Archive for March, 2013

Pastry Gun

Saturday, March 9th, 2013


Josh said, “It was already a rectangle and I just kept on biting it and biting it and tore off the top and it kinda looked like a gun but it wasn’t.” Josh takes full responsibly for trying to shape his breakfast pastry, but admits it was in innocent fun. He told FOX45, “All I was trying to do was turn it into a mountain but, it didn’t look like a mountain really and it turned out to be a gun kinda.” When his teacher saw the strawberry tart he knew he was in trouble, he recalls, “She was pretty mad…and I think I was in big trouble.”


Hasselbeck Wished Out to the Cornfield

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

From Us Weekly, by way of Huffington Post:

The people have spoken. Elisabeth Hasselbeck, one of the five cohorts of ABC’s daytime talk show The View, will not be returning to the couch next season, following hot on the footsteps of fellow cohost Joy Behar, a source tells Us Weekly.

According to the source, the show’s resident conservative voice is being ousted after market research revealed that she isn’t popular with TV audiences.

“The viewers they polled all said she was too extreme and right wing,” the insider tells Us. “People did not watch the show because of Elisabeth. So they told her yesterday her contract would not be renewed.”

Well okay, we’ll just have to wait and see. “A source,” pffft…

But you know, if we do our waiting and seeing, and we see there’s something to it, I’ll have to say right now I would not end up being too surprised about it. Yes, it would be a very silly thing to do, but then again it is a very silly show. And, maybe for me it’s a case of rose-colored glasses. I’d like to see Hasselbeck leave, so that then she could possibly get some work on something I’d be inclined to watch every now and then. She is a very lovely young woman.

WishingAs far as the content of what this “source” is saying, I find it entirely credible. How did William F. Buckley put it:

Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.

And, there is the personal experience to vouch for what Mr. Buckley said there. Oh, where to even begin. What would even be the point.

So, let us speculate on the idea that there is truth to this “sourced” report. What then to make of it?

Well, it would be a dumb move. Or, a smart move made to appeal to a very dumb audience: A show where these women gather around a table with their ornamental coffee cups, and talk over the issues of the day and figure out what they think about it all…but it’s important to get rid of anybody who thinks anything different from what the rest think. Okay, so they won’t be huddling about it in order to gather different ideas or learn anything new, they’ll just gather to repeat the same things over and over. “The View”: That is singular, not plural. Okay then. That’s actually a perfect description of the modern liberal. They get together in their groups and pretend to have dialogue when they’re really just having parallel monologue. They reiterate “the view” over and over again and pretend they are harvesting a diverse assortment of idea-seeds in their little garden there.

I personally know the modern liberal to be most adept at getting rid of information while going through the motions of acquiring it. If you listen to their arguments carefully, you’ll see they consist mostly of that: Discarding something, encouraging all those in earshot to also discard it, under threat of being discarded themselves. Liberalism isn’t really about embracing or preserving or elevating anything at all, when you get down to it. When they say “up with women” they really mean down with men; when they champion the cause of black people, they really mean to injure white people. When the Vice President says “get a shotgun” he doesn’t mean to extol the virtues of shotguns; if you listen to him in context, what he’s trying to do is discourage people from getting an AR-15. Every single positive is just a thin, translucent wrapping around a negative. It applies to ideas, natural things, artificial things, and people.

Liberalism is all about wishing things out to the cornfield.

Which raises the question of: What is the cornfield?

The ViewThis is the scary part: They don’t know. They really don’t know. Not even a little, tiny bit. They are not like the semiconductor manufacturer working to make sure anything that might be a contaminant is kept outside of the million-dollar “clean room,” or the bartender telling the argumentative customers to “take it outside,” or the TSA checkpoint that keeps you from going into a secure area until you have been “cleared.” Those agents possess a good, developed understanding of 1) criteria applied, and 2) where things should go when they fail to meet the criteria. Liberals only understand the criteria. It comes easily to them to say things like “There is no use discussing [blank] with someone like you, who can’t see [blank].” You, then, are supposed to go away — but to where? It’s completely obvious you aren’t supposed to take your money with you as you leave. They’re building a society that “works for everyone” and you’re part of the “everyone,” at least when it comes time to pay taxes, regulatory fees and union dues. How do you exclude the undesirables from an all-inclusive society that refuses to recognize undesirables? This is the puzzle they’ve never managed to solve.

But they don’t have the time or the ambition to solve it. In fact, they can work up quite a sweat evading the problem, refusing to even address it, let alone start solving it. You’ll find, when conversation with a liberal turns toward an examination of this, the subject is always changed in some way. Either the topic is changed abruptly, or it is cut short by way of some judicious name-calling. But they’ll never, ever explore it, no matter what. They love banishing things. They got the banishing-motion down cold. But they don’t know if they’re entirely obliterating what they’re banishing, or merely demoting it to some lowered caste in a society that is not, contrary to its branding, caste-less. It has to be one of those, or the other. But they’ve abjured both of those as possibilities, with that instinctive, swift, practiced abjuring-motion of theirs. What options remain, then? To ponder that question, you have to find a liberal willing to do the pondering. This has yet to be found…

I hope it’s true that Hasselbeck has fallen under the axe. I’d like to see her moved to something watchable. I’ve always thought the show was called “The View” because Elisabeth Hasselbeck might be wearing something, from the waist down, really, really short. And if they did wish her out to the cornfield because of her undesirable conservative beliefs, I think I’d tune in once or twice in the aftermath, just for a good laugh. I can see it: Someone says something that could’ve been said by just about anyone still at the table, and they all nod their heads and go “Mmmmm, hmmmmmmm….” And then they try to keep that interesting and watchable. It would be completely funny for a little while…and then the pain would get to be too much, and I’d tune out, along with everybody else.

Update 3/11/13: Babbawawa is refudiating the gossip. Well, maybe and maybe not. We’ll just have to watch and see.

