Archive for October, 2013

A Suggestion For the Mess

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

I’m automatically incredulous when it comes to conspiracy theories. The more I learn about people, the less faith I have in their ability to a) coordinate on details and b) to keep it all secret. Most of the time, when I see large numbers of people moving in a common direction, they do so the way grain or tall grass moves under a common breeze, with each stalk or blade moving of its own accord, responding in its own way to a common force. I believe in common motivations, not so much in “conspiracies.”

Still, at the height of the shutdown, you did have to do some thinking about this:

What is so sinister about a few signs, you ask? As stated above, it takes planning to purchase a large volume of anything in a large bureaucracy…it takes time to order produce and receive any manufactured item. And, that time increases as the size of the bureaucracy increases. While the paper work may be expedited to reduce the time to issue the PO, it still takes time to produce and ship the item.

The government shutdown signs were on hand and appeared the very first day at the WWII Memorial. That suggests that the shutdown was anticipated and somebody planned ahead to have the signs on hand to tell the world that the government was shutdown, that it was in everyone’s face and make sure everyone felt the consequences. The operative here is the planning and that it was done in advance.

And…something, probably relying on computers and probably relying on web exposure, worked. Flawlessly. It is a recurring theme in the Obama administration: When the objective is to inconvenience people, as opposed to something helpful like delivering on a campaign promise to get millions of uninsured people covered, all the pieces somehow fall into place. Winning arguments and elections against Republicans, ditto. Everything clicks. Inconveniencing people in order to win arguments against Republicans, well, now you’re looking at a well-oiled machine.

But then the time comes to actually help people and try to make a positive difference in their lives…and

Confidential progress reports from the Health and Human Services Department show that senior officials repeatedly expressed doubts that the computer systems for the federal exchange would be ready on time, blaming delayed regulations, a lack of resources and other factors.

Deadline after deadline was missed. The biggest contractor, CGI Federal, was awarded its $94 million contract in December 2011. But the government was so slow in issuing specifications that the firm did not start writing software code until this spring, according to people familiar with the process. As late as the last week of September, officials were still changing features of the Web site,, and debating whether consumers should be required to register and create password-protected accounts before they could shop for health plans.

So how about just move the web site over to the whatever-it-is… Or Maybe it’s called That “server” seems to be in tip-top shape, and so do all the processes that surround it. Delivers on-time, under-budget, with fantastic results.

Seriously, there’s a lesson here, but I’ve already talked about it so I’m going into broken-record mode. Everyone likes to think about producers being properly regulated, it seems, but nobody stops to think that maybe the regulators don’t know that much about how to produce. After all, if they did know, they wouldn’t be regulating they’d be producing. Regulators don’t create, they don’t preserve; they destroy. Put ’em in charge of your health care? You go down that road without me. Oh no, wait, maybe you don’t…law of the land & all that…

When push comes to shove, though, long-term there’s no reason to expect our aging bodies to function any better than that goofy website. The disaster is an illustration of how government in general, and the Obama administration in particular, runs things. It’s only when they’re f00king with people that they can manage to get things right. The park-sign thing shows that, then, they can get it really, really, really right. They can do miracles when the goal is to obstruct or destroy.

Some of us have worked in data centers before. Some of us had the responsibility of keeping those servers working. On a tiny immeasurable fraction of a budget, compared to what HHS & crew had.

This is beyond incompetence. There is not succeeding, then there is not-even-trying. Two different things.

Memo For File CLXXXIV

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Been thinking lately a lot about arrogance. My own, the arrogance of others, how it affects us.

Been thinking quite a bit about how to define it, if that is possible. A certain male family member has brought it to my attention that a certain female family member has called him “arrogant,” for his own good — she has often called me the same thing, for my own good. I’m sure there is truth in both cases, but at the same time it is clearly being used as a defense mechanism by the common denominator. A certain code-word for “I want him to do this thing, and he’s off doing something else so that makes him arrogant.” Well — these are not mutually-exclusive things. It is not at all a rare occasion wherein that, and nothing more, is called out by someone else as arrogance, and it is fair to call it that. Nor is the arrogance necessarily a bad thing. Although, of course, it wouldn’t be good to make a habit out of it.

I recall many years ago, as in that distant time in the early days when the female of the species and I were just starting to get to know each other, when I suffered the same confusion that befalls most males at that age when we hear: Confidence is sexy, cockiness is to be shunned. Of course they/we all want to be a Casanova who knows everything, so no one is wanting to be the boy who calls out the Emperor’s nakedness and says: What the heck is the difference? Those who pretend there is one, and that they are knowledgeable masters of what exactly that difference is supposed to be, say something completely unenlightening about it: Just be yourself, falling short of being a jerk, and it’ll all work out. That turns out to be the right answer. Observe the “don’t be a dick” rule, just be yourself, it works out.

And because it all works out, we don’t inspect it any further. We all like to pretend we know everything. While we’re not being cocky or arrogant.

But there is something to be inspected, further. If it is worth the time & trouble to call things and people out as arrogant, it is worth the time and trouble to define what exactly that is. But it seems we never get that far. Some of us are guilty on occasion, and can identify what, when, where and how it has cost us something. One would think that would then be sufficient incentive to define what it is, especially if we’re going to resolve to avoid being that way from then on. Still, we never quite rise to the challenge.

Arrogance can be a good thing sometimes. Saturday, I hoofed it somewhere and back again, not much more than a whole mile round trip. My exercise regimen, what there has been of it, has mostly consisted of riding my mountain bike, and after my return I discovered this left me out of shape from the ankles down. My foot felt like someone was driving a knife into it, all night long. Arrogantly, I decided to steer in the direction of the skid, relish the pain, and plan an errand involving several times as much hoofing the next morning. To drop off some clothes. At the dry cleaner’s. On a Sunday. Many, many pounds of clothes. When common sense counsels dry cleaners are not open that day of the week. Which they weren’t, of course. Well, that’s arrogance on some scale, isn’t it? Yes I had other things to do that were higher priority, and I did have an expectation of carrying the backpack full of clothes back home again. And yes, it was more about getting the exercise than dropping off the clothes. And yes, it worked, because I didn’t have shooting pains through my foot that night. My body needed to have the message sent to it that we’re not ready to rot away into flabby and sedentary old age just yet. Gee, that’s almost humility, not arrogance, right? And yet it was arrogance, because deep down on some level I was thinking: If I just will the dry cleaner’s to be open, they’ll be open when I want them to be.

We do a lot of that, don’t we? It’s going to work out this way, just because I want it to.

Saw an apologist for ObamaCare — an “Opologist”? — chide me and a lot of other people over on the Hello Kitty of Blogging, for daring to expect the system to be absolutely perfect and free of any setbacks at all on opening day. The Internet-stranger continued on, proffering the fantasy that from this time onward, things were going to get better and better. Didn’t provide much by way of reason for the rest of us to think so. I don’t think it looked like what he wanted it to look like. It came across as delusional. See, there it is again: Arrogance. Things are going to go this way, just because I want them to.

Individuals can show great diligence in stripping themselves of the human sin of arrogance, while the organizations and institutions they make up by coming together, can positively reek of it. This is institutional arrogance, a greater problem I think than the individual brand. It carries much more inertia. When that happens, I think I may have come up with a way to define it, objectively, measurably. It has to do with how much learning you need to do to achieve a mission, especially to solve a problem. And most especially within that, an internal problem. I would define it as a fraction between zero and one: If it is your impression that what you need to know to solve the stated problem, entirely exists within what you already know and therefore there’s no need to learn anything new, we could call that arrogance. This definition seems, to me, to be a good one because it calls out so much of what we understand to be part of what we’re trying to capture. It is antithetical to the healthy accumulation of new knowledge. When we solve a problem that is internal, we should rightfully think of this as an occasion to learn new things, suitable for this purpose in ways most other situations are not. The problem had to have been caused somehow, right? So a behavioral change is due somewhere, if we have agreement that there’s a problem that has to be solved, and things are working differently from the way we want or need them to. That’s what learning is supposed to be: A non-instinctive behavioral change. Like Einstein said: We can’t solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

I have now & then observed that technology has a lot of subtle ways of magnifying human weaknesses like this one. It certainly does have a way of boosting arrogance. You do this “programming” of some kind, during which time you may have to do some research into how things work, refining first your design and then your implementation. If you make a lot of money doing it, there is pressure on for you to offer this illusion that you already know everything and don’t have to learn much of anything because you’re just so knowledgeable and wonderful. A lot of doctors have this problem, and therefore this reputation for pretending they know everything. It comes from this occupational pressure toward the 1.0, to act like all facets of knowledge required to produce the desired result, have been learned already. Some Presidents of the United States have that problem too. But with the software thing, at some point you hit the “compile” button and then there is “run time,” during which absolutely, positively, every single jot and tittle of the behavior has been defined, and correctly. All the thinking has been done in advance. There is no need for any decision-making at all, other than that which was anticipated and implemented, with the decision criteria properly defined, along with the actions to be taken if-yes and the other actions to be taken if-not. After all, that’s what programming is. The machine makes the decisions faster than any human can, because a human somewhere already defined those decisions and the machine is merely executing. The machine comes out of all this just fine. The human ends up damaged, laboring under the falsity that all variables in life can be anticipated and decided in advance, prior to compile-time, every conditional and iterative construct. That it’s all definable. That a mortal can play god.

This gives rise to another definition of arrogance we might consider: Knowing more about the ideal solution to a problem than about the problem itself. I think inwardly we all understand what’s wrong with this. Shouldn’t your certainty about what is to be done, be limited to something equal to or lesser than your certainty of what’s hosed up? Oh yes, there are some exceptions to this. Pitching something in the trash bin, is safe harbor for the habitually arrogant. And it looks so macho: “Just toss it!” You’re just too cool to sweat the details. Well, there can be a lot of merit to that sometimes. Pitching and replacing avoids unknowns, and when there is a history of connection between confronting the same ol’ unknowns and wasting a lot of energy, this does indicate an apparatus somewhere that should be tossed over the side. But, a lot of opinionated loud people counsel toward destruction simply so they can appear to be in control, without their having to confront any of these unknowns. To avoid confronting details. This often connects back to that other definition I offered, of the institutional arrogance: I already know everything I need to know to solve this problem, there’s no need to learn anything new.

