Archive for September, 2013

The Fausts

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

I am reluctant to call them “tokens,” although many of them are that. “Token” has a specific implication, though, and anybody who’s been following Affirmative Action issues anytime over the last forty years or so knows exactly what it is: You put a designated-minority-class member on a panel that would otherwise be lacking in this cosmetic “diversity,” and from then on you can point to something should anyone accuse you of missing this; the token may or may not be really bringing this diverse make-up, he or she may or may not have equivalent decision-making power. But you get to point, if ever that should be advantageous. Hence the name, token. Tokens are Fausts, provided they are knowingly and willingly made into tokens. All Fausts are not necessarily tokens.

Andrew Klavan (hat tip to…somebody…insert hat tip here as soon as I remember how I found this) has a different word for them: Suckers!

I’m thinking of carrying Wall Street Journal economic writer Stephen Moore’s latest column in my pocket. Then when leftists tell me about “equality,” and “income disparity,” I can take it out, roll it up, and beat them across the nose with it shouting, “What did you do? What did you do?”
People like me tend to make esoteric arguments for the free market — private property is the basis of freedom, equality is the trait of slaves and so on. But it is also true that, with light, smart regulation, free markets work better than anything else. For those blacks, Hispanics, young people and single women who were convinced otherwise? Wakey-wakey, sweethearts. You’ve been had.

Let us take a gander at the cudgel Klaven would be using across those Faust-sucker faces as he shouts “what did you do?”:

For better or worse, a truism of American politics is that voters vote their pocketbooks. Yet according to a new report on median household incomes by Sentier Research, in 2012 millions of American voters apparently cast ballots contrary to their economic self-interest.

Each month the consultants at Sentier analyze the numbers from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and estimate the trend in median annual household income adjusted for inflation. On Aug. 21, Sentier released “Household Income on the Fourth Anniversary of the Economic Recovery: June 2009 to June 2013.” The finding that grabbed headlines was that real median household income “has fallen by 4.4 percent since the ‘economic recovery’ began in June 2009.” In dollar terms, median household income fell to $52,098 from $54,478, a loss of $2,380.

What was largely overlooked, however, is that those who were most likely to vote for Barack Obama in 2012 were members of demographic groups most likely to have suffered the steepest income declines. Mr. Obama was re-elected with 51% of the vote. Five demographic groups were crucial to his victory: young voters, single women, those with only a high-school diploma or less, blacks and Hispanics. He cleaned up with 60% of the youth vote, 67% of single women, 93% of blacks, 71% of Hispanics, and 64% of those without a high-school diploma, according to exit polls.

According to the Sentier research, households headed by single women, with and without children present, saw their incomes fall by roughly 7%. Those under age 25 experienced an income decline of 9.6%. Black heads of households saw their income tumble by 10.9%, while Hispanic heads-of-households’ income fell 4.5%, slightly more than the national average. The incomes of workers with a high-school diploma or less fell by about 8% (-6.9% for those with less than a high-school diploma and -9.3% for those with only a high-school diploma).

This dovetails nicely with the bit of information found (through a bit of an off-topic bunny trail) in yesterday morning’s meandering through the latest Burt Prelutsky column.

During the first two years of the nation’s economic recovery, the mean net worth of households in the upper 7% of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28%, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93% dropped by 4%, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly released Census Bureau data.

From 2009 to 2011, the mean wealth of the 8 million households in the more affluent group rose to an estimated $3,173,895 from an estimated $2,476,244, while the mean wealth of the 111 million households in the less affluent group fell to an estimated $133,817 from an estimated $139,896.

These wide variances were driven by the fact that the stock and bond market rallied during the 2009 to 2011 period while the housing market remained flat.

Affluent households typically have their assets concentrated in stocks and other financial holdings, while less affluent households typically have their wealth more heavily concentrated in the value of their home.

From the end of the recession in 2009 through 2011 (the last year for which Census Bureau wealth data are available), the 8 million households in the U.S. with a net worth above $836,033 saw their aggregate wealth rise by an estimated $5.6 trillion, while the 111 million households with a net worth at or below that level saw their aggregate wealth decline by an estimated $0.6 trillion.

Notice that the observations made, are different. The former contrasts the demographic groups likely to have voted for His Majesty, against the general population; the latter contrasts median-area measurements like “the housing market” and households with net worth below $836k, against those on the upper side of that same line. The conclusion validated by viewing from these two vantage points, however, is common: Barack Obama is a stinky hot poison on the nation’s economy, most especially where it is supposed to benefit whatever He is calling His constituency on any given day. Working families, working folks, you, you all, everybody else, everyone, vast majority…

Of course, anyone who isn’t inclined to support Mister Wonderful, is not part of the intended audience. He’s talking to the angry people who voted for Him and His pals.

Hurley Rocks the Schoolteacher FantasyThe original Faust was not starving, he was “bored and disappointed.” The Dudley Moore and Brendan Fraser versions were sickened by a spate of unrequited infatuation, and wanted the object of affection to notice them. The Obama-voting Fausts are not starving either. They like to play it that way, and there’s some legitimacy to it in the sense that some of them are genuinely frightened of losing access to health care resources when they need them the most. But the resentment felt by the have-nots against the haves has not aged very well at all, especially here in the United States. Our is a country distinguished, almost magically, from the layers of human history that came before it. It is truly a miraculous place. Bold, italics: Our poor people are fat. That truism, all by itself, pushes us way, way outside the wildest hopes and dreams of any civilization that has ever existed before.

