Archive for January, 2016


Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Shoes. I’m thinking about shoes.

Same way I don’t trust liberals who don’t own shoes that cover their toes; I have a similar distrust against conservatives that don’t own any shoes with laces. More to the point: Don’t own any shoes that do not need polishing.

These are the guys putting Jeb Bush over Donald Trump, because, manners. Oh they say things about Trump being a showboat and a jerk, and they’re completely right. Where they’re wrong, is in thinking that we vote for a President to give us our manners. Silly.

In truth, we’ve been voting for a President to figure out what excuses should be used to suck money away from the industries that give us the things we really need, and where else that money should be diverted among the professions that make things nobody wanted. Republicans and democrats have both been doing it. And so the professions that give us the things we really need, while allowed to stagger on in the background while the loud people make a lot of noise, have been dwindling.

No, not software engineers. We wear lace-up shoes that don’t require polishing, but that’s just because we’re allowed to dress like we’re still fourteen. That kicks ass by the way. But let’s face it, if we’re building something you really need, we won’t know for sure for another two, three years…and that’s at best.

I’m talking about the people Mike Rowe would have been interviewing. People who have to wear actual boots.

And, their bosses who started their respective companies. Companies that bake your bread, build the bottles for your water, build the cardboard boxes for your Amazon shipments, clean the poop out of your sewer lines. Oh yeah, and put together your “transportation equipment.” Passenger jets. That’s up at the top of the U.S. exports right now, the stuff the other countries want to buy…*choose* to buy. You know what else is on that list? Software is on there…but way down. Probably doesn’t include anything I’ve written, as of yet…

SneakersNothing liberals build, is on that list. Psychological help isn’t on it. Crazy new rules about guns, written by people who’ve sworn not to ever own any guns — those aren’t on the exports list. Come to think of it, I don’t see anybody clamoring for those things inland, either. They’re such great ideas they have to be forced.

Back to Trump. I doubt he owns any sneakers either. He’s non-specific, it is true, and he’s a bit of a doofus. And no, he’s not my doofus. What he is, is a rejection of the traditional classes of candidacy. He’s a reset switch, a spoiler, an auto-destruct device. Where liberals are divided between those who loathe success because they hate money, and those who loathe success in others because they love money and want to keep their level of prosperity exclusive and elite…and somehow these two halves emulsify just fine. Conservatives are divided between those who think we vote for a government that will give us our manners, and those who know we vote for a government that is going to take away our money and freedom, and we have to look for ways to slow this process. Maybe even stop it. Reversing it would be wonderful. These halves do not get along at all. And you can tell them apart by their shoes.

Those who ply me with all their reasons why Trump should not be my pick, are preaching to the choir. He’s not my preference. And these people, and I, have no quarrel…unless they’re part of the “We vote for presidents to give us our manners” crowd. Because that’s nuts. To them I say, man up, buy yourself some hiking boots or sneakers.

Choose somebody else? Eminently reasonable. Take him off the table entirely? Out of the question folks, sorry. We need the destruct device. The loud people who get all the air time and make all the big important decisions, have to have it. Used to be, they’d indulge in shenanigans after an election but at least would behave properly before. These days they’re not even bothering with that much. There has to be some kind of Sword of Damocles over their heads. That used to be the election process, and that’s not good enough anymore. It’s not good enough to make them wonder if they’ve still got a job. We’ve got to make the whole class wonder if it still has a job.

This is not a new idea at all. The political class that we know today, with these affluent, effeminate, slippers-and-loafers “men,” is what’s new. Washington would, today, own work boots and sneakers. So would Jefferson. Madison, Adams, Hamilton, they might have owned a few more of the shiny dress shoes than the others, but they’d have good rugged hiking boots as well. In a world that has weekends, and doesn’t rely on horses to get people from Point A to Point B, what would they be wearing from the ankles down as they chilled on Saturday mornings at the coffee shop? Or watched the big game together, maybe waited for the cable guy to arrive? Probably Nike or Adidas. And as far as how to vote…the criticism is that Trump is a kooky populist businessman who does non-politics things for a living. Who do you think started this country?

Lawyers, yes, but not the lawyers we see in Washington DC today, babbling endlessly about “reaching across the aisle and getting things done.” One of these guys got killed in a duel, that says it all right there. Sure they went along to get along…occasionally. That’s why slavery was legal when this country first got started. Fact is, the things they built that have turned out for the best, were products of steel-toed work-boot politicking. The kind that doesn’t have anything to do with getting along with anybody. The kind that involves protesting. The country, itself, is a product of self-exile, of self-estrangement, of saying “we will not be a part of this anymore.”

And leaving a room. Not giving a hang about who can or can’t hear the door close, or whether it closes at all…

In rough-and-tumble, working-man’s shoes.

“You Are Not a Victim”

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

As Trump haters and Palin haters begin their eighth straight day of lecturing the rest of us on the pointlessness of blind rage, while demonstrating how much of it they have…

…FINALLY, after a whole week of this and similar nonsense, I run across one thing with which I can agree completely. Aw, man. It’s like the coat hanger under the cast finally reaching the itchy spot. Preach it.

From here.

I like where he talks about the time he got shafted. Happens to all of us, but it’s how you react that really matters.

What a tragedy of wasted potential it is when people conclude “Well, guess The Man’s boot is on the back of my neck, no use trying until someone rescues me.” You’ll notice, from that point forward they burn a whole lot of energy trying to convince others of it. But only when it emerges that others have a different outlook on things, which they immediately attack. Until then, there’s no argument. That’s the tell. They’re really trying to convince themselves.

