Archive for May, 2018

Can’t Be Liberals

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

Severian:

I’m not a Liberal, first and foremost, because I’m lazy. This is the meta-reason, that encompasses all the other reasons. It just takes too much damn effort to be a Liberal.

Not noticing stuff is hard. I said somewhere that Third Wave feminism is so easy to disprove, a wymynist should be crippled by cognitive dissonance every time she goes to buy kitty litter. With all that rage against the Patriarchy, and knowing (as she does!) that physical strength is just a social construction, she should easily be able to heft that giant econo-size bag off the bottom shelf. but alas, she’s got to call the stockboy over to do it for her. Pretty much all Liberalism is like that…

On top of that, you have to forget everything you already know…I like a drink as much as the next guy, but there’s not enough booze in the world to make me forget that the USSR used to be there, but now it’s not.

And then there’s the skull-cracking cognitive dissonance…I imagine the Liberal “thought” process runs like that old “Frogger” arcade game — you’ve got to hop from dogma to dogma, dodging the cars of fact and reason that come rushing at you at ever-increasing speed. That shit’s exhausting; much easier to not believe in the first place.

Finally, there’s the smirk. I hate working out, because I’m lazy, and do you know how much effort it takes to smug your face up Jon Stewart-style? I can hold that pose for maybe ten seconds at a stretch. Your more advanced Liberals, like Rachel Maddow, have their faces frozen that way…

I must be lazy too. We didn’t coordinate on this, but over at the Hello Kitty of Blogging I had my own thoughts about respecting the opinions of liberals. And why even that, in spite of my good upbringing — sorry Mom — is above my ideal level-of-effort:

The hitch in the giddyap is this, how do they say it, this “ever increasing level of liberty and equality” that has been going on since the Storming of the Bastille, and has given us cures for diseases, the weekend, federal holidays, and in the future will end starvation, illiteracy, disease, blight, famine, war…I may be exaggerating it slightly because I’m describing it from the outside. Can’t get jiggy with it. But I”m sure I have the structural attachment points correct, I’ve had know-it-all liberals feed it to me many a time.

…It continues to impress me how much the recruitment of political-unawares and centrists to the liberal side, has to do with DEPRESSION and FAILURE. You can’t get a job, or if you can get one you can’t earn enough to raise your own family. The whole deck of cards is stacked against you so you need liberal politicians and their liberal policies! Why, without them, you’ll starve, and your grandparents have to choose between their medicine and pet food…maybe eat the pet food…or the pet…

This is pure cognitive dissonance and it does not, and cannot, inspire respect. It looks like what it is: a constituency of drama-addicts who can’t think the situation through all the way, keep falling back on their feelings, steadfastly electing policymakers who manufacture misery and then use that misery to justify their continued re-election. A true realization of that Star Trek upward-ramp of Hakuna Matada Means No Worries, would derail the gravy train to those liberal politicians and frankly, I would expect a fifth-grader ready for graduation to the sixth grade, to be able to see it.

ADD TO THAT: Ever-increasing liberty, ever-increasing equality. Which is it? You can’t have both. Some people want to get along in life without spending or receiving any money, or very little of it, and that’s their right.

I would expect a seventh-grader ready for graduation to the eighth grade, to be able to see this too.

And I have opened on the equality thing before.

…[E]verywhere in nature where you’ve got something working, and all parts of that thing require a resource so it’s necessary to distribute something — there will be a tiny part of the thing, that functions as the source. That source will have most of whatever is being distributed. Go ahead, find ten exceptions. Heck, find three. Find one.

We’ve been sold a huge, damaging lie: That leaning over and peaking into your sister’s cereal bowl is acceptable behavior, and also that if you find something in there that you don’t have, this is the difference between everything being hunky-dory, versus an imminent and righteous revolution.

What we’ve been sold, is death. Life doesn’t work that way.