The Default Presumptions

Friday, March 8th, 2013

It occurs to me that we spend so much energy and time arguing about conclusions of things. We think we’re doing a wonderful job marshaling our critical thinking resources, thinking for ourselves and so forth. But we’re all human, and initial presumptions count for a lot. All who doubt that need only conduct a crude survey, of themselves or of the people they know, it doesn’t matter which — figure out how often it is someone reaches a conclusion wildly at odds with their initial impressions.

If they’re honest, they’ll usually find it doesn’t happen that often. Even in cases where they learn a whole lot between the first impression and the final conclusion. People tend to think what they want to think.

There is nothing new about any of that, in fact. What has changed lately, so far as I can tell anyway, is that we have a smaller and smaller band of puppeteers pulling the strings of a larger and larger population of puppets, when it comes to forming those initial, default presumptions. That last part is significant. If the coterie of puppeteers sought to control conclusions, they’d be less likely to get away with it. And here is the vulnerability. For those of us who put some importance on thinking for ourselves, it is a common flaw for us to guard our final conclusions much more vigilantly than our initial, default presumptions, even though it is very often that the former is determined by the latter. That’s true of both individuals and organizations.

This thing with the Rand Paul filibuster and the drone strikes, falls into this. Sen. Paul is criticized, not for his final or tentative conclusions, but for his default presumptions: President Obama would never do that, you see.

On the other hand, I see there is a bill filed in the Florida legislature requiring anger management classes for people wanting to buy ammunition. See, there is a default presumption there. I see the legislator who came up with the bill is a democrat. I wonder if she supports President Obama, and what opinion she has about the drone thing. I probably don’t need to wonder too much. See how incongruous these get? Default presumption is: President Obama won’t go nuts with drone strikes. But, you might be an angry person who is buying ammunition to shoot someone.

We argue about our final thoughts, but not about our initial ones. Then we wonder why Romney lost.

A compelling, prevailing consensus descends on us quickly with regard to these, since the presumptions are not debated the way the conclusions are. It has not escaped my notice that the prevailing consensus takes on a predictable form: It will be democrat-friendly time after time, and it will say that people who have important jobs in our nation’s capitol — not in the Pentagon, though — can be trusted to make good decisions. And no one else can, unless they’re in another country. We emit too much carbon, we drink too much soda, we eat too much salt, we cling to our guns and our religion.

It has become very fashionable, rhythmic almost, to say “the government does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.” So the syllables go viral. But the sentiment does not. I see it has no discernible effect, none at all. We out here run into revenue problems that really are revenue problems, and we have to cut our spending. Washington gets hit by something called the “sequester” — hits itself with it, is more like it — and goes completely apeshit about it. Again, it doesn’t have to do with bumper sticker slogans going viral and it doesn’t have to do with common sense, it has to do with one default presumption: We need to go without. Washington shouldn’t have to.

We don’t debate this stuff. Not as much as we should.

The most damaging one is the one ultimate lefty-democrat one, the one that says the next revolution is right around the corner and it will, at long last, finally make everything all wonderful and fair for everybody. I’ve noticed it is impervious to time-related evidence, it never buckles or withers under the assault of completely obvious points, like “but we just had a revolution, last year or the year before, this stuff is getting out of control isn’t it?”

I’ve noticed, discussing things with lefties, if you consider your victory to be complete the first time you run into a personal insult, there is one sure shortcut to that: Correctly identifying the exchange as an attempt by the liberal, to convince you — not the other way around — and you, correctly, have the right and the privilege of determining for yourself where the burden of proof should be. That drives them completely up a wall. For the most part, they’re coming at you with a body of experience that is very different from this. You tell them, I’m assuming humans don’t have the capability of emitting pollutants into the atmosphere to cause climate catastrophes, because I think that makes sense, although I’m open to evidence that might say something else, now lay it on me. You get back the biggest bundle of loquacity and garbage. They don’t know how to deal with this.

They don’t know how, because they seldom have to. Our evolving and modern society has become an illustration of the Conquest Rule: People form their default initial presumptions, to suit the liberal agenda, the way you would form a glove to fit a hand. They don’t mean to. They don’t even know they’re doing it. And they do this when they consider themselves moderate, or moderately conservative, or even stridently conservative. We continue to carve out a framework for deciding things, with all of the default thinking formed around liberal orthodoxy, and the burden of proof consistently and systematically positioned upon the other.

What a disaster, and women and minorities are hardest hit.

Lessons Learned From Rand Paul’s Filibuster

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Okay, the drone strike thing is obviously the most important one. It takes so long to get a straight answer about this, and yet we have a “bipartisan coalition,” to coin a phrase, of windbaggy people who are ready to ridicule anyone who will ask it. Without being so windbaggy, I note, about answering the fucking goddamn question.

Let’s see if I understand this right:

The Constitutional blessing for drone strikes works from a three-point system. You’ll notice “three points” does not appear anywhere in the Constitution, but everyone interpreting it seems to think they’re interpreting it the right way, and are horribly, awfully offended if their interpretation is called into question. The consensus seems to have settled on this system. Being an American citizen is worth a point; being here in the United States is worth a point; being engaged in peaceful activity, in the moment, is worth a point. Once you have been identified as an associate of terrorists, if you accumulate less than three points according to this, then the Constitution permits the President to send a missile up your ass, at His discretion. So. American citizens sitting in a pizza parlor who have been associated with terrorist activity but are not engaged in it at the moment, over there, can be droned. If they are here on American soil, sitting in the pizza parlor, but are not American citizens then they can be droned. If they are American citizens, and over here, and engaged in combat, then they can be droned.

If they rack up all three of the points and the President drones them anyway, then He is in big, big trouble because that three-pointer guy is entitled to a trial. That would be unconstitutional, and “inappropriate” in the words of Attorney General Holder, and the President would have to answer for this, uh, lack of propriety or something.

