Archive for January, 2013

“Have You Taken Any Action Yourself?”

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

I’ve noticed this. A lot of true-believers in global warming, drive much bigger cars than mine. Have bigger teevee sets too.

Too Complicated

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

tl;dr.

In an adventure about buried treasure (real), pirates (made up) and clues (too complicated, it turned out), the temptation is to talk like a matey and tell the world: The cap’n says to quit yer foolish searching because the booty’s not there now. The laddies who put it in the ground dug it up and gave it away.

The tale began in 2009, when two men from Brooklyn, Vincent Bova and Damien Eckhardt-Jacobi, hid a chest filled with 10,000 one-dollar coins and released eight videos featuring Muppetlike creatures playing pirates who dropped hints about where the loot was. Mr. Bova and Mr. Eckhardt-Jacobi said that whoever found the money could keep it.

Despite the best efforts of treasure hunters who searched for almost three years, no one did.

We’re becoming a nation of Detailphobes. Have been becoming that way for awhile now. It’s a crisis.

Reminds me of something P.J. O’Rourke said:

Nowadays we can hardly count our blessings, one of which is surely that we don’t have to do all that counting—computers do it for us. Information is easily had. Education is readily available. Opportunity knocks, it jiggles the doorknob, it will try the window if we don’t have the alarm system on.

Interception

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Like magic!

Fighting climate change may seem like a Hail Mary pass, but the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee is running a play, called Geaux Green, to tackle the emissions from the big game between the San Francisco 49′ers and the Baltimore Ravens. The Committee also developed a game plan for fans to block their own emissions from blitzing the planet’s atmosphere.

The electricity used by the Superdome, team hotels and other Super Bowl related venues will total approximately 4,500 megawatts and make Earth the receiver of 3.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution. That gas release will be intercepted by the purchase of carbon credits at three different locations.

Fans can get some anti-climate-change game time by buying carbon credits to offset the pollution footprint they create when going long to travel to New Orleans. The Geaux Green website provides fans a means of calculating their carbon pollution and buying credits to sack their emissions.

Armchair carbon quarterbacks can get in the game too. The Geaux Green website features a game in which fans can vote for which NFL team has the most environmentally friendly fans. Participants are encouraged to pledge to run eco-friendly plays, such as using fluorescent bulbs, carpooling or planting a tree.

Hat tip to Steven Goddard. Your purchase of carbon credits will intercept your gas release. Coolness!

Mkay. So this is the part where we all say “Okay, this doesn’t have anything to do with saving the planet, it’s a prestige/status symbol for some, and a racket for others.” Right? I mean, this is not the way people behave when they really think something important is at stake. Not with the “tragedy of the commons.” Okay, let me make it even more obvious: With competition, you go “hooray, those other guys aren’t getting with the program, we’re going to cream them.” With a looming crisis, the tragedy-of-commons type of crisis, you say “hey, you other guys…get with the damn program!” This, according to its own propaganda, is the first of those two. Not the second of those two. But you’re supposed to log on and see which “side” can pull ahead.

It’s all science-y. And junk.

Denver the Guilty Dog

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Software Engineering and Politics

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Oh, dear. Steve Yegge, at Google, last summer:

Last week, after nearly a decade of hurling myself against this problem, I’ve finally figured it out. I know exactly what’s been bothering me…I won’t keep you in suspense. Here is the thesis of this looooong essay…Software engineering has its own political axis, ranging from conservative to liberal.

Quoting Piglet: Oh, d-d-dear dear dear.

Everyone in the software industry who does stuff related to programming computers falls somewhere fairly precise on this political spectrum, whether they realize it or not.

Put another way, YOU are either a liberal or a conservative software engineer. You may be more of a centrist, or maybe an extremist, but you fall somewhere on that left/right spectrum.
:
So what’s a Software Liberal slash Conservative?
:
It’s easiest to talk first about conservatives, and then define liberals in terms of what conservatives are not. This is because conservatives tend to have a unified and easily-articulated value system, whereas liberals tend to be more weakly organized and band together mostly as a reaction to conservatism. This applies to both real-world and software-world politics.

So we’ll start with an operational definition of conservatism, from Jost et al.:

“We regard political conservatism as an ideological belief system that is significantly (but not completely) related to motivational concerns having to do with the psychological management of uncertainty and fear.”
:
Conservatism, at its heart, is really about risk management.

Similarly, liberal views are often associated with youth, with idealism, with naivete. In the corporate world, we think of startups as being prototypically liberal — in part because they’re setting out to change the world in some way (and liberalism is traditionally associated with change), and in part because they have to go all-out in order to hit their scheduled funding milestones, which can justify cutting corners on software safety.
:
The crux of the disagreement between liberals and conservatives in the software world is this: how much focus should you put on safety? Not just compile-time type-safety, but also broader kinds of “idiot-proofing” for systems spanning more than one machine.

Hmmmm. Well, there is definitely something going on here. Although the last time I heard of this being explored, it was with the Microsoft metaphor about programmers falling into the categories of the Mort, the Elvis and the Einstein. and after reading Mr. Yegges’ essay, the Mort/Elvis/Einstein triad still makes more sense to me. I’ve seen the conservatives and the liberals, in software development I mean, and I think the most liberal among the liberals would agree that it’s much cheaper to prevent a mistake than to go back and fix it, in spite of your zeal to change the world. If there is a split, the split is in prioritizing the resources. And software developers are constantly disagreeing about how to prioritize resources. They do what the boss says, in the end, but it isn’t always completely intuitive how that’s going to work, or what the rationale is. It’s like no two snowflakes being alike.

Still, he’s on to something I think. I see even the dissenting viewpoint doesn’t entirely disagree, any more than I do…

It seems that the political labels of “liberal” and “conservative” were picked not for their meaning, but rather for their connotations, as political views are perceived to be 1) very stable, part of a person’s self-identity and (therefore) hard to change, 2) inherently polarizing, and 3) difficult or impossible to evaluate objectively. Again, these do not apply to software engineering. For example, probably like many engineers, I am clearly a liberal on personal and small projects, and a conservative on larger and more fundamental ones; so much for the idea of a core identity. As for polarization, it may be prevalent in internet echo chambers, but I have not seen much of that in my professional life, especially when working with experienced engineers. When they do have objections, those objections are grounded in engineering. This leads to the third point, claiming that the approaches can not be compared objectively. This one is the most pernicious of all, because it provides an escape hatch from arguments with substance on what is an engineering decision.

I think his thesis might work much better for the management of a complex software development project. Read that as, the coordination of team-based implementation efforts, initiated after the resources, delivery dates, and user acceptance test requirements have all been defined. You know — the boring stuff. Conservative management would involve project management, with project charters, requirements documents, design documents painstakingly cross-referenced back to the requirements doc by explicit & implicit requirement number, test scripts also painstakingly cross-referenced back to requirements, testing logs, regression tests, regressions on the regressions…

This works much better, because it matches up the clarion battle cry of the political liberal, word-for-word, with that of the software development liberal: “Hey, I just had a spiffy idea! When do we get to the fun part, where I tell everyone what to do, and then they go do it?” And, likewise for the conservative: “Eh, that’s fine, but before we even get to whether your idea will work, we’ve got all this other stuff that has to be of some concern to someone, like delivery schedules, budgets, all the other stuff people were working on before you walked into the room…”

And the liberal says again, repeating by rote, “Aw, that’s boring! I want to get to the fun part, where I tell everyone what to do, and they go do it…”

Regarding the more exciting, proof-of-concept stuff, I suspect I may be having a difference of opinion about what’s going on in the political realm, because of our different ideologies there. See to me, if you have an awesome new idea in real life, and you think it would be such a great idea to proliferate it throughout all of human existence because you see some real potential for improving the lives of others, and you see that because you’ve used it in your own efforts first — that would make you a conservative. To be a liberal, you would have to depart from this situation. You’d still have the outside-the-box idea, you’d still have an honest and altruistic desire to improve the lives of others, but the core essentials of your idea would come from “those people over there are doing that thing one way, and I think they should be doing it a different way.” The conservative idea comes from a presence of direct, real-life, practical experience, and the liberal idea comes from a lack of this.

Because of that, I notice the people we call “conservatives” are often more concerned about outcome than about following a certain process, whereas the people we call “liberals” are more concerned about the process than about the outcome. Realistically, though, nobody really cares at the end of it what process was followed as long as the outcome was reached. There are a lot of exceptions to this, but they all have to do with expanding the periphery of how we define “outcome.” This is worth noticing because, in my experience, when there is real conflict among software engineers, that is how it usually breaks down, and the process/outcome conflict does have its counterpart in the political realm. On the liberal side of inspiring a new vision, the desire for proper process often drives all of it. I would cite green-jobs as just one example, although there are many others.

The conservative side of this, both in software development and in politics, is merely an extension of Habit 2 of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Begin with the End in Mind.

Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.

Again, in conflict after conflict, we see the conservative has a bullet point for such a vision and the liberal is missing this. This is not hard to demonstrate at all. Go to a large city managed by liberals. How is their budget doing? How is crime doing? How is the job situation doing? How are properties doing? They’re all disasters, on average. Is that because the liberals managing the city want them to be that way? Absolutely not. They say they want the best for their city’s citizens, and they mean it, very syllable. Their priorities may be in question, but the well-being of the citizens is certainly a goal…somewhere, in their list of goals. The problem, apart from the graft & corruption, is that they don’t work toward the goals. They don’t begin with the end in mind.

Characteristics of Psychopaths

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Must blog this

1.) Has no conscience.

2.) Manipulates people by “pulling strings” or “pushing the right buttons” .

3.) Is perceived to be “sticky”, “slimy” or “slippery”.

4.) Is a “control freak”.

5.) Is a “serial bully”. Has one main bully target at a time. Once he loses control of that bully target, he feels compelled to find another bully target very quickly to sink his claws into.

6.) Has an exa[g]gerated sense of self-importance, thinking that the world revolves around him. This is known as “egocentricity”.

7.) Is a “fantasist”.

8.) Glares at people with piercing eyes. Women have been known to mistake this for sexual magnetism.

9.) Would unexpectedly say very hurtful things.

10.) Consistently apportions blame to others when things go wrong, regardless of how logically an explanation was given – “whipping boy” – “fall guy”.

11.)Twists and distorts facts to his advantage.

12.) Jekyll and Hyde personality. (Incidentally, Robert Louis Stevenson’s fictional character was inspired by a real life psychopath that he had met but obviously the fictional character was an exaggerated version)

13.) Applies his distorted sense of reality (psychosis) to others, accusing them of faults and weaknesses that are actually his own. This is known as “projection”.

14.) Inability to accept responsibility or blame for his actions. He is always “in denial”.

15.) Can get vicious if cornered.

16.) Spin a “web of deceit”.

17.) Has a “hidden agenda”.

18.) Has a “selective memory” – remembers your mistakes but forgets his own.

19.) Seldom plans for the long and medium terms, believing himself to be immune to the consequences of his own actions.

20.) Takes the credit for other people’s work. This is known as “plagiarism”.

21.) Demands absolute loyalty. Only likes you if you do exactly what he wants, therefore attempting to reinforce manipulation.

22.) Tries to make you feel guilty (“the guilt trip”) if you protest about doing what he wants you to do. For example, saying to you “You are causing me so many problems because of your selfishness.”

23.) Often exhibits an unusually high level of charm. Commonly uses flattery to win people over so they can be manipulated.
24.) May have an impenetrable veneer of charm, or “superficial politeness”, that makes it very difficult to ask pertinent or searching questions that would reveal his true self. For example, he may constantly crack jokes or dwell on pleasantries with no substance, discussing the weather for example. A psychopathic veneer of charm may manifest itself in organi[z]ations by using glossy brochures and marketing that portrays things in an idealistic way that has little bearing on reality – “charm offensive”.

25.) Happy to dish out criticism or abuse – not happy to receive criticism or abuse – “do as I say, not as I do”.

26.) Makes an audible noise when walking around, such as humming, whistling, singing, making duck-noises or clicking fingers.

27.) Uses frequent hand movements when talking.

28.) Gives you a sense of being “talked at” rather than being “talked to” when the psychopath engages you in conversation.

29.) Inability to understand irony.

30.) He can’t be trusted. Breaks promises and breaches matters intended to be in confidence.

31.) Stabs you in the back.

32.) Fakes sincerity with great conviction. For example he may be profusely apologetic, if he is caught red-handed doing some misdemeanor, but then do the same misdemeanor the next week if he thinks he can get away with it. He is incapable of a sincere apology.

33.) Lacks tact.

34.) Is not a team player – he acts autocratically.

35.) Is two-faced.

36.) Hates people who are more talented than he is as it shows up his own inadequacies which he may in turn “project” onto that person.

37.) Flies into a rage over a small problem – “nit picking”.

38.) Lacks any kind of personal depth.

39.) Has a beaming, charismatic and even messianic smile. Any politicians spring to mind ?!

40.) Gets others to do his dirty work – “attack dogs” or “hatchet men”

41.) Changes the rules frequently but denies the inconsistency.

42.) May plunge into detail about something without appreciating that you don’t know the context.
43.) May express anger because you don’t know something that he assumes you know but there is no reason why you should know it and no-one has told you.

44.) Interprets criticism of himself (even constructive criticism) as a personal insult or personal attack.

45.) Expresses anger at emotional outbursts from others.

46.) May use the word “I” frequently in conversation and with emphasis.

47.) May use expressions such as “I’m just looking after number one” or “I was just following orders” as an excuse to justify abuse.

48.) Rarely gets depressed.

49.) Is more concerned about the welfare of an inanimate object than a human being. For example, if he witnesses a person col[l]iding with an inanimate object and hurting themselves, he may be more concerned about possible damage to the inanimate object.

50.) Likes to find out about or observe other psychopaths. For example, likes to watch Hollywood action films with psychopathic characters or read books about psychopathic historical characters such as Napoleon. Perhaps this partly explains why different psychopaths often use similar “scripts” for their deceitful practices

51.) Never remembers his own emotional outbursts or denies having them.

52.) Sees things in black or white – something is either all “good” or all “evil”. Does this remind you of any politicians?

53.) Lectures you endlessly until you agree. For example, think of the tendancy [sic] of dictators to give speeches that go on for hours – this is “extreme lecturing”.

54.) Unusual or abnormal sense of direction.

55.) Has little interest in making any effort to make you feel comfortable, unless he is manipulating you.

