Archive for July, 2015

Our Newest Addition to the Family

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Yeah, my wife’s cooler than your…wife…my wife’s cooler than yours…

My wife’s cooler ’cause she bought me a…uh…you know, a wine cooler for my birthday…

My wife’s cooler than yours!Wine Cooler

But this post is not about that addition to the family. By sheer coincidence, this morning was the morning I popped in to work bright and early, office still mostly deserted, but I saw there was a dude-conversation going on involving one of our senior programmers, who was sharing the details of his weekend. His first weekend with the new dog.

Which his wife…well, this has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time…heh heh, yeah, a “pet” peeve. Yep, he was informed Friday that he had a dog. Informed. I came up with a classy way of commenting on it, after really racking my brain about it, because I’ve met his wife and she’s a nice lady. My classy comment was: I’m glad for you, glad for the new dog, glad you’re her husband. Isn’t that a nice way of saying it?

I’m glad he’s her husband, because over in the corner of the universe I call home — that’s just a way of petitioning for a divorce. And a mighty peculiar one. No, chicks don’t inform dudes that they have a new dog. That just means the house is not a home. For him, at least. That IS a demand for a divorce, isn’t it? How could it not be one? A message to your husband that “our house is not a home, for you” must be a divorce decree, am I right?

So we discussed this in some detail. There had been, in his case, a previous attempt to engage these sorts of shenanigans. “Shenanigans,” yeah that’s right, the other fellow had been deployed to Iraq and he said, DO NOT pull that crap while I’m in Iraq. He was very clear on this, the wife & kids pulled it anyway, and that time it worked. The new cat’s name was “Shenanigans.” So both these guys were one-for-two on this shit; in both cases the wife tried it twice, got away with it 50% of the time.

I’ve got no place to brag about this stuff, though. These guys weren’t fooled. They feel like they were, but they weren’t; their wives just took advantage of their absences as they were preoccupied. With providing a livelihood for the households. Which the wives then contaminated. Genesis 3:1, remember that? The wife got a bright idea, from outside the household, and then told the hubby how it was gonna be. The result: Nothing good. Yes, in that fable there is wisdom.

Which leads me to my question. The response sorta creeped me out a little bit: Does ANYBODY know of any situation, directly or indirectly, in which it went the other way? The chick was off somewhere, on a trip or off at work, and the dude “informed” her that they now had a dog or a cat. Anybody ever hear of that happening? Anybody at all?

The answer, as of the moment in which I’m writing this, is nada. This seems to be purely a chick thing: Get a four-legged varmint, tell the stud how it’s gonna be. Repeat The Fall.

So I guess the thing to do, is to open up the question for the comment section. Let my readers contribute their experiences, see if there is an interruption in the pattern.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Freeberg and I don’t have so much as a goldfish. Instead, we got a wine cooler. Awesome!

Memo For File CXCVIII

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

I’ve been accused every now and then from failing to separate politics from other things. I know I’m guilty of the charge, but then I’m also left wondering whose reckoning with reality is correct, and who has one that is in need of repair. It is all connected, isn’t it? Maybe we’re all trying not to notice it so we can do a better job of getting along with each other. That’s a noble goal. Perhaps there are better ways to go about that than making sure we don’t notice things. For my own purposes, I find it works much better to keep in mind that people can disagree with me, and that doesn’t make them my enemy.

Seems other people don’t like to keep that in mind. Which brings me to some observations I’ve been making.

From watching the political circus that is next year’s election take form, and comparing it to the actions I see engaged by people in my “real” everyday life, I notice there are two ways to go about accumulating experiences. This is meaningful. Everything we know, outside of what we “learned” before leaving the womb, is based on the accumulation of experience. It must affect everything that has anything to do with what makes us what we are. It has to do this.

It is a binary, mutually-exclusive thing. It comes up whenever reality poses problems for theories, which is often. You can see to it that reality wins out over the theory, or you can make sure the theory wins out over reality. Theory yielding to reality is the proper way, of course. And it does not mean a complete defeat, it simply means reform. The theory is something like a metal knife blade yielding to a sharpening stone. It becomes better honed, more precise, more capable — more useful. This is how the scientific method is supposed to work. Out here in the layperson’s world, we call it “learning.” But within and outside of science, we’ve got an awful lot of people walking around thinking they’re doing this, when they’re not. The most demanding test comes when what was expected with great confidence, overlaps with what was desired with great passion — and reality doesn’t deliver.

Example: You expected President Barack Obama to lead us into a new era of racial harmony and you really, really, really wanted to see it happen. He’s delivered the exact opposite, and even more distressingly, has been repeatedly caught working hard to deliver the exact opposite. Question: Can you process the information? A lot of people can’t. They don’t see reality as any sort of sharpening stone for the knife blade that is their theory. They see it more like a block of wood they want to make into a statue or something. So they use the theory, along with lots and lots of cheap mockery, to get rid of anything on the block of wood that does not look like the statue.

Another observation: There are two ways to present arguments about the things you have learned. By that, I mean two broad categories, within which there are other categories. What is an argument? To think on that, we have to think on their purpose. You may co-own a decision with somebody, or perhaps they own the decision all by themselves and you want to give them some advice they don’t want to take. An argument ensues, and you both argue. How do you argue? Well, there is some sort of objective on which you agree, and then there is some series of prerequisite objectives leading up to that on which you do not agree. Or, you agree on all of the objectives, the prerequisites as well as the ultimate, and you have disagreements on which strategies are likely to culminate in success. Or, their costs. Anyway, you can erect statements, and challenges, and rebuttals, about all these things in order to prevail on the other person’s shared desire for this common ultimate goal.