The other lesson is, we have a split within the Republican party with two sides to it. One of these sides seeks to preserve an institutional command of respect within the Senate, particularly within the Republicans in the Senate, that isn’t really there. They worry to excess about a loss of this respect that has already taken place awhile back, and they don’t seem to know. They labor under an unworkable contradiction: They want to get the word out that they are open and welcoming to everybody, and yet they will fall for every single gimmick of elitism that comes along. They’re constantly sniping at “fellow conservatives” for failing to believe this person, or failing to doubt that other person. And on the other side of this split, sit the open-and-small government types, who are put down and sneered at as “libertarians” or something. This side of the split believes, correctly, that if two and two make four then it doesn’t matter who says so, and if two and two make five then it still doesn’t matter who says so. You could define this split according to: Is it the identity of the person who advances the idea, that matters most, or is it the content of the idea itself?

Also, outside of the Republican party, seems to me there are a lot of loud people out there who think Congress’ duty according to the above mentioned Constitution is to do whatever President Obama tells them to do. And quit asking these pain-in-the-ass questions.

“Under Public Humiliation, the White House Will Do the Right Thing”

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Rand Paul, on his filibuster the other day:

“This was a very serious question. It was a question that took a month and a half to get an answer to and so I would argue — and I think a lot of the public would agree with me, both on the right and the left — that what we ask was a very serious question and it’s a question that we finally got an answer to,” Paul said.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday responded to Paul in a letter that said the U.S. does not have the authority to conduct a drone attack against a U.S. citizen on American soil.

“Hooray, for 13 hours yesterday we asked them that question. And so there is a result and a victory,” Paul said after the letter was read to him during the Fox interview. “Under duress and under public humiliation the White House will respond and do the right thing.”

Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham were none too pleased with the whole performance.

McCain said Paul’s argument that the administration might use a drone to kill an outspoken opponent — someone like Jane Fonda during the Vietnam War — was “ridiculous.”

“To infer that the president is going to kill someone like Jane Fonda or someone who disagrees with him is simply ridiculous,” McCain said on the Senate floor. “If someone is an enemy combatant, that enemy combatant has nowhere to hide, not even in a café.”

“To infer that our government would drop a Hellfire missile on Jane Fonda brings the conversation to a ridiculous tone.”
“I don’t remember any of you fellow Republicans coming down here and saying President [George W.] Bush was going to kill anyone with a drone,” Graham said. “But we had a drone program back then…so what is it that’s got you so spun up now?”

Great question, Sen. Graham. Oh no wait — no it isn’t…there is a history of prevaricating on this issue, maybe you weren’t aware of it.

There is a problem here that goes beyond drones on home soil, involving the behavior of the Obama White House in response to questions like this; questions which would, by being answered, commit the President to a reduced scope of available options. Obama’s people seem, to me, to be disturbingly sluggish in making these commitments. This goes back quite a way. It didn’t start with the drones.

Always, if someone asks such a question, the answer has less to do with providing information sought by the question, and more to do with embarrassing the person asking. I’ve been looking for exceptions to this and I haven’t found any. Most of the time, the scolding that is heaped upon the person doing the asking, takes the form that the answer is just so self-evident that the asking should have been entirely unnecessary. That certainly happened here — but the other thing that happened here was, at the end of it all, you get that half-page letter from the Attorney General’s office that says “no.” Now, go back and watch the video again…

So, that kind of scolding is not appropriate. And it is most regrettable that some of it is coming from ostensibly “Republican” senators.

Someone is laboring under the mistaken belief that Useful Idiots retain their usefulness for some length of time. Well, I don’t think they do. I think, you could ask a panel of thousand Americans, evenly mixed by geographic location, ethnicity, sex, sex preference, party affiliation and any other way, “If the Republican party is not for shrinking the size of government, then why in the hell is it there?” and you wouldn’t get ANYTHING back. Just an occasional “put black people back in chains” and that’s the only coherent answer you’d get.

A Republican senator providing cover to a democrat president with delusions of dictatorship and grandeur, is about as useful as a bag with no bottom.

“Put On My Server Smile…”

Friday, March 8th, 2013

That would be an interesting experience…to say the least.

The waitress was handed her own stolen ID.

Imagine you’re a waitress, out with friends on a night off, when you lose your wallet. Cash, credit cards, driver’s license—all gone. Your bank later informs you that checks are being issued in your name.

It’s a pain, but you carry on. Two weeks later, you’re at work when four people walk in and sit in your section. They start ordering drinks. You ask to see their IDs. A woman in the group hands a driver’s license to you. You look down, and it’s yours.

That is precisely what police in Colorado say happened to Brianna Priddy, a server at a Lakewood Applebee’s.
Priddy called the police, and tried to act normal while waiting for them to arrive.

“I put on my server smile and tried to take care of them, but I was shaking like crazy,” she said.

When police arrived, the woman, whose name has not been released, was arrested on suspicion of theft, identity theft and criminal impersonation. Police also found narcotics in her possession.

“Dumb criminal,” Lakewood police spokesman Steve Davis told Denver’s 9NEWS. “That’s the first thing that comes to mind.”

Hat tip to Neo-neocon.

Area of a Triangle

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

As the definition of “learning disability” has noticeably broadened in recent years, I’ve harbored the suspicion that, although I wasn’t diagnosed with one in my childhood, if I had it to do over again today I might be. Every now and then some evidence comes along that elevates this from a suspicion to a near certainty.

I saw a web ad about some kind of learning program, don’t remember what it was. Girl calls woman. The girl is doing her homework, and can’t remember how to find the area of a triangle. So the woman reminds the girl that the area of a triangle is one half the length of the base times the height; so, what you do is multiply the base times the height, and then divide by two. Then they grin at each other. This bugs me, although I imagine others would wonder why.

I’m looking at it from the point of view of the instruction service provided: The formula was translated into a sequence of steps. It has me wondering about supply and demand, because when I needed help with homework, this particular instruction was in great supply even though the demand wasn’t there. And that’s mostly a ditto in the other half of my world experience, helping my son — translate a formula into a sequence of steps? Negatori. Choose the formula that applies, maybe. Figure out which bit of information in the “too much information” section is ripe for disposal before the real work starts.

And I remember the area-of-a-triangle thing pretty clearly: I was obsessed, like a dog going after a bone just out of reach, with the why. How come it is that this always works? For those who are a few years past this level of education, you can do this with right triangles, acute triangles, isosceles triangles, scalene triangles.