Righteous Wrath

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

So South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley delivered a rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address. About four minutes in, she got off-topic and began scolding the supporters of her own party, with some sort of business about “the siren call of the angriest voices”…

She later elaborated, yes she was talking about Donald Trump, and others. Odd. How much is the nation to trust a political party, within which, one candidate cannot say what the problem is that the party seeks to solve, without other members of the same party jumping all over him for saying it?

She’s not the first to criticize DT for being angry and she won’t be the last. But these critics do not speak for everyone; and there is a problem with the criticism. It misrepresents what it is criticizing.

Doug Giles went off on the Haley speech…

Look, I hate to break it to the governor from SC, who begged money from Trump when she was clamoring for that job, but for your information, people are pissed and Trump’s massive rallies and Jeb’s and Lindsey’s underwhelming events prove the nation shares Donald’s rage regarding how BHO has decimated this nation.

Telling us to calm down is like telling the patriots in 1773 to chill out. You’re way out of touch, sister.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t remember your saying shizzle about Al Sharpton’s demented rhetoric when you shared a stage with that tax-evading, slick-haired, hate merchant. Why didn’t you chastise him when you were hugging him, since you’re now the self-appointed Rage-Aholic Rebuke Queen?
Say you’re overweight. Remember what it used to be like to walk across Walmart’s parking lot without having to be gurneyed to your minivan by Randy Mantooth? Remember the joy of not being able to hide small toys and half-eaten sandwiches between the folds of blubber on your body; and being able to actually see the toilet when you use it? Remember those simple pleasures? You do? Does it make you mad that you don’t get to enjoy them any longer? It does?!? There you go . . . see how positive anger can be?

Folks, this righteous wrath not only works for personal improvement, but it can also change for the better all aspects of our society—if we’ll get righteously P.O.’d in a precise direction. And there’s the rub . . . Our neutered nation tells us it’s a big no-no to get mad anymore. Especially if you’re a conservative.
Because we have allowed ourselves to be programmed by “them” to be nice and not heat up (unless, again, it is at something that upsets the left), we don’t even blink an eye when we see the base and the vile; instead we force a smile. What a bunch of bunkum we’ve been sold vis-à-vis this whole uninterrupted “nice” wave we’ve been told we’re supposed to surf. Today, people can do something appalling, say something contemptible and delve down the funnel exalting the lowest parts of humanity—and what’s to be our response? We’re supposed to stay sedate.

So, why do we show mock civility towards things that mock civility? Well, because “anger is bad.” And we don’t want to be bad, do we?

“Programmed.” Yes, that’s a perfect description. It reminds me of marital infidelity; The Left does it all the time and it seems nobody notices. It seems that way, because it’s true. So relaxed are the expectations against The Left, that The Left doesn’t, and can’t, fail them. How do you fail to achieve a benchmark that isn’t there? Don’t fuck around on your wife, and don’t get angry…The Left gets a pass. And what a short path it is, from granting The Left a pass, to doing everything the way they want it done — putting them in charge of everything.

From the comments:

Gov. Haley has fallen into the trap that comes with receiving adulation from the media. It started with the flag debacle when she caved to the PC police. The media began to laud her with praises. She got a taste of that and tried to go after more Thursday night. When you go down that road you quickly become an unprincipled RINO.


I live in a zip code with a LOT of self-righteous hippie bumper stickers. (God knows why).

One I see a lot is “If you’re not angry, you must not be paying attention!” So, apparently it’s okay to be angry if your a Prog/Commie who thinks the taxpayer owes you everything you want in life, but it’s NOT okay to be angry to see what made this country great, being tossed into the garbage. Okay, got it.

I don’t think we’re talking about anger at all. Those who promote Rubio over Trump, Jeb Bush over Trump, Clinton over Trump because Trump is too angry…how would they feel if the reaction was one of “You’re right! I’m going to vote for Rubio/Bush/Clinton, because I’m so angry!”? Let’s be honest. They’d like that just fine.

This is an argument about contentment and complacency. Anger, itself, has very little to do with problem solving, and for Gov. Haley to quibble about it is like a rescued hiker on a remote mountain trail complaining about the color of the car that’s offering him a ride. Although, it does have something to do with it; many’s the solution to a problem that was found by an angry person, that never would have been sought by a person not angry. Giles’ hypothetical of the fat, disgusting tub of goo getting mad at himself for being fat, is entirely valid.

And it cuts to the heart of the matter. Conservatives, today, don’t have to be angry at all before someone is shushing them, tut-tutting them, a good deal of the time from within their own party. Liberals can get as angry as they want. Even when they’re already running the government. Seven years it’s been, and they’re still hiding behind the excuse of “actually that started under George W. Bush” as a sort of generic, one-size-fits-all excuse.

What alarms me the most though, is the clarity-of-message that vanishes, in the blink of an eye, like a balloon being popped, with this shtick of don’t-be-angry. Let’s say that prevails. What then is the Republican position on…name it. What? Something like “If you’re wondering, go check the web site” or some such? That will win an election? No of course it won’t. It doesn’t. It hasn’t.

People don’t vote for people. They don’t have that much trust in their elected representatives. Even Barack Obama; people didn’t vote for Him because they thought He was a great guy, they voted for Him because they were afraid of what others might think of them if they didn’t approve of Him. There’s a difference.

People vote for go on some things, stop on other things. The candidate is just a vehicle for getting that done. These pushy tut-tutters and shut-uppers like Haley chanting their mindless bromides of “don’t be angry” seem to have forgotten all about that. And that’s the charitable explanation. The uncharitable explanation is that they know full well how ineffectual of a message this is to disseminate and act upon if the goal is winning an election, and they have ulterior motives in mind.

Shocking Bike Thieves

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

Oh yes…hope it’s real.

I can’t claim to be un-whole, bike thieves cost me, at most…oh…maybe fifty bucks, back in the 1970’s. Probably only one time. The “education” they gave me was worth far more than that.