Or, you can act like a character in any one of the made-for-cable-teevee dramas about English royal families from hundreds of years ago, minus the rolling R’s and sensationalized accent: boast to the other person about what’s going to happen, how they are going to be gutterballed, their desires aren’t going to matter at all, perhaps don’t matter already, and YOU. WILL. PREVAIL. I am not yet done with this second observation: Part of it is that the people who argue by bullying, with this me-strong-you-weak stuff, seem quite committed to it. They do it all the time. You can practically set a clock by it. I think maybe they don’t ever bother with the more mutually-respectful way of arguing, where you try to convince your opposition, because they just don’t know how. Example for this one: Well, let’s be fair and balanced. Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump thrives on this. I suspect the reporters are making a sport out of asking him questions about his critics, to which his answer is, invariably I notice, something starting with a variation of “Yeah well, who cares what HE says.” The man seems to be a complete stranger to the concept of grappling with the content of an idea, so consumed is he with the identity of the idea’s source.

But let us be doubly-fair. It isn’t just Trump.

My third observation is that there seems to be a linkage between the other two. People who demand that reality yields to their pet theories, when it doesn’t, seem to be the same ones who don’t know how to argue, except to say something like “I will emerge victorious and you will be nothing but debris” or “I will hunt you to the ends of the Earth.”

Example for that one: The previously-mentioned President Obama, and His Secretary of State’s Iran deal. Just listen to the White House try to defend it, you haven’t got long to wait at all before they’re telling you what will happen, with all of the certainty — even more, I’m afraid — of a man recalling something well-established, that took place in an easily-recalled past. It’s like they’re the celebrated Merlin of Camelot, experiencing time backwards. Except, their prophesies don’t have much track record of success. One cannot help but wonder what sort of percentage-score they would give themselves on this. And after they’re done with that, like clockwork, they head straight to the “It doesn’t matter, we shall prevail” thing. Back to the pen and the phone, Obama Will Veto (warning, site video ad auto-plays).

As much consternation as it creates to contemplate having a President so grossly addicted to these unproductive paradigms, of theory-over-reality and I-win-because-I-say-so, we have to be fair once again. It isn’t just President Obama.

“The Logic of Elitism”

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

Excellent stuff. One E. M. Cadwaladr, whom I intend to research & follow now, writes at American Thinker:

The representative model is now defunct, destroyed in somewhat different ways by the two political parties. We will start with the inappropriately named Democrats.

The Democratic party of today is not a representative party, but a top-down political machine organized around a reformulation of traditional socialist ideology. They are not a party of the popular will, but a party of a particular set of ideas. The people who adapt these ideas to current needs are not the Democratic base, but a small group of intellectuals drawn almost exclusively from a handful of elite universities. Trusting the public will is a laughable proposition for academics, who consider themselves a superior breed — like the philosopher kings of Plato’s Republic. They may adapt their rhetoric as required for the sake of harvesting votes from the lowly herd, but the core concept of public sovereignty was dropped from leftist thought long ago — about the time it passed from the hard hands of embittered revolutionaries into the soft hands of tenured professors.
The Republican Party…is a different sort of animal from its dingy, pseudo-leftist counterpart, but not really a more attractive or more encouraging one. It has become painfully obvious in the last few election cycles that the Republican establishment despises its conservative base. Most of us have grown tired of watching the GOP bluster and promise to stop ObamaCare, executive amnesty, etc. — only to fold for no apparent reason after a few weeks or months, vowing “this isn’t over!” once again. The truth is that it was over before it started. At the risk of being called racist, the Republican Party seems to function more or less as the nameless team that plays against the Harlem Globetrotters. They provide the illusion of a contest to events that have been carefully choreographed in advance. Their current strategy, assuming for the sake of argument that they are even interested in electoral success, appears to be to trade their traditional base for those lost souls in the political center — those people who only engaged in politics by tottering into a voting booth once every four years…New Republican voters ought to take note of how dismissive the party has been toward the old ones. Most Republican politicians, in short, have come to represent no one but themselves.

It’s refreshingly honest. And he closes with a real zinger:

If the core principle of representative democracy is not restored soon, by whatever methods are required, all of the awareness-raising efforts of forums like this one will count for nothing…No amount of outrage, or satisfyingly rational arguments, will let us vote our way out of an oligarchy.

I have problems with one of those parties more than with the other one, but those problems are ideological in nature, and stacked on top of these problems with the system itself, which are non-ideological. The system is being slowly transformed in this new modern era of the Wanna-conomy, in which products and services, as well as the transactions that involve them, are tailored to fulfill the desires of the producers, while the consumers — in this case, the constituents — are made entirely inconsequential, ignored at every turn.

It is all a natural consequence of our recent societal handicap, an inability to listen to each other. Empire-building has become the order of the day. Everyone likes power and control, but education about the moods and needs of fellow countrymen, cause & effect, and anything else that would be needed to wield that power effectively, is not quite so captivating, not quite so much fun. Technology has given the power-seekers a way to choose the one without bothering with the other. It’s not a development that’s truly beneficial, for anyone, over the long term.

“The Bald Eagle is Being Replaced by a Teletubby”

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Kyle Smith, New York Post: “Adults are acting like kids, and it needs to stop”:

Hot trend in America: It’s becoming toddler nation. The bald eagle is being replaced by a Teletubby.

Remember when it was considered an insult to call Adam Sandler movies “adolescent”? If he is 15 forever mentally, at least he’s got about 10 developmental years on Allison Williams and Bee Shaffer when they snuggled up in their PJs on Instagram.