There is a fine line to be walked here. Arrogance is ultimately blockage against the acquisition of new knowledge that may be needed. However — from years of interacting with people, I have come to appreciate a new wrinkle to all of this: The fraction between zero and one is not quite so simple — it is not a spectrum beginning at the zero and ending at the one, after all. Not a line segment, more like a Möbius strip. Picture the man at the zero who has managed to expurgate any trace remnants of arrogance from within him, and is completely ready to learn new things to solve this old problem. Now, have you actually met that guy? If you have, I’ll bet you’ve already noticed what comes next: It’s rather difficult to quantify him as the picture of non-arrogance, isn’t it? Not only is he sure the solution to the problem exists within that knowledge that has yet to be learned, he will insist on it. The Möbius strip covers back around and completes a circle; he knows not and knows that he knows not, is intransigently certain that the solution is out of sight. Because he doesn’t know the answer, he won’t allow anyone else to know it either. His confidence in his knowledge is at the healthy and humble zero, but his confidence in the confidence of the knowledge is at the one.

Bottom-lining it: We’re all arrogant, and we darn well know it. It’s like having a pulse. The trick is not to rid oneself of arrogance, but rather to position oneself over that point on the Möbius strip that is most conducive to getting productive work done, and solving the problems that occasionally result most expediently, judiciously and beneficially. Avoiding arrogance? That’s a fool’s errand. Closest we can come to that, I think, is to say: An adjustment may be due if our arrogance has cost us more than it should’ve. And I think it’s fair to say everyone is going to have that realization at some time or another, if they’re honest about it.

Oh yeah, and it should be said: Girls who say they avoid arrogance like the plague, by-n-large, don’t. Every red-blooded male who’s interested in females, by the time he’s graduated from tenth grade, has noticed the arrogant guys get most of the attention from the girls, and those are the very same girls who claim to loathe arrogance. Cockiness and confidence? There is precious little meaningful difference there, and most of it has to do with the designs, or lack thereof, of the female upon the male. Think of James Bond. He’s not “confident without being arrogant”; that smarmy bastard is as cocky as anyone else, in reality or in fiction.

Arrogance has an appropriate time for implementation. It does its damage to us when it is exercised outside of the “seasons” in which it would do the most good. It is the confidence in what has been learned, the determination to put it to a proper and pure test. Further learning is suspended, temporarily, for sake of purity of such a test. It is the test that should be pure, not the arrogance; if the test is to be pursued in a way that will help us, there’s always going to be a little bit of humility laced into the arrogance, a little bit of “let’s see how this turns out.” Implicit in that is an admission that there is learning to take place here, that has yet to be done. So the pure-arrogance situation is problematic, bound to do damage. The no-arrogance situation is a myth. You can’t get rid of all the arrogance until you get rid of the people, along with probably all other living things.

“Why Should We Listen to Them?”

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

From Gerard.

Julie Borowski put up a post over at the Hello Kitty of Blogging asking if anyone else was as tired as she was of these “spread the wealth” celebs. Someone came along to post this:

At this point the thread has 358 replies under it, some being replies-to-replies. Lots of good stuff in there, like for example, this…

“Anti-capitalists” are not against profit or money. They are against class mobility. They hate the idea of one of their vote serfs leaving dependence and accumulating wealth – it makes them feel less special and elite. And they certainly don’t want to lose all *their* money just because they make some bonehead investment. Socialism doesn’t eliminate the rich – it just makes it impossible for the poor to become rich, or the rich to become poor.

That, I think, is food for thought. There may even be a good battle strategy in there somewhere against the “spread the wealth” types. For the longest time, their numbers have evidently been piled on top of each other, in an uneasy and unholy alliance between those who refuse to accept the reality of class-mobility, and those who do understand it’s there but cannot tolerate it.

And then there are those who seem to think if it’s compassion that motivates, the outcome can never be bad.

And those who are motivated by “spread it all, but leave mine out of it.”

“British Sarcasm”

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Just too much fun.

From here.

Think my favorite reply was: “Falling for a fake news site is ‘British sarcasm’? What an odd culture.”

Here’s a wild suggestion: How about, if Palin is such a ditz and such an airhead, wait for her to REALLY SAY something. And then tweet the stuffing out of it. If that’s too long of a wait to be tolerated, well…

And the same goes for this beauty.

Lunging for the Re-tweet button doesn’t look witty or edgy or sarcastic or sophisticated, it just looks desperate. Ditto for the failed recovery strategy of “Ah ha, you obviously don’t get irony” and other such nonsense.

At that point, I start to veer off into stating-the-obvious territory, and so I shall stop.

Failure to Internalize

Friday, October 25th, 2013

I was impressed the first few times I heard this on the radio. Then, as is my wont, I started to connect it to other things…

Representative Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) dismissed Thursday’s first congressional hearing on the glitch-laden launch of the Obamacare website as having “no legitimacy.”

“No, I will not yield to this monkey court or whatever this thing is….There is no health information in the process. You’re asked about your address, your date of birth. You are not asked health information. So why are we going down this path? Because you are trying to scare people so they don’t apply, and so therefore the legislation gets delayed, or the Affordable Care Act gets defunded, or it’s repealed. That’s all it is, hoping people won’t apply.”

This is just the most eminent example lately of loud, loud lefties — on the talk-show circuit, in Congress, on the innerwebz — trying to somehow fasten the health care website debacle to their opposition. The rationale for political gain is just obvious, but it seems to me there is something more going on here, something operating on the psychological level.

It is worth studying here precisely because it makes so little sense. If someone truly wants Americans without access to health care to get that access, why would such a person object to “going down this path”? The web site doesn’t work. First step to getting that access, as I understand it, is to create an account on the web site and there have been so many people who tried to do that, and can’t.

As far as the legislation getting delayed or de-funded or repealed, you know, Que Sera Sera. Lots of people in this country want lots of things, and some of those things involve conflict with people who want something else. That’s one of the reasons we have a Congress. For now, as we are repeatedly told, ObamaCare is “the law of the land”; and it could very well be that people will change their mind about that if something doesn’t start going right. Can’t blame people for noticing that nothing is, nor can you blame their representatives in Washington for, you know, representing them and their feelings of betrayal, sticker-shock, disgust. Well I suppose you can, if it’s your job to, and Pallone is a democrat. But “That’s all it is” is far-fetched, running treacherously close to dropping the mask. When things go wrong, shouldn’t someone notice?

Watching democrat politicians is fascinating, in this way. By the time they’re sworn in, they have a job to do, and a lot of that job is connected with unreality since it has to do with making bad ideas look good. Hasn’t this just been proven now? So that’s at one end of a spectrum; at the other end is the guy who’s just slowly starting to become a left-winger, and up until now hasn’t given a rip about left-or-right. Obviously, that’s not a job. That’s just an internal struggle with the wrong energies prevailing. Jealousy, inattention to details, neglect of cause-and-effect, lust for quick fixes, obsequiousness. It seems to start, generally, with a feeling of revulsion against what is perceived to be an unfair “distribution of wealth.” There are many mistakes in just this first step, most prominent of which is fabricating the event by which these assets were somehow “distributed.” Much further down the line in this menagerie of grave mistakes, where all the tragedy really starts, is this thought: I’m supporting this plan that is intended to help people, and this must therefore mean that anybody who opposes me must want to hurt those same people.

It is as wrong-headed as it is commonplace. And for those who do not know, oh my goodness, it is commonplace. It’s hard to put it into words.

I daresay there is no class of thinking being on the globe that has less of a grasp of something, than strident modern American liberals grasping the motives of their opposition. It is truly a whole new threshold of ignorance. Someone should circulate a questionnaire sometime just for laughs. “Conservatives want more little kids to get gunned down at schools.” “They want more poison in the drinking water.” “They don’t want to pay their fair share.”

The biggest lie in the world about liberals is that they want to think globally and act locally. If they thought globally, the health care website would work as well as, and would’ve cost about as much to get online. That’s not how they think at all. They want to win arguments. That’s it. They want to be on the winning side, they want to prevail, and they want to be right. All-the-way-right. It’s a very rare thing to hear of a liberal say something like, “We were mostly right, but this one thing we did over here, we probably should’ve done it some other way.” Very rare. It does happen, but not often. Far, far less often you’ll hear a liberal say: “That thing we did there was not right, we shouldn’t have tried it.” Oh, when “we” in context means “United States of America,” that comes pretty easy. But try to find just one who will acknowledge the innate flaws in an idea that has already been accepted into the lefty catechism.

Congressman Pallone did such a great job showing their internal defenses against acknowledging strategic and tactical flaws within any such idea. Everything that goes wrong, is due in some way to the evil machinations of their opposition. Every, little, thing. Again, I say: It’s worth studying in the here-and-now because, with the Affordable Care Act, it makes so little sense. As I pointed out, and has been mentioned many times before, Republican hands are (mostly) clean on this thing. Nobody but democrats, and a couple independents who caucus with them, supported it or voted for it. They rammed it through. Now the website doesn’t work and it’s because of Republicans? How’s that?

So strange. It’s as if they think, there’s no reason for difficulty in any human endeavor anywhere, except for…conflict. If you run across a bump in the road, someone must have put it there. Couldn’t possibly be because you’re trying to do something that demands expertise above & beyond what you’re already bringing.

See, this is why I think of liberalism as anti-learning. It’s not just a case of “they don’t agree with me politically, so that makes them dumb, dumb, dumb.” I personally know of a few libs who are pretty smart. They just don’t bring the smarts to some things. And of course, before you can bring smarts, you’ve got to have them, which means at some point you need to acquire them. How’s that old saying go? Good judgment is the product of experience, and experience is the product of bad judgment. There’s a lot of truth in that. Also, the very first three words to any learning process are: “I don’t know.” You have to admit you don’t know something in order to learn it.

This all requires internalizing, something liberals evidently don’t do. And I find this remarkable, because their efforts according to their own perceptions seem to be along the lines of: Expanding the capacity and sophistication, if not the role, of government to service more and more needs.

Much the way you’d come back to a computer application that is already working fine on its selected workload, with some enhancements that entail added sophistication, maybe better memory models, so it can do something else.

And yet — before you can do that, you have to go down the learning-road. You have to say “I don’t know” a lot of the time, do some research with the designing.

You have to say: We’re still enhancing our model, still researching it, figuring out how & where exactly it may be inadequate. We’re still testing our design. We’re still finding bugs. We’re still polishing down rough edges.

Which means, you have to say: YES, these issues are internal. Nobody fucked with us or what we’re doing. We built something here, that is outdated now, or else never was right in the first place, and since we’re imperfect we’d probably do it again. We’re improving incrementally and that means we make mistakes. It’s more of a journey than a destination.

That’s supposed to be their credo, as I understand it. They don’t live up to it. When they puke in their own boot, it’s always the other guy who made them.

“Stop It! Stop It Now!”

Friday, October 25th, 2013

The women seem to be getting a bigger laugh out of this than the men…my reaction to this is something along the lines of, “Men, WTF Happened.”

Still funny though. Once you get over your latest reminder that our society is, indeed, heading in a provably wrong direction…

“Why are you making me go first?” “I’m not! I’m protecting you!”