Still, it’s just low. You wonder why they used to hang horse thieves, before you get your bike ripped off, after the experience you won’t be wondering about it anymore.

From Right Wing News.

Winning All the Arguments, Like a Hayseed

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016


We made an extended-family outing to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and then Mrs. Freeberg and I made a date out of seeing it a second time. We love it, and we especially like Rey, the butt-kicking female protagonist. Both the character and the actress. However — I am of the opinion that, as a model of “How to show the world that females can kick butt in movies,” the feature falls flat. My test of such offerings is not whether the female action hero beats up some bad-guys in a fight; that’s like being able to fly when you’re in the Justice League. My test is, rather, whether the balance has been achieved, by which I mean, did the female action star establish her cred without takng anything away from the guys.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens fails this test. Here is a list of what the guys do in this movie.

1. Get killed
2. Get captured
3. Get threatened
4. Get tortured and give up valuable information
5. Get depressed and frowny-faced, and take off, forcing everyone else to find them
6. Shoot some Stormtroopers dead…but let’s face it, that seems to be pretty easy
7. Throw temper tantrums
8. Become evil
9. Lose lightsaber duels
10. Get eaten
11. Take orders from females
12. Find ships that were stolen from them earlier (but it looks like the Wookie did that)
13. Talk down to other males
14. Talk about how women are generals
15. Talk about how women are royalty
16. Murder innocents
17. Torture innocents
18. Figure out…well…absolutely nothing. Zero resourcefulness demonstrated. The movie had puzzles and challenges to be solved, but the complexity of each was along the lines of “Go here.” And then the chick did that.

The item is not the eighteen points above. The item is that I went onto the Hello Kitty of blogging, and said a few words…it has since been pointed out to me, in a round-about way, that socially, I am not allowed to notice things like this.

It comes off looking like I think women suck. I’m just missing that brief flashpoint in time, in which men AND women could share an action movie together, and both kick butt. And figure out their way out of problems. When they could both be resourceful, and then tear up the sheets afterwards. Looks like that chapter’s closed. I am saddened about this, although I know it is fiction…then again, fiction does mirror real life, so it seems to me there is a lamentable event taking place on the plane of real life. Not sure when it happened, but it did happen.

And we’re not allowed to notice.


The President of the United States, to whom I sometimes refer as America’s First Holy Emperor, since He is regarded by many as a sort of “replacement Jesus” (although they don’t want to admit it, usually) is going to give His final State of the Union address in a bit over an hour.

This President has dark skin. He is, by descent, half-black although our mainstream media often refers to Him as “black.” I am grateful to Him for ending an era that has extended for far too long, in which when movies take place in the future and lazy, lazy scriptwriters want to find lazy, lazy ways of reminding the lazy, lazy audience that the story takes place in the future — they show that the President of the United States is black. I’m so thankful to Barack H. Obama for bringing that disgraceful period to an end. It is His one positive contribution to our country, our society and its culture.

Everything else, I think He’s been a disaster. He is, to leading this nation, what my first wife was to managing a checking account. That is not a compliment.

The item is: Because His skin is black, we are not allowed to notice.


Squid-like denizens of the Internet, filling out a group of unknown size and refusing to disclose their backgrounds, occupations, fields of knowledge or the like, and against my advice sharing a single account by the name of “Zachriel,” have taken it upon themselves to defend the long-discredited theory of “Nixon’s Southern Strategy,” a.k.a. the theory of “the two parties, Republican and democrat, switched sides sometime in the 1960’s.” I’m feeling lazy about embedding links at the moment, so I will leave it to the reader to look up the results of the presidential elections in 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972. Also 2012. Keep an eye on how the Southern states voted. Yes it is true, they used to vote democrat and they don’t do that anymore.

The theory is that the South is, and has been, heavily saturated with bigoted “conservatives.” When Barry Goldwater ran for President in 1964, these “conservatives” stopped being democrats and started being Republicans. So a Republican in 1964 is what a democrat was in 1963, and a democrat in 1964 is what a Republican was in 1963. Kennedy got shot, and in that blink of an eye the ideological polarity got reversed, or something.

Quoting Severian on this:

I don’t have Zachriel’s mad mind-reading skills, and I sure don’t have them at the distance of a century and a half, but I do know that the Democratic Party was only an electoral force in American politics thanks to its domination of the South…where Democrat governments passed Jim Crow laws, which increased inequality (freedmn going from “running places like South Carolina and Louisiana, and representing them in Congress” to “..slaves in all but name”) in the period 1866-1877 surely qualifies as “..increased inequality,” don’t you think?). It is truly, truly fascinating to hear that this “..conservative” result was brought about by a tiny minority.. in every Southern state… in every year from the end of Reconstruction (that’s 1877 in the standard textbooks, kids) to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I mean that, kids — it’s fascinating. You have evidence for these extraordinary claims, of course, so you should type ’em up and send them on to the History Department at the nearest college. It’ll revolutionize our understanding of Gilded Age politics.

There is, of course, an answer to P_Ang’s “..magic party switch,” and the Cuttlefish actually know it, since they cite it all the time: Nixon’s “..Southern Strategy.” On their reading, Richard Nixon realized that the South was stem-to-stern racists; the natural home of racists is in the Republican Party; therefore, he openly said “ Republican to put the blacks in their place.” Ok, fine, but even if you grant that, it entails a huge problem — why oh why did all those liberal Democrats, whom we are informed on no less an authority than Zachriel him/her/their/itself were the majority in the Solid South, suddenly embrace their inner racist and vote GOP?