56.) They can express remorse when they lose control of someone they are abusing. This is just a form of self-pity as the psycho now has to go to the trouble of “grooming” a new target.

57.) Makes forced loud laughter – belly laugh.

62.) Has an abnormal “startle response” – doesn’t jump or startle when we would. This is documented by professionals, but not well known among the public.

63.) Abnormal sense of smell. Psychopaths may not smell things we can or not as well as we can (olifactory sense). This seems to be verified by research of psychosis variations. Excessive use of colognes, aftershave or perfumes.

64.) Normal people may sense or feel the presence of “evil”. It permeates from the psychopath. We react with nausea, fear, and we often say “Oh, he doesn’t mean that”. It is often intangible and something we can’t really define.

65.) Loves giving explicit details of gory operations or violent incidents that he has heard about, for example in films or on TV.

66.) Thinks that normal rules of society don’t apply to him – he is somehow exempt. He is not concerned with right or wrong for his own actions – only with whether he can get away with doing something without being caught. However he may insist that others adhere to strict rules of his making.

67.) May show an odd fascination with fire, weapons, drugs or alcohol.

68.) Throws out items normally kept. Has no items or discards any with only ‘sentimental connections’.

69.) May have a commanding physical presence.

70.) Drives recklessly.

71.) Obsession with neatness and tid[i]ness.

72.) May be cruel to animals, for example, stamps on worms.

73.) Thinks that it is necessary for someone else to fail for him to succeed. He will often make sure that someone fails by using deceit. A psycho manager may engineer failure in an employee by overloading with work or setting impossible deadlines.

I’m loving those graphics. And I’m loving #53…let us repeat it…

53.) Lectures you endlessly until you agree. For example, think of the tend[e]ncy of dictators to give speeches that go on for hours – this is “extreme lecturing”.

That’s President Barack Obama, pretty much every day. The inquiry is planted in there a couple times, I think, about “does this remind you of politicians?” Why yes, yes it does.

During her “testimony” a week ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton managed to demonstrate characteristics #1, #2, #3, #6, #7, #11, #13, #14, #15, #18, #19, #22, #27, #35, #44, #52 and #66. Nice job Hill.

This Is Good CVI

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Blogger friend Buck

This happened in the very distant way-back, at a time long before my moral code was firmed up, signed, sealed, and delivered.

Mmmm, hmmmm…his story makes me think of some of my stories. How did the Hon. Congressman Henry Hyde put it, as a “Youthful Indiscretion” I think. Buck’s phraseology is as elegant as it is tasteful, in its own way.

The young man’s vision is to take big steps, while he walks in the right direction. The old man’s vision, knowing that he faced the wrong direction back then, is to take bigger steps than he took before…while muttering oaths against his younger, more foolish self, that to the immortals have become tedious as they have been muttered by others, countless times before, without so much as a single syllable of meaningful difference.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could learn to do right by ourselves, as well as by others, before we even learned to walk? But I suppose then that life would become crushingly boring.

The Winning Witch

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Uh oh. I’m about to get in trouble again, the way I always do…by noticing the wrong things. One Brent Budowsky jots down a thought, predicting a future groundswell…

I now predict that if Hillary choses not to run in 2016, which is certainly possible, liberals will begin a gigantic movement to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to run for president…

Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren. They haven’t got an awful lot in common, besides their positions on issues which are going to be on average dogmatic-intractable hardcore proggy left, and their proclivity for saying stupid things. Which is true of everyone in the lefty power structure. And about twenty or thirty percent of them are female. So Hillary and Liz must have something in common that makes them so valued besides being lefty, female, and saying dumb things. What could it be, I wonder?

It causes useless conflict when I opine about looks, and so I shall not. I have never understood the incendiary reactions, but looks are not the issue anyway. Perhaps, if Hillary and Liz got prettied up, maybe went on a makeover show, they’d lose their appeal. There’s no way of knowing for sure. But I’m sure they’d lose just as much appeal if they lost their voices.

HillaryI see Hillary was very popular at the beginning of that silly “hearing” last week, but she was much more popular at the end of it, which tells me something. The progressives are anxious to see, not quite so much certain personalities, as certain spectacles. They have an event in mind they want to have happen. They want to see an argument take form, a contentious confrontation, involving one of these witchy women. And then they want the witch to win the argument so they can say “don’t mess with her!” It’s true, Hillary “won” this argument by saying something exceptionally stupid, even by her standards. But I think the winning was the thing. Look at your friends the libs right now; they’re really jazzed about Hillary, as they haven’t been for years. During which time, Hillary’s said dumb things every time she’s opened her mouth. So that, too, tells me something. It must not be the crap coming out of her mouth, it must be this perception of winning.

And it seems to be, although perhaps I’m just imagining this, a racial thing. Maxine Waters and Carol Moseley Braun have served in Congress a combined total of 26 years if my math is right, and they’re both very good at being unappealing and unpleasant, habitually given to saying very silly, stupid things. So they should satisfy the criteria as well as Clinton and Warren, but it’s clear that they don’t. So. Female, ugly and unpleasant, saying idiotic things all the time, winning, and now we have white.

Oops, I said I shouldn’t mention looks. Okay, just the unpleasant. The appeal is not that men don’t want to see her naked. The appeal is that we don’t want to be in the same room with her. That is the much-sought-after attribute. She makes us want to leave the room. “I never left her presence without a sigh of relief,” I think is how Queen Victoria’s son Edward VII described his relationship with her. Like Barbra Streisand; we find out she’s giving a concert and our wives want to go (a bullet I’ve thankfully dodged), and we suddenly get food poisoning. Real and unfaked, albeit self-induced, food poisoning if that’s what it takes. Any wad of oxygen we’re burning, we don’t want this hollering ditz burning the same wad of oxygen. Ever. They come in, and if the option is available to us, we go out.

“Bitch,” I believe is the slang. A repellent woman, worst mother-in-law you can possibly imagine, with a voice that pierces. Sounds like an annoyed teacher dressing down an annoying and slow third-grade student who just broke something by being an idiot, or got on her last nerve in some other way, BUT ALL OF THE TIME. If it was possible for you to load a voice into your gun, there would be a law saying you couldn’t have this one. (And probably made by some woman who uses that voice, ironically enough.)

Yes, there are quite a few people running around who get angry and upset when I notice this. I’m told it is “sexist.” To me, the sexism is in this idea that women who are “qualified” for positions of power, somehow have to lack pulchritude. I’m the one who believes it is possible, maybe, for a woman to be gorgeous, helpful, soothing, wise and influential all at the same time, what’s sexist about that? But this is something we all need to notice, and it’s a problem we need to solve. These “winning witches” posses sub-random decision-making ability, which means on average, they make good decisions less often than a process for selecting from the same options, driven purely by random chance. You’re less well-off asking them what to do, then you are flipping a coin. We cannot habitually elevate such silly broads to the highest levels of authority attainable, for a period of time to be sustained as long as this weird fad staggers on, like a zombie, and expect not to endure negative consequences. People with power should be able to make decisions about things, at least as well as a roll of the dice. Isn’t that just obvious?

Fun DateMaybe this unfortunate trend will come to a stop if we call it racist. Can we do that?

I go out to a shopping mall or sidewalk event or coffee shop or whatever…maybe go down to midtown, where Sacramento is trying really hard, unfortunately, to look like San Francisco. So maybe I’m missing something because I have to be careful where I step. But here and there, I see a woman or two that might fit this mold. There’s not much occasion to hear how she talks unless she’s yelling at her kids or grandkids. But still, I don’t see it that often. Maybe two or three people out of every hundred. It’s a very, very distinctive look out here in the “real” world.

I tune in on the teevee or the YouTube and hear politicians talk, and it’s more like forty percent. And eighty percent of the ones talking. Awkward-looking, pantsuit-wearing, unappealing, shrill-harpy-voice, determined to steamroll right over anybody else who might wish to say something…and mean. And, way off the charts, in all these metrics. Way, way out there. They make the Wicked Witch of the West look like a fun date.

Someone, somewhere, not only doesn’t mind this, but has an appetite for this. An insatiable appetite. Wants to see more and more of the Winning Witch. Who are these people? And what’s the goal? They don’t want equal opportunity for women who can’t get dates. Again, look at Congress. Mission accomplished. It’s the women who men would want to nail between the sheets, who deserve and should be able to expect better representation. Women who actually wear womanly things, like skirts and dresses. So this is not about politicians being a better reflection of their constituencies.

Whoever these people are who want to see more of the Winning Witch, they have managed to have a lot of things go their way since the Year Of The Woman, 1992. Feminism itself had the wind knocked out of it, when the feminists started defending Bill Clinton and people everywhere figured out feminism had nothing to do with womens’ rights, and everything to do with electing democrats. I’d go so far as to say that effectively killed the movement we knew back then. But this “get more unpleasant and silly women into public office” movement, throughout that time, persevered without even slowing up any. So this isn’t even feminism. It isn’t even liberalism. This is more like a movement to get bad decision-makers into offices where they can do real damage. The ones straight men can’t stand. That do a lot of yelling.

I am reminded of Burt Prelutsky’s famous quote:

Frankly, I don’t know what it is about California, but we seem to have a strange urge to elect really obnoxious women to high office. I’m not bragging, you understand, but no other state, including Maine, even comes close. When it comes to sending left-wing dingbats to Washington, we’re number one. There’s no getting around the fact that the last time anyone saw the likes of Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, and Nancy Pelosi, they were stirring a cauldron when the curtain went up on ‘Macbeth’. The three of them are like jackasses who happen to possess the gift of blab. You don’t know if you should condemn them for their stupidity or simply marvel at their ability to form words.

I don’t know when he said that. A long time before 2010, the date of this post. It’s clear to me, it isn’t just California that has the problem anymore…although one might argue we have the worst case of it.

I just think, when any faction among us wins as often as this one has been winning, it’s not too much to ask that they be honest with us about what it is they’re after. What do they want? I mean, really?

Update: On the racial angle: Neo-neocon reprints a perceptive comment

I’ve always thought that subconsciously, Liberals are racists. Not that they hate people of other races – quite the contrary – they truly love them. But they do think that people of other races are inferior and therefore unable to make it on their own. So they do whatever they can to help them (with other people’s money, of course). The War on Poverty is a perfect example. So is affirmative action. And 0bama is another.

So the T-P media falls all over themselves trying to help him. They cover for him, attack his enemies, whatever it takes. They project their racism onto their opponents. And the more inferior they think the person is, the more they try to compensate. Hence the completely in-the-tank attitude over 0bama.

The subject is Obama, not the “Winning Witch” persona being consistently plain-looking and white. But, I’ve had this perception too, that the constant cries of “racism” represent not quite so much a scattershot way of making the opposition disappear, as psychological projection.

Jackasses Required

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Very well-worded comment left over at Legal Insurrection:

In every movement, every revolution…hell, in every PTA, there are two diametrically opposite personalities that, like two poles of a magnet, are needed to make the motor spin.

For every calculating thinker, there needs to be a person of action and fluidity. For every ordered mind, there needs to be a passionate one. For every bomb maker, a bomb thrower. For every Lenin, a Trotsky. For every Bill Bennett, a Rush Limbaugh. Otherwise, any revolution, or movement or PTA bake sale ends up one dimensional, flat and appealing only to a narrow band.

Yes…the “good cop, bad cop” thing.

Incidentally, I find Professor Jacobson to be one of the more well-written and well-thought-out bloggers out there, in fact, this might be the first thing he’s ever jotted down that made me stop and go, “huhwha??”:

The “be happy warriors” theme makes sense at the political level. Look how far Obama has gone on those fumes.

This is in the context of, browbeating the Republicans about working too hard to gin up outrage about Benghazi and Fast & Furious and the like, and not putting enough effort into articulating their cause, so I’m left to envision President Obama as a “happy warrior” for a defined cause. Um…this creates problems. I know Obama likes to be thought of in that way. But when has this ever matched up with reality? Ever?

Actually, if I understand these roles, the “bomb maker” is the articulator of the vision and the “bomb thrower” is the pit-bull character whose talent is in winning all the arguments. Obama is absolutely, positively, the winner-of-arguments. He does not define visions. He puts on a good show of doing this, but listen to Him some time. What’s the vision? Something like “Let Me be absolutely clear, we reject the belief that…” followed by something nobody actually says they believe, anywhere. In short, His speeches say nothing whatsoever. Nothing besides “I’m the alpha dog.”

As Jacobson points out, “the role we and other bloggers play is not necessarily the same as the politicians.” This nails it, I think.

I do believe a problem exists in the sense that conservatives are thought to exude negative energy. It is unclear to me how much of this is coming from within the movement. There is always room for improvement, of course. But, when your whole point is “people should be free” and someone sees that as hateful, you’re probably dealing with someone who isn’t going to see anything as non-hateful except for just a very narrow selection of things they’ve already chosen, and even if you can find some common ground with that, they still won’t stop seeing you as hateful.

Which, by the way, you won’t find that common ground. That’s my prediction.

But the author of the comment is entirely correct. Every movement has an asshole. And it’s an important job.

Ferragamo Bag

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

From Sippican.

Darth Vader Starts His Journal

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Think I remember seeing this awhile back. In a more civilized age, before the dark times…

“You should try keeping a journal,” he said.

“A journal?” I echoed. “Do you mean I should write a book?” I know, of course, that Moff Nur has been editing the manuscript of my master Darth Sidious the Emperor Palpatine, whose highly anticipated treatise on the subject of the subjugation of civilizations and the creation of powerful monsters promises to be a bestseller.

“No, no,” smiled Nur. “I mean like a diary.”

“Like a teenage girl?”

“Well, not entirely unlike a teenage girl, I suppose. The purpose is to help you analyze yourself by exporting your thoughts and impressions into a form you can review. Not only can it provide valuable insight as an artifact, but I find the actual process of recounting my reflections cathartic in itself.”

“You do this?”

“I do. I promise you, my friend, it helps.”

And so I have decided to make good on the Moff’s advice, now that he is dead and the confidence of the terrorists swells. I have begun this journal. I do not know how long the experiment will last, but I admit that in the absence of Nur himself I do find it calming to imagine I am speaking to his spirit as I dictate this recording.

Hello, Moff!

Alright, now I feel really stupid. Perhaps this experiment will be short lived. I am a busy man. Being a preternaturally powerful dark overlord at the right hand of a descent-crushing Emperor entails a certain set of demanding responsibilities. The galaxy won’t tyrannize itself, after all.