How much energy is wasted on the trajectory, I wonder? One of these new-recruits who’s in the process of building up these heartstring-tugging fantasies about the glorious revolution that will make everything all equal and right and proper, hasn’t got far to go before the very sensible words written above can no longer reach them. People get emotionally attached. Which I find to be surprising. “Some people are willing to do whatever is necessary to build up a good retirement, others don’t want a lot of money, how you going to make them equal?” The premises are not only solid. To anyone who has even a cursory amount of experience getting to know other people, especially people from a range of different backgrounds and walks-of-life, they’re undeniable. And the logic is not extravagant or esoteric, certainly not fragile. You can’t make people equal unless you encroach on their liberty. One thing has to give.

The typical conservative, I’ve noticed, is someone who’s come to realize this. A lot of them are former liberals.

To those who have not converted yet, and may end up taking their dirt nap before they ever see the light, I guess the answer is the “frogger dogma” game mentioned above. They simply hippity-hop. And I suppose this is where that frivolous attachment to reality figures into it, the denial of the metaphysical reality. This stretchy-gumby vibe they give off, that statements are not measurements of things, they’re just statements, some good some bad, but there’s no absolute truth about anything. A late-night comedian says “facts have a liberal bias” and it just sounds good, wins the argument, fer sure! And that’s what a “fact” is, to them. It’s true if it wins an argument.

But none of it actually measures anything, because we each have our “own truth.” Well…entertainment endeavors aside, you can’t do any real work that way.

“Straw Man Fallacy”

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

According to the most easily-reached reference material, it is this

Straw ManA straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be “attacking a straw man.”

The typical straw man argument creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent’s proposition through the covert replacement of it with a different proposition (i.e., “stand up a straw man”) and the subsequent refutation of that false argument (“knock down a straw man”) instead of the opponent’s proposition.

In practice, however — the situations as they exist when the term is actually used — we see the meaning is distributed among three:

1. Your opponent is “attacking a straw man” by stating your position inaccurately so he can make an entirely illegitimate & irrelevant rebuttal, on his part, look like a proper one.

2. Your opponent is calling out a cause-and-effect relationship you cannot, or will not, acknowledge or see. “Straw man! I never said cause a huge explosion, I merely suggested using this cigarette lighter to see if the gas tank is empty.” “Straw man! I didn’t say kill the puppy, I just suggested throwing it off this cliff.”

3. Your opponent has accurately and concisely articulated why your idea is flawed, and you, embarrassed, seek to go back and re-litigate that part of the discussion where you already had your chance to define your idea.

Only the first one of these three coincides with the meaning given in the reference material. And that’s the only legitimate use.

If Any Liberals Were Involved in Your “Research,” I Want That Disclosed

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

And — ya know what? It isn’t because of some revulsion impulse, as in “Ooh ick, they’re different from me, cooties!” I want to know if liberals were involved in this push-poll, or academic research, or survey, or such-and-such a “fact checking” web site, or “study.” I’m asking the question so I can figure out whether or not to take the findings with a large grain of salt. This is what we all should be doing.

I’m not the only one with the concern, after all. I think if we’re going to be honest about it, we all have doubts in the back of the mind when we hear “a study found.” We’ve just been conditioned over time to nurture some heady fear against asking the obvious question: Did the researchers know what they were going to “find” before they started doing any research?

We’ve also been conditioned not to notice the obvious, that liberals are the people who do exactly that. They “learn” what they want to “know.” You ever try telling them something they don’t? Give that a try, then come back here. I’ll wait.

1. They STILL can’t get over the results of the 2016 election. Still. And by “get over” I don’t mean learning to like, I’m talking about recognizing at all levels of consciousness that their candidate really did lose. This is merely the most splendid and in-your-face example of them thinking their preferences have something to do with figuring out what is & is not real. They can’t separate the one from the other. The necessity to do so simply hasn’t arisen for them within their individual experience, at least not often enough that they’ve had to make a habit out of it like real adults do.

