Archive for July, 2019

Fork in the Road

Friday, July 26th, 2019

This new job has me commuting…lots. With Government contracting, being-there is the most important thing, which is a bit odd in these enlightened, greener, telecommuting times. It makes me wonder what kind of shake-up is over the horizon since this is an entire industry that views work ethics in a nineteenth-century context. People say “What about telecommuting?” and they’re right to wonder about it, but they also show they don’t get contracting.

It’s 120 miles a day round-trip. I just start out earlier, remind myself others have it tougher, strap in and enjoy the ride. The money’s good. I work to make money.

Now I haven’t driven that far for a job since…let’s see. Last century. Seattle, from one end of Lake Washington to the other. That was 48 miles one-way, 28 years ago. This time it’s a bit different, I don’t follow major thoroughfares start-to-finish in rush hour. What I do is squeeze through the Venturi tube that is the Yolo Causeway, before the journey is 1/3 of the way done and after that…well, I get to do whatever I want. I can take the advice of Google Maps and stay on Interstate 80 until the exit that’s closest to where I’m trying to go, which would be Leisure Town Road in Vacaville. And I did that, but I’d already ridden my bike through the surrounding farmland and I knew those roads well. The freeway traffic is pretty annoying, even early in the morning. And so as the days went by, I started leaving the freeway at Weber, then at Midway, then at Batavia…after all, those roads are clear. All these assholes cutting me off, boxing me in, they’re making me late. I started to realize something. The temptation to leave the freeway came to me in the impression that the traffic was making me late to work, and if I traveled over the farmland this factor would be removed. But I started timing it, and this resulted in a finding I should’ve seen coming: Negative. Not even close. It feels like the traffic is making me late when I’m going a good 65 or more, and driving faster than that in the farmland is dumb. Anything can happen. So the feelings are lying to me, as feelings often do. Relative to the farmland-travel, I’m actually zipping along at a good pace on the freeway, I’m just being fooled because other cars are going faster…which is something they shouldn’t be doing.

Also, the freeway approach is direct, from Northeast to Southwest in a more-or-less straight line, whereas the farmland works like a checkerboard. So the math says the distance on the freeway is roughly (1-(0.5^0.5)) shorter…about 28%…traveled faster.

I had to admit I’d been swayed by emotional reasoning.

This is something liberals are incapable of doing. They lack the requisite sense of humility. They don’t break out of emotional reasoning, because they don’t recognize what it is…because, at least in the realm of politics, they’ve never worked with or implemented or followed anything else. They can’t see how invested they are in it because they can’t contrast it with anything. To them, it’s all about the “gut” feeling. And that has the final word. You argue with them at the dinner table on Thanksgiving, or on Facebook the rest of the year, and you might be under the impression they’ve won the argument and you’ve lost, because they ensconce themselves into the judge’s seat and make it into a “Let’s see if you can change my mind” thing — even though they’re supposed to be the ones with the new idea. And they adjudicate your protests to be inadequate, because they’re under the impression that the rich people didn’t earn their money and managed to get it through shenanigans, or that Donald Trump is an idiot, or that Christians go around persecuting people, or that something called “climate change” will end the world in 12 years and it’s all our fault…feel feel feel. They think they’re thinking, but that too is just feeling. They feel like they’re thinking, just like I feel like the freeway is making me late for work. It’s all baloney.

So as I coped with all the eighteen-wheelers blocking the center lane, and the hot shots doing their double-lane changes without signaling, eventually I had another thought: This is stupid. There really is no deadline for getting to work, I’m just getting there early so I can get out again early. Avoiding stupid traffic is the whole point of getting in early. And if the freeway is saving me a few minutes, that number of minutes is, at the very most, something like six. That’s got to be a mere fraction of how much I’m shortening my lifespan each time, due to the stress of dealing with these idiots. Driving on farmland is dangerous. Driving on the freeway is also dangerous. That’s a wash…the freeway is faster…but I enjoy driving on the farmland, and I despise driving on the freeway. That’s all okay.

So these days I might stay on the freeway as far as Pitt School Road, if I’ve run out of water for the coffee and have to hit Safeway. Otherwise I get off at Mace. Or more often than that, County Road 32B. That means, I leave the causeway and I’m already coasting, getting ready for the off-ramp. I figure if I’m saving myself aggravation by getting away from these assholes, I’m saving them the aggravation of being around me. And I have no doubt in the world they’re calling me something similar. Morning commute traffic has a way of dehumanizing all of us. It’s the dark and unseemly part of what we call “civilization.” Many a cop would protest, with legitimacy, that there are darker parts of it, but of all the components that are supposed to be there and are required to keep things going, the morning-commute has to be the worst. You can feel the humanity slipping out of you every minute, and as I finish out the first hour of it I find I no longer like myself as a person. Every minute I can lop off of that is a good minute, so I’ll go ahead and cope with the checkerboard and the slow-moving tractors.

After all, it’s a beautiful day. Most every day is a beautiful day. I’ve reached the stage of life where I want to appreciate that.

This is naother thing liberals can’t do. They can’t keep track of the big picture. Just look at them right now…We gotta get rid of Trump! We gotta get rid of Trump! No, you don’t. I survived Obama, you’ll survive Trump.