Adults Acting like KidsNo wonder Sandler’s career has faded — his shtick isn’t absurd anymore. If they made “Billy Madison 2” or “Grown-Ups 3” today, they’d have to be documentaries.
A decade or so ago I noticed something about well-shod young women in Manhattan: They were weirdly concerned with this thing called “birthday parties,” which I vaguely remembered from the “Mork and Mindy” era. “Birthday parties” seemed a strange activity for an adult to participate in. You’re going to solicit presents from your friends while punishing outcasts by denying them invitations? Odd, distinctly odd.

Equally odd were the Hello Kitty backpacks you started to see on (grown-up) girls around town, while Carrie Bradshaw was prancing around in fairy-princess wear. At the time I was a book review editor, and I loved to peek at what people were reading on trains. Whenever I saw someone with a fat hardcover book, my heart leapt — books are alive! But it was always Harry Potter. Then it was “Twilight,” then “The Hunger Games.”

Men, it had been noticed for years, were taking the opportunity — post-draft and post-sexual revolution — to stop trying to prove themselves worthy of women in any way except “being cool,” and so they lapsed into a universe of Barcaloungers, video games, and T-shirts and sneakers as the official uniform for all things. Sitcom after sitcom played off mature, sensible women rolling their eyes at the man-child antics of their boyfriends and husbands.

What’s the difference between now, and the age of “rugged fellas”? The most obvious two things are: Natural predators, and the discernible need for stuff getting built that had not yet been built. Thinking like a builder has a lot to do with thinking like a Real Man, and now, the shit’s all been built, there are no obvious natural dangers, in fact the few dangers we can define are located well outside our sphere of control. The very few daily pressures with which people have to contend, are mostly concerned with proving one’s worthiness for maintaining membership in the InCrowdtm. Which is the everyday pastime of the three-to-twenty-year-old set; the kids. Adulthood is on indefinite leave, because reasons to act like an adult are on indefinite leave.

But that is not all of it. That is only the ignition point; there is a self-accelerating and self-perpetuating quality to this vicious cycle, as it feeds off its own energy to hang around, and grow some more. There is the female-male dynamic. Societies are always going to mold themselves around a shape defined by: What do the women want in their men? Well, ask them. They’re not going to, in any large numbers, say something like “He can fix things” or “He knows how to drive all sorts of trucks” or “He can open jars and kill spiders.” The predominant answer you’ll get back is “He makes me laugh!” and this is sincere. Two generations of convincing kids, their parents, teachers, and everyone else who is around kids that boys are just flawed copies of the girl-prototype, that all men are potential rapists and that might as well make ’em rapists, and women can do everything men can do — that has put us here. I’m not even getting into the “sitcoms playing off mature, sensible women rolling their eyes at the man-child antics” thing, and that’s true too.

Why do we have men? Nobody seems to know.

So women, when & where they still look for men, look for clowns. They don’t know how to look for, nor are they encouraged by society to look for, anything else. Men respond by being clowns. Fathers abandon their children, the moms look for a replacement-stepdad, and they find some guy who has the room to take on the whole brood because he got divorced — and his kids are being raised by some other dude.

Then there are the politics. The politicians. Someone was writing a couple years ago, “Mitt Romney lost the election because he said ‘I’ll put the country back to work!’ and 52% of the voters said ‘Well, fuck that!'” Sadly, there’s a lot of truth in that. What should the politicians promise us? The right to work without joining a union, cheaper gas we can use to get to work, more likely employment prospects and a friendlier business climate — more and more every year, these seem to be things people wanted back when our parents and grandparents were voting. The democrat party has become the “Fuck you, I want my num nums” party; the other parties don’t seem that far behind. We can only get so far in debt, so someone has to work to create, preserve, safeguard and embiggen the assets so that something of value is being generated somewhere. But, why be that guy? And why be the candidate running for public office, who seeks to appeal to that guy, when his population is dwindling and the “Fuck you I want my num nums” party is going to ruin you, both professionally and personally?

There is a perception in all this that there are sensible advantages here, that fun is important and adults don’t know how to have fun. That, too, has a ring of truth to it; fun is important. But lots of other things are just as important, in fact even more. With all that stuff requiring attention and maintenance, and only the “vital fun” actually getting it, an ugly truth emerges.

Besides, I’m old enough to remember when fun was earned. You start off with this lengthy and expansive list of things you have to do today, and you make a big enough dent by 4 or 5 in the afternoon that you can take a breather. That’s why a house involved in some level of luxury would have a “wet bar,” but this led to an associated stigma of alcoholism. Now the wet bar is something you see in a really old movie, maybe a Twilight Zone episode from the first couple seasons, because we’ve gotten rid of alcoholism and replaced it with addiction to marijuana, crack, meth and illegally-acquired prescription drugs, along with the legal stuff to do something about our made-up “learning disabilities.” The casualty in all this is not the addictive lifestyle, what we’ve gotten rid of is the idea that you start with the work, and finish with the leisure which is predicated on the work actually getting done. That’s been consigned to the ash heap of history, at least within this romper room stately pleasure dome we’ve constructed for ourselves.

Within which, so few people can be preoccupied with anything that actually matters, because it requires two hands and that’s hard to manage when you’re carrying around a giant lollipop.

The Cost of Not Doing

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

I’ve been noticing something about these two things Emperor “Can I Live?” is known far & wide for doing this week: The swinging open of the jail cell doors for the drug dealers, and the Iran deal. Something has changed. I guess you have to be a certain age, and willing to recall past events, to be able to see it.