What makes it so? What if the width of the triangle is much greater than the base; do you use the base, or the width? And why? How is it to be demonstrated?

A chirpy math tutor just walking me through the steps of the formula, wouldn’t have done anything to resolve this. And in a way, it’s not a good demonstration of the problem because if I was off in the weeds meandering through all this, and I was interrupted with a task to just work out the area of a triangle as expected, I would’ve been able to do it fine. But it certainly was, and is, a distraction. And the other kids weren’t even wondering about it. But, to my way of learning, this kind of thing is a vital prerequisite to just getting the concepts down cold.

Hey look, even Wikipedia has the same kind of diagram (in the public domain) that got me going on all that. They’ve got a triangle with a base that’s narrower than its width. But if you follow the area-of-triangle link I embedded above, they don’t say anything about this scenario, they just give you instructions.

And, their instructions are equally lacking. Base times height times one-half? Or width times height times one-half? As it happens, if you simply ignore ramifications and consequences and hypothetical scenarios and simply stick to the script you’ll get it right, because the correct decision to make is: base. But can you come up with a proof?

See, there are those among us who can’t consider the lesson learned, with any confidence, until we construct some kind of a proof. After all, the question might be on the test: Base is a foot, height is two feet, width is a whole mile or more. Base times height over two, or with times height over two? And if it’s base times height over two, giving us a final area of one square foot, then how can that be, how does it work?

This step-by-step procedure-driven learning is like making your mind into a rake, nimbly navigating across the surface of such problems, while there are those of us who are more inclined in aptitude to work like pitchforks. We’re better suited for probing the conceptual material all the way down to the bottom, breaking up the clods, getting it all sorted out. Not so agile with the surface-spanning. It’s not that we’re slower with the work, the problem is that we’ve identified more of it to be done. Once we’ve identified it, we lack the ability to skip past it on command. It’s got to do with how the learning is done; it’s got to do with sequencing.

So yeah, the learning-disability mania lately really upsets me. It’s difficult to exhaustively identify all that’s going on here, but one of the things that seems to me to be undeniable is that LDs are being identified first as anomalies — this kid over here, isn’t learning & behaving quite the same way as all those other kids. We’ll work out why that is at some later time, but for now the important thing to do is to treat him differently. Well, that’s not going in the right direction. In my day I was held to the same standards as the other kids, and I had to figure out on my own how to make it work. Yes, there was some stress involved, there was suffering, some of it on me and some of it on my parents, and my teachers, and ultimately my grades. And, my adaptation to the world around me will always be incomplete. But then again, that’s true of any of us, isn’t it? Don’t we all have our little crosses to bear? Aren’t we all just a bunch of strangers in a strange land, in some way? Individual experiences are unique by their very nature, aren’t they?

And how does it improve the situation, to treat kids differently? All you manage to accomplish then, is to remove the incentive for getting the work done that really has to get done. They need to learn to map things out in their own way, so it can be programmed into their uniquely-laid-out brain circuits; they have to take responsibility for whatever translation tasks have to get done. It’s their job.

Somehow, somewhere, at some time, we’ve been sold this bill of goods that it’s the school district’s job to catalog all the students according to this iconoclastic brain-circuitry-layout, and start up as many special education programs as have to be started up — very much like instructing in as many different languages as are manifested in the native tongues of all the student body. See, we skipped past a dialogue we needed to have there. I don’t think that’s the way it should work. And on that particular note, I don’t think I’m one voice in the wilderness, I think there are others who see it the same way. But there, as in many other things, it seems we’ve settled on the answer that the system has to be all-understanding and all-knowing, while the individuals just sort of bumble along in whatever way they think makes sense.

This does not make for a graduating class of capable, productive and society-ready adults, which is what we all say we really want. It tends to produce, in my opinion, the opposite of this. Script-kitties. Experts in following sequences of steps, and when they’re done, the result should be like such-and-such…but what if it doesn’t work someday, what then? They won’t have the skills to sort that out, but that will be “okay” because it won’t be their job. The system we’ve managed to put together, from all I’ve learned about it, is a system that’s pretty sure it will all somehow work out fine. But, that’s the thing about bureaucracies: If & when it doesn’t work out fine, it isn’t anybody’s fault.

“My Parents Were Killed By a Sequester”

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

The first guy (1:12) could just take that answer word-for-word, and use it for everything that comes along. Which is probably exactly what he does.

I like the way they picked on the Obama opposition as well, though. Yes it’s true, there are people out there who wait for Obama to do something, and immediately see all the wrong in it; if He picked the other, they’d pick the other. But then, of course, there are the people like that first guy. Thinking is hard.

My favorite was the last one, though. Finally some honesty.


Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

An alternative speech prepared by our nation’s 34th President, from years earlier when he commanded the most complex and daunting military operation in human history:

Our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.

Not even a comma after the word “attempt.” Those are some balls, right there. Now, fast forward seven decades and ten presidents, we get

The longer these cuts remain in place, the greater the damage to our economy, a slow grind that will intensify with each passing day. So economists are estimating that as a consequence of the sequester that we could see growth cut by over one half of 1 percent. It will cost about 750,000 jobs at a time when we should be growing jobs more quickly.

So every time that we get a piece of economic news over the next month, next two months, next six months, as long as the sequester’s in place we’ll know that that economic news could have been better if Congress had not failed to act.

I’ve been waiting for someone to go after this like a pit bull. If it’s happened, it’s escaped my notice, so we’re left just listening for Ike’s bones to rattle as he spins in his tomb.

The lack of ownership concerns me, and my concern increases when I think about the timeline. Obama’s presidency started off continuing smoothly from His campaign, blaming Bush for every little thing. This sales pitch became a parody of itself and, over time, seemed to subside. This suggested a message from the White House of “okay, that’s wearing a bit thin, let’s shift to something else.” So perhaps, four years in, we’d have our answer to the question of when Obama would start owning the results and the situations under His management. Couldn’t hope for an Operation Overlord “if there is blame it is mine alone” — but maybe a bit of “this isn’t working let’s try that other thing”? I mean for the sake of the nation, not for the sake of the democrat party or His campaign. I’ve seen He’s capable of this when it comes to campaigning. But He’s President of the United States, not President of the democrat Party or President of the Obama Campaign. Too much hope?