The whole thing is well-written, from what I can see, apart from the dissent/descent thing. I’m particularly fond of the “Christmas on Hoth” entry.

Big day. Storming the rebel ice fortress. Took a nap first so I would be peppy. Leg feels pretty good.

Admiral Ozzol took the fleet out of hyerspace too close to Hoth, and the Rebel Alliance were — you guessed it — alerted to our approach. The cornerstone of Ozzel’s arrogance is his insistence that rebel technology is so vastly inferior to Imperial technology that we need broker no caution.

This attitude is typical of a man who could not rephase his own fusion orb if his life depended on it. He cannot fathom what rebel engineers may accomplish out of desperation. People who are good with things, people like me, can appreciate the infinite diversity of possible tools buried in artful combinations of even the humblest technologies. Give me an hour to reconfigure an industrial grade repulsolift and I will give you an ion cannon and enough parts left over to build a droid to run it.

Ozzel just isn’t the creative type.

The problem is solved now, however. I crushed his trachea with my mind, and promoted Piett to command the fleet. I have transmitted to following note to Ozzel’s kin:

Dear House of Ozzel,

I regret to inform you that your son has been killed in the line of duty. He was an incompetent, yammering boob and he will be missed by none. I have allowed the men to pillage his personal belongings, which is why we have enclosed nothing but the sole remaining item: a torn advertisements page from a magazine of midget pornography. May it shock and disturb you, and may you think of it always when you remember your dearly departed son, the ninny.

Know also that his limitations as a sub-par military professional caused the deaths of many of the Emperor’s loyal soldiers, whose funeral expenses will appear on your next tax assessment.

Sincerely,

D. Vader

Too harsh? I call them as I see them.

Hat tip to Nightfly.

Information as a Contaminant

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Not sure the motives involved. They are probably scattered in all sorts of directions. But this has been a theme we’ve heard more and more in the last couple decades or so: Everyone is now dumber for having heard that. I’m sure a lot of it is the comedy value, some of it is cool and chic hipster apathy-about-everything, which overlaps with the phobia felt by our detailphobes against the idea of ever studying anything down to any depth, or caring about anything up to some level of passion.

The theme, condensed, is this: So toxic is some bit of information, that one is the wiser for never having heard of it.

This is a liberal theme. Liberal, as in the modern, statist, never-met-a-tax-or-law-I-didn’t-like version of that word.

It has taken me considerably longer to make up my mind about the second of those two immediately-preceding things, compared to the first. Real life, where such things are concerned, tends to work like a Venn diagram: Two sets overlap, forming an intersection of samples claiming membership in both sets. And then there are samples claiming membership in one but not the other, and vice-versa; finally, there are other samples outside the union, claiming membership in neither one. I have been confused by some episodes, not completely infrequent, of self-identified conservatives throwing up their hands and yelling “Bah! I don’t want to read such stuff!” This makes the Venn-diagram idea seem like the most, and perhaps the only, accurate representation of what’s going on. In fact, in the age of Obama it happens several times a week that Our First Holy Emperor President gives His latest super-duper-awesome-wonderful speech, and conservatives everywhere throw up their hands and yell “Bah!” and make a big show of not wanting to hear it. They think they are wiser for never having absorbed the information.

The problem that comes up for the Venn Diagram idea is, well, maybe that is the case. One certainly is wiser for having the humility to proclaim “while I may take some pride in my ability to keep it all straight and not be distracted, I do have my limits.” And is it at all unreasonable to infer that when President Obama wishes to address us, His goal is to distract? Were that not the case, His speeches would occasionally contain remarkable, quotable things, would they not? They would not roll out like new carpeting or butcher paper, with each square foot entirely indistinguishable from the square foot to its front, back, left or right. As one of my Facebook peeps put it (paraphrasing): “No, I didn’t watch the 2nd-inaugural speech. I have already heard an Obama speech.”

So information sometimes is a contaminant, if it is measured by quantity and not by quality, designed and deployed for the purpose to distract, to such an extent that it becomes a weapon. There are other ways it could be a contaminant. It could be a falsehood, of course. Now, that one doesn’t fly with me quite so much. As I explained before,

Given the choice between a sound knowledge base of verifiable & verified factual information, and the ability to think logically, I would choose the latter.

If I have a good understanding of how to figure out what a fact means, but my head is crammed chock full of silly “factoids” that aren’t really true even though they may be repeated by others verbatim, I should be able to ultimately determine some of these conflict irreconcilably with others. From there, I should be able to figure out which ones are suspect and, eventually, which ones should be questioned, and then reconsidered.

If I have a good solid repository of verified fact, but I don’t know how to figure out what these facts are really telling me, I might as well have nothing.

Fact is merely foundation. You can’t live in a foundation.

So — if it’s false, then learn it anyway, lock stock and barrel. Then go verify it. This is the age of the Internet, for cryin’ out loud. So no, I’m not in this camp. You can’t be wiser for having refused to hear something. There is no way you can come out ahead on that.

I am more-or-less entirely confused with this Phil Mickelson episode, which can only be described, to my great annoyance and continued confusion, in passive-voice: It is felt by someone, somewhere, that righteous umbrage was to be taken against the golfer for merely expressing an intent for exodus from California because of the tax situation. Because nobody seems to have the testicular fortitude to come along and put their verifiable name next to the statement “Yup, that’s me, I’m all ticked off that he said that,” we are left fumbling around in the dark trying to figure out what line has been crossed, or even where it is. Tax evasion is clearly not the issue. Did Mickelson cause offense by merely wanting to leave the state, or by going on the record saying so? What’s the rule? The former is only natural. The latter would be an example of information being a contaminant: He can think what he wants to think, pine away for another state as he likes to pine away…wince and squirm and shiver and wretch or whatever when he gets his latest tax bill. Just don’t say anything about it. Because somebody’s upset now!

I believe this is a liberal trait, because, and only because: Should a reluctance to “sit and take it” appear in Phil Mickelson’s economic class, this would be a major, major fallibility in the real-life application of “tax the rich” theory. I said “if.” So this is not a conservative or liberal understanding, it’s something that simply is. We’ve seen this played out repeatedly, perhaps hundreds of times, the city or county or state realizes that its coffers are dry and it’s seriously in the red — conservatives say, cut spending and make a more business-friendly environment; and liberals say, no just raise taxes on the rich. Conservatives come back and say, you do that and those rich people will leave the state. Liberals say no they won’t.

The taxes are raised, the rich people leave the state, and the problem ends up being bigger than it was the prior year.

At this point, I’m not applying a definition to the liberals insofar as their love for bigger spending and higher & more progressive taxes. I’m calling them out for their inability to learn from experience. For their almost institutionalized procedures and processes to avoid learning. Here, as well as with other issues, we see symmetry up to a point. Both conservatives and liberals claim a monopoly on certain knowledge, of which they charge their antagonists with the crime of remaining ignorant, at the expense of the community as a whole. The conservatives claim to understand higher taxes motivate rich people to leave the state, resulting in lower revenues. For the liberals, I suppose it would be that industrial activity is causing the planet to warm and this will cause some sort of natural catastrophe. Each claims to understand something, to be engaged in a frustrating process of explaining it to their ideological opposites, and that those other people across the net simply don’t understand. So there is symmetry up to a point.

Because there is symmetry, we can compare behaviors. After we compare the behaviors, we see the symmetry has tapered off. We discover an event horizon, after which the two sides are behaving differently.

Every single self-identifying conservative I know, at the very least understands what is being said about climate change. Oh they may get some of the details wrong, but they’re hip to the argument in the general sense. This is, I think, because the whole conservative way of thinking has to do with getting work done and preventing disasters. If they think things are a certain way but there’s a “hitch in the giddyap” about it, they’re going to want to know what that is. When I’m at the firing line, and there’s a cartridge in the pipe of my “empty” pistol that I don’t think is in there, of course I’m going to want to know that it is there. Even though, if I follow all the other safety procedures, nothing bad should come of it, and I intend to do that. Doesn’t matter. I want to know what’s going on with that gun, it’s in the rules. If I’m heading down the freeway in my pickup and I think the load is tied down, but it isn’t, I’m going to want to know all about that. So — I have an idea of what’s going on. I’m very sure. But if I’m wrong, I want to know I’m wrong.

What difference does it make?Liberals do not work that way. That’s what I’m learning from this. Where conservatives build their repositories of inferential information through an additive process, liberals work according to a subtractive one. You know what is a good analogy, coming to me from my professional endeavors: Definition of color, through light, versus definition of color through pigment. You’ve heard that green is a composite color “built” by combining blue and yellow; perhaps you’ve been confused to learn that yellow is a composite color, achieved by combining primary colors green with red. That has to do with light versus pigments. See how it changes everything around? This is why conservatives and liberals often talk past each other; two different worlds. With the subtractive process of pigmenting and inking and painting, if you mix all the pigments together, eventually you get black, because this pigment process is a filtration process. It is subtractive. That is how liberals deal with facts and knowledge. Another analogy: The old thing about how you make a statue of a horse. Some famous sculptor said something like “you start with a block of marble, and you chisel away everything that doesn’t look like a horse.” A subtractive process, and a perfect illustration of how liberals get to the answer they want, by “carving away” anything that doesn’t look like it. They start with the block, and they go carving…”What Difference Does It Make”-ing…through everything that doesn’t look like what they want.

And here, you’d heard so much out of them about how much more open-minded they are compared to the knuckle-dragging conservatives. The truth, as usual, is more-or-less the polar opposite of what they told you. It has to be that way, because they “accumulate” their knowledge by blocking it out, just like finger-paints make white into green by blocking out what isn’t green.

And so we see that liberals have done something strange and unusual with the Mickelson thing, something entirely unique to themselves. In this never-ending back-and-forth about “can we raise taxes on the rich and economically forecast them to just sit and take it, so we can pay back this money we’ve been blowing”…they have made it a bad thing to even mention the problem with the logic. This is not an isolated case at all. We see exactly the same situation with information about unborn babies; when do they develop fingernails, eyelashes, heartbeats, how do they move around. And when do these things happen. It creates problems for the liberal position that says it’s okay to abort, and of necessity must involve an entirely unique way of looking at human beings, and the life they live if they are allowed to live it. Because it creates problems, they’ll do what they can to avoid the information, and bludgeon others away from doing anything to proliferate it.

It has been explained to me that Mickelson makes more money from endorsements than he does from golfing, and one must be ideologically neutral when one is in that business. This explains nothing that was not clear before. But it does create a new understanding, in the sense that the liberals become connected to a situation, to which they were not connected before. The doctrine of “No matter how sure I am about it, if any evidence comes along to indicate I’m wrong, I want to know that right away” is now a political thing. Conservatives support it and liberals reject it.

If I have this right, it goes a long way in explaining why libs are so proud of not watching Fox News, and why they don’t want anyone else watching it either. They are getting to the answer they want, by way of a subtractive process. Like finger-painting, or carving the horse. Get rid of anything that doesn’t fit. Filter it out. “What difference does it make” — it away. Chisel it off, by essentially saying: I’m not paying attention to it, and you shouldn’t be paying attention to it either. Go on, sift through your memories and your archives, you’ll find every left-wing argument falls into that pattern. I do not recognize that bothersome tidbit of unwanted information. You shouldn’t be recognizing it either. A subtractive process.

Conservatives and liberals fight about tax policy — and liberals are “offended,” passively demanding an apology, from someone who merely provided (honest!) evidence for the thing that is ostensibly wrong with their plan? No, I don’t think conservatives do this; if they do, then they aren’t really conservatives. It is the cartridge loaded into the pipe. The conservative mode of thinking, an enlightened and additive process, by its very nature, demands that you should know what is wrong with your perception of what’s going on. Resolve this question right now, while the opportunity exists to correct whatever might be in need of correction, before someone gets hurt. Liberals do not believe in this. They do their “thinking” by forgetting. And they do not want to know anything about these things they have chosen to forget.

After all, what difference does it make?

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Rotten Chestnuts.

I Made a New Word LXI

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

De•tail•phobe (n.) (•phobia) (•phobic (adj.) )

Many among us have been noticing that, while a lot of widely-known events are game changers and should not be — in fact, shouldn’t even be widely-known — there are other such events that are not game-changers although they should be.

The American people do not seem to be “concerned” [about Benghazi]…few people except us blogophiles on the right are listening, and [White House Press Sec'y Jay] Carney and [President] Obama have learned that simply thumbing their noses at the American people is an excellent way to get the people to shrug…

I discovered this myself a few days after the election, when I had dinner with an old friend who is an intelligent, moderate, non-leftist Democrat with some conservative tendencies. This friend just didn’t care about Benghazi or the administration’s handling of it, didn’t know the details and was cynically dismissive of the topic because “all politicians lie.”

To me, it has long seemed almost as if there is some mischievous deity who has seized, or been given, control over our give-a-damn, and delights in pushing buttons or flipping levers or casting spells, whatever, to arouse our passions almost in perfect reverse-polarity from where they should be.

Our text-messaging-addicted next-generation has a word they use to describe the don’t-care-when-maybe-I-should end of this reversal, but in humorous terms:

tl;dr

Yes, there is a critique in there. But you may be distressed to learn it is more likely lodged against the “tl” part than the “dr” — while it is true that the reader was too lazy to read the lines, let alone try to figure out any hidden meaning wedged between them, the fault is generally perceived to be that of the writer who, unforgivably, surpassed the reader’s dwindling attention span.

This is a situation that has endured for quite some time before the Internet phrase “tl;dr” was invented. I’ve been involved in it more than my share of times, anyone can figure that out by merely glimpsing at these pages. I’ve tried to make some accommodations. Truth be told, although I would self-assess my improvement as being modest, I can see some passages in my earlier work in which I was not even trying. Brevity is always an effort worth making. And a little humility never hurt anyone. Still and all, it has not escaped my notice that the goalposts move across time; what was sufficiently whittled down for the public’s weary and agitated frame of mind in Year N, is not quite ready for prime-time in Year N+3. Or N+2 or N+1…this is an erosion…

And it is an erosion as dangerous and damaging as any other. For generations, “good writing” has been generally seen as taking complete responsibility for it, although it is clear to anyone pondering it for a minute or two that the problem lies with the reader. With the writers assuming total responsibility for the problem that is not theirs, or else not getting read (oftentimes, doing both), the rest of society has remained blissfully unaware that the erosion exists.