I’m so old I can remember when the Political Left was willing to threaten. Not just the way they do, as in for-reals, to move their agenda forward, like “Donate to Rainbow-Push or I’ll smear your corporation as racist” and things like that. But in their gusty rhetoric. “If we don’t take steps to end global warming,” as in, give leftist organizations lots of money, “the climate will reach a ‘tipping point’ after which it will be completely out of control” or some such.

I’m guessing they’re not too pleased with the results of that. The rebuttal from the opposition, supposedly anti-science, was easy: “What is this ‘control’ of which you speak?” At any rate, here we are. The “If we don’t” thing seems to be on a permanent vacation.

In the business world, it’s important. You put it in your project charter, or whatever document it is that defines where the resources are going to be going, should the project be green-lit, that you show to the people who would make the decision about green-lighting. There has to be a section called “cost of non-implementation” or “ramifications of doing nothing” or “consequences of inaction” or some such. It’s what you want to know, as a homeowner, when a contractor comes up to you and says “I’m afraid I can’t do the [blank] because there is [blank] in the [blank], and what you’ve really got to do, is [blank].” The executives want to know what you’d want to know: What do you mean by “got to”?

In all the sections that are expected to be present in the project charter, this one — call it what you will — looms large in importance. The “go” call hinges on this. Anyone who’s been in the position of the homeowner, understands why.

America’s First Holy Emperor, and His supporters, are going awfully light on that sort of talk lately. The air is cackling with the words from His Eminence, which fly thick and fast and inform all who may be concerned, about the futility involved in opposing His will. “The world would not support an effort to permanently sanction Iran into submission”…”I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.” Ah yes, the pen and the phone.

But, that does not answer the question. Ditto with the commutation of the 46 drug offenders. “I believe that at its heart, America is a nation of second chances, and I believe these folks deserve their second chance…” Glad You believe that, I’m sure the people who are being placed in real danger find that reassuring. But to them, and all the rest of America’s citizens who never got into this sort of trouble because they didn’t do anything wrong, what’s the difference between doing this and not doing this? Why are we doing this?

What if You were to treat this as Kate Steinle’s funeral, and simply not participate?

In both of those, I’m still fuzzy on that.

In the most controversial move ever made by President Obama’s predecessor, say what you will about the man and what you think of his real motives, but he was extremely clear on this sort of thing.

The Real “Wrong Side of History”

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Via Gerard:

A common tactic employed by leftists is to accuse their enemies of being on “the wrong side of history.”…In so many words, if we don’t enthusiastically embrace the left’s agenda, then people like us will be reviled for all eternity.

Will we? The arrogant leftist notion that the arc of the universe bends towards justice (i.e. what they want) is predicated on the belief that Western liberalism will remain hegemonic. However, I suspect that this dominant liberal narrative will erode as China and other Asian nations continue to rise. We already know that Asian countries have no use for the kind of bizarre identity politics running amok in the West.
Future Asian historians will be nonplussed upon learning that Americans placed a higher premium on transsexual rights than nationalism or a strong economy. They will also shake their heads and chuckle when reading about how historical white figureheads such as Joe Biden celebrated the impending minority status of their own people. They’ll wonder why the most dominant group in human history threw it all away in the name of quixotic ideals.

They will, with amusement and contempt, consign the Western left to the wrong side of history.

From the comments:

I don’t think the West will die.(it is undeniably in decline but I think there will be a resurgence after economic collapse and excision of the Leftists)

I don’t think the Russian Asians will get along with the Chinese Asians for very long, they both want to be #1 and they are both ruthless.

And I agree with that. The West became great for a reason, and the thing that made the West great is timeless. People like to be paid for the work they do.

The unanswered questions about the common condemnation reveal a double ignorance among our friends, the liberals: Ignorance about objectivity vs. subjectivity, and ignorance about the passage of time. The two questions could be condensed to “who?” and “when?” History according to whom? And when does this assessment take place?

Example: Same-sex marriage never looked more right, than just before the Supreme Court decided in favor of it last month. It is already, today, on the wrong side of history, as is the election of Barack Obama. Both are embarrassing to watch, even for people like me who never thought either one was a good idea. There’s so much division where there was supposed to be some new sense of unity and unification. Train wrecks.

But, both had their moments, their gilded ages in which each one was an easy sell. The salad days came and went. Both were sold with this “You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, do you?” thing, and now history has decided against them.

The “wrong side of history” really means the “wrong side of my opinion.” That’s the problem. A liberal, perceiving that his opinion has created an irreconcilable conflict with reality, will adjudicate against reality. If they had what it took to go the other way, they wouldn’t be liberals.

Getting Superman Wrong

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Couldn’t quite put my finger on what I didn’t like about Zack Snyder’s offering, until I saw this (via Sonic Charmer).

The Mummy StrikesPeople are often skeptical that a Superman movie can be good because stories need conflict, and conflict seems pretty hard to come by when your hero is a person who always does the right thing and can’t be hurt. That, however, is a reductive way of looking at the character, and the secret to why Superman stories are so great: They’re never really about him. They’re about us.

This is something Snyder and his team almost get, but they come at it from an angle that totally misses the point of Superman. They treat him as a god among mortals, our greatest fear or our great salvation. The problem with this, though, is that it strips the character of his humanity, and makes him downright unapproachable.
Superman isn’t good or special because he’s an alien who crashes on Earth and ends up being incredibly powerful. He’s special because after all that he becomes someone who always does the right thing because he was raised by a couple of decent people from Kansas. That’s it.

He is someone with the power to be the most selfish being in all of existence, and decides to be selfless because he was raised by a couple of kindly farmers. And the beautiful idea behind him is that we don’t need to be bulletproof to be that way — we just have to be decent people.