This decision puts me in the farmland for…oh, quite awhile really. The traffic is very sparse. But occasionally you’ll see a pickup, or a tractor, or a big rig. Here and there, now and then, someone will pull out in front of you when you’re wanting to make some time. Passing is pretty easy since every road is a straightaway, the land is flat and you can see far. But every once in awhile you get something in front of you that you’d rather not have in front of you; passage could be made difficult by the vehicle’s wide rear end, or wide load, like a combine. Or maybe it’s an open bed full of particulate matter. Something you’d just as soon not have in front of you. And as you both slow for a tee intersection, you start to think…I can get where I’m going by turning right, or by going straight ahead, and my promise to God is I’m going whichever way this dumbass is not going. Right? Haven’t we all done that?

But, not everybody signals. Dumbass is going slow, so the drama is unfolding.

Fork in the RoadSo you do that thing where you peer under the bed of his truck, to try to get a look at all four wheels, see if they’ll betray his intentions. Look for some early clues about which way he’s going so you can make preparations to go the other way.

This is another thing liberals cannot do, and of the three I think this might be the most debilitating. Contingency plans. Forks-in-the-road. They can’t say to themselves, like all functional adults leading moderately complex lives must say, “If this happens I shall do this, but if that happens I shall do that instead.” Have you ever had a friend or relative who was seriously sick, perhaps had aged to the point where the final chapter had been started and everyone involved started wondering where it would end. What do you say to each other? “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

Surely I cannot be the only one who has noticed: Liberals seem incapable of processing the fork in the road. The meaning of the word “if.” They “know” just a little bit too much about what’s going to happen, and when things don’t unfold that way, they learn nothing.

That’s what we saw happen this week with Mueller’s testimony. Intelligent and functional adults said to themselves “Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen?” Or not…I was among the ones wondering what I could do to make some money off this whole thing. After all, if there was a bombshell to be dropped that would unravel Trump’s presidency, for good this time, it would’ve been dropped. I’ll admit to having been surprised by the level of disappointment. I’m a bit taken aback that the whole country is now wondering who really wrote the report and who really ran the investigation.

But our friends, the liberals, were only prepared for one thing — strategically, and emotionally. The only saw one outcome. That’s the way the script in their heads was written, and now that things have gone differently they’re completely shell-shocked. Omigaw, what do we do now?

And things have been going this way for them, the whole time. Cohen was going to sing like a bird, and put Trump away. How’d that go? Stormy Daniels. Alicia Machado. Billy Bush.

This has been going on since the very beginning, since long before Trump was even nominated. “This will be the end of Trump’s campaign…There’s no way he’s coming back from this one.”

It even predates Trump. It’s bigger than Trump. It isn’t even about Trump.

It’s got to do with liberals, their lack of maturity, and their inability to wait for something to happen before figuring out what to do about it. Their inability to process that most simple of situations: “Nobody knows…yet.” They haven’t matured, in a way, since they were little kids sitting in the back seat demanding to know from their parents “Are we there yet?” and “How much longer?”

Sometimes, you have to make more than one plan. Sometimes you have to prepare more than one speech. Sometimes, you have to admit you don’t really know what’s going to happen. Sometimes, the “perfect” plan that has absorbed the very best of your enthusiasm and creative energies, has to have a little empty box in the middle with two arrows pointing out of it, not just one…and it’ll have to be filled in later. In the meantime, you don’t know which way the pig-shit carrying open flatbed in front of you is going to turn. You have to wait and see.

It’s a blessing and not a curse, a feature and not a bug. How boring would life be if you really knew as much about what’s going to happen, as liberals think they know, all the time. How tiring that would become, and how quickly. We’d be welcoming the sweet release of Death before our thirtieth birthdays, I daresay.

We should all be thankful for these empty, filled-in-later decision boxes with Y and N arrows coming out of them, in the vast flow-charts that our are lives. Even if we do happen to have a President we don’t particularly like at any given moment. It’s the kind of challenge that keeps our minds sharp. It is why we leave the freeway.

If PDJT Were From Somalia…

Friday, July 19th, 2019

Word reached me that President Donald Trump said that the malcontent freshman socialist congresswomen “should go back where they came from,” and I was horrified. Such an outburst would fall well short of what the American public deserves and demands from the occupant of the highest office in our land; it is truly execrable.

I did my Internet research and was relieved to see there’s nothing to it. The President did not, repeat not, as has been repeatedly implied, end a sentence with a preposition. Whew!

He wrote: “So interesting to see ‘progressive’ Democrat congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful nation on earth, how our government is to be run.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.”

I see he has also been accused of forgetting which “places from which they came” in the case of three of the four “Squad” members, those three of the four being natives of the United States, so ha ha! Dopey old Trump! But it looks to me like a successful trolling, since Trump never specifically named who he was…uh, I mean, the persons to whom he was referring. He never named them.

Ponder the implications of this. It’s like Hercule Poirot assembling all of the suspects in the drawing room at the end of a mystery and announcing, “I will in due course get to identifying the killer, but for this moment let me just announce this much: He puts ketchup on his steak.” And one of them stands up and protests “I do no such thing!” What a bunch of dimbulbs. They actually held a press conference to launch their self-incriminating protest.

So when the talking heads “inform” us that, given the premise Trump must have been talking about these four, he’s 75% in error…sorry, it just doesn’t fly. I don’t accept the premise. There’s no reason to so accept. Yeah, sure you might say it is the most reasonable assumption, and at first blush maybe it looks like that much is true. But it isn’t, for that ignores the possibility that Trump was trolling. Which is far more likely and far more reasonable.