Passed by a Majority in the House, by a Supermajority in the Senate, and Declared Constitutional by the Supreme Court

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Goes without saying I’ve never been too enamored with the ACA. It chooses personal security over personal freedom. Not as a byproduct of what it is trying to do, but as a primary goal. It “fundamentally transforms” America, one of the few promises President Obama made that He’s actually tried to uphold. Makes us into yet another filthy European socialist mudpuddle where “everyone” has “access” to everything, but nobody can do anything without permission.

And now, it doesn’t even do what it’s supposed to — even the mechanics of it, that goofy website, can’t generate the lift to overcome the drag. But we have to follow through, “they” tell us, because it’s “the law of the land.”


I’ve seen that phrase hammered together & tossed out there by people known to me to take some measure of pride in not knowing how any part of this system works, not knowing what a “bicameral legislature” is, people I doubt could reliably answer the questions you have to answer to become a naturalized citizen, like “How long does a United States Senator serve in one term?”

Let’s take this one on. Let’s do some of the critical thinking they can’t do.

The majority in the House of Representatives is 219 out of 435, one-and-a-half votes over the tipping point. Not a single Republican vote. So if the point is that The People want this albatross around their necks, sorry, no dice. You can just take a quick glance at the current House of Representatives and see, no we don’t have a majority of democrats in there, and ObamaCare is a big part of the reason why. Oh yes, the vote was valid. And legal. And the House of Representatives is charged by our Constitution with the obligation to represent the Will of the People, therefore, to bring that will to the decision-making process. The thing is, though, they fucked up when they did it. They did it wrong. Next time the real “People” had something to say about it, there was a bloodletting, because this isn’t what they wanted.

Supermajority in the Senate: Sixty to thirty-nine, with one abstention. Again, not a single Republican vote. But a supermajority is a supermajority, right? Two words: Cornhusker Kickback. And many other things. No representation of the true Will of the People in this chamber, either. And then there is Scott Brown sitting in Ted Kennedy’s seat. How come was that? Because of this vote. The six-seat shift in the 2010 elections affirmed this.

Which brings us to the Supreme Court, which supposedly upheld the constitutionality of ObamaCare. This is true, they did uphold it — as a tax. The progressives do not recall, since it is not expedient for them to think about it, that the Obama administration’s commerce-clause arguments were entirely rejected by the high court. So yes, it is “constitutional” that you have to pay this fine for failing to follow this regulation, even though the regulation, and the fine, exceed Congress’ authority under the Constitution. This false-veneer of constitutionality comes from Congress’ power to levy taxes. It’s a tax on a selected class of people, who don’t do such-and-such. Precisely what President Obama Himself repeatedly said it wasn’t (See about three minutes in)…

The rebuttal to “upheld by the Supreme Court” practically writes itself, as a question: So, is this a tax?

If it is, President Obama lied. We’re accustomed to Him playing fast and loose with the truth, it isn’t proving His status as a liar that is the issue. The issue is that when you sell a product under false pretenses, as any salesman can tell you, you should expect some push back. You should expect some things to be pulled back into the realm of the arguable, even after the ink has dried. The customer may rescind. In a lot of jurisdictions, he’ll be allowed to, maybe even obliged to. Because you didn’t stick to your knitting. You over-promised and under-delivered, and some of your “sales” might get un-sold. I’m sure that feels awfully unfair to a lefty politician, but that doesn’t mean it is.

If, on the other hand, President Obama was right and it isn’t a tax — then it isn’t constitutional. In fact, the Supreme Court explicitly shot it down.

Congress already possesses expansive power to regulate what people do. Upholding the Affordable Care Act under the Commerce Clause would give Congress the same license to regulate what people do not do. The Framers knew the difference between doing something and doing nothing. They gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it.

Conclusion: It’s more like, Abuse of trust in the House of Representatives, layer upon layer of filthy corruption in the Senate, and bait and switch in the Supreme Court.

While we’re here, a minor quibble if I may, minor nit to be picked. The notion that the Supreme Court declares these constitutional, is mostly a twentieth-century perversion. The authority the Supreme Court wields here, comes from a decision 150 years before that. The Supreme Court was not granted this power, nor is it accurate to say that they assumed it, or usurped it, or took it. The declared it as intrinsic and vital to the process of applying duly enacted law to specific situations, which Chief Justice John Marshall pointed out is “of the very essence of judicial duty.” This authority that his court declared for itself, therefore, was never anything more than the necessary latitude to recognize logically unworkable contradictions. So the Supreme Court never had the power to declare things constitutional, in the sense that it is somehow my personal obligation to say something like “Oh dear, well the Supreme Court says up is down and East is West, I guess I shall have to agree in order to be a good citizen.” The power they declared for themselves was to declare things unconstitutional. And minimally, only when the contradiction is unavoidable and irresolvable. You don’t have to think impossible things just because the Supreme Court tells you to. Everyone knows that. If anyone doubts it, tell a hardcore moonbat liberal what opinions he is & isn’t supposed to have about Bush v. Gore. Or, give a cat a bath, if it’s less trouble.

This matters, because the Affordable Care Act didn’t acquire a new layer of cachet in this “law of the land” business once it came out of SCOTUS. Quite the opposite. It came out of that final sausage-mill shredded, unfit for enforcement in the form in which it had been presented to us, sold to us, and sold to Congress.

Top Men

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Thing I Know #401. People who refuse to work with details don’t fix things. Says a mouthful — a truckload, actually, and I’ve linked to it frequently since the first of this month for obvious reasons — but there’s a sad corollary. Not so much a corollary, but an equal and opposite reaction: People are generally not fun to watch, until & unless they’re refusing to work with details. Even when they’re making themselves fun to watch by pretending to work with them. And there is something in us that makes us want these refuse-to-work-with-details people to run everything. A foible in our current era, or something inextricably and permanently woven into our fabric. I hope it’s the former and not the latter.

But I’ll tell you one thing, this latest from Sen. John McCain makes me wince a little:

“Send Air Force One out to Silicon Valley, load it up with smart people, bring them back to Washington and fix this problem,” he said. “It’s ridiculous. And everybody knows that.”

His 2008 opponent who is responsible for this debacle, would protest that He and His people are already doing that. Top Men…

The Obama administration said Sunday that it has enlisted additional computer experts from across the government and from private companies to help rewrite computer code and make other improvements to the online health insurance marketplace, which has been plagued by technical defects that have stymied many consumers since it opened nearly three weeks ago.

The HHS website has been updated to this effect. Well, I’m glad to know they can at least do that much with websites…

We have updated the site several times with new code that includes bug fixes that have greatly improved the experience. The initial wave of interest stressed the account service, resulting in many consumers experiencing trouble signing up, while those that were able to sign up sometimes had problems logging in…To ensure that we make swift progress, and that the consumer experience continues to improve, our team has called in additional help to solve some of the more complex technical issues we are encountering. Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve

The new website — now infused with help from those really smart computer guys, the nerds who do whatever that nerd stuff is that they do.



I suppose I should find this gratifying. For close to nine years now I’ve been blogging away about our super-duper-safe society achieving greater and greater creature-comforts but at the same time becoming unmoored from the solid kind of thinking that gave us the technology in the first place, deteriorating into diseased, bacchanalian thinking as the older “genuine” dangers retreated into the rearward horizon. I have occasionally predicted that this trajectory is cyclical, and the time will come that we’ll realize, consciously or otherwise, that there is a linkage between the creature comforts we take for granted and the masculine, cause-and-effect thinking that we now consider to be overly patriarchal and out-of-step with our times. Is this not what that would look like? Shouldn’t I be glad of it? Aren’t these the signs?

Can't Buidl a Website?A part of me is inclined to say yes. But a question naturally arises about how far down does the humility go. I remember working for a software start-up back in my early days, over two decades ago, one of the major shareholders walked in, saw the source code on my screen, said it really looked like a mess and I needed to run it through the spell checker. He was KIDDING about that, of course…at least…well, I dunno about that for sure, this was a great old guy with a dry sense of humor. I don’t think the fun-to-watch ObamaCare bureaucrats would be kidding. I can see it now. “Glad you’re here, Top Man. What a mess we have for you to clean up! You can start by running all this gobbleygook through the spell checker. The guy who wrote it said something about it being ‘Java,’ don’t know what that means, but let me tell you we don’t accept excuses around here!”

People in their nice sharp suits “solving” the problem by barking out orders. A memory flashes in my mind of “Plug The Damn Hole!” When what they really need to do is get out of the way.

Well, I don’t want to be too hard on them if they’re heading in the right direction. It was very soon after the “run ‘er through the spell checker” thing that I got sent here to Sacramento in the first place, under much the same circumstances…some big debacle created, and someone important in a nice suit issued a command in a big booming voice that we should fly in a whole bunch of smart guys to fix it, they somehow scooped me up with the others, so here I came and here I still sit. But you still have to wonder. Einstein said it’s impossible to solve a problem with the same mindset that created it in the first place. That’s why I have to ask how deep the recent humbling goes. Is the mindset being changed?

References to these smart, talented wonder-geeks are still being bandied about as if they were aliens. Years and years, decades even, of hoarding more and more power over the intimate details of our lives inside the beltway and NOW, in the fourth quarter of twenty thirteen when the embarrassment has become palpable, inescapable…we need to fly in some of “those” smart people? Um, excuse me…what you call “smart” is really nothing more than recognizing butterfly effects. Oh yes, that is merely my opinion. Many others will disagree, many of them working within the industry as long as I have, and among them, many of them demonstrably smarter and enjoying better success. Nevertheless, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not, that’s really all it is: Acknowledging cause and effect. You can’t really build anything without this. It’s the keystone, the primary building-block. Of anything. You push down this end of the lever, that other end will go up if the fulcrum doesn’t give way. Rotate the screw, it will go in. Calling for the flying-in of “smart” people is a tacit admission that you have to “fly in” people who simply understand that one thing affects another. Well anyway, that’s how it sounds to me. I have to wonder what kind of world do you call home, before you fly them in? What color is the sky in your world?

ObamaCare has problems because the people who “built” it don’t live in the real universe. They think selling is as good as building.

And as tasteless as those comments were five years ago about Sen. McCain never sending text messages, when his war injuries make this a physical impossibility for him, it should be pointed out that such things are said about public figures not because they’re truthful or in good taste, but because it’s anticipated that they will resonate. It happens to his old running mate, still, pretty much daily: “Dinosaurs are ‘Satan’s Lizards?’ Oh yes, that sounds like something Sarah Palin might say.” McCain, for all the content of his swelling maverick-y grab bag of assets and liabilities, has created something of a rep for himself. He looks, acts, walks and talks like a Washington insider. The kind of bumptious bloviator who solves every little problem by making, or calling for, some new rule, who is much more surprised than the rest of us by, well, any everyday surprise life has to offer. He typifies what is very clearly the real problem here, the mindset I’m afraid hasn’t been displaced. “And then we’ll have a website, it’ll open on, uh, let’s make it October 1 yes that sounds good. And then everybody will sign up and we’ll be on our way.”