I don’t think the author means to say all Superman stories have been great. Some of them were inarguably terrible. But it is equally inarguable that the trademark has something going for it, no? And it’s certainly something greater than being some precursor to Spider Man, with his bromide about “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.” It’s the difference between “What should I do?” and “What should that guy, over there, the one with all the super-powers I don’t have, do?”

It’s the difference between conservatives and liberals. Quoting Robert Mitchell again,

The real difference between conservatives and liberals, today:

Liberal: Someone should take care of this! Or, We need a program to take care of this!

Conservative: ++sigh++ It looks like it’s up to me to take care of this…

“I, Racist”

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

This one’s quick, I haven’t got time to elaborate much on it.

In the middle of the night I came across a PM from a friend over on the Hello Kitty of Blogging, providing a link and asking for my opinion on the contents behind it.

I, Racist
I don’t talk about race with White people because I have so often seen it go nowhere. When I was younger, I thought it was because all white people are racist. Recently, I’ve begun to understand that it’s more nuanced than that.

To understand, you have to know that Black people think in terms of Black people. We don’t see a shooting of an innocent Black child in another state as something separate from us because we know viscerally that it could be our child, our parent, or us, that is shot.
Martin Luther King did not end racism. Racism is a cop severing the spine of an innocent man. It is a 12 year old child being shot for playing with a toy gun in a state where it is legal to openly carry firearms.

But racism is even more subtle than that. It’s more nuanced. Racism is the fact that “White” means “normal” and that anything else is different. Racism is our acceptance of an all white Lord of the Rings cast because of “historical accuracy,” ignoring the fact that this is a world with an entirely fictionalized history.

Even when we make shit up, we want it to be white.

And racism is the fact that we all accept that it is white. Benedict Cumberbatch playing Khan in Star Trek. Khan, who is from India. Is there anyone Whiter than Benedict fucking Cumberbatch? What? They needed a “less racial” cast because they already had the Black Uhura character?

That is racism. Once you let yourself see it, it’s there all the time.

That last line I’ve excerpted speaks volumes. It provides an iron-clad answer to the question that naturally arises, “Could it be that the person who is doing this noticing, is the problem?” Rather impossible to deny.

My response was:

It’s defeatist twaddle. Author has no vision for success, except for what he expects others to do. And for all the descriptive energy he puts into the problem, it ends up being just a meandering passive-voice complaint because he doesn’t identify who exactly is do[ing] this bad-thinking, apart from “white people.” Therefore he isn’t ready to isolate the problem, therefore he isn’t ready to do anything about it.

I’d compare it to how silly feminists treat men — the treatment matches his complaints about how black people are treated, letter for letter. My solution to that, is very close to his “I don’t discuss it with white people,” except I practice a more complete brand of isolation: I don’t spend any time around silly feminists at all. I’ve given them too large a portion of my one life already. And so I think of their shortcomings in active-voice, maintaining a working knowledge of who has these problems, distancing myself from them, effectively marginalizing them. Like white racists, they’re marginal people already.

Regarding these cultural challenges black people face, I wrote about that already this morning: Think about that stuff after you’ve accomplished something, not before. Think about your handicaps after you accomplish something that could reasonably have been expected to be harder because you have the handicaps, the outcome of that can only be positive. If you wallow in them before accomplishing anything, it comes off as whining and excuse-making, because that’s really all it can be.

“This morning” means, of course, yesterday morning, and that reference is to this.

Accomplishing Something

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Yesterday, the Clinton-Hollings flag was removed from the State Capitol in South Carolina.

More video here.

As you can tell from the reaction of the crowd, it was thought by many to be some sort of an amazing accomplishment. And therein lies the real problem: Nothing was accomplished here, at all, except for a relatively mundane dismantling of a piece of ornamental building equipment. There really shouldn’t have been a ceremony.

The powers-that-be decide there is too much flag flap, can’t take the heat? Alright then, make the call. But an “Everyone But Chewbacca Gets a Medal” ceremony? Wrong, and on so many levels. No need for it, abjectly pointless…and yes, I know, it’s all about the messaging. Well guess what, that sucked too. Nobody gets to leave an actual mark on our evolving culture, except sociopath racist dicks who shoot up churches? Law-abiding, tax-paying, hard-working citizens are just supposed to toil away from womb to tomb, it’s the homicidal maniac’s world the rest of us just live in it? Nothing good can come from that.

This should have been a routine construction work order. Reminds me of the “[blank] reasons I should quit and become a goat farmer” text file I got started on the on-call laptop at work, several years ago. You know…after you work in the goat’s stable, the goat doesn’t blame you for every little thing that goes wrong after that…goats are naturally Y2K compliant…I came up with twenty reasons, by the time the laptop came back to me there were nearly a hundred. It caught on — it ever became general knowledge that I was the one who got it all started, and I guess that was good. One day, after it grew to over 200 reasons why we should stop being network engineers and think about becoming goat farmers, someone printed it out and taped it up where everyone could see it.

It was hilarious. Right up to manager level…not to director level though. Oops.

The point is, the lengthy printout was very quietly retired. That’s how a collective of people behaves when they’re really ashamed of something, or desiring to (or being bullied into) changing course. At least, if they’re being honest about it. Why?

Because this is not an accomplishment. Remember way back when we worried about accomplishing things? Or, at the very least, maintained an understanding of the difference between accomplishing something and not accomplishing anything?

Which brings me to this, from BuzzFeed:

You may have heard there’s a whole show getting started about this, how easy white people have it, and “what they’ve done in America.”