As for this other flawed premise, that saying “Go back where you came from” is racist, that doesn’t fly either. It’s an equivocation. We’ve got way too much of that already. Stop equivocating, stop pretending entirely different things are the same when they’re not. And don’t accept it when others equivocate either. If bedraggled, frustrated parents are bamboozled to taking their ten-year-old to the beach about this time of year, and the little monster ruins the whole outing complaining about sand in his swimsuit, and I hate building sandcastles, and I’m getting a sunburn and I hate kite flying and I hate saltwater and the seagull crapped on my juicebox and I hate I hate I hate…momma looks up from her Hercule Poirot mystery to say something like “Why TF did you want to come here?” that is one thing.

The xenophobe who lives rent-free in liberals’ heads, finding out some one is from India and commanding him to go back to where he came from, is an entirely different thing. Trump told the targets of his criticism to go fix their shithole countries then come back and show us how it’s done — sarcastically. He’s more like the frazzled Mom wondering what what she/he/they are all doing there. And this is entirely reasonable.

Why are they here?

Bollocks too, on this idea that we here in the U.S. are a cut above this why-don’t-you-go-away stuff. That’s not beneath us at all, nor should it be. If we’re going to argue about this stuff then let’s do it honestly.

If Donald Trump were from Somalia, the #NeverTrump crowd would cry in unison for him to go back to that mudpuddle from which he came.

They would waste no time in doing it.

Wouldn’t skip a beat.

Better than even odds, teeming throngs of them on social media would excoriate all the rest of us for not joining them. If I bet money on it, would I lose it?

Uh, really? Someone’s really gonna argue that?

There’s an old saying about pissing on my shoes and telling me it’s raining…

So sorry, mainstream media, talking heads, oh-so-sensible Quisling RINO centrist types. I’m not buying any of it. I’m not buying your conclusions because I’m not buying the fragile premises on which they depend, and by thinking like a competent adult — clearly outside of your expectations as you try to include me in your intended audience — I have found your conclusions rely on these flawed premises completely, utterly, for every single dry ounce of support. It just doesn’t work.

Here’s what works for me. Here are my premises and here are my conclusions.

I think you “news” people have abandoned real news a long time ago and are just broadcasting talking points. I think you get these straight from the democrat party that wants to see Trump defeated by whatever means. I think, in this respect, you are an unfiltered pipeline. I think you don’t even edit. I think if it reaches us mostly free of any spelling or grammar issues, we have them to think for that and not you.

I think our country has been lurching toward an unreasonable and unworkable set of expectations about freedom of association that benefits the left wing and all its adherents, at an expense to everyone else. Liberals, you’ll notice, can retain all of their social stature and at the same time, exclude. They can say “Why don’t you get out of our restaurant.” They can banish people from whatever, quite freely. Moderates get to do that too. Hippies get to do that, persons of all different ethnic makeups can do that, our immigrants can do that, hell even our illegal aliens get to do that. You don’t belong here! Clear the way!

The social expectation is that Trump and his supporters don’t get to do that because it proves the racism which is there — a non-event, if you take all this stuff seriously, for supposedly it is “known” that the racism was always there. The whole thing is nonsense.

There’s no skin color in “Why are you in our Congress when you don’t even seem to want to be in our country?” It is just about as race-neutral as you can get. Sure it certainly isn’t very inclusive…but lots of things aren’t.

This whole scandal is phony, but it’s not the first phony scandal we’ve seen crop up with regard to this administration and it won’t be the last. Like all the others, it is a test of each individual’s ability to think like a competent adult, versus thinking like an overly-passionate, undisciplined, and inexperienced child.

Speaker Amplified Too Much, Put Out of Commission

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

That speaker was getting old anyhow, really just a relic from the hippie era, covered with dust, maybe we need to go buy a new one.

This was weird:

Escalating tensions on Capitol Hill erupted into a floor fight in the House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke in favor of a resolution condemning “racist” comments by President Trump — and Pelosi’s words were eventually ruled out of order, as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, announced the decision from the House parliamentarian.

“The words used by the gentlewoman from California contained an accusation of racist behavior on the part of the President,” Hoyer said, in a decision that technically banned Pelosi from speaking on the House floor for a brief period of time. “The words should not be used in debate.”

She ended up losing her speaking privileges for the day. Evidently the House of Representatives has rules against impugning someone’s character. I suppose an actual Representative would have much better knowledge of this rule and more experience defining the periphery of violation than the average person…since impugning someone’s character seems to be oh, roughly 90% or more of what democrats have to say about anything.

It’s awkward when you’re holding a vote to officially excoriate a political opponent for saying unseemly things, and in the course of doing so you lose your speaking privileges for saying unseemly things.

Then things got weirder:

The scene then became even more bizarre when the chair, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., told representatives after a lengthy huddle that he was trying to make a fair ruling as to whether Pelosi had broken House rules governing decorum, but people weren’t cooperating. Cleaver told Fox News he felt Pelosi was being singled out.

Cleaver simply declared, “I abandon the chair,” and left — a moment with no apparent precedent in modern congressional history.

democrat partyWell the action does Cleaver no credit, but after watching the video I have to admit I agree with him.

In fact, there are those who say this whole thing is anything but an “oopsie” by Trump, or any impertinent kind of stepping-over-the-line, and is more of a calculated strategy and one well-executed.

Trump stated the obvious. And by his willingness to state the obvious, he has returned the obvious to the realm of public discourse. He has shifted the Overton window back to a more normal, common sense debate. It wasn’t a mistake of epic proportions. It was a brilliant insistence on having public debate occur in reality world, not in the Leftist’s dystopian fantasy world.