While, inexplicably, attending carbon-emitting rock-concerts to “raise awareness of global warming.” May I humbly suggest that we perhaps do not have a problem with raising awareness, there or anywhere else. So in love are people with being opinionated, that at this late date they’ve formed the opinions they like to form, about — well, just about anything. Keeping the awareness, on the other hand: That’s the real crisis.

Neo-neocon, the blogger linked above, expounds on her earlier remarks (hat tip to Gerard) in light of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s phony “testimony” before the Senate earlier this week:

The more I think about Hillary Clinton’s question yesterday—”what difference does it make?”—the more important it becomes; a sort of leitmotif, not only for this administration, but for our times in general.
:
If the public doesn’t care about a certain tree falling in the forest, does it actually make a sound, even if the right is fussing about it?

The right has been outraged by a sequence of events and statements that have occurred under Obama’s watch, beginning with his 2008 campaign. Some are rather trivial (“corpse-man”) and some important (“bankrupt” the coal plants; “spread the wealth”). All have gained traction only on the right, because a majority has answered the question “what difference does it make?” with the words “none at all.”

These are things that would have outraged an earlier generation…
:
One reason, which may seem somewhat paradoxical but really is not, is widespread cynicism. If the public doesn’t expect integrity or truth from what used to be called our public servants, then lies and strategic stonewalling will not bother most people at all. What matters is what those public servants can get for you, and what they can scare you into thinking the opposition will take away from you[.]
:
Another big factor at work here is our decades-long education in moral relativism. What is truth, and can it be determined? Way way too many people answer “no,” and so they’ve given up trying or caring. And if they don’t care, why should our public officials answer inopportune and potentially embarrassing questions? No; what’s important is feelings, and so it made perfect sense for Hillary to act as though the best way to show concern about the deaths in Benghazi was to raise her voice in frustration and anger at the questions and cite her determination to “figure out what happened,” rather than actually exhibit that determination by answering questions about her own possible negligence in fostering conditions that may have contributed to those deaths. As for the subsequent cover-up of the reasons for the deaths, she’s implying that it’s just political business as usual, no biggee. And most Americans will nod, if they’re paying attention at all.

Lest we be guilty of the subject of our accusation of others, we should keep our eyes open to exceptions of things. There are some silver linings in the clouds. Time may show them to be completely inconsequential, but for the moment they are there. While we continue to be frustratingly deprived of any solid evidence that the low-information voter knows, or cares of, Hillary Clinton’s evasiveness in the hearing, it must be mentioned that the exchange “caught fire” in a way that went beyond my initial expectations. Yes, those expectations were lower than a snake’s belly. But the weekend is here, and “we” are still talking about it. This invites the question: Who’s “we”? I have to be realistic about it and side with NN: “us blogophiles on the right.” Very well then, I shall assume it is limited to just that. But my eyes remain open to evidence that our Secretary of State has become associated, household-name-wise, with “what difference does it make?” the same way the elder George Bush is associated with “read my lips.” Let me spend a few words getting specific about this: I am open to it. I shall not assume it. But I remain hopeful.

Nevertheless, we are left with the original problem. Hillary Clinton, and her constituency, along with the politicians in her class who appeal to this same constituency, are all a bunch of detailphobes. Her phrase “what does it matter” is the hymn — “leitmotif” — of the detailphobe. Her failure to do her job, which got those four Americans killed and landed her in that hot-seat, was a detailphobic failure. Many among us fail to realize that, and they are detailphobes.

The afflicted may outnumber the non-afflicted. They certainly, without a doubt, have become a functional majority among us. They have their own political representatives. They have taken over our culture some time ago, taken over our government a bit more recently than that, and now our political class is simply sidestepping the important but unpleasant task of giving answers to questions.

In the erosion we are more accustomed to inspecting, involving man’s real or imagined impact on the environment, I often hear real or imagined climate experts speak of a “tipping point.” If there is a tipping point with this other kind of erosion, the attention span erosion, or if you will the give-a-damn erosion, the “tipping point” would be different. It would be, when our politicians can do as they like, and there’s no oversight and no appeal because when they are called to account, they just give a hysterical performance and the show’s over. Or, even worse, they are lauded for the “takedown” they did against the interrogator who had the nerve to ask the question.

The nation owes Mrs. Clinton a debt of gratitude, because she has proven to us beyond any doubt — well, those who remain awake and paying attention — we’re there. At the tipping point. Whether the public remains in control of its own government, is a different question. Whether the public cares to do something about it, I suppose, is yet another different question.

I take no pleasure in noting that, if you are part of the problem, I’m not really addressing you any longer because you didn’t read this far.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Rotten Chestnuts.

How to Handle the Apologetic Obama Voter

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Fascinating discussion on the Hello Kitty of Blogging, in a closed group (so I imagine that link isn’t going to do you any good if you’re not in the group).

One among us reports his co-workers who support Obama, are unusually thoughtful in the light of this gun thing. Some of them have started scraping the Obama/Biden stickers off of their cars.

A lively discussion ensues about how to treat these contrite mistake-makers. It is not, I should add, a toss-up by any means. A clear consensus has emerged. But it is very lively.

It complicates the situation somewhat that Bozo was up for a second-term…thus, this was a repeated mistake. One points out, “they were warned.” Uh, about that: They were warned back in oh eight. In twelve there was experience to back it up.

Yeah, for those of us who like to presume the best of others, particularly out of those close to us, it’s a bit of a pickle.

The Middle

Friday, January 25th, 2013

I’m completely disgusted with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s so-called “testimony,” but I’m even more disgusted by my fellow Americans who see nothing wrong with it.

Jonah Goldberg blames Clinton.

The most dramatic moment came early, when Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson tried to get Clinton to explain why the State Department blamed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Benghazi on an impromptu protest over an anti-Muslim video. In a rehearsed moment of spontaneous outrage, Clinton yelled back, “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided to kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?”

It is a measure of Clinton’s cult-like status on the left and among much of the press that this passed for a satisfactory, never mind impressive, response. But it’s also a tribute to Clinton’s gift for mendacity that it worked so well.

Even among the administration’s harshest critics, people seemed at a loss to fully explain what difference it makes whether the administration’s spin was true or not.

The remarkable thing here, to me, is that it worked. I also see it as the source of the problem. Clinton herself is merely a manifestation. She’s a sleazy, opportunistic lawyer/politician and she’s going to try whatever works. And for many a year now, it has seemed to me that in her case, everything does, and everything will. She’s a symbol and not a servant; a symbol of jilted women. Jilted women, abandoned women, rejected women, unappealing women, unfriendly women, and yes ugly and low-ambition women as well. Any woman who has ever cut corners in the efforts made to appeal to men, or has ever felt a pang of resentment over the invitation to so appeal. After half a century of man-bashing militant feminism, this is a big voting bloc.

Unhealthy as hell. But even that is not the true source of the problem.

The source of the problem is not monopolized by women, be they ugly and unappealing or otherwise. It is not monopolized by democrats. It is not monopolized by sleazy opportunistic lawyer/politicians. It applies to us all, lately:

We distinguish between friends and enemies. That part’s pretty darn easy. Women against men, gays against straights, blacks against whites, ninety-nine-percenters against ones. Blue-staters against reds. We don’t have any problem drawing lines, and recognizing them once they’re drawn.

as I see people waxing lyrically about Hillary’s “performance” as she willfully obstructed this Senate panel from accomplishing its task, I am reminded (by Cylar Z, actually) of a Thing I Know that I made the effort to jot down years ago, specifically Number 76. We’re losing track of our ability to recognize the “middle.” We see enemies and we see friends. But we do not see friends who:

- only pretend to be our friends, but are really enemies;
- are true friends, but are incompetent;
- truly are our friends, but also try to be friends to someone else, and end up with divided loyalties;
- work toward our interests and are competent, but implement bad practices and therefore do not bring about good results;
- think they are our friends, and sometimes are, but keep secrets from us they shouldn’t be keeping from us;
- operate in our best interests, and tell us what we need to know, but tell a bit too much to others.

Summing it up: We’ve got a lot of people walking around who labor under the delusion that once someone is defined as some kind of a “friendly,” that absolves them of anything & everything. Which means, there is never a time for having any sort of come-to-Jesus meeting with them, a none too pleasant chat about “I deserve to be able to expect more from you.” That is not happening.

It’s bigger than the Hillary mess, but the Hillary mess was a pretty good demonstration of the problem. We we have our Secretary of State, the nation’s top diplomat — we don’t have any other one — reminding us that the whole point is to find out what happened, and therefore “what does it matter”…what the hell happened. Sheer nonsense.

Lost amid the hubbub, is the blindingly obvious: Our nation deserves better.

That is the ability that has been eroded beneath our feet, for awhile now. It’s deteriorating into a real crisis. People don’t have the ability to say “you are my friend, my partner, my agent, and maybe you think you’re doing a fine job, but there is a problem and I deserve better.” Processes, methods, lines-of-communication are not being improved. They are crumbling.

Like I said, Hillary is merely a manifestation.

“What Mickelson Should Have Said”

Friday, January 25th, 2013

From Moonbattery.

If you’re not up on this little drama, Rush Limbaugh did a great job on the background.

What Phil Mickelson said, as he apologized for…well, I’m not sure what. He didn’t have to apologize for not paying his taxes. As I understand it, he apologized either for resenting his higher tax rate, for doing something about it, or for talking about it.

“I apologize to those I have upset or insulted and assure you I intend to not let it happen again.”

Full statement:

I certainly don’t have a definitive [tax] plan at this time, but like everyone else I want to make decisions that are best for my future and my family. Finances and taxes are a personal matter and I should not have made my opinions on them public. I apologize to those I have upset or insulted and assure you I intend to not let it happen again.

Milton Wolf is as flabbergasted as I am:

So let’s get this straight. A beloved law-abiding free American who brings joy to millions and seems never to have bothered anyone evidently forgot that he lives in Obamerica. He’s done well for himself but he should remember that he didn’t build that. How dare he “upset” and “insult” people by so selfishly expressing concern that his government stands ready to confiscate, err, tax away, 63% of his income.

Read that again: 63 percent of one American’s income.

Here’s what Phil Mickelson should have said:

America continues to amaze me. I still marvel that people pay me so much money for hitting a little white ball around a golf course. It’s not that I don’t work hard at my craft. I do. I take nothing for granted and work my tail off every day to get better, just like millions of Americans do at their crafts. And it’s not like I didn’t take risks. When so many people told me I should get a ‘real’ job, I held fast to my dream, no matter how unlikely it was, just like so many entrepreneurs in America have done who have made our lives immeasurably better. And yet I still marvel at it all.

But maybe it’s not so hard to understand. I earned $60 million dollars last year and not a single one of those dollars did I steal from anyone. Not a single one of those dollars did I weasel out of a corrupt system because I bribed — I mean, contributed to — some politician to pass a law that favors me. Not a single one of those dollars did I simply tax away from someone because I could.

Every single dollar that came my way was voluntarily given to to me. And people are not idiots. They don’t just give away their hard-earned dollars for nothing. Every dollar they gave me was in return for something that was worth more to them than a dollar, or they wouldn’t have given it up. Like I said, I marvel at the opportunities in America. Who would have thought so many people would find so much joy in watching a guy hit a ball with stick? But they do and so I will do my best to do everything I can to be worthy of them. Isn’t that the American way?

It breaks my heart that America is abandoning the American way of keeping government small so that individuals can become as big as their dreams. And it breaks my heart that my home state, the state I love, is chasing away so many hard-working people and wonderful businesses with their outrageously high taxes. It’s nothing less than a tragedy that the fastest growing population in America is former Californians and the fastest growing industry is former California businesses.

What’s worse, unless we change our ways, unless we stop all of America from adopting the failing California Blue model, I fear we will no longer be talking about former Californians so much as former Americans.

The pattern continues: With our fever yet unbroken, we treat weakness and need as some kind of a commodity to be exchanged for products and services, and strength, capability and service to others as some kind of a blight to be tolerated only churlishly, or not tolerated at all. Strength and weakness, each one treated as the other, as the opposite of what it truly is.

California will get deeper into financial trouble. The solution, again, will be higher taxes, and those proposing the higher taxes will, again, fail to take into account the exodus of the hated rich who simply do not want to be taxed that way.

Science is Never Wrong

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Found a couple of pages out there trying to define as a logical fallacy any argument seeking to point out anything that sounds like this: “Ah, but science has been wrong before.”

They do have a good point to make: You take your car in to a mechanic to find out why it won’t start, the mechanic will come up with some theories. Then, with a look-see and some deductive reasoning, some of these will be ruled out. It would then be silly, as well as sneaky and unfair, to say “What a bad mechanic he is, he was wrong when he said my fuel system wasn’t delivering.”

Both pages point out that such an argument “shows ignorance of how science works.” That’s a valid observation — certainly it’s true in the example of the mechanic — but it strikes me as exceedingly reckless to make a logical fallacy out of this. It strikes a blow with a sledgehammer when a jewelers’ screwdriver would be more appropriate. Which is particularly hazardous here, since the presumption they’re forming about the conversation in which the “fallacy” would be deployed, is far from guaranteed. In fact, I would say it’s almost certain to be wrong.

Their presumption is that the guy pointing out “science has been wrong before,” is the first one in the dialogue to “[misrepresent] how science actually works by forcing it into a binary conception of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.” Now, this has not been my experience at all, especially in the case of global warming. From all I’ve seen in the conversations in which I participate — and also in the much larger collective of conversations, in which I do not — it is the alwarmist who incorrectly sees “science” as sort of a catalog of blessed beliefs, almost like scripture being blessed by a high priest in some religious order. The skeptic or denier who then takes the “yeah but science has been wrong before” angle, therefore, is engaging in a bit of flair to remind his antagonist that the scientific process is being misrepresented.

After all, these conversations are very often more about how sure we should be, than about what is to be concluded. Isn’t that just obvious? Aren’t they almost all about “the science is in” or “the debate is settled” or “all the scientists agree”?

Are they not almost all about how the virtue of skepticism, which is the backbone of science itself in all other pursuits and disciplines, in just this one should be suspended because gosh, they’re just so darn sure about this, and the fate of life on the planet depends on it. Doesn’t that previous sentence sum up just about all the arguing that’s ever being done, especially out here on the Internet.

