Archive for February, 2016

Someone Can’t Wait

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

I was impressed by a gentleman this morning, who actually is not impressive and is very far from being a gentleman…

He had met up with the “Aisle Nine Disappointment.” The bank of four self-cash-out machines is positioned in such a way that there is no room for a line of people, so the line forms up Aisle Nine. Several times a minute, therefore, a customer in a hurry descends upon the machines under the impression that there is no waiting to be had. And then one from a variety of experiences falls upon him, with the outcome being that he learns there is, indeed, a line. And often that he’s guilty of being a cutter. These experiences have all happened to me at some time or another.

They fall into two major classifications: You figure out the unpleasant truth yourself, or someone has to tell you. Civilized people think little of this. It means two or three minutes more waiting, when you’ve already been inside the better part of an hour.

This fellow’s face reflected genuine surprise, and then contorted into rage. Gave his cart (2 or 3 items) a mighty shove, and walked off in the opposite direction. My vantage point was from within the line, so it looks like, once again, I have aroused anger in someone by existing in this universe. When will I ever learn? No seriously — where, I must wonder, would people like this choose to direct their rage?

I am not free of rage myself. I have been quite unhinged on occasion. At my worst, the target of ire is some inanimate object. I’m not proud of this. I hope at my funeral, someone sees fit to immortalize something else about me. But I do have this to offer in my defense: The target is there. There is one. From the target of ire, there is at least an implied goal, and from that, at least an implied plan. Something to do with destruction, replacement, or both of those things.

What is the implied plan, with turning your shopping receptacle into a projectile, possibly hurting someone? Someone is supposed to notice you’re upset? Who? For an explanation, all I can think of is a chemical imbalance in the brain, or poor upbringing. It’s not just him. Something is just a bit off today. One of these days, I need to learn to do my shopping here when the professionals do it; seems when they’re there, I have a lot of trouble parking, but when everybody else is there I have problems with everything else. People don’t understand what they’re there to get, which is excusable, but they also don’t seem to understand how to move around other people. Which is not. C’mon, you’re not five anymore. High traffic areas, low traffic areas, these things are not the same. You need to check your bearings, figure out what’s next on your list, have a quick conference with your spouse…where do you do that? In the way, or out of the way? You should have to pass a test like this before being allowed entrance.

Perhaps that is what escalated the agitation level in the “gentleman” who made this impression on me. Several minutes of that. Still, that’s no excuse.

Here’s the fascinating part. I would bet good money that this is an Obama voter. But there’s no use heading over to Social Media to say so, it would just start needless arguments, butt hurt, and a LOT of rebuttal. That’s the advantage of having taken the time to argue with liberals, you learn things. And the fascinating part is, Obama voters, while being seen in this light by normal people, look at normal people this way too. No really. They think when normal people think about high taxes the way normal people think about high taxes — high, therefore questionable at least, and certainly very taxing — we’re being the asshole who gives a cart a mighty shove, thereby contributing to the congestion problem that he is simultaneously announcing to the world is too much for him to tolerate. They think that guy is us. You hear them say so all the time. Who among us has not heard the endless litanies about how we have to have a tax system so we can pay for police departments, fire departments, park benches, et al. They’re so cute when they work so hard to avoid saying anything good about the military. Also, traffic lights are like this. Part of the price we have to pay to live in a civilized society is that we have to follow rules, much like stopping for a red light and waiting for it to turn green. Yes, that must be the problem. I’m opposed to more public debt because I’m a red-light runner.

Give Me ReparationsI’ve heard this many times. I can re-type it with my eyes closed. Yes, take it from me. Leftists see real-people, as just more specimens just like the shopping-cart asshole. They don’t show any signs of understanding why we see them that way. The ignorance may be genuine.

Yesterday I had made the point, as I had made it before,

Liberals should not summarize the viewpoints of their opposition on behalf of their opposition, because liberals don’t understand their own opposition. They’re proud of not knowing.

And what motivates their opposition is,

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

The definitions that make civilization possible include, but are not limited to…waiting in line. Shopping-cart-asshole is their dude, whether they realize it or not. In fact, so are the people who run red lights. All those who doubt this, allow the liberals to wander away from this issue and bloviate about something else for awhile. The pattern will soon set in and it won’t often be disrupted to any extent: Where there is a definition, they want to kill it, especially if it is a definition upon which civilized society depends.

Profits go to people and businesses that are most productive. That, too, is a definition upon which society depends. They’re none to fond of it. Who’s going to give the worm to the bird who doesn’t particularly feel like getting out of bed too early? Not — from where should the worm come. Just — where’s the program. More worms would keep the society going. More programs bring it to a stop. So the stencil-selection involved in their aggravated curiosity is most telling.

I think they’re rushing to get the talking point out, about “You just don’t like taxes because you’re a stranger to the concept of following rules,” because it helps to conceal a truth that has become evident to all serious observers, even the most casual ones: The Left is burdened with a far greater saturation of these shopping-cart-shoving assholes who don’t want to take turns. I mentioned up above somewhere about an ignorance they show, that is likely sincere? They have one that’s insincere: They pretend not to understand that high profits are what make our society go. Some of them pretend that they’re keen on some obscure bit of wisdom, that eludes us slope-foreheaded people who can’t see the brilliant inventor in clock boy, or the woman in Caitlyn Jenner. But that’s all fake. It’s bluster; they don’t even have the beginnings of an idea of what that obscure bit of wisdom would be.

The “I need a program” part is genuine. The “taxes, not profits, are what make society go” is crap. That comes from just saying whatever you have to say to get what you want.

Occasional reader/commenter Nate sent along, in the e-mails, an article about, and written by, a lefty-inclined person who’s starting to see the light.

I will always believe in “The Revolution”. But I am becoming very frustrated with modern “activist” culture.

First of all, I’m tired of watching people turn into pretentious assholes who think their activism makes them better than everyone else, even those oppressed and marginalized groups with whom they claim “allyship”.

It’s got some funny parts in it, which aren’t intentional unless this is supposed to be parody. A possibility I can’t dismiss right away. “Allyship”?

They talk about listening, being humble, questioning one’s preconceived notions about other people and hearing their lived experiences…and yet ignore the lived experiences of those who don’t speak or think properly in the view of university-educated social justice warriors, regardless of how much worse off they really are. That is not to say that we should accept bigotry in any form – far from it. But I would go as far as saying that the politically correct mafia on the left perpetuates a form of bigotry on its own because it alienates and “otherizes” those who do not share their ways of thinking and speaking about the world.

Something tells me the cupcake could’ve saved herself a lot of time and trouble, merely by listening to a conservative once in a while and taking what he or she had to say, at least somewhat seriously. The essay reads like “no freakin’ duh.”

But, back to breaking these rules that keep society together, the running of the red lights, the shoving of shopping carts; lefties think normal people are doing that and normal people think it’s the lefties doing that. Each side thinks it’s the other side that can’t take turns. How to resolve the impasse?

Isn’t their guy’s master-slogan something like “We Can’t Wait”? Yeah…I thought so.


Types of Preens

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

Me, a few months back:

You can’t reliably, or regularly, generate good results when you do this preening. Because those who preen are not predisposed to improve, to repair flaws. To do that, you have to 1) hang around to see how the Awesome Wonderful Grand Plan works, 2) find some flaws and 3) be honest, with yourself first of all, that the flaws are there. That gets in the way of The Preen.

PreeningWhich means, ultimately, that The Preen has to get in the way of improvement. Any improvement. All learning…

I have had the idea germinating in my head that the preens that do the most harm, are limited in number. I worked this over a bit, masticating it between the molars of my mind, and came up with…in the current troubled times in which we live…seven. Huh. Interesting. Just like the deadly sins from Paradise Lost. Also, the castaways in Gilligan’s Island. What is it with that number seven?

Well, maybe with some more thought put into it, I’ll be seeing the number change. But for now…

Green Preen
Gelding Preen
Pantsuit Preen
Guilty-White Preen
Gadget Preen
Egghead Preen
Special Needs Preen

What these all have in common with each other, is that the person preening has embraced an urgent need to get some communicating done, without offering any sort of opportunity to actually exchange ideas or information. The narrative is all set. The audience is supposed to react the way the script-in-his-head says, and if that doesn’t happen…well, I was just talking about that, wasn’t I. Conflict ensues, and it’s all the fault of everybody else.

I think you’d have to have been living in a cave, to require any sort of introduction of the first one. The narrative is that the planet is on its last legs — because of “us.” The preener is entirely innocent of this planetary destruction, or if he is not then he is at least aware of his guilt, which is the same as not having any. And then there are these poopy heads who doubt the message. “Skeptics,” they’re called. So the green-preener toils away, like Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the mountain in the underworld, to get the message out so the planet can be saved. This would necessarily involve the skeptics no longer being skeptics. But nobody’s really sure how that is to be done. Also, if it happened, you have the “dog caught the car” thing happening there, the preener wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to do. Conflict is essential to the exercise. There have to be some BadPeople making BadFeelz with their BadThinking. Can’t have drama without a villain.

Now the Gelding Preen is a special case, a kind of “negative preen.” He does not seek upward social mobility by saying the right things. Rather, he seeks to avoid social deterioration by distancing himself from the wrong things. It happens in office environments. And it starts out with the right intentions; we’re all there giving up a third of our day, so we can make an honest living, and that means everyone is deserving of some measure of respect. Also, nobody should be doing anything to make the day unnecessarily longer. Human decency: If we’re all stuck in an elevator car together, don’t take a shit. The problem is when the definition of “shit” is broadened to include any & all male-associated actions and characteristics. In much of what we regard as civilized society, it’s happened already.