Evidently. Now we have another six months of, if this doesn’t go all wonderfully…or even if it does…”we’ll know that that economic news could have been better if Congress had not failed to act.”

This is more than a continuation of what came before. It is a whole new horizon in the sad, pathetic voyage of failing to take ownership, a brand new threshold to cross. Here is President Obama instructing us to believe — not spinning it this way, but actually telling us what to think, not even being shy about it — Republicans in Congress are to blame for everything going badly. And, if that isn’t enough of a kick in the gut, if things go awesomely then Congress is to be blamed for everything not being even better.

What if things go so well, that they cannot have gone any better? Do I even need to ask…all hail Economic Savior Obama. Gosh, it’s great being a subject in Emperor Barry’s kingdom. To think of all those frustrating years I spent trying to think for myself.

Over at our collaborative blog, CylarZ was noticing something about what I said there, also with regard to the President’s press conference. He found it to align with something from his recent personal experience:

If it isn’t your fault, you make it your fault. Really, that is what you do. For if it does not depend on you in some way, then what hope do you have for making it better?

That’s profound. I’m going to have to remember that. In fact, I think maybe this should be added to your “Things I Know” list.
…I should have asked more questions before jumping into the purchase…If I don’t “own” my screw ups and take responsibility for them, how am I going to avoid similar ones in the future?

Regrettable purchases are wonderful illustrations of how this all works. In any human conflict, it’s easy to say “I’m perfect in every way and the problem all has to do with that other guy.” But when it comes to getting fleeced, the wisdom just has a way of sinking in, along with the pain. Even those most jaundiced against the simple concept of taking ownership, really have to ask themselves: Okay, you did everything right, the other guy did everything wrong, now with the little-to-nothing learning from that sad episode, do you really want to go sliding on in to the next transaction? Really?

Winning is fun. Screwing up sucks. But if we don’t screw up, we don’t learn. That’s where the learning’s done. We don’t learn much when we win.

My son was having some problems with this about the time I was splitting up with his Mom. He began to sink a lot of his passions into this reprehensible anime cartoon with origins over in Japan, about a boy roughly his age who’d conjure up these strange-looking animals out of a ball. It seems in this universe, all the kids did something like this, they’d run around with these distinctive-looking spheres, they’d talk a bunch of smack at each other, and then they’d conjure up these creatures out of the spheres. Then the creatures would do all the fighting for the kids. The kid who owned the creature that won the fight would be able to gloat, and the kid who owned the vanquished creature would get all mopey and frowny-faced and butt-hurt.

Thursdays and weekends, when my son came over to my bachelor pad, I absolutely forbade anything to do with this perverse franchise from crossing my doorstep. Naturally, the day soon came when he wanted to know why, and I held nothing back: I said, it is my job to make you into a strong and self-sufficient man, by the time you come of age, and frankly I’ve seen a distinct drop-off in the attributes I’m trying to build in you, since you’ve gotten all invested in that awful cartoon.

It is equally accurate to say I’d seen these things recede since his parents split up. But, you know, ownership: His parents splitting up was not the boy’s fault. But the crappy cartoon certainly was.

Anyway, it had the desired effect. The kid wanted to know, what were these things he used to show in some measure, that had been falling off? So we made an acronym:

L is for Leadership
I is for taking the Initiative
C is for Creativity
O is for Ownership of your own problems
R is for Resourcefulness
I is for Ingenuity
C is for Courage and Conviction
E is for Energy

This was, thankfully, about the time the “new Star Wars prequels” were rolling out. So, after doing what we could to get out and have fun together over the weekend, and it was time to slide the take-n-bake pizza in the oven and watch what installments were available, we were able to talk about, wow, that Anakin guy whines exactly the same way as his kid Luke. Those Skywalker dudes seem to have some real problems with the O in their L.I.C.O.R.I.C.E.

And so, a pact was formed. He brings his damn L.I.C.O.R.I.C.E. And, I bring him what he needs to bring that. He was a bit unclear on the concepts there, and it is a father’s job to restore the clarity.

Some folks suffer the handicap of not having a father figure who could have restored that clarity, but by marshaling their own internal resources and making the right decisions, they manage to figure it out on their own.

I wish our current president was one of those people. Today, we, as a nation, would have more hope. As it is, it looks like we the citizens will have to bring the L.I.C.O.R.I.C.E. that He can’t seem to bring. I mean, I understand it can be frustrating dealing with a Congress and everything, I completely get that…but, does the average Obama friend/voter/fan realize that the 43 previous administrations also had to deal with unfriendly congresses?

You find a way to make it your fault, if it isn’t your fault already. If it isn’t your fault, what hope do you have to make anything better?

Wealth Inequality in America

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Hat tip to Ed Darrell. And, good for him, since I think it is very important that this information get around. Not so much the distribution itself, but how people look at it.

Of course, there’s a problem or two with it, which I’ll just leave unmentioned.

Adam Carolla’s Son’s Helmet

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

From pp. 16-17 of “In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks…And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy”:

The tests suggested that if we didn’t buy the four-thousand-dollar PVC yarmulke, my son was going to look like Rocky from Mask. So after a plaster mold was made of his head, which was about as easy as stuffing a raccoon into a garbage disposal, four to six weeks later we received the final product. The instructions were to wear the helmet twenty-three hours out of he day, every day, for three months. He lasted less than forty-five seconds. He pitched such a fit and was so miserable that we had to pry the helmet off almost immediately…And today my son is four with a head prettier than Yul Brynner’s.

Please indulge me for moment on the off chance that the “expert” who prescribed the helmet is reading this.