And yet the lefty-Faust fantasy of the never-ending revolution, with the Robin Hood busting open the Sheriff of Nottingham’s coffers of ill-gotten coins, to be scooped up by the poor put-upon peasants for whom he so tirelessly toils, endures. With all of the inter-class resentment, burning white hot, also never-ending. Day after day, year after year, it’s always the last moment of darkness before the dawn, we’re always just on the cusp of spreading around the lucre, making everything “equal” and “fair,” comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

But in the same way Faust’s bargain didn’t work out for him in the long run, it doesn’t work out here either. The comfortable get more comfort, and the afflicted suffer greater affliction. Robin Hood, it seems, is stealing more coins from the peasants, and splitting it with the Sheriff.

The Syria silliness ties in with this, in the sense that we now have iron-clad proof that the Bush-era war protests had nothing whatsoever to do with opposition to war, and were all about getting democrats elected. That isn’t true across the board, though: The true grassroots people, here and there, may genuinely believe in the anti-war premises. And they may be genuinely angry about what’s going on now, like they were then. But they’re the non-organizing subclasses. The candlelight vigils and the marches and the protests aren’t quite happening. And the anger isn’t quite so personalized. George W. Bush was this icon of evil, Barack Obama somehow is this golf-playing nice guy trying to reform a slimy sinister Washington that’s doing all this bad stuff, and “doing the best He can.”

It’s sickening watching this sales job go “forward,” again and again, spinning its little cycle. The government, someone once observed, is a problem masquerading as its own solution. Example: Why is health care so hard to get hold of nowadays, anyway? Has it always been like that? You don’t have to talk to anybody with too much hair growing out of the ears to find out: Em, no. The market got screwed up after our government started “fixing” it. Then someone made a Faustian bargain. And now, when you go get a new job, you’re almost more worried about the health care “benefits” than you are about the base salary. A lot of people getting those new jobs have reason to be. And in the Obamaconomy, they’re the lucky ones.

The solutions are put in place, and they achieve the exact opposite of what they were supposed to. The “Fausts” can be counted-on, apparently, to fail to notice this, just like a bowling ball dropped can be counted-on to reach the ground. A new round of solutions is proposed, assured to make the existing problems worse, and the Fausts fall in line yet one more time as the comfortable become more comfortable and the afflicted become more afflicted. On and on it goes. Nobody’s got a reason to slow down, let alone stop, since the comfortable have a livelihood going on it, and the afflicted fail to remember. You fall for it once, then twice, you may as well fall for it a thousand times.

I think Ayn Rand wrote something down about this. Let me look it up…ah, here it is

It only stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.

The biggest lie in what we now call liberalism is that the expressions of concern are sincere. There are people in the anti-war movement who care about wars not happening where they can be avoided — but they are not the coordinators. There are people in it who care about the suffering of those who can’t get health care, but they are not the organizers. There are people who care about women and ethnic minorities being under-represented in positions of prestige, leisure and power. But they do not decide the policy. They’re all a bunch of Fausts, and at the end of it, not only do they fail to achieve their goals, they also fail to achieve the respect from their peers and their communities, for having at least tried.

Seems to be that last failure that perplexes them most of all. But they deserve to achieve that less than anything else. It’s hard to look respectable with a hook sticking out of your mouth.

Burt Prelutsky Bought a New Dishwasher

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

…and hilarity ensued.

…a few days later, I received a notice from the L.A, Department of Building and Safety, informing me that I had to make an appointment so that a city inspector could come out and make certain the job was done correctly. That entailed my making a call and dealing with a couple of electronic voices before reaching an actual person, who let me know that I had to allow for a six-hour window, but would be receiving a call the following morning that would narrow it down to a two-hour time frame.

As promised, I received the call. The inspector would be showing up between 11 and 1. And, so, he did, at 12:56. I led him to the kitchen. He took one look at the exterior of the dishwasher, said it looked okay to him and turned to leave.

“Hold on,” I said. “That’s it? You only needed to see that we had it?”

“There’s really nothing to check. It’s like plugging in a toaster.”

Funny how some people insist they don’t get anything for their tax dollars. How about peace of mind? Don’t try telling me or my wife that we won’t be sleeping better tonight knowing that it wasn’t a figment of our imagination; we’ve now had it confirmed by a city inspector that we actually have a brand new dishwasher!

But this is much bigger than dishwashers. No, I don’t think it’s a sinister conspiracy to keep people from going to work, or to create a bunch of jobs that don’t have anything to do with accomplishing anything. Although, certainly, lack of respect for productive work does have something to do with it. Just, no conspiracy of any kind. I swear, the older I get, the more I see of human weakness, the more hostile I become against the very concept of a conspiracy. The discretion and skill required to keep things coordinated and secret…that level is, like, way-up-here…and what I see humans successfully pulling off, is way-down-there.

I should add: Generally. There are isolated cases of secrets successfully kept, and traps successfully sprung.

But that’s more an exception than a rule. It certainly doesn’t apply to the by-the-book-dumbth of sending s city inspector out to make sure a dishwasher is present and accounted-fer. That, there, is a human weakness.

As I’ve said before a few times, in places I’m too lazy to go out and find: We, as an advanced, civilized society, have shown an amazing deftness when it comes to diagnosing things as mental/behavioral disabilities/disorders, that really aren’t, and failing to diagnose things that arguably are. This one, I contend, is: The weird boundless faith some people place in “oversight.” The guys who work for the store that sells the dishwasher, which in turn makes its profits form the sales of the dishwasher, hook the thing up — but who the heck knows if they did it right? They could have screwed up any one of a number of things. We don’t even know their names. So…this other guy whose name we also don’t know, but who works for a local government and not for the store that sells the dishwasher, checks it and now that makes it all okay.

I could see it if the argument went something like: The store has a concern, the government has a different concern, so if they both look at the same thing and come to the same conclusion about it, then we enjoy the benefits of this stereo-validation, if you will…that would make some sense to me. But that is not the argument, as best I can tell. The argument is more like, the city inspector can be trusted and the store cannot. And that’s where it looks to me like a mental illness. Which of those two parties has a stake in the damn thing working the way it should? Which one doesn’t? Like, duh.