Bows and DeposIf you’re a man who works in an office and you speak with a voice pitch that is much higher than what’s comfortable, you’re part of the problem. Yes, it’s unthinkable that we should run around talking in natural voice inflections, an octave or two below middle C if that’s what comes naturally to the male voicebox. And it’s horrifying that we should have pictures of Sports Illustrated swimsuit models on our work computers. But why? It’s these “evolving standards” that are cocked up here.

The Pantsuit Preen is the opposite of the Gelding Preen. This is, women seeking to elevate their social status by not appearing to be women. Maybe they cut their hair short. Again with the questions: Why? More importantly, who? As in, who likes this? Whoever that is, that’s the one with the real problem. Women are women, it’s just a fact. Women wear skirts and dresses. They look good wearing these things, and men don’t. And if your skepticism doesn’t completely ping off the charts when you see a woman wearing a pantsuit all of the time, you just haven’t been paying attention to what’s been going on lately and can’t see the calling cards. Same way it’s a fact that a man is a man, it’s also a fact that a woman is a woman. When did this become something we have to pretend is not true? What slipped? Who’s responsible? There’s the problem, those who are responsible won’t say. They just keep contributing — anonymously — to the problem.

The Guilty-White Preen is responsible for all sorts of misery upon us. And it has recently shifted into high gear with all this business about “check[ing] your privilege.” It doesn’t stop there. All sorts of “Those People” conversations begin, and end, with a whole lot of hand-wringing about the plight of “those people,” and what sort of rigging of the system has to be done to get them back where “they” belong. But so seldom are the shenanigans ever designed by anyone with the slightest intention of living among “those people.”

Check Your PrivilegeThere is a strange sort of dirty earnestness about the Guilty-White Preen. Its narrative aligns with reality, if only temporarily, when its adherents recognize that fate has blessed them with advantages they don’t deserve. But it seems to go flying over their heads that fate has also burdened them with a challenge, along with an opportunity, to prove themselves worthy. They become self-fulfilling prophesies, blinded by their own unearned advantages from ever seeing the good side of anything. Example: A Republican President makes the case that military action is required, over here, for these reasons…the preener immediately expunges as even a remote possibility, that the President could be arguing for this action in good faith. No can do. Suddenly, it’s all “he lied to get us into an illegal/unjust war BushCheneyHitlerHalliburton.” It is almost as if they know their privileged upbringing has imbued them with a lifelong, unsupported skepticism against the necessity of any chore. Someone needs to take out the garbage? I doubt it! Prove it! That’s anti-war activism in a nutshell: A dirty job that has to be done? I never saw anything like that when I was a kid. There must not be any such thing.

The Gadget Preen is unique in this list because, apart from the Gelding Preen, it is the only one that is resolutely apathetic against the details of any issue. This type of preener glides above it all, preferring not to get bogged down in the pros and cons of Quantitative Easing. Why should he bother? He already knows everything. He has an iPhone!

Not to be confused with the Egghead Preen, which is best thought-of as an almost-scientific study into how to make the most consistently wrong decisions, with the greatest confidence. It is truly frustrating when you see someone pushing an idea so wrong, that you just know it wouldn’t have held any appeal for them if they weren’t in such a hurry to show their smarts. Always always always, there is some morsel to their thinking, some 180-degree hairpin-turn, away from some slothful inept status-quo idea that had consumed the attention of us slope-foreheaded morons before the egghead came along and showered his enlightened thinking upon us. And what a good thing for us that he did!

Our current President has become rather enslaved to this sort of thinking. It’s embarrassing to watch Him in action, after awhile. Thought exercise: Wait for the next time He tells us “we can’t” do something, and imagine yourself as the guy who — according to His narrative — had been previously intellectually incapable of processing this. Imagine yourself saying “Aw gee, because that was like my plan and stuff.” We can’t turn against each other. Guess I’ll have to throw out my caveman plan, of us all turning against each other. Ditto for my plan to wait for Congress (which the Caveman’s Constitution says you’re actually supposed to do), also I wanted to become numb to school shootings…and, defund ObamaCare. Me am to want to pass on to me cave kids a bill they can’t pay. Me am to want to be a bystander to bigotry. Me am to drill meself to lower gas prices.

President Obama is supposed to be, if nothing else, original, creative, fun to watch, entertaining. If you’re a one-trick pony, you’d better know the trick. I’m not sure this pony does. What do I miss, exactly, if I miss the latest Obama speech? Someone please tell me. Each one is pretty much interchangeable with all the others, at this point, right?

A common mistake I see the Egghead Preeners making, is to confuse a point about increments on a spectrum between the endpoints, as license to conflate the two diametrically-opposed endpoints with each other. I will support that with an example. I could choose from several. The first that comes to mind is Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction, to which I made a casual reference already. After this had become a pressing issue, John Kerry ran against George W. Bush for the presidency, as a challenger, on an unofficial platform that he had the intellectual fortitude, the “nuance,” that the Crawford Dimbulb was lacking. “He thinks in shades of gray” was one meme that took on a life of its own, as I recall. It is certainly true that there were shades-of-gray involved in the hypothesis that “Saddam Hussein has WMDs.” Somehow, this metastasized into something like: We need to start thinking of this guy as a victim, even though our intelligence and common sense tell us he’s dangerous, and might even be up to something. After all, if you can’t trust Michael Moore then who can you trust? Another example: Socialism. One of my Facebook friends, inclined toward the lefty-leaning side of things, a few hours ago said

The one thing that defines a socialist at their core is that they nationalize private industry. If they don[‘]t do that then they are not socialists. Period.

Yes, it’s another tired debate about Hitler being a left-winger or a right-winger. Isn’t it odd? Certain things, like socialism, are to be defined as narrowly as possible. Other things, like “lied to get us into an illegal/unjust war” as mentioned above, are to be defined very broadly. Well that’s the thing about definitions: You have to do it with some consistency, or else there’s no point to even bothering with the exercise. If people have to keep running back to you to say “Are we interpreting this the right way? Are we interpreting that the right way?” — then you haven’t defined anything at all.

And the difference between confiscating someone’s business by way of “nationalization,” versus letting them keep it but dictating to them exactly how they’re supposed to run it, is more a distinction than a true difference. It’s like the difference between feeding your neighbor’s dog steak laced with arsenic, or just shooting it. And that’s the funny thing about eggheads. They’re so eager to show how smart they are, that they forget the basics. They see different things as the same, and they see functionally identical things, as somehow, inexplicably, different. This defeats whatever advantages their eggheaded-ness might have brought. To mix my tortured metaphors a bit more, under the “in for a penny, in for a pound” rule: Who cares how powerful your mighty engine is, if your tires won’t grip the pavement?

But the Special Needs Preen is the most toxic out of all seven. Anytime you’re dealing with an argument that so-and-so must have some sort of advantage not available to the general population, and the rationale is that so-and-so doesn’t have something else or can’t do something else…you’re dealing with this.

Some people make the point that we have to do everything they want, and nothing anybody else wants, and the reason for this is that they can’t handle their own emotions. Yes that is absurd. Offensive, even. But they get away with it. When they do, it reflects poorly on all of us.

Others try to mix their special needs preening with their guilty-white privilege preening, and paint themselves into the risible corner of arguing that we have to make everything equal-equal-equal, and at the same time, preserve for them (or their targeted sympathy-class) some special privileges, to prove how committed we are to making everything equal-equal-equal.

Others provide documentation “proving” their kids have real-or-imagined “learning disabilities.” Some of these parents act like normal parents, insisting that their disabled children be given as normal a life as possible. You will often find these kids have real disabilities. For if they didn’t, surely such parents would not be conjuring up wild tales about disabilities that don’t exist. But other parents want their children to be sheltered. I just cringe when I see them doing this; it’s as if they’re embarrassing me, and not themselves. They saturate the very air around them with all these wild tales about their kids’ handicaps…but when the time comes to define what exactly these handicaps are, suddenly there are no details to be found. And of course it is improper to ask…somehow.

These people are mired in a personal vendetta against human potential. They’re against it. They, like all the above, reflect poorly on the rest of us. Or at least, I think they do. I think, maybe, if it became the rule rather than the exception for others to ask these contraband questions…


Oh, so you’re failing the class because your professor is so mean? Does the professor have any other students in his class? Are they all failing too?


Oh, so you got a bad employee review because your boss is unreasonable and a jerk? Does your boss have any other employees? What kind of reviews did they get?


Oh, so you can’t get to work on time because you live really far away? Are there any other employees of this company who live in that area? Are they chronically late too?

…things would be different. I think even the casual reader can pick up the gist. This is a conflict between two opposite mentalities.

One mentality says, “If it’s a problem for any one person to get it done somewhere, that it’s unrealistic to expect anyone else to get it done, anywhere.”

The other mentality says “If any one person can get it done, anywhere, then that means everybody has the opportunity to do it, and everywhere.”

The second mentality is more difficult because it brings with it the weight of some obligations: You have to look toward people who getting things done that you’re not getting done yet, and then you have to have the courage to learn. The first one is easier, because of this. But that doesn’t mean it is natural. It is actually the more onerous of the two opposite mindsets, that is the natural one. We are built, down to the individual strands of our DNA, to look to people who are stronger than we are, and learn from their superior example.