Dear fuckwad:

Obviously you don’t know shit about your field. You said if my son didn’t wear the helmet that his sunglasses wouldn’t sit right on his head. Well, your four-thousand-dollar helmet became a four-thousand-dollar doorstop, and three years later my son’s head is perfect. Which means you’re either A) horrible at what you do or B) a liar preying on the guilt of moms who drive expensive SUVs. Perhaps it’s a combination of incompetence and greed. Either way, you should focus full-time on your true calling — gay porn.

Thank you.

That’s a bit insensitive to gay porn stars, and I wish he’d managed to intermix that splendid description he’d whipped up back on p. 15: “I blame us because we caved to the hypochondriac, Readbook-reading, Oprah-watching, crystal-rubbing, Whole Foods-shopping survivor-of-incest moms and their pussy-whipped attorney husbands.” Emphasis on hypochondriac. Hypochondriac moms, doing their hypochondriac worrying vicariously through their kids.

The rant about peanuts is splendid. At no point does he question that the severe peanut allergies are, in fact, real. And a lot of them are. But the question still remains, and the lack of curiosity about it is really rather befuddling: How come it is that if you’re around my age (class of ’84), you can barely, maybe, possibly remember one kid out of the whole school who had an allergy like this. Now we’re looking at one in twenty-five.

The logic is bad. Don’t take my word for it, try this simple test: Someone insists her precious has an allergy, or learning disability, or needs medication in order to concentrate, or is autistic, just…doubt it. Doubt it in the case of that one kid…and…sure as the sun rises in the East the next day, you are going to find yourself embroiled in a huge knock-down drag-out about whether the problem exists. So. You doubt the one case is a positive, and you are blitzed with this “overwhelming evidence” that the malady itself is a real one.

They can’t even keep their minds on the conversation at hand. But we’re supposed to uncritically believe them when they say their kids are special cases and need medicine or therapy or cartoonishly overprotective cafeteria policies about peanut butter.

The small-m moms are feeling guilty.

And it’s cultural. We place all this importance on being able to say “I’m smarter than the next guy” or “I’m more noble than the next guy” or “I really know what I’m talking about and that other guy doesn’t”…but, paradoxically, there is no value whatsoever being attached to saying “I am a better pick for the job than that guy, because I can achieve it without any special accommodations at all and he can’t.”

Attaching a sense of importance to that, I guess, would be like picking on handicapped kids or something. So now we all get to be handicapped.


Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Fitting summary.

Hat tip once again to Gerard.

So this time last week it looked like my interview was going to be a bunch of quizzes on “fundamental algorithms.” Then I got some more interview materials and it looks like it’s going to be more like, they ask me “when in your career did you have occasion to use [blank]?” and I regale them with crisp answers about what I was trying to do, how I used [blank], what I’ve learned. That actually made me more confident about it because at this point, if I retired right now and ++poof++ instantly had some ten-year-old grandchildren, oh trust me, I could bore them to tears about pretty much anything. Databases, filters, sorts, normalizations, superkeys, validation, indexing, encryption, cipher, hash, digital signature, icons, cursors, hot-spots, color mapping…

But now I’m imagining this guy as my competition and I’m thinking…hmmmm. Built a robot back in high school as part of a group science project. Since then about the most complicated thing I’ve done has been installing new accessories on my bike, outside of building an occasional Pinewood Derby. I’m not in this guy’s ball park. Not even playing the same game.

Wonder what happens to the creme?

If I Found It In My Mailbox

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Hmmmm…interesting question to ponder.


Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Just one thing to add on to my analysis of the President’s press conference yesterday, in the post immediately previous. It’s probably much more appropriate to make into a post of its own, and so that is what I shall do.

Over the course of the many years since He has become a national celebrity, I have very gradually become cumulatively irritated with the President’s habit of making noises like “uh” and “um.” And I’m picking up the vibe that, although I am likely to be heading down a road all by myself in saying it out loud, I’m very far from alone in thinking it. Oh yes, I know this puts one in the bulls-eye zone of the target area for accusations of R-R-R-Racism. Well, here’s my response to that.

Regardless of skin color of the person speaking, it just doesn’t fit. We use “uh” as a habit of nervousness, when we need some time to grope for the right word, are not yet ready to relinquish the floor to someone else who might be a bit too enthused about taking it, who may not even realize they’re interrupting if our thoughts are a bit too sluggish. It’s a bad fit because President Obama, in spite of all His flaws and his lack of practical experience, is a sharp guy in His own field. And there can be no doubt about it at this point, His field is speaking. He is polished, He is rehearsed, He is sharp. We have had some presidents who are, on occasion, walking advertisements for Holiday Inn, or whatever is the hotel brand using the advertising gimmick of pondering the disasters in store for whoever doesn’t get an adequate night’s rest on a business trip. Obama’s predecessor is a good example of that. Obama is not one of those. His rep is that He really, really knows what He wants to get out there into the microphone, and in that respect if none other, He can live up to His billing.

It is a bad fit, even further, because for all the smarts Obama seeks to bring, the ideas He’s putting out there when He speaks are not formidable thoughts. They are very simple. It doesn’t take a lot of mental horsepower to channel them into words. Furthermore, along this particular point, there hasn’t been a lot of variance to them throughout the years. They’ve mostly been a round-robin. Obama speeches, on any subject, remind me of the rotary drums mounted in those pianos that can play themselves. Very, very small rotary drums…they complete one cycle and they play the same thing again.

And it is a bad fit, even further than that, because the verbiage is modest. Here, try this. Pick an Obama speech on YouTube. Any one, I don’t care which. Wait until the next time He says “uh” or “um” and then…this is key…watch for what comes right after it, and seriously ask yourself: Okay, did He really need more time to choose just the perfect word? Is that plausible?

This is the part where, if you don’t understand where I’m going up until now, you come into my fold and agree. It isn’t plausible. Yes, even President Obama’s use of “uh” is insincere, like everything else He says.

He’s using it as a gimmick. I will give him this much, I think at this point it certainly is a subconscious thing. He’s probably been building the habit since early adulthood, some thirty years or so. And it’s easy to see what the gimmick is: We have in our midst a brilliant and deep thinker, approaching the level of godliness, sort of, wading into a subject of deep complexity, and moving about with skill and nimbleness, determined not to make even the slightest misstep.