If you buy what Zachriel has been telling us, Jim Crow laws were imposed on the South by a tiny minority of “..conservatives” inside the otherwise pristinely liberal Democratic Party. But if that’s true, how did the great unwashed masses — who, remember, have always been liberals — suddenly find their voice and vote Republican? Remember, it’s not that the the tiny, Jim Crow-imposing “..conservative minority flipped and gave their states to Richard Nixon; Zachriel assures us that there was a “..massive demographic shift.” Which must mean — logically — that all those former liberals who couldn’t keep their states from imposing Jim Crow in the Gilded Age suddenly klanned up and went Republican in the years 1964-8, in the process somehow seizing the power that had been denied them all those years.

It connects back to the previous items this way: If one is to take the time to interview the knowledgeable, but make the mistake of interviewing the emotionally-invested who happen to lean left, one is almost guaranteed to blunder into all sorts of baffling bullshit. I refer back to my admonition that the reader should research the four or five elections mentioned above.

What do these three items have in common? They have this:

There is an identified class of oppressed persons: Females, blacks, democrats. There is a scheme hatched to bring these oppressed classes up to the level of the non-oppressed…and then, there is a narrative codified to confront any who do not whole-heartedly buy into the scheme. If you do not stand on your feet in the theater and fist-pump the empty air as Daisy Ridley kicks male rubber-mask butt in the new Star Wars movie, if you do not unflinchingly believe every talking point and bald-faced lie coming out of the lips of our black President, if you do not accept that the two major political parties switched sides in the 1960’s, then you are an “ist.” Racist, sexist, misogynist, cisgender, galvinist, Calvinist…blasphemist.

The democrats took the side of the feds, against the state sovereignty of the southern states, with the Civil Rights Act. Which was passed, mostly, with the support of the Republicans. But the Republicans were about fairness; the democrats were all about sticking it to the state sovereignty of the southern states. Since then, the democrats have had a tough time getting any support from the South. Shocker, right?

I’ve kept my silence on this aspect of it, since I was born in 1966. I don’t want to speak at length outside the perimeter of my personal knowledge. But today is within the perimeter of my personal knowledge…and today, liberals and democrats cannot distinguish between “I am opposed to the specific angle of attack you have assumed against this particular problem” and “I don’t want the problem to be solved.” They can’t see the difference between those two things. Even though a child qualified to graduate from the third grade, can.

This means, democrats figure — today — if you are opposed to the way they want to solve the problems, you must be a sexist and a bigot. And when this mythology first started about “the two major political parties switched sides in 1964,” they believed the same thing.

Should we buy what they’re selling? Well…it’s an addiction. We do not allow alcoholics to decide for us what alcoholism is. We do not allow kleptomaniacs to decide for us what kleptomania is. Any so-called “study” that looks into this, that does not specifically exclude self-identified “liberals” from the specimen, or from the expert conclusions, is invalid. Oh yes, I am heart-attack serious about that. Liberalism is the addiction, conservatism is the cure. You don’t ask addicts about the cure.

People disagree with me about that? Let them. I’m in the minority about that? So be it. Right is right even if nobody believes in it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone subscribes to it.

I have more items though.


Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm puts up quite the link-list, yesterday. First thing he wants to know:

Can Somebody Explain The Loathing Of The Successful To Me?

It goes like this…

But to Sanders and others on the Left (another example is Elizabeth Warren), the financial business is the embodiment of evil. Here is the Washington Post yesterday, quoting a Sanders campaign speech:

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders took aim at the nation’s financial sector in a fiery speech Tuesday, declaring that “fraud is the business model of Wall Street” and calling for regulatory reforms to address “a lot more illegal behavior than we know of.” Speaking just blocks from Wall Street, Sanders vowed to break up banks that are “too big to fail,” jail unscrupulous Wall Street executives and provide an array of new protections for consumers.

“Fraud is the business model of Wall Street” — where does he come up with that? He is accusing multiple hundreds of thousands of people of systematic illegal conduct. Does he have any evidence to point to? What I know is that the Justice Department and U.S. Attorneys spent billions in the aftermath of the 2008/9 financial crisis in a lawless political quest to pin the crisis on Wall Street scapegoats, and they came up almost entirely empty handed. Yes there was a series of shakedowns of the big banks, in which those banks seriatim paid a billion or two or five to settle some endless phony investigation, in almost every case without any actual individual getting charged with wrongdoing. And there was Preet Bharara’s insider trading jihad, which substantially fell apart when the Second Circuit finally ruled that a huge part of it did not represent a violation of the law at all.

Like a Dark Linus at Negative Christmas, I grab my blanket and intone “Yes Charlie Brown, I will explain to you why they loathe the successful”…

…and in order to do so, I draw on the wisdom of Captain Capitalism.


Criticize her as you may, Oprah [Winfrey] is a genius because she realized people would rather feel good than actually achieve good in their lives. And thus, she went out and told millions of women for over 20 years what they WANTED to hear, not what they NEEDED to hear.

You’re not fat, you’re beautiful inside!
Your husband should love you for who you are!
Follow your heart and the money will follow!
You deserve it girl!

For this she was rewarded billions of dollars in net worth.

The problem is high IQ people (unless they jettison their morals) simply can’t do this which puts them at a disadvantage in the employment world.

First they cannot keep up the charade or façade of emotional interest. It just isn’t in their nature and it’s simply too taxing mentally. High IQ people can plainly see a problem for what it is, what logical decisions need to be made in order to solve it, and can remove any emotional or psychological preferences they might have about it. They offer direct, blunt, emotionless solutions that are guaranteed to solve the problem, but unfortunately step on people’s precious little toes.

This then leads to a second problem, because not only does the majority of clients prefer good feelings over production, but so too does the majority of co-workers and bosses. Your entire employment environment is driven by everybody’s insistence you place feelings and emotions over reality and truth. This is simply maddening for smart people because what needs to be done in the real world counters what your boss, co-workers, and clients are demanding of you.