As the makers of this video might easily imagine, I have a beef with this — but, they couldn’t tell you why. Sure they can come up with their ideas why, but they’re of The Left, and you should never rely on The Left to tell you what motivates their opposition. There is no ignorance on the planet more eminent, more self-perpetuating, than the ignorance liberals have about what motivates their opposition.

So here’s my deal: They’re right. People who are not members of minority groups, are not handicapped, enjoyed inspiring childhoods, have advantages. And people who do not have these things, have handicaps. Here’s the thing though: Until you accomplish something, who cares? What’s it matter?

Don’t we all have some handicaps, if we think on it hard enough? Don’t we all have advantages, even if we need someone else to remind us they’re there?

After you get something done that has a positive effect on other people, and requires real effort and sacrifice out of you, and it entails some level of difficulty that determines that everyone who wants to do it wouldn’t necessarily be able to get it done, like you did — then, there there could be some purpose to all this. “And I earned that degree in spite of the fact that I belong to a minority group” — subjective, and tragically, it always will be that way. The Affirmative Action babies have been robbed forever. They may not like it when someone says “Actually, that made it a lot easier for you, not harder.” It could very well be that critic is wrong! But, with reverse-discrimination in place, the possibility will always linger. The achievement will always have a footnote, and so will the garnish upon it, the “and I did it even though I’m not white.”

Still and all, it is something, because the accomplishment would have been done — the degree would have been earned. And then there are objective statements like this: “I completed that marathon even though I had crippling pneumonia when I was a baby and have lost half my lung tissue.” There’s no reverse-discrimination for that, thus no troubling footnote. And again, such an accomplishment would be real. The marathon would have been run.

Which would say something, or at least, suggest something: I did this in spite of my identifiable handicap. That must mean I have something inside me counterbalancing it, since I did accomplish this thing. Some positive compensating factor. That’s what is worth some extra thought, some discussion. You have to do something with that. The Affirmative Action beneficiary with the degree, that maybe was harder in some ways, maybe easier in other ways? Doubly so: “I did it, you can too.” These people know they should sit down with the next generation, and have a few serious talks, especially if that next-generation is experiencing motivation troubles. Only good things can come from that.

But — to wallow in this stuff when you haven’t done anything yet? That’s a completely different thing. It’s just like the “flag removal ceremony.” Devoid of purpose, no reason to have it…

Unless, in this case, you’re looking for excuses for failure before you’ve even started trying.

I’m so old, I remember when it wasn’t necessary for some blogger who blogs at The Blog That Nobody Reads, to point out this stuff. I remember when it was normal and expected for people to understand the difference between accomplishing something, and not accomplishing anything. It seems we’re quite a distance past the close of that chapter, sadly. Maybe we can open another one like it. I’m pretty sure things will be better for everyone, if we can make that happen. Accomplishment is good, and it does have meaning.

Recent Hairpin Turns in Our Nationalized Moral Reasoning

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Over at our “daughter” sub-site Rotten Chestnuts, where supposedly I participate in an occasional contribution but in reality I pretty much slack off on the whole thing with worn-down and lame excuses like “work’s gotten soooper busy” and such, Philmon and Severian have been on fire. Severian is always on fire there. Great stuff. Phil got a little bit personal discussing the difference between not-tolerating what someone does, vs. lusting after ripping them apart limb from limb, setting them on fire & pissing on the ashes.

Uh yeah, it’s a shame he had to go defining that difference, but it does exist and sadly, it seems a lot of the people who do the most talking lately, aren’t aware of it.

On Tolerance, Disapproval, Respect, Acceptance, and Living Your Own Damned Life
In our eyes, my wife and I have been married for 23 years. In my parents’ eyes, due to their religious beliefs, we’re not married at all. You see, she is a divorcee, and there was no annulment…They don’t hate me. They don’t hate her. Matter of fact they love her. Dad made it a point to pull me aside several months ago and tell me so.

But…if we were to spend the night there, we would be asked to sleep in separate beds.
In this story there is love, tolerance, disapproval, and respect. They are not mutually exclusive. The leftists have purposely, in a very Orwellian 1984-ish New Speak way…have shaped the way we even [talk] about this by choosing the language with which we talk about these things — and people have gotten very confused. It’s no accident.

Keep in mind I myself am not sitting here saying gays should or shouldn’t be married, or that they’re not married. What I’m saying is that this will not be enough for the leftists. They are out to destroy, and this was just one issue they have usurped to help get that done.

Once again, we see it is all about the definitions. You want to build something, and you want to do a good job so that the thing will stand for years and make you proud rather than ashamed, the very first step is to define what it is. And do a good job of that. You’re not necessarily home-free in the building just because you did a spiffy job in the defining; but, it is very, very hard to do a decent job in the building if you’ve completely pissed in your boot during the defining. Defining is important. It is the laying of the very first layer of foundation. Within the space above that layer, everything is affected by it.

Similarly, if you want to destroy something, the first thing to do is to destroy the definition. Nibble around the edges a bit at first, then look for ways to rip apart that circumference. Once the perimeter is destroyed, the job is all-but-done. An orange can’t remain viable and edible without its peel.

Now what’s happened here is, right before the announcement of the final Supreme Court decisions before recess — a tumultuous time for our country in any year, at least lately — a young racist entered a black church in Charleston and shot up the place. So now we’re embroiled in a “flag debate” about the confederate flag, which is something I find to be very silly. And I don’t mean silly in a “ha ha you’re being silly” kind of a way, more of a “not so sure I want to live on this planet anymore” kind of way.