Just something to keep in mind, next time a statist starts yammering about the benefits of regulation and proper oversight, and “Without Government We Wouldn’t Have _____” (fourth column, fourth row on the Bingo card).

Prelutsky, wandering from topic to topic as is his wont, goes on to make an observation:

Speaking of which, under Obama, the richest 7% of Americans have seen their wealth increase by 28% since 2008, while the other 93% have seen their net wealth decrease by 4%. Is it any wonder that the seven percenters donated so generously to his re-election campaign and why Hollywood’s pampered poodles all go gaga over him?

Confirmation sought, and found. My goodness, I thought Obama was a liberal and liberals, it has been said, have always been about equality. Again and again, we see evidence that if this was ever true, it no longer is. Liberalism as we know it today is about control. It is about the few dictating the actions, obligations, and customs of the many.

The liberalism we know today, is about statism. It is about having a city inspector come by to properly notice things, his words carrying infinite weight, while the guys who work for the store that sold the dishwasher can’t be relied upon for anything at all. I mean heck, without an inspector following up, who knows maybe those store-guys just crammed a big beach ball in there, and then urinated all over it. The inspector can be trusted, they can’t. Is it fair to call that a liberal idea? It certainly isn’t a conservative one.

From my bullet points on this:

• Conservatives have more respect for occupations that create assets, and defend the realm
• Liberals somehow reserve their respect for occupations that do not do this

That particular pattern should be a fragile one. Surprisingly, it holds up rather well. It applies here. Dishwasher guys are producing something of value. City inspector guy might be a decent swell guy and all, working hard, and his work might be very important and applicable in other settings. But that work doesn’t have to do with creating new assets or defending the realm. And from noticing the patterns, we see a likely cause-and-effect relationship — which even at this late date, I still cannot explain, in solid, likely terms — that because this is unproductive work, we have these fellow citizens of ours, toiling away like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain, to make that work relevant when it isn’t.

So no, it isn’t a conspiracy. Call it a…human foible. Kind of a reflex-motion of sorts.

Vindication for Romney

Saturday, September 7th, 2013


During the campaign, [Mitt] Romney frequently criticized Obama for foolishly attempting to make common cause with the Kremlin, and repeatedly referred to Russia as “our number one geopolitical foe.”

Many observers found this fixation strange, and Democrats tried to turn it into a punchline…in an October debate, [Pres. Barack] Obama sarcastically mocked his opponent’s Russia rhetoric. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” the president quipped at the time.

That line still chafes Robert O’Brien, a Los Angeles lawyer and friend of Romney’s who served as a foreign policy adviser.

“Everyone thought, Oh my goodness that is so clever and Mitt’s caught in the Cold War and doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” O’Brien said. “Well guess what. With all of these foreign policy initiatives — Syria, Iran, [Edward] Snowden — who’s out there causing problems for America? It’s Putin and the Russians.”

Not sure what Romney’s role is from here-on-out. If there isn’t going to be one for him, then whatever vindication comes about from this, would be functionally meaningless.

I’d like to think of it as a slap in the face, not quite so much to Obama, as to this weird fatalistic “low information voter and proud of it” cultural leitmotif upon which He was drawing with that “1980’s called” comeback. Just act apathetic and surly against any unwelcome observation, concern or inquiry that comes along, and everything will all turn out alright and you can sort of “myeh” your way through life. I guess we’re all like that at some time or another. I’m occasionally fighting that battle with my sixteen-year-old. Trying to get it across that some things are real problems, and have to be anticipated. Tough sell.

It is disconcerting, to say the least, to see our sitting President showing the same ignore-it-away attitude…during a live, televised debate. That’s a sign that a cultural disease has taken hold. Hope now we’re on the mend, or will be soon.

The Best Hug

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

By way of Gawker:

“Yes, I’m on the highway,” Aaron Arias first told a Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher. “I’m witnessing a robbery; not a robbery — a kidnapping.”

Arias, a 19-year-old college student, and Jamal Harris, 17, a Seagoville high school student, noticed the woman in the back seat of a car at a stoplight in Seagoville.

“It’s me and another guy, so we’re checking out the girl in the backseat because, we’re like, ‘OK, she’s kind of attractive,'” Arias said. “And then, all of the sudden, you know, the guy is turned back, looking at us.”

The woman, 25, was kidnapped on Aug. 22 near Bryan Street after she left a downtown office building. About an hour later, from the backseat of her car, she drew the attention of Arias and Harris.

The woman looked panicked and was “saying, ‘Help me,’ or something, whispering it,” Arias told the 911 operator.

The teens followed the woman’s car down U.S. 175 until police caught up with them in Kaufman.

“Oh my God, I’m hoping the car behind me is a police officer,” Arias said. “Nope, it’s not. Oh my God.”

But within seconds, officers arrived and pulled over the car with the woman and the man accused of kidnapping her.

“Thank God. You guys are awesome,” Arias said. “Oh my God. Oh my God. Get him! Oh my God.”

The suspect, Charles Atkins Lewis Jr., remains in jail on $50,000 bond. He is charged with aggravated kidnapping.

The woman was checked by paramedics but was unhurt.

Arias, a freshman at Texas A&M in Texarkana, ironically got a tattoo of the comic book antihero Deadpool the day before, he said in a telephone interview.

Arias said he met the woman at the scene after the rescue.

“She hugs us,” he remembered. “I would describe it as the best hug I have ever gotten.”

Checking out the girl in the back seat. Well, what a couple of sexist pigs. Somebody better get them some mandatory sensitivity training…

Bet she’s glad they were there, though.

