Archive for April, 2014

Really Looking Forward to Working with These Guys

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

It’s got a whole year of dust on it, but I just found it over at the Hello Kitty of Blogging…

…where, a friend-of-a-friend had this to add to it:

He forgot the part where they believe that guns are for breaking laws, so if guns are illegal, nobody will be able to use them to break laws.

Which touches on what’s always fascinated me about this — the commonality through it all. You can find it if you look for it, although at first it doesn’t seem possible. After all, how do you find coherence in “America is corrupt, politicians are crooks, let’s raise taxes so the politicians have more of our money and give them lots of power to solve all our problems”?

It is the power of the proclamation. You make a proclamation, and immediately at that point the difference between conservatives and liberals becomes apparent. They become opposites of each other right there & then.

Conservatives immediately think: And what of the people who will not follow this go-do? What of those who will not take it seriously? Or who simply won’t learn about it? With liberals, it’s ++whoosh++, right over their heads. Outlaw guns, the guns are all gone, there are no deaths or injuries from guns. How could there be, we just got rid of all the guns, silly! Illiteracy and unemployment are next.

One of the saddest things you’ll ever see is a liberal pundit crediting all the liberals of old for the huge strides made in fighting these scourges of mankind, along with war, pestilence, disease, famine, et al. And what did those old-time progressives do? Why, they passed some “landmark legislation.”

From all I’ve seen and heard about them, it’s always been that way. There’s a “joke” going around about conservatism and liberalism getting invented, way back in the days of the caveman. The first time man ate cooked meat, the kill was dragged to the campfire by — who else? — the first conservatives. It would have to be that way, wouldn’t it; throughout antiquity, liberals have been opposed by principle to learning any of the skills needed in a hunt. So the liberals, having contributed nothing to the feast at all, in fact having ridiculed the conservatives as they gathered their ropes and knives and spears to go out on the hunt that morning, quickly came up with some rules about how the food should be divided. And one or two of them maybe brought some hummus; but mostly, they contributed rules.

Then after everyone was fed and full, liberals took the credit. If anyone died from food poisoning, though, they quickly blamed the conservatives.

Nothing’s really changed from that configuration, in all this time. The conservatives contribute what everyone is there to consume, liberals contribute rules. If things go well liberals take the credit, and anytime there’s a problem with it they blame the conservatives.

Are the Clintons Still Married?

Friday, April 11th, 2014

I really don’t know the answer to that question. Is she a Mrs. Doormat, or former Mrs. Doormat?

If she runs, we should know. As First Dude, Bill Clinton would not be as dangerous as his wife. But he’d be more nauseating, if only just barely.

Apart from that, I suppose I don’t really care. I’m more concerned about the why. Why is it that I don’t know. The democrats have gotten into this weird habit of answering every single question that comes up with an answer of “How dare you ask the question” that their most notable luminaries have become cloaked with the shroud of enigma that in generations past, would have been thought dangerous to any aspiring politician. Not that anybody has asked questions about the Clintons’ marital status. But they haven’t been acting like a married couple since, oh, sometime around ’94 when Hillary was selling us her own health care plan. Twenty years. I haven’t heard anything of a divorce, but I wouldn’t.

Also: Why do democrats get married? I remember how they used to compare the Clintons, favorably, to Republicans like Bob Dole and Ronald Reagan who had been married more than once. Alright, assuming the Clintons are still married, that’s the first for both of them, good for them. But what’s the point?

For votes? Like Catholic democrats who are Catholic even though they aren’t practicing Catholics, so they can get Catholic votes? What is there apart from that? The democrat groom marries the democrat bride because he’s just so lost without her? And she marries him because “he makes me laugh” or some such rot?

The votes-thing distresses me somewhat, because there is something going on here that is new. It’s a change. That enigmatic cloaking, its beneficial effects. Voters feel like they “know” the candidate, now, when they don’t. Time was when the candidate would convince the voters, that the voters knew the candidate, by revealing something. Maybe it was all bull, but still that was the move: Inspire this feeling of camaraderie, membership in a common clique or interest group, by letting information out. Introducing the wife and kids. Appearing in front of cameras and talking about personal things. Now, it’s the opposite: They define themselves as dark and shapeless blobs. Defining through lack of definition. Stem to stern, it’s all “how dare you ask” to this and that and the other.