Don't Give a Good Jolly FuckThe obstacle is just this: It takes balls. That’s all. You have to have courage. It takes a lot of courage to be a “hero,” to be sure. But it takes a lot more courage and balls to find a hero, recognize that he is a hero, treat him as a hero, recognize you have something to learn, ways to improve…and start going to town on it. It isn’t easy, nobody ever said it was. But that is how we improve. And improving is how we survive.

Astute readers will observe that I have come full-circle, I have carried you back to the very first paragraph at the top of this post. Preening looks, at first glance, like a token payment with which we have to contend to continue living in a civilized society. Like a bridge toll or something. That is not what preening is. Preening is acceptance of everything that kills us, and a rejection of everything that nourishes us and protects us. Preening is anti-life. It is pro-death.

But that’s heady talk for a Saturday night, so I’m going to commit this to the ether and slap some steaks on the grill. No, I don’t give a good jolly fuck what anybody thinks of it.

Memo For File CCI

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

These days I’m getting e-mails quite regularly from the democrats, about the scary guys the Republicans are about to run for President. If I don’t want that to happen I’d better send in some money! But what’s fascinating to me is they so often avoid mentioning what exactly would be wrong with a President Trump, President Rubio, President Cruz…compared to Hillary and Bernie, the two they’re trying to sell.

So it’s finally happened. They’re going with the “Skip the details, we’ll stick with mockery and ridicule for you if you don’t do what we want” technique — on their own supporters. Chip in the cash. Or we’ll make fun of you for being a racist/bigot/chauvinist/homophobe/retrosexual whatever…

It’s odd. Voters have long had a revulsion against political sloganeering that is invested too heavily in “Here’s what’s wrong with that OTHER guy…” Of course, if the voters voted as if that revulsion mattered, politicians and their public-relations arms would very quickly stop using that angle, and that’s not what we’re seeing happening at all. So it’s an ineffectual revulsion. But it’s still there. People talk about it often, and they’re not just making up stuff about it, or about their very sincere dislike. And their worry over it, that if there were positive attributes found in the candidate being sold they’d be hearing about them, so there must not be any; that is sincere too. The democrats must realize this.

And here they are going full tilt. And…failing to deliver on what people didn’t want anyway. “Forget about why you should vote for Hillary or Bernie, we’d rather talk about what’s wrong with those other guys! Except we won’t.” They claim to be “science”‘s BFFs. How strong can one’s tethering to reality remain, over time, when everything worth saying falls short of worthiness of actually being said? When every little observation made, isn’t made at all? When all communication is reduced to winks, nods, rib-elbowing, “ya know”?

Surely they must realize this is not good for them. Perhaps they have taken my advice.

America, Fuck Yeah!What is liberalism, anyway? The question has been debated and debated around here, and other places too. No, you can’t just go look it up in a dictionary and believe the “experts.” It’s an impossible question to answer until such time as one establishes the level at which one is attempting to define the word. Are we talking about achievement, or effort? Are we talking about political ideology, value systems, or just base human impulses?

If we do consult the experts, are we going to be careful to purge their ranks of any liberals before we put our faith in them? We should. Liberals have a habit of defining liberalism according to what their opponents believe, and if there is any brand of ignorance on the planet more pervasive and eminent than any other, it is the ignorance liberals have about what motivates their opposition. They don’t have a clue as to what motivates conservatives. And they’re proud of not having a clue. So we shouldn’t believe what liberals have to say about what liberalism is. They don’t know a great deal about that either.

Later I elaborated

Liberalism is an addiction. You don’t ask an addict for his opinion about what his addiction is, or is not. You don’t ask a liberal what conservatives think. The ignorance liberals have about their opposition is a special kind of ignorance. They don’t know, they’re proud of not knowing. They don’t care to learn. They’re proud of not caring.

I dusted this off recently in a comment:

Liberals should not summarize the viewpoints of their opposition on behalf of their opposition, because liberals don’t understand their own opposition. They’re proud of not knowing.

Rationale being

It is a mental enfeeblement…We do not allow alcoholics to define for the rest of us what alcoholism is.

It is the ideology of the failed. When we pay attention to what’s going on in our political system and seek to form solid and qualified opinions about what’s happening and what we should do about it, we are confronted with a very specific set of challenges. We are challenged to elevate reason above emotion. Also, to think over a longer term of time. And, to do as much for the public good as we can, while burning away as little freedom as possible.

This stuff we today call “liberalism” is a grab bag of ill-advised actions, and some epithets, packaged up for presentation to an audience of opinionateds who have failed these challenges. All of them. “Blah blah blah…should be free!” Or “Is a right! Darn it!” And “You’re a bigot, and a sexist and a homophobe.” No seriously, that’s their entire inventory after you get done with “illegal/unjust war.” It’s just a huge smörgåsbord of unmeasurable, unverifiable “shoulds.” Fifteen an hour! Or me and my friends will get all stomp-footy. Ban these guns! We’ve decided there’s no use for them, even though we’ve never owned guns and never will.

Raise that guy’s taxes! Because we don’t like him.

Now that having all been said. It occurs to me lately — in spite of this tempest-in-a-teapot that is our presidential election — that perhaps my problems with liberals have little-to-nothing to do with liberalism itself. I’ve been noticing a problem I’ve had, going back years and years, having to do with arguing. Supposedly I’m the catalyst of this problem — “Morgan loves to argue.” But, problem: I’m seeing a lot of other people saddled with the same rep. Do they love to argue? It does not seem that this is the case. And I also see arguments arise when I have no intention of causing them to arise. I recall a few very specific incidents from recent years, in which I could see the arguments coming from miles and miles off in the distance — on a couple of occasions, I actually said something about it — and had no desire to see it happen. The common theme that emerges is that the match is struck when someone notices something. And then the ensuing inferno is all the fault of the person who did the noticing. None of the blame, it seems, goes to the person who actually turns it into an argument

What really throws the trolley off the tracks, though, is: These people like me, who “love to argue” and actually are guilty of noticing things that make the arguments happen…interact with other people, and when they interact with other people they go on noticing things. This doesn’t cause arguments. Also: The people who were victimized by having these things noticed that shouldn’t have been noticed, and with a hearty “What??” strike the match that brings about the inferno, which is then blamed on others — they also interact with other people. And there, more of this arguing happens. So if we’re looking at common elements, the observation does not hold true.

Conservatives, also, do not love to pay attention to politics. At least, not the ones I know. We do not “love to argue.” I notice a particular passage in my last post struck a chord:

[Conservatives] say to themselves…well, fuck this, this dime-store idiot liberal guy has all the time in the world to throw his cherry-picked statistics at me, his Mother Jones articles, maybe troll conservative blogs all day, but I have customers counting on me and I have to get back to work. And then after awhile the other thought enters the conservative cranium, yet again…I’m doing this to set up my retirement, get my kids headed to a brighter future, not be a burden to my family when I’m older. If only the liberal dipshits have influence on our politics, they get to shape our politics, and that will render these local efforts of mine entirely futile. The Counter-Futility. Back and forth the conservative goes, like a ping pong ball…it’s futile to do this, it is futile not to do this…

Yes, this has been on my mind a great deal…it would seem, were I to be sucked into the void of space tonight and someone analyzed these pages to indulge in some sort of post-mortem psych profiling, the picture that emerges is not one of a man who actually loves to argue. Rather the reverse, it seems to me…

The conservatives who clean the crap out of the sewer lines and lay the foundations upon which buildings will be erected, that will house all sorts of publicly funded liberal-egghead think tanks, have come to the unpleasant realization that previous generations never quite learned: They have to make the time for politics. They’ve got to attend to it, as if it’s yet another chicken with eggs not yet gathered, otherwise everything else they’ve done is for nothing. They’ve got to write the code that works, they’ve got to build the diesel engines that successfully contain the explosions, they’ve got to manufacture the action boxes for 9mm pistols that don’t rupture under the stress, and do all the other things that liberals can never do. Then, they have to participate in politics like the liberals do. And the conservatives have to grow all our food.
So conservatives have to make things work…food that can really be eaten, code that can really be run, combustion chambers that really do contain explosions…then they have to make time to argue with liberals who don’t have to worry about any of that. Wrestle with the pigs in the mud.

I’m sure to someone on the outside, it looks a lot like “love of arguing” because there’s not much evidence of the resentment churning away, inside, that one should expect to see. Well trust me, the resentment is there. It is concealed behind the most opaque of shrouds, and that is a shroud of resignation and despair. Sure, it would be much easier to provide for this retirement, write that code, prove one’s worth, embiggen one’s salary throughout the very few years available, if one didn’t have to argue with people who think Caitlyn Jenner is some sort of extraordinarily brave not-man-something-else…or that there are going to be more jobs to be worked if the minimum wage is higher…or that clock boy “invented” a clock. Well, there’s a saying for that: “If a frog had wings he wouldn’t have to bump his ass on the ground all the time.” In other words, “if” isn’t worth anything. Cleaning the shit out of the sewer lines would be so much easier if the shit cleaned itself. Well…true…but you can’t do anything with that. The hens won’t bring you their own eggs, either. What of it?