It’s just a complete crock. In that particular example, President Obama’s point was a simple one, an old refrain, one that should be familiar by now, even tiresome: Republicans are screwing you guys over and it isn’t My fault. There is nothing tricky about this, not even close. Yet how many utterances of “uh” and “um” do you have within any randomly selected minute of it.

Now I’m sure it sounds petty. I’m sure many will question whether I’d be similarly peeved if a white guy was doing the same thing. It’s a tough question to answer because Barack Obama’s gimmicky use of the word “uh” is a device He’s been using to exploit a low bar of expectations placed on Him. Geraldine Ferraro was right, and the real racism here is the racism within his supporters, who would not be supporting Him if he were white. This is proven easily: Many among them keep their enthusiasm rejuvenated because of, not in spite of, the “uh”; white guys go “uh” fairly often, and there’s really nothing impressive about it. So how come the black guy gets extra credit for it. What, you think because rap music is rhythmic and rhymes, that people of color aren’t capable of going “uh”?

As it happens, though, I do have an example that comes to mind about a white guy really, really getting under my skin with this stuff. It’s not the “uh” gimmick, it’s a different one. We were staying in a hotel and we had the boob tube on in the morning…an infomercial comes on about the device you use to figure out if your check engine light is coming on. So I tell the wife…wife, why are we watching this dreck? And the wife says, because I want to know what the thing costs. And I’m thinking, why does he keep jibber-jabbering and he won’t tell us? And jibber-jabber he does, and he gets to the price of the appliance noting what a steal it would be at three hundred, but it’s NOT three hundred. It’s not two eighty, it’s not two seventy, it’s not two-fifty. It isn’t even two twenty-five! What would you say if it was ONE NINETY NINE!! And then he talks about it being one ninety nine for a little while…then he goes, but it’s NOT! it’s not one sixty, it’s not one fifty, it’s not one forty! Think about having this wonderful thing for just ONE TEN!! Then he talks about that…But it’s EVEN LOWER! It’s not ninety, it’s not eighty…

So. Don’t any you sunzabitches go calling me a racist for this one. That would be yet another example of racists-calling-non-racists-racists, and we’ve had plenty enough of that already. I don’t give a fig about the President’s skin color, I just don’t like being talked to like I’m an idiot.

The device, by the way, turned out to be free. With some conditions attached, the details of which surpassed my curiosity at that point.

I gave the wife the feedback that, now that I’ve switched the idiot box off, I want to drop-kick the goddamn thing not out of the third-floor window, or the fifth-floor window, or even the seventh-floor window. Or even the tenth. How about…

Why is so much human creativity, in recent years, being plowed into the objective of deceiving each other? And with such a low level of regard for the intellect of the “mark,” the person who is supposed to be deceived. Dumb lies put together for dumb people. So, week in and week out, the President has another bushel of wonderful speeches to bring all peppered and pockmarked heavily with that word “uh.” It’s annoying because He’s just doing the same thing liberals of all sorts of colors, shapes and sizes do all the time: Make something more abundant that was never scarce in the first place, that by its greater abundance doesn’t make anything any better.

About the President’s Presser Yesterday

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

On the “Jedi mind-meld,” Sulu says the President got it right so that settles it…if we recognize an appeal-to-authority argument as valid. I’m afraid, though, if this demonstrates anything at all, what it demonstrates are the many flaws in that form of argument. To use one’s good name as a lever for moving insincere ambitions is a sultry and seductive temptation in the human condition, and it lives in the forever. None of us are immune. I recall Vint Cerf, recognized as the father of TCP/IP, weighing in with the notion that Al Gore was right to accept credit with the “I took the initiative in creating the Internet” remark.

By internalizing the reasoning process and taking our own initiative to peek into the water wells, we can see President Obama is just as wrong now as Al Gore was then. Actor George Takei’s actual argument, granting him the benefit of every available doubt, amounts to “Star Trek and Jedi knights both have something to do with peace.”

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Dignifying it with a response — and I’m conflicted about that, but I’ll go with it — Takei makes the mistake of neglecting thing-that-is-non-partisan-or-darn-well-should-be Number Eight:

8. [blank] and [blank] are meaningfully different; what works for one does not necessarily work for the other.

Jedi mind tricks put the ideas in. Vulcan mind melds get the information out. In and out are opposites. They are not the same. Note this is after ignoring, for no reason whatsoever other than it is injurious to the point Takei is trying to prop up, that “Jedi mind meld” is a portmanteau of sheer nonsense. The phrase doesn’t exist. It’s a botch, plain & simple, and one feels a bit silly descending to the level of pointing it out.

And, since I’m merely a fan of both franchises, whereas Takei is an actor on one, and yet I got it right and he got it wrong, this settles any outstanding disagreement about the appeal-to-authority, as well. I find the whole business to be strewn with gaping defects in logic, and fallacies both formal and informal lying hither and yon. Sincere presenters of assertions have no reason to use it, none whatsoever. Unless it is their intent to outsource the reasoning processes…which, if they really are sincere, they’ll come out and ‘fess up that this is what they’re doing, and offer due deference to anyone who undertakes the more disciplined work of internalizing those processes.

Putting it more simply: We have enough bovine feces floating around out there and we don’t need more.

Which brings me to that other thing:

What a telling exchange. And unfortunate for the President, in that the character deficiencies He is showing here, are easily recognizable to many of us. His saving grace is that this “many of us” probably doesn’t overlap statistically, in any great measure, with His constituency, since the defect becomes most glaring when it is in your proximity and you’re trying to get a job done.

Just look at what happened here.

Reporter: It seems like you’re not taking any responsibility for what happened here.

Obama: Oh yeah? Name one thing I could’ve done differently. Just one.

This particular exchange doesn’t fit the image that the President was trying to put together here. He’s trying to present Himself as the grown-up in the room, the cool but inwardly frustrated ambassador of good will, trying to get something done.