Update: I think it might be worth pointing out…couple weeks ago, some scientific research emerged that said men aren’t pigs. We as a society would do well to question, how exactly is it we started thinking of men as pigs in the first place. Truly bad men, like the guy who was kidnapping the woman in the story above, did not encumber men with that reputation. The lookers and the oglers, like the teenagers who ended up rescuing the damsel in distress, were more responsible for that. Now that the behavior has led to something good, it might be worth pointing out that the behavior never was the problem, the problem was the collision between that behavior and a modern feminist expectation that it should not be happening. Put more simply: The expectation that men who look, or merely notice, or merely want to notice, are a threat.

We’re far too hospitable to that feminist expectation. It seems, at first blush, right-on. I’m initially inclined to accept it myself. Leering, after all, is rude.

The expectation becomes a problem, though, when it hardens and crystallizes into something risible: Men are to act uninterested, and be uninterested. All of the time. Until such time as a woman is interested in them, at which point the expectation is that they should…I dunno. Definitely not act uninterested anymore. Do stuff the interested woman would find acceptable, I guess…reciprocate, on demand, and don’t pay attention to any other women. From celibacy to monogamy, like a light switch getting flipped. Nobody ever describes the expectation that way. But that’s what it is. It isn’t realistic. And because it isn’t realistic, it’s harmful. Not just to men.

No self-reproducing species of vertebrate or invertebrate is held to this kind of a standard. Cats, dogs, pigs, horses, ferrets are not held to this standard. Human women are not held to this standard. But we live in a strange time in which the male of the species, in order not to be deemed harmful, must behave like a gelding until he’s given some limited license to behave otherwise. You see how, what seems at first blush to be a common-sense taboo formed around just basic good manners, quickly morphs into something not quite so harmless, not quite so reasonable. That’s the way it is with ideas that target classes of people.

Anyway. Since I’ve linked to that, it gives me another excuse to post the bartender photo.

Cyrus Biden Disease

Friday, September 6th, 2013

ages poorly.

Miley Cyrus is the last voice to speak out about her Video Music Awards performance on Aug. 29 and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the 20-year-old singer doesn’t see what the big fuss was all about.

“Me and Robin (Thicke) the whole time said, ‘You know, we’re about to make history right now,'” Cyrus said of her stage show in an exclusive interview with MTV, filmed on Monday.

“I don’t pay attention to the negative because I’ve seen this play out so many times … Madonna’s done it. Britney’s done it. Every VMA performance, that’s what you’re looking for; you’re wanting to make history.”

Cyrus caught flack for her raunchy stage show —which started with a rendition of her party anthem “We Can’t Stop,” but ended with the 20-year-old singer stripping down to a nude, butt-bearing ensemble, “twerking” and grabbing all over the married “Blurred Lines” crooner, and simulating oral sex with a foam finger.

“What’s amazing is I think now, we’re three days later and people are still talking about it,” Cyrus said.

“They’re overthinking it … You’re thinking about it more than I thought about it when I did it. Like, I didn’t even think about it ’cause that’s just me.”

Mom’s trying to spin it the same way.

Miley’s mom, Tish Cyrus is proud of daughter Miley. “I’m so proud of her, and just honestly, I’m in awe of who she’s become as a performer,” Tish said, according to Cross Map.

Tish Cyrus also expressed her “awe” of her daughter Miley after the VMAs 2013.

Before the performance, Tish dished on what it was like to be the mother of a pop star.

“Miley performing at the VMAs is so exciting,” Tish Cyrus told Gossipdavid before the show on Sunday. “It’s just fun for me to be here because it’s been two or three years since she put out a record, and it’s gone so crazy. I’m so excited for people to finally start seeing her as adult and performing, because it’s kind of mind-blowing – it’s huge.” Tish said.

The manager loved it.

Miley Cyrus’ raunchy performance at the VMAs may have caused a stir on the Internet, but her manager, Larry Rudolph, is pleased with the outcome.

“We were all cheering from the side of the stage…It could not have gone better. The fans got it. The rest eventually will.”

But there’s no getting around the fact that rock bottom is rock bottom.

An older generation used to call the boredom of bad habits “reaching rock bottom”; the present variant perhaps is “jumping the shark” — that moment when the tiresome gimmicks no longer work, and the show is over.

In a moral sense, Miley Cyrus reached that tipping point for America, slapping us into admitting that most of our popular icons are crass, talentless bores, and that our own tastes, which created them, lead nowhere but to oblivion.

After all, what does an affluent and leisured culture do when it has nothing much to rebel against?

That was poor Ms. Cyrus’s recent dilemma at the MTV awards ceremony. There are no real rules about popular dance anymore: no set steps, no moves borrowed from ballet, not even a few adaptations from scripted square dancing. It is all free-form wiggling and gyrating — twerking — as if to shout out, “Who are you to say that fake screwing in a vinyl bikini is not dance?”

All who want to debate the question, can help themselves by admitting defeat a bit earlier by way of the test in my opening statement: Aging. Once the spectacle dazzles and disgusts, worry not about who’s “overthinking it” or “got it” or is fiddling while the empire burns, but instead: Is it brandy or fruit?

What’s going to happen at the next VMAs? It is true that if there is a recovery in store for us, we should expect it to take a good long time to get started. They usually do. It’s a lot of inertia. So we can expect much the same level of culture next year…and that’s unfortunate. But we we can safely presume no one will be trying to top it. No one is going to be sent out on stage to “do what Miley did.”

In 2016, nobody is going to be sent out to a presidential or vice-presidential debate to do it the way Biden did it. Easy call. NOW, it is. Hence my comment about aging. In the hours and days after Biden’s so-called “performance,” the very best and brightest among us — or those who thought that was their status — commonly wrote silly, silly things like this:

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s smirking, aggressive performance during the vice-presidential debate on Thursday could be seen as a message for his boss: Here’s how you do it.