And once the alwarmist commits this error and shows this ignorance of how science works, I personally don’t know of too many more succinct or diplomatic ways to correct him about it. Maybe it would be more direct, and perhaps in some cases a good idea, to go with the alternative rebuttal of “that isn’t how science works.” But since the discussion is often about whether it’s okay to still be asking questions, it hardly seems fair to make a logical fallacy out of what is likely just an attempt, perhaps a clumsy one, to show some tact. And it’s certainly dishonest to play make-believe that it’s the one side that has shown this ignorance about science, when it’s very likely to be the other.

Also, the authors make a second reckless presumption, also unlikely to be true: That there is no good point to be made here. I see someone compiled a short list of occasions on which one might say “science was wrong” and, once again, one sees one’s understanding is increased when one takes the time to define some specifics. In this case, the author of the list went the extra mile by annotating these events where the thing being “proven wrong” wasn’t exactly science, but “DOGMA.” Everybody knew it to be true. The scientific method had not been used to validate these “wrong” things so it is entirely inaccurate to say the-science-was-wrong. But, again: Tell the alwarmists that, for in a lot of cases this “settled science” is not science at all.

This list doesn’t take such care, using phrases like “for thousands of years, it was believed that.” But it’s still relevant and educational to read through it.

This article makes the point that all knowledge has an expiration date. Not sure I’d take it that far. Still, it’s an interesting read.

“King of the Woad” came up with a great example over here about repressed memories of child abuse. He, too, is careful to disclaim:

So there’s an example of science getting it wrong, the public knowing better, and the experts themselves having to backtrack. But the crisis blew up in the first place because the “self-correction” mechanism you refer to wasn’t allowed to function properly.

Let us ponder that “but”: The experts developed their theory in a vacuum, without the benefit of peer review. And so a question confronts us: Perhaps this example should not count?

It is entirely legitimate to say it should not, in every single way, if — and only if — an implied rule arises, and is given the respect it deserves, the word “science” should be tapered down in terms of the situations to which it is applied. If the alwarmist should be given license to counter that the Cleveland repressed-memory crisis is a pointedly different thing from what he’s trying to discuss when he says “the science is settled,” then he should be confined to using that science-is-settled thing to suppositions in which science has been followed. Is that not just common sense? Also, this has to work at the micro- level, not the macro-. You can’t go leapfrogging from “the science is settled that the lower troposphere has been warming and there is a greenhouse effect,” to “the science is settled that human activity is the primary cause” to “the science is settled that legislative initiatives will curb this warming” to “the science is settled that if those initiatives are not implemented post haste, we’re all gonna die.”

That, I think, is just common sense too. But a lot of people are not following it.

The problem, here, is drama and emotion. Everyone is bored to tears watching the scientist do real science. Everyone likes to watch the scene where the scientist, pondering the meaning of what he just saw, tears himself away from his telescope or microscope or computer workstation and leaps into his jeep to drive all night to the capitol building to tell the wise leaders that IMMEDIATE ACTION is required or we’re all DOOMED!! But it bears repeating, science has nothing to do at all with what we “must” do. Science is all about what is. One steps outside of the domain of science, usually slamming the door behind him, and forgetting the key, the minute one starts pondering the thing-to-do. With the climate change deal, a lot of people tend to forget that.

Another problem, already briefly discussed above, is the use of the word. I called this out years ago, that in classical times “science” was used to describe a process, and in more recent times it is used to describe an orthodoxy of institutionalized beliefs, and a coterie of elites maintaining them. When I review the list with the annotations about dogma-not-science, I notice an interesting pattern in history: This piece of knowledge, which is ultimately falsified, is “science” before the falsification occurs but after that event — is not science anymore. This wasn’t done, that wasn’t done, peer review wasn’t done…it was accepted by these guys over here, but not those guys over there…it was a hypothesis and not a theory.

So there is a subtle but meaningful two-step going on here: The science is never wrong, because once it is proven wrong it stops being science. Almost like the “none dare call it treason” thing. But before it’s proven wrong…we show our ignorance if we fail to accept it uncritically, since “it’s science.” Seems to me, you can insist on one or the other of those things, but not both, for if both these rules are to prevail, what you have is little more than a set of procedure-driven steps for mass-producing mistakes, and then placing unlimited weight on them.

How Liberals See Hillary’s Performance

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Win!

It’s how they argue…well…just about every point they want to make, all the time. They don’t know any other way. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could muster up this kind of spirit, looking after the interests of the United States?

Currently making the rounds in the social networking, this enlightening image:

Some among us believe things are going to keep getting sillier and sillier, until they can no longer proceed further in that direction, and then bounce back like a racquetball hitting the far end of the court. If we’re right about that, this is cause for optimism…

The purpose of the hearing to find out what happened, to prevent it from ever happening again. And the person who “won the hearing,” I suppose, would be the person most accomplished in making sure this did not happen. Thanks to Hillary’s peevishness, we don’t know a lot more now than we did when the hearing began. Most of what we’ve learned, has been about the behavior of our friends, the liberals.

Meanwhile…what shit, exactly, has Hillary gotten done? …Ever??

Win, Rocky! Win!

The “Acting Alone” Fallacy

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

John Althouse Cohen takes on a particularly effervescent bit of silliness in the inaugural speech Monday (hat tip to Instapundit):

President Obama said this in his 2nd inaugural address:

For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together.

I object to this move, which seems to have become popular with Democrats in the past couple years, of equating “doing things together” with government. To suggest that anyone who’d like to see less heavy-handed government regulation thinks one person can do everything alone is a straw-man argument. It indicates a lack of understanding of how the private-sector economy works and how libertarians or conservatives actually think about economics….The idea that you’re “alone” unless you’re being directed by the government strikes me as dehumanizing and almost abusive. So I resist this scare tactic of presenting the government as the alternative to being “alone.”

I would take it much, much further. “Dehumanizing,” based on all I have seen and heard about the thoughts, ideas and proposals connected to this fallacy, is not merely an effect or a byproduct. It is the point.

This gets into a disagreement I’ve had for a number of years with the words of Rush Limbaugh, who repeatedly insists liberals “love big government” and see it as the source of all good things, as a sort of replacement deity. My view has been that they see it as nothing more than a necessary evil, much the way conservatives do. If you doubt me, just keep paying attention until the day a Republican is running the government again. Suddenly, everything the government does will be evil, evil, evil. And not because the Republican would be rolling back the policies of his predecessor; thanks to the ratchet effect, libs don’t even need to begin to worry about that.

No, when the conservative is in charge, we stop arguing about spending almost entirely. Conservatives squabble among themselves about how & why the people in charge don’t do a better job of standing up for conservative principles and beliefs. The liberals go back to attending war protests, to refresh their memories of what that’s all about, and become good little civil libertarians, wringing their hands with worry about the latest batch of rights to be taken away by Darth Vader and his gang aboard the Death Star. Conservatives look forward to some spending cuts that never happen, throughout the whole cycle, while liberals oscillate back and forth between seeing government as all-that-is-good, and a fountainhead of toxic bile.

They don’t want the good stuff to get done. This is the “you didn’t build that” stuff, nothing more or less than that. Their credo is: Fine, let it get built and let it get done, if it has to be, just make sure no one identifiable individual gets the credit. And because that is our true goal, then have the government do it if it has to be done.

This is, I maintain, a phobia. And the phobia is that the liberal doesn’t want to get too personally close to anyone who can be easily credited for doing remarkable things. To understand this part of it, you have to understand the fear. It isn’t too hard. Once a skilled practitioner reaches a certain age, some episode of career slowdown becomes inevitable; and when that happens, it isn’t easy to look at the works of someone younger, riding the lofty eddies of success only distantly remembered by the observer, full of hope, energy and life, and to all outward appearances has not experienced a similar slowdown. That’s a bitter pill to swallow, and it waits for, or has happened to, just about everyone capable of accomplishing anything. It should not surprise anybody that some among us choose to avoid this unpleasant realization.

It really is not the realization that causes the fear. There’s nothing to that, at all, when you think about it: Things that accelerate, after a time, should be expected to decelerate again. It’s not an inevitability, but it is the default development.

No, the unpleasantness is in all the questions raised. Could I have handled something differently? Was I born with certain gifts, coupled up with associated and inseparable liabilities, that make the gifts ultimately meaningless? Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more? This fills them with fear, and dread, and pain. They resolve it by playing a very old game: If I cannot have it, then you can’t either.

So nobody is allowed to achieve anything. Nobody identifiable, that is. Government should do it all.

The name-cloaking power of government is demonstrated easily. Just think of a liberal who favors a bigger government, citing some “vital” function we need it to do for us. What is that liberal’s opinion of the people whose hands get dirty, doing that work? By their logic, we would owe these people everything and then some. Right? And yet — that is not the viewpoint. They do not look at the guy who installs the park bench, or lays the cement for the sidewalk, or even the firefighter, the same way the conservative looks at the people whose hands get dirty doing the work he appreciates. That high level of personal credit is reserved for Barack and Michelle Obama, and other superstars. Awesome, mega-wonderful people…whom the lib is assured, more-or-less, he will never, ever meet. They certainly won’t move in next door, lean over the fence while watering the lawn, and chit-chat with them about what was on the teevee last night.

That is the assurance they seek. There are close acquaintances, not necessarily near-and-dear ones, but proximate ones…peers…like the work colleague or the next door neighbor. And then there are people accomplishing definably extraordinary things. They do not want any of these to be the same people. “Work hard,” that much is fine. They love telling and re-telling the story about “ordinary Americans” and “working families” doing their “hard work” and getting shafted. But the world-changing stuff is to be done only by the superstars they’ll never meet…or, by the hoi polloi, only after such time as they have “come together to get this thing done.” Individual, identifiable, remarkable and proximate credit, that is the deadly combination. Any reminders of the amazing things possible for ordinary humans, if they just get up off their asses. That is not to be allowed under any circumstances, because it invites an acknowledgment that sometime in their past, on some occasion, at some critical juncture, wittingly or otherwise, they selected an option that effectively abjured some opportunity for game-changing significance. Maybe, even, they’ve done it multiple times. That is the fog-shrouded alleyway, in their minds, that they cannot permit themselves to explore, ever.

Just a working theory I’ve had for awhile. But so far, it holds up.

Alpha Dog

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Well, I’m not learning about liberals very quickly, am I. I’ve been struggling to figure them out since long before I started this blog, eight years ago. In some ways it could be said I’m still recovering from when I was hoodwinked, in 1976, into supporting Jimmy Carter. Supporting, not electing, since I was only ten. I can’t think of too many other things about which I’ve been continuously accumulating knowledge for 36 or 37 years, certainly nothing that puzzles me so much, in spite of whatever I’ve managed to learn over that time.

I’m not sure how much I’ve learned. I’m aware that a gap remains, and I’m much more interested in the remaining deficiency than the accumulated progress. What did Omar Khayyam say? The guy who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep; the guy who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a child. I’m a child, sleeping. I am to be awakened, and taught.

Now and then, a happy confluence of seemingly random events will do much to awaken and teach. Hillary fought back on the Benghazi thing, and showed liberals everywhere how to testify in front of a Senate committee without allowing said Senate committee to complete any of its work. Liberals love her performance. Conservatives love her performance too. It has been suggested that she comes across as “glib,” and that’s being charitable.

Each side thinks Hillary’s display of churlishness and sneakiness will ultimately play out as a net gain for them. Each side is “right,” in the sense that they are accounting for the roughly fifty percent of the country that sees things the way they do, and ignoring the other. Only one side will win, so someone is due for a rude awakening. But it is clear to me that this is valuable lesson material for my self-education project about how liberals think about things and why they say & do the strange things I see them saying & doing. Hillary did her “takedown,” or her “outburst” depending on how you see it, while the liberals have been in a high dudgeon on the blogs and the social networking — almost certainly dispatched to do so, from some central point of authority — to argue about climate change. This, lately, they’ve been doing very much the same way Hillary avoided Sen. Johnson’s line of questioning.

It gets back to the barn in the painting thing. Whereas conservatives see every illustration or elevation or message or question as another bit of information, from which relevant details may be gleaned and then combined with others to form a growing understanding about some object of interest merely reflected in them — liberals see such messages as atomic units, which may not be so harvested for desirable information. Those messages, in the liberal point-of-view, are stories to be appreciated for what they are, by themselves; they cannot be divided into smaller bits, nor may they be joined with others.

Actually, when you get down to it, all you ever really see an entrenched liberal do with any kind of information is assess it for its beneficial properties and award it a grade that is pass-or-fail. That and nothing else. All the rest of it is merely monologuing about the pass, or about the fail, as the case may be. Liberalism is anti-learning. Oh, they sharpen their skills at discourse as the years tick on by…much as a baby mountain lion learns to pounce. But they don’t actually learn anything from the information. There is no incentive for them to do so, other than to win arguments.

What seals their fate is a doctrine that says, once the participant in an argument has established himself as the Alpha Dog, he therefore “wins” the argument and it really doesn’t matter what is being said. This often leads them to say things of complete nonsense, and even when they’re called on it they still think they “won.” That’s what happened with Hillary’s performance. She established herself as the Alpha Dog, but to anyone who doesn’t see the conversation in those terms — the human grown-ups — the exchange doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and she doesn’t end up looking good.

Don’t take my word for it. Do what Hillary’s fans don’t want you to do, and read the remark, in context, including everything leading up to the much-quoted outburst. Then let us ponder it logically; extend to our Secretary of State, for argument’s sake, the benefit of every single doubt about everything and let’s see where this takes us…

Sen. Ron Johnson, a tea party backed Wisconsin Republican serving his first term, persistently questioned Clinton about what he called Rice’s “purposely misleading” the American people.

“We were misled that there were supposedly protests and something sprang out of that, an assault sprang out of that and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact,” Johnson said, adding that “the American people could have known that within days.”

Shouting and gesturing with her arms in frustration, Clinton shot back: “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided they’d go kill some Americans?”

Her fists shaking, she continued: “What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator.”

Okay. So “our job” is to “figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.” Since Senator Johnson’s question was not “derr, uh, could you refresh my memory what is our job again?” — I’m going to take this as a mid-course correction, the intent of her remarks was to get the senator back on track. Senator Johnson’s complaint, from what I read here, is “We were misled that there were supposedly protests and something sprang out of that…that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact.” So he’s accusing her, and her department, and the White House, of lying. She’s letting the accusation go, fighting back on the issue of relevance. The casual observer will conclude, here, precisely the same thing concluded by someone reading the remarks more studiously: Hillary was questioned about misstatements, and she fought back on relevance. She has a “defense” consisting of “What does it matter that we lied, it doesn’t.” So I’ve not yet arrived at whether her comments make sense or not, but we’ve handily dispatched that whole “quoted out of context” thing, for there cannot be a context issue if the meaning to be inferred by a cursory observer is identical to the meaning inferred by a more diligent and enlightened observer. That takes care of that.