But those among us who’ve encountered the personality type, understand this is the type of guy stopping things from getting done. The “nothing is ever my fault” guy.

There is another point to be made here. My son and I have been exploring this in recent years: A lot of times in life, you’re going to look around at the wreckage of your latest failure and see yes, President Obama’s viewpoint is right here, there is absolutely, positively nothing I could have done differently. That is okay as an initial observation. It is not okay as a final conclusion because it just isn’t how productive people think. They don’t say it out loud and they don’t allow the thought in their heads. EVER.

If it isn’t your fault, you make it your fault. Really, that is what you do. For if it does not depend on you in some way, then what hope do you have for making it better?

So: We do not say “those assholes at the car lot really saw me coming, they really took me for a ride. Reamed me good.” We do not say things like that if we want to be productive people. We say “I really made a mistake going to that car lot.” See the difference?

A lot of people won’t. Seems the guy in the White House right now is one of those people. And, what’s even worse is, He seems to think it’s awfully important that we know this about Him.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Rotten Chestnuts.

Question About Internet Advertising

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Is it intentional that, when I visit a page that has an article on it that I’ve been trying to find, and you know sometimes that’s easy and other times not so much…the article remains readable for a moment or two, just long enough for me to glimpse it and verify that this is probably what I’ve been trying to find — before an ad floats in on top of it?

Because the ad, to do what it’s supposed to do, has to prominently carry the branding of the sponsor. Which means in that situation, within my brain, that sponsor’s identity is becoming irreversibly intertwined with the primitive sentiment of “fuck off and die.” Just doesn’t seem like a desirable thing, for the sponsor, to me. Is there a body of research work out there concluding that this is the right thing for them to be doing?

Sequestration Saves the Planet

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Yeah, let’s play a little game of “believe everything we read and see where it takes us.”

The planet is warming. Because it has been, that is proof that it will. We know this because of models. We made them with science.

The cause of the warming is carbon. Carbon is emitted by humans. Developed nations must cut their emissions. America is one of the leading developed nations, and has an obligation to cut its carbon emissions to save the planet. The science is settled that the heating of the planet is being caused by human activity.

America’s government is active. It does activity. It is populated by humans. American humans.

The sequester is going to mandate deep, draconian cuts. The cuts will come from government spending. We are going to have to go without vital, needed services because the cuts will be made without rhyme or reason. A lot of the things the government has been doing, it will not be doing. The government staffed by American humans, who emit gas and heat the planet when they do their American human activity. They won’t be so active because they’ve been sequestered.

The sequester has given us exactly the reduction in human-activity carbon spewing, that we needed to save the planet. We should find a way to do more sequestering. The planet’s continuing survival depends on it.

Update: By way of Maggie’s Farm, this chart from Gateway Pundit:

The “Equal Protection” Scam

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Not His job, and He doesn’t live here anyway. Isn’t He supposed to be out stirring up a panic over the sequester or something?

Completing what President Obama called his “evolution” on the question of gay marriage, the administration late Thursday called on the Supreme Court to strike down California’s voter-passed initiative invalidating same-sex marriages.
Just SHUT UP, Obama!In the new brief, the Justice Department argues that the ban on gay marriage violated same-sex couples’ constitutional guarantee to equal protection under the law. But the brief focused on the California case and stopped short of calling for a nationwide guarantee that same-sex couples have a right to marry.

“The government seeks to vindicate the defining constitutional ideal of equal treatment under the law,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement Thursday evening. “Throughout history, we have seen the unjust consequences of decisions and policies rooted in discrimination.”

Hat tip to The Other McCain.

I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around this, I must say. This country does not allow discrimination because we have Equal Protection Under the Law. And so…we, the lowly sheeple who don’t have the slightest clue what we’re doing, pass a law through our state government, to apply to our state — and some guy who has achieved fame we haven’t achieved completes his evolution, way off somewhere, well outside of our state…well, He’s seeking to overturn our law because He knows better than we do. Even though He doesn’t live here.

Equal protection under the law!

You need to shape the fuck up and start doing it Barry’s way!

Same sentence. Same breath.

If we really think so highly of equal protection, then Barack Obama’s evolution is not truly complete until He moves to California, shows all of the paperwork in the process of becoming a California citizen that the rest of us had to show — and I’m having trouble envisioning that at this point since Obama’s stock answer to “show me a document” seems to be “Why should I have to?” — and works to convince a majority among his fellow Californians that we need to pass a new law. That’s how it’s done for us peons out here in Flyover Country, Mister constitutional law professor president guy.

But of course, if He did it that way, He wouldn’t be special.

Equal protection! Know your place and do what Emperor Barack says! All in the same document, same gesture. I just don’t know what to say about that. The cognitive dissonance, it’s just staggering. Mind-blowing.

Thing I Know #415. No practical or effective thinking can proceed from a fundamental confusion of a thing with its opposite.

Update: Come to think of it, this whole Voting Rights Act thing is more of the same. If any of these selected, historically bigoted states want to change anything, they have to stop everything and check with whoever the Attorney General is before they can go further. Premise underlying this bizarre rule is, obviously, that the AG must believe in the equal-treatment thing, and the bigoted states’ credentials in that matter are not so stellar. What makes the system flawed is that the premise is foundational and indispensable but there isn’t any mechanism to validate it in whole or in part.

Eric Holder believes in equal treatment? Who says? More dedicated to this than anyone in those states that have to do things his way? Who really thinks so?

How would I condense this summation of the bizarre times in which we live…it’s coming to me…it’s coming to me…ah yes, here it is:

Do what I tell you to do and think what I tell you to think, for it is not proven that you abhor slavery as much as I do.

The task now arises to look around and see how much of our modern, egalitarian “equal protection” society works according to this unworkable paradox. And right off the bat, I suspect it would be easier to make a list of what does not work this way. We’re seeing it in quite a few places now. Masters bossing around slaves, because the masters fancy themselves to be more faithful to the equal-treatment principle, even as they betray the principle in the bossing.