Mmmmm, yeah. I don’t think so. And it isn’t my opposition to Obama/Biden’s positions on the issues that makes me doubt it, it’s the wisdom and improved perspective that comes with the passage of time. Right after the debate, the test was simple: If you leaned right, Biden was a buffoon, and if you leaned left he was a brilliant sage. It all had to do with what camp could claim you as a member. The latter talked up his antics as some kind of model for others to emulate, just like the Cyrus family is doing with Miley’s twerk-a-thon.

With just a few months of settling, it becomes fair as well as easy to ask the obvious question: Okay, who’s emulating?

Who wants to?

You know what this sad disease reminds me of: Fetch. They’re trying to make fetch happen. Or should we say, they’re trying to save some face by making fetch happen.

It’s not going to happen.

The Four Pieces

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Fascinating thing about this whole Syria thing is, the issue has come to the forefront so quickly that it hasn’t been “properly” polarized into left vs. right. Other than the fact that President Obama wants to go ahead, there’s really no definition for which side is supposed to take which position. I suppose that might be good enough. But that whiplash 180-degree reversal, in which the lefties are now war hawks and the righties are the ones saying no-go, has thickened up the two-in-the-middle.

That term I just used requires explanation. It has to do with how the American population forms opinions on the issues that now & then come along. Think back on the electoral maps you see ahead of a tight presidential election. The states will often be shaded as: solid blue, light/leaning blue, pink/leaning red, and solid red. Sometimes there will be a toss-up state that will be colored gray. I contend that what you’re seeing there is an unusually honest presentation of the American citizenry’s opinions on any given issue. The two pieces on the ends represent those who have made up their minds, aren’t about to change, are given little to no reason to. We have a whole system that works around this. For example, if Hillary Clinton runs for President, how much time and energy will she spend chasing my vote. None, right? That goes both ways. Mitt Romney didn’t chase the forty-seven percent. That’s how it works.

The gray in the middle, on Syria, has been whittled down to nothing. Very few people are going to say they don’t care about Syria. And yet, who can find it on a map. People are ignorant, which is undesirable, but they also know they need to find out more, which is healthy. And so it could be said our people are not truly ignorant. They are Omar Khayyam’s “students”: knowing not, but knowing that they know not. Until they know, they lean. They lean toward a go, and they lean toward a no-go. I suppose I’m in that crowd myself. I know this is a very silly situation that has been brought about by President Obama’s clumsiness, but I’m not locked in to the idea that we should not go in. I’m just kinda leaning that way. Not much chance I’ll change my mind, but it’s definitely possible.

But because there’s no gray here — or a negligible slice of gray — and establishment lefties have such enormous incentive to get their ideas sold, and their ideas are even sillier than they usually are AND people have been pushed into making up their minds in a short amount of time; we’re afforded a rare opportunity to see how this dissemination is done. Being a “lean toward no-go” guy, I have to pay attention to this because of the possibility that they’re producing the right answer by way of the wrong process. Not that I’m that important to them. But their outreach efforts include the goal of reaching people like me, here, although you’d never know it by listening to them.

They’re more after the second piece, the light blue, leaning-left one. They’ll take as many of us “pinks” as they can get, but we see in this situation that they are really hammering away at the light blues. For those who are inclined to use this to study up on how they do their marketing the rest of the time — and I am — this is a rich learning environment. The technique is one they use often, all the time really. And they should; it works well for them. Very, very well.

Another unique thing about this opportunity is the thing that can’t be mentioned: The President’s position on this is just plain daffy. It’s as if, as He approaches the very pinnacle of achievement within His entire lifetime of winning when common sense counsels that He should not have been winning, knowing that it’s all downhill after His second term in our nation’s highest office, He seeks to make the pinnacle a proper pinnacle and sell the biggest load of squeeze that’s ever been sold. His “I didn’t draw the red line” remark is a classic case of a lie out of time, a whistle-stop-era whopper captured in the age of YouTube. How did He think He’d get away with it? He couldn’t have…could He?

From what I can make out, we are seeing a recruitment effort aimed at the second, light-blue piece of the constituency. Over and over again, in our friends and relatives, we see the light-blue turning solid blue and this is usually by way of ego investment. It works just like a hook in a fish’s mouth: Once it’s on there good-n-proper, the line can be jerked any which way and the fish will be compelled to follow. Just as a good fisherman gets the technique down, so too does a good lefty apparatchik. Bound the mark’s ego to the idea that two and two make five. Get that one thing done, then the line can be pulled any which way afterward. It may be spelled out right in front of the mark that four is the correct answer, and the mark will refuse to believe it.

Global warming threatens to doom us all even though there has been no global warming for fifteen years. President Obama is a super mega-awesome wonderful guy in ways nobody can quite define. There’s no reason for anyone to oppose His policies outside of racism, even though those policies are widely unpopular and are doing a lot of economic damage. With the hook in the mouth, the mark can embrace contradictions. The “even though” stuff is navigated easily, his mind just sort of glides over them, like one sheet of silk over another…and he becomes a solid blue lefty guy without even being consciously aware of it.

Part of the reason this is possible, I’m now convinced, is because of the challenge aspect of it. The leaning-lefty guy wants to embrace the contradictions within the nonsense, because the nonsense is there. Some measure of difficulty is involved, and they see the difficulty not in the ways we learn to see it when we think responsibly — “maybe there is difficulty in accepting this because it’s a load of blarney” — but more like the way a college freshman sees the difficulty in a hazing. “Hey, if it was easy then everybody would be doing it. At the end of this humiliation, I’ll be part of the in-crowd.”

Because this situation is unusually silly, the technique is working even better than it normally does. I keep hearing about this treaty. America finds the use of chemical weapons abhorrent, because we are signatories to a treaty. President Obama is lucid and wise, and figured out that action must be taken. Action, like…a “shot across the bow” calculated to do nothing to alter the outcome? A behavior-deterring, capacity-degrading shot across the bow? We signed a treaty that said we should do silly stuff, like that? That’s the argument?