It’s just an additional job we have to do. Yeah sure we “love it,” the way a Norwegian loves Lutefisk at Christmas. Except Lutefisk is something to be associated with pleasant childhood memories, and the Savior of all mankind being incarnated in human form to gift us with everlasting life. Arguing with liberals just has the disgusting slimy jiggly form, the revolting translucency, the unappetizing soapy taste, without any of those endearing attributes to make up for it. Yes, we partake. Pay for it, even. No, that doesn’t mean we have a taste for it. We’re doing what must be done. We’ve tried not-doing-it, and we’re not happy with how that went.

The Futility

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Hopefully, future generations will want to know about these times. If something truly out of the ordinary doesn’t happen further down the road, I’d say they most certainly should. There’s an awful lot of bickering, and it doesn’t just seem to be that way because now-is-now. Yes, it is a valid point, and verifiable as fact, that in the olden days politicians got into physical contests. Duels to the death, even, occasionally.

But now there are three things happening. First is the “blogging”…which we could, and should, recognize as any means of mass communication linked to the newer technology. Seems unhealthy. Viewed up close, it is. All that time burned away by someone? And all it does is start fights, no minds get changed. I agree with all that. But it’s a lesson in what’s called “seeing the forest for the trees”; you have to take a few steps back, think long term. Blogging is the healthy part, because now our trans-society discourse is capable of some level of dialogue. Of rebuttal, and counter-rebuttal. Pre-blogging — oh, let’s just be honest about this, can we for just a moment or two? — that was not the case. Uncle Walter told us “And that’s the way it is,” and that’s the way it was…

Second thing is what has happened to the liberals. They still want to get even for the “Florida debacle” of 2000. Before that, they were about ending prejudices, and feeding and clothing the hungry. True, a lot of their measures achieved the opposite of these things and the liberals didn’t very much care. But afterward, getting even with conservatives is an objective that has stolen the limelight. The shift is subtle, but it is there. There’s a difference between — “I want to get these people health insurance, and I must defeat conservatives because they’re getting in my way of doing that” — and — “I want to make these conservatives look bad in the public view, and to do that I can get the word out that they, for some reason, don’t want these people to get health insurance.” Those are actually two different things. One is overly simplistic but determined, like a dog chasing a car that wouldn’t know what to do if it caught the car. The other is just plain vengeful.

And the third thing is what’s happened to conservatives. They still don’t have time for all this fighting-about-politics stuff. They have work to do. In fact, very often The Futility sets in, and they say to themselves…well, fuck this, this dime-store idiot liberal guy has all the time in the world to throw his cherry-picked statistics at me, his Mother Jones articles, maybe troll conservative blogs all day, but I have customers counting on me and I have to get back to work. And then after awhile the other thought enters the conservative cranium, yet again…I’m doing this to set up my retirement, get my kids headed to a brighter future, not be a burden to my family when I’m older. If only the liberal dipshits have influence on our politics, they get to shape our politics, and that will render these local efforts of mine entirely futile. The Counter-Futility. Back and forth the conservative goes, like a ping pong’s futile to do this, it is futile not to do this…

And perhaps there is a fourth factor, concealed from view. If the liberal movement consisted entirely of those with political ambitions, who want the economy to tank so there’s more widespread feeling of despair and it’s easier to elect democrats, it would be easily defeated. It’s not. A lot of liberals care greatly about the plight of the poor, illiterate, the hungry — they just don’t appreciate the story of socially-upward mobility. Every now and then you see them exposed to such a story, of someone born into real poverty who made it big. It rolls off ’em like water off a duck’s back. Doesn’t fit the narrative. They’re Narrative People. But, good-hearted. They want to help the less fortunate; they’re just not too keen on the less fortunate helping themselves. They want to feel needed. If the liberal movement consisted entirely of them, perhaps it would also be easily defeated. What we’re fighting is a mix of the two. And it could be that while these two halves have always been there, combined they have become a more potent force in recent times because the two halves have learned new things about communicating with each other. I don’t know. It’s a maybe. It’s not worth mentioning even, except for one thing: The fact that these two halves, under the surface have entirely different goals, may be the key to their eventual defeat.

WimpyGetting back to the subject at hand. We live in interesting times because communication is working better — blogging, in fact, may rescue the general level of literacy from the disaster heaped upon it by text messaging. We have aggravation and confusion on the conservative side, and real, hot, vengeful wrath on the liberal side, still wanting to get even for a Supreme Court case with a decade-and-a-half worth of dust on it.

What we have learned, so far, is this: Conservatives and liberals don’t think the same way. One of my friends over at the Hello Kitty of Blogging was amused by the graphic to the right, noting that he was wondering as a child — as was I — how Wimpy ever got his burgers. This is a clue into how conservatives and liberals don’t see things the same way.

Liberals see a guy who wants a burger; or, needs a burger. Now you can tell from just a casual glance at Wimpy that he does not need a burger, whether you’re a conservative or a liberal. So this is not scientific proof, but it is in the realm of the scientific, that liberals fail to distinguish needs from wants. And whatever gaps remain between that & real science are okay, because the conclusion is not in doubt. “Blah blah blah should be free,” they intone, endlessly listing this-and-that before the word “should.” The items are a clumsy hodge-podge mix-up between needs and wants, and the liberals don’t seem to know this, let alone care. On Planet Liberal, the idea is good, because it’s a winning idea. It’s an idea likely to win arguments. But is it true? Does anything with the word “should” in it, have even the capability of ever being verifiable as true? How would you verify?

Conservatives see the “should be free” thing the same way they see Wimpy bullshitting people about his burgers: What sort of system is being put in place here? Liberals have had a great time portraying conservatism as simple-mindedness, a sort of phobia against trying anything new. It’s a bit of propaganda that has worked well for them, you can’t blame them for continuing to use it. But it’s the opposite that is the truth; it is the conservatives who are the more capable thinkers. Conservatives see how things work moment-to-moment, and ask, Is It Sustainable? “Should be free” means someone pays, somewhere. Just as when Wimpy says he’ll gladly pay you Tuesday, Tuesday’s coming. It’s the liberals who are simple-minded, viewing all of life as a snapshot.

In this argument between conservatives and liberals, what is different is a missing dimension.

But that’s not all that’s different. Liberals are so concerned about winning-the-argument, they very regularly neglect the argument:

Dear Liberal,

Can we talk? Of course not. Why bother?
When I question why we do not shut down hate mosques, you call me Islamophobic.

When I question why a baker should be forced to make a bake a cake for a lesbian marriage that she does not believe in, you call me homophobic.

When I question why we should not follow Trump and Make America Great Again, you call me fascist.

And after all that name-calling, you then dare say I am judgmental.
We have seen trillions poured into the ghettos only to have young black men kill young black men. The liberal answer is to take guns from the people who do not live in ghettos. [T]wo-thirds of federal spending is welfare and Social Security. The liberal answer is to pour more money on the bonfire.

My answer is to try something new.

But you don’t want to hear it…

The mistake the liberals have made here is grave; they have defined “truth” to be whatever it takes to win an argument. It seems to be outside their capacity of understanding to realize this essentially severs whatever connection they had to the metaphysical. It essentially jettisons the idea that there is a truth grinding away, above us, beneath us, among us, meandering, writhing, going about its business entirely unconcerned about what people think. With liberals, it is all about the narrative because the narrative is what’s needed to win an argument.

This Faustian pact they’ve made imbues them with a strange intellectual ability conservatives are lacking. But it is not an ability to be coveted in any way. It is the ability to hold multiple thoughts in one’s head, contradictory with each other and utterly irreconcilable, and to take them all seriously. One of my favorites in recent years, that truly illustrates the lunacy at work, has been a quartet:

1. Premise: Liberals are better at learning than conservatives.

2. Premise: ObamaCare is named after & put together by a black guy, so everybody who is opposed to it is a racist.

3. Premise: Liberals have been working tirelessly, for generations, to banish racism.

4. Fact: In all these years, approval of the ACA has never risen above a bare plurality.

Put it all together and think on it in a healthy way, as only a conservative can, and what is the conclusion? It is quite unavoidable. Liberals need to change something, drastically, about this fight they have been engaging to get rid of racism. They have not been doing it the right way, and a drastic change in direction is required.

Do liberals agree with that? Not only no, but Hell No. This proves they are insane. Insane or…thinking about the metaphysical truth so casually, they may as well not be thinking about it at all, which produces the same results as if they were insane.

That is my one favorite way of demonstrating the insanity. But someone has put together a list of many others, based on the Socratic method.

Seeking genuine knowledge rather than mere victory in an argument, Socrates used his questions to cross-examine the hypotheses, assumptions, and axioms that subconsciously shaped the opinions of his opponents, drawing out the contradictions and inconsistencies they relied on.
The resulting list may not exactly fit the definition of Socratic questioning. But in my defense, even Socrates couldn’t possibly envision the scale of absurdity a political argument could reach in the 21st century.
Once a politician labels the truth as hate speech, can anyone trust him to speak the truth afterward?
If the poor in America have things that people in other countries can only dream about, why is there a movement to make America more like those other countries?
Why is the media so outspoken about sex abusers being priests, but avoids calling them homosexual pedophiles? Who are they afraid to offend?
How come the unselfish Americans hate their country out of personal frustrations, while the selfish ones defend America with their lives?
Why do those who object to tampering with the environment approve of tampering with the economy? Isn’t the economy also a fragile ecosystem where a sudden change can trigger a devastating chain reaction?
How exactly does dependency on the government increase “people power”?
And finally, if all opinions are equal, how come a liberal who disagrees with a conservative is open-minded, but a conservative who disagrees with a liberal is a bigot?

