leader of a nation that needs some open questions settled, so its economy can recover and thrive — if you know how to make money. And if that isn’t an Idiocracy, then nothing is.

Call Me Lazy

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Memo For File CLX

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

I’ve been thinking about the very first job I ever had as a professional software developer. “Project management” was a distant dream, and it showed; there was a big room, with three desks, two salesmen with me sandwiched in between. That was unwise. But I learned a lot from seeing things from an unusual perspective. I remember one of the sales guys took to putting a sign on his desk that said “Nothing happens until the sale is made!” I’ve often wondered if that was some kind of turf-marking exercise. Certainly it is factual; there’s no arguing with it; on the other hand, could the techie guy not come back with something equally factual, like, “You haven’t got anything to sell until someone builds it”?

Here are the two viewpoints, duking it out quietly, under the surface. You have sales & marketing, which are essentially: Convincing people to do things they otherwise would not do. Yeah there’s a lot of stuff about pitches & relating to people & money changing hands, but that is essentially what it is. The other side of it is coding and engineering, designing tests, scientifically evaluating what the tests do & do not prove, managing the requirements and seeing to it that they are met. Making the miracles. Which all comes down to: Convincing not-people-things to do things they otherwise not do.

The subtle slugfest is nothing more complicated than — when you put it all together, what t’heck are we really doing here? Are we convincing the organics to do things they otherwise would not do, so we can get some funding together and use it to convince the non-organics to do things they otherwise would not do? Or, are we convincing the non-organics to do things, so we can put on what they called a “dog and pony show” and convince the organics to do something?

It is a cyclical mission, so both are valid. Since both are valid, that essentially resolves the conundrum…but not really…for we have to settle the matter of, who is the real catalyst. Which specialty, by its very existence, defines the reason everyone is bothering to show up. And which one is subordinate to the other, merely attending to it, bridging the final circuit so it can all go together and the cycles can continue.

It has been my observation that, since these two sides think in fundamentally different ways, once a practitioner becomes experienced in the one, he does not see himself as ever crossing the divide and making a personal success out of the other. And so, people become invested in the idea that their own domain is primary and the other is secondary. The hard evidence indicates only that both viewpoints are valid. It is quiet on which one emerges truly supreme over the other one.

Another observation I’ve been making: I recall in the early years there was a push on among desktop database developers to make their own scripting languages into dominant “real” computer languages, and “train” the software developers like me to use their tools. Their strategy was to get the market flooded with capable coders who were dedicated to their scripted languages, so that customers would feel a push to invest in such an environment so that it would be easier to hire the custom application developers. This, we were told, was to be to our financial advantage: We should envision ourselves as “The Boss,” and does the boss want to hire more or fewer sales people, does he want to hire more or fewer programmers. Well, obviously, the answer would be more to the first and fewer to the second — and if there’s one thing you want to avoid, you want to avoid being the guy that the boss wants whittled down. There’s a certain logic to it, but I’ve never put too much faith in that, and ultimately things didn’t pan out that way at all.

If there’s one thing you don’t want to be, it’s the guy that someone who is not the boss wants in greater abundance. Because if you can work on it for awhile and develop some real skills at it — you can come out on top, having a job the boss wants thinned down. But you cannot count on bringing such skills to the market if you’re crowded out. If you want to build up the kind of skill level that will net you success only if you’re leveraging it in an occupation that is momentarily exploding, but it would be inadequate to keep the paychecks coming in during the lean times, well, you’re not really bringing the kind of gusto you need to succeed anyhow.

I also remember, from that time, the push was toward libraries of reusable code. Stop paying these software developers to write the same code over and over again. Now, I’m not sure what happened to this. It’s given us a lot of technology that is still in active use, even heavy use, but it doesn’t seem to be leveraged toward that particular goal. I was being told by the database guys, over twenty years ago, that my whole livelihood was going to go away because nobody wanted to pay to have the same things built repeatedly. This has been about as successful a prediction as the paperless office. In fact, I would say even less so, given how tough it can be nowadays to find things like staplers, scotch tape, pens, erasers, et al.

This goal has always struck me as a sensible one, driven by an obvious and demonstrable business case. The engineers are not opposed to it at all, contrary to a belief that seems to have been prevalent on the sales side. Who wants to come up with five tests when you can prove the same thing with one? There’s a lot of human error factor involved in coordinating five tests you know. This is what “unit testing” is all about; and then when you make sure all these tested units fit together right, that leads to things like “system testing” and “integration testing.” This part of the effort has indeed matured and become more sophisticated and capable. But I see it isn’t commonplace for these development houses to do what I was told twenty years “The Boss” was going to do, which is, to look at all the first-time-coding projects necessary to make an entire new system really work, and really cut some huge swaths into it by means of leveraging recyclable code. People say “Is there a library we can get that will do something like that?” and they’re referring to something external. The vision, as I originally understood it, was to make the internals into libraries, to de-couple them from their maiden implementations.

You can do both, you know. You can make an internal module whose purpose in life is, “This is how XYZ company handles files” and another one whose purpose is “This is how XYZ company handles strings”. Then you take all these questions about “Doesn’t Boost do something like that?” and settle them within the internal libraries; use all these good things like DLLs and object-oriented design patterns to build breakwaters. Stop the rippling-through-the-entire-system. The ideal situation is, one design question comes up, by the time it is settled only one module has been changed. I say “ideal” because that’s a pretty tough vision to realize, but at the very least, the architectural effort should be going in that direction.