It is the silliness involved that makes the argument appealing. It is the movement of the bait that makes the fish want to bite the hook. It implies benefits of exclusivity await the freshman, after he has joined the club. If the argument made better sense, the appeal would not be there. An argument that is so sensible as to be self-evident, would be an invitation to join a club that includes, or ultimately will include, everyone. Who the heck wants that?

The message from the liberal intelligentsia to the two pieces in the middle has to do with in-crowd membership, here as well as with other things. It is a message of “Are you in, or out?” The darker and more vibrant colored pieces on the ends, are left almost entirely alone, since they’re going to be whatever they will be. The message to the light blue piece is “here is what you have to do to get in,” and the message to the pink piece is more like “your shunning is complete, or it is imminent, better mend your ways now.” With a side dish of “we get it, you don’t, poor little slope-forehead throwback.”

Takes a real smarty-pants to figure out that two and two make five.

Hot Shots 2014 Behind the Scenes

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Hat tip to Leelu. From two or three weeks ago or something.

Workplace-safety rating is “IW.” Stands for “I wouldn’t”…as in…nipples tastefully covered by convenience-proximity objects, and Photoshop pixelation, so it technically falls short of the dreaded R-rating…but…I kinda don’t know why they bothered…

I Made a New Word LXVI

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Driving toward the Oakland Bridge, I felt my brain percolate. This just sorta jumped in…

Regurgicate (v.)
Regurgication (intang. n.)

The verb is, obviously, providing one or several persons with the intangible noun. Our definition of the verb can conclude there, so we shall concentrate our definition on the intangible noun.

A regurgication is an education dealing entirely with either muscle-memory, memorized verbiage, memorized glossary entries, foreign language accents, or anything else that is entirely separated from command of the topical concepts. Accomplished scholars who have fulfilled all the requirements of their regurgication will be able to reliable pass entrance exams, questionnaires and interviews, so long as none of these challenges demand too much by way of what’s called “thinking on your feet.” But they won’t be able to detect contradictions in the material, nor will they be able to respond intelligently to someone else who has found such a contradiction.

In other words, the beneficiary of a good, solid regurgication is fit to replace an audio recording device, and not too much else. He or she may have what it takes to think things out, but this particularly faculty has not been tested, nor has it been strengthened, in the regurgication process.

That there’s an important word. We needed to have it invented a long, long time ago, to describe what’s been happening in a lot of places. Oh well, better late than never.

Do, Be, Do, Be, Dobeedoobeedoo

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Many years ago The Anchoress invited from myself & anybody else reading, a rambling screed about what’s wrong with the world. Actually she didn’t; she (perhaps wisely) imposed a word limit of a hundred, and I blew it up. Maybe I should’ve just agreed with Chesterton.

Before I get to that, a confession: For a short time, long ago, I found it worthwhile to subscribe to TotalFARK. That isn’t the confession. It’s like a magazine subscription, there’s some information in there and it could be argued everyone should do it at least once. My confession is that, since there’s a distinct “my side’s better than your side” overtone to the culture in FARK, along with a perceptible leftward tilt, I must have seen this image a hundred times or more…

…I’ve never understood what that’s all about. What’s the point being made? What’s the argument? Many’s the time I got the idea the person posting it, didn’t know what he was trying to say either.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. The treatise meanders, lurching along deliberately if awkwardly, inspecting causes and effects, mapping out a sort of “fishing net” of our recent, bad habits. The first thing it looks at is all our worries about global warming, carbon emissions, price of gas, all that stuff…while, if you look around at what people drive, you can’t help noticing something: Cars are enormous. Now all these years later, I still have to say there’s a possibility that the people who drive these big behemoths are different from the people complaining about gas prices and global warming. But I’m just not sure about that. The fretting and hand-wringing is in vogue, still, now as well as five years ago, and before then. So is the driving around in a tank, as Mrs. Freeberg and I saw as I drove her home from jury duty yesterday. Fashionable people tend to do fashionable things. I think people aren’t trying to be hypocrites, they’re just not quite making the connection. Or, maybe they like to talk about living leaner without actually doing it. Either way, I’m still driving a four-banger, built low to the ground, and I end up wondering who’s the traffic hazard here, them or me. It doesn’t seem like we should be sharing a common road.

Every now & then I pull up to a drive-through window, and then I’m sure we shouldn’t be driving the same byways.

The thing I’m trying to point out here, has to do with confusion. People are confused. They’re confused because of the subject of my complaints that followed right after the gas-truck-screed: Being versus doing. The being has taken emphasis. That is not to say that nobody is doing anything. It would perhaps be more precise to say they don’t feel pride in what they do, the way they used to. I’m old enough to remember that when the whole household got excited about adding a new wing to the house, or a vacation, that meant…work. We’re going to plan for it and hope for it, and then Daddy’s going to have to work extra hard. Then after a few years, it wasn’t Daddy, it was Mommy+Daddy. Or something. Maybe everyone would find ways to pitch in. But what do people say now? “I hope I win the lottery.” See, that’s a change. It’s important. People used to make the decision that a material acquisition was worth sacrifice — and then, mixed in with that, was a little bit of lust. But with some healthy dreams too, and a resolve to do good hard work. Now, the lusting has taken center stage: I just want it. And people intertwine their sense of identity with the wanting.

Back in the day, they might have done that with the thing itself, after they got hold of it. If they were more old-school than that, they paid cash. And then the new car or boat would be a sort of movable emblem of their talents, their service to others. Even that was considered, by some others who were even more old-school than that, a bit sinful. But since then there’s been a huge flip-flop; I can’t nail down exactly when it happened, whether it was slow and gradual, or whether there was some kind of detonation that somehow didn’t appear on our radar. But there certainly has been a shift. What was a sin back then, if it were to be brought back today, would be an enormous improvement. People had the sin of pride, but at least they were proud of what they did. And they were lustful, but at least they were lustful about a purchase, someday, not about a gift. They wanted to work for the bauble. To do something. Now, the identity is attached to the wanting. Or the liking. Or the preferring. The ultimate effect is that people see themselves as people who are something…that’s their survival instinct kicking in, they want to be part of the crowd so that they won’t be shut out of the village gates and left to starve. They don’t see themselves as doing something.