That’s just a small sampling. You may note that all these contradictions have been lying around for years, waiting to be noticed by either a liberal or by another party who is seeking to challenge a liberal, who would then comment on it. The noticing has been happening, and the commenting has been happening. Liberals — generally speaking — have not changed their intended travel, either in bearing or in vector.

They are insane, or may as well be. But at the same time, they’re like a house fire, or something that may become a house fire. They cannot be left alone. Their unhealthy thinking affects us. That’s the whole point of what they’re doing, if it didn’t affect others they wouldn’t be doing it. But if they could think on such things in a way that produced good results, and learn things they didn’t know before from the process of implementation, they wouldn’t be liberals.

An Unbearable Assymetry

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

From The Barrister at Maggie’s Farm, we learn of an article at one “Quillette”:

The Unbearable Asymmetry of Bullshit
written by Brian D Earp

Science and medicine have done a lot for the world. Diseases have been eradicated, rockets have been sent to the moon, and convincing, causal explanations have been given for a whole range of formerly inscrutable phenomena. Notwithstanding recent concerns about sloppy research, small sample sizes, and challenges in replicating major findings — concerns I share and which I have written about at length — I still believe that the scientific method is the best available tool for getting at empirical truth. Or to put it a slightly different way (if I may paraphrase Winston Churchill’s famous remark about democracy): it is perhaps the worst tool, except for all the rest.

In other words, science is flawed. And scientists are people too. While it is true that most scientists — at least the ones I know and work with — are hell-bent on getting things right, they are not therefore immune from human foibles.

Yes, we do seem to be having the same troubles with our scientists that we have with women: They’re people, and people have faults. Just avoid the absolute statements about members of a class being always in the wrong, or never in the wrong, and you should be fine.



There is a veritable truckload of bullshit in science. When I say bullshit, I mean arguments, data, publications, or even the official policies of scientific organizations that give every impression of being perfectly reasonable — of being well-supported by the highest quality of evidence, and so forth — but which don’t hold up when you scrutinize the details. Bullshit has the veneer of truth-like plausibility. It looks good. It sounds right. But when you get right down to it, it stinks.

There is something else going on here. Humans try to do, on any given day, all sorts of things some of which are scientific while some are not. All these humans have human faults. But all of these attempts are not riddled with “veritable truckloads of bullshit,” as we so often see the “science” is.

Much of the problem comes from without. Science offers a tasty morsel for the predatory. If you’re in an argument and you can say “science,” you get to impose obligatory thought upon the opposition, which has long been a lasting temptation among those who have holes in their souls. Science sides with me! Now bow down!

When the moniker of “science” is used for no better end than to prevail in an argument, what results from the concoction is neither good science nor good argument. Science, as I have so often had to remind others, is not a credential or a membership club; it is a method. As for arguing, it is a test. We all like to win our arguments, and of course losing one is detestable, but if you want to win all of the time whenever you have arguments there is a prerequisite: You’ve got to do some arguing.

Science has become less trustworthy, I cannot help noticing, during a time in which people need to be reminded of these two essential truisms, more-or-less all of the time. We see a lot of people invoking the word “science” without using, or making reference to anybody who’s using, science as a method. And we have a lot of people who want to win all the arguments without doing any arguing.

For this reason, I see science as mostly as pristine as we have known it to be — on the inside. I see it as under attack from outside hostiles.

But, then there is this…

There are many ways to produce scientific bullshit. One way is to assert that something has been “proven,” “shown,” or “found” and then cite, in support of this assertion, a study that has actually been heavily critiqued (fairly and in good faith, let us say, although that is not always the case, as we soon shall see) without acknowledging any of the published criticisms of the study or otherwise grappling with its inherent limitations.

That is contamination from within, and it does happen. What also happens from within, sends Mr. Earp on a wild tear many paragraphs long, which cannot be pruned down much by way of my amateur editorial skills.

I am referring to a certain sustained, long-term publication strategy, apparently deliberately carried out (although motivations can be hard to pin down), that results in a stupefying, and in my view dangerous, paper-pile of scientific bullshit. It can be hard to detect, at first, with an untrained eye — you have to know your specific area of research extremely well to begin to see it—but once you do catch on, it becomes impossible to un-see.

I don’t know what to call this insidious tactic. But I can identify its end result, which I suspect researchers of every stripe will be able to recognize from their own sub-disciplines: it is the hyper-partisan and polarized, but by all outward appearances, dispassionate and objective, “systematic review” of a controversial subject.

To explain how this tactic works, I am going make up a hypothetical researcher who engages in it, and walk you through his “process,” step by step. Let’s call this hypothetical researcher Lord Voldemort. While everything I am about to say is based on actual events, and on the real-life behavior of actual researchers, I will not be citing any specific cases…

In this story, Lord Voldemort is a prolific proponent of a certain controversial medical procedure, call it X, which many have argued is both risky and unethical. It is unclear whether Lord Voldemort has a financial stake in X, or some other potential conflict of interest. But in any event he is free to press his own opinion. The problem is that Lord Voldemort doesn’t play fair. In fact, he is so intent on defending this hypothetical intervention that he will stop at nothing to flood the literature with arguments and data that appear to weigh decisively in its favor.

As the first step in his long-term strategy, he scans various scholarly databases. If he sees any report of an empirical study that does not put X in an unmitigatedly positive light, he dashes off a letter-to-the-editor attacking the report on whatever imaginable grounds. Sometimes he makes a fair point — after all, most studies do have limitations — but often what he raises is a quibble, couched in the language of an exposé.
The subterfuge does not end there.

The next step is for our anti-hero to write a “systematic review”…He Who Shall Not Be Named predictably rejects all of the studies that do not support his position as being “fatally flawed,” or as having been “refuted by experts” — namely, by himself and his close collaborators, typically citing their own contestable critiques — while at the same time he fails to find any flaws whatsoever in studies that make his pet procedure seem on balance beneficial.

The result of this artful exercise is a heavily skewed benefit-to-risk ratio in favor of X, which can now be cited by unsuspecting third-parties. Unless you know what Lord Voldemort is up to, that is, you won’t notice that the math has been rigged.
A similar phenomenon can play out in debates in medicine. In the case of Lord Voldemort, the trick is to unleash so many fallacies, misrepresentations of evidence, and other misleading or erroneous statements — at such a pace, and with such little regard for the norms of careful scholarship and/or charitable academic discourse — that your opponents, who do, perhaps, feel bound by such norms, and who have better things to do with their time than to write rebuttals to each of your papers, face a dilemma. Either they can ignore you, or they can put their own research priorities on hold to try to combat the worst of your offenses.

It’s a lose-lose situation. Ignore you, and you win by default. Engage you, and you win like the pig in the proverb who enjoys hanging out in the mud.

That last is illustrative of a dire situation that confronts us, a situation that wasn’t here a generation ago. Science has begun to collide with politics. Perhaps it is more precise to say: Bad science has begun to collude with bad politics.

Think back to decades ago when our liberals commanded us to question authority, as opposed to agreeing with authority all of the time to prove we’re not racists. I don’t mean in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, I mean more like Vietnam. In those days, politics became the dominion of liberals. Conservative parents wanted their liberal kids to get haircuts, and jobs. The liberal kids wanted to protest. From this split came a situation in which the liberal kids concentrated on getting, keeping, and using a voice, and the passion persisted until they were no longer kids. Conservatives, meanwhile, figured out the chickens weren’t going to gather their own eggs, the roofs weren’t going to repair themselves…they didn’t have time for this shit.

Throughout this time, you see the liberals still lost elections. But they lost them after having won the previous elections, after the public got a good clear view of the harm that comes from liberal policies. These decades represent repeated laps around the unnecessary-mistake track; laps taken by, unfortunately, the entire country.

Now we are at a critical juncture. The conservatives who clean the crap out of the sewer lines and lay the foundations upon which buildings will be erected, that will house all sorts of publicly funded liberal-egghead think tanks, have come to the unpleasant realization that previous generations never quite learned: They have to make the time for politics. They’ve got to attend to it, as if it’s yet another chicken with eggs not yet gathered, otherwise everything else they’ve done is for nothing. They’ve got to write the code that works, they’ve got to build the diesel engines that successfully contain the explosions, they’ve got to manufacture the action boxes for 9mm pistols that don’t rupture under the stress, and do all the other things that liberals can never do. Then, they have to participate in politics like the liberals do. And the conservatives have to grow all our food.

Can you imagine a liberal being a potato farmer? It would never work. He would decide “this soil is good for growing potatoes,” and then he would do what liberals do all the time: Promulgate the narrative. The very last thing to figure into his actions would be the lingering question of whether or not the soil is any good…and come harvest time, there’d be no potatoes. If you want a big bundle of excuses about how everything is Republicans’ fault, liberals are your guys. Or, gals, or zhers or whatever. But if you want something to actually work then that’s not where you go. It’s not their bag, baby.

If liberals ever toil away under any sort of standard, their first move is to re-negotiate the standard. They’re so busy re-defining things, they’ve made themselves into strangers to the concept of ever getting any actual work done.

So conservatives have to make things work…food that can really be eaten, code that can really be run, combustion chambers that really do contain explosions…then they have to make time to argue with liberals who don’t have to worry about any of that. Wrestle with the pigs in the mud.