Moving on to the logical take-away here: The job is to figure out what happened and because that is the job, it is irrelevant — “what difference does it make” — to figure out why the attack occurred. Let’s repeat that. We have to figure out what happened…specifically, so it never happens again…and because that is what we are trying to do, it is a bunny-trail, a tangent and a distraction, to ponder the why. But knowing what we know now about the why, we see there are other answers to be brought out of such research, such as a not-at-all inconsequential who. There is other value in considering a “why.” By its very nature, it seeks motive, and from motive can be established a level of determination and resourcefulness of any persons or parties who wish to damage, or acquire, whatever is being protected.

Perceptive readers may have noticed I’m no longer talking about protecting persons or embassies. I’m describing anything & everything involving security…in any form. I’ll stop short of saying “you can’t provide security without knowing the ‘why’”; the truth is not that. But it comes pretty darn close. It is difficult to protect something of value against vandalism, mayhem, theft, improper disclosure of a secret or any other sort of shenanigans — without forming an understanding of the shenanigans. It is the first step to planning just about any security countermeasure you would want to include; the first step, in fact, to figuring what those countermeasures would have to be. Example: We’re going to prevent this from ever happening again by putting a stronger lock on the door, and a better door? Great plan, if the guy trying to break in is a 500 pound Sumo wrestler. Lousy plan if the guy trying to break in has a rocket launcher. You’re going to post twenty armed guards outside, with continuous surveillance and air cover? Okay that might take care of the rocket launcher. But if there’s a coordinated assault involving an army of greater size, then more might be needed. And so we have an escalating arms race, which is a concept central to all effective security planning when the assets protected are imbued with significant value.

These are basic ideas, vital to the protection of anything. To plan protection from threats, you start with a description of the threat.

So giving Hillary Clinton the benefit of any possible doubt, her comment makes no sense at all. None. And yet the libs are squealing with delight…or at least, Chris Matthews is trying to get a rolling-meme going, that this was a huge victory and what a great week it is for progressives. I mentioned I’m some 36 years into trying to figure out liberals and I’m not entirely satisfied with the progress I’ve made. Stuff like this, has a lot to do with why that is. I don’t get how you can watch this clip and think anything happened to progressives other than an enormous embarrassment. Even just following the rhythm of the exchange, at that level it was Johnson 1, Clinton 0: The distinguished “servant” who’s been in the public eye for twenty years now, and a recognized brand name for more than half that, was interrogated by a first-term senator and she just completely lost it. Shaking fists and everything. So she lost on the logic and she lost on the cadence.

She also made herself, and her administration, a target (link from Taranto’s latest column). Now they’re all set up:

The answer to her question is clear. An administration that sought, for political purposes, to give the American people the idea that al-Qaeda had been “decimated” and was effectively out of commission had a clear motive during a presidential campaign to mislead the public about Benghazi. The fact that questions are still unanswered about this crime and that Clinton and President Obama seem more interested in burying this story along with the four Americans that died is an outrage that won’t be forgotten.

While Clinton gave, as she has before, lip service to the idea that she took responsibility for the tragedy, throughout her testimony she demonstrated that she regarded the whole idea of accountability as a detail to be shrugged off or pigeonholed along with internal government reports about the matter. Her attitude, when not listening to paeans to her service and frequent trips abroad, seemed to betray her belief that not only were questions about Benghazi unimportant but that she knew the mainstream press would continue to give her a pass for her failures.

The problem here is not just what she considers an irrelevant question from Johnson or a mere “difference of opinion”–as she characterized Senator John McCain’s scathing attack on her record on the issue–but a belief that four dead Americans in Benghazi was really not such an earth-shaking event. Her consistent talking point seemed to be that the committee shouldn’t bother itself trying to find out what happened and why and who was responsible for the mistakes that led to the deaths, but merely to “move on”—to steal a phrase made popular during her husband’s presidency. That’s why she still won’t say who changed the public talking points about Benghazi that led to Rice’s lies and why they were altered.

That’s been the key to understanding the administration’s desire to treat its lies about Benghazi as somehow unworthy of further investigation. In Hillary’s world, lies don’t matter as long as it’s her side telling them. That’s not a standard that she and other Democrats would apply to any Republican. As McCain pointed out, the American people deserve an honest account of events that gets the facts straight.

But Chris Matthews thinks this was some kind of huge win. I’m going to presume he is not the only one.

I’m entirely unclear on the thinking process here, although, as I said up top, it’s valuable that this happens while the arguing about global warming is going on, because I can see there’s some importance in the progressive mind in establishing dominance in any discussion. Time after time I pick up the impression that this is so important, that the content of the ideas being exchanged becomes a secondary consideration. From all I’ve seen, progressives seek to appeal to third-party observers, whom they envision — to their advantage or to their detriment, nevertheless this is a constant — as other progressives. And I’m picking up that they see the developing discussion as a “painting” with a barn in it, and the role they play in this painting is to compel this third-party observer to carry away the correct emotional response. Since that observer is a fellow proggy, he will see the painting as a product unto itself, not capable of being divided into smaller parts, nor combined with others to form a cumulatively improved understanding of any other thing.

To put it in more succinct terms: The proggy engaging in the argument is showing off for other proggies. His task is to acquire, and/or to retain, the role of “top dog” and once that is done, his ideas are completely persuasive and his opponent’s ideas lack any persuasive power at all. This situation persists even if his ideas make no sense whatsoever and his opponent’s points are so self-evident, they are reduced to exercises in belaboring the obvious. Doesn’t matter. The Alpha Dog speaks truth…not because of any truth that is demonstrable, nor because of any falsehood that is similarly demonstrable…but because the pack is thought to have a community interest invested in preservation of the status quo. It is presented as an exchange of ideas, but in reality, it’s nothing more than an alpha dog fighting to keep his mantle.

So I guess what I’m noticing here is, that lefty liberal moonbats do their “discussion” like Arctic wolves. Even when they go through the motions of “discussing” something they call “science.” My experiences back this up, and I’ll suppose the experiences of many others back it up as well. The proggy-dogs may read some science textbooks out of their “studies” classes and memorize some words & phrases, which appears to be very impressive. But it only shows true understanding if — well, if some evidence arrives to show they understand what they’re repeating. And it’s hard to take these discussions into the direction of any test for that particular question, because time after time, the lefty demonstrates that his or her incentive is drawn not toward any enlightenment for the benefit of one party or the other in the exchange, but on securing this Alpha Dog slot.

After a time, one is tempted to conclude “If they were capable of demonstrating true understanding, I’d have seen it by now.” But of course, that isn’t a true test. The whole discussion becomes rather unenlightening, for everyone, about anything. Nothing more than a show of wonderfulness, by the lib, for other libs, a sort of talent presentation for the “best in show” trophy. A grab for the top-dog slot.

Time after time, I see lefties “proving” that they deserve to be the one Alpha Dog of the pack — and not taking the trouble to prove much of anything else. They start babbling pure nonsense. Like “It’s our job to find out what happened here so it never happens again, and what difference does it make who did this thing we’re trying to prevent from ever happening again, or why they did it.” Arguing about security procedures and climate science…the way Arctic wolves would, if they could talk.

I’ve noticed before that the whole liberal movement seems to be concerned with motivating human beings to display traits of other animals who are not humans. They’ve got an idea about how we should exist in proximity to each other, elect our leaders, take our orders from those leaders; this seems to resemble very strongly the social order that exists in a beehive, or an anthill. They’ve got their ideas about fatherhood, of course; they seem bovine, to me, in that the “bulls” are supposed to have their way with the “cows” and then move on, with cows raising calves by themselves. And now I see, with the whole arguing & communicating thing, the behavior that they model for emulation by others — is canine. This should not come as any major epiphany to me, since in that “barn” post linked above, I specifically compared a liberal understanding a truly different point of view to “a dog trying to measure how far it ran to fetch the stick.” There is to be a hard limit against what ideas can ever be realized, in a world in which ideas are communicated this way. We don’t see dogs building jet engines or overhauling drive trains on jeeps…just as, we don’t see liberals actually accomplishing, well, anything good at all for the most part. What’s Hillary accomplished through all this “hard work” that is so continually reported to me? Dogs, at least, chase crooks. They serve search warrants. Assist the handicapped.

Perhaps liberals emulate the behavior of dogs, in order to improve themselves. Would that we could choose for them, the canine behaviors they should emulate. Alpha Dog secures his status, through his triumph against the previous Alpha Dog, and then he remains that. Until such time as he is challenged by another dog. And that is the only reason there can ever be, for calling any of his statements into doubt. So if you doubt the Alpha Dog you must be challenging him for the slot. That’s when the fangs come out.

Apologies to any bees, ants, bulls, cows or dogs taking offense. It is not intended.

Cross-posted at Rotten Chestnuts.

Why Does Gotham Deserve Batman?

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Yeah, this has always bugged me too.

As cool as “I’m the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now” is, it never really made any sense to me. Why does Gotham deserve Batman as a hero? Because it’s fundamentally good? Just because no one wanted to personally blow up the other ferry doesn’t mean those people are good. I mean, they voted to blow the other ferry up! That makes them immoral cowards, not good people.

The people of Gotham elect a governmental infrastructure that is at its core corrupt and ineffective. They are willing to vote away the lives of “innocent” people to save their own. Many tried to kill a completely innocent person (Reese) for selfish reasons. Rachel Dawes says in the first movie that there are good people in Gotham. Really? Who? The only good people left are Gordon and Fox. Everyone else are either corrupt, incompetent, criminal or dead. The fact that being DA is practically a death sentence shows how sick the city is.

“Experts Aren’t Dieties”

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Walter Williams lays it down:

The take-home lesson is that experts are notoriously fallible outside of their fields of endeavor — and especially so when making predictions. There tends to be an inverse relationship between a predictor’s level of confidence and the accuracy of his prediction. Irving Fisher, a distinguished Yale University economics professor in 1929, predicted, “Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” Three days later, the stock market crashed. In 1954, Dr. W.C. Heuper of the National Cancer Institute said, “If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one.” Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, in 1943 allegedly said, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” “(Research on the atomic bomb) is the biggest fool thing we have ever done. The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives.” That was Adm. William Leahy’s prediction in 1945.

The bottom line is that the fact that a person has academic degrees, honors and status is no reason for us to abandon our tools of critical thinking.

“President Obama Wants More Government”

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

And His inaugural address is really, really hard to excerpt. As Charles Krauthammer said, even while praising it for its historical significance, it was “not memorable; there’s not a line here that [will or would] ever be repeated.” (Hat tip to Legal Insurrection.) President Obama seems to see speech material like wall-to-wall carpet, with each square foot as generically functional as the one to the left or right of it. Blah, blah, blah.

The critique by Fred Barnes, on the other hand, is easy to excerpt.

The speech should debunk two myths about Mr. Obama and his presidency, both trumpeted by liberal commentators and Democratic activists. One is that the president is really a pragmatist and a centrist. Not so. Only an ideologically committed liberal could have delivered the address that Mr. Obama did.

The other myth is that Mr. Obama is eager to compromise with Republicans but has faced unprecedented obstructionism on their part. The speech told a different tale. It showed the president bent on pursuing an agenda with few if any sweeteners for Republicans.

I’m not so willing to beat up on the President for failing to negotiate with Republicans. At least, anyone truly surprised by that at this point is either putting on a false show, or hasn’t been paying attention. Obama’s job is to win arguments. By all means let the myths die though. Obama’s tried to work with the opposition? Pfeh.

On the other hand: Even considering the fact that He’s a democrat and this is what democrats do…brainstorming about creative new ways to embiggen government spending, given the fiscal crisis that now looms over us perpetually, is almost criminal. I have yet to understand the thinking process of anyone who says otherwise.

Hat tip to Barracuda Brigade.

“Ayn Rand is for Children”

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Lefty political activist and columnist David Sirota is angry at Ayn Rand fans. It’s pretty clear I am to be included in this. Looks almost like I’m being singled out.

Closing body-blow:

To be a Rand groupie is to flaunt your immaturity, your ignorance, your desperation to justify greed or your lack of international travel. It is, in other words, to admit your blindness to how so much of the world already lives, and to ignore what America would look like if “Fountainhead Shrugged” was seen as a public policy manual rather than what it really is: a dangerous farce.

Okay, message received. I’m immature and ignorant, not well traveled internationally, and I need to just shut up and go away. But don’t forget to leave my money behind before I do.

If I’m reading his argument correctly, what he’s saying is: Ayn Rand’s philosophy is popular in America not because it has been seen to work well here, but because Americans tend not to be well-traveled. We do not understand the effect ultimate effect of a Galt’s Gulch. When things work that way, people suffer to such an extent that we can’t even dream of it…because we haven’t flown overseas to look at it.

And the example he offers to prove this, is Communist China.

There are other problems with his reasoning, but before I get into those let’s compile a list of things I’m seeing here, as well as in a lot of other lefty arguments.

The most obvious is the anger. I’ve never understood this. We have the statist argument, which is “Let’s elect a bunch of really smart people and then put all our money (or more money) in a community pot, and have the smart people we elected spend it on taking care of us.” Challenging that is the small-government argument, or we could call it the Libertarian argument, which essentially amounts to “Um…let’s not do that, okay?” The former get angry and upset with the latter. Why is that? I don’t know if it applies to Mr. Sirota, but I’ve noticed a great many of these people are fond of monologuing to excess about “those darn stupid evil politicians, can’t trust ‘em.” In those cases, the proposal offered ends up being one of, we know these sneaky slimy crooks cannot be trusted so let’s turn everything over to them.

I suppose I should not presume this is what he’s trying to say. I don’t know that about him. Just because he generalized recklessly about his opposition, doesn’t mean I have to follow suit.

But I see, also, the elitism. It is, evidently, a constant in lefty thinking that the plan must be imposed universally, there cannot be any opportunity for anyone to get away from it — it is not to be tested in a sandbox anywhere, we’ll do it right out in “real” life. Very much like a patch for some crucial web application being rolled out in production because, hey, we’re pretty sure it’ll be alright. No opt-out possible, it is to be implemented all across the fruited plain, and from sea to shining sea…but…this part is even more important: Only a few among us are to say what it is, or define any of the details.