Catherine BachIt’s sad when I have to ask: Remember decisions? Remember those? “I can’t take the heat on this; the flag goes.” Or, “Fuck all of you people, the flag stays, and if you don’t like it vote me out of office.” The sadness is that either one of those exclamations would be as welcome as the other.

We’ve lost so much testosterone over the years, that we can’t have either one. We’ve got a “flag debate.” Why? WHY??

Well, we’ve certainly got some decisions from Justices who are pretending to be lawmakers, something they’re not supposed to be doing. The Supreme Court went full-tilt on unapologetic judicial activism, legislating from the bench without even bothering to pretend otherwise on gay marriage as well as ObamaCare. So now we get to debate the morality of flags, conflicting notions of what marriage really is, and the pretzel-twisty reasoning involved in making President “Can I Live?”‘s most horrid and ill-thought-out plans come to life. All at the same time.

When, quite frankly, I’d much rather think about blowing things up, and hot dogs and potato chips and beer. Oh well, I think the right way to look at this is that at least I’ve got it much better than the families of the people killed in that church. Still and all, something like this is going to happen next summer, and the summer after that and the summer after that. There’s no point wondering about it, we know it’ll happen, and when we reckon with that we’re forced to realize that we’ve lost something. We don’t know if we can get it back. It’s a heavy, depressing thought to have on our supposed “Independence Day.”

Which brings me to Severian’s latest. It really drew my attention when my eyes ran across…

I wonder if this isn’t what Morgan was getting at with “externalysis,” here (please correct me if I’m wrong).

My first response: Derp? What a cool word. I did that?

So I clicked on my own work, and from the date I got an immediate refresh on the context: I entered into a conflict with a psychologist who was not ready to explain her reasoning methods to me, because, it seemed at the time — and this thought has only intensified since then, among everyone involved, not just me — she didn’t have any. It’s a big problem nowadays, and to be fair, it’s not just her. We’ve got this sentiment going on here & there, far & wide, East and West, “I know what I know because, well, aw shucks everybody knows it.”

The unexplainable has become the expected. I’m not sure when or how this transformation took place. It probably happened in stages. What I do know all too well is that now, if you ask the question “Why is it exactly that you think you know what you think you know” — or merely show evidence that you’re wrestling with this, taking in the structure of an argument along with its ultimate conclusion, trying to fill in those gaps — there is this hostility that comes your way that wasn’t there before. It doesn’t have to do with how you’re asking the questions. Maybe it feels that way to the person being asked, if she’s not accustomed to it. It can feel like “bullying” or some such. Of this, I have no doubt…

…and that is one of many reasons why, once we reach adulthood, we’re supposed to work at making decisions by way of thinking rather than by way of feeling.

My verdict: No, we are not discussing the same thing; at least, not on Planet Earth we’re not. But wait a second, we’re not on Earth are we? Severian is investigating that loopy little virtual insane asylum which is the stuff we call “liberalism” in today’s topsy-turvy political parlance. On that strange surreal otherworldly dimension, I must change the answer and say yes, the distinctions that would matter back on Earth, Planet Grown-Up, do not apply here. So out here yes we’re talking about the same thing.

Space BabeI should explain that earthly distinction. This piece from two years ago is discussing epistemology. The intended emphasis, perhaps understated, is on objective findings. Measurements. “Point X is closer to Point Y than it is to Point Z.” Severian is discussing moral conclusions, which tend to be quite different because they’re often not objective. As I’ve pointed out many a time before, if ever you were afforded the luxury of a long sit-down with the guy who broke into your house, whether you expect it or not, you’re likely to find he has quite a confident rationale for why he was right in his decision to break into your house. Better than even odds, it has something to do with your stuff actually belonging to him somehow, and he was just taking it back again. An angry crowd surrounded a sixteen-year-old girl in Mexico a little while ago and burned her to death; some of those participating “helped out” by restraining the police who were trying to rescue her. This being a revenge killing, there must have been some moral reasoning involved in even that. And we see this over and over again, when people do evil things it emerges that they didn’t short-change the process of moral reasoning or skip it, or maintain some belief that it’s entirely unnecessary. They often reached, for whatever reason, a different conclusion.

That is certainly not to say that all conclusions are equally valid. But after millennia of well-intentioned humans trying to make it otherwise, it remains a subjective process. It isn’t like “Point X is closer to Point Y than it is to Point Z.” It doesn’t just depend on perspectives. It depends on values.

So on Planet Liberal, the answer to Severian’s question is: Yes, out there, we’re talking about exactly the same thing. I’m discussing epistemology, he’s discussing morality, here on Planet Grown-Up these are very different things but out there they are one and the same. You don’t have to discuss things with an enfranchised lib very long to see what I mean by this. You might start with whether or not “health care is a basic human right,” that’ll drive home the point quicker than anything.

There is an irony here: These people we today call “liberals” are supposed to be obsessed with improving all of humankind, carrying us forward to the next evolutionary threshold so that we can, among other things, finally learn to live together even though we all might come from diverse backgrounds. The tragedy is that this is a laudable goal that we really do need to get done one way or another — and it can never be done, not by these liberals, until such time as they start to think like conservatives. Their toolboxes are lacking the tools needed.

It starts with the already-mentioned values. A century and a half ago, our country ended a devastating Civil War and among the many things to come out of that was a wave of new legislation, including three amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the first such amendments in sixty years. This latest revolution at the time said: Yes, there are some values that encompass the entire federation, across all the states, even if some states don’t like it. The Republicans at the time insisted on it, that slavery ends here and now. It’s a logic thing as well as a moral-reasoning thing; it simply doesn’t hold up to say “We’re going to get this nation started so we can be free” and then — same breath — “but, these people over here can’t be free because that’s, like, their status in life or something.” It just doesn’t work. So yes, they rammed their values down everybody else’s throat.