What??? It didn’t work?? Well, let’s fly in a bunch of those nerds to fix it with their nerd-pixie-powder. Do whatever they do.



Dungeon Under Apartment

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

At 1:17: “What’s this?”

More here.

Pre-Halloween Festival

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Wisdom from my Hello Kitty of Blogging account:

I’d like to take this opportunity to propose a new holiday, a pre-Halloween holiday. I’m proposing a week-to-ten-day-long festival called “Get all the people who hate fun out of the way (they don’t want to be involved anyhow).” Or something.

Frumpy housewives who want to start tongue-clucking because the womens’ costumes are too slutty. Religious zealots fretting away because of the “occult” overtones. Liberals who want the kids collecting the most candy, to share it with the other kids who didn’t bother to go out. March them all into a great big, I dunno…big ol’ pumpkin or something. Seal it shut.

Let’s get something straight: Whatever else might have happened in its history, in modern times Halloween is the first big fun thing to happen after school opens up. It teaches — reminds — kids to enjoy the passage of time. This is important. It’s true they get plenty enough fun & relaxation during summer…maybe too much…if you want to start bitching about that, I’m in your corner. Halloween tells them, you get a good solid block of work done FIRST, then we start stretching into the holidays, and you start to think about blending the fun with the work. This is something you need to know how to do when you grow up. And let’s face it, the grown-ups need a chance to bust loose too.

Yes, of course you can disagree. Just get your ass in that pumpkin, and see you in ten.

I’m inspired by, among many other things, this

In the latest example of small-mindedness plaguing our educational system, schools around the country are attempting to ban costumes and candy on what is surely one of most kids’ favorite days of the year. The excuses range from vague concerns about “safety” to specific worries about food allergies to—get this—fears of breaching the wall of separation between church and state.

Fun HalloweenBut whatever the motivation, the end result is the same as what Charlie Brown used to get every time he went trick-or-treating: a big old rock in the candy bag. What sort of lesson are we teaching our kids when we ban even a tiny, sugar-coated break in their daily grind? Mostly that we are a society that is so scared of its own shadow that we can’t even enjoy ourselves anymore. We live in fear of what might be called the killjoy’s veto, where any complaint is enough to destroy even the least objectionable fun. [emphasis mine]

I think what bugs me more than anything else is that this is one of the last vestiges of the “neighborhood.” I don’t mean that in the physical sense. We have all sorts of neighborhoods. Trouble is, it’s becoming rare that anybody knows the first names or the last names of whoever’s living a hundred fifty feet away…or five hundred feet away…I’m concerned that they don’t have any reason to. I’m concerned that they have all sorts of reasons not to.

Everyone loves to brag about respecting “diversity.” Here’s the trick: Without intimacy, diversity’s easy. When it’s just that funny family down at the end of the block who moved in last year, of course you don’t care about their country of origin or whether they speak English. Heck, are they still there? Oh, so it might be credibly pondered that you’re all burning the same oxygen with your lungs. How courageous of you.

The more years I see come and go, the more amazed I am that the people who insist we “all come together to get things done” and that we give up our profits, liberties and personal ambitions “for the greater good,” are the ones plagued with the lion’s share of human-interaction handicaps. They say it is an impermissible manifestation of religiosity they can’t handle, but the truth is they can’t handle any dialogue or social configuration outside of their very narrow confine of the tolerable: “I tell people what to do and then they go do it.” That, or “I tell people to knock something off, and they must stop even if they’d rather not.” Besides those two things, anything else is out of their league.

Test it sometime. Do something truly sociable that puts everyone on equal footing. These people will be missing from it. The same people will always be missing, every time.

The truth of the matter is, that having real fun takes balls. No, I shouldn’t say that; a lot of women know how to have fun. Let’s say it takes a thick hide. One of the tragedies of our modern society is, the people with thin skins get to tell the people with thick skins how they’re supposed to live, work, learn and recreate. We’re not all getting an equal say here, and because of the dissipation of natural threats against our species, or society has turned into an Idiocracy. It’s the shrikes who are calling the shots now. The bossies. The knuckle-whackers. See, the eerie-prophecy movie didn’t quite call that one: We’ve started to crave taboos, invent new taboos, meaningless taboos that have no history and serve no purpose, just so we can shush each other. Like the article said: “Any complaint is enough to destroy even the least objectionable fun.”

In fact, I’ll bet a pillowcase of Milk Duds that if we could go back in time and review the true history of Halloween — not what’s been preserved for us, but the real thing, right down to the most arcane details — we’d find out it had something to do with fixing exactly that sort of problem: The thin-skinned people running everything. Perhaps not at the earliest origins, but somewhere along the way. Something to do with throwing off questionable taboos, celebrating the completion of a whole lot of work, or cutting loose with one last festivity before hunkering down for a suffocating and tough winter. Perhaps, making a point of knocking back a few with friends, relatives and neighbors, being unsure of whether they’d make it to the spring thaw? Kind of a “see you on the flip-side”? Makes sense to me…

So off with you, shrikes, strutting martinets, zealots, killjoys, seacows and scolds. Into the big pumpkin you go. I exorcise you like the evil spirits you are. See you on November 1.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Rotten Chestnuts.

The Fail

Friday, October 18th, 2013

As I get older, I notice my observations about things — on some level — become, paradoxically, simpler. Perhaps this comes from OO design methodology. You remember the classic XYZ Corporation example: Salespeople have regions and make flat salaries, commissions and bonuses; but before they are instantiated as salespeople objects, they are employees, and as such have employee numbers and seniority dates. At the next level up, they are U.S. citizens and have Social Security numbers, then they are human beings with heights, weights, genders and dates-of-birth. The point is that one learns to look for the common attributes. It is a skill as well as a habit, and one is never finished fully developing it.

Now, how long have I been studying modern liberalism. It was impossible to ignore which side was right & which side was wrong during the Ford/Carter/Reagan years. My interest in the whole thing waned sharply during Reagan’s second term, along with everybody else’s I think, and I was entirely apolitical by the time Bush and Quayle were sworn in. Bill Clinton fixed that for good. First time I saw a photo-op of him in a school classroom babbling away about a whole lot of nothing, realizing this was our next President of the United States, I formed more-or-less the realizations I have right now: We are in the middle of a culture-clash about superficiality. The central issue involves what you might say is the proper response to snake-oil salesmen selling bad products, who sound good. And have already managed to convince “everybody” else. With scare-quotes around “everybody,” since what is meant by that is the illusion of everybody. That faction which has managed to erect a veneer of unanimity. Managed to dominate the conversation.

After that, the forces in my personal evolution have consisted of merely more nudging, mostly gentle but occasionally jarring, in the common direction. I found out the woman I divorced before Clinton came along, was a passionate democrat, and realized how much money I’d have saved if I simply took the time to figure this out sooner. Then came the shutdown and the Lewinsky scandal, both of which proved that there is an aristocracy of charisma in our superficial society, filled with lovable bumpkins who can get away with pretty much everything, things that would destroy you or me in an instant, and there are teeming throngs of adoring airhead fans who think that’s just wonderful. Then came the Florida election debacle, during which our liberals became much nastier, and the 9/11 attacks. Throughout all of this I have spent much more energy studying modern liberalism for one reason: It’s been proven to me that I have to.

Liberals are just like a roaring house fire. I have other things I have to get done that don’t have anything to do with studying liberals. But, at the same time, if I attend to those things and ignore the liberals, they’ll flare up and fucking consume whatever I manage to put together anyway. And, I’m picking up the vibe, generally, that I’m not alone in this. Those of us who build things, or want to build things, are conflicted. There is only so much time in the day, and we can spend a lot of it ignoring the liberals — but if we never pay attention to the damage they’re doing, they’ll destroy all our stuff and everything we manage to get done will be for nothing.

Which brings me to a realization already familiar to me. Futility. Perhaps it is not merely an effect of modern liberalism; perhaps it is the goal.

I am entertaining the notion, as I have before, that it is all about failure.

Modern liberals live on a wholly separate planet, strewn across its entire surface with opposite-thinking. They think they’ve managed to salvage our nation’s credit-worthiness, by selling the idea that debt doesn’t & shouldn’t matter. For those who have trouble buying into that, our Vice President once famously said we have to spend more money to keep from going bankrupt. If our country has a problem with ignorance because it doesn’t do enough listening, the people to whom our friends the liberals think we should do more listening are the…children. There it is again, see: The inexperienced are to be seen as experienced, and vice-versa. The ranks of the leftists seem to be disproportionately swollen with the presence of asshole-makers, those who treat nice people as if they were mean people, and mean people as if they were nice. The climate-change scam has now managed to achieve ninety-five percent certainty even though the predictions are wrong. ObamaCare is evidently their idea of great legislation. Hillary Clinton is evidently their idea of a smart woman. They’re constantly braying that the Tea Party is by its very nature stupid, intransigent, unreasonable and kooky, although the core message of the TP is really nothing more than “maybe we should try not to rack up so much debt.” Sarah Palin still scares them and they still hate her, even though she resigned and went home just like they wanted her to do, and she isn’t forcing anyone to buy strange creepy new insurance policies from a crappy website that’s never up. They think the national parks should be locked down. They think our country’s borders should not be. When President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went on record to say they would refuse to negotiate during the shutdown, they strangely concluded that the Republicans in Congress must therefore be “holding the country hostage,” and should bear all the responsibility for the shutdown. They’re constantly in a state of fret that some sort of life-staple they demand from the government is going to be disrupted in its supply, and this apprehension of theirs seems genuine…their solution to this is always to have the government manage more things. They sanction discriminatory practices, in fact, insist on them at every turn, and they call this “equality.” Planet Liberal seems to be going through a “global warming” of its very own, of sorts, from which there is no terrestrial escape — of opposite-ness. Pole to pole, all around the equator, continent to continent and sea to sea. Everything is perceived by the vocal intelligentsia as the exact opposite of what it truly is.

To all of this we can add what may be the highest base abstract superclass: Victory is to be treated as failure, and failure is to be treated as victory. President Obama sucks, they admit, but they support Him anyway. If someone comes along to counsel or nudge toward success, they react with rage; the simpler the counseling, the hotter the rage. They seem to need, and want, and appreciate having, thin waists and fat wallets just like the rest of us. It is the dispensation of true wisdom that might lead to such desirable outcomes that really cheeses ’em off.