Posted the following to the Hello Kitty of Blogging:

If you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket. That’s just how it works.

And if want to win ALL of the arguments…well…Step One is, you have to do some actual arguing. That is how it works.

You could take that to be one of my many assaults on the “rednecks”…for whom I know, I should be using a different word. My complaints are against those who do not build, who seek to destroy, those who see disgrace in investing any effort into anything. Those who glorify laziness.

I know I should not use this word to describe those people. There are rednecks who work their asses down to the pelvic bone, I know this. I have met them.

But…we do need the word, if “redneck” is not it. We have those people who seek to win arguments — who cannot define any notion of “truth” any other way, they’re just going through life, alienating people, “So-there!!”-ing their way toward the tumultuous end of every conflict that arises, which is something that happens several times daily.

They want to win all the arguments without doing any arguing.

The President of the United States is due to begin His State of the Union speech, His final one, in 26 minutes now. He works so hard to look like He doesn’t think through His various problems like some hayseed hick. I’m deeply ashamed when I realize He does exactly that, labors long and hard to fool people about it, seems to think He is successful in this pursuit. It’s embarassing to watch. Like seeing an ostrich flee its predator by sticking its face in the sand.

What the above items have in common is that they are argued by people who cannot argue. They say “accept what I have to tell you, and I shall accept you, otherwise I shall reject you.” They can offer fellowship in some unspecified group, or enclave. They can’t offer anything else, and they can’t argue the point.

Someone posted the following Monty Python clip, from way back in the 1960’s:

Sorry to say, accurate as this was for its time, it has grown obsolete. Today it is about as current as a four-barrel carburetor. People don’t argue just for the sake of arguing anymore…and we wish they did.

Today, it’s all about “That’s the way it is! And if you don’t agree then there’s no point discussing it with you!” That’s what passes for arguing these days, in the Obama era…

…and Socrates wept. Spun away, like a turbine, in whatever passes for his grave. Ideas no longer arise to challenge other ideas. Today they seek to claim the high ground, and immediately after that, to ostracize. So that their advocates do not have to concern themselves with facts, conclusions, logic, mutual exclusives, Occam’s Razor, any of that tedium. We’re just way too busy. Today, it’s all just: Accept what I have to say, unhesitatingly and uncritically, or you shall be banished from further discussion.

When we reverse-course and pull out of the cul de sac, that’s when life starts getting better again.

“Mine Won’t Be That Dark”

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

The headline is wife-language for “could you please build me a desk like that?” My reward for finally finishing the desk-project. That translation, in itself, is another representation of something else, that could be further translated: “I take back every eyeball-roll I ever did since you started, you are the King Stud of homemade desks.” The go-live date was in early afternoon, on the 31st of December. I didn’t plan it that way, it just turned out I burned all of 2015 on the project, minus a handful of hours…and a double-armload of other projects.

Second Design:
This time, we’re serious enough to
buy materials

The back-story goes all the way to when we closed on the house, a year and a half ago. A homemade desk was already in the project pile. This never evolved past the blueprint stage, until six months ago when I had a setback that invalidated the plans. “Natalya,” the homebuilt Sandybridge PC around which the new desk was designed, finally made her opinion known about my non-existent computer-cleaning regimen by…well, catching fire. Kinda. She put out an awful lot of smoke anyway. I had to play it safe by immediately pulling out all the power cords, and not inspecting her since. The backups were already functional and in place, so we didn’t have any data drama. Just all the other drama: Have to get a new computer, have to scrub the blueprints, start with new ones…

The new computer, “Sergei,” is a Broadwell NUC. This is not exactly a home-built, more of a factory-built but bare bones. These are wonderful little units, about the size of two tuna fish sandwiches stacked on top of each other. You have to score a hard drive, laptop memory and an OS, so you’re looking at somewhere around $700 by the time you’re done. I worked the project of just getting the computer to go from about mid-July, after Natalya’s meltdown, to three months later during which time I monopolized the dining room table with my Lenovo Yoga 11 unit for all computing tasks. Mrs. Freeberg was the embodiment of patience during this time. Probably because she knew the “battle bridge” situation was as aggravating to me as it was to her, if not even more so.

The keyboard tray
turned out nicely

I remember it was eleven months past our receipt of the miter saw, when I finally installed it on the work bench, fired it up and started cutting. I remember saying so to someone. This would place that stage of the project around November. The saw turned out to be as good as gold, although I’m sure there are superior models available for more money. What we’ve got is good enough. The keyboard tray turned out to be as solid as a brick.

In a departure from Natalya’s desk design, I abandoned the roll-out keyboard in favor of a stationary build. I had a flash of sanity that these devices are fragile by nature, and therefore don’t belong on a piece of furniture you intend to last a decade plus. Also, that roll-out keyboards don’t actually do me any good.

By now, the plans were sufficiently solid that I could cut some of the planks to the proper length and begin staining them. Hence the complaint that is the title of this post. This is Kona, just one shade lighter than Ebony, several notches darker than Walnut or Mahogany. It’s consistent with the overall design, which labors toward the objective that is a rhetorical question: What if men really did rule the world? How different would computer desks be?

The desk is dark — a man’s concern about colors, mostly has to do with things that don’t give you a headache when you look at them while recovering from a hangover. And, at the Freeberg Manor, space is at a premium. Those are the two salient facts here. So, plank after plank for the new desk, went onto a carefully apportioned section of the garage floor, with cardboard underneath to protect the concrete, and received their staining of Kona. No more than one or two at a time. The blueprints were just barely mature enough by then to allow for this.