I prefer to believe this is not laziness. I don’t think it is. More likely, the sense of opportunity just isn’t there. We get up, we do what we’re supposed to do, we eat, watch teevee, go to sleep. And we “tweet” about what we like and what we don’t like. How many among us, very often envision our actions as significantly altering the outcome of something? How many among us can form such a vision once or twice within a year, let alone within a week? That’s where the change has been.

It affects everything we do because it affects how we envision solutions to problems. Like: Health care is too expensive. Do we figure out how we broke it, or how we can afford it? No. We declare it to be a “right“; and, feel extra, extra, extra self-righteous as we so declare. That, arguably, is not a solution to the problem because it doesn’t define in clear terms where the money is to come from. Also, my Dad always said about the definition of “rights,” that a right is not a right if it costs someone else something, and I’ve learned in the years since there’s a certain wisdom to that. It therefore seems to me that the health-care-is-a-right argument is a grasping at straws, a sort of tacit admission: I know I’ll need it, but I’m not doing anything to pay for it and I don’t see any opportunities to do things to pay for it, so I’ll just sort of leverage my self-righteousness to get it, and make up some “rights” that will be violated if someone doesn’t give it to me. That’s being-over-doing. One too many “Christmas” gifts, from loving grandparents to a little ogre who probably doesn’t believe in Christ or God anyway…just for begging the right way. And then the little ogre grew up.

So I was interested, all these years later, when Severian jotted down some of his observations about “The Rule of Cool”:

I’m not a shrink and I don’t play one on tv, but has anyone else picked up on a certain immaturity going around lately? You might have noticed, for instance, that President Sort-of-God is now being extravagantly praised for backing off voting present on the unilateral cowboy warmongering he was once so eloquently against. You know, back before he opened his big stupid mouth about “red lines” and whatnot…. and was extravagantly praised for that.
The most insidious thing about “cool” is that it’s not something you do, it’s something you are.

There follows an ingenious interweaving between the list from John Hawkins, about the twelve rules of being a proper modern liberal, and this weird thing Kobe Bryant has about being a rapper. That, in turn, gets back to what I was talking about earlier: Lusting after material acquisitions, back in the day, might have been thought a sin by some but at least it was lust for a cycle that was healthy in its own ways. You would do something. DO. And then the trinket would be a trophy. Just like Kobe Bryant’s trophies from doing athletic stuff. What we’re seeing is a guy with a hole in his life he can’t quite fill, and the hole is there because he’s trying to be and not trying to do. I, too, am not a shrink and don’t play one on teevee; but this is kind of an easy call. Kobe Bryant doesn’t want to “rap”; he wants to be a rapper, and it’s an important difference. And it is not too far out to speculate that while, to the rest of us, Kobe Bryant was playing basketball, in his own mind he was being a basketball player. Again, it’s an important difference. The guy who does stuff, like play basketball, and thinks rap music is pretty cool, would feel fulfilled. He’d just keep playing, and listening to rap. Maybe do some rap-karaoke, if there is such a thing, I dunno…but…not define himself that way.

Oh sure, he might think about becoming a rapper, if he gets it in his head he could be a bigger success doing that than from playing basketball. Or get more enjoyment out of it or something. If that’s what is motivating Kobe, then my remarks wouldn’t apply to him. But I think they do. And…since, if I’m correct about that, Kobe is very far from being alone here…that’s a big part of what’s wrong with the world.

All of this is prologue against my hopes for the Syria mess. Obviously, first and foremost my hopes are that nobody else gets killed, and that America is not embroiled in yet another senseless debacle because of unwise decisions. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide for himself whether the Iraq thing is in our historical list of unwise decisions. But — one thing about Syria is, as we hope not to be mired in a quagmire because of dumb decisions, I think deep down, everyone with a brain knows we have no reason to sustain such a hope. No justification for it. Some may say that applies to Iraq too, but they can only conclude that by entirely ignoring the bits of history that led up to that, or cherry-picking from that history only the things they happen to like. Syria, contrasted with that, is a complete debacle…

…brought about by way too much energy being spent by people trying to be something, as opposed to trying to do something.

I still don’t have a good explanation from Obama-loving liberals what, exactly, is so mega-awesome-wonderful about Emperor Barack The First. Still. It’s become embarrassing to watch.

If there is a bright side to Syria, I am hoping what we’re seeing now is the detonation of personality-politics, or at least, a nice deep concrete-covered internment of the personality-politics zombie that will keep it underground and out of sight for…dunno…fifty years or more, can I hope for that? Or let’s shoot for ten. And it’s still just a hope. The zombie grave has just barely started to be dug out, and the concrete truck has not yet pulled up. I’m still picking up on the vibe that President Obama has a fan base, and the fan base wants Him to be something in particular, not to do anything in particular — although they cannot coherently articulate either one of those. But there is this permeating dream wafting through the air, still, like a stench from a rotting whale carcass or something, that our lives will all get better if & when the President delivers one more speech. Or, when He and His lovely bride go on a few more vacations; their pampering and creature comforts, on a Monday, are connected to an elevated standard of living, and new hopes, for the rest of us, that Thursday or Friday. The stench has been hanging in the air since about 2007 or so. We’re all just supposed to sit around, being and not doing, waiting for Michelle to go on vacation and for Barack to play some more golf and give some more speeches, and while we’re all in “pep rally” mode, if we cheer loud enough and long enough we’ll start to see something blossom.