This makes more and more sense to me, the more aware I become of what’s going on under the capitol dome. Every time I watch these — what do I call them, I dunno, I certainly don’t want to impugn anyone’s character. But every time I watch them I’m happier and happier to be a small-government advocate. Who in their right mind would want important problems addressed by this crowd? And if they could ever run like a well-oiled machine, seriously what would you expect them to get done. Think like a grown-up not like a child, what would you expect. They’d make it easier to sell window installation services, tires, computer software, gasoline, sugar, life insurance? Easier? No. They wouldn’t. There’s no reason to think that. They’d make it harder. We should be celebrating when they’re dysfunctional.

And now that the House has held its vote and officially frowned on Trump’s shenanigans…what have we got here?

Nevermind the fact that this is a duly elected and seated House. Would you trust them with anything important? Putting party affiliations and oh-so-passionate #NeverTrump hatred aside, choosing between the President and the House of Representatives, who would you trust to produce positive results — with regard to your house, pet, your next business trip, or something of equal importance?

The media is still getting the vapors about these so-called “racist tweets,” theatrically horrified when Trump supporters say things like “that’s why I voted for him.” I was a Cruz supporter in 2016, but this is true of me as well. No one ever bothered to ask me if I support this craziness, this Salem Witch Trial logic of “You’re guilty of racism if your comments could be construed as racist.” That’s nuts, because I think all competent adults possessing any useful experience understand everything can be construed as anything. Who wants to live in a world where no one says anything that could be construed as something…by mentally infirm ankle-biters spoiling for a fight? I think the answer to that is nobody. So when Trump was ambushed at the last minute with this dumb fake “Miss Piggy” scandal, and the dumb fake “pussy grabbing” scandal, and managed to win anyway, I was thrilled. Still haven’t gotten over the euphoria after all this time. And it wasn’t for Trump.

Political correctness is the witch, innocent citizens saying harmless things are not the witch — it’s had water poured on it and is melting into the floorboards. This makes me very happy. Die faster you reprehensible parasite, and let’s entertain no delusions that you ever made anything better for anybody, ever motivated anybody to behave with better character, or ever kept anyone from feeling bad.

Next up, we’re going to have an election. It’s shaping up to be very much an either-or election; one side or the other is going to have to go. The case for keeping this House of Representatives and jettisoning Trump, as appealing as it may be for those who have been bitterly clinging to it the entire time, is tougher to make to any new recruits than it was a week ago. So if that’s what this whole thing’s been about, then Trump won. Yuge.

Feelz Over Realz

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

It occurs to me that obsessing over people’s feelings too much is at odds with respecting them for their potential. It seems, at first blush, like consideration and civilized sensitivity. Like you’re showing empathy to their plight. But it’s not. It’s smothering them and infantilizing them.

Think about this. Make a short list in your head of people who indisputably created a positive influence. Liberated others, defended others, did something to make it possible for others to do things for others…George Washington, George Patton, Black Jack Pershing, Chesty Puller, Ulysses Grant. Other military heroes. The itty bitty kids who weren’t old enough to drink yet, and dropped bombs on the Nazis. The heroes of D-Day. Our nation’s Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Hamilton, Franklin, all them guys. Fictional: Superman. Or, if you’re so inclined, Iron Man and the Avengers. James Bond. And then your savior Jesus Christ. Your parents. Somebody at work, your boss maybe, who had your back when something went ugly. Guy who offered you his seat on the bus when you were eight months pregnant. Driver of the other car who waved you on through the 4-way stop, when you had to have a bowel movement really, really bad.

How did THEY FEEL? In the running-up to the act of heroism. During. And after.

It’s not even part of the story!

Okay maybe except for Jesus who wanted to know why God had forsaken Him while He hung on the cross. But even then, you’ll see there was no answer. The lesson is that feelings, yes, are definitely real…but also we have to rise above them to get anything done that helps others. That’s just how it works.

It’s a terrible, terrible disservice we do to young people when we condition them to think their feelings matter. There’s a lot of human potential being spilled straight down the drain here, because whole generations of kids aren’t being asked that most important of questions: Yeah, but didja die?

They could be learning how to help others.

And they’re being systematically taught now not to do this. How to just wallow in the marinade of how they feel.

Their Problem with Experience

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

So I’m making a list of things that mean something other than what they’re supposed to mean, and in a jolt I suddenly gain yet another new insight into something that’s been weighing on me for over thirty years: How come it is that liberals remain in steadfast disagreement with any competent adult who has common sense.

It’s got to do with the introduction.

I’ll explain by way of a hypothetical so I’m not including any of the items on the list: Let us say we have become generally aware of a vexing problem in our country, that it’s hot out and people can’t get ice cream cones whenever they want them. So the government sets up a Department of Frozen Confections…which of course is stupid. And our temptation is to get distracted by that, because people with common sense understand that if you really want a fudgesicle, you just need to pony up a couple of bucks and you can have one. And so we think the great divide between liberals and people with common sense is, liberals can’t form a vision of simply earning the $3 through honest labor, and then spending it. They want/need an agency to deliver them things.

That used to be the divide.

Things are changing though.

Think on this not in terms of conservatives and liberals, but in terms of conservatives, liberals and moderates. It’s important because most people self-identify as moderate. The department is created and the stalwart conservatives will write some blog posts about how terrible this is, taxpayer money is being wasted, kids are being taught how to go begging to Uncle Sam instead of how to do some hard work…these are all legitimate complaints. But most people don’t identify with them. Most people will say “Eh, that’s a stupid idea but who cares.” And they’ll agree with the liberals, ultimately. After all you can’t stop it, the department’s already created.

And the liberals will harass people in restaurants and spit in their food, if a single syllable is ever uttered against this new Department of Frozen Confections.