What has to happen with the science is the same thing as what has to happen with the politics. The issue is control of the theater of operations. For a generation or two now, the politics have been monopolized not quite so much by liberals, or conservatives, but rather by those who loathe definitions. What’s happening with science is that this rot has spread. We’re seeing the same things happen there that we’ve been seeing elsewhere in years past.

Statements about “X = Y” are no longer X = Y. They’re more like: If we presume A, B, C and D then it could be inferred that X is functionally equivalent to Y. And then it falls to those we call “conservatives” to ask the questions adults should be expected to ask, like: Why, pray tell, should we be presuming A, B, C and D? And if X is treated like Y when it’s not really the same thing, resulting in a cost of Z, who pays that?

Memo For File CC

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Was reading back over severian‘s recap of something…

I’ve often said that the fastest way to expose a leftist talking point is to take it completely seriously. For instance, lefties claim that all sorts of economic problems are caused by “deregulation.” Watch what happens when you ask them, “which regulations?” They don’t have the slightest idea. “Wall Street fatcats make obscene profits!” What’s the profit obscenity threshold, to the nearest $1,000?…

I’m drawing a blank here. Many have made this observation before, that there are arguments out there so fragile that they require outright-denial from the opposition in order to survive; merely take those arguments seriously and you devastate them structurally.

Raising the minimum wage is another such argument. “Okay you’ve convinced me! $15 an hour! In fact, let’s raise it to $30, and why not $60?” This is reductio ad absurdum. At some point, the advocate of the errant argument will have to admit to the deleterious effect the policy called out by its opponents, which is productive because after that there is agreement that some line has to be drawn somewhere. After that, discussion can proceed about the where and why and how…and, what’s the functional difference between fifteen and a thousand? What’s the moral difference? What’s the defining difference?

Hopefully, the liberal might see the conservative viewpoint, which is that the “How dare you tell me what I should pay” umbrage must begin at a penny an hour, because it can begin nowhere else. (Tellingly, that’s also the conservative position about when life begins, but that’s a whole different topic.) That’s not too likely though. Devastating an argument so quickly and so completely is not unlike pouring ice cold water into a glass emerging too soon from the dry cycle in the dishwasher. The likely outcome is a bunch of BadFeelz and contention and consternation…which, in a populated environment, is going to be blamed on the person who did this “devastate it by taking it seriously” thing every time. This happens a lot. Liberal arguments are incubated over time, and they’re incubated in environments in which people aren’t responsible for their bad thoughts, bad deeds or bad ideas. Someone else is to blame. Always. That’s at the heart of liberalism itself, on the philosophical plane.

Speaking of philosophical planes. Some of what belongs in The Blog That Nobody Reads, will now & then start out on The Hello Kitty of Blogging, which is a bad habit I have. Not that there isn’t a method to the madness. Jesus said to go where the sinners are. There is also value to it, too, occasionally; I am sometimes baffled by the storm of “likes” I get by things that I was sure would amount to nothing more than wind-shouting. This observation about the recently departed Justice Scalia’s viewpoint on textualist interpretation of the Constitution, to my great surprise, drew ten likes within a few hours, most of those within just a few minutes…

The disagreements between conservatives and liberals exist on many layers, and some of these layers are philosophical. They have to do with different recognitions of truth itself. This goes all the way back to the founding of the republic.

Back then, the “liberal” argument had to do with a “liberal” interpretation of “all men are created equal.” Then, as now, the liberals did their thinking backwards — “Okay, our conclusion is to be that slavery is allowable even though the document that declares our independence has this ‘all men created equal’ thing in it…how do we get from here, to there?” And then, as now, they came up with a whole bunch of “if”. Like, If we accept that all of the legal authority is tied up in the Constitution, which just has “WE THE PEOPLE” and not that business of all-created-equal…and If we proceed from the premise that these aren’t people at all, they’re property…THEN we can reach the conclusion we want. And keep our slaves. Aren’t we smart??

Susana AlmeidaSee how nothing has really changed?

And then, as now, the whole thing was undone by conservatives who asked what they continue to ask now: “Uh…why should we assume these things? Also, if you’ve got these rationalizations to deprive that person of his rights today, why am I not to assume you will be coming after mine, tomorrow?”

So I go on some rant about all the hot teevee weather girls being in other countries, while America’s weather girls look like boring old banker-ladies about to deny your home equity loan…nobody bats an eye, I guess I’m marching down that road all by myself. How come that is, anyway? “Weather girls,” in America, have to look like they’re at work? At a stuffy law firm or a bank? Who decided that? Looks like laziness…shouldn’t we be calling them “weather women” if we’re playing the don’t-tick-off-the-feminists game? But what’s wrong with a weather girl who’s pleasing to the eye? How come that’s a crime? And only in the USA?

But I get philosophical about interpretation of the Constitution, here comes an avalanche of the coveted “like.” You know, go figure. Anyway, to re-emerge from the bunny trail within the bunny trail…that’s the allure of social media. Fact is, none of us really know for sure what’s going to happen next. We just didn’t accomplish as much, before the medium came along, as we thought we had. We don’t really know that much about each other. I suppose that’s a good thing in a way. If we figured everybody out, and instantly, there’d be no desire to know more.

On the “aren’t we smart” thing. This is the truly toxic thing about liberalism. So enamored have liberals become of the tired old litany…”We can see a dimension or two past the quaint, flat world of conservatives, as is evidenced by our disagreement with them over here“…like, the above-mentioned minimum wage. AND the thing about “If we’re all free, then that must include slaves.” It often lures them into a bad habit of their own: Figuring out what common sense would say, and then lunging for the opposite.

Barack Obama: “You didn’t build that.”

Joe Biden: “We have to spend money to keep from going bankrupt.”

Ekspurts: Higher minimum wage results in more jobs.

There are more examples to be found and not much would be accomplished through any effort to add them here. It’s a persistent pattern. Liberals find out what common sense would say, choose something that goes in the opposite direction, and then start cherry-picking the evidence to support this conclusion that goes against common sense. As noted in the Facebook post, they do this exactly backwards, starting with the conclusion they want to reach first and then figuring out how they can get there. But “there” is inclined to be something antithetical to common sense. So the big takeaway is: They’re doing more-or-less twice as much damage as they would be doing, if “there” was a position chosen at random.

They end up painting themselves into a corner this way. Usually, the way that works is they find themselves propagating a talking point about “right wing extremism,” when to anybody who takes the time to find out what this adversarial right-wing position is, they’re going to find — far from any sort of extremism — a textbook case of sensible moderation. In the case of minimum wage, what they find is the foundational principle of economics itself, that when something costs more you need to expect fewer willing people are going to buy it.

But my question is: What is the name for these arguments? Arguments that are so fragile, that you completely ruin them just by taking them seriously. “Yes feminist sister, you are right; gender is a big nothing, an artificial societal construct, an illusion. And one of these genders is so much better than the other.”

I always assumed there was a name. We have names for the rebuttals, like the reductio ad absurdum mentioned above. But what about these overly-delicate, beached-whale arguments themselves, structurally incapable of bearing their own weight?

Related: I left it out on purpose because it shouldn’t be necessary…that was kind of the point. But I suppose I should go ahead and link to the actual facts regarding this business of “Experts say raising the minimum wage causes faster job growth.” As stated before, the position being taken is essentially that you have more buying when the price of something is pushed up, so we don’t need to get into some huge back-and-forth about whether our experiences would bear this out, in a situation that could be isolated from all other factors. It’s not worth the argument, that’s just not how economics works.

Why Are Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman Better Than All the Rest?

Friday, February 12th, 2016

I’m pushing fifty, so these comic book movies are never going to make me completely happy; the people making them shouldn’t try. They know how their bread is buttered and it comes from kids. Young kids. Way young, too young to understand the value of a dollar I’m afraid…

There is a problem here. Although my hopes for this film remain high, and “Batfleck” is starting to win me over a bit, I can’t shake the perception that something is missing and the members of the audience, as well as the producers, remain a bit in the dark about what it might be. Perhaps I’m the only one frustrated so there’s really no problem. Then again, perhaps I’m the only one frustrated because I can see something. And don’t we all want to get a bit more enjoyment out of our movies, especially our comic book superhero movies?

Let’s think on this a bit. Why is DC so much better than Marvel? Hey wait…come back…

We’ve gone over this ground a bit before. Marvel heroes — apart from the Fantastic Four and Captain America — do a lot of whining. The problem is not the frequency with which they do it, or how many of them do it. The problem is that this whine-theme is ever-present, like a bad smell. There are ways to avoid acknowledging it, sure, but the real problem is…emphasis on…the source of the tension of the story. Stories have to have tension. They have to make you wonder what’s going to happen next, or else they fail. In the Marvel universe, generally speaking that is the tension. “The public won’t accept me.”

Back to the central-three within the Justice League. This public-won’t-accept-me thing is more of an exception than a rule. Sometimes it happens when the writer is young, overly-indoctrinated, starry eyeballs filled up with X-Men story-lines. Government trying to make up its mind about the JL, public isn’t quite sure if they’re friends or foes. Maybe they have too much power. Such a storyline has potential but it’s been done too much, and elsewhere. Check out the old Super Friends cartoons, that wasn’t the tension that drove the stories. Alright sure they were dumb stories, but still. Point is, this “Let’s have DC borrow a page from X-Men” thing is a relatively new phenomenon, and whatever staying power it has, has not been earned through actual success.