Think of: Two men come across undiscovered land, stake their claims, and get busy building their houses before the cold winter rolls in. One man succeeds at this and the other fails. Normal people like you and me might say, the man who succeeded at exactly the same problem in exactly the same conditions, using the same tools, with the same supplies at his disposal, might have some good information to share with the man who failed. Not so to our friends the liberals, from the opposite-ravaged planet. To them, “true” wisdom comes from the sad sack who had to move in to his friend’s abode for the winter. What really matters is “what it’s like” for him; there may be some information in the universe somewhere that’s still relevant, but this is the first-and-foremost, most important thing. And among those who need to pull up a chair and listen endlessly, the one guy who most urgently needs to receive the information about how it feels to be a loser, is the guy who managed to get it done. He has the most to learn. He should listen, listen and listen some more to the endless caterwauling about the despair, the cold, the rain, the embarrassment, the dependency, how awful it all is…and then he should pay higher taxes for his friend who has to be on the dole now. Maybe they can dismantle that fancy house, then one guy can live under the roof and the other one can have the walls.

And this is true with every domestic policy they have to offer. Haven’t you noticed? Those who have managed to produce the things we all want, need to shut up, pay their taxes, and stand by waiting to be told what to do…by some “regulators” who are thought to be supremely wise in some way. Although, common sense says that if the regulators knew anything about producing, they wouldn’t be regulating, they’d be producing.

The point is: In their world, losers always have something to teach the winners. Winners have nothing to offer by way of useful knowledge, to the losers. No non-achievers can ever be told anything they might need to learn, to become achievers. That, to them, is hateful. It’s disrespectful. It makes the losers feel like losers.

It never seems to fall within their tight perimeter of thinking, that if anyone really thought of the losers as cradle-to-grave losers, the last thing that person would do would be disrupting his business — which obviously works — to stop and offer the losers some guidance. That would only make sense if the successful person saw some potential there. So by seeing the losers as losers-today-winners-tomorrow-maybe, those who give advice to the losers show the losers vastly more respect than our friends the liberals, who seem to be oblivious to the very concept of improved results by way of expansion of knowledge, as well as to the concept of time.

The disagreement here is about whether losers have anything to learn. From that, spring all the other disagreements, it seems. Which are much more contentious than they need to be, since the modern liberals are so far off-base that they insist it is the losers who should be doing all the teaching, and the winners should be doing the learning. From the losers.

It’s odd that when it comes to partisan wrangling in Washington, they don’t follow through. When democrats negotiate with Republicans, suddenly the modern left understands victory just fine. The same goes for elections. As incumbents and as challengers, liberals act during elections exactly the way conservatives act with things that are outside politics. They play to win. It’s only in the policies to which they want to commit the rest of us, that they treat defeat like victory and victory like defeat.

Maria Kang

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Got a big controversy over the above photograph. She’s a local lady here, who’s created a national uproar. I guess it’s the “What’s Your Excuse?” line rubbing some people the wrong way.

Jack Armstrong of Armstrong & Getty was complaining that her occupation has been toned down, failing to find mention in articles like this one. She’s some kind of fitness trainer or something. So I guess the rebuttal would be…”my excuse is that I’m not a fitness trainer”? And it would seem I can throw stones like everyone else at hapless Maria, since I’m not a fitness trainer either and I seem to have packed on thirty pounds plus over the last couple years. So pass the rock and let’s get in line, right?

Sorry, no dice. This is not about fat.

There are two kinds of people in the world. Some say, “if one guy did it anywhere, that means anybody else who wants to, can do it everywhere.” The other kind say, “if one guy somewhere can’t do it, then nobody else should be able to do it either.” Perhaps the Facebook ladies getting all pissed off at Ms. Kang have hit a compromise: “I’m willing to do what it takes to get the weight off, so long as nobody, anywhere, does or says anything to make me feel bad.” It’s that last set that is the problem here, not Maria Kang. You have to choose your battles. The fact is, a lot of people who have weight problems simply want to have everything as good as they can possibly have it, every waking minute of every day. Why get a Quarter Pounder, when there’s a Double Quarter Pounder right next to it for only another dollar? “She said something that rubbed me the wrong way, now I must start a revolution” — that’s just an extension of that. Feel feel feel, every situation that comes along, it’s all about how it makes you feel. That’s how people put on weight.

You know, there are certain truisms about criticism, whether the criticism is personalized or not: Criticism is almost never one hundred percent on-the-money. It’s always wrong somewhere. But it very seldom entirely misses the mark, either. You have to, as the adage goes, “take what you like and leave the rest.” In the case of criticism, nobody likes any of it, so what you need to do is take what will help you and improve your situation…and leave the rest. Did Maria Kang’s flippant comment entirely miss the mark? With everyone?

Let’s answer that question with another question: Are the complaining-people not answering her question rather directly? “My excuse is that you’re making me feel bad about myself.” And in so doing, are they not proving the question has more than a little merit? “What’s your excuse” means, boiled down to its essentials, “how little does it take to make you abandon your goal of a better body?” And the answer is “some stranger on Facebook posting pictures I don’t like.” Pretty low bar. So there’s opportunity for improvement there.

The real tragedy is this: That is precisely the problem Ms. Kang was trying to solve, if I’m reading her message right. And I think I am. She took the time and trouble to reach the emotionally sensitive types, the kind of people who aren’t inclined to say “no pain no gain,” just-do-it, the kind who have not yet pushed past that first milestone. The must-feel-good-all-the-time types. And, those are exactly the ones who are biting her head off over it.

We can have a legitimate argument over whether or not she deployed sufficient tact. But she was trying to help. And the fact is, these people can’t admit that they’re the ones who have the problem. They’re showing the real reason why they don’t look as good as Maria Kang, from the neck down, and nothing is going to change there until something changes between the ears. That makes the whole thing personal, and a bit nasty. Maria Kang didn’t make it that way and neither did I.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Rotten Chestnuts.


Thursday, October 17th, 2013

I’m just naturally conflicted about this (link starts 14:51 into the video, NSFW language) (from here). I would expect this is a conflict encountered by many others who are concerned about the same things. On the one hand, I don’t say something never-was-winnable in the first place. To me, that’s something losers say. Life is not a dress rehearsal, and I don’t play to lose. On the other hand, in order to win, I have to respect cause-and-effect. I’m a resident of this-universe, after all. Cause-and-effect always wins. And the fact of the matter is that Mr. Clarey has established a solid link.

Nothing left to lose. Do this, or else you’re bankrupt. Do that, or else you’re divorced. Don’t say that, or else you’re fired. Such threats, made constructively in any way, ought to carry an implied reassurance of “but if you do it the way we want you to then you will receive protection.” That isn’t happening. Men avoid doing what they’re supposed to avoid doing, in order to escape destruction, and for their trouble they just get more threats. Over the longer term of time, we see the “deal” is something more like: Quit pulling on the leash, so we can shorten it. Seriously, just ask the question: What can you do to get in trouble these days? It doesn’t take much.

If the men at your workplace talk in a higher pitch on the clock than they do on the drive in…you probably have some stories to tell. Because your men are either being punished just for acting like men, or they’re under the impression they would be. Which probably means they would be.

Why do men say anything in a voice pitch anywhere above middle-C at any time? We weren’t designed to. Most of us don’t want to. It isn’t natural.

Why is it reckless to pin a calendar in your work cubicle, with pictures of women in bathing suits? Of course we call that dumb and stupid, since it will certainly get you called into your boss’ office for a conversation none too pleasant. Ever stop to ask why that is? See, no one’s going to defend it — just because the consequences are so swift and certain. That’s just “crab in a bucket” mentality. You can’t put a Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar in your office, so it stands to reason nobody else should be able to either. It isn’t “normal.” But…what does a “normal” person do when he goes in to buy a car, and has to negotiate on the payments with the salesman who takes him into the office and…there’s a swimsuit calendar on the wall. What does a normal-person do? Get offended? NO. So you see, the rules are all about normalcy…but the rules have been shaped and molded around the preferences and tastes of abnormal people, in fact, people who are none too interested in avoiding conflict. Such people, in fact, use conflict to achieve greater power. So the rules are not about normalcy, and they’re not about avoiding conflict, and they’re not about equality. Now consider that the swimsuit-calendar example is useful only because it is the silliest example, the example least subtle. There are many, many others. Men simply aren’t allowed to act like men.

The origin of the problem is that “offended” people have to be treated as if they have special powers. We have to give them whatever they want. They are, in the moment, masters of all they survey. But that only works with peasants and peons. At some level, usually for some kind of government employee, it becomes okay to tell offended-people to stick it. I can get as offended as I want to get, over my treatment at the DMV…in the security line at the airport…talking to the Internal Revenue Service. There is some kind of mechanism by which I can file a complaint, and one out of 50,000 of those might “go viral,” about the same odds as a random YouTube upload. Maybe the odds improve if there is a YouTube upload. But overall, no, in those situations I can’t expect the whole world to genuflect before me if I utter those magical words “I’m offended.” Not the way you or I will have to turn everything upside-down if we’re seen doing the wrong things by the wrong people.

I think the hierarchy-structure problem is, perhaps, more problematic than the short-leash problem. The leash is longer for people who have certain occupations; people who can make arbitrary decisions about how much inconvenience might weigh upon others. That is a sure sign that we’re dealing with a power struggle. The bulk of the burden rests on those who are powerless, the ones whose problems are costless to everybody else. They are the ones who must walk a fine line, in everything they do, threatened constantly with being vanished out to the cornfield.

That’s why teevee husbands are goofballs. It doesn’t have to do with “comedy” or “humor” or good times or cheer or hope. It’s all about fear. We pick out easy prey, based on who can’t fight back.

So I agree with Aaron Clarey’s observations, but my tactics are different. We are, I think, a society that wants to be civilized. We’re just doing a rather shitty job of it. We have a tendency to think “nobody can call me a bully, if the person I’m bullying is a member of such-and-such a class.”

Everybody pays, not just the men. Because when a man has to act unmanly in order to avoid being disappeared, and that’s going on his whole life, there is a dwindling in the opportunity to teach other people how to be manly. The kids grow up without ever hearing the sound of a real man’s voice. They’re more likely to hear it from a Japanese cartoon than from a real person. Boys forget how to become real men. Girls never learn how to respect them, to value them, to look for them.

I think it’s winnable, it just has to be a two-way street. Society can tell men when men are not behaving acceptably, and when it does so, it expects the men to reciprocate; men should warn society when it’s coming off the rails. There certainly have been a lot of women plowing their energies into that. More and more, it seems like it’s the wrong kind of women who’ve been able to.

“A New Variety of Privilege”

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

They know, Mr. Taranto, they know.

[Shanta] Driver’s position seems instead to be based on the contemporary leftist theory that groups certified as “oppressed” deserve special treatment at the expense of the “privileged.” Such a view, however, collapses in its own illogic. A system that gives special treatment to members of an “oppressed” group is simply a new variety of privilege.