Today’s liberals are often heard to say, yeah and we’re them! The “parties switched sides” or some such silliness. This manifests an ignorance of history, moral reasoning too, and arguably logical reasoning as well. The Republicans of the Civil War era did not go on to say: “Oh yeah, and by the way not only can you not own slaves, but you should plant soy beans instead of potatoes, and use these terms to describe those people so nobody is offended, and your wheelchair ramps have to be such-and-such degrees, and, and, and.” They defined a limited scope of these values that would be made globally enforceable. It gets back to that definitions-thing, again. They did not define this crisply; judges and justices have wrestled over these questions ever since, and in constitutional law that’s called incorporation.

The liberals imagine themselves to be ideological successors to the Republicans who ended slavery. But imagine is all they can do. The only way they are successors to what was done back then, is this: They really, really like the idea of forcing ideas on other people. “We can do that?? Cool!” They don’t get the…pardon the terminology, the nuance, for there is no long, drawn-out meandering discussion about incorporation, no limited-scope applied to the edicts they want enforced without exception from sea to shining sea. From watching them awhile, you see the only criteria they seem to apply is one of cowardice, like the cowardly school principal who makes it his business to expel the “good kids” who get in fights on the playground, even if they’re just defending themselves, but just letting the same behavior slide with the “bad kids” because, well, that’s the routine and whaddya expect. That’s the Modern Left’s version of incorporation: Will they get into some sort of trouble, perhaps meet some harm, by insisting a certain designated target practice the values they thoughtlessly force on everybody else.

Example: The Muslim bakery shop that has to appear in court, because they refused to bake a gay wedding cake. That sort of litigious risibility is reserved, it seems, for the hated Christians — whose tenets require them to turn the other cheek. Leftists apply a selection process to their forced-federalized value systems according to that…and if there is another criterion being applied, I’m not aware of it. Haven’t seen it.

The “Separation of Powers” argument that says the Supreme Court should not be legislating from the bench — they’re none to pleased with that, I know, but I’m not exactly sure what their problem is. The only rebuttals I’ve seen from them are pure mockery, and very ill-considered conjecture about what might be motivating their opponents. Liberals are notoriously bad at figuring out what motivates their opponents. But it seems in these recent cases, they’re all good with the Supreme Court doing what it did, because they like the outcome.

But, that just points out the truth of what Severian was saying,

WTH Are You People Doing?You do something to someone, you set a precedent; you have no reasonable basis for complaint when the exact same thing is done to you.

Leftists clearly don’t have this. I don’t know if it’s innate or learned, or what, but it makes having actual discussions with them next to impossible. “Gay marriage today, polygamy tomorrow” literally doesn’t make sense to them. They’re not lying — not all of them, anyway, and not consciously. Ok, yes, the Politico types are…but the Sweet Aunt Polly types aren’t. They really don’t see the connection there. They don’t see precedent.

And that’s really what depresses and disappoints me on this Independence Day. We certainly do have some people among us who are not worried about these decisions, who are ready to assure the rest of us that the precedence is all good, there are no problems there. But, these are the people who don’t think of it. They’re not aware of what it is. They can’t tell the difference between “reasoning” that says X is closer to Y than to Z, and the reasoning that says it’s wrong to set a 16-year-old girl on fire.

Over and over again, we’ve seen that they think it’s great when the occupant of the highest office in the land seizes some unwarranted new power and starts making use of it. It’s their guy, after all! And then they’re just completely shocked when the other party wins that same office in the next election. Simply didn’t anticipate it. The obvious problem with precedent, didn’t even faze them before, and they’re not thinking anything about it afterward — they’re too busy complaining about Diebold machines.

What they are, is Medicators, drifting on through life by feeling their way around its challenges, rather than by thinking their way through them.

2. Architects see the entire universe as an assembly of parts, each of which in turn can be further dissembled into smaller parts…As these parts interact with each other, you have an explanation for every single other thing that happens…Object, plus object, plus time, equals event.

Medicators see the entire universe as a situation. Objects within the situation are not separable from other objects, unless you’re casting an object as a catalyst for something that is good or bad. And when that happens, “object” and “event” are functionally synonymous. Neither is terribly complex, they’re just beneficial, damaging, or some other synonyms of those…
11. An Architect is unlikely to suffer from an addiction because he doesn’t possess the requisite sensitivity to his own emotional profile to feel the temporary benefits of abusing something.

Medicators are highly likely to form addictions, usually of all likes and kinds: Substance, alcohol, co-dependent relationships, sex, an engaging video game, etc. That’s what they do. They medicate.

The one thing that really sets a Medicator apart from an Architect, is that given any activity that interacts with the mind, be it work or leisure, they choose a remarkably different role for themselves. They seek, first and foremost, to act as effective stewards of their own emotional state.

This is why precedence falls by the wayside; it’s one reason out of many, at least. “If you do this, then that will happen” is not part of their world. They act like it is — when, true to their nature, it gives them some sort of a “rush” to put on this sort of a show. Like, “we must do something about global warming right now, or else!” But it isn’t an honest statement of their thought process, because they are not sincere believers in cause-and-effect except maybe for a performance causing a crowd-reaction. Apart from that one thing, they don’t really believe in it.

They are bench-warmers in life. Bystanders. Waiting for the producers to produce, by thinking through problems simple & complex, using methods they themselves would never be able to apply. So they can make their claims on the assets that result. They are non-producers, and they just succeeded in writing rules for everybody else. If the host must live according to the rules dictated by the parasite, the end can’t be a good one for either.