It seems, however, that that’s not what is driving Dawn of Justice. What I’m seeing here is: Is Batman getting way too old for this shit? And how can he possibly have any hope for survival, let alone victory, in a head-to-head against Superman? And what’s up with this girl in a gladiator costume? I hope that’s enough to carry the movie. It probably is, with the characters being introduced…

But there’s the problem. Movies being carried aloft, across the finish line, on the strength of characters being introduced. We pony up the cash and hope the lift is sufficient to overcome the drag.

Old Man Yells at CloudI’m pushing fifty, unique in my vision of a certain problem; because I’m unique (and relatively ancient), perhaps there is no problem and I’m just yet another old man yelling at a cloud. But still, it’s my blog, my show here. Once I write it, it’s up to the reader to figure out whether I deserve indulging. You can always skip.

There are other DC superheroes who are not Marvel superheroes. They don’t wallow away in their angst about being mutants and how society will never accept them. But, they’re not Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman. Their stories are, frankly, a bit boring, they’re not the Big Three and it isn’t possible for them to take on that stature, ever. Those three have something in common. And I’m afraid the “Dawn of Justice” movie is missing out on what it is.

They are transplants. Fate moved all three of them, from something, to something else. All three of them had destinies laid out for them that were mundane and halcyon. And then something happened, completely out of their control. Except for Wonder Woman who did some of the choosing, but not with completely open eyes. She was taking a leap of faith.

These heroes have enduring questions. Superman didn’t know he was a transplant until close to adulthood, but on the way he had to notice certain things seemed a bit off. With the big reveal that he never was of this world, and his puzzle solved, his questions are only just starting. Poor fellow has no idea what to do with Lois Lane, who is in love with him but only when he’s in costume. He really wants her to love Clark Kent. This is why, in every incarnation, the stories start getting lame as soon as Lois finds out the truth. After that, they’re just “Mr. and Mrs. Superhero” on their latest adventure.

Wonder Woman is wondering why when she walks down the sidewalk, everyone’s looking at her funny. And why are they wearing so much? What’s up with this thing called “money” and how do you get it? She also has the hundred or so other questions causing such confusion in Mork from Ork, and Jeannie, and My Favorite Martian, and the Third Rock guys…

Batman doesn’t even know for sure if he wants to survive the next encounter, he’s trying to figure out if he’s suicidal. He is perhaps the most fascinating of all of them because he’s teetering on the edge of sanity. The goal that keeps him in check is to clean up Gotham, but what sort of a goal is that? He’s never going to get it done, can’t even assess whether he’s taking two steps back for every one forward. And he may very well be like the dog chasing the car, wouldn’t have any idea what to do if he caught it.

All the other DC heroes are “real” comic book heroes. They have some sort of state of Nirvana, a situational calming, to which all objects and states are to be returned by the time the reader reaches Page 22. That can stay intriguing for a bit, or it can go on indefinitely; but it cannot do both. That’s why these three are the best of the three. They don’t belong where fate has put them, and as such not a one among the three has any genuine restful state. This is not tragedy. It’s just something that approaches the reality of what we’re living, out here. That’s why we identify, at least partially, with them, in ways we cannot identify with Green Lantern, Flash, Wendy, Marvin, Wonder Twins…

But who knows? Maybe the movie will catch on to this…or, provide an adequate replacement. Anyhow. That’s how I see it. It’s a voice from the past; whether it’s foolishness from the past best abandoned, or wisdom from the past cluing in the present generation on why they’re not getting the enjoyment out of the genre we used to know, I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide.

Update: Maybe the makers of the Wonder Woman movie kinda get it…


Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

I have a current friend and former work colleague who is very much into football. This time of year, there is occasional friction between us if I don’t keep my opinions to myself about it. Which I suppose is fair. It’s a pastime, and as such it isn’t about Republicans, democrats, religious denominations, secular types. In fact as I understand it, that’s part of the appeal: People from all walks of life come together. Unless they’re rooting for opposite teams, but there’s a certain togetherness involved in that.

I recognize and respect the stillness of this pond, into which the “fishermen” do not want any rocks thrown. This Beyoncé person, however (video ad auto plays behind the link) evidently is not that considerate…

We had some of our annual dust-up when the football fan pounced on me for not keeping my opinion to myself. He’s since figured out I’m on his side on this thing, my point being that football should just be football. And although I didn’t watch the game, you really can’t help but pick up the aftershocks of what happened at halftime, and it isn’t hard to detect a certain invasion underway. Is football about an approaching revolution, a razing of civilization to the ground so another civilization can be put in its place? No, and it shouldn’t be. Shouldn’t be about keeping the one we’ve got, either. It should be just about football. And yes, my opinion about what football should be, ends there. But I can tell Beyoncé went over the line. That’s part & parcel of living under a rule; you aren’t ignorant when others have violated it, and she certainly did.

But this is part of a long-standing trend: Things like football, that have nothing to do with political statements, being trespassed-upon by persons who have political statements to make. I suppose it is in the nature of all political statements to give it a try, find more ways to establish outlets, get the message communicated. It’s going to be that way, and by that I mean until the sun goes nova. It’s hard to envision something as being a problem if there’s no solution possible. So political elements encroaching upon non-political things, or at least trying to do so — while regrettable — is regrettable like gravity. Occasionally it’s inconvenient, but what of it?

The problem is that the rest of us have a certain tolerance for this, and it’s a selective tolerance. It favors the negative, the destructive. Those elements within politics that seek to build nothing, and desire to destroy much. Not that we’re ignoring it entirely. A firestorm has been lit by Beyoncé’s so-called “performance”; but, that’s not rejection, that’s just noise and excitement which is doing little besides raising the profile. To see what I mean by this, try this thought exercise: A halftime show imploring the football fans to turn to God and Jesus to solve their problems. Or: Just to work hard at keeping promises, being better husbands to their wives and better fathers to their children. That would inspire not just controversy, but rejection. There would be apologies. And heads detached. It wouldn’t find the level of tolerance Beyoncé’s halftime number did manage to find.

How did we get here? This has become routine for us. Destructive political agendas invade realms that are apolitical, that provokes a big nothing, maybe an “aw gee I wish she hadn’t-a done that” — at most. A political agenda that has to do with people working hard, telling the truth, teaching children to be productive members of society, commits a similar infraction…now you’re talking a completely different situation, a whole octave higher on the pitch scale of WeShallNotPutUpWithThat and WantToSeeBloodOnTheWater. It’s been a gradual and subtle change, but the change is certainly there.

I believe we have lost sight of what it means to contribute to — something. What it means to contribute to society, to a community in which one lives, to any assemblage of persons bigger than the one. It’s a common mistake. Our commonly-mistaken perception, at large, is that the right way to contribute has something to do with inspiring any sort of positive feelings in others, regardless of whether those feelings are meaningful or not. They could be fluffy, superficial, spiritually empty feelings. Or failing that, just go with the crowd, be a person who is in attendance of the whatever, and at least doesn’t do damage. And smile. That shows what a positive person you are.

This is dangerous because it leaves us vulnerable to missing the recognitions of two confounding realities: The participant who seeks to destroy much and build nothing, but smiles a lot; and, the one who builds things we all need to have built, but doesn’t smile enough. As a Christian, I believe Christ arrived at our mortal plane because of common misconceptions about what behavior was & required of people to fulfill the vision of the intelligence responsible for creating everything, to achieve the Design Intent. Much of the New Testament scripture reinforces that view. But as a thinking Christian, I doubt very much Christ possessed the mannerisms that our most successful so-called “leaders” possess. We know He wasn’t ultimately treated very well by humanity as a whole. It is true that He was the leader of a small band of people, and we know He gave sermons but we don’t have any indication that His personality had much, or anything at all, to do with getting those congregations assembled. He probably smiled about as often as that old guy in “Up.”

That is speculation. What we know for certain is that there was no obvious ambition at work, for Him to try to do what we commonly try to do, to fulfill our modern vision of contributing — make sure every single syllable uttered makes people feel good, none of it makes people feel bad. That was obviously not the objective. Pick a quote from the gospels, at random. See? It’s about finding the right path, rejecting the wrong one, fidelity to truth. Not feeling-good.

As Beyoncé has shown, destructive urges certainly do make a lot of people feel good. That’s the hazard right there. But there’s nothing helpful in our learning this because there’s nothing new about it. We knew that already. And no, I’ll not pretend she’s inconvenienced me in some way since I didn’t watch the game. And now that there’s this huge rolling-controversy going on about her gig, that still doesn’t inconvenience me either because I can ignore it if I choose to and eventually it’ll roll on by, life will go back to normal. Ignoring this is costless.

It’s the proclivity of those around us to say “meh” — while, simultaneously, vigilantly standing guard against any message resonating that is actually positive — that is rather like the living room drapes catching fire. It’s a house fire that’s already been ignored for so long, and yet, still has yet to do the bulk of its damage. And we can’t fight that fire until we put a little bit more disciplined thought into what it takes to contribute. We, as a society, have been under-performing here because we have been under-thinking.