2. They think when quotas and set-asides are maintained in promotions, contracting, enrollment and hiring on the basis of race, national background, sex and sex preference, this means “greater equality.” This is the best tip-off that we’re dealing with something busted at a primitive level. It is a violation against a fundamental rule of thought: A thing is perceived to be the same as the opposite of itself. What can we rely on them to get right, if they get that one wrong?

Global Warming Not All Bad3. They “diagnose” under-achieving boys in school with “learning disabilities” just for under-achieving in an environment designed for girls, and acting too much like boys.

4. They think Bill and Hillary Clinton have the ideal marriage.

5. C.A.L.W.W.N.T.Y. (Come A Long Way, We’re Not There Yet) is their status report on every struggle for “equality.” Every single one. In perpetuity. Their talking points are built to work on those who don’t get the concept of time.

6. They don’t really care about “what happened,” anywhere, ever. They look at all of life as some kind of snapshot, and don’t respect history at all. Background means nothing to them. They tear down statues.

7. These are the people who get “triggered” when a gentleman opens a door for a lady.

8. They think humans have the ability to control “climate change,” but not survive it. They claim this is what the science says. They’ve got it completely backwards.

9. They think Ted Kennedy was the Conscience of the Senate. Sometimes, in context, they think that honorific title should go to former Klansman Robert Byrd.

10. They think social stigma is a good thing. They’re not willing to hear anything different, because this started with social stigma against “black people are no good” and things like that; therefore, if you suggest social stigma might not be the way to go, in their minds you’re in favor of discriminating against black people. But this has led to a desire to socially stigmatize against any other opinion, social, political, or anything else, they can agree among themselves is undesirable. And over the years it’s become a sort of way of life for them, a one-tool-in-the-bag, a default methodology for presenting their case to the public: “Agree with us or face the (social) consequences.” So when they congregate in their groups, even if every individual in attendance has earned the proper credentials in the relevant field of study; how can we rely on them to come to the correct conclusion, knowing this about them? How can we expect their group dynamic to work as a supplement to their ability to get it right, rather than as a detriment?

11. They believe the raid on Benghazi was caused by “a YouTube video,” then they believe Obama when He says nobody in His administration ever said any such thing.

12. They’re intractably convinced that if there are 19 men and only 1 woman on a software development team, it must be institutionalized sexism.

13. They claim to take it seriously when women are intimidated or bullied by powerful men, but want to make it harder for those women to acquire guns to defend themselves.

14. Another example of a thing being treated as the opposite of itself: “Greater liberty” has something to do with the government imposing a fine on you for not subscribing to what was previously a voluntarily-acquired service.

15. They think we should receive our worldly sage advice from children. This idea envisions children to be the exact opposite of what children are.

16. They can’t seem to envision government ever coming under the control of their opposition, or for that matter anyone who fails to agree with them about everything, lockstep-style.

17. They have some “studies” that “prove” raising the minimum wage gets MORE people hired. Yep, an increase in price is connected to increase in demand (if valid & verifiable, this would effectively end the study of economics).

18. They claim to be in favor of female empowerment, but want trans-genders to be able to compete in demanding athletic sports as women. Their kind made Caitlyn Jenner “Woman of the Year” and got Wonder Woman fired from her “job” as U.N. Ambassador.

19. They’re heap-big concerned about “interference in our elections” but oppose voter I.D. laws.

20. Yet another thing being the opposite of itself: “Sanctions” are supposed to stop bad countries from doing bad things. They thought so when George W. Bush was considering invading Iraq. But in the case of Iran, dismantling Obama’s deal means a return to these “sanctions” against nuclear arms, which this time around means the bad guys are going to get them.

21. They think James Comey is a leader in ethics.

22. The social-justice types insist gender is nothing but a social construct. They want men to be able to piddle in womens’ bathrooms.

23. The secular types believe in something coming from nothing, “First there was nothing, which exploded…”; and then mock those who’ve concluded the something must have come from a something. This is another violation against a fundamental rule of thought. They can’t tell a nothing apart from a something.