Yes, The Left is supposed to be about “equality.” Yet, with every single issue that comes along, there is always one class of people The Left wants to win all the time, and another class of people they want to be beaten all of the time. And, of course, they’re full of complaints whenever they don’t win. All of the time.

They’re not about equality and they never have been. Where did we ever get such an idea? They said so?

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Rotten Chestnuts.

The Shutdown Drama is Over

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

The overarching theme within all the speechifying had something to do with the country’s credit-worthiness. That is not my opinion; it is measurable. Go back and read a transcript, any transcript. All the loud people were concerned that the credibility of the nation’s credit was about to be put in jeopardy.

At the end of it, the winners were the advocates for a non-sustainable lifestyle. That, also, is not my opinion. That, too, is measurable. Who just won, and who got shouted down and branded as extremist zealots? What of the message that a trillion-dollar-a-year deficit actually means something? In the marketplace of ideas, isn’t that the idea we just decided to shove unto the gutter?

So…we just salvaged our nation’s credit-worthiness, by committing it to an unsustainable lifestyle?

But it got decided that way because we’re so sick of the arguing, so sick of the conflict. Interesting. Well, here’s something I’ve been noticing: Conflict is something that rolls in with the tide, to overwhelm us, when these loud people declare simple cause-and-effect to be unworthy of their attention. When they use their loud rhetoric to declare a kind of “war” against forces so simple and so rugged, that they are woven into the fabric of space-time. It is inevitable. Declaring any kind of war, means to embark on some kind of pursuit of victory; in the marketplace of ideas, when loud people go chasing after a victory, as we just saw, they generally tend to achieve it on some level. And when they “win” this has the consequence of dividing us.

Since there will always be those who say “Who cares who wins? Up is up, down is down, and debt means something” — just as, there will always be those who say “Fuck the up-is-up-down-is-down thing, I wanna win.”

So, win they did. But I’m not sure what they won. Our nation’s credit is not credible and we did not avoid conflict. Congress’ approval rating? I don’t think it went up, nor will it…

Update:Terrible deal.”

Five Ton Flatbed Truck of Ego Irony

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Brain fart over at the Hello Kitty of Blogging

Okay, so what’s going on in the heads of the big-government people? That’s what I’d really like to know. Do they see some evidence in the shutdown that maybe, just maybe, the Tea Party is right, and the “have government take care of everything (until the day comes it isn’t taking care of jack squat)” might not be the right way to go?

Or…are they just blaming “extremist GOP members of Congress holding the country hostage” for it all. Because if they’re doing that, all the way from the frontal lobes to the brain stem and every synapse in between…the rest of us would then be forced to conclude…

Big government advocacy == big ego. And, big ego == advocacy for big government. Synonymous relationship.

I’m having more thoughts about this, which is a sign that this thought is a journey and not a destination. That, in turn, would mean that it belongs here at the blog, and not over there.

The ancillary thought I’m having about this is about the irony. It’s rather obvious, isn’t it? “Ego” is Latin for “I.” As in…I’ve been wondering about this for a very long time. Love of government, I’ve learned over the years, is not really love of anything at all. It is loathing. It is fear. It is an instinctive revulsion against the idea of anyone identifiable doing anything significant.

I say “identifiable.” Barack Obama, and a few others, can go ahead and do amazing big things and get & “deserve” credit for getting those things done. To these Nervous Nellies, Obama is not identifiable. He is a shining face in a shrine…or on a fake American flag. They won’t meet Him, ever, and if they ever do, they won’t feel the burden of being compared with Him. Mortals aren’t supposed to do the things the deities do. So what they really seek to do, is place all definable achievement outside the realm of the expected — for them, and by extension, for any of their true peers. They live in a world in which “real” people aren’t supposed to do things.

Let’s expound on that a bit, to be fair, since some of them are indeed hard workers. The distinction upon which we cogitate here has to do with milestones. “Real” people do work, the way a slug crawls upon the ground…or would, if the slug didn’t have to eat anything. Every hour of work done is like a gallon tin of vegetable oil, strictly non-exceptional, identical to the hour/gallon that came before, and will come afterward.

So the irony is: I would expect someone with a huge, fragile ego to have the opposite problem. Large ego should mean: Living, to excess, in a world of “I will do this because I can’t rely on anyone else to do it.” These sad sacks seem to live in a world color-photo-negative reversed from that: I can’t get it done, and since you’re like me (or should be like me) you can’t be counted on to do it either. So let’s have government do it. To those of us who can point to many examples of the government screwing something up, dropping the ball, twisting the mission around into one of just being a general pain-in-the-ass — they cannot offer a substantive rebuttal. They just snark and distract. It’s truly surreal. You can’t help wonder if they ever had to wait in line at the DMV. The most they do by way of response is make some kind of remark about “right wing echo chambers.” Look for excuses to reject the information. So they’re not really placing faith in government, they’re just restraining their faith from being placed in anything else. “Government should do it” really means “I don’t want anyone else doing it.” Either way, government should have exclusive permission to do it. All of it.

Until, as I wrote in the parentheses, government grinds to a halt like it just has. Then what? Going by their rhetoric, the answer is to just blame Republicans for everything not going their way. How far does that go?

If I presume it isn’t an act, and the thought stretches downward and inward, toward the very core of their brains, we’re left with less of an actual “narrative” or conclusion, and more of a string of silly nonsense that simply can’t exist in my universe. I can’t grok with it. I mean, give it a try: We have these bad, bad Republicans in Congress who are all at fault for monkey-wrenching to a halt this good-government machinery that I need to be chugging away and attending to my…everything. Those darn Republicans are such idiots. The machinery upon which my life depends, upon which I want all facets of my existence to depend, has been stopped by these idiots.

Do I want to have every facet of my existence depend on running machinery that can be stopped by idiots? Do you? Do they? I think it safe to say most of us wouldn’t want that.

Tentative conclusion: Ego is the problem, but the issue is not the ego’s size, rather its delicacy. Like a balloon inflated beyond reasonable limits, their ego has become fragile.

They say they’re all about “hope.” That ship has sailed; it is fear that motivates them.

He Sucks, I Support Him Anyway

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

…supporting suckage…

Think of Travis Smiley as the anti Clint Eastwood, I guess…when someone is completely screwing it all up, we have to hang on?

Wonder what Commander Spock would think of this.

Hat tip to Chicks on the Right.

Inside the Anthill

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

For the first half of it, I was thinking “So it was a magnifying glass when you were a sadistic little shit, now that you’re all grown up it’s molten aluminum.” Then I saw the “chandelier”…after that, I can’t stop thinking how cool it is.

From here.

Hat tip to Linkiest.

Why it Went the Way it Did

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Mkay, wish I was wrong about this thing, but in the end I was right.

US may avert default as Boehner blinks

US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner told Republican lawmakers yesterday he will give President Barack Obama a proposal extending the government’s ability to borrow money through Nov 22 – but only if he agrees to negotiate over ending a partial government shutdown and a longer-term increase in the debt ceiling.

Though the Republican proposal could avert an unprecedented federal default that the Obama administration has warned could occur as early as Oct 17, it would not necessarily bring a quick end to the separate 10-day partial federal shutdown. Mr Obama has insisted that Congress reopen the government without condition.

And here is what I said:

I think the democrats are really nervous right now. They have a lot of spinning to do. They’re pretty good at it, they usually win, and my money is still on them winning this time. They probably don’t have too much to fear.

When there is a shutdown, Republicans pay a higher day-by-day political cost for it than democrats. It was true in 1995, it’s true now, it’s always been true. It doesn’t make any sense, since the Republican message is — at least it’s supposed to be — that we need to pull out of this cul de sac of centralized planning and government-administered everything. And in a rational universe, a “shutdown” would be seen as concrete evidence of exactly that, that this configuration isn’t good for us or for our country, and isn’t sustainable.

Complex and ProfoundBut there are a lot of things anchoring us in this irrational, silly universe. The prevailing viewpoint, both within the Republican party and outside of it, is that Republicans are loathed and cannot generate any sympathy or camaraderie with anyone who isn’t already a loyal Republican, and it’s the fault of those Tea Party types. They need to reject the extreme ideas of those zealots with identifiable ideas, and embrace the “mainstream”; lose the vibrant hues and paint with more pastel. I would say, ordinarily, that the thing they should do is neither accept or reject that theory, but instead put it to a test. Ordinarily. The thing about that, though, is that this has already been tested for the last thirty years or so, through our presidential elections. These “reach-across-the-aisle-and-compromise” types of Republican candidates, lose. Every. Single. Time. Meanwhile, you go back a hundred years give-or-take, and you see it’s rather exceptional for Republicans to lose. So there is a problem for this prevailing viewpoint, and as is usually the case, the problem is reality. The theory doesn’t test well.

The tests say, for Republicans to win, they have to do what political candidates from all parties have to do. They have to do what you and I have to do when we go to job interviews. Answer the question: Why you, and not him?

Well, when you lose, the thing to do is learn. Victory always comes to those who are willing to learn, you know. It may take awhile, but the thing about victory is it’s very often the culmination of lots of past defeats, coupled with learning. So, the Republicans could take the tack of “the public has spoken, now let’s all act like democrats,” but what’s the point? That only makes sense if you’re a politician. It’s like, due to the whim of majority rule, quit bailing water out of the boat, drop the bucket, grab an ax, and help make some new holes in it. Why would you do that? You want to be popular, or do you want to fix a problem?

Submitted for someone with real influence to peruse at their leisure; things the Republicans could address, first, if they wanted to fix the problem. Some of these have been broken for quite some time. But if they aren’t fixed before the next shutdown, I’m going to bet my money on the same outcome and I’m probably going to win that one too.

1. The media “watchdog” is a lap dog. There isn’t a lot that can be done about this, at least, not by Republicans. But, it still might be helpful to examine the reasons why. The media has a tendency to be staffed by progressives in the first place, since it’s appealing to the youthful to say “I’m going to become a journalist and change the world for the better.” That means activist journalism, left-wing by its very nature. Thinking on it a little bit harder and deeper, I think it’s pretty clear to everyone what responsible, unbiased reporting really is — and that’s boring. Nobody wants to be that when they grow up. Nobody wants to deliver the facts to the viewers & readers, so that the viewers and readers can make up their own minds. People like to talk about that a lot, but there aren’t that many who are really delivering on it. And then, you have to think about what news, as a commodity, is actually worth. The media has a vested material interest in lefty governance, because when unemployment is high, crime is rampant and resource allocation planning is centralized, news becomes much more important. Think about what a newspaper costs in Chicago or New York City. What’s the local paper cost in Mayberry, USA, or anyplace out in the “breadbasket” where addresses contain words like “township” and “section”; there is a reason for that. People want whatever they’re selling, to be precious. News people want news to be precious. So they want lefties to be running things. It’s just natural.