Nobody actually describes it in those terms, of course, but that does seem to be the vision. We’re supposed to be, and not do; and what we’re supposed to be, is a fawning fainting cheering audience for our Magical Mystic guy, who in turn is also supposed to be and not do. I’m hoping we’re seeing a slow car crash, as that bus collides with a cement wall head-on. I hope, the whole notion that yet one more speech from President Obama, is somehow going to make things better, is dying. Quick death, slow death, I don’t care which, I just want it to last awhile.

Because another thing everyone with a brain knows, even though they don’t say it out loud, is this: While there may be no elegant solution to Syria right now, there was a great way to prevent it. And the prevention had nothing to do, at all, with yet one more super-mega-awesome-wonderful speech by He Who Argues With The Dictionaries.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

Is there any busted thing anywhere, that duct tape can’t fix?


Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Wow, what a great word.

The study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data.

Learned it just today, because of a new post over at Steve Milloy’s “Junk Science” site. In which he discusses a new study, the abstract of which reads…

Agnotology is the study of how ignorance arises via circulation of misinformation calculated to mislead. Legates et al. had questioned the applicability of agnotology to politically-charged debates. In their reply, Bedford and Cook, seeking to apply agnotology to climate science, asserted that fossil-fuel interests had promoted doubt about a climate consensus. Their definition of climate ‘misinformation’ was contingent upon the post-modernist assumptions that scientific truth is discernible by measuring a consensus among experts, and that a near unanimous consensus exists. However, inspection of a claim by Cook et al. of 97.1% consensus, heavily relied upon by Bedford and Cook, shows just 0.3 % endorsement of the standard definition of consensus: that most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. Agnotology, then, is a two-edged sword since either side in a debate may claim that general ignorance arises from misinformation allegedly circulated by the other.

Must say, I’m ashamed it’s taken me this long to figure it out, in view of how much of it I’ve been seeing for the last twenty years, along with everybody else. There really ought to be some serious discussion about agnotology whenever & wherever the alwarmists are opining away about “climate change skeptics in league with the oil companies” and the like….which would make it a household word in no time, probably even wear it out. But that’s an education we could all use.

Update 9/7/13: Related: “Consensus Shmensus.”

Anti-War Movements

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

This went on the Hello Kitty of Blogging first. Not sure that that’s the best choice, it really belongs here, but it went there in the spirit of “Jesus said to go where the sinners are”:

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I have an observation to make about anti-war movements:

In all cases, I can certainly get behind the goal. Who can’t? So since we all agree that wars shouldn’t happen unless they’re absolutely necessary, before the shooting starts the goal of anti-war movements should be something that can be clearly expressed in two words: Find alternatives.

I’ve now had the opportunity to see lots of anti-war movements. And in real life, I’ve noticed their goals, instead, are consistently something that can be expressed in THREE words: “demonize our opposition.”

I like the two-word goal much better. I think, if it holds sway over shaping the debate & discussion that ensue, it has a much, much better likelihood of success. And as noted above: Who t’heck can’t get behind that??

“Foxes Shouldn’t Guard Hen Houses…”

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Michael Moore kicked off the Academy Award’s documentary board.

The producer of Schindler’s List, Rain Man, and other prominent films, was so grateful for Moore’s ousting that he felt compelled to write a personal letter to the president of the Academy, saying:

On behalf of my fellow filmmakers and the vast American Heartland which, on occasion, has felt disenfranchised by the Academy, I want to personally thank you and the Academy for removing Mr. Moore and restoring a fair and impartial voting process to the documentary category of the Oscars. . . .

Foxes shouldn’t guard hen houses and Michael Moore shouldn’t have been in charge of the documentary nominating process at the Academy.”

Again, how was this EVER a thing? It’s making a lot more sense now why Dinesh D’Souza’s Obama’s America was so completely disregarded by the Academy even though it was the 2nd highest grossing political documentary in history.

Gerald Molen wrote in a previous letter, back in May, on the same subject:

“We’ve already experienced a time in Hollywood where an atmosphere of oppression and fear was prevalent and people were punished for their political views. Let us make sure that never happens again”…

Meanwhile, I’m sitting here thinking: Huh. Michael Moore was put in a position where he got to decide what “documentaries” could & could not be nominated…

…it’s one of those things where, even if you like the biases being put in place, you should still be able to rustle up a little bit of self-respect and rationality and say, uh no, that’s not what should be happening here.

There seems to be a Quickening going on here lately, not all of it happening within politics. Agenda-driven people being put in positions of great authority, out of an implied belief, or as part of an implied statement, that they are not motivated by such an agenda when everyone paying attention knows damn good & well that they are.

The time might have come — and gone, maybe — to get properly, seriously worried about this. Seems to be one of those things where yesterday’s extraordinary exception has become today’s ordinary rule…Michael Moore as governor on the documentary board? The more you repeat it, the sillier it sounds.

This Is Good CX

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Wow. This is a better Bingo card than some of the “Obama Speech Bingo” cards…which is really saying something…

Let ’em go on for more than a hundred words or so, and you can play a game of “blackout.”

Related: Twelve unspoken rules for being a liberal. Number ten, in particular, resonated with me…

One of the key reasons liberals spend so much time vilifying people they don’t like and questioning their motivations is to protect themselves from having to consider their arguments. This helps create a completely closed system for liberals. Conservative arguments are considered wrong by default since they’re conservative and not worth hearing. On the other hand, liberals aren’t going to make conservative arguments. So, a liberal goes to a liberal school, watches liberal news, listens to liberal politicians, has liberal friends, and then convinces himself that conservatives are all hateful, evil, racist Nazis so that any stray conservatism he hears should be ignored. It makes liberal minds into perfectly closed loops that are impervious to anything other than liberal doctrine.