Archive for January, 2015

Memo For File CXCIII

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

Friend and former colleague started pontificating about the climate change hooey over on the Hello Kitty of Blogging. I took issue with some things because he seemed to be relying on the falsehood that the point of disagreement is about the actual “climate change,” as in, dissenters must be dissenting about the notion that change can happen. In fact, the point of disagreement is about the change being some sort of dire sign of end times, or even for that matter, abnormal. The rebuttal is not “No the climate is not changing, no it’s not no it’s not”; it would be more accurate to say the rebuttal is one of “yeah, it changed, like duh.”

So if anything, the people pushing the political proposals connected to climate change, are the ones denying climate change. But I’ve waxed lyrically about that before. In fact, recently.

This brings up another point, perhaps controversial, but not nearly as much as it should be: Climate change is not science, it is pure politics. My former colleague vehemently disagreed with that, but vehemence was all he brought. Last night, as it happened, my imbibing was limited to two glasses of red wine with an excellent spaghetti dinner. Feeling like I had an unfair advantage here. If time permits, I’ll blog more about the dinner later.

But, chose to sign off with this. By this time it was morning, and I’d determined brevity, or lack thereof, had no connection, none whatsoever, with the likelihood that my comments were being read or inspiring thought. It’s an “If I’m gonna be accused I wanna be guilty” thing; ten words would have been too long. So why not go for broke. Because there has to be some more discussion of this. We could even use, to coin a phrase, a national dialogue about it.

…you don’t think the climate change thing is connected to politicians?

It IS politics. It is a political *movement*. Here’s what’s going on, I’ll explain it to you here and then I’ll copy it to my wall.

The democrats figured out, that if you rely on public assistance for anything, you are going to vote democrat until the day you drop dead. (If you live in Chicago, you’ll vote democrat even longer than that.) It’s just a fact. Ever ask a so-called “centrist” who has no obvious reason to vote democrat, why they do it? It’s predictable what you get back: “Back when I lost my job in [year], if it wasn’t for [social program], I/we would have been SCREWED.” And some will tack on this thing about “Our grandparents went years without finding a job before FDR came along with his programs.” But, FDR didn’t want their parents to be able to work, he wanted them dependent.

It’s been eighty years since FDR. The democrats would have to be imbeciles to have not figured out, in all that time, that their continuing survival relies on creating and embiggening classes of poor and/or dependent people. How poor? At this point, it’s a pretty wide range of standard-of-living. It works if you’re living pretty damn high on the hog, but…are relying on programs to go to college, or send your kids to college. Yeah, the “free college” thing, that explains that. It’s an invasion into the layers of social comfort, the higher ones, that in times past would have realized their strength comes from the individual and not from government. They want those people, the “upper middle class,” to feel beholden to democrat policies so they’ll vote for democrat policies even when democrat policies suck. Which is often. So they need this. They don’t want you “educated.” They want you dependent.

And how poor can you be, and still serve their purposes? ALL the way down, baby, ALL the way down! Just a notch short of dead in the street (except in Chicago). If you’re homeless, you’ll vote democrat if they just give you a ride to the polling place in a van. They’ll give you presents. But, that costs time and gas and cigarettes and booze, so they’d prefer you not be homeless. But only a little bit. Ideally, to the democrats, you are not homeless, but so poor that you’re worried sick about becoming homeless any day, sharing a studio apartment with 30 relatives, pooping in buckets, a quick shuttle ride down to the nearest polling place. They don’t want you to make it, or realize your dream of buying a home, they want you dependent.

Those among us who are not yet independently wealthy, have to pay bills and satisfy some unsecured-credit obligations before we can realize the dream of becoming independently wealthy. And so we have expenses. That is the wall. Remember “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall”? Lefty governments always have walls around them; their ideas are “so good, they have to be forced,” as the saying goes. In America, the wall is a wall of expense, debt, and financial dependence. Just like communists, which is what they are — they don’t want anyone scrambling over that wall. So they make things more expensive. Don’t believe me, go and look at their positions on domestic issues. Each and every single one. Ask yourself: Does this make products and services cheaper, or more expensive? I’m sure you’ll find a lot where they make things “affordable,” but that just means they’re forcing taxpayers to buy it for people who don’t want to pay for it. When they have an effect on the cost of something, the effect, consistently, is to raise the cost. They’ve been doing it for a hundred years solid with no let-up. They don’t want you to make it, they want you dependent.

At this point, if you’re a democrat you’re thinking: If ONLY we could find a way to do ONE thing, and make *everything* more expensive. They have a way of doing that: Raising the cost of energy. See, they don’t want you to use the new light bulbs or any other kind of light bulb. They don’t want you lighting your house, or your apartment, they want you dependent.

If “climate change” was science, coupled up with some honest dread about what humans are doing to the planet, there’d be some re-thinking. Raise the cost of energy? There’s at least a good possibility that desperate people are going to leave a bigger “footprint” on the planet, than non-desperate people, so we should think about that. Well of course, they’re not thinking about that and they don’t want anybody else thinking about that. They don’t want you or anybody else thinking about anything, they want you dependent.

We have ways of figuring out if something is “science,” you know. A thing that calls itself “science” should involve experiments. It should offer results that are not only documented, but quantifiable. Repeatable. Predictable.

Climate change is not science. It is politics. The democrats don’t give a fig who does actual “science.” They don’t want you doing “science.” They want you dependent.

After all, it’s pretty darn hard to get democrats elected. When people pay attention to the results of domestic policies, over the longer term, then it becomes even harder to get democrats elected.

They don’t want you paying attention.

They want you dependent.

Thing I Know #330 says, “A man who doesn’t know the difference between a fact and an opinion, is not to be trusted in delivering either one of those.” It’s worth recalling that when we see these things that call themselves “science” that do not do science, as described above. Seems by now we’re at the point where hardly two to three days go by, without someone entirely lacking knowledge of the conceptual concepts, to any depth anyway, angrily lashing out at a skeptic, defending the “science.”

Everybody, it seems, likes to chant away with some homily about how we need more people thinking for themselves. It’s amazing how much anger is aroused if anyone actually does it. Seems to me that the confusion takes place among people who haven’t taken the time to figure out, or to educate themselves, about the difference between a fact and an opinion.

Recalling from President Obama’s State of the Union speech:

I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what — I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.

That is a great enunciation of the wrong way to understand science. Ignoring for now the problem that Obama’s definition here for “best scientists,” which according to the structure of His sentence determines absolutely everything, is something like “scientists who tell Me what I want to hear about climate change” — scientific fact is heap-big different from scientific opinion. It might have gone over your head here, and if so you’re not alone because it’s a subtle thing, but the claim President Obama really made here is “I have managed to find some scientists who say human activity can have an effect on rising oceans, etc.”

What a brilliant orator. The honest restatement packs a lot less of a punch, doesn’t it? I can find some scientists who insist we never landed on the moon, if I really try.

This label of “science” has an appeal to the energized ideologue, similar to the appeal catnip has on a feline. If it’s “science,” questioning it is futile, and that’s exactly what ideologues want — don’t question what we say, it is futility to do so. And indeed, that is exactly the claim they’ve been making. The problem is, that only holds for scientific fact, not scientific opinion. What seems to have escaped their notice is that the scientific pursuits that have aided mankind most greatly, involved scientific opinions that were way-the-fuck-out-there.

In fact, it’s been pretty often that scientific innovation has provided us with this great benefit, as a direct result of testing theories that never even came close to surviving any level of critical inspection. Even software engineers apply that, on a daily basis. Let’s say some fool who doesn’t know what he’s doing, hands me some code. His track record is that his stuff doesn’t work, because he sucks at his job and doesn’t unit-test his stuff, and my intuition is that it isn’t going to work. But my “theory” is that it will. It’s not any sort of professional courtesy, it’s a desire to waste as little time on it as I possibly can, having resigned myself to the fate that I will have to waste some. So I devastate the theory by taking it seriously. The code works, is my default premise; I presume, scientifically, against what I think to be the likely truth. So let’s call it this way, and do an “experiment.” Whoopsie! Well, give me a ring when you fix your shit. Then I go back to what I was doing.

That’s exactly the way science is done. You make a theory. You build an experiment around the theory. The cool thing about software engineering is, you usually can achieve some certainty about the theory being proven, or failing that, you can achieve some certainty about the theory being refuted. Oh look, the database table had integrity, we ran your transaction and nothing else, now it’s lost integrity. That’s a rarity in the rest of science.

“Scientists say [insert fact here]” speaks volumes. It is the final word. Yes, challenging it is futile. “Scientists say [insert opinion here],” on the other hand…that says nothing. That’s what people don’t seem to get lately, one says everything and the other says absolutely nothing. You have to think outside Thing I Know #330 if you want to do the “science says” thing.

“Why the Left Hates Nuclear Families”

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

There’s really no mystery to it, we know why, and we know how: They whip out their patented “I laugh at it and it becomes untrue” magic-beam of thought destruction.

From the comments:

sorry aaron, but isn’t your reasoning contradictory? if more nuclear families = more production = more GDP, the left should like nuclear families, because they produce more money that will be spent by the governments, which translates in more job positions and salaries for them.

Holy smokes, what a load of bull. When has the left ever been worried about a supply stepping up to meet a demand, except where it concerns the supply of more law, agencies, regulations? They certainly haven’t been overly concerned about the government having enough money to spend. They use the rhetoric to justify higher taxes, but anybody who’s paid attention for any length of time knows what’s really on their minds is the higher tax. After all the taxing and all the spending, is the government running a budget deficit? Did it run one last year? Will it run one next year? All they know about it is “The home office told me the deficit went down under Obama/Clinton.” That’s the extent of their knowledge about budget deficits.