It’s not what they’re hiding that is bothersome. It isn’t even the dark-shapeless-blob maybe-married-maybe-not politicians. I’m concerned about the changing behavior of the public. They used to be fooled into thinking the candidate was their friend, when they learned things. Now they get fooled into thinking that when information is deliberately kept from them. The old way was better, because although problems can result from making friends with people who lie to you, it is certainly hazardous to make friends with people who consistently and deliberately hide things from you.

Wrong Party, Hank

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Huffington Post tells of an interview with the legendary Hank Aaron:

“We are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record,” he said. “If you think that, you are fooling yourself. A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There’s not a whole lot that has changed.”

Aaron pointed to Republicans’ obstruction of Obama as one area where not much progress has been made.

“Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated,” he said. “The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

Actually Mr. Aaron, those were democrats back then. The new Republican party was formed to oppose them, and end slavery. Thought you should know.

Update 4/10/14: Larry Elder poses the challenge to you, to name the names. Hope you can provide a response.

The Depth of the Problem

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Washington Post.

All commercial transport aircraft are fitted with underwater locator beacons to assist in the relocation of black box flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders. These beacons are free-running pingers that transmit signals at an acoustic frequency of 37.5 kilohertz and have an expected battery life of 30 days. The scale of the challenge in locating the black boxes is immense.

There follows, after that, an impressive visual graphic…

“Feel Free to Ridicule”

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

To be added to the ever-thickening file marked “‘The Debate Is Over’ means ‘I am telling a much bigger lie than usual'”…

“The debate over repealing this law is over,” President Obama declared last Tuesday in reference to ObamaCare….
[Paul Krugman] asserted that “7.1 million and counting signups is a huge victory for reform.” And not just a huge victory but a definitive one: “The nightmare is over. It has long been clear, to anyone willing to study the issue, that the overall structure of Obamacare made sense given the political constraints. Now we know that the technical details can be managed, too. This thing is going to work. And, yes, it’s also a big political victory for Democrats.”

“My advice to reform supporters,” Krugman continued, “is, go ahead and celebrate. Oh, and feel free to ridicule right-wingers who confidently predicted doom.”

That last one explains a lot. “Reform supporters” don’t need any prompting to ridicule their opposition, but you can still tell when they’ve been prompted to do so. There is a perceptible up-tick, and an odd mixture of things they know how to do & other things they don’t know how to do. My stock answer to the “ridicule” has been to inquire whether or not they were trying to say ObamaCare was a good law, whether they’d go so far as to say this is a model of how legislation should be passed, and of what new laws should be doing. I never did get a straight answer to that.

As such, I’m not “confidently predict”-ing doom, I’m casually and sadly observing it.

The column continues, circling back to directly address this “debate is over” chicanery…

A demand for silence is not a sign of intellectual self-confidence. And this is not the only subject on which the left is demanding that its opponents just shut up. For years we’ve been hearing that the debate about global warming–or “climate change” or whatever they’re calling it this week–is settled. Early in the 2000s some news organizations declared they would banish dissenting points of view from their pages. The debate goes on.

It’s almost as if — let us say, exactly as if — the whole point to leftist policies enshrined into public law, is not to spare the public from disaster or to improve their lives, but to engage in this “ridicule” and act smug and superior to the opposition, results be damned.

Well, that explains Detroit.

Social Justice

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

A few posts back there is something about Definitions, in which I posit that most serious human disagreements take place between one side that avoids definitions and an opposing side that insists on having them. I further observe that what we today call “the left” seems to be all about avoiding definitions.

And, blaming the ensuing inevitable conflict on the other side, persuading any bystanders into believing that all conflict comes from the attempt to define things. Successfully, for the most part. Well, we have multiple leftists trying to challenge this…it’s almost cute. Not a one among them seems to understand how they’re trying to so challenge. There’s no rhyme or reason or coherence to their criticisms. It’s like the Internet argument equivalent of a nerd-slap-fight. It’s also like they’re trying to put together an argument while…avoiding defining anything. Which would prove the point.

Jonah Goldberg has a fascinating addition to this: Ask some leftists you know, to define “social justice”:


Monday, April 7th, 2014

From my mean old big brother.

April Fool’s…is the Name of the Baby

Monday, April 7th, 2014

The professor has a policy that if your phone rings in class, you have to answer it on speaker…

…there’s no way that can backfire, right?

From here.


Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Looks like Superman’s dad. Bad at conflict resolution. Terrible babysitter. Sucks at parking.