Seems to me the contentiousness starts with that disparity, and is thus avoidable. But I never see any lefties trying to avoid it. They embrace it. The plan is to impact the many, but it is to be defined by only a few. It seems so contrary to the lefty vision, since nearly all of the time, the bad situation that makes the plan desirable in the first place, has to do with similar disparities vis a vis wealth, income, educational/career opportunities, and the like. It’s as if they’re working hard to replace one disparity with another disparity.

Anyway, the “you haven’t flown” butt-hurt seems to be coming out of that: “We’re going to decide in this room, here, how the thing is going to work, but this is grown up talk. Don’t let the doorknob hit. Leave your wallet.” Sirota’s editor evidently didn’t make note of how peculiar it looks, when “greed” is on equal footing with “lack of international travel,” and both must be “justified.” I’m sure it felt good to him to write that sentence, but it comes off looking eminently thoughtless and hastily put-together. I need to justify my lack of international travel? To whom? What are they going to do to me if I don’t justify it? How long do I have?

I’m seeing — yet again — the tired old argument about cops and firefighters. This point is so painfully obvious that I chafe at the idea of having to write it down, but if any Ayn Rand fans out there are objecting to the continued funding of a fire department or police force, it’s probably not accurate to regard their viewpoint as an average suitably representative of all the others. And it isn’t an honest statement of the conflict, frankly. Round me up some real exchanges, preferably heated ones, about stimulus spending plans or other issues that cause conflict between statists and small-government types. In fact, go bundle up a hundred. Is there any squabbling in there, anywhere, about “Yes we should have a fire department or no we should not”? Probably not. The points of contention are along questions like, can the government grow the economy by spending lots of money.

Which, by itself, is rather curious when you think about it. If it worked, we’d probably say “Well that’s settled, let’s make it work that way from now on.” But when the studied economists favor the statist solution, which they actually do quite often, after you look into it awhile you see they aren’t favoring it because of the evidence, but in spite of it. Businesses are not inclined to put money where the growth is unlikely to happen, because…why would they? And government, once handed the money the businesses would have put someplace to foster this growth, but can’t because the government took it, is not inclined to put the money in these other activities more conducive to growth because…well, how would they? Ever wait in line at the DMV? Ever watch Congress decide something on C-SPAN? You seriously mean to tell me, in those settings, there’s more know-how than in the executive offices of a company that has grown and succeeded in an industry, employing people who have spent their lives in it? Government’s going to ride in and say “do it this way, not the way you’ve been doing it up until now, and since we’ll stop you from making that mistake from now on, stand back and get ready to see some real growth”?

If there was an example to present of it happening that way, how exactly would it have come about?

I’m seeing the charge of hypocrisy against Ayn Rand fans, and other proponents of the small-government model, who have been caught making use of government services. You have to go clicking through links in order to review all the examples the author brings, and from the best I can make out, not a single one among these offer any kind of an active choice. Um, if that’s the case, then how do they count? Isn’t it just silly to say things like “they are more than happy to drive on taxpayer funded roads”? Would not some government agency retaliate against us if we were to destroy a guardrail so we could leave the public road and do our four-wheeling on a hillside? Why yes, I believe they would. And isn’t Social Security supposed to be a fund that was built up by our “contributions” in the first place? Sirota sees a consistency problem in an argument he hasn’t taken the time to properly understand: If one objects to his earnings being plowed into the Social Security fund over the course of his lifetime, but is compelled by law to allow it to happen nevertheless, then getting the money back again at the end of it is just the sensible thing to do, right? Where’s the problem?

I’m seeing passive platitudes, such as “literary giant George Saunders.” That’s just mildly annoying, I guess, since it’s pretty clear that what the author means to say is “George Saunder has espoused opinions similar to mine, so to fortify what I’m trying to say I’m going to give you instructions to think of him as a literary giant.” Is it an honest statement? Probably not, since, whether Sirota likes to ponder this part of it or not, Ayn Rand has just as much claim to being a literary giant as anybody else. But this is also a frequently-recurring chestnut in lefty sloganeering: Such-and-such is a “giant,” possessing godlike abilities and attributes…which are never quite defined anywhere. You’re supposed to just “get it,” the giant is a giant.

As far as the reasoning deficiencies, the most glaring one is the Fox Butterfield fallacy.

“Who’s Fox Butterfield?” is one of this column’s most frequently asked questions. Answer: Butterfield was a reporter for the New York Times–he seems to have retired in 2005–whose crime stories served as the archetype for his eponymous fallacy.

“It has become a comforting story: for five straight years, crime has been falling, led by a drop in murder,” Butterfield wrote in 1997. “So why is the number of inmates in prisons and jails around the nation still going up?” He repeated the trope in 2003: “The nation’s prison population grew 2.6 percent last year, the largest increase since 1999, according to a study by the Justice Department. The jump came despite a small decline in serious crime in 2002.” And in 2004: “The number of inmates in state and federal prisons rose 2.1 percent last year, even as violent crime and property crime fell, according to a study by the Justice Department released yesterday.”

In that last story, Butterfield made reference to “the paradox of a falling crime rate but a rising prison population.” The Butterfield Fallacy consists in misidentifying as a paradox what is in fact a simple cause-and-effect relationship: “Of course, the huge increase in the number of inmates has helped lower the crime rate by incapacitating more criminals behind bars.” That quote is from Butterfield’s own 1997 story, but it is a to-be-sure throwaway line, which he seems to have completely forgotten by 2004.

The Butterfield Fallacy is rooted in ideological prejudice. The typical New York Times reporter does not like the idea of sending people to prison, because, among other reasons cited in Butterfield’s reports on the subject, they think it is racially discriminatory (in 2004, “almost 10 percent of all American black men ages 25 to 29 were in prison”), and it diverts tax money away from what they think should be higher priorities (in 1997, “already, California and Florida spend more to incarcerate people than to educate their college-age populations”).

Sirota, being ideologically pre-disposed to believe people are much smarter when they see things his way, misunderstands the cause-and-effect relationship: Americans are more susceptible to Ayn Rand’s ideas than they normally would be, because we are not very well traveled internationally. As far as the reason for Americans not to be well traveled internationally, he doesn’t seem to be very curious, nor should we expect him to be, because the objective of establishing intellectual superiority within the statist dogma has been accomplished. They have passports and you don’t, so shut up. But if he ever does show some curiosity about it, I have an answer to suggest: Americans do not travel much compared to subjects & citizens of other countries, because they haven’t much reason to do so.

Oh, I’m sure that is an oversimplification. But that’s fine, because I mean it in the general sense. We’re talking statistics and averages, right? And since we are, and I mean it in the general sense, isn’t it a generally bad idea to say “Oh my, look at all those well-traveled people from foreign countries, I see a bunch of them are traveling here, let’s do things the way they did them in those other countries they couldn’t wait to leave.” Also, Americans are practical. Traveling is expensive. So yes, we’re going to need reasons for doing it. I’m not inclined to go sailing around the world just to win arguments with David Sirota’s type. Heck, that would be two steps back before the one step forward, wouldn’t it, since those are the same type who will criticize me and call me a bad person for emitting all that carbon into the atmosphere. Pass.

If I disagree with Sirota because of my ignorance, I’m afraid a jaunt to these poor regions in China is unlikely to fix the problem anyway. It isn’t clear to me what exactly it is I’m supposed to be learning. We know Galt’s Gulch is a bad way to go, because old women in the poorest districts of China have to work hard, and at night? Since when has China been emblematic of the way Ayn Rand wanted things to work? The lesson I’m seeing here is, don’t go commie, because once you do it screws things up for a long, long time. Was I supposed to get something else out of it?

You know, I’m not going to disagree with the idea that there is something to be learned from seeing things first-hand. And I don’t doubt for a minute that somewhere in that experience, there are valuable nuggets of information that Saunders and Sirota have, that I’m lacking. Nevertheless, the case has not been stated, unless the case to be stated something like: “Ayn Rand’s ideas appear to be for children, if you pretend Ayn Rand’s ideas are something entirely different from what they were.” Sirota incorrectly identifies Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead to be essentially the same story, teaching the same things, replicated in the latter tome “in order to double Rand’s profit.” Oh, dear. Yes, I’ll accept that Sirota started these right after the front covers, and worked through until he reached the back covers…his progress in between those two is suspect, therefore so is his methodology in reading.

So he has had experiences I have not had, yet he labors under a demonstrable difficulty in absorbing information. What, therefore, do I care of what experiences he has had? With this revelation, some two-thirds of Sirota’s essay become entirely irrelevant. Yet he seems eager to show off how little he comprehended of what he did manage to read.

I recall jotting down last summer a pithy and simple idea, which invited challenge in spite of its simplicity. That’s a good thing, because this is a worthy question for us all to ponder, I think:

Given the choice between a sound knowledge base of verifiable & verified factual information, and the ability to think logically, I would choose the latter.

If I have a good understanding of how to figure out what a fact means, but my head is crammed chock full of silly “factoids” that aren’t really true even though they may be repeated by others verbatim, I should be able to ultimately determine some of these conflict irreconcilably with others. From there, I should be able to figure out which ones are suspect and, eventually, which ones should be questioned, and then reconsidered.

If I have a good solid repository of verified fact, but I don’t know how to figure out what these facts are really telling me, I might as well have nothing.

Fact is merely foundation. You can’t live in a foundation.

All who see some value in dismissing this with haste and without looking back, would do well to read Sirota’s column from top to bottom, and with greater care than that which Sirota is able to bring when he reads Ayn Rand. His flaws are precisely what I had in mind when I wrote down what’s above. He knows stuff…he thinks very highly of himself for knowing these things, apparently for no better reason than he perceives a great many of his countrymen do not know them. But when he ponders what it all means, it ends up being an exploding mess of Butterfield fallacies.

It’s as if the object of the exercise has shifted, without his being consciously aware of it, from improving the lives and economic conditions of some strangers, to feeling smug & superior to other strangers. Somewhere in the implementation, there’s been some scope creep, but it isn’t entirely clear to me that this would bother him much.

Barn in Painting

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Nothing new here at all. But this brain-fart I had, in the middle of garrulously rambling away here, and then here and here, has shown itself to be worthy of some linkage while I’ve been in the midst of describing some other things. Those things have to do with explaining, without offending anybody too much, how it is that liberals and conservatives come up with their different opinions about things when neither one of them is actually misunderstanding anything or intentionally presenting their perceptions in any delusive or insincere way. This is a worthy goal in these contentious times, when heated discourse has become more abundant, and more cool & rational discussions have therefore become desirable and valuable.

So I need a higher-quality link-point for the idea. Or a more concise one. The idea has to do with the way people perceive things.

Imagine that one day a conservative and a liberal, both reasonable, intelligent and honest, take the time to attend an art museum. Within this museum hang many paintings. Among these, is a painting of a barn adjacent to some fields…and then some other paintings of stuff like kids, birds, clouds, water action, sidewalks with people on them doing things…then, another painting of a barn. Once the suspicion is aroused, an observer can quickly gather some evidence that the two paintings are of the same barn, captured from two different directions, by two different artists, and two different times of day, as well as seasons, and using different illustrative styles.

Barn in PaintingThe ideas that are being captured in the metaphor are, that there are differences in perceptive methodology between conservatives and liberals, and these differences become a bit less subtle in certain situations. These situations avail us of a rare opportunity to see things from the other’s point of view, if we can just make something of them. These situations exist any time an object is illustrated through a defined perception. What you will tend to see happening is that, since liberals suffer from an inability to distinguish a bit of helpful information from some kind of a marching order, they end up living in an empty universe of only one kind of idea. This universe is stuffed to bursting point, with lots of commands, be they good commands or bad ones, and not a whole lot else. You might say their universe of words is noun-sparse and verb-heavy. Think of the paintings as they actually exist: There is the barn, a three-dimensional object, someone built that; the painters then made a decision about how to paint the barn, from the Northwest in the case of one, or the Southwest in the case of the other; these and other actions combined together, layers upon layers of decisive actions, to make the paintings. But the liberals don’t see the layers, they only see the products. As experiences, waiting for observers to come by and live them. Standalone, independent, packaged experiences.

They do not see that it is the same barn — generally. If it is pointed out to them, then — generally — they won’t care that much. That’s because conservatives tend to be Architects, who respond to new situations by thinking, as opposed to Medicators who respond by feeling. So! A liberal stands in front of a painting. The painting makes him feel a certain way. The barn combines with the brush strokes, and colors selected, oil, matte, frame, lighting of the painting, room in which it is kept, to form an emotional experience. And this experience is the whole point. In actuality, the experience is a confluence of many layers of decisions made by the painter, the museum curator, the guy who built the barn…but the liberal doesn’t see all these “layers of commands,” he sees only the one. Painting, is single command, is single experience. Kinda ties in to the “you didn’t build that” thing.

The conservative, on the other hand, who was probably dragged to this damn art museum by the liberal, more likely than not found the whole thing to be a crushing bore until such time as he figured out this bit of trivia with the barn. And to whatever extent this arouses any passion in him, it probably has to do with a genuine curiosity about whether the barn is real, and since it probably is, where it’s located, when it was built, by who, and whether it still stands. Or, maybe he doesn’t find that so captivating. But even if not, it’s still an important part of his perceptive process; it is meaningful to him that painting A and painting B share this common conceptual object. It logically follows that the common object, the barn, will be elevated in importance. The barn, appearing in both paintings, has meaning that is not imbued in the sunflowers that appear in the one painting but not in the other. But none of this matters a tinker’s damn to the liberal. The liberal is more in a thought locus of, I like this painting over here, I don’t like that painting over there.

But a lot of life is like this, which is why conservatives and liberals argue about, evidently, just about everything. Images…which are put together by the task of visually capturing an object. The image is not synonymous with the object, it is just a reflection of it. But to the liberal, to whom each painting is a separate item of value, that doesn’t work. Images are objects, to the liberal. Say something profound in English, then say it in Spanish, now you’re twice as smart. That’s complete balderdash to about half of us, while to the other half it makes perfect sense.