Putting it another way: Say all the IRS trucks get caught in traffic and burn up in a massive fire, with all the cash (and the hard drives, but that’s another story), and government doesn’t receive a single nickel before it has to do all this spending. All the year’s spending is from debt. Or, the car fire doesn’t happen, everything comes out fine that year, all the spending is from cash. The point is, what does the leftist care either way? They don’t give a rip. They don’t even know how much spending there is. Their position is that it isn’t enough, whatever it is. They just want it to go up.

Another interesting aspect of leftism, with regard to this issue, is about men getting married in the first place. Lefties have no problem with that at all. Once the marriage is underway, they have a big problem with it continuing; every divorce that might possibly happen, they want to happen. But you’ll notice when centrists and right-wingers say “Don’t get married in the first place if you’re not sure it will work in the long run,” they say that alone, there are no leftists joining them. That’s because married men are not free. Bachelorhood, for whatever else you might say against it, is freedom. Liberals hate freedom. Bachelorhood is driving your motorcycle down an empty highway, with a bunch of horsepower between your knees and fifty dollars in your pocket. Being a husband and a father is more like flying in a passenger jet; full of being told where to go, what to do, how to sit. Or, piloting it, since there are real responsibilities involved, and a shift that is endless. Or more like, a mechanic maintaining the jet. Or a luggage handler loading and unloading it.

Or, being given a pink slip and sent to the unemployment line. Oh yeah, leftists especially love that part. That’s the fuel that makes their other-society go, men being told they’re no longer needed or wanted, and get out, take your infernal opinions with you, leave your wallet behind. Telling a man to go away is how business runs in their world, how households run in their world, how the law works in their world, how kids get “educated” in their world. They can’t get enough of that. Workplaces, homes, entertainment, media, they want it saturating all those walks of life, men being told their positions have been eliminated, and hit the road, Jack, and don’cha come back no more.

This illuminates the irrationality of their obsessive-compulsive disorder: If you’re so keen on men being ejected, wouldn’t it make sense to back up the “don’t get married if it isn’t forever” folks? But the lefties won’t join in. If that advice is followed, there are fewer victims. The left requires victims. They want more kids from broken homes. Hey, getting democrats elected is actually pretty tough. And, they’re punch-drunk on the fire-the-man ritual. You can’t forcibly eject what wasn’t affixed in the first place.

Tweak Until Elected

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Mother Jones, via Weasel Zippers: Mitt Romney, Republican nominee for U.S. President in 2012, is on board again…

During his 2012 presidential bid, Romney was dismissive about Democratic efforts to combat the effects of climate change, and he pushed for an expanded commitment to fossil fuels. But in a speech in California on Monday, Romney, who is considering a third run for president in 2016, signaled a shift on the issue. According to the Palm Springs Desert Sun, the former Massachusetts governor “said that while he hopes the skeptics about global climate change are right, he believes it’s real and a major problem,” and he lamented that Washington had done “almost nothing” to stop it.

Oh, so Washington is supposed to do something about that now…

Sadly, Michelle Malkin’s headline about this was probably the fairest one:

Mitt Romney to make minor tweaks to climate change stance until he’s elected president

So why can’t a “conservative” listen in an open-minded way to all sides of the climate change debate, impartially reach his own conclusion on it, and, should that conclusion merit a greater intrusion into our lives by the powers in Washington, start to speak out in support of that? And remain a conservative?

The answer has to do with the mistake made when the “global warming” movement renamed itself — and the rest of us allowed it to — into “climate change.” Consider what happens when things rename themselves. Companies rename themselves rather easily, because it becomes pointless for the rest of us to refer to the company by its old name. For humans it’s a little bit tougher, you have to take some time out of the other things you have to do in order to fill out some paperwork, then shunt it through a system that is clogged up silly with broken cross-references due to previous mentions of your old name. For political movements, it’s equally tough for the same reason, a lot of effort has already been plowed into making the movement known by its old name, and now all that branding has to be re-done. It still happens occasionally: “Progressives” into “liberals” and then back into “progressives” again; “Womens’ lib” into “Feminism.” This happens when the political movement has lost a lot of credibility and wants to get it back again, much like a criminal might steal the identity of an infant who died the year he was born.

For science to rename itself? Science speaks with the authority of science — a pity that is, sometimes, since we have a lot of ideas calling themselves “science” that are not reached scientifically. And so it does rename itself, and easily, when the renaming is justified. When the science actually changes, with sufficient significance that the renaming became an absolute necessity. That was not the case with changing “global warming” into “climate change.” The only thing that reconciles that is if you perceive the “movement” to be what it truly is, a political movement and not science. It was not renamed to accommodate or acknowledge the arrival of game-changing new evidence. It was renamed because it lost credibility as a political movement.

As a reference to the ignition point of controversy, to the epicenter of factional disagreement, the name “climate change” is outright fraudulent. We do not disagree about whether the climate is changing. That’s just dumb. In fact, no one has ever embraced any default presumption that the climate should remain static, like a ball bearing remaining round or a machine part remaining flat, except for the proponents of climate change legislation.

An honest name for this political movement would be something like: The “Put government in charge of the weather” movement. Or, the “Give us your money and we’ll save the world” movement. That is where people disagree, on this notion that a few should be given control over the resources and labor of the many, and this will somehow have a positive bearing on the planet’s continuing ability to sustain life. That is the epicenter. And it would reveal that the proponents of the movement are, well…perhaps they should not be united with their money in the first place. But back to the political movement. It is a splendid example of the true difference between conservatism and liberalism, in this day and age. The way I defined it:

What exactly does conservatism seek to conserve? Civilization, the blessings that come from having it, and the definitions that make civilization possible. From what does liberalism seek to liberate us? Those things — starting with the definitions.

Conservatives have no business supporting the “Give us your money or the planet is doomed” movement. None at all. Conservatives conserve civilization, and climate change is an attempt to wreck civilization, so civilization can be rebuilt into something else. Something like ancient Egypt, making Pharoahs and royalty out of only a few, enslaving everyone else.

So Mitt Romney wants to support that now; Washington should do something. We need a bigger government. Okay, my question for Romney is the same one I’ve had for lefties on this thing. Would an even-bigger government contribute to this climate change? It’s human activity after all. If not, why not?

“The Equality Racket”

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Thomas Sowell:

What may be a spontaneous confusion among the public at large about the very different meanings of the word “equality” can be a carefully cultivated confusion by politicians, lawyers and others skilled in rhetoric, who can exploit that confusion for their own benefit.

Regardless of the actual causes of different capabilities and rewards in different individuals and groups, political crusades require a villain to attack — a villain far removed from the voter or the voter’s family or community. Lawyers must likewise have a villain to sue. The media and the intelligentsia are also attracted to crusades against the forces of evil.

But whether as a crusade or a racket, a confused conception of equality is a formula for never-ending strife that can tear a whole society apart — and has already done so in many countries.

“…Next Time Some Silly Cow Gets in Your Face…”

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

More good stuff from Gerard, directing us this time to Chateau Hertiste: “A New Rallying Cry For Men”…

“Who bitch this is?” is an exhilarating assertion of patriarchal privilege packed into a pithy four word thunderbolt. It manages in just those mere four words to pack so many deep layers of privilege and masculinity it seems almost impossible.
I believe that “Who bitch this is?” should become a rallying cry for a male generation in the West that has allowed itself to be pushed around by feminist nonsense for far, far too long. Reasonable debate has failed and the feminist establishment refuses to listen to rational concerns about where they are leading our civilization. Direct words need to be spoken, and this man Shinblade has gifted us with these four powerful direct words to show us the way forward.

So the next time some silly cow gets in your face, or puts her hands on you, or accuses you of being sexist: just stay calm and don’t allow yourself to become upset. Maintain your frame, look around, and then in a clear loud voice ask the room one simple and devastating question: “Who Bitch This Is?”

Update 1/25/15: What’s this shit I hear about grown men talking?

Some Moral Equivalence That Makes Sense

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Because just about everyone has heard these silly things, like “Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam”, and reacted by either an eyeball roll, a shrug, or with uncritical acceptance. But John Hawkins points out that there are other ways to play that game, and although we don’t hear too much about these, they do a much better job of reflecting reality:

The more fully people become engulfed by liberalism, the more they embrace political correctness, groupthink, and close-mindedness until their thought process becomes little more than simplistic tribalism.
Seldom do liberals realize that they advocate positions that are just as morally repulsive as the grotesque positions they habitually (and usually incorrectly) attribute to people who disagree with them.

Want some examples?
2) It’s just as bad to support race-based groups like La Raza, MEChA, the New Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network as it is to back the KKK, the Aryan Nation and the American Nazi Party. They may have different levels of societal acceptance, but they’re all race-based groups that are hostile to certain groups of people based on the color of their skin.
6) It’s just as bad to support kangaroo courts in colleges that make it easy for men to be falsely accused of rape as it is to be someone who accuses rape victims of having “brought it on themselves” by wearing short skirts. Either way, you’re blaming the victim and making it easier for innocent people to be victimized by the scum of the earth.

From the comments:

Each point in the article is an example of how liberals use identity politics to divide and conquer. The evil here is in not seeing people as individuals but as collections of demographic characteristics they can use to pit one group against another while always claiming to protect the downtrodden from oppressors. In reality they have no interest whatsoever in solving the ills of the downtrodden, they benefit directly from perpetuating the conflict.


Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Eric Erickson writes at Town Hall:

Destruction Because of Offense

It is a growing phenomenon, and it was on visible display last week. A group of terrorists was so offended by a publisher that the publisher had to be destroyed publicly as both an act of vengeance and an act of instruction.

The act of vengeance was directed against the publisher directly. He came under attack for his personal actions. He published something that offended the group. He published something that enraged them and, consequently, he needed to be punished.

The punishment could not be minor. It could not be something like heaping scorn on him. It could not be a public disagreement, a challenge or a debate. The subject, after all, is not debatable. The publisher had to be crushed, his livelihood taken, and he had to be ruined.

Ruining him, though, is not enough. There had to be instruction for others. The dictionary defines terrorism as “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” One of those political aims is to let others know that if they speak out, they will be ruined, too. The terrorist must teach the public that if any of them causes offense, they too will be taken out. It is more than that, though. It is also instruction to self-regulate against offense.

Once a person has been visibly ruined with no grace and no mercy because, in this example, he dared publish something that offended the terrorists, the lesson is clear. Polite society does not want that violence and cannot abide the violence. So the public will step in, as agents of the terrorist under duress, to shut up any others who might stand in the town square and risk offending.
In November of 2013, Kelvin Cochran, a former Obama administration official turned chief of the fire department in Atlanta, Georgia, published a book titled “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” The book expounded on the fire chief’s faith and encouraged people to turn their lives over to Christ.

In the book, Cochran said his chief end was “to glorify God.” He said that was his first duty even in his job at the fire department…
…He said gay sex, like heterosexual sex outside of marriage, is a sin. For saying his job was to glorify God and gay sex is a sin, gay rights activists screamed loudly that he could not do his job. They accused Cochran, with no evidence, of proselytizing on the job.

The offended group of activists had to destroy Kelvin Cochran’s livelihood because his published work offended them. Mayor Reed of Atlanta complied.

These people, as Erickson points out, feed off the need of the rest of us to preserve civilized society. We see this over and over again, because it works. One day you say something, next day someone is clamoring for your head — and purely in passive-voice, as in, it isn’t worth remembering or commenting on who exactly is doing this clamoring, how many kindred spirits they represent in their passions, whether they’re even putting their names under something or remaining cowardly anonymous.

The day after that they have your head, and the day after that, someone else’s speech is being compared…again, in passive voice, it doesn’t matter who’s doing it because it seems like everyone is…to the contraband you spoke before your own head fell. It’s “over the line” or “beyond the pale.”

The power to destroy is symbolized in the power to unify without doing any actual unifying. What if the people who wanted to kill that editor in France, got together with the gay activists who managed to take down Kelvin Cochran? They wouldn’t play dosey-doe or give each other high-fives, would they.

J.R. Dunn writes in American Thinker:

American leftism has gotten an awful lot of mileage by monopolizing the moral high ground. It is the sole force in American that favors the poor. The sole enemy of racism. The sole comforter of rape victims. The sole protector of defenseless Muslims. The sole guardian of the environment, and so on ad nauseum.

It all falls apart eventually — with friends like the left, nobody needs enemies. But often overlooked is that fact that it’s bogus from the start. Any prolonged glance at the left reveals it to be an ideology of power, its major tool violence, its goal revenge.

BrinkleyLeftism has always been about revenge. The works of Marx are filled with fantasies of retribution and judgment. Their tone reeks of resentment and paranoia, with blame cast for even the most trivial. “The bourgeoisie,” Marx once declared in a letter to Engels, “will remember my carbuncles until their dying day.” That’s leftism in a nutshell.

When you and I want to send a message, we send it. We act as a force of light, starting with the intention that our audience should know something they previously did not know. This messaging works the opposite way, with a perpetual theme of “Don’t Say That.” The right thing to do is to marginalize it, trivialize it, perhaps study it. That thing in France illustrates vividly that our lives may depend on that someday.

But the more common way to handle it, unfortunately, is to integrate it, and to most emphatically integrate it where we earn our living. Do you work in a place where men have to fear for their jobs if they put a picture of a woman in a swimsuit on their desk or office wall, even if it’s pictures of their wives or girlfriends on vacation? You probably do. Just about everybody does, everyone who works in an office anyway. That’s actually wrong. It’s part of the problem. “I find that offensive…or, I’ve managed to cook up a scenario in which some person, who may or may not exist, could be offended…so you have to go.” That ought to be the way it works in some faraway land, of which we heard from some friend of a friend of a friend, some place we have no intention of visiting even if we want to travel the entire world someday. Should be a work of fiction for all practical intents and purposes, as realistic as Rapunzel offering access to her cloister by way of letting down her long hair.

Once again we see: liberals aren’t. In a truly liberal society, “offense” would be no big deal. We wouldn’t relish it, but it would be a paltry unpleasantness, an unavoidable thing, the price to be paid for living in a place that has freedom. Liberals are quick to make the claim that this is exactly how they feel, ironically, about taxes. But offense? Off with your head. We have all the one-liners memorized. “That might not be cool, know what I’m saying?” “I dunno, do we really need that?” “Someone might complain.”

That’s the real tragedy. Decent people, who genuinely appreciate freedom, live out their entire lives in the light and not in the darkness, become willing dupes of the darkness. We end up having ninety-nine more non-public spectacles, for every public one. That’s why there is the destruction. As Erickson points out, the destruction is not the point, it is merely a tactic. The point to it is the public spectacle, the message to be sent to everyone else. The publisher who is shot, or the prisoner who is beheaded, or the guy who said something wrong or displayed something wrong and has to be forced into administrative leave or early retirement; these are just ways to get that done. Gay activists, Islamic extremists, frumpy women who don’t want any pictures of girls in bikinis around, they all just want to open a can of whoopass…but to do that, you have to open and wreck at least one can.

Walter the Expert

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Did I post this one already? Can’t believe I would’ve passed on it…

From Geeks are Sexy.

What’s really great about this sketch is it shows what’s motivating the other four people in the room. The narrative for success has already been written, the consultation with the expert is the formality added on to the end, as an afterthought. Dealing with details is a task relegated to the expert, nobody else is bothering with them.

By the end, Walter has learned his place: Reality is fine, but don’t screw around with the narrative.

Now what would have been even better, is if they tossed in a XINO who, out of incompetence, political expediency or just plain malice, gives the group the answer they want to hear about whether it’s possible to draw a straight line in the form of a kitten, parallel to six other straight lines that are red and not-red at the same time. Then of course they’d turn on Walter with something like “You call yourself an expert and yet you say it can’t be done, well Charlie over here found a way to get it done!” Or, at least he said he can, which is good enough. Certainly that’s all they wanted to hear. You haven’t long to wait to see this scenario play out, too.

Inside a Porsche Plant

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

From Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm.

I wonder if someone went through and made sure each one of these assembly-people is a good cultural fit? I dunno…in my own experience, I’ve seen a formula played out again & again, something like

A + D = K

…where A is the fretting & concern over what people are, and D is the care to be taken about the things they do.

No, I Know No Such Thing

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

This blog, which nobody actually reads anyway, is proud to have a “spinoff” of sorts called Rotten Chestnuts. It’s a side-project within a side-project. It was supposed to be a group-blogging thing, and I don’t want to disparage the efforts of some others involved, depending on your point of view it still is one. Another legitimate point of view is that it is dwindled, or yet another legitimate point of view would say it has exploded and blossomed, into a fountainhead of the thoughts coming from severian.

If there was some kind of “publish or perish” quota in place, the other four or five of us would be in big trouble. Fortunately there isn’t, we offer up something that might be worthy here & there, now & then, about whatever. This is in accordance with the original design intent when we started the thing, so that’s a success in my book. But, one might say it has kinda-sorta morphed into becoming severian‘s blog, or at least, he has become the primary contributor.

Anyway. The Christmas season just past, started up a big ol’ debate both on the Hello Kitty of Blogging (somewhere), and on RC (here), about atheism. Because severian went after atheism. Note that a debate about atheism is not the same thing as a debate about the existence of God, although these two things are related and certainly do arouse the same passions. As G. K. Chesterton famously said,

Blasphemy is an artistic effect, because blasphemy depends upon a philosophical conviction. Blasphemy depends upon belief and is fading with it. If any one doubts this, let him sit down seriously and try to think blasphemous thoughts about Thor. I think his family will find him at the end of the day in a state of some exhaustion. [emphasis mine]

It’s a good thing to bear in mind when one reads and evaluates this comment…oh my…I’m just dazzled. Bedazzled. Not only impressed, but bowled-over, mind blown, at what a splendid — what other word could I use — chestnut it is. How fitting that it fell where it did.

You know that Atheism isn’t the BELIEF that no god exists, but the LOGICAL CONCLUSION that no god exists, right? Atheism is as much of a religion as off is a TV program.

I do believe the cuttlefish have been out-cuttled! Not that this is all anything new. The second half of it certainly is not. I grew up in a college town, and if I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times: “Atheism is a religion the way bald is a hair color.” There are even bumper stickers.

The first part is the part that fascinates, that is the “business end,” like the lit end of a match. The move is mundane: Let us tease out this minuscule difference, this distinction so fine it requires an enlightened mind to see that it’s there. Not a belief, but a logical conclusion. Oh yes, the scales are falling from my eyes, the atheists don’t believe differently, they simply have noodled out the proper and logical answer to the question while the rest of us continue to stumble around & bump into each other…

This brings to mind when a young father and his two very small children sat next to me at Starbucks. I was engrossed in some project on my laptop and wasn’t paying much attention to them, then I realized he was playing the same game with them that I played with my own lad back when he was about six or seven. The daughter, who was the older of the two but still on the light side of five, it seemed, was fixated on the meaning of the word “opinion” so the father was teaching them the difference between opinion and fact. Then he started teasing her: “It is a fact that Star Wars is great!” She looked at him a little bit sideways, started to figure out this was so much balderdash, but wasn’t quite sure. Being a fan of Star Wars myself, I thought it not out-of-bounds to interject: “Hey, that’s not a fact, that’s an opinion! Although it happens to be quite correct.”