They added a lot of new layers of detail to a historical figure about whom not much has been defined, even when you go back and comb over the Hebrew texts like the Midrash. Much of the negative commentary about the film has to do with that filling-in. And there’s a “Big Kahuna” thing that’s ticking off a lot of people, Christians in particular, but to reveal it would be a spoiler and there isn’t much point to doing that. There are other much more minor things that are upsetting to people, my son and I weren’t too fond of these “rocky transformer robots” that are supposed to be fallen angels.

And I don’t like my antediluvian patriarchs swashbuckling. Swinging a hammer and building a big boat is about as much physical action as I care to see there, and that’s just because it’s from Genesis. Swinging a javelin around being an Old Testament Darth Maul is over the top, but, artistic license and all…it didn’t quite ruin the movie.

On with the template…

Noah[ ] Tits
[?] Sex
[ ] Exploding cars
[ ] Guns Realism: [ ]%
[ ] Creatures eating people
[ ] Murder/mystery
[ ] Intrigue/espionage/complicated plot
[ ] Cool music
[x] Swashbuckling
[x] Good & evil wo/pain-in-the-ass hipster moral ambiguity
[x] BigBad
[ ] Client (rich powerful sucker the BigBad is trying to rip off)
[ ] Dragon (glorious bastard)
[x] Slimeball
[x] Pirate/ferryman/eccentric with highly recognizable cool ship
[x] Mooks
[x] I’m going to kill you the same way I killed your father
[ ] Girl-on-girl catfight
[x] The family patriarch spends way too much time around his work
[ ] Mom and kid live happily ever after, following the death of dumb ol’ dad
[ ] Philip K. Dick type of alternative-reality headache
[x] Maguffin
[x] Chase [x] foot [ ] flying [ ] water craft
[x] Indigenous peoples
[ ] Good guys held captive
[ ] Following a trail of clues
[x] Sinister plot [?] take over world [ ] kill lots of innocents
[ ] Love triangle [ ] girl-boy-girl [ ] boy-girl-boy
[ ] Revenge [ ] protagonist [ ] antagonist
[x] False lead/decoy
[x] Traitor
[x] Supernatural/sorcery
[ ] Ghost getting all pissed off because the good guys aren’t finding its body
[ ] Creepy young boy or girl
[x] Grisly deaths for the bad guys
[x] Race against time at the end
[ ] Cliffhanger

No conference tables, but it did have two conference-room scenes. They had the good sense to eliminate the middle kid, Ham, from the final one.

All in all, a very decent offering. I see at at this time it has a rating of 77% at Rotten Tomatoes, I think that’s about right.

When I took the wife to go see it this afternoon, we were a bit taken aback by the big ol’ pile of crap ONE YOUNG MAN left in his seat in the back row, just behind us. Napkins, popcorn residue on the floor, in the chairs, the bucket that was supposed to be holding it all, the wrappers going to whatever his lunch was, just scattered around on the seats. My wife whispered something to me about it, and just then the man came back up and excused himself past me, back to his seat. I thought maybe he overheard her and went to clean up after himself. But, he just picked up his cell phone and excuse-me’d past me again, leaving the mess.

The VERY LAST SCENES of the movie are the same as the last scenes in any other Noah-retelling. Animals being nice and mutually-caring and adorable, with a voice-over from the humans expressing hope that our species can learn to be just as kind and thus justify this second-chance we were given. They’d just gotten done saying that. And here’s this guy leaving several cubic feet of crap in his chair.

So, I guess I’m not entirely convinced that the big-screen forum is the right one for this message.

Arguments About Definitions

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Wisdom from my Hello Kitty of Blogging account:

Like the jaws of an alligator or other predator, a pair of pliers works because one side is stationary while the other side moves. You don’t see it until you look closely. But that’s how it works.

Disagreements among people are similar to this; you don’t see it until you look closely, but you’ll find there’s one side in the argument, not quite so much arguing, as protesting against a definition being made (or requested). The other side is trying to establish definitions. Exceptions to this are few and far between. The argument erupts, and persists, because the two sides disagree on whether or not things should be defined.

Also generally true: The side that refuses to define things, which is responsible for the conflict, enjoys a lot of success making the conflict look like the other side’s fault. But you know something is rotten when you can start a big ol’ fight merely by asking that things be defined.