Bracing the left and right sides
against each other

One advantage of homebuilt furniture is that you can make it fit just so. The allocated space for this item is 54″ wide by 35″ deep. The design calls for the planks to reach all the way across, left side to right side, so that math is easy: 54 minus 0. Another advantage of this is that you can build them where they go, as in, when the finished product is too large to fit through the doorway. And that applies here. It makes things incredibly awkward, when you engage in this “ship in a bottle” construction, but at least you can accommodate.

But, awkward it was. As in, with December underway and Christmas coming, we entirely lost the use of our home office because of my desk building shenanigans. Fortunately, our yuletide plans had to do with road travel. We were looking forward to the junior member of our household, who throughout the year isn’t even in the house, arriving by train. Then with the younger generation in tow we would proceed Northward, almost up to the Canadian border, to celebrate the holiday with the older generation. Fun times. Means there’s no tree…but there is a lot of planning involved, some of it on the home computer.

Throughout this chapter, Sergei hummed along happily, in his badass sandwich-sized self, kinda floating along on top of a big pile of cords and wires under the old desk. Updating spreadsheets, making hotel reservations, writing e-mails following up on train tickets, et al. And, arguing about planning. I suppose that gets into a whole different subject. Why are some people afraid of planning anything? But I digress…

Or do I? Building a desk is all about planning things isn’t it? It’s the difference between ending up with something you can use, versus ending up with a piece of crap. Hmmm…I sense a theme in something that was supposed to be without theme…I suppose life is like that.

The assembly process in the home office

I was grateful to have the younger Freeberg generation here for the few hours and days. The desk-building project became an inter-generational thing for a bit — which is something it needed to be, since fastening the planks was not a one-man operation. This is the most controversial part of the newer blueprint, it calls for a “picnic table style” top, making use of a dozen pine studs. Seems everyone has questions about that. What the heck? How do you write on such a desk? Well…that brings us back to the rhetorical question that drives the design, what would computer desks look like if men really did run the world? Perhaps, if men ran the world 150 years ago the way feminists say, desks would still have smooth writing surfaces. Regardless, though, it is not 150 years ago, now is now…and how often do you actually write on a desk? Be honest.

Besides, the keyboard tray, as you can tell from the pictures, is not only as durable as an iron ingot, it’s enormous. It’s 34+1/2″ wide by 13+1/2″ deep. In practice, if I have to do something like that, I just move the keyboard out of the way. Which I find myself doing, much more often, for the purpose of using a second computer simultaneously, compared to doing it for the purpose of writing with pen and paper. Writing with pen and paper hardly ever happens. The picnic-table top design has turned out to be a net win.

But of course, the far bigger win was the singular feature around which the entire desk was designed: The beverage pillar, with the beer-bottle opener and metal canister to catch the caps. It should have been the very first thing on your mind when you saw the question “What would computer desks look like if men really did run the world?” And, there is your evidence that we don’t. We never really did. You want a computer desk with a beer bottle opener on the front, the way the Good Lord intended, you have to build it.

Or, depending on your point of view, maybe men do run the world and the Good Lord intends for us to build our own things. Either answer works.

In the end, I’m pleasantly surprised 2015 saw a workable conclusion to the project. I would have lost money betting on this, and in truth, if there was any term of time in which I was honestly thinking to myself “I see light at the end of the tunnel, I think we’ll make it!” — it wasn’t very much time at all. Just like any other hardware project, I suppose…you run back to the hardware store a few times, chastising yourself that three trips should’ve been two, and two trips should’ve been one. People wonder if you know what you’re doing, and then…eventually you win. Just keep plugging away at the problem. Life is a lot like that, too.

The “finished” product
(click to embiggen)

Perhaps the happiest aspect of this item is that its construction, and launch, involves so many memories that could outlast the furniture itself. Or, since it’s built so solidly and so well, with this construction-credo of “it’ll be here in one piece when the sun goes nova,” let’s amend that to say the memories have a decent shot at doing this. The eighteen-year-old so-called “boy” showed up just before our road trip to go see his grandfather, so there was no time for him to do anything with the desk at that point other than look at it. Early on the morning before I was to fetch him from the train station, I got an e-mail from my brother with the one subject line you never want to see: “Dad fell.” Yup…Friday the eighteenth, that’s four days before we were to arrive for the Christmas celebrations, my Dad fell and broke his hip. Looked like a Christmas in the hospital for sure. We called to ask if we should revise the trip, maybe head up a little bit earlier, and that was a negative so we stuck to the schedule. Against all expectations, the doctor discharged Dad from the hospital the exact day we arrived. This surprised everybody involved, especially those among us who had actual experience with oldsters falling and breaking hips. Miracles of technology, and just maybe, miracles of prayer.

December 2015, for us, is twenty pounds of potatoes crammed in a ten-pound bag. We held off on watching the new James Bond movie until the young man could join us, and we also managed to get the new Star Wars movie in the mix as well. Helped out with making the Bellingham house wheelchair-accessible for Dad, came back home, scooted the new desk back in its designated space in time for the New Year’s festivities. Lots of plans, some of them came to fruition, some did not. The ferry ride up in Washington State obviously couldn’t happen. Back here in California, the “take the S&W pistol up into the hills and teach those wine bottles a lesson” exercise didn’t happen. I’m more regretful of the missed opportunity to burn gunpowder, than about the ferry ride. We’ll see how Dad’s doing at some later time, for that. We’ll spend a few rounds in the hills, later. What can’t happen now can happen later. Of course that isn’t certain, but what is? You hope for the best and you prepare for the worst.

Oh you thought I was going somewhere specific with this? Sorry to disappoint, this one’s just a busy concoction of how things have been going lately. Desk, planning, life, life’s exigencies, plans getting disrupted, plans coming to fruition anyway…planes-trains-automobiles, movies, guns, what-if-men-ran-the-world. Somewhere in all of the above is a valuable lesson for us all, I suppose. Probably has something to do with the old adage about changing what you can, accepting what you can’t, and God granting you the wisdom to know the difference.