And the capital-dee Dad completely got it, rolled with it, and the kids got it. Lucky kids. There is a difference between an opinion being correct, versus an opinion going through some transformation like a caterpillar into a butterfly and becoming a “fact.” Kids who are taught this at a very young age, have an advantage. It is an advantage not shared by the “atheism is just a logical conclusion” people.

They are the ones who lack the ability to tease out subtle but meaningful distinctions. This is proven easily. If we start out with the premise that they “get” something, and everybody else is stumbling around in this cloud of ignorance failing to grasp it, we remain in the smug-atheist’s comfort zone but that’s about all we manage to accomplish, and in so doing we encounter one contradiction after another. It’s a mess. Start with: How many other “beliefs” should we find, by applying this magical elixir of transformation-of-belief-into-fact, are not beliefs at all but actually logical conclusions? Well, just about all of them. In fact, I have a tough time thinking of any exceptions to it. Even the cargo cult people, who “believe” that building a replica of an airplane out of wood and straw will summon food and supplies from the sky. We would have to elevate that, along with all other beliefs benefiting from supporting evidence, to the next threshold of “fact,” or “logical conclusion.”

On the other hand. If we proceed from the assumption that it is the snotty-atheist who has missed out on something, and his deniers are the ones who get it — a funny thing happens. Everything falls into place. The first satisfying “click” we hear is this: The secular dude, along with everybody who agrees with him for the most part, is swimming eyeballs-deep in a brine of self-satisfaction which he’s all too eager to display to his opposition. There’s no uncertainty at all, not even trace amounts of it, no inquisitiveness. It is a zenith to which I have only rarely ascended, myself, and there’s something that impresses me about this, too: I do not think back on these occasions of ascension with the self-satisfaction, now, that I had back then. Learning did not follow; ignorance did. How can learning follow from an intellectual state in which one denies the necessity of learning anything? We should expect the arrival of new knowledge to be a happy occasion, enjoyed exclusively only by those who are ready for it. The first step is to say “I don’t know.”

Atheists, at least atheists like this guy, are just people who aren’t ready to say that. Somewhere they’ve picked up on this credo, that the first step to answering any question is to eliminate the option of saying “I don’t know.” That’s my impression anyhow. They seem to be saying “Okay when we’re done puzzling out this thing, we’re going to know the answer, whatever it is, with complete, absolute certainty, with not even a trace residue of question.” Now then with that out of the way, what’s the answer?

It’s silly. I don’t know how they get started on that. It must be from taking written exams, maybe? It’s like the storm being endured by the hardened brittle dead tree versus the mighty oak that bends. Those who have preliminarily excluded any reckoning with the basic human-knowledge concept of uncertainty, time after time, reach some laughable conclusions. Not only that God does not exist, but other things. Like the planet is in danger and we can save it only by unplugging our cell phones and coffee pots, those are two of my favorites. But those are not the only ones, there are others. We can end racism in this country by electing a black President, and treating Him more like a movie star than an elected official. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Conclusions so risible, they can arouse feelings of fidelity only from those who have preliminarily disclaimed any reckoning with this basic human-knowledge concept of uncertainty. They are bad ports, docked only by boats whose captains have sworn off any other port.

But I was particularly fond of this rejoinder:

No wait, hold on. This is bull****.

Let’s take your metaphor and run with it. So in this metaphor, religion would be like a fandom (or Star Trek or Supernatural or Firefly etc) and fandom does all sorts of things like hold conventions and hang out at websites and clubs and read material related to the show (so all that would be faith conventions, websites, church, holy text etc).

So atheism is like the “Off” tv ‘program’? But there’s conventions going on that are all dedicated to “Off”. One can find entire campus groups all devoted to “Off”, they even have buildings and incorporations. There’s countless websites devoted to “Off” and large amounts of fanfiction on it. That’s not even getting into the spokespeople that bill themselves as the biggest fans of “Off”.

In other words, if people can’t really have any devotion to the “Off” show, THEN WHAT THE HELL IS THAT HUGE GROUP OF PEOPLE DOING EXACTLY THAT???

To play with a Chris Rock quote: “Atheism may not be a religion, but it’s wearing the uniform of one.”

Seems to me it’s not the religious that need to be convinced atheism isn’t a religion, but the atheists themselves.

He devastated the claim simply by taking it seriously.

“This Emphasis on ‘Teamwork’ is Bunkum”

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Dr. Jonathan Wai condenses the advice from the “Father of Advertising” David Ogilvy:

In 1963, Ogilvy wrote: “Nowadays it is the fashion to pretend that no single individual is ever responsible for a successful advertising campaign. This emphasis on ‘team-work’ is bunkum — a conspiracy of the mediocre majority. No advertisement, no commercial, and no image can be created by a committee. Most top managements are secretly aware of this, and keep their eyes open for those rare individuals who lay golden eggs.”

Joshua Wolf Shenk recently argued in the New York Times that “the lone genius is a myth that has outlived its usefulness,” and instead advocated for the idea of a creative network or collaborative approach. Apparently 50 years later, the emphasis on collaboration and teamwork continues to be popular. But Ogilvy argued that creativity comes from the mind of the individual.

Seems to me we’re talking about two different things here. Shenk cites an example of Shakespeare co-opting Romeo and Juliet from Arthur Brooke. Which might mean something if anecdotes were data. They’re not, but let’s look at it another way. Have you got a fighting chance at coming up with such a renowned tale, shutting yourself up in an attic with a quill pen and ink fountain all by your little lonesome? For such a product, the team environment displays obvious advantages, most prominent of which is the benefit of feedback. Without that, you can scribble acts and scenes to your heart’s content, but how do you know they’re any good?

Everything creative, however, is not necessarily a play. Some of these works have to appeal not to the desires of large numbers of people from different backgrounds, but rather to nature. They work or they don’t work, as complex systems enjoining simpler things that either work or don’t work. In such cases, the committee is pretty much useless except perhaps for providing money. To make it work, figure out if it can work, how it can work, what needs to happen for it to work, someone needs to sit his happy ass down and get busy. A guy or a gal.

But that isn’t the real story of what’s happening here. The real story is the desperation. We have these people running around who are desperate to engage this “conspiracy of the mediocre majority,” to proliferate the mythology. The best evidence that it is indeed a mythology is the conspiracy itself. If committees were the fountainhead of true creativity, they could simply get to work and the proof would be in the pudding. There would be no need for articles of the sort Mr. Shenk has written.

Not About Him

Monday, January 19th, 2015

So the protesters block a busy highway during rush-hour as part of the “police brutality” franchise-protest-fad…local news network follows some of them home to find out who they are, what’s their story, and do they have anything further to say. As in, something coherent.

This Noah character with the white-guy dreadlocks avoids discussing anything biographical about himself, insisting it’s not about him. Which is interesting, since according to the justification being pieced together here and there about the protest, the inconvenience deliberately placed on the rush hour commuters is insignificant compared to what is being endured by those subjected to the police brutality and stuff (As a consequence of doing things like robbing liquor stores and resisting arrest). And yet, young Noah feels uncomfortable with this conversation being caught on film.

Eh, I think in my book that does make it all about you, Mr. McKenna. Inconvenience, discomfort…such little bumps in the pathway of life are for others. You’re too good. That puts you above all the rest, and somewhere in here is a story because there has to be a how, what, and why to this difference between you and everybody else. That means it’s news.

I can certainly promise such questions would be foremost in my mind, if I was ever blocked by a living menagerie of snots from nice neighborhoods with nothing to do, while I was trying to get somewhere.

Hat tip to Kate at Small Dead Animals.

Let’s Spend the Day Thinking About Discrimination

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Or…we could research into the ongoing Internet feud about whether Martin Luther King was a Republican or a democrat. Seems there isn’t any definitive evidence on that question going in one direction or the other, so it drags on a bit. Although it has not escaped my notice, that those who insist King was, would be today, or should have been a democrat, seem to be simply reaching the conclusion they want. They start with a premise of “democrats good, Republicans bad,” and quoting from Martin Luther King III, who is just doing more of the same.

On discrimination, which ties into this, let’s first define what it is.

1. an act or instance of discriminating, or of making a distinction.
2. treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit:
“racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.”
3. the power of making fine distinctions; discriminating judgment:
She chose the colors with great discrimination.

The definition of note, here, would be the second one: Making a distinction on the basis of class rather than on individual merit.

Martin Luther KingWould Martin Luther King be a democrat today? I have a tough time buying that, because I think even democrats would admit this would require King to morph and mutate his own understanding of discrimination, according to what the party apparatus told him to do. From the famous Dream Speech:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream…I have a dream that one day in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

The observation we can make today, that I’ve made before, is that when democrats and left-wingers accuse Republicans and right-wingers of discrimination, when you look into it awhile you find they are not accusing the opposition of straying from King’s dream, that we join hands as sisters and brothers, the ugliness of the past put forever behind us. On the contrary: When you look into it, you’ll invariably find people on the left today are accusing people on the right of failing to discriminate the way the left-wingers want the discrimination to be done. They don’t put it that way, of course, but that is the structure of the complaint. Has someone got an exception to offer against that? I haven’t seen any.