2. Feelings that glorify style over substance, and immediate gratification, carry the greatest currency right now. The expressed thoughts that are attached to these feelings, resonate most surely and most powerfully. Unlike #1 above, this is not a timeless/endless thing, although it might still be outside of the control of anybody who gives a rip. The most likely situation here is that there is something we can do, but the thing to do is wait awhile. It’s a cyclical thing, almost a seasonal thing. The national mood since about 2005 or 2006 can best be expressed as something like, “What’s this ‘debt’ thing, I just want my num nums.” I give that late date because that’s about the time the national elections started going that way, but anyone who was paying attention will immediately realize the elections were just the ignition point of a combustion process that had been building for a long time. There is a certain fascination with Barack Obama giving speeches as a panacea for every little problem that comes along, and it’s having an effect now that it would not have had in the decades previous. No, it’s not all because of racism. Bill Clinton is a white guy, he had this going for him too. It was & is generational. It isn’t the same thing as Kennedy beating Nixon in the television-age because he was more handsome. This is something new. We care about packaging more than we care about substance. Responsible thinking, grown-up thinking, cause-and-effect thinking, delayed gratification; these things resonate in certain communities, but they’ve lost their cachet that they used to have as “sea to shining sea” values. They’re being dampened in ways they used to not be dampened, in ways the “I want it now” thoughts are not being dampened. Think about those democrat accusations against the Republicans in Congress “holding the government hostage”; to those of us who actually think about debt and what it means, who pay a little bit more on the credit card when the balance is higher than we’d like it to be, it was evident how silly and backward that was. Much like a bully calling a non-bully a bully. But it resonated. My point is, that resonance of this backward-accusation was not merely a symptom, it was the problem itself. People are thinking of the credit card — our eyebrows-deep in debt government — the way our kids & wives think about credit cards right before we get really, really worried; as “free” cash. So, you see, the Republicans never really had a chance at this thing. Maybe now the era is coming to an end. Hope so. We’ll see.

3. The democrats work much harder at getting their message out. Credit where it is due. They put a great deal of priority on whether they always get the last word. See, those of us who have to build things that actually work, have this built-in reluctance against making this Priority One. We keep thinking…wait a minute, if you always have to have the last word to make your idea look workable, that’s a sure sign that the idea isn’t workable! Our friends the liberals are not similarly troubled. They seem to understand that they’re dead in the water if they ever fail to have the last word. And where this would cause you or me a whole lot of self-doubt, to them it just raises the adrenaline level. I subscribe to conservative as well as to liberal organizations inclined to send out e-mails about the budget stalemate, to get in their version of what’s going on and what to make of it. Throughout this little tempest, the ratio has not been even close. It’s like fifty, sixty to one. Several times a day I get something from OFA, Media Matters, The New Republic, et al telling me what I’m supposed to think. Where’s the conservative counterpart? Maybe once a week something will trickle in. The tone will be almost apologetic, like junk mail put together by someone who hates junk mail as much as I do. It almost offers to throw itself away for me. To that, you have to add the consideration that when the democrats ask for some trifling amount from each person, like three bucks — and get it from lots and lots of people — that sends a very powerful message. As a politician or a pollster or a pundit, you have to treat that like the three-dollar-donor knew what the progressive movement is really all about, even if there are a lot of signs that this might not be the case. What to do? This is probably the easiest one to fix. When you suck at something, stop sucking. When your leadership sucks at something, replace them.

4. People don’t identify the GOP with the abrogation of an undesirable status quo. Practically no one thinks this country is on the “right track.” Furthermore, from talking to the people who think we’re heading in the wrong direction, the feeling is strong. The anger is palpable. Even among the politically uninvolved, it’s still often the first thing on their minds when they wake up in the morning, and the last thought they have before drifting off at night. Clearly, there is a heady geyser of energy erupting here that the Republicans are failing to capture. We’re in Barack Obama’s America, but when something is wrong with it, somehow Barack Obama achieves much better results in His effort to portray Himself as the Washington-outsider riding in on a white horse to fix it all, than His opposition does. These are, aggravatingly, problems directly linked to His own policies. This is immediately evident to anyone who’s been paying attention. But the people paying attention are not the ones responding to the polls. This one, like #3, is easily fixed. Just ratchet down this rhetoric about “coming together” and “common goals” and “reaching agreement at the table” and so forth. Stop pretending Republicans and democrats want the same things. It isn’t true. And when it’s repeated ad infinitum, the way people hear it is yeah, Republicans and democrats working together to screw me over. Can’t blame them for that, can you. They’re taking something that doesn’t have any truth in it, and trying to make it true; there is some truth in this interpretation. We have a 17 trillion dollar public debt now, the legacy of Republicans and democrats “coming together to find ways of doing things together” and so forth. Just because you’re going forward doesn’t mean you’re heading to a good place.

There is a bright spot to all this. The #2 problem, with the shallow thinking, it is probably the common-cause of the other three problems. I’m very sure this one can be waited out. There’s nothing else that can be done about it. But the waiting will probably work, since it always has. People are always about as superficial as they figure they can afford to be, and what’s happening right now is the country is learning it can’t be that superficial. It will have to do some growing-up, like it did in 1968 and 1980.

It’s the Stein Rule. Whatever can’t go on forever, won’t.

Cross-posted at Rotten Chestnuts and Right Wing News.


Thursday, October 10th, 2013

From Sippican.

More ass-kicking Brahms:


No, I Still Hate It

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

From here.

Unfit For Negotiations

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

There is an irony to the shutdown situation, which is being missed by most of the people talking about it. But before we explore the irony we need to explore a key concept, a concept so crucial to the whole thing that it would justify a new word. I’m reluctant to go ahead and come up with the word, since the word must already exist…it certainly should…and yet, it seems, there is no such word. This is odd, because the thing the word describes becomes an important thing any time humans trade with other humans, which is something that’s been happening for thousands of years.

What the word would describe, specifically, is the asset you have when your opponent is punished — by some external force, something that is not you — for failing to achieve compromise with you. It puts time on your side. Think of a man in a suede coat that he values very highly, pounding on the locked door of a house when it’s just about to rain. “Bargaining chip” is not sufficiently precise. The thing this word would describe, is punishment and not reward. It is a factor in an classic psychological approach-avoidance conflict.

If your opponent has this tool, and you don’t, you’ve already lost. The rest of it is just theater, futile face-saving. Following through. Nothing more. The problem you then have, is this: Your difficulties are costless to everyone else involved. The simple truth of the matter is that you can’t come out ahead that way.

So the “shutdown” is really just Congress and the President trying to seize this asset, this tool. Each side using P.R. to try to elevate the cost of the other side failing to give everything up.

This is where Barack Obama’s unsuitability for the office of President really comes out. It isn’t because He lacks knowledge about some particular thing, or that He’s stubborn. You have to think about: Why is it that He got elected in the first place? Getting elected to this office means prevailing in a championship, winning in a tournament, rising level by level until you come out on top. So Obama, like any other president, is a champion. Of something. Of what, exactly? It’s a question that has been asked ever since the first democrat called Obama “the real deal” back in 2007 or 2006…(Brokaw?): What exactly does that mean? To this very day, none of Obama’s slobbering toadies can answer the question about what, precisely, is unique about Him.

The answer is: With America’s social dynamics the way they are in this day and age, with all the materialism and the superficiality and the race-guilt and the false sense of sacrifice of individual desires for “the greater good”…if you send Obama into negotiations to represent you, you probably won’t have to give anything up. Obama is a tool. A tool for short-circuiting the negotiation process, just like a paper clip is a tool for closing a circuit after a fuse burns out.

Good enough for now; contrary and offensive to the system’s original design; servicing the immediate demands of one immediate user in a “tragedy of the commons” situation; a damnable disgraceful safety hazard.

The irony is that while Obama is avoiding the “business end” of this negotiating bully-cudgel I tried to define as a single word up top, at least in one way, in another way He’s bearing the brunt of it. He is in a no-win situation. Everything He has to sell has to do with refusal to compromise, refusal to give up His half of a loaf. It is His product. It is His legacy. That’s how we got ObamaCare in the first place, isn’t it? When one side enjoys a bit too much of this “time is on our side” cudgel, and the benefits that come with it, we get wretched, rotten legislation. And that’s what happened there. The democrats did not compromise because there was no reason for them to. Now, they want the same benefits because, well gosh darn it, it feels like that’s the way things should be. And they would be that way, if the country wasn’t so far in debt that a Continuing Resolution becomes necessary, which the Constitution requires originate in the House of Representatives.

So Obama’s gotten Himself into trouble here. He never did anything to stop up the government’s hemorrhaging of money because, again, there never was any reason to. Just blame Bush, sign whatever, and go golfing. Now He’s in this situation in which a lot of other presidents have found themselves, where true compromise becomes a necessity. Because, Congress. And so the situation is one in which the mighty oak cannot survive the storm unless it bends a bit. This He cannot do, because it would jeopardize His brand.

Yes, skin color is a part of it, but why get into that. It’s just a gimmick that is part of the overall product. It certainly is an important part of it — everyone who disagrees or challenges Obama on anything, is immediately branded a racist. That’s how it works. Figure out what you want to do, have Obama go in and sell it, if anyone frustrates the movement in any way just call ’em a racist.

But that isn’t really Obama’s product. Obama is the brittle oak. That’s what He has to sell.

And what we’re learning is that Obama’s product is bad — even for the people who buy it, His sponsors, the ones who send Him into the negotiating room to not-negotiate. At the very end of it all, what we have found out is that real leaders and real winners do give-a-little on certain things. They use their intelligence to prioritize, to differentiate what can be left on the table, from what cannot be. The brittle oak, after all, is the one lying supine when the dawn comes, after the storm is over. The more flexible one that bent & swayed a little bit as the winds battered it, will still be standing.

Obama is completely unqualified here, just as He is unqualified for any other thing that has to do with being President of the United States, besides reading a teleprompter.

The bottom line is, there is no reason for the government to be shut down right now. It all has to do with who’s in the White House…and, what exactly He’s doing there, what got Him there.

Anus Makers

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

I have a rule against using George Carlin’s “seven words you can’t say” in my headlines (video behind link is not safe for work, in case you need such a warning). In the tiny text, I figure it’s okay to go ahead and say things like “Asshole Maker.” Anyway, I was thinking this morning around five o’clock, heading southbound on I-680…gee, I can’t imagine why…how assholes are made. Isn’t that what really bothers us about assholes? It isn’t that the assholes are there, or that we encounter them. We should expect this. We’re all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, who got kicked out of the Garden of Eden because they were a couple of assholes. And I think deep down everyone realizes that. So we’re bothered when we meet assholes, but the existence of the asshole is not what bothers us.