Remaining to be done:

  • Cable management;
  • Planks #10 and #11
  • The “virtual plank #12” in five pieces, allowing for 2 extra monitors;
  • Said monitors;
  • Finish staining (some of this done since the last pic was taken);
  • Arms for the front-left, front-center and front-right speakers.

But all that can wait. Now we proceed to my spectacularly patient wife’s (cherry-wood finish) desk. But gee…part of the reason I built this computer desk, was there were other projects that were supposed to happen on the computer. Well, I suppose in 2016 I’ll have to find a way to do more than one thing at once. Again. And so it goes…

The Authoritarian Impulse

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

Glad someone else named it (via William Teach at Pirate’s Cove), if they hadn’t then I’d have had to take on the job myself. And I’m not that good at it.

We tend to forget that our so-called “leaders” are just flawed human beings like everybody else. They have vices, they have temptations…some even have bad intentions…

The Authoritarian Impulse

Under President Obama, rule by decree has become commonplace, with federal edicts dictating policies on everything from immigration and labor laws to climate change. No modern leader since Nixon has been so bold in trying to consolidate power. But the current president is also building on a trend: Since 1910 the federal government has doubled its share of government spending to 60 percent. Its share of GDP has now grown to the highest level since World War II.

Today climate change has become the killer app for expanding state control, for example, helping Jerry Brown find his inner Duce. But the authoritarian urge is hardly limited to climate-related issues. It can be seen on college campuses, where uniformity of belief is increasingly mandated. In Europe, the other democratic bastion, the continental bureaucracy now controls ever more of daily life on the continent. You don’t want thousands of Syrian refugees in your town, but the EU knows better. You will take them and like it, or be labeled a racist.

The Rule of the Wise-people

Historically, advocacy for the rule of “betters” has been largely a prerogative of the right. Indeed the very basis of traditional conservativism—epitomized by the Tory ideal—was that society is best run by those with the greatest stake in its success, and by those who have been educated, nurtured, and otherwise prepared to rule over others with a sense of justice and enlightenment. In this century, the idea of handing power to a properly indoctrinated cadre also found radical expression in totalitarian ideologies such as communism, fascism, and national socialism.

In contemporary North American and the EU, the ascendant controlling power comes from a new configuration of the cognitively superior, i.e., the academy, the mainstream media, and the entertainment and technology communities. This new centralist ruling class, unlike the Tories, relies not on tradition, Christianity, or social hierarchy to justify its actions, but worships instead at the altar of expertise and political correctness.

Ironically this is occurring at a time when many progressives celebrates localism in terms of food and culture. Some even embrace localism as an economic development tool, an environmental win, and a form of resistance to ever greater centralized big business control.

Yet some of the same progressives who promote localism often simultaneously favor centralized control of everything from planning and zoning to education. They may want local music, wine, or song, but all communities then must conform in how they operate, are run, and developed. Advocates of strict land-use policies claim that traditional architecture and increased densities will enable us to once again enjoy the kind of “meaningful community” that supposedly cannot be achieved in conventional suburbs.

In the process, long-standing local control is being squeezed out of existence. Ontario, California Mayor pro-tem Alan Wapner notes that powers once reserved for localities, such as zoning and planning, are being systematically usurped by regulators from Sacramento and Washington. “They are basically dictating land use,” he says. “We just don’t matter that much.”
The new progressive mindset was laid out recently in an article in The Atlantic that openly called for the creation of a “technocracy” to determine energy, economic, and land use policies . According to this article, mechanisms like the market or even technological change are simply not up to the challenge. Instead the entire world needs to be put on a “war footing” that forces compliance with the technocracy’s edicts. This includes a drive to impose energy austerity on an already fading middle class, limiting mundane pleasures like cheap air travel, cars, freeways, suburbs, and single family housing.

What causes this? I detect two factors: Phobia and strategic graft. There is a certain personality type that can’t stand the idea that someplace, at sometime, someone might know what they’re doing. By and large, these are not intellectually vigorous people. Once they find out cars have to be assembled, the conflict begins as they gradually realize the cars are not being assembled the way they think it should be done. But as long as you allow them to think cars grow on trees, there’s no conflict. That’s the phobia.

The graft is the sale of influence, by way of actual dollars or quid pro quo. We are, unhappily, living in a time in which our so called public “servants” are beginning to anticipate several steps ahead, their own transgressions of graft. You just can’t attach too big of a price tag to the decision to do things a certain way across a township, or municipality, or county. But a state? Now you’re talking. The thing of it is though, to get that done you have to lay some groundwork. You have to pass some “everybody in this vicinity does it this way” rules. The easiest way, is probably to establish a board. Once you get a board deciding things, without any available means of appeal, you can appoint people to that board and…kaching, kaching. Haven’t you noticed? When we discuss the boards that make the biggest decisions, that’s when we know the least about who’s sitting on them. Thanks to this alone, we are rapidly becoming a passive-voice, “I know what was done but I dunno who did it” society.

What people tend to forget is, there really aren’t too many credible arguments against local control. Although there are some. Localities can be held to a centralized (higher) standard, and in some situations this might — conceivably — benefit everybody, within & outside of the locality. And, coordination. But those arguments are not advanced too often as we wrangle away, year after year, with some spiffy new centralized commission of overlords that wants to lift more power away from the local level; the advocates for centralized control tend to rely much more often on bumper sticker slogans, and bogeyman stories about “If we don’t act now, the climate will slip out of control past a tipping point” or some such.