The problem Martin Luther King emerged to confront, existed in the first place because of an ancient denial-against-definitions very much like this one, and King made reference to it in the excerpt above: “Live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘…all men are created equal’.” Out of political expediency, in order to get the American Revolution underway, the founders of the republic had to say one thing and do another. They had to act like liberals, applying “liberal” definitions of things, in this case, “equal.” This directly led to all the ugliness that followed. And here we notice that some things haven’t changed, in all that time. We manage to agree, across the political spectrum, on verbiage alone, and then the disagreement comes about when our friends the liberals start to play games with definitions. Equal doesn’t really mean equal, so equal treatment doesn’t really mean equal treatment. Discrimination actually is non-discrimination. All sorts of things start to become opposites of themselves.

And then they keep on keeping on. Because Martin Luther King dreamed of a day when color wouldn’t matter, and we would all join hands as a common people, the social strife behind us forever, sitting down at the table of brotherhood.

Problem is, if that’s going on, it gets really, really, really hard to get any democrats elected.

So would Martin Luther King be a democrat today? It’s possible. But if that were the case somehow, one thing we know for sure is that he’d have to be embroiled in conflict with party platform-makers, as they not only resisted the sentiment of his dream, but nurtured personal and career ambitions to ultimately defeat it.

The Side of History

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Ara Maxima, via Gerard:

Liberals and leftists love to proclaim this to rightists of any kind, or even insufficiently leftist left-wingers. A veiled threat — you don’t want to piss off history, do you? Huh? Huh? Punk. Sign this petition for gay rights, bigot. Yeah, that’s right.

Unfortunately for liberals, this little sentence proves nothing beyond the liberal leftists’ own total illiteracy. They’ve clearly never read a history book if they think history’s side involves gay marriage, voting women, and mass immigration.
History has been extremely unkind to all kinds of leftisms, except that one that still dominates Washington DC, Brussels, and Boston. This is an uncomfortable truth for the Left. History produced all the Left’s bogeymen. Leftists imagine they can take control of the planet, abolish their enemies, and thenceforth history will be on their side.

Reading history, I am doubtful.

Six Conundrums

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Just arrived in my e-mail, again, this time from the Brother-In-Law. In trying to find a source, which is an effort that has yet to bear fruit, I came to find out Allen West had also been engaged in the same search.

The word conundrum is defined as a complex problem that is often puzzling or confusing. Here are six conundrums of our contemporary United States of America:

1. America is capitalist and greedy – yet almost half of the population is subsidized.

2. Half of the population is subsidized – yet they think they are victims.

3. They think they are victims – yet their representatives run the government.

4. Their representatives run the government – yet the poor keep getting poorer.

5. The poor keep getting poorer – yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.

6. They have things that people in other countries only dream about – yet politicians (mostly progressive socialists) claim they want America to become more like those other countries.

And consider these following three observations about the direction of our current government and cultural environment:

1. We are advised not to judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are admonished to judge ALL gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics. Funny how that works, as we see the liberal progressives already jumping on the tragedy from Santa Barbara California. So what about the three victims who were stabbed to death, should we ban knives?

2. We constantly hear about how Social Security is running out of money. How come we never hear about welfare or food stamps on the verge of running out of money? Maybe the first group “worked for” their money, but the second didn’t. It is a simple case of printing money for political bribery and extortion.

3. Why are we cutting benefits for our veterans, giving no pay raises for our military and cutting our forces to a level lower than before WWII, but are expanding and increasing the benefits to illegal aliens? It is all about pandering for votes – and who cares about national security or veterans dying at the hands of their own Veterans Administration?

This morning I was reviewing some old e-mails, and discovered a comment thread I’d abandoned last month over on the Hello Kitty of Blogging continued to smolder after my departure. I had exited the conversation and re-directed my attention to more promising tasks, after one of those “moderate not a liberal” types had questioned my dismissal, as a model of the way we want things to be in this country, of the city of Detroit. Her rebuttal had something to do with Detroit being quite nice. She and her friends leaped to the conclusion that I must be entirely unacquainted with Detroit. On my way out, I decided to just let that one go, although it is in fact untrue; I’ve seen the place up close. It’s a warning to the rest of us, more than anything else.

I can resolve some of these conundrums: #5 explains #4 and #6. People gain a sense of direction out of a perceived need for having a sense of direction; you want to know where the waterfall is, when you gather the impression that your boat is becoming perilously close. By the same token, nothing anesthetizes against a sense of direction like a decent standard of living. What statement manifests an anesthetized sense of direction, like “We wanna be like Detroit”?

The problem with this nowadays is people don’t think they’re in that situation. They look at their hourly wages or their annual gross, and count themselves as “middle class” or “poor.” But in relation to the rest of the world, they’re not poor. When it comes to getting hold of the things they want & need from day to day, or hour to hour, they’re not poor. In fact, they’re “rich” enough that they feel like they can screw around with reality a little bit.

I’ve spoken with them.

Them: “Elizabeth Warren wins elections because she hears the voice of the little people, like us.”

Me: “If she wins elections because little people vote for her, then all politicians like her are always going to want more of these ‘little people’.”

Them: “Hmm hey what? Me no understand.”

When you can’t tell the difference between people fixing something and people breaking something, you are very far gone.

A Hundred Japanese Maids and a Pancake

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

From Miss Cellania, who opines: “…it will be remembered, which is all that matters in advertising.”

But what about the globular wormening?

“The Clearest Historical Window…”

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

“…into the soul of progressivism.” Jonah Goldberg, author of Liberal Fascism, expounds on his research into the leadership and background of President Woodrow Wilson:

Wilson’s racism, his ideological rigidity, and his antipathy toward the Constitution were all products of the progressive worldview. And since “progressivism” is suddenly in vogue — today’s leading Democrats proudly wear the label — it’s worth actually reviewing what progressivism was and what actually happened under the last full-throated progressive president.

You want a more ‘progressive’ America? Careful what you wish for.

The record should give sober pause to anyone who’s mesmerized by the progressive promise.
The old conception of absolute truths and immutable laws had been replaced by a “Darwinian” vision of organic change.

Hence Wilson argued that the old “Newtonian” vision – fixed rules enshrined in the Constitution and laws – had to give way to the “Darwinian” view of “living constitutions” and the like.

This is a period of America’s history that, for all of its influence on subsequent events, doesn’t get a lot of attention. That span of time between the two Roosevelts; to a casual and passive observer of history, it’s a dark foggy period.

There is a reason for this. If more Americans had a better understanding of this time period, they’d also have a better understanding of the true conflict between the right and the left. And the left, for the most part, represents those who have the incentive and the resources to get the final word in about what “history” has to say. They have the time to make sure they get to win all the arguments. Their opposition is busy living in that history, providing products and services to other people, which frees up the lefties to write up their essays and get them published as documents of record. Whatever might make lefties look good, is not only true, but “history.” Whatever might make lefties look bad, not-never-happened. Down the memory hole it goes.

On the teens and twenties, they haven’t got anything to say. So you have to take the initiative and study it yourself. Schools won’t teach it. They’ll insert a blurb about Teapot Dome Scandal, call it good, and move on to FDR saving the economy and defeating Hitler.


Saturday, January 17th, 2015

From Liberal Logic 101.

Thing I Know #52. Angry people who demand things, don’t stop being angry when their demands are met.

Scandinavia Now

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

A somewhat tongue-in-cheek — somewhat, but not completely — high-level overview of the homeland I used to want to visit, with most emphasis on Denmark and some held in reserve for Sweden, in the
NY Post (by way of Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm).

Let’s look a little closer, suggests Michael Booth, a Brit who has lived in Denmark for many years, in his new book, “The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia” (Picador).

Those sky-high happiness surveys, it turns out, are mostly bunk. Asking people “Are you happy?” means different things in different cultures. In Japan, for instance, answering “Yes” seems like boasting, Booth points out. Whereas in Denmark, it’s considered “shameful to be unhappy,” newspaper editor Anne Knudsen says in the book.

Moreover, there is a group of people that believes the Danes are lying when they say they’re the happiest people on the planet. This group is known as “Danes.”
An American woman told Booth how, when she excitedly mentioned at a dinner party that her kid was first in his class at school, she was met with icy silence.

One of the most country’s most widely known quirks is a satirist’s crafting of what’s still known as the Jante Law — the Ten Commandments of Buzzkill. “You shall not believe that you are someone,” goes one. “You shall not believe that you are as good as we are,” is another. Others included “You shall not believe that you are going to amount to anything,” “You shall not believe that you are more important than we are” and “You shall not laugh at us.”
In addition to paying enormous taxes — the total bill is 58 percent to 72 percent of income — Danes have to pay more for just about everything. Books are a luxury item. Their equivalent of the George Washington Bridge costs $45 to cross. Health care is free — which means you pay in time instead of money. Services are distributed only after endless stays in waiting rooms. Pharmacies are a state-run monopoly, which means getting an aspirin is like a trip to the DMV.
Scandinavia, as a wag in The Economist once put it, is a great place to be born — but only if you are average. The dead-on satire of Scandinavian mores “Together” is a 2000 movie by Sweden’s Lukas Moodysson set in a multi-family commune in 1975, when the groovy Social Democratic ideal was utterly unquestioned in Sweden.