Fewer People Working

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Herman Cain:

In the past month, more than 360,000 left the work force, which follows a total of 284,000 who did so the previous month. To some degree this is to be expected because people get seasonal jobs around the holidays. But remember, these are people who want jobs but have hit a dead end in their search. The fact that they had seasonal jobs and left them doesn’t mean they’re happy about it.
BLS-LFPRThe current labor force participation rate is just 62.7 percent. It actually just went up one-tenth of a percent, but the ballpark we’re talking about here is the lowest we’ve seen since – not surprisingly – the Carter Administration.

And this is not an unforeseen consequence of Obama policies. It’s the idea. Obama policies have always aimed to make it easier for people not to work. You can stay on unemployment longer. You can stay on your parents’ health insurance until well past the time you should be gainfully employed. Recently he proposed to have the taxpayers reimburse you if you take a pay cut.

Every incentive of the Obama economic program is against work, against productivity and against profit. So why should anyone be surprised that more than 94 million people who should be in the workforce are not?

And when you’re only producing 151,000 new jobs per month, how do you expect to bring 94 million people back into the workforce? You can’t. You need real growth policies that are friendly to productivity and corporate profits, which we’ll never get from Obama — and which we’ll obviously not get from Hillary or Bernie. [emphasis mine]

BLS website shows Cain is correct. Provably, in the snapshot of the current participation rate. And as far as the goal of Obama policies, well…the trend line on this particular metric certainly doesn’t cast any doubts. The thing about President Obama requesting taxpayer-provided compensation for reduced pay is true too, and this is evidence of an administration that is either unaware of this long-term trend, doesn’t care about it, or — the worst, and most likely scenario — is counting on it.

“That Demands Answers”

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Twitchy reports a series of tweets by Gabriel Malor (by way of Instapundit):

A decision was made to stop work on the court-ordered release of Clinton emails and start work on Powell, Rice emails. That demands answers.

Background is…

The State Department, under court order to release thousands of pages of emails by January 29, explained that due to the snowstorm that hit Washington, D.C., it would need another month to come through with the goods; coincidently, some time after the New Hampshire primary.

The fig leaf drops. Politicking comes first, who’d a-thought that?

And big-government liberals want government to handle more things.

“Open-Minded Conservatives, Prejudiced Liberals”

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Samual Goldman, State of the Union:

Although they pride themselves on being open-minded, liberals generally have far less contact with conservatives than conservatives do with liberals. As a result, their understanding of conservatives and conservatism is frequently a caricature. The problem is not simply that they disagree. It’s that they have little first-hand experience of whom or what they’re disagreeing with.

Yes, it ends with a dangling preposition. But there’s something to this anyway. Many’s the time I’ve been genuinely surprised, shocked even, upon discovering a liberal’s perception of his or her point of disagreement with those who disagree…like, myself for example.

Liberal Echo ChamberEspecially on the Inequality Thing. Within the liberal echo chamber, the perception of the conservative outlook is that inequality is desirable. CEOs who are “given” several hundred times more than their “workers” — yeah, sure, that’s how it’s supposed to be. A factor of several thousand times would be even better? What conservative actually thinks that?

Maybe they argued with a conservative who made the point, quite correctly, that if everything is equal within a battery then that’s just another way of saying it’s dead. That comes closest to my outlook on it; if your station in life is going to be some sort of constant regardless of what you do, then you might as well stay in bed and that’s how people are going to react. They’ll avoid extraordinary, uncomfortable efforts. Tell that to a proggie though, they’ll think you’re endorsing inequality — you’re saying society’s got to have these “haves” and “have-nots.” It’s the opposite of the truth because their coloring-book reality is a dystopia suffering from a painful lack of opportunity, and opportunity is central to the point the conservative is making. If the outcome is static and constant, there’s no opportunity. Doesn’t matter if the standard of living is high or low, people settle into a depression when they live like this. And they stop trying.

There are other examples, but a single specimen makes the point better than a lengthy listing, in this case.

Goldman continues:

Yet [Kevin] Drum misses the last and perhaps most important cause of liberals’ alienation from conservatives: their tendency to cluster in major metropolitan areas. I’m unaware of any study of the geographical distribution of ideological self-identification as such. But it does appear that Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to live in uncompetitive House districts.

Yes, there’s something: Liberals hug the coastlines, and wherever population is dense, for some reason. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? A greater population density makes people who live there liberal, or does it draw them into it from without? The consensus around the question at Quora is that the diverse backgrounds of the people who live there brings out a special sort of “tolerance,” which is only to be found in our friends, the liberals; this theory is invalidated by the experience of any conservatives who have come into contact with liberals, who found out they were conservatives. Nor does it gel with the observation above, made repeatedly elsewhere, that liberals are much more likely to stick to their own kind and shun contact with unbelievers. Yes I know that goes against the narrative. But that’s reality.

Let’s try this on for size: Liberalism requires population density. You can’t preen without an audience, and if this stuff we call “liberalism” is anything at all, it is a packaging contrary to the substance, a bit of phony showmanship, a carnival sideshow. Imagine doing work without an audience. Fixing a farm tractor out in a field, miles away from the nearest human being. Or, putting together a presentation for a meeting the next day, working very late in the office gathering data…the joys of PowerPoint. Or, you’re cleaning a gun and you want it to actually work next time you’re using it. Cleaning it, alone. Packing your parachute. Alone. Or, someone else’s parachute. You may vote like a lib, but in these situations you won’t be thinking that way. At least, I hope not…

If you’ve got a narrative that the tractor’s fine it’s just out of gas, but your experience tells you the tank is half full, the plugs are fouled — you are going to have to drop the narrative, which is something liberals cannot do.

Liberalism begins, and ends, with failure; failure and excuse-making. Excuses count if, and only if, someone is around to react in some way. When you have square miles per person instead of persons per square mile, this doesn’t fit. The tractor works or it doesn’t. Our current President does a great job of showing how this works. It’s embarrassing to listen to Him after awhile. Blah blah blah, mess I inherited blah blah blah…can’t even think properly anymore, He’s been subjected to too many environments in which words matter. Talked His mom into thinking He was actually putting the cookie back in the jar — got away with it, been getting away with it ever since. As a result, has to have the last word about everything, all of the time, and every speech is ninety minutes or more and is the Greatest Speech In All Of Human History. Every single one. But it doesn’t really work. Because where work matters, words don’t. President Obama represents liberals everywhere, who simply can’t function in any environment in which results speak for themselves. Nope. The speech has to do that, they know the results aren’t good enough.

There is an irony here: When the population density is lower, you’re actually more likely to encounter this coveted “diversity” because the encounters with your fellow humans, rare though they may be, are liberated from your own control. And when you do meet up with them it’s probably because 1) you need their help or 2) they need yours; this is something that isn’t true in more densely populated areas. Liberals have a lot of trouble with this concept, but when something is everywhere and all the time, people get tired of seeing whatever it is. That includes other people.

And as always, the real test of whether a liberal is “tolerant” of “diversity,” is a conservative. Liberals, generally, do not pass this test.

“Narrative People”

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Me, in the e-mails…making reference to what is commonly referred to as “Confirmation Bias,” although I never actually used those words since I was more focused on how these people behave, what makes them act that way, how they get that way, and what can be expected next from them.

And, what are the rest of us to do about it?

…I see this is an awfully big crowd…It may even be a majority of humanity. The problem is this: They live in narratives. Before they have any relevant experiences at all, they choose a very simple “plotline” of sorts, and then as they “learn” from the experiences around them, they chuck away anything that doesn’t support what they’ve picked. And of course place an inexplicably heavy emphasis on anything that does support it. So the facts support the narrative!! Always. But it isn’t a “matter of fact,” they knew what they wanted to conclude right from the get-go…

These “narrative people” are just kind of in the way…you move them out of the way…

[T]here are ways to achieve diplomacy with them. Step One is always, find out what their “script” is. Might as well take the trouble to do so, it determines everything with them, and I do mean everything. Help them flesh out the plot, since they’ve got the key plot-points all chosen already. When their clinging does them harm, or does harm to someone else — pick your battles. Choose where, and if, you have to go through the jarring experience of prying them loose, getting them to face reality. But if it isn’t necessary then let them stew in their juices. It’s what they want. Just move them out of the way so they don’t interfere with you or with anybody else.

I’d have qualms about placing this much in public view if it was any one person who inspired the observation. And I do wish that was the case.

But…it’s not. No one single person taught me this. In fact, being this way is the default, within the human condition; having the maturity to recognize an unwelcome fact, and seriously contemplate what it might mean, what sort of conclusions are to be reached and what to do about them — that is the aberration.

My proxy-embarrassment with these people is particularly keen when they start babbling away about what will happen. Makes me wonder who allowed them to leave the residence, wild and free like that. How did they get dressed? And: What others are going to do. What you’re going to do, what I’m going to do. China will cut their coal emissions. Hillary’s going to be the next President. What is that, anyway, a request, command, prediction, bribe, threat? They don’t seem to know themselves. They only know what not to think, which is anything to the contrary.

Anything outside the narrative is to be expurgated. Ejected with great force. Not just force; fanfare.

A useful litmus-test question: Has anything at all occurred to, at the very least, open your consciousness to the possibility of X? Where X is something outside the perimeter of allowed thought, in the particular matter currently under discussion. Narrative people will have nothing to offer, because they have been proudly emphatic about the open-question-that’s-a-settled-question since Day One.

You may even get them, without trying, to say those words: “I [absolutely] refuse to consider.” Doesn’t happen often. It’s a piece of honesty, so I suppose I should wish it happens more often. But I can’t. It makes me wince.