The three rules about this, of which I’ve gradually become more and more conscious over a great deal of time…like, the last twenty, thirty years…are these…

1. How to make an asshole. There are certain social-interaction rules that make assholes assholes. They may be poorly-thought-out social taboos, or poorly-thought-out traffic regulations, or poorly-thought-out tax polices. Or lack of such rules. There is some negative-incentive structure that rewards assholes, punishes non-assholes, or fails to punish assholes. This is what makes our teeth grind together; this is what causes us angst. We know, when we meet an asshole, we’re seeing just an echo of the real problem, which is the incentive problem. The asshole-making rules.

2. Who makes assholes. There are certain people walking around who lay these asshole-rules down. These are asshole-makers. They, themselves, might not be assholes at all. A lot of them are actually quite sweet. But they have this problem, you see: They’re not very nice to people who are nice to them. They’re much nicer to assholes. It’s like they have this weird polarity-reversal going on. So they go around making assholes out of non-assholes, because they’re pretty darn hard on non-assholes, and they save all their social-rewards and their adulation and their respect for assholes, so when they’re around, everyone else wants to turn into an asshole, even if they’re not naturally inclined to be assholes.

Asshole3. The hardcore addiction. I’ve been nurturing a slowly-settling-in understanding that the asshole-makers have a bigger and more deeply seated psychological problem than any of the assholes they make. I have yet to see one even start to change direction, toward the light. Not even close. I can’t say that about the actual assholes. Now and then, you see an asshole say to himself “Oh God, I’ve been such an asshole” and start to reform. You’ll notice asshole makers don’t do that. There’s no reason for them to. It’s probably like alcoholism: First step toward healing is to admit you have a problem. You lay down just one single incentive that goes in the right direction, makes life easier for non-assholes or provides a much-needed challenge or rebuke to the assholes — the assholes are fine with it, but the asshole-makers start squawking. They do more than that, they’ll gouge your eyes out if you’re not careful. Starving wild animals being kept away from the beef steak. Asshole-makers will not quit the asshole-making lifestyle. And the older I get, the more certain I am that they, more than the assholes, are the real problem. Think of Count Dracula going around biting people turning them into vampires. The “freshman vampires” are not the real problem, Dracula is the real problem. These are Asshole Dracula people.

And we see this in politics. There’s a certain political party that supports asshole-making-rules, across the board; it is the one thing that their domestic policies have in common with their foreign-relations policies. At home, and overseas, assholes are to be rewarded for being assholes, and non-assholes are to be punished for not being assholes. You’ll notice, as new issues arise, adherents to this certain political party continue to sustain the trend: The incentive systems are to be kept cockeyed and FUBAR’d. They’re absolutely consistent on this. They’ve made a way of life out of this. They won’t give it up. That’s the way asshole-makers are.

I don’t think any of these realizations are especially ground-breaking. I mean, it’s just common sense, right? If a toddler starts acting like an asshole, that may be regrettable, but it’s really part of the definition of “toddler,” isn’t it? Isn’t that why we call them “toddler rules”? It’s the getting-away-with-it, the growing into age five, ten, twenty and still behaving the same way, that’s a disgrace. And the disgrace is for the parents. Oh sure, by the time the asshole is thirty-five or so, or maybe fifty, possibly being elected President of the United States, you have to think — you know, poor upbringing excuses only so much. But be that as it may, when the two-year-old is acting like a complete creep, polite society still expects the parents to intervene. Prevention is cheaper than cure.

We can survive our assholes. They’re called “assholes,” in the first place, because everybody has one. Isn’t that it? I’ve always thought so. We’re all assholes at some time or another. It’s the people who reward the assholes for being assholes, that are the real problem. Their behavioral aberrations are more destructive, more definable, more dysfunctional; and, their addiction runs much deeper.

Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot… XXII

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013


…I have nothing to add. Except, maybe, “I can see silly tweets from my house.”

Hat tip to Chicks on the Right.

When Things Shut Down

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

This “government shutdown” is nothing new, and neither is all the frustration that goes with it. Decade after decade, generation after generation, we’ve been putting up with it in one form or another: “blank,” usually management, sat down at a table with “blank,” usually a union, and “failed to reach an agreement before midnight.” And so, the garbage has to keep piling up with no one clearing it away. And so, the Boeing workers have to continue to stay home driving their wives nuts. And so, the baseball game has to be canceled. The many have to stop living, because the few sat down at the table & couldn’t or wouldn’t reach a deal.

The social network is all abuzz with talk about whether it’s the Republicans or the democrats who are the real problem here. Now that it is starting to resemble an argument the progressive-types are about to lose, for once — even if it is but a tiny battle within an enormous war — there is a certain allure about it. It’s a little exciting, I have to admit. The enemy has been sent out onto the jousting field with a short lance. I can see why & how, when it goes the other way, the proggies tend to get hooked on this stuff. B-u-u-u-t, we have to get serious about this. I think everyone realizes this is an argument about which leafy part of the weed should get the chopping. The source of the problem is not here. It is underneath, deep in the soil, out of view. It is the dysfunctional structure and the dysfunctional dependency.

People, just minding their own business but relying in some way on something-or-another, are having their plans disrupted because strangers are not achieving agreement with other strangers. Thousands of miles away. Strangers who will remain strangers, who will always be strangers. And what the hell does failed-to-reach-agreement mean, anyway? Each side did a diligent and judicious job of minimally choosing its “hill I wanna die on” positions, and some of those were found to be mutually exclusive, so they gave it a few more hasty tries while the clock chimed midnight, and then collapsed in despair? Like that? Or is it more like, someone didn’t even bother to show up. Maybe no one did? Or phoned it in, literally and figuratively?

I can certainly appreciate how it’s so aggravating. I don’t understand how people keep falling for it over & over again. I don’t understand why some people choose to make a lifestyle out of this. It’s quite silly, when you look at it from a distance, or ponder it for awhile. Oh goody, the strangers I’ll never meet happened to agree on something, so I get…access to a park. A paycheck. A seat at the ball game. A boat ride. So glad they agreed…this time.

Yeah, these things are all ratchet-traps; the dependents are in a situation in which they have no choice. But that’s usually because, before, they passed some point where the choice went away. Because they gave it up. All this debating & discussing about “ObamaCare” was about exactly that, was it not?

Something is going on here. It’s almost a mental disability or something. Maybe it is that. There’s a spark that isn’t jumping across the synapses, some “dammit I’ve just been hoodwinked, I’ll never let that happen again” thought. I wonder if there’s a drug that could be taken to plug up these synapses? Maybe something in the water. Either way, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We, as a society, are quite gifted and exuberant at “diagnosing” behavioral disorders that arguably are not real, and as we do that, we often fail to diagnose other things that probably should be. This is one of the things that should be, I’m convinced of that. Look at all the rage out there. All the excitement, resentment, wrath. Anger at Republicans for failing to “compromise” with President Obama…read that as, find out what President Obama wants, and do whatever it is. Anger anger anger. But not a single smidgen of “I’ll never fall for this again.”

The question is not whether this is one of those deals where people love to complain about something, but won’t get off their fat asses to solve it. That’s settled. The question is, what forces are at work here; what dynamics; what is happening to them. On this, I’m less than certain. I must form theories. And my favorite theory at this time is — this is a process of urbanization.

We form bonds with each other when you & I have it in common that we’re at the mercy of…something. Something unpredictable and uncontrollable. Now out in the rural areas, that’s weather. You meet up with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile, or a complete stranger, or friend-of-a-friend, maybe there’s a bit more time involved than what’s needed to say “hi” or “howdy,” and you talk about the weather. Weather is somewhat predictable but somewhat not. And it affects a lot of things. So you share a common selfish interest in what the weather’s going to do, so why not? If one of you knows something about how to deal with it that the other doesn’t know, the conversation could prove fruitful. Well, one of the differences between rural and urban living is, urban living is pockmarked with many other things that are like that. The local sports team really sucked this weekend. They’re putting in a new stop light at 5th and Main. The carpool lane is stupid, it isn’t built right. Got a ticket yesterday when the parking meter ran out. The Mayor doesn’t know what he’s doing here, there, or anywhere. And, of course…the sanitation engineers’ strike isn’t settled yet.

It’s just human-to-human, clique-to-clique bonding. A normal social activity, dressed up in the clothes of problem-solving. But it isn’t problem-solving, of course, it’s just bitching.

I think the democrats are really nervous right now. They have a lot of spinning to do. They’re pretty good at it, they usually win, and my money is still on them winning this time. They probably don’t have too much to fear. But at the same time, they’re right to be nervous. We tolerate this urbanization, and the feeling of helplessness that goes with it, when we’re immersed in it gradually. This is more like a slam into a cement wall, and the plan does not look good.

The plan looks the way it really is. Maybe instead of “ObamaCare” we should’ve called it “The Declaration of Dependence.”

Best Sentence CXXXII

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

The award for Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL), number 132, goes out this afternoon to my Facebook friend for this entry:

Those of you who blame both sides, please tell me what compromise the Democrats offered.

That cuts right to the heart of it.

And this graphic goes right along with that, like bacon-n-eggs. Superman and Batman. Microsoft Windows and swearing. Toenails and clippers…

The older I get, the more “government shutdowns” make me LOL. In fact, on that note…we have to look once again to the awesome wonderful link-findy goodness of Gerard van der Leun, to Sultan Knish, where we see…

“The government shut down! We can do anything we like,” shouted Sam Hasbley of Grassley, Iowa, while tearing the tag off a mattress despite an explicit warning label forbidding such a dangerous course of action. “Tear yours off. The government is shut down. It can’t stop you.”

Eyewitnesses spoke of further horrors. On a quiet street in suburban Massachusetts, a man brought out a set of highly illegal lawn darts. In Maryland, there were allegations that an entire family had begun digging ditches to collect rainwater runoff.

With the fall of the government, citizen activists took it upon themselves to chronicle the culture of lawlessness. Men played Gibson guitars made of wood imported from India, but not finished by Indian workers. Women bought cold medicine without a photo ID. Children went hours without hearing lectures about the environment.

The victims were many. In Chuckolod County, Colorado, a transgender person was denied access to the Ladies Room. Frantic calls to the Justice Department were forwarded to an answering service in Depar, India, instead of Doneparre City, Indiana. In Brooklyn, New York, an overweight Senegalese woman was unable to obtain a sign language interpreter while waiting on line to collect her free Obamaphone. In Olegon Falls, Florida, the National Museum of Native American Yarn was forced to shut down depriving schoolchildren of an educational experience and three hours throwing bits of yarn at each other.

For those who don’t quite get it…that’s good satire. Good, as in it mirrors real life.

And it made me chuckle. In these bleak, dark times…