But then a funny thing happens.

The DFC doesn’t hand out any ice cream cones to anybody. It goes off on this wild tear, subsidizing “alternative milk product” development because cows are bad for the environment. Or they find some other excuse to harass people and get involved in all sorts of goofy projects that have nothing to do with fudsicles.

What then develops is this bizarre, crazy-quilt divide between promise vs. delivery, between labels vs. packaging, between expectation vs. fulfillment. This is where the support of liberal initiatives shrinks. See, the die-hard liberal is always going to go by the label. It’s the ice cream department! Because that’s what the announced intention was…you stupid idiot. But gradually the moderates who simply have some common sense, and didn’t identify as conservatives…come to swing over to the conservative side, after years and years of paying cable and telephone bills with “Department of Frozen Confection” surcharges at the bottom.

Bottom-lining it, liberals have a real problem with learning from experience. They can’t grasp that a symbol of something might be different from the actual thing. “Education,” to a liberal, is exactly that and it can’t mean anything different…”ANTIFA” must be anti-fascist, they’re entirely unswayed by the accumulated evidence that the group is, in fact, fascist. And it’s not just because they sympathize with them ideologically, although there is that. The big problem is that the name says anti-fascist. That it might actually mean something different from that, doesn’t register.

“This undocumented migrant’s ‘child’ might actually not be his child” — they can’t even comprehend the possibility.

Some of this is by definition, since a lot of liberals are young. You can’t have much experience when you’re young, that’s what being young is. That’s why liberals want to lower the voting age. They must.

They haven’t come up with a cogent answer to the question “What’s the difference between socialism and ‘democratic socialism’?” Because there isn’t one. D.S. is a label invented by left-wing power-brokers to bamboozle left-wing acolytes.

They think “journalists” actually do journalism, and “climate scientists” actually do climate science. This is why the divide exists, is so wide & deep, and is getting worse. You can explain to them until you’re blue in the face, your own personal story of how you came to suspect “climate change” might have more to do with politics than science. And you won’t get through, not because they’re disagreeing with you, but because they cannot understand how something might possibly be different from what it represents itself to be.

They didn’t read Little Red Riding Hood, or if they did, it was lost on them that the big bad wolf pretended to be L.L.R.H.’s bedridden grandmother. They may have watched Fargo, but if they did, they missed the significance of Mike Yamagita fibbing to Marge Gunderson about being married to Linda Cooksey, how before that surprise Margie had never earnestly dealt before with prevarication. Didn’t pick up that the whole story is about her world getting a little bit bigger, how she had to change her worldview to solve the crime.

This is the problem liberals have. It’s not all caused by inexperience. There are some old liberals out there. You’ll notice they all have that weird, mean look about them. It is the look that comes from having given up on untangling the mysteries of deceptive labeling, chalking up all detected contradictions in life to the sinister machinations of “George W. Bush and his oil buddies.” It is the look of realizing you’ve been deceived, again and again and again, and then failing to anticipate or untangle the deception, and eventually resolving to join the deceivers.

They’re confused, and angry because they can’t see a way through their confusion. They rely too much on the verity of labels, and not enough on their own experiences.

This is connected, I’m convinced, to their obsession with leaving it up to government to handle everything and forcing all their fellow citizens to do likewise. “Don’t need a gun, call nine one one”; it’s connected to all that.

Don’t Have to Remember

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

Yes, movies are important. All too often, we don’t even consciously realize it at the time.

In 1981 Indiana Jones said “I dunno, I’ll make it up as I go.” And since what followed was a “truck chase” that made action movie history, I didn’t attribute a lot of importance to that line. None at all, really. But then in the aftermath, ten years later, twenty, thirty, I discovered that was me. Often the hard way. Here and there, now and then, I’d be hired into “code monkey” jobs that were all about following proper procedure and doing it exactly the same way some other guy would’ve done it…who cares whether it works or not. And I learned I do not belong in those jobs. I received praise for my careful designs, but the ones that drew the most praise came from little sparks of the imagination…that won’t work, or it’ll work but I don’t want to maintain that, let’s do it this way instead. And then I went back and re-did it with a careful design and some good documentation. But first I made it up as I went.

But then.

Eight years after that line, his Dad said: “I wrote it down in my diary show I wouldn’t have to remember!”

And now it’s thirty years after that. ++sigh++

Once again…I assigned little importance to that line. But again, give it a decade or two and I’m looking around seeing just a few words back then have all too neatly defined my reality now. Taking notes on a laptop in a meeting is rude, I’ve come to understand, and so I grasp the notebook with its creamy-white last-century pages, and my trusty ball-point, like a dehydrated desert traveler clutching a canteen. And when the pen shows signs of running out of ink I’m gripped by a cold panic that wasn’t there back in my younger days. But when the meeting is over and the people dissipate, the chicken-scratching only accelerates.

It is the chapter of life I’m occupying now.

I have to write it down…so I don’t have to remember…I’m past that other point, that runner-up point. You know, the one where your memory is slipping away and so you think “I won’t write this down, then I’ll have to remember it, and that will exercise it and keep it around for a few years more.” I’m past that. I’ve learned the hard way that if I care, I don’t play that game anymore. It’s become a trust issue.

Oh so now we’re assessing competence in our technical personnel by making them memorize answers to questions, hmmm? No one asked me. But I’d advise against this.

And we’re teetering on the brink of assessing ethics in our computer programmers, which we’ve learned is a thing we need to value — the same way?

That’s a disaster.