Also, efforts that involve local autonomy can, and probably will, bring these desirable aspects of centralized control themselves, the better performance and the coordination. It might take a few more steps, but it isn’t a slow process by any means. The accelerating communication due to improving technology, is on the side of helping this process. Two counties, side by side, harvest corn. One brings twice as many bushels per acre at harvest time, as the other. Two hundred years ago it would be hard to measure that, and harder still to bring about change because of that. Now? We measure just about everything. And we talk about it at the speed of light.

This mania, this drive, to have intimate aspects of everyday life directed by centrally located better-people, when you get right down to it, is a relic from the past. It’s Roman Empire stuff. That, and a psychological enfeeblement, or something that should be diagnosed that way.

The Bad Example

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

Was going through old e-mails, noticed some clumps of unread messages overly-invested in notifications of comments over at the Hello Kitty of Blogging. Rather than bulk-delete, I combed through them and discovered a particularly ingenious (and unusually well-worded) missive from myself.

It is a rebuttal to a point made by a lefty, who was trying to set up his fellow lefties as the sole innovators of technology, coming up with all sorts of useful contributions to humankind while the conservatives, I dunno, sit in huts made of mud, banging rocks together or something…

Certainly, I cannot refute the point directly. Who wants to provide evidence for the counterpoint that the iPhone was actually “invented” by Michael Savage fans? The assertion that the iPhone geeks predominantly leaned left, although probably not recorded and probably not provable, is probably true.


The younger generation of engineers is “educated” like no generation has been ever before. The problem is in the content of their education, not in its coverage.

And because of that, the iPhone is a bad example of what you’re trying to prove. The iPhone didn’t get “invented.” It is a particularly hotly-selling confluence of evolutionary stages of features introduced in other products, years earlier. If it demonstrates something you can accomplish with liberal thinking that you can’t accomplish with conservative thinking, the proof makes liberals look like what conservatives say liberals are: Starry-eyed, intellectually slothful types overly obsessed with “Hey wouldn’t it be wonderful if X.” And X has a lot more to do with not-worrying-about something, than a human actually getting some kind of useful work done.

It’s a shame that the layman looks on these “campuses” of buildings full of engineers, as percolating hotbeds of creativity. I used to look at them that way myself. A little bit of logic, common sense, everyday math upsets that rather jarringly. Two hundred to five hundred heartbeats to a floor of a building…let us say, that is an even one hundred actual engineers. Two to five floors to a stylish, modern, tech building, ten buildings to a campus. Multiply by another ten to cover the whole company, you have 25,000 engineers…that’s just about right.

Living out the adrenaline rush that surrounded them in their teenage years, in the world of adulthood, all the way to retirement, every day of every year, all 25,000 of them. How many new ideas per year per engineer? Going at my relatively lethargic “hey I just had and idea” pace, let us say 2 or 3. And let us say 90% of those fail somewhere along the line…90% of what’s left, is folded up into bigger, more overarching ideas that become products. We should still be seeing, if our “hotbed of creativity” generalization was anywhere close to accurate, hundreds of new ideas every year. Hundreds, perhaps breaking into the thousands. Per company.

I didn’t realize this until I was working inside one of those buildings…and then called-upon to explain to my boss, why my code didn’t look like the code that might’ve been written to solve the same problem, by ten other engineers. Or twenty. My explanation was that I was using the design patterns to make the most of object-oriented programming and design, so that the code would be more easily maintainable and modifiable later on — something the team had often talked about researching, but upon which it had progressed very little. Because I made the decision to research and progress, my code looked different. And, I was introduced to the very n00b concept of, “If your code is more maintainable, but nobody else understands how it works, it isn’t maintainable.” Well that’s true, of course. Then again it is an architectural software design pattern. You are supposed to read up on how it works before you understand it. And failing that, you aren’t necessarily supposed to understand it; you have to do some reading. That’s an intrinsic part of design patterns. This defense really didn’t help me though. Maybe that’s why the team hadn’t gotten into them too much.

Employees have complained about this since long before the tech revolution. It’s called “Not Invented Here,” or NIH. It happens when one learns, far too late in cases like mine, that one’s particular occupational placement has nothing to do with creativity. What you did, meets all the goals, but the boss doesn’t understand it and now you are to be punished. Point is, if I was laboring under this expectation, that means the same must be true of the other thousands upon thousands; at least some of them. Most? Nearly all? That just stands to reason, and the results speak for themselves. A lousy iPhone? Years and years, campuses upon campuses, buildings upon buildings? Tens of thousands of heartbeats? The cream of the crop?

But then as I pointed out above, there is the matter of what the iPhone does. Surely you can come up with hundreds and hundreds of anecdotes, some imagined but credible, others real and documented, of the iPhone making something constructive happen that otherwise would not have happened. But it will be much tougher to come up with such a story in which some other device could not have netted the same happy outcome. And here we come upon an unsavory question: If the iPhone is a lousy example of what my opposition was trying to demonstrate (as my opposition ended up partially agreeing) — if it fails to stand as a decent specimen of most-modern and most-recent creative spark — then, what’s a good example?

I might offer, as a most-recent, the USB connection. How’s that? Or maybe, the alpha channel on a two-dimensional image. However that, like the iPhone, is more of a recent marketing effort than a recent technological innovation. In concept, it has existed for quite awhile. For the today-stuff, the true “gee whiz,” I’m seeing a lot of items on the published click-bait list fail to qualify as true “Hey, I just had an idea…” things. “Magic Leap,” “Nano-Architecture,” “Car-to-Car Communication,” no. “Project Loon,” “Supercharged Photosynthesis,” maybe…possibly.

But, no to the iPhone. That is a branding, not an invention.

And I’m not sure what sorts of practical things you can do, thinking like a liberal, that you can’t do thinking like a conservative. These are the people who say “climate change” and “income inequality” are pressing problems; and vote fraud, imbalance of separation of powers, swelling public debt and Islamic terrorism, are not.