24. Whenever there’s a school shooting, their hot ideas have to do with imposing new rules on the gun owners who did not do it.

25. Being definitions-averse, they think Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama would make great presidents but can’t even begin to explain why.

26. Their answer to the Paris bombings was to fly in James Taylor and have him sing “You’ve Got a Friend.”

27. They care nothing about measurable achievement. They confer the descriptor “working families” on people who aren’t part of any kind of family, and don’t work. They gave Barack Obama a Peace Prize for not doing anything.

28. They object whenever our nation’s border is treated like an actual border. Compromises on this issue don’t satisfy them. Nothing works for them short of opening the border, because it’s just another estabilshed definition they want to eliminate.

29. Whenever they’re involved in, or invited to opine on, a desperate economic situation that involves shortages; reliable as rain, they’ll go after the “profiteering.” As a consequence of this, their “solutions” will reliably, in fact systematically, make things worse because interference with profits will result in an obstruction against supply. And they don’t get this. They’re too blinded by this hatred against profit.

30. They have all these opinions about guns, like how people will react to them, how easy it is to buy one, which ones should be banned because they’re too dangerous; and yet so often it turns out the most opinionated among them have never owned or operated a gun.

31. If you make and are allowed to keep too much money, they see that as some sort of a problem.

32. In violation of yet another fresh-out-of-the-gate fundamental rule of thought, they fail to distinguish, or insist on intermingling, facts and opinions. They take it as a “fact” when Bernie Sanders says something “should be free!” It’s exactly like the word “fact” is to be used for opinions they happen to like, and if you come up with a fact they don’t like, they’re inclined to brush that off as “your opinion.”

So when you show me a “study” that you think should be the final blow of the battering ram against the gate and send me to the floor genuflecting before your superior “facts,” and it doesn’t happen, it’s not necessarily because I don’t like what the study says. And it doesn’t mean I’m not willing to listen to an opposing viewpoint. Quite to the contrary. I’m waiting for you to provide me with some reassurance of something.

The Twilight of the Age of Aquarius… X

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

NihilismBecause of personal things going on, my wife and I have been having to grapple with the definition of nihilism. It occurs to me that society-at-large, whether it realizes it or not, has been having to do the same. All this rancorous debate, the bad kind not the good kind, the discourse that generates lots of heat and very little light — it always seems to involve one side that cares passionately about not caring.

Well, we can test it literally. Get a load of that word-usage graph!

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy sez…

Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy.

Huh. I see a problem on the horizon. All values are baseless, OR we want to destroy things. How is it both? Is it through that word “impulse”? As in, an impulse free of values? Dunno. If I have my hand on a hot stove, I have an impulse to remove it; there is value associated with that, specifically, the value of the skin on my hand. I’m just saying the rejection of all values should involve a rejection of all action and that should include the act of destruction. Unless there’s some kind of ricochet somewhere, some deviation or constraint.

Let’s look further. Wikipedia

Nihilism is the philosophical viewpoint that suggests the denial or lack of belief towards the reputedly meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.[1] Moral nihilists assert that there is no inherent morality, and that accepted moral values are abstractly contrived. Nihilism may also take epistemological, ontological, or metaphysical forms, meaning respectively that, in some aspect, knowledge is not possible, or reality does not actually exist.

Okay so there are three things going on here: It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t (or may not) exist, and I want to wreck it. From talking to them, I see there is this impulse to check each decision-making exercise with another: “Is it worthwhile for me to even bother making a decision?” That one has to be concluded first, and the conclusion is consistently to the negative. In the long run, the “grand scheme of things,” it doesn’t matter. This is merely an extension, an impractical, outlandish one, of what we all do I’m thinking. When I take the effort to do things, like pay my bills, I have in the back of my mind an approximate “payoff date.” For bill-paying that’s somewhere around thirty days forward, at which time I do not want to be looking at a bunch of “Second Notice Please Remit” and “You’ve been hit with a late charge!” and so forth. For tax records, it’s between January 31 and April 15 of the next year. I’m putting this receipt in the special-pouch, because in that date range, my actions today will have the desired effect. These nihilists, it seems, are engaged in an exercise of sliding that all the way to the end…ALL the way…to the end of time itself, that moment when the entire universe, known & unknown, is consumed in final entropy. And this decides their political positions. Abortion? Yeah sure okay, it’s a life, it’s a baby, whatever…in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter. North Korea? Iran’s nukes? (Take a long drag, exhale) …whatever, man…