I’m not saying so because I suck at it — although I do. I’m saying so because it’s bound to validate exactly the kinds of practitioners we don’t want. The “cram for the test tomorrow, forget it all the day after” types. The tell-you-what-you-want-to-hear types.

There is a story about Einstein addressing this. He supposedly didn’t know how many feet are in a mile.

One time Albert Einstein was asked “How many feet are in a mile?” and he responded saying “I don’t know why would I fill my mind with facts I can in two minutes in any standard reference book”

“Lady Ghostbusters” Rule

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

Success is predicted with greater effectiveness and confidence, by evaluating the priorities of the practitioners, than assessing the resources at their disposal or critiquing their methods of implementation.

Movies, as I wrote before, are important. They show us how we build things when the stakes are high, and how we consume and rate those things after others have built them. Now this one illustrates several important points. It tanked, at least in the sense that the audience was left wanting more even though the critics were afraid to give it anything short of slobbering praise. If you watch it, you’ll see there are a few funny bits in there that should’ve worked. These actors are talented. The writing is okay. It just doesn’t gel.

The problem isn’t the parts and it isn’t in the execution. And it’s not that they gave women too much prominence in the film. It’s the priorities.

We don’t discuss this because we can’t. You’re not allowed to dislike female-led superhero movies, or female-led action movies, or female-led comedies, or anything female-led. Because we’re not allowed to say anything negative about these efforts, the problems don’t get fixed. Again, it’s priority. The real mission is to entertain the audience and that’s what makes a great film. But that’s not where the priorities were with lady-Ghostbusters or with Captain Marvel, or with the new Tomb Raider. The makers of those films were concerned about other things and they ended up making mediocre messes.

Jason Reitman, son of legendary director Ivan, got into Twitter trouble when he announced he was going to give the franchise back to the fans. With our current prevailing insanity, the perpetually offended were free to read whatever they wanted into that comment, and it seems like the most damning inflection they were able to make out of it was that someone somewhere liked the old Ghostbusters better than the new one. That was enough to get the chest-thumping going, and the younger Reitman ended up apologizing.

Much about this is silly, but that one thing in particular strikes me as the silliest. New things, in general, are no good. More of these remakes/reboots/re-imaginings than not, move the audience to shout almost in unison “What was the point of this?” And the best example I have in mind for that is The Omen. It is a scene-for-scene remake of the original…because…? Why? There’s no answer. You’ll end up wondering this if you sink the time into it. Gregory Peck wasn’t a good enough actor? Why did you guys do this?

Fans of the Lady Ghostbusters movies should have been thrilled that it did well enough people weren’t asking that question. But, it’s a comedy with just a few laughs, measured against the time sunk into watching it, and it did about as well as most comedies that have just a few laughs. The market is not kind to such offerings, and this one was spared the harshest criticism that would normally rain down upon it because, well, it’s what Matt Walsh was saying. You’re not allowed not to like it.

I’m saying this as someone who wasn’t entirely thrilled with the original Ghostbusters. That’s another thing that makes this a good example. There was a fever that caught on, you couldn’t get away from the theme song no matter where you went, and people recited the lines from the movie everywhere…not because it was funny, but because it was fun. Harold Ramis and the other folk who’d put it together, wanted to entertain the audience. And it showed.

Kinda like Quentin Tarantino wanted to dazzle and overwhelm the audience with The Bride. He did a good job with it, and it worked.

Now the strong-women offerings today, just aren’t as good. That’s because the priority is missing…and what’s even much worse than that is, there’s no reason for it to be there. If anyone doesn’t like the movie or utters so much as a peep of protest against it, or merely withholds praise, you can just napalm them on Twitter until they apologize. It’s looking like something that’s crystallized from being merely an unseemly reality, to morph into a hardened battle-plan, a way to win Internet arguments about your movie. It makes for shitty movies.

Rapinoe Rule

Friday, July 12th, 2019

We need an extension to the Rian Rule, which is merely about the consequences of unconventional, contrarian expression. Something that has to do with mixing political expression with spectator-sport performance.

Rapinoe Rule: If the performer can’t keep politics out of the performance, the audience doesn’t have to keep it out of their reactions. And it’s improper to ask.

Goes for marketing/consumerism too. Shoes, shaving blades, coffee

Just on Monday I heard someone on the radio, who still has my respect and should know better, browbeat one of his listeners about Ms. Rapinoe. He might have been facetious about it or playing Devil’s Advocate. “Can’t you leave politics out of her great performance?”

In her case, politics is in the performance because she, as the performer, put it there. But that does seem to be the prevailing thought. Can’t you just acknowledge Julia Roberts is a great actress, that Robert De Niro is a great actor, can’t you just appreciate their performances…funny, I don’t hear anyone being upbraided about “Can’t you just appreciate Ted Nugent’s wonderful music?” Once again, our prevailing viewpoint tilts and it tilts, for no reason anyone can explain, to the benefit of the liberals who are wrecking things and destroying us. There’s no good reason.

No one’s holding a gun to the heads of these performers and retailers and demanding they alienate and piss off half their audience/customers. They’re doing that all on their own.

The Rian Rule

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

When I first started this blog, which no one reads anyway, there were a lot of exciting movies coming out and occasionally I’d allow my commentary on political events to mix with what I had to say about the movies. After hitting the Publish button I’d wander around attending to the various other (more important) bits of my life, wondering if that’s the right way to go. This was before Obama, and the point had not yet been driven home that liberalism is like a house fire, we can’t ignore it and hope it goes away…it was before we tried that approach and scientifically proved to ourselves it doesn’t work. And so everything about blogging was uncertain. People who aired their opinions in this new medium were constantly being told they shouldn’t, and I daresay every single one of us seriously entertained the idea that this is true, that we were wrecking something.