This explains a lot. It explains why today’s statesmanly “leaders” tend to be a grown-up versions of sissy liberal hippie kids back in the 1960′s, and many among those who were not alive back in the 1960′s, but would have fallen in line with the anarchy and rebellion and counter-culture protesting and what-not if they were, now tell the rest of us we’re a bunch of racists if we don’t take our orders unquestioningly from this crop of sixty-something lefty politicians. Liberals see every message as some kind of command. They don’t understand “You go ahead and pay taxes to fight climate change if you want to, but I personally don’t want to” — you say that, and what they hear is “I hate the Earth and I wish to destroy it.” And pretty much every time. That’s a painting they don’t like. Oppose them on the debt talks, and you’re a racist. Oppose them on social spending, you hate poor people. Oppose them on Medicare, you must want to push granny off a cliff. Oppose them on education, you must want more stupid kids. Oppose them on paying for birth control, you must hate women. You know the litany.

Conservatives have a slow time catching on to this. The thing that a lot of people don’t get, mostly because liberals put a lot of energy into propagandizing to the contrary, is that the conservatives pretty much have a monopoly on the nuanced thinking here. In the example with paying taxes to fight climate change, they recognize a common object in the two illustrations, which is the desire that our species should co-exist with the Earth peacefully and toward mutual benefit. Whereas liberals — like their representative example in the art museum, who sees a second painting of the same barn and doesn’t realize it’s the same barn — only hear a second message distinguishably different from the first. Since all messages are commands, and the first one was “good,” this one must be “bad.” Yes, that is the thought process. It isn’t one bit more complicated than that.

So when they talk about what hateful racists conservatives are, it isn’t that they’re actually trying to slander. They don’t think it’s lying. But of course, you can’t say logical things like, “since you think that’s true, why don’t you…” As in, “since you think this is such a terrible country, why don’t you leave.” Or, “since you’re so convinced that I’m dead-set on destroying the planet, where do you think I’m planning to live once I succeed.” None of that stuff works. It isn’t that they think there’s a true or a false, what’s going on is they really don’t care! All they’re trying to do, really, is call out a painting that they think is ugly and bad. Every object is a painting. Every message is a command. Some are good and some are bad. Once you understand this, you understand them.

They don’t have a sophisticated, multi-faceted way of looking at the world. What they have is the precise opposite of that. A liberal trying to understand a conservative point-of-view, is like a dog trying to measure how far it ran to fetch the stick. Our mistake is in thinking, when we see a liberal looking at artwork and professing some appreciation of it, that they understand it. They don’t. And that is not to say, I hasten to add, that they’re stupid or anything. Some of them may appreciate that there is deeper meaning in all the pleasing colors within the rectangle, and that they’re supposed to combine together to make a person or a house or a barn or a cloud — if they tried. But if trying is mutually exclusive from being a good liberal, then they don’t want to try. And it is, so they don’t.

Women of USPSA

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Here’s the much-shared segment of Jessie Duff appearing recently on Hannity:

What I wouldn’t give, to see her in a calm, cool, rational discussion with one of these “why do you need thirty rounds” airheads.

You can’t accumulate this kind of skill without practice. You can’t put in that much practice, without an incident, without a good understanding of the safety rules involved. And in order to have that, you have to appreciate that the capacity an automatic weapon has to have in order to be deadly, is…one. Yes, one is the same as thirty. Like C programming: false and true, zero and non-zero. The limit of magazine capacity is just the silliest bit of chicanery, but it would be great watching all the others getting peeled away, one at a time.

Jessie Duff and David Gregory. Let’s have it!

Make Someone Else Pay

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Austin Hill writes at Town Hall. Yes, I’ve run into this my share of times…

“I’m a Pastor,” the show caller said, “and my Bible tells me that the ‘moral’ thing to do is to to love and to pray for our President, not to hate on him.” I noted to the caller that I had not said a word about President Obama. “Yeah, but all this rhetoric about ‘fiscal responsibility’ and ‘cutting spending’ is code talk for ‘I hate it that Obama won.’ Obama did win, and he did not create this crisis, so get over it…”
:
When Americans dismiss concerns over government debt as “you’re just hatin’ on my guy” — as the talk show caller did to me, and as many other Americans do regularly — then we’re in serious trouble.

Midway down, a great point is made.

We understand competition and excellence, success and failure, when it’s on the playing field or American Idol. But success in business is presumed by many to be ill-gotten gain, and people who make lots of money with successful enterprises are frequently dismissed as “greedy,” and deserving of more government confiscation of their money.

Now, this is deserving of a bit more thought, which in turn isn’t going to do an awful lot of good if the thinker hasn’t accumulated some experience engaging some of the attitudes out there, talking with some of the callers who think he’s “hatin’ on my guy,” figuring out what makes them tick.

Some of these people may not be dishonest about their motives. They may actually see code language, and hatin’ on the guy, and seek to dismiss the scrutinizing inspection as they attempt to keep hatred out of their lives. They don’t see this as fiscally irresponsible because they’re not making the connection. They’re just not studying it that long. Others may not be idiots; they may be quite intelligent. But, for whatever reason, they see Obama’s policies as good ideas, want to get them sold, and don’t care how it’s done.

Others might be both intelligent and sincere.

Um…actually, I’m not too sure about that last part. Can you be sincere in your beliefs as well as in your expression of them, smart enough to bait a hook, and go down this line of “don’t be talking fiscal responsibility, because that’s just code for hatin’ on my guy”? Hmmm. Not sure. I’ll have to think on that. But I’ll say at the outset, that I’m having some trouble seeing how. One could suffer, I suppose, from a powerful revulsion against details and the inspection of them. Maybe it could become second-nature if it has been repeatedly expressed, and accommodated by others. “Well that’s enough of [such-and-such], I’m done with it because you’re just trying to [so-and-so].”

Is that intelligent? It certainly isn’t capable. The things you wouldn’t be able to do, in life, with a habit like that. I don’t even know where to begin listing them all.

And I really identified closely, with his sign-off:

In my native homeland of California, the “make somebody else pay” philosophy could not be more obvious. Last November, voters there rejected a modest state sales tax increase that was on the ballot (a tax that would have impacted all consumers), yet overwhelmingly supported an income tax hike on — you guessed it, “rich people.” “Don’t stop my government services,” a majority of California voters seemed to say, “but make somebody else pay for it.”

Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that man behind the tree.

Twenty Non-Partisan Things

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

…or…they should be non-partisan. They should be implicitly understood by everybody who claims to be doing any quality thought, about anything.

In the past several years, they have gradually become “conservative” observations/understandings/axioms, or even worse, “extreme right wing.” We should not be thinking of them in that way. In fact, I would not object to their being recited at the beginning of each session of Congress, right after the opening prayer. We’d probably all be a lot better off. This is stuff you need to know, or admit, before deciding on any matter of significant complexity (the first 9), on any matter in a group environment (the next 4 after those), or any matter of public policy (the last 7).

1. My values are [blank].
2. My vision is in harmony with my values, and it is [blank].
3. My objective is consistent with my vision, and it is that [blank].
4. My objective depends on [blank] being accomplished (or prevented from happening).
5. If I must learn something new to meet my objective, I will have to admit that I don’t know it, in order to learn it.
6. A possibility is not necessarily a likelihood.
7. A likelihood is not necessarily a fact.
8. [blank] and [blank] are meaningfully different; what works for one does not necessarily work for the other.
9. [blank] and [blank] are functionally equivalent; they are not different in any meaningful way.
10. A bad idea is a bad idea, it doesn’t matter what respectable person or authority figure is offering it.
11. A good idea is a good idea, it doesn’t matter how much righteous loathing is felt against the individual offering it.
12. Past performance of an idea is not a guarantee of future results involving the same idea.
13. However, it is a good indicator of success or failure, unless there is significant change in the implementation, or the situation.
14. Equality of opportunity among the several classes, is not the same as guaranteed equality of outcome.
15. Some things shouldn’t be decided by majority rule.
16. But other things should be.
17. We should expect an occupation to be filled by the types of people who meet that occupation’s demand.
18. We should expect people to respond to incentives, both positive and negative.
19. Diminishing the strong and capable does not do anything, by itself, to help the weak and incapable.
20. Some are indigent by their own choice, and some are indigent by circumstance. Recalling #8: These are meaningfully different.

Emperor Barry’s Special License

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

This past week, I wrote loquaciously about a mindset I’ve seen and heard, either with greater frequency in recent years, or with a constant frequency that I notice more acutely during that time. It is difficult to tell which, and this is often the confusion to be tolerated when one’s awareness increases. The mindset could be concisely summarized as “Since I know what I’m doing, everyone else should be doing it my way, and if they do anything differently then they must not know anything about what they’re doing.” With some soul-searching about this I’ve discovered much of my revulsion has to do with Omar Khayyam’s much more artistically-worded warning

He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool. Shun him.
He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a child. Teach him.
He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep. Wake him.
He who knows, and knows that he knows, is a leader. Follow him.

I do not know that these are “fools.” But on a case by case basis, I tend to believe it likely. I’ve learned how to do a few things in my time. Not very many, by some measures, or maybe a whole lot by others — it’s relative. But in the case of each one, as I learned more and more about how to do something, I’ve learned there are many ways to do it. This is true much more often than a casual observer might suspect, at first. It’s true of tying your shoes, for example.

I can imagine learning how to do something. I can imagine such education coming after, and only after, the admission “I don’t know it yet” — I’ve been through this many a time. But I cannot imagine learning it, seeing someone exercise a different technique, and saying in private or in public “that guy doesn’t know what he’s doing, because he’s doing it a different way from the way I learned it.” Can’t relate. Maybe that’s why I don’t like Strunk & White. Although I applaud the concept of going beyond proper spelling & grammar, and learning how to write so that the reader has an easier time going through it; the Little White Book goes beyond even that, to commit the sin of saying “Anyone who does it any way different from mine, should cap their pens and cease on the spot, for they are proliferating a poison upon the reading public.” Oh, maybe that’s not the intent. But that’s how people read it, and that’s a mistake.

We’re actually looking at two problems here. One, there is a very real possibility…and I’d consider going even further than that actually, calling it a likelihood…that this practitioner who’s figured out one way of getting a job done, and is ready to heckle and righteously assault all other ways of getting it done, has achieved his threshold of knowledge without ever taking that first step, without ever admitting “I don’t know.” Two, in a group environment, with this institutional wisdom being gained under the leadership of Khayyam’s fools who’ve never had to admit “I don’t know,” creativity is effectively destroyed, or at least, prohibited. Nobody may color outside the lines. You’re tying down a load? But that isn’t how you tie a taut-line. You’re going to Elvas Street? But that’s not the exit we take. You call that an engine? But it has no pistons. Technology, therefore, must become static. Nobody can ever have a new idea.

Which brings me to Emperor Barry.

He has, once again, come up with some new ideas. And, once again, Republicans are divided on how to respond although they should not be. I found it somewhat exasperating when Dennis Miller, repeating the litany of many others, intoned that he found some of these changes sensible and thought they should have been implemented awhile back. Alright, I can see where he’s coming from, so let’s say for the sake of argument I agree with that. The beef I have is, that is the beginning of the disagreement, and not the end. Alright, let’s say for sake of argument these are things that should be done; now, there is this thing called Separation of Powers… That, to say nothing of: “Shall not be infringed” seems, to me, pretty airtight as legal jargon goes. Not a lot of wiggle-room there, given how much it’s been debated and distorted over the last two centuries.

Now that we’re on the eve of the second inauguration of America’s First Holy Emperor, it is worth contemplating this new culture He has introduced. We haven’t been doing that much. Barry does this-or-that, and before the ink is dry we’re all caught up in debating the pros and the cons, we don’t notice what else has been taking place.

Without taking the time or trouble to customarily cite actual examples, describing only the culture and not the specific reforms put in place, the pattern I’ve seen over the last four years has been –

1. The statists, for the time being, have won that fight about money: Does it belong to you or does it belong to Washington? It belongs to Washington. When you earn it, you’re borrowing it; when you pay your taxes, you’re returning it; when you keep what’s left over, it’s because Washington allows you to.
2. The statists, for the time being, have won that fight about risk: There should not be any. Not that Washington is going to take any actual responsibility for getting rid of it all. More like, every bump in the road, encountered by anybody, is an excuse for them to legislate anew.
3. The statists, for the time being, have won that fight about debt: You operate under a limit. Washington doesn’t.
4. The statists, for the time being, have won that fight about opportunity: You don’t need any. You’re getting your oxygen, your food, your clothing and shelter, just like a prisoner getting his three-hots-and-a-cot. Opportunity is not for you because that would be “greedy.” Opportunity is for politicians.
5. Nobody needs to be inventing or discovering a damn thing, anywhere. NASA’s new role is Muslim outreach. Everyone should just do what is expected of them.
6. …except for Barack and Michelle Obama, and their very close friends. They, and they alone, can come up with creative, surprising, cool new ideas. Oh, some of the other three hundred million brains will have to be properly “educated,” even in some very advanced engineering disciplines and sciences — but that is just for implementation. Even those very bright, very disciplined, very enlightened minds will be expected to move along a certain path, toward certain goals, in certain ways. They “invent” what they are told to invent. Doing the unexpected is Emperor Barry’s special license.
7. If it’s wrong, and Barry does it, it stops being wrong on the spot. Every leftist dictator in world history has enjoyed this privilege. Ours is no exception. And so, Barry can wage war, Barry can bomb civilians overseas, Barry can do Extraordinary Rendition, Barry can waterboard, Barry can run up the nation’s debt. Wrong if the other fellow does it, okay if Barry does it.
8. Most importantly, it is entirely a thing of the past, to consider the possibility that bad people might have good ideas or that good people can have bad ones. It is therefore an impossibility for any two “good” people to ever have a disagreement about what to do. Emperor Barry, who is our compass point, showing us what a good person is and what a good person thinks, cannot ever be opposed except by bad people who have bad motives. It is evidently the next stage of our evolution, to stop deliberating complex issues like grown-ups, and start arguing with a lot of name-calling and nothing else, like second- or third-graders.

Bearing these rules in mind, it is to be expected that our President should infringe upon those rights which were not supposed to have been infringed. He is the state, just like Louis XIV; He is our “Sun King.” And there can be no reason for anyone to oppose Him, other than their desire to oppose the state, and all the people within it. They are enemies of the state.

Barry came up with something innovative and new, such that He changed the trajectory of some moving thing. He steered. Only He is allowed to do so.

Yes, America’s best days are still ahead of her. I’m sure of it. But that happens only after this current era comes to an end. We can’t prosper with this in place, because prosperity requires building new things, with entirely new ideas, and we’re not doing that.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Rotten Chestnuts.

Blah, Blah, Blah, Tear to my Eye, Blah, Blah, Blah…

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

…saying what’s expected. Because they’re so good at that.

From Barracuda Brigade.