Just like an organizational chart, you know. Here’s a fuck-up…oh…well, that’s Tom’s territory. So here’s an action item for Tom, and Tom I guess has a headache he has to put right before the meeting next week. This is how software development should work. Someone takes on a bug, in order to resolve it has to change three or four things…same thing with the next bug, and the next bug, and the next, and the last one when it got fixed it broke a bunch of other things — that situation is a red flag that the architecture is not a good one. It isn’t sufficiently modular. Well, this is not exactly a thing of the past is it. Customers can pick up on it; they/we see it pretty much everywhere. We see it in our cable teevee subscriptions and our telephone service, and all kinds of other places. This suggests to me that values have changed. The vision is not being aggressively pursued.

I think the vision was thwarted when someone, somewhere, said something about there being no such thing as a bug-free program. In my estimation, this was not a helpful remark. We have “bug-free” equations, do we not? One and one make two; two and two make four. The bugs become an inevitability when the system achieves a certain level of complexity — and the system has become this complex because some module within, has become complex and therefore unmaintainable. Well, modules don’t have to be complex. Wasn’t Lotus 1-2-3 supposed to have been a bug-free, or nearly bug-free, “killer app”? Well, if it can be done one time it can be done anytime, right?

Here we get to a part that has always frustrated me. Software developers, these leaders of technological innovation, very often are pressured to engage in tribal thinking. No, nobody is going to make a case study out of 1-2-3 for good project management and coding practices; if it is a representative symbol of anything at all, it is of dead computer applications, and a whole bunch of user interface conventions that aren’t done that way anymore. So nobody is asking the question “Do I want my project’s pathway of success to look like where this case study went?” the answer to which would be emphatically yes in the case of the Lotus app. They tend to ask the question, “Do I want my project to end up where this case study is right now?” Which leads to everyone coding essentially the same thing.

That is the exact opposite of technology: Everyone laboring to do things more-or-less the same way that some other guy would do it.

President Obama says we can recapture our country’s technology stature by making sure we have more people graduating from college. In the era of American history over which He presides, we seem to be caught in an endless loop of confusing quantity for quality: Clear skies and fair seas are ahead for you, if you’re doing everything the same way the other guy is already doing it. That seems to be the mindset, and I predict it will fail more often than it succeeds.

Best Sentence CXXVIII

Monday, June 18th, 2012

The one hundred and twenty-eighth award for BSIHORL (Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately) is hereby awarded to…me. Hmmm. Seems I should do something special about this. Maybe rename it to a “BSIHROWL” or some such silly thing…well…you know, I think that’s okay, I can award one to myself every now & then.

Here’s the award winner straight from the Hello Kitty of Blogging (in which I think you have to be registered in order to follow the link, not sure about that)…

Every product that is overpriced and in desperate need of a sizzling marketing campaign, is green, gay, and standing with the 99%.

That one drew “likes” much more frequently than I thought it would…well…that’s probably appropriate. One of those things where, once it’s up, you see it was a very witty thing I said. Witty and true.

I remember in a staff meeting many years ago, a fellow network engineer pointedly observed that “Millennial” appeared to have something to do with “silver and shiny,” which drew some yuks. That was witty and true, too. Well, it’s a dog’s lifespan later. Silver-Shiny-Y2K-Compliant is out, Occupy-Green-and-Gay is in.

What inspired my comment: Coulda been anything…but today it was Cheerios.

Yeah, Cheerios. You know, you put them in a bowl with some milk…or in a baggy without some milk…when you have — drum roll, please — kids. Kids, which come about when straight people have sex with each other. Straight people. Yeah, sorry, don’t wanna be a hater or anything, but gay marriage doesn’t have anything to do with kids, therefore it isn’t very strongly related to cereal.

Oh yeah, I know grown-ups eat Cheerios. I’m sure homosexuals eat Cheerios. Point is, the numbers are not there; this is not market outreach, this is not a case of “We’re in business to make money, and gay marriage advocates’ money is just as good as anybody else’s.” If that was the message, I’d be all for it. But it isn’t.

Like the Occupy Movement and the “go green” bullcrap, this is just fashionable marketing, used to sell products that are overpriced. It’s the fad of the decade.

You need to reach for your wallet and grab it, tightly, when companies start hopping on the fad of the decade. That means they need to.

Bill Maher Says Matt Drudge is a Racist

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Daily Caller again, hat tip to Terri:

“The problem with racism is Matt Drudge,” Maher said. “I pick from Matt Drudge’s website — just this, over a month we monitored this. Just show some of the pictures that were on — there, Mike Tyson looking like he’s going to eat your head. Oh yes, Louis Farrakhan — because he’s so relevant now. Oh, and Marion Barry, he’s in the news also. Oh yes, Rev. Wright, because he matters to your life so much. This is who appears on the Drudge Report. Oh yes, and there’s Al Sharpton telling Eric Holder what he should do, and Michael Jordan angry, because that’s how we all remember him. This is racism in America.”

While Maher mocked the images, he neglected to provide context for the stories Drudge attached to the pictures — nor did Maher explain why he went all the way back to the month of April for his examples.

“Racism” means something to me. “Libertarian” also has a certain meaning for me, as does “comedy” and “comedian.”

I don’t think those words mean the same things on Bill Maher’s planet. Oh, and yeah…as a matter of fact, I do think it’s long past time we discussed Jeremiah Wright a bit more. Guess that makes me a racist too!