In the film’s signature scene, a sensitive, apron-wearing man tells his niece and nephew as he is making breakfast, “You could say that we are like porridge. First we’re like small oat flakes — small, dry, fragile, alone. But then we’re cooked with the other oat flakes and become soft. We join so that one flake can’t be told apart from another. We’re almost dissolved. Together we become a big porridge that’s warm, tasty, and nutritious and yes, quite beautiful, too. So we are no longer small and isolated but we have become warm, soft and joined together. Part of something bigger than ourselves. Sometimes life feels like an enormous porridge, don’t you think?”

Then he spoons a great glutinous glob of tasteless starch onto the poor kids’ plates. That’s Scandinavia for you, folks: Bland, wholesome, individual-erasing mush. But, hey, at least we’re all united in being slowly digested by the system.

The News Junkie follows along, and adds a link:

Naturally enough, the architecture of the welfare state was designed and developed with European realities in mind, the most important of which were European beliefs about poverty. Thanks to their history of Old World feudalism, with its centuries of rigid class barriers and attendant lack of opportunity for mobility based on merit, Europeans held a powerful, continentally pervasive belief that ordinary people who found themselves in poverty or need were effectively stuck in it — and, no less important, that they were stuck through no fault of their own, but rather by an accident of birth. The state provision of old-age pensions, unemployment benefits, and health services — along with official family support and other household-income guarantees — served a multiplicity of purposes for European political economies, not the least of which was to assuage voters’ discontent with the perceived shortcomings of their countries’ social structures through a highly visible and explicitly political mechanism for broadly based and compensatory income redistribution.

But America’s historical experience has been rather different from Europe’s, and from the earliest days of the great American experiment, people in the United States exhibited strikingly different views from their trans-Atlantic cousins on the questions of poverty and social welfare. These differences were noted both by Americans themselves and by foreign visitors, not least among them Alexis de Tocqueville, whose conception of American exceptionalism was heavily influenced by the distinctive American worldview on such matters. Because America had no feudal past and no lingering aristocracy, poverty was not viewed as the result of an unalterable accident of birth but instead as a temporary challenge that could be overcome with determination and character — with enterprise, hard work, and grit. Rightly or wrongly, Americans viewed themselves as masters of their own fate, intensely proud because they were self-reliant.

To the American mind, poverty could never be regarded as a permanent condition for anyone in any stratum of society because of the country’s boundless possibilities for individual self-advancement. Self-reliance and personal initiative were, in this way of thinking, the critical factors in staying out of need. Generosity, too, was very much a part of that American ethos; the American impulse to lend a hand (sometimes a very generous hand) to neighbors in need of help was ingrained in the immigrant and settler traditions. But thanks to a strong underlying streak of Puritanism, Americans reflexively parsed the needy into two categories: what came to be called the deserving and the undeserving poor. To assist the former, the American prescription was community-based charity from its famously vibrant “voluntary associations.” The latter — men and women judged responsible for their own dire circumstances due to laziness, or drinking problems, or other behavior associated with flawed character — were seen as mainly needing assistance in “changing their ways.” In either case, charitable aid was typically envisioned as a temporary intervention to help good people get through a bad spell and back on their feet. Long-term dependence upon handouts was “pauperism,” an odious condition no self-respecting American would readily accept.

Right, the local widow and the town drunk. Both without means, one through no fault of her own, after a lifetime of doing what she was supposed to do; the other one impoverished by choice.

Suffice it to say, the United States arrived late to the 20th century’s entitlement party, and the hesitance to embrace the welfare state lingered on well after the Depression. As recently as the early 1960s, the “footprint” left on America’s GDP by the welfare state was not dramatically larger than it had been under Franklin Roosevelt — or Herbert Hoover, for that matter. In 1961, at the start of the Kennedy Administration, total government entitlement transfers to individual recipients accounted for a little less than 5% of GDP, as opposed to 2.5% of GDP in 1931 just before the New Deal. In 1963 – the year of Kennedy’s assassination – these entitlement transfers accounted for about 6% of total personal income in America, as against a bit less than 4% in 1936.

During the 1960s, however, America’s traditional aversion to the welfare state and all its works largely collapsed. President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” and his “Great Society” pledge of the same year ushered in a new era for America, in which Washington finally commenced in earnest the construction of a massive welfare state. In the decades that followed, America not only markedly expanded provision for current or past workers who qualified for benefits under existing “social insurance” arrangements, it also inaugurated a panoply of nationwide programs for “income maintenance” (food stamps, housing subsidies, Supplemental Social Security Insurance, and the like) where eligibility turned not on work history but on officially designated “poverty” status. The government also added health-care guarantees for retirees and the officially poor, with Medicare, Medicaid, and their accompaniments. In other words, Americans could claim, and obtain, an increasing trove of economic benefits from the government simply by dint of being a citizen; they were now incontestably entitled under law to some measure of transferred public bounty, thanks to our new “entitlement state.”

The expansion of the American welfare state remains very much a work in progress; the latest addition to that edifice is, of course, the Affordable Care Act. Despite its recent decades of rapid growth, the American welfare state may still look modest in scope and scale compared to some of its European counterparts. Nonetheless, over the past two generations, the remarkable growth of the entitlement state has radically transformed both the American government and the American way of life itself. It is not too much to call those changes revolutionary.
By 2012, the most recent year for such figures at this writing, Census Bureau estimates indicated that more than 150 million Americans, or a little more than 49% of the population, lived in households that received at least one entitlement benefit. Since under-reporting of government transfers is characteristic for survey respondents, and since administrative records suggest the Census Bureau’s own adjustments and corrections do not completely compensate for the under-reporting problem, this likely means that America has already passed the symbolic threshold where a majority of the population is asking for, and accepting, welfare-state transfers.

It’s sad when a passion dies. My desire to visit the “fatherland” has evaporated for the most part, and I note that any need to do so seems to have vanished along with it. We’re all cooked now; what’s the necessity involved in visiting from one bowl of soft slimy porridge, to another?

What’s the solution? There has to be some sort of “uncooking.” That seems unrealistic when one views it from the porridge analogy. Which sadly fits, because once a grain of barley has been cooked and softened it’s no simple matter to get it firm and “flaky” again.

But, the problem was created by way of an errant, extremist, and therefore fragile, mindset. We imported from Europe the mindset that, when a woman at a dinner table shows pride in her son won first place in his school, she should be scorned. And, that a “fundamental transformation,” to coin a phrase, into a welfare state is some sort of laudable ambition for a head of that state to hold. So topsy-turvy is this Weltanschauung that the quickest way to get to it is to see any object or concept connected with it as the opposite of what it truly is. Excellence is to be mocked, independence scorned the way we are supposed to scorn crime. Reliance on public assistance is somehow the dream of a lifetime…and on and on down the line. Such a way of looking at things cannot endure without a lot of support, from within and without. Reality will not offer a helping hand. The solution to the problem is in there. Somewhere.

The point to all this, in my mind, is: The “victimology” complex, the “I’m poor because I was born that way” thing, is an offshoot of aristocratic stratification that existed over there, but never over here. We don’t have any business clinging to it, because we don’t have the historical underpinnings to support it. It’s been said that in America, you can be anything you want to be. That isn’t just a bumper-sticker slogan. It will never be reduced to an empty rhetorical nugget, some sort of laughable nullity, unless we allow it to be.

“If There Was Ever a Picture That Says ‘Our Policy is Leading From Behind,’ That’s It”

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Hot Air:

Organizers in France estimated that upwards of 3.7 million people attended a Sunday unity rally in Paris in response to the attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Among those marchers were a variety of world leaders, but President Barack Obama was not among them. Nor did the president send any ranking administration officials to represent the United States. Not even Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris at the request of French authorities, attended the march. The United States was utterly absent from this global event.

EmbarassmentObama did not even bother to attend a solidarity march for Paris that was held in Washington D.C. yesterday despite the participation of American officials like the State Department’s Victoria Nuland. “Obama wasn’t far from the march in D.C. on Sunday that wended silently along six blocks from the Newseum to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial,” Politico reported. “Instead, he spent the chilly afternoon a few blocks away at the White House, with no public schedule, no outings.”
“I say this as an American — not as a journalist, not as a representative of CNN — but as an American: I was ashamed,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper wrote. He noted that it was an oversight of the first order that no prominent 2016 prospect, Republican or Democratic, chose to join the Parisian marchers either.

“You let the world down,” read the front page of the New York Daily News on Monday.

Even the often staid and demure participants on CNN’s politics panel on the morning show New Day were animated over the absence of America from this pivotal symbolic event.

“If there was ever a picture that says ‘Our policy is leading from behind,’ that’s it,” said CNN anchor John King as he showed video of a variety of world leaders locking arms while marching in solidarity with average French citizens.

From the comments:

Reminder…Obama sent three, THREE, representatives to Michael Brown’s funeral.

Our Cold Civil War

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

My stock phrase I have been molding & shaping over the last couple years or so, although there has been some truth to it since around the early nineties, give-or-take…

Our “civilization” at the moment…is embroiled in a cold civil war…between people who refuse to define things, and people who MUST see to it that things are strongly defined before they can do what they do.

That’s a pretty simplimified summary, but lately I’m thinking even that tiny, heavy nugget may be overly complexificated.

The cold civil war is between people who must resist strong definitions before they can do the things they do, and the people who rely on the strong definitions to do what they do.

The technology that enables us to communicate with large numbers of our fellows rapidly has introduced, as it always has and always shall, new dynamics into this conflict. To do the things you cannot do unless things are left undefined, you have to get them sold, and that means we have ideas being exchanged that are not salable unless things are left undefined. The same goes for things that rely on the stronger definitions, they rely on the sale of ideas that in turn rely on these strong definitions being suggested, accepted, and then enforced.