Sometime during all this, I’ve gradually come to realize that we are all living things, our political scene is a living thing, and as such it is constantly changing. And I’ve come to look at movies differently, especially the big-budget summertime blockbuster ones. These are massive investments made by people who have devoted their entire lives to relating to others. Now, I can form an opinion about things just like anyone else, but I haven’t been doing that. They know something I don’t know, and it isn’t confined to just making movies. So we stand to learn a great deal from them. The movies are constantly changing too, right?

Kids vote. By “kids” I do not mean, of course, those who are too young to legally vote; I’m talking in terms of age brackets. I’m speaking of the younger voters who were kids, and have now crossed the threshold. Here and there, now & then, they bamboozle the pundits and pollsters because it isn’t really possible to see in advance what this bloc is going to do. It happened in 2016, 2000, 1972, 1968…lots of midterms. The movies mold and shape how this new generation thinks. When you’re a kid, movies are a sort of reality existing in its own universe. In real life you have to wait until you’re eighteen to do stuff, and then you have to wait a whole lot longer to acquire prestige, authority, respect…in the world of movies, kids are important right away. So we have here a window, a crystal ball of sorts — a hundreds of million-dollar crystal ball, better than any other one we have, for figuring out what new generation is being constructed for us. By Hollywood, more than by their parents maybe. And that should produce paroxysms horror perhaps, but the good news is that the movies themselves are fallible. You can invest $200 million in a movie, that doesn’t mean it should make a profit. And if it makes a profit that doesn’t mean the audience — of kids — is going to like it.

I have noticed over the years that this imperfect lens isn’t very much good to us figuring out where we are, but it’s great for figuring out how we’re moving. That’s a significant statement. Because our movements are becoming more rapid, and the year-to-year changes are becoming more significant. We seem to be rounding a corner.

Now a fifth of the way into this new century, we’ve hit a point where the makers of the movies, themselves, are also kids. Or maybe it just seems that way to me because I’ve been aging. But in writing, directing, producing — and defending — their more questionable works, these movie-maker kids are doing a lot of things I would not be doing, which is something I view as instructive.

There is a trend lately, and it’s a recent one, to insert things into movies that will “really blow your (the audience’s) mind.” This crusty old fart is finding it just a bit annoying, particularly when the mind-blowing event is not supported logically by events in the running-up, or in the aftermath. “Turns out, when [blank] did [blank] he really was doing [blank]” appears way too often in the plot summaries. “He knew it was a suicide mission, it turns out.” “Turns out, he really wanted MI6 to catch him all along because his laptop had a virus.” “Turns out, he already abducted Rachel and Harvey before Batman caught him.” I’m not condemning the simple plot twist, which has been a staple of Hollywood fare for generations and generations. Hooray for Alfred Hitchcock, I say. No I’m reserving this criticism for plot twists that lack artistic cachet, that impart the feeling they were chosen by picking slips of paper out of a hat, and make you squirm in your seat and let loose with a hearty but confused “What the–??”

Now, this Last Jedi movie thoroughly abused the privilege. It’s impossible at this point to deny it. I still rank it higher than its predecessor, because it at least purported to answer some questions. But what were those questions?

1. Who is Snoke?
2. Who are Rey’s parents?
3. What does Luke do with that lightsabre when Rey gives it back to him?

And the answers were:

1. Go fuck yourself.
2. Go fuck yourself.
3. Go fuck yourself.

Doesn’t it just blow your MIND??? Awesomesauce!!

No. No it isn’t. And the new “This will blow your mind too, while we’re at it” extra trimmings just dig the hole deeper. The side plot with the rich people on the gambling planet, the turning loose of the goat-horses or whatever, the kicking-off of the movie with a prank call and yo-momma jokes, the burning of the never-before-mentioned “sacred Jedi texts,” the reformed stormtrooper’s suicide run, the Asian chick that foiled the suicide run, the nephew-trolling with the Force hologram…

They’re all rather clever ideas, and each by itself potentially contributes to an enjoyable holiday experience in the theater. But together it’s just too much. Yes, maybe I’m hyper-sensitized to it because they’re trying to “re-imagine” (ugh) Star Wars as a social-justice vehicle, and I’m not down with that…four decades after cutting lawns so I’d have enough money to go to Mt. Baker Theater, I’m no longer in the desirable audience. Which I guess brings us back to “go fuck yourself” as the proper rejoinder to my concerns.

But I do get asked for my opinion, and I have to rate Star Wars movies according to the likelihood of the disc to find its way back into the player. This one doesn’t rank very highly. It’s about on par with “Attack of the Clones.” With the original trilogy, we’re putting the useful lifespan of a DVD to the test, cooking them guys until you could fry an egg on ’em.

So I understand and respect that there is a new audience here, and these items that give me such consternation, they like them just fine. I get that. But that’s what makes it all the more important to clue ourselves in to how things are changing, bit by bit, by way of checking out the movies. The stories end up being incoherent, incomprehensible and nonsensical because the plot events are super-glued together — and the kids don’t mind? Okay then. That tells me something valuable. Kids today don’t appreciate stories. It’s a clue to the rest of us about how the newer generation thinks. Ooh, that blew my mind! Ooh, that other thing blew my mind! Mind blowing here and there! Whee!