“It doesn’t exist” is existentialism. It seems there is a fastening between that, and this word. “When you were a two month old baby you fell asleep in your crib and started dreaming…you’re still asleep, dreaming all of this, none of it is real..” Who’s to say authoritatively otherwise?

“I want to wreck it” is an animal instinct enjoined to this word on the political level. This is anarchy.

Let us concentrate on the first one. I’m picking up the vibe that the “move the payoff date way down the road, to Ragnarok” is less a mental exercise and more of a brush-off. It is more like: “I want to reject the consideration of consequences but do not want to be blamed for doing so, so I’ll go through the motions of considering consequences way, WAY down here…” That would suggest the encyclopedia-definition requires tweaking. The “condemn[ation of] existence” is a “value,” and this consistent rejection of committed decision-making is a “loyalty.” Because of this contradiction, this word has always given me a lot of trouble. I’ve never had much confidence I have it down cold, and could make informed decisions about whether it’s being applied correctly without checking reference material. And I suppose it’s not really possible for anyone to comprehend it that well, maybe no one does. The definition remains murky because this contradiction is an intrinsic part of the word.

For examples of what I’m talking about, we could take some matters on which I myself am a scope-constrained nihilist. Like this one, I’ve had handed back to me more than a few times over the years, on & off the Internet: “How DARE you presume that only religious people can be moral!” With lots and lots of nose-puffing and foot-stamping and righteous indignation. See, if this rejection of religious and moral principles were a sincere and consistent thing, such an inquiry would answer itself: I just do. It’s all good. Spiders torture flies before they eat them, sadistic little boys fry ants with magnifying glasses, and I presume only religious people are moral. Doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

Such “nihilists” don’t see it that way.

The English language entirely fails me when I seek to express the depths of my apathy, on the matter of prosperous “large corporations” making billions of dollars in a year and then not paying taxes. I can’t find a way to put into words how much I don’t care about this. The supposed nihilists, I notice, care a whole lot. Now how’s that work? If they’re committed nihilists, and I’m not, how is it they care so much about something and I don’t give a fig? Wells Fargo paying zero dollars certainly doesn’t pass the Final Universe Entropy test, AmIRight?

Here are some more things that might stick a rake handle in the bicycle spokes of your favorite nihilist…

1. Let me buy and own a gun with a capacity of 17. Just do it. By the time the sun goes nova, who cares?

2. Let that Christian organization donate a statue of Moses to be erected right in front of City Hall, or the local courthouse. Or Jesus! With a flaming sword. Riding a Triceratops. Suck it up.

3. Let that baker refuse to make a gay-wedding cake.

4. Your supposed “income inequality” ain’t no thang.

5. Get over the 2016 election already!

6. “Raising awareness” about this or that or some other thing: How about don’t. It’s doesn’t matter over the long term anyway.

7. Hostile work environment: Aw just grow a pair, learn to deal. In a thousand years no one will remember anyway.

8. NFL cheerleaders and beauty pageants: Yes, men are slobbering over them. It’s like the wind or the tides, let it be.

9. ANYTHING that “triggers” some snowflake for any reason. Who cares, trigger their guts out, it isn’t important.

10. How about we give up on that whole “end war once & for all” thing. It’s been tried, doesn’t work, in the long run isn’t relevant.

Prairie DogIf you know one of these kids, and you probably do…you’ll find a few items on this list that don’t work for them. Maybe all of them don’t work. By which I mean, they’ll be rejected, forcefully — meaning exactly one thing. Proving, not merely suggesting, that the nihilist has values. And he cares about them rather passionately.