As a general rule, you need to keep things undefined in order to do things that only look like they help people but don’t actually help anybody — except parasites. To do things that really do help people, before the mission is accomplished you’ll need to define something. “Is it a good idea to drive a three ton truck across a bridge that supports five thousand pounds?” is not a question you’d want to answer, without a good understanding of how many pounds are in a ton.

Definition, by its very nature, relies on shared and verifiable understanding.

Who Says Michelle Jenneke’s Not a Real Athlete?

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

Well, actually they did answer that question…it’s one guy.

I don’t know if it’s any more than that one dumb guy in Ms. Jenneke’s case, but the mindset is certainly out there that if a woman is highly accomplished in the looks department she can’t be highly accomplished anywhere else. I find this to be not only idiotic, but as “sexist” as anything can possibly be. Certainly more than anything else we like to go around labeling with that word these days. I mean, what could be worse? Oh, she’s good-looking…well then, keep her out of the Olympics, or any other athletic competition, or anything that isn’t strictly fixated with looks. She wants to be a model or a beauty contest champion, make sure she isn’t anything else.

Because you have to be frumpy and pear-shaped to be a winning hurdler? That is literally not going to fly. You have to be fit. And — I think, this is where the problem really is — fit people are going to be better-looking.

There’s a tennis player named Anna Kournikova who once started going around making a higher profile for herself, wearing attention-getting clothes both on & off the courts, posing for photoshoots, and so on and so forth. Then I recall someone somewhere pointed out she got beat here, there, and a bunch of other places…this is a little outside my base of knowledge, but it seemed there was a good deal of evidence provided that she wasn’t actually all that good of a tennis player. Although I’m sure she’s better than I am. But, no one that I can recall ever questioned whether she was a “serious athlete.” Nor should they have, if she was still picking up sponsorships, still playing well enough to at least compete.

That’s Anna K. Now Michelle Jenneke, and my base of knowledge is limited here as well — she’s winning quite a lot of the time at what she does, isn’t she? The one-critic doesn’t seem to be asserting otherwise.

What more do you need to do to be a serious athlete, other than be a serious athlete? I’m missing something here. Or, I hope I am anyway. You have to be a butterface or a frump-a-dump to be a serious athlete now?

Now if he wants to say the music in Michelle Jenneke’s video is not real music, well then…that has the potential to be a different conversation entirely.

Seventies Fashion

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

Every time I look at it I think the same thing…

…that against all odds, we survived this decade. And Jimmy Carter too, at the same time.

It fills me with hope. If we can survive that, we can survive anything.

Memo For File CXCII

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Bill Maher’s use of the word “liberal” in this clip — which is an unorthodox use, although it should not be — further stimulated some thoughts I’ve been having about the proper role of government over the last few months. Although the original ignition point came when I saw the very first blows being traded between establishment Republicans and the Tea Party types, in what is surely a ramp-up to the 2016 elections.

Continuing this thinking a bit further, I took to the Hello Kitty of Blogging and pointed out

“Get (and keep) religion out of government.” Sounds good, but I have a question: How come it continues to be necessary for someone to say so? What is this force that blends religion together with government?

My observation is that religion, practiced the way it should be practiced, really hasn’t got anything to do with government, practiced the way IT should be practiced. The two are literally about two different worlds. This imbroglio about same-sex marriage is a perfect example of what I’m noticing: What happened, that we now need to be concerned with how government defines marriage? Something. It didn’t start out that way. And the things that happened, were not good things.

And my conclusion is: Government, practiced the way it should NOT be practiced, is exactly the same as religion, practiced the way IT should not be practiced. Bad religion and bad government share the same goal, differing only in tactics, and this is what blends them together: To socially elevate a targeted class, clique or individual, above everyone else.

Is it fair to shoehorn these two visions into the terms “left wing” and “right wing,” at least in the United States? Having read all of the opinions available to me about it, including the Wikipedia entry, I’ve come to the conclusion: Yeah, sure, whatever. There is no contradictory definition that’s actually stuck.

The terms left-wing and right-wing are widely used in the United States but, as on the global level, there is no firm consensus about their meaning. The only aspect that is generally agreed upon is that they are the defining opposites of the United States political spectrum. Left and right in the U.S. are generally associated with liberal and conservative respectively, although the meanings of the two sets of terms do not entirely coincide. Depending on the political affiliation of the individual using them, these terms can be spoken with varying implications.
In general, the term left-wing is understood to imply a commitment to egalitarianism, support for social policies that favor the working class, and multiculturalism…
In general, right-wing implies a commitment to conservative Christian values, support for a free-market system, and traditional family values…

This is mostly, consistent with the understanding that “left wing” involves an elevation of selected persons and classes, whereas “right wing” does not — if anything, it involves an elevation of certain actions and a derogation of certain other actions.

The hitch in the giddyup is this business about the left-wing and “a commitment to egalitarianism.” It isn’t hard to resolve this, though: It is a promise on which they haven’t been delivering. In fact, you’ll find when left-wingers accuse right-wingers of this non-egalitarian vision, the inequality, the discrimination, the “ism” — if you take the time to really look into it, you’ll find the right-winger is being accused of “discrimination” because he isn’t discriminating the way the left-winger wants him to discriminate.

So when all’s said & done, the distinction holds. Left-wing policies, in achievement as well as in intent, foment inequality, castes, and special privileges. To the extent “right wing” means anything at all in the US of A in Anno Domini Twenty Fifteen, it is a mild to severe reactionary refusal to recognize these castes. No thank you, I don’t think I want Kathleen Sebelius making my health care decisions for me. No, I don’t want to buy carbon offset vouchers and send my money into some black hole to be managed by perfect strangers when I light my house. No, actually, I have listened to the “experts” on “global warming” and I’ve concluded they’re full of crap; no, I think I’d prefer not to forget about all the failed predictions they’ve made.

There are two visions for government here and they’re both quite old. In fact, one of the things that has impressed me the most about history of civilizations, especially recent, industrial-age history, is that governments tend to do this shift over time from the one, to the other. Ours is no different. They start off providing the minimal essentials of civilization, the laws against murder, theft and harm, the redress of grievances, etc. Then they do this shift: There seems to be a lot of power lying around, unused, how can I/we use this to elevate my/our standing in the community?

Then there follows a lust for power. It starts off as a quest for greater influence; anybody participating in a decision making process within a group, particularly a group that involves multiple competing interests, is going to want greater influence. It’s only natural. But influence is not power. I might even go so far as to argue they have an oppositional relationship with each other: Influence has to do with the actions of people who still have choices they can make. Power has to do with the actions of people who have been “liberated” from their choices. If I have power over you, that must mean I can make you do things even if you don’t want to do them. If my power doesn’t extend into the realm of making you do things you otherwise wouldn’t do, “power” isn’t really the right word.

The point is, we have this tipping-point, within each participant, where they stop trying to acquire influence and start trying to acquire power. President Obama is past that, it seems to me; His influence is clearly on the wane, and it doesn’t seem to bother Him even a tiny bit, but He sure seems to like acting out this little routine He’s got going where He “decides” on this, that, or some other thing…and that’s it. Whatever anybody else has to say about it, is reduced to a nullity. It’s been an impressive experience watching Him go through this transformation, but it isn’t just Him doing it. And when enough of the influencers give up on acquiring influence, and shift to the acquisition of power, it has an effect on the government as a whole. This endeavor to acquire more power, for those in a position of acquiring it, becomes a newer, displacing purpose.

So when left-wingers explain they are for progress and going “forward,” and their opponents the right-wingers are about resisting this “progress,” interpreting it this way you can see they’re quite correct. These civilizations are rather like harvested fruit — starting out delicious and beautiful, ending up colorless, decayed, foul, unfit for anything but compost. It is a depressing thought to entertain that perhaps this transition is unavoidable, the only question outstanding being how soon. The left wants it to happen faster, the right wants it to happen more slowly, or not at all.

Now that we have these intra-factional shouting matches about Establishment vs. Tea Party, I’m seeing this proven again and again, with increasing frequency and intensity. The “right wing” within the Republican party is seeing the decay happening, looking for ways to forestall it, hopefully get back to the point where we could decide things for ourselves — and get back to operating our businesses, building our services and products, helping others, doing the things that made the country great in the first place. The “moderates,” on the other hand, are losing the characteristics that had distinguished them from the “left wing,” to the point it’s hard to tell those two apart. They’re both hung up on this idea that so-and-so is uniquely-qualified to rise above the rest of the country, and lead it into…well…there’s the part that furrows the brow with concern, and maybe a bit of distress. They won’t say what. They want to monologue away endlessly about the who, but not the what, the why, or how it’s all gonna work. Certainly, not about any benchmarks or milestones by which the Grand Master Plan can be subsequently evaluated, with its planners, architects and overseers held accountable for the results.

He’s the Liberal in This Debate

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Which of course raises the question: When did the definition change?

From The Daily Beast.

Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals at Harvard

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Prof. Sowell is asked to define what an intellectual is:

An intellectual is someone whose end product is ideas. Not everybody who produces an idea is an intellectual because there are many intellectually demanding ideas that end up as products or services such as brain surgery or computer operating systems, etc. But those kinds of things differ in the sense in that there is an external test of the validity of the ideas, other than the approval of one’s peers. For deconstructionists, the only test is whether other deconstructionists like what he is saying. But for a financial wizard, he may be held in awe by his contemporaries and yet if he goes broke his ideas are regarded as failures. Consider that between the two World Wars, intellectuals promoted pacifism to the point they impeded the military build up of any military deterrents against Hitler or Japan, and yet men paid with their lives in the beginning of the war especially because Britain and America had far inferior military equipment. Men died needlessly but no one ever held them accountable for what they said.