Ten examples, up with which I came:

1. When, during a pregnancy, does life begin?
2. What, exactly, has Barack Obama done to improve the economy?
3. For that matter, what did Bill Clinton ever do to improve the economy?
4. Since the minimum wage makes labor more expensive, how in the world could it possibly NOT eliminate jobs?
5. When we “sit down and talk out our differences with our enemies,” what exactly is going to be discussed?
6. If we’re obliged to allow and recognize gay marriage today, why would we not be doing the same with polygamy and bestiality tomorrow?
7. Are you really supposed to vote today? Do you have I.D.?
8. What makes a government regulator any wiser or more scrupulous than the people he’s supposed to regulate?
9. What EXACTLY are the problems “Common Core” is supposed to fix, and how EXACTLY is it supposed to fix them?
10. If politicians are “just a bunch of crooks, doesn’t matter what party they belong to”…then why would we expect to see a tax increase make anything better for anyone who isn’t a politician?

I’m sure there are more though.

I’ve been noticing that with what we lately call “left” and “right” in politics, it is a rather consistent configuration that this “side that refuses to define things” is on what we call the “left.” Issue after issue. I have also noticed that where these halves overlay occupations, the “left” sympathizes with those who don’t have any. Or, are occupied with something disassociated with any sort of material demand. Community organizing. Wheelchair-ramp-reconstruction or health insurance including birth control; other things people buy not because they actually want them, but to meet some sort of regulatory requirement. Well, this stands to reason. If you’re going to sell something to people who actually want to buy it, you’re going to need to define things in order to do your market research. And, to build the widget to make sure it does what people want it to do. And then the people lining up to spend their hard-earned dollars buying it, oh boy howdy, they’re going to want things defined too. What’s the total cost of ownership? What’s it like to use it? What are the consequences of moving on to this new thing, and stopping using the old thing?

This thing we now call “the left” is awash in pretend-games that cloak various life experiences as their polar opposites. It very often pretends that acts of destruction, as I’ve pointed out before, are brilliant creative efforts that produce something wonderful and great and grand. Can even the most ardent Obama supporter tell me what President Obama is building? They can certainly tell me what He’s destroying; in fact, if you compare those answers to what Obama opponents say He’s destroying, you’ll find the answers are substantially the same even though the two sides might disagree about names for these targets of destruction. It insists on treating people unequally and it calls that “equality.” It insists on forcing people to do things they don’t want to do and it calls that “choice.” When it bellows away about “diversity” you can be sure it will soon be pressing everyone to have the same opinions.

When every argument you make relies on presenting things as the opposites of themselves, that’s deceit; and, deceitful people don’t want things defined, that makes it harder to do the deceiving.

Much easier to tell the hoi polloi “we have to pass the bill so you can see what’s in it.”

The Debate Rule

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

de•bate (n.)
1. a discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints.
2. a formal contest in which the affirmative and negative sides of a proposition are advocated by opposing speakers.
3. deliberation; consideration.

I see Ed Darrell doesn’t want the seventeenth amendment repealed. His effort to explain why that is, is a fail, because his point is — as usual — some hated group of rich people wields too much influence. In this particular situation, it’s past-tense, so not only have the loathed copper barons been dead for generations, along with anyone else they might have unfairly oppressed, but there’s a lot of difficulty in evaluating just how much influence they might have had. The progressives of the time thought it was too much, therefore that’s what history says, since they won that fight. But what’s that mean? In politics, everyone is thought to have too much power, by someone who opposes whoever that would be. And history about any conflict is generally written by the victor.

Once those questions are answered, they fail to support the conclusion that we need the seventeenth amendment, which strips the states of representation in Congress. As in, reduces their influence all the way to zero. It is that “final solution” which fascinates me. Haven’t you noticed? Within lefty politics, this is always the answer: Someone’s influence should be — not just checked or balanced — but obliterated. A reduction or realignment is never good enough. That group, that party, that class, that guy, never should have had a vote in the first place.

It isn’t just the lefties anymore. We see it everywhere now, don’t we? A&E “fired” Phil Robertson, patriarch of Duck Dynasty — now, what was the point of that? I never did hear of anyone taking the extra time or trouble to teach or counsel Mr. Robertson into having the correct opinions about gay people, so it wasn’t about Robertson’s opinions. As always seems to be the case with actions like this, it was about influence. The rule seems to be that you can think whatever you want, but you’re not allowed to have influence unless you think the right things. If you don’t think the right things then you are to be driven out of whatever position you have. Once that’s done, you can go on thinking it, but the important goal is that we have to get our society properly arranged, with these good thoughts entirely saturating the tallest spires, and the bad thoughts entirely relegated down there in the dark alleyways, among the plebes. That is, from all I have seen and all I can figure out about it, the ultimate objective. The shrieking I hear is all about these exceptions: Someone in a position has a bad thought, let’s get him defrocked of the position so he can keep his bad thought — but, down there, not up where he is. Those people up there are all supposed to think the same, good, things.