I’m sure there are other little “land mines” like this that I’ve missed. But I think the point is made. Nihilism — as we see it commonly, not as the way it’s described in the encyclopedia — is not the rejection of all values. It’s more like an avoidance of responsibility. “I don’t want to go on record having that opinion.” But, it is stencil-selective. They do want to go on record having other opinions.

Can hardly wait to do it! Just like anyone else.

Perhaps we should call them “Prairie Dog Nihilists.” Mulling it over for a day or so, I figured out that descriptive phrase, couldn’t come up with a better one. The more I think about it the more I like it. Prairie dogs, you see, spend most of their time underground, in the tunnel, especially when humans pass by who could observe them. And then, timidly, not wanting to get caught, they’ll emerge to see what’s going on…when they see the humans aren’t gone yet, they’ll duck underground again, with their trademark “eep!” sound. They disappear so quickly that it is extremely difficult to get a glimpse of them, or even to figure out with confidence from whence direction the sound came.

In that way, they are exquisitely annoying.

But at least they’re not known for voting for liberal democrats or supporting their execrable policies, like the human variation.

I have a cause for this problem in mind, and a fix. I think the K-12 education system has failed us. It had deteriorated a lot by the time I entered Kindergarten, and I’ve noticed it’s changed even further since the days I spent in it, not for the better. I think these kids have spent twelve years or more, being punished for taking any kind of position on anything — and rewarded for not doing so. The effect is strong because it has had a direct impact on the A and the F students alike. These are groups that typically don’t intermingle or share any kind of common bond. But they share it here. They’ve all gotten the message, reverberated it within their ranks. So there is the power of the echo chamber in there, and it’s on steroids.

The fix, I think, is simple. I could be wrong. We’ll have to give it a go and see what happens. I propose we merely ask for consistency. Apply this “who cares on the day the sun goes dark?” test across the board. To everything. To the ten items listed above, and anything else. What these kids are missing out on, is everyday learning, and it’s the kind of learning you do in adulthood. This is what makes adults act like adults.

I don’t care about the sun going nova, I won’t be there. I care about my financial situation next month and so I’m going to pay bills. Like that.

The problem is as simple as — I think — they just haven’t been exposed to this. They haven’t learned how to adult.

On Equality

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

What this country really needs is a good, honest, open, thoughtful dialogue about equality. Not socialism. Socialism’s easy. We’ve got a few over-educated nutcases who think socialism is a good thing, but people generally get that it isn’t. Equality, on the other hand, has people snookered.

If the lamp works, the “vast majority” of the light in the room will be behind the shade. The greatest part of heat in a car that actually runs, will be in the engine. The densest part of a green union is down in the dirt, in the bulb. Ditto for the leek, the artichoke, the rhubarb, the celery stalk, the bok choy. This is how things that live, live, and it is how things that work, work. Always, there is some tiny portion of the overall thing, that has the job of distributing something, and it has the greatest part of & freest access to whatever it is. The greatest concentration of oxygen-rich blood in your body is in the arteries, nearest to your heart. This doesn’t mean your tiny remote appendages aren’t getting any blood. If you do have that problem, “equality” is not the answer.

If the battery is working, the poles are different. That’s what “voltage” is, it’s a difference. This is a relative measurement. Make them the same, you get a spark show, maybe a fire, then entropy takes effect. After that, the battery is dead.

In fact, everywhere in nature where you’ve got something working, and all parts of that thing require a resource so it’s necessary to distribute something — there will be a tiny part of the thing, that functions as the source. That source will have most of whatever is being distributed. Go ahead, find ten exceptions. Heck, find three. Find one.

We’ve been sold a huge, damaging lie: That leaning over and peaking into your sister’s cereal bowl is acceptable behavior, and also that if you find something in there that you don’t have, this is the difference between everything being hunky-dory, versus an imminent and righteous revolution.

What we’ve been sold, is death. Life doesn’t work that way.