Perhaps it is still unclear? If you need to see it in action, look no further than Harvard (via American Thinker):

For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar.

Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the heart of the 378-year-old university, voted overwhelmingly in November to oppose changes that would require them and thousands of other Harvard employees to pay more for health care. The university says the increases are in part a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which many Harvard professors championed.

The faculty vote came too late to stop the cost increases from taking effect this month, and the anger on campus remains focused on questions that are agitating many workplaces: How should the burden of health costs be shared by employers and employees? If employees have to bear more of the cost, will they skimp on medically necessary care, curtail the use of less valuable services, or both?

“Harvard is a microcosm of what’s happening in health care in the country,” said David M. Cutler, a health economist at the university who was an adviser to President Obama’s 2008 campaign. But only up to a point: Professors at Harvard have until now generally avoided the higher expenses that other employers have been passing on to employees. That makes the outrage among the faculty remarkable, Mr. Cutler said, because “Harvard was and remains a very generous employer.”

In Harvard’s health care enrollment guide for 2015, the university said it “must respond to the national trend of rising health care costs, including some driven by health care reform,” in the form of the Affordable Care Act. The guide said that Harvard faced “added costs” because of provisions in the health care law that extend coverage for children up to age 26, offer free preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies and, starting in 2018, add a tax on high-cost insurance, known as the Cadillac tax.

Richard F. Thomas, a Harvard professor of classics and one of the world’s leading authorities on Virgil, called the changes “deplorable, deeply regressive, a sign of the corporatization of the university.”

I was the other peopleMary D. Lewis, a professor who specializes in the history of modern France and has led opposition to the benefit changes, said they were tantamount to a pay cut. “Moreover,” she said, “this pay cut will be timed to come at precisely the moment when you are sick, stressed or facing the challenges of being a new parent.”
“It seems that Harvard is trying to save money by shifting costs to sick people,” said Mary C. Waters, a professor of sociology. “I don’t understand why a university with Harvard’s incredible resources would do this. What is the crisis?”

Gee, I dunno. What could it be?

The power of the horse blinders is just dazzling, mind-blowing. Especially with that professor-of-classics guy whining about “corporatization.” Corporations have been around for a long time. What does it take to live through the last six years and watch this “landmark reform” of the health care system, by government, with the government legislation and the government enforcement and the government scandals and government this and government that…soon afterward there follows a change you don’t like, and you leap to the “corporatization” angle to explain it? Corporate action on this has been passive and reactive. That’s how it works with the law. Corporations sit around, and watch, see what they’re required to do & what they’re allowed to do, then they make a plan to navigate through it all. So if there’s a sudden change in ultimate effect, coming after a sudden change in the law, it’s probably not a coincidence and it’s probably not because a corporation rolled out of bed with a hot new idea.

There are those who may complain, with some legitimacy, that a bit too much energy is expended on noticing how self-deluded today’s Obama supporters and ObamaCare supporters and hippies and proggies and lefties and liberals really are. I can certainly see the concern. But it’s episodes like this that provide the rebuttal, that show the necessity of noticing. Just look at the simplicity of the ideas that aren’t taking hold, somehow: “If you pay for more stuff, or force someone to pay for more stuff, it’s going to cost more money.” Intellectual or not, you have to be standing in a very low position for an idea such as that to go sailing over your head. But you can tell from the quotes that these intellectuals managed to get ‘er done. Outrage in year N that such-and-such a thing is “not covered” and the suffering do not have “access” (kaching, kaching) to health are. Then government rolls out the plan, and we have outrage in year N+1 that costs are going up. Uh, yeah costs are going up. Of course they are. They’re supposed to; the system is paying for more stuff. Duh.

The takeaway from this? Ideas shape the mind, just as the mind shapes the ideas. We all know this is true, we just don’t talk about it as often as we should. There is a certain discipline involved in doing the brain surgery, computer operating systems, other “intellectual” pursuits that aren’t intellectual in vocation because they involve some external test validating the merit of the idea. There is an entirely different discipline involved in the formation of ideas that are never to be put into practice, never to leave the realm of ideas, in the manufacture of consensus that is “right” because, and only because, it is consensus. When “the only test is whether other deconstructionists like what he is saying.”

It rots the brain.

Five Feminists Myths That Will Not Die

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

TIME. Typical lefty balderdash, the kind of nonsense one should expect to culminate from an appeal to emotion, laboring under the guise of appeal to reason:

““The figure was made up by someone working at the UN because it seemed to her to represent the scale of gender-based inequality at the time.”

It isn’t just feminists. You have to be very careful accepting “facts” from someone who perspires away under a bit too much of an afterglow that comes from winning arguments. Not too much terrain is traversed before winning-the-argument is all that matters anymore.

Feminists do love to win arguments, though. As the five chestnuts make abundantly clear, they are not to be trusted.

Don’t Punish Sex Offenders if They’re Black

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Judith Levine writes in Counterpunch:

If it’s true that all seven of the football players arrested for hazing in the Sayreville, New Jersey, War Memorial High School locker room are students of color, that is one more reason not to prosecute them as sexual felons.

I don’t mean not to prosecute them in adult court. I mean not to prosecute them at all.

If they’re guilty, they should be disciplined by the school, kicked off the Bombers team, and held accountable to their victims by making amends in words and deeds.

But the punishment the state will mete out far outweighs the transgression. For kids who are 15 to 17 years old, it will be life crushing.
Now we find that a disproportionate number of the people on the registries are also African-American. This is surprising only because the popular image of the sexual “predator” is a “pedophile,” and the pedophile is white.

In fact, whites represent two-thirds of registered offenders—the unique criminal category in which whites show up in proportion to their demographics in the general population. But on the public registries, “blacks appear to be over-represented,” according to an ongoing analysis by University of Washington criminologist Alissa Ackerman and colleagues of over 445,000 sex offenders on public registries in 2010.

Nationally, African-Americans comprised 22 percent of the Ackerman sample, compared with only 13 percent of the U.S. population. Among the states with the greatest mismatch was New Jersey.
The age of the greatest number of people involved in the criminal justice system for sex offenses is 14. Thank age-of-consent laws for that. Because the laws deem minors categorically incapable of consenting to sex, any sexual contact with a minor is considered an assault. Indeed, if the victim is a minor, sexual assault becomes “aggravated” sexual assault. Aggravated does not mean more sadistic or lengthy. It can just mean the “victim” of a touch or chat room conversation was 13.

Fourteen is also the age at which the federal government requires committers of certain sex crimes to be listed on the Internet registries.

And in a nation already overflowing with prisoners both juvenile and adult, the vast majority of them black and brown, do we need to lock up more black and brown kids?

So weird how proggies do this. “Such-and-such a law is unfair, so do not enforce it — in this one particular case, in which I hope to whip up emotional agitation with my prose.” If a law is unjust, how do we go about any hopeful process of reform, that begins with class-based selective exemption from the unjust law? That’s the one question they’re never able to answer.

Blue State, Red State: Which is Richer?

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Tim Worstall, writing in Forbes, critiques a New York Times piece:

Blue states, like California, New York and Illinois, whose economies turn on finance, trade and knowledge, are generally richer than red states. But red states, like Texas, Georgia and Utah, have done a better job over all of offering a higher standard of living relative to housing costs. That basic economic fact not only helps explain why the nation’s electoral map got so much redder in the November midterm elections, but also why America’s prosperity is in jeopardy.

Red state economies based on energy extraction, agriculture and suburban sprawl may have lower wages, higher poverty rates and lower levels of education on average than those of blue states — but their residents also benefit from much lower costs of living. For a middle-class person , the American dream of a big house with a backyard and a couple of cars is much more achievable in low-tax Arizona than in deep-blue Massachusetts. As Jed Kolko, chief economist of Trulia, recently noted, housing costs almost twice as much in deep-blue markets ($227 per square foot) than in red markets ($119).

Worstall points out the obvious:

Yes, sure, income inequality might be important in a way, wealth inequality should have a place in our thoughts. But what really matters to people about how life is lived is consumption. Levels of consumption and also consumption inequality. That last is important in a political sense currently because consumption inequality just hasn’t widened out as much as income and wealth inequality have. And levels of consumption: well, that’s really what income or wealth is, the ability to purchase consumption. And if you’re in a place where prices are lower, leading to greater consumption (whether of food, or square feet of housing, or leisure, or whatever), well, then you’re richer, aren’t you?

And thus is our conundrum solved. The red states aren’t in fact poorer than the blue states. They’re richer: that’s why they vote more conservative and more right wing.

This is something that often gets ignored in the comparison between red-state and blue-state economies: $119 is just over half of $227, that’s a pretty big spread. What good does it do you to make $150k a year as opposed to $60k, if you can’t buy as much with it? And don’t these “poor” people who need the help from these blue-stater policies, have to live somewhere?

The blue-state/red-state split, these days, ultimately comes down to a conflict between immediate gratification and delayed gratification. We therefore should not show any surprise on learning of higher salaries in the part of the country that lusts after immediate gratification. It goes with the territory. Just as we shouldn’t be surprised to find a more self-sustainable economic system, in which consumers are empowered to do more consuming, in the part of the country where delayed gratification is more highly valued. That, also, goes with the territory.

Seven Tips From Cosmo That Will Put Him in the Hospital

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Five years of dust on this one, but it’s a fun headline.

And, it offers an excuse to embed an image of Olivia Munn’s “Atari” photo shoot, and who can ever complain about that.