Which brings me to the Eich matter (hat tip to blogger friend Rick).

The very same people who have declared, “I yam what I yam”, and “we’re here, we’re queer; get used to it,” and who fought against discrimination on the basis of physical or emotional natures are proving themselves empty of magnanimity in victory. They are now saying “don’t be who you are,” and “you’re wrong, you’re gone; get used to it.” They’re applauding employment discrimination on the basis of an intellectual or spiritual philosophy.

What are they, anyway, philosophobes? Are they so terrified of any outlook which does not conform to theirs? I always thought a well-founded argument could withstand a little principled opposition.

That last observation of The Anchoress’ cuts right through and stabs straight at the heart of the problem. For generations now, our society has become overly obsessed with seeking alternative methods for conflict resolution. At first blush, that seems to be just an attribute of a civilized society, doesn’t it? Conflicts settled by some other means than “might makes right” — isn’t that practically the definition?

Ah, but in opening the possiblity for victory to be awarded to someone besides the strongest, we’ve made the mistake of doing the same with arguments. Just as we don’t want the strongest kid on the playground to win all the time just because he’s strong, since that’s bullying, we’ve transformed debate the same way. The weaker argument has to have a fair shot. But not just a fair shot. Nothing short of a monopoly on any & all influence, will do.

If one could plausibly argue that left-wing politics in America is, as I’ve posited before, a message of “get out of here so the cool people can make decisions, but leave your billfold behind” — then, one would have to concede that our culture is being jerked in that direction, a whole lot in a very short time, suddenly, even violently. So many busy and talkative factions that want to “discuss” or “debate” something, have a “national dialogue” of some sort. But step one always seems to be to make sure someone else can’t participate.

They want to win a debate without participating in one. Let’s contemplate for just a moment or two how odious that is; or, ought to be. What would a casino or gambling hall say to something like that? You want to win the bet but you don’t want to subject yourself to the risks and rigors of the actual betting. You enter a poker match claiming to be good for it, lose the hand, and oopsie…your pockets are empty. What happens next? It wouldn’t be tolerated in there. Why do we put up with it out here?

And it hasn’t been lost on me that the people to be exiled from the discussions, more often than not, are the ones who are to involuntarily pay for the outcome. The here-and-there examples don’t bother me much. They’ll happen; unproductive people like to boss productive people around. They’ve always liked that. They have nothing else to do. What bothers me, and I suspect is of paramount concern to the people participating in Call Mozilla Monday tomorrow, is that this seems to have become the default configuration. Nobody seems to notice it much anymore unless someone takes the time and trouble to make a huge stink.

That would put me in the minority, because when I hear someone say “Before I make my argument, make sure my opposition cannot respond,” or anything that is equivalent, I don’t need someone to make a stink to understand what’s wrong with that. It sounds to me like conceding defeat. At that point I don’t even wanna hear what comes next, to tell the truth. Why waste my time listening to an argument that is so bad, that the person making it doesn’t want to make it until he can be sure no one has the opportunity to respond? Except to express total agreement?

Therefore, I propose the following rule. Its time has come: If you want to win a debate, you have to first allow it to happen.

How about it, can we all agree on that? Or can we at least get a lot of people behind that one? Doesn’t seem to me like too much to ask; it’s just common sense. Or maybe I’m expecting too much? Are we too “civilized” for that now?

Back From the Road Trip

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Rolled over the odometer to 100k, then put an additional three or four thousand miles on it. It’s a Honda, so 100k is at the point where it’s just getting broken-in.

That thin wiry figure in the top panoramic, which is the Lake Mead area, is my sixteen-year-old son who I’m trying to get to eat real food. I suppose that will all come later. He’s about as tall and thin as I was at his age.

Before exploring the Grand Canyon, we took a walk through the neighborhood I used to call home, in early-early childhood, over forty years ago. The photo on the right is where my folks escorted me to my first Kindergarten class. Yup, this is where all the trouble started.

After finishing up with that, we took Bugs Bunny’s famous “left turn at Albuquerque” and carved our way through Colorado and Wyoming, then circled back through Utah and Nevada. I have pictures of that stuff too, but as you might imagine if you’ve been through that part of the country, they’re not very exciting. At all.

Click the pics to embiggen.