All of this is leading up to a salient point though, more important than all the rest of that. The creative force behind the debacle, the mastermind. He’s been taking to Twitter to defend his work, and although he’s a humble dedicated creative type who takes the criticism in stride and is busying himself with seeing how he can channel it to make his future efforts better…

No. No he isn’t. To my knowledge, he hasn’t been doing that at all. You M-U-S-T like his work, dammit! If you don’t, then YOU are the problem.

It isn’t just Rian Johnson who has been doing this. It’s the default behavior now among filmmakers. “Here is how I re-imagined it, and if you don’t like it then go screw yourself.” Female-led action movies, as Matt Walsh has noted, are ensconced in this special exalted status in which you are required to like them. Even if a contrary leitmotif has emerged that you shouldn’t be allowed, due to your gender and your race, to watch them.

There was a time when artists of all kinds — writers, actors, directors, painters, charcoal-on-paper, sculptors, authors, poets — sought out criticism and prized it just as highly, or even more highly, than their praise. It was part of being an artist. They got to be that way because some practitioners like Herman Melville, or Vincent van Gogh, died in ignominy and squalor with their greatness discovered long after they were dead. Well who wants that? And so artists learned that the whole mission was to please the audience. Without that navigational guiding-star, there was no mission and therefore nothing of import was being done. You had to learn to relate, or else not bother, and that meant you had to constructively channel criticism or else not bother.

That was then, this is now.

We got here because we forgot “entertain us” rhymes with “anus,” we forgot that court jesters are not kings, and we’ve somehow hit on the idea that whoever has what it takes to drag us into an air-conditioned theater during the roasting hot days of midsummer must have what it takes to lead us.

There is something else happening here, something else that constitutes a meaningful cultural change. This whole ritual of coming up with a new and unexpected element. There was a time when “creativity” meant one thing, and that was a subtly different thing. You might anticipate the most likely answer expected by your audience, and discard it simply because it was the most likely…The Butler Didn’t Do It. Then you’d proceed to the second most likely, bypassing that as well as the third, and maybe settle on the fourth. There was an understanding that that, all by itself, was not “creativity.” For an example I would point to Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians which has found success and been remade countless times. There is a twist at the end. And it isn’t that the killer is the nanny, or the careless driver, or the big game hunter. The twist is truly creative, and it is connected to another meaningful event in the story: The fact that the police haven’t been able to solve the crime.

That’s not the case with Luke chucking away his lightsabre. It’s an isolated event. Wow, that blew my mind…so?

There was another understanding about having creative, unusual, unexpected ideas. It used to be taken as a given that some people wouldn’t like what you’re doing. So if you’re all set to receive the praise you have to brace for the criticism. Cilantro flavored ice cream? Bright canary-yellow house paint? A good stiff self-righteous scolding for being human, when you thought you were innocently settling down to enjoy a Star Trek movie? These are matters of personal taste. Some people may like these things — others will not. The ones who don’t like it will have something to say. There will always be a headwind pounding on the nose-cone of your craft that you’ve steered into the route never-traveled.

Not liking the criticism is normal. Being surprised by it or calling it unfair just because it isn’t positive, is annoying, and makes you look like something of a twit.

This should be a rule. We could call it the “AOC Rule” maybe. Or perhaps “The Rian Rule.”

Now having said all that…

The idea has now been put out there that people who go on the Internet in some form, like a blog such as this one, or social media, or YouTube…if we say bad nasty things about members of Congress, this is a “disgrace,” and…well…

“Those people who are online, making fun of members of Congress, are a disgrace and there is no need for anyone to think that is unacceptable,” Wilson said. “We’re going to shut them down and work with whoever it is to shut them down, and they should be prosecuted.”

“You can not intimidate members of Congress, threaten members of Congress. It is against the law in this United States of America,” she said.

Now the congresswoman who so proclaimed, is something of a clown. A Rian-Rule clown. No really, she goes into the halls of Congress and onto weekend talk shows wearing brightly-colored ten-gallon hats covered with sequins…for no reason at all that’s managed to find its way to me. So this kind of goes back to my original point about big-budget movies lighting the way and showing us where our culture is headed. This used to be unthinkable. Here you are working so hard to be unique — not better, just different — just to get attention. Your methods ensure that this will be a successful effort on your part, but of course you can’t dictate that all of the attention will be positive, so when some of it isn’t positive you get all twisty. And stick your finger in the air and start making these proclamations about disallowed behavior and punishment.

It makes me seriously wonder: Are these people, like Rian Johnson and Frederica Wilson, showing us their true selves when they hold themselves out as bold iconoclasts? Because to me, they just don’t seem to get it. In my younger days I went against the grain quite often because I realized I didn’t have what it takes to go with the grain, and there was no other way for me. With time, I’ve gradually learned to keep my mouth shut until such time as the “common consensus” is sure to lead us into some disaster. That’s the right balance, I’ve determined. Figure out who in this situation has something to learn — I see it might very well be me — and if I’m so sure that I’m the one with something to teach, stop and figure out if the learners can afford the lesson life is about to teach them, versus are they about to do irreparable harm. If they can afford the consequences of the mistake they’re making, then it may not be necessary for me to say anything at all.

But for all of us, if we do say something that goes against the prevailing consensus, for whatever reason, there will be blowback. Lots of it. Whether you’re right or wrong. And even if you are right and your critics are wrong, they still are, in all likelihood, perfectly reasonable people. You are, after all, advancing a novel idea.

It is the price to be paid for having one and giving it a platform.

It has always been this way. You play that game, you have to have a thick skin and not a thin one.

It is the “Rian Rule.”

Be bold and unusual, or be spared the inconvenience of unflattering blowback. Pick one. You can’t have